Story by Tom Pagliaroli

BOOM! Go The Bass:

As in striped kind!

The out front (read: ocean) spring run of stripers is underway, and when it comes to out-of-the-doldrums-let’s play smash mouth, well, the opening bell has been rung.

Earlier in the week, a pair of party boats chugging from Belmar via Shark River Inlet encountered schools, and then more schools, of roving stripers that were chasing herring and, with a much greater intensity, bunker. Fish to 25-plus pounds were hitting the decks, and, upon hearing the word, loads of private boats  entered the rod ‘n reel play.

The bite is now stretched down through Island Beach State Park. However, as is the norm with the early spring bass behavior, the fishing is hot, then not, then hot, then not...again.

Jigging AVA 47 and 67 metals, either naked or tailed, and also the white or the bunker pattern Tsunami Heavy Shad is the tactic putting meat in the boxes and coolers.

In the mix have been loads of shorts, making for plenty of rod bending.

Expect the action to intensify during the next couple of weeks, and if the angling stars align, it could turn into total mayhem should the bluefish arrive.

Do not abandon the back bay and tidal river striper scenes, though. Still mother lodes of linesiders in these swims, and they continue inhaling blood worm and sand worm baits while also whacking plugs, poppers and bucktails. Granted, they are nowhere near as large as their oceanfront kin, but on light tackle they provide thrilling fishing.

The daily limit remains one bass from 28-inches to less than 43-inches, and one over 43-inches.

Trout Takes: Next week, in The Hawk listening area, the Toms River, Manasquan River, and the North and South Branches of the Metedeconk Rivers will be stocked Monday, April 15. The numbers are 520, 970, 320 and 500 respectively. Fishing not allowed until 5pm. Also stocked Monday but open to fishing are Prospertown Lake (280), Lake Shenandoah (420), and the Mingamhone Brook (120).

The Shark River (270), and the Yellow Brook (120) and Hockhocksen Brook (190) will be stocked Tuesday, with Spring Lake being hit with 340 trout on Wednesday and 470 rainbows being loosed in Pohatcong Lake on Friday.