May and June
Two of my favorite months to fish. The bay is alive with bluefish and fluke (summer flounder), and on the ocean side the biggest striped bass of our season are on the feed.
We use light gear, 10 pound spinning outfits for the blues and fluke. Drifting and vertical jigging with 3/8 to 1/2 oz. jigheads tipped with Gulp for the fluke, usually fishing in 3 to 10 feet of water. The blues are usually in the 2 to 5 pound class. Casting poppers and surface lures in 2 to 3 feet of water gets them fired up. You see every hit!
Outside the inlet, in the ocean is where we hunt for big striped bass. They average 25 to 35 pounds this time of year. We look for the large surface schools of bunker (menhaden) and then we cast big leaded treble hooks into them to snag fresh bait. We drift this bait in close proximity to the bunker pods and wait for a big bass to inhale it. This is done with 20 to 30 class spinning and conventional gear. Some days, especially in May, trolling is more productive. On those days we break out the wireline rods and troll bunker spoons. Slow trolling at 3 to 4 mph with these lures illicits violent hookups with trophy stripers. Many of these fish will push over 40 pounds. Current NJ striped bass regulations have turned this into a mainly catch and release fishery as any fish over 38" has to be returned to the water. We can also fish for 28 to 38 inch stripers, the size we can keep, closer to Barnegat Inlet. It is possible to target both size class in the same trip.