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Fishing Friday: An Epic Start to the 2015 Fall Striper Run

Local angler Nick Honachefsky with one, of many, fish caught this week. (Photo: Nick Honachefsky/Charlie's Bait and Tackle)

Local angler Nick Honachefsky with one, of many, fish caught this week. (Photo: Nick Honachefsky/Charlie’s Bait and Tackle)

If you have friends who fish, your Facebook feed over this past week was probably filled with nonstop images of fish, bait-lure combinations and perhaps the occasional brew snuck onto the beach to celebrate.

In reality, anglers this week could have snuck bottles of fine champagne onto the beach and partied like they were the Kansas City Royals (yes, we Mets fans are still thinking about the World Series) and it would have been perfectly understandable. Guys were patrolling local beaches with tons of tackle, others were risking life and limb taking their small center consoles dangerously close to the outer sand bars of local beaches, and other were using everything from stand-up paddle boards and surf boards to snag and drop bunker to score a bass strike. So goes the 2015 striper run, one to remember.

In the thick of things has been Brick Township’s own Nick Honachefsky, of Normandy Beach, who “landed and released 4 bass from 27 to 43 inches, roughly 23 to 25 pounds or so,” on Thursday, continuing a week of fishing that has resulted in catches of plenty of bass, and everything else the sea has to offer, from spiny dogfish to skates and blues.

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It was “insanity,” Honachefsky wrote this week, nabbing fish left and right using “doubleheaders, singles, ava jigs, bunker chunks, clams, teasers.”

Chunking at dead high tide also paid off.

Green Avas did the job locally up and down the barrier island, according to Pete from Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach, with catches improving as the wind died down Thursday, allowing the surf to become a bit cleaner. For our locals, the shop is hosting its Surf Turkey Tournament this month, which will culminate in a fish fry at Used to Be’s Nov. 28. For more information, check out the shop’s Facebook page.

“Bring the metals if your heading out and move around,” was the advice from Mario at Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River. “‘Just get out there if you can’ is all we can say.”

Bass and gator blues were being hooked in the suds Wednesday and Thursday, setting the stage for a great weekend to come. Ava’s, AOK T-Hex, Jetty Ghost, Hopkins, Krocs, needlefish, swimmers and poppers as well as clams and bunker chunks all were working, according to reports from the shop.

John from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights had a similar reports. His advice: “Large popping and swimming plugs are working well on these slammers.”

He was talking about 12 to 15 pound blues in the surf that are mixed in with the bass. For stripers, cut bunker and claims “still remain your go to baits,” he said.

For local anglers, skinny metals will likely be a good choice according to the scientifically-adept folks at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park. That’s because the skinny metals imitate sand eels, which are currently running in the surf. The shop has it all stacked, including the popular Ava jigs that are a perfect addition to a diverse arsenal used by a combination surf-boat angler.

“We got a couple reports from anglers bucktailing bass in the [Barnegat] inlet,” a report from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Long Beach Island said. “The bass were also eating rubber shads too. There are lots of spearing in tight to the rocks.”

The ocean water temperature at the inlet is current 58 degrees, which essentially means the run is just beginning, the shop said.

About the only spot still slow is Barnegat Bay, where the action behind Island Beach State Park has been hit or miss. My expectation is that this will improve slightly, though most of the action will be in the ocean and in the inlet proper.

There have been a lot of tips in this column offered by local sharpies and tackle shop owners. While bait fishing is the tried-and-true way to fish, my personal artificial favorites have always been pearl-colored Storm shads and Ava jigs. For boat fishing off the inlet, the Avas are simply a must.

This time of year, we really want to see your catch photos! Send them over me at with your reports, and we’ll make sure we share with our readers!

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