Despite the snow we had (and may get), the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s fleet of trout stocking trucks are on a roll. They’ve been planting trout in area streams and lakes for the regional season opener March 31. There’s also the Mentored Youth Trout Opener March 24 where kids get a chance to catch a trout or two before the crowds of opening day take over.
So far in Lehigh County, Muhlenberg Lake, the lower Jordan Creek, Laurel Run in Coopersburg, Little Lehigh, Lehigh County section of the Monocacy Creek, Ontelaunee Creek and Trout Creek have received pre-season fish that were stocked from March 3 through March 13.
While this going on, the striper bite, predominately in New Jersey, has started up. From On The Water Magazine comes these initial south Jersey forecasts and tips.
“The best bet for the weekend is to fish areas with the warmest water as these will usually hold small baitfish, grass shrimp, and worms. Bridges, backwater lagoons, mud flats, and power-plant outflows are the most productive areas during this time of year. Small striped bass will hit grass shrimp or bloodworms on a weighted float, especially around bridges at night. Small 3 to 5 inch soft plastics would be the “go-to” if you were planning on fishing one of our warm-water outflows. With the colder bay temperatures, it’s pivotal to work the soft plastics very slow. Depending on the forecast, winter flounder should be in play through the weekend especially with any afternoon sun. Mantaloking, Toms River, and Barnegat bay are good places to try for winter flattie action.”
Fishermen’s Supply Co in Point Pleasant reported that the striped bass fishing in the back bay is off to a good start with anglers hooking up on live bloodworms, small plugs, and soft plastics. One angler reports that there seems to be a healthy number of small stripers around in the Manasquan River and bay. In addition, anglers are doing well off the bridges and docks bayside.
Grumpy’s Bait & Tackle in Seaside Park reported a few anglers have been targeting stripers in the back bay and have hooked a few. Bloodworms have been working the best, but some have been catching on small SP minnows and Rapala X-raps. A few winter flounder have been caught around the bridges and in Toms River. Flounder fishing should only get better as the area waters start to warm. There have also been some good reports of small striped bass from the Oyster Creek outflow in Forked River.
From the Fisherman Magazine comes word that last Thursday morning, Nikita Grantan from New Jersey, registered the first keeper striper of the 2018 season; a 29-inch, 8-1/2-pounder brought into Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.
The Delaware River should also come alive with early stripers and will be kept company when the shad run kicks off as soon as the water warms.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.