Location: Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Fishing in New Jersey this time of year can be very unpredictable but one thing we know for sure is that the migrating striped bass are definitely feeding on sand eels. Gene Quigley has been in the charter fishing business for 25-years and is almost too familiar with the waters between Sandy Hook and Barnegat.
Although striped bass are normally structure oriented and tide dependent, this time of year they can be found blitzing and chasing bait on the surface. Most often, the bite is best in the early morning or later in the day but sometimes, in the middle of the day as the water gets colder, they can be found pushing bait to the surface. A lot of the time, anglers like Gene have to head towards deeper water which is where the Hogy Sand Eel Jig comes into play.
Tides: Not tide dependent. In the spring it’s different for Gene and other anglers when they are fishing backwaters but the tide is always moving when they are fishing the ocean.
Approach: There are a lot of ways to tell if there is going to be a blitz or if a blitz just happened such as a lot of birds working the surface (specifically diving gannets), top water feeds and of course, marking on the fish finder. Even if the bait isn’t being pushed to the top by predators, anglers can often find birds continuing to work the surface.
Rigging/Lure Selection: 70g and 100g Sand Eel Jig. Gene most commonly uses the 70g but if the fish are really deep or there are very strong currents, he’ll use the 100g.
Why This Bait? Mostly imitation. The striped bass are keyed into sand eels right now (late November, early December) and the Sand Eel Jig matches the size and profile perfectly.
Retrieve: The retrieve is somewhat slow and erratic. After casting out to a school of fish or marks on the fish finder, let the lure sink to the bottom and with a lighter, more parabolic action rod, kind of reel-pause-reel-pause and pull to give that dropping effect of a sand eel coming up from the bottom erratically and then dropping back down.
Rod: 7’6” St. Croix Legend Inshore Spinning Rod (LTIS76MHF 7’6”), Medium Action
Reel: Shimano Sustain FG Spinning Reel 5000(SAC5000XGFI)
Line: PowerPro 40lb Braid
Leader: 5-feet of Official Sufix 40lb Monofilament
Connection: 25lb. Tactical Angler (TA) clips. If you tie the clips to the end of the leader, you can clip jigs on and off without having to retie the leader.