2017 Striper Migration Map
The striper migration has begun! March is going out cool and rainy, but waters are slowly warming and the striper migration is progressing. Striped bass continue moving toward spawning grounds in Chesapeake Bay tributaries, and smaller stripers are getting active in warming inshore areas in Delaware Bay, along the New Jersey beaches, in the backwaters at the west end of Long Island, and in tidal rivers in Connecticut.
In the main stem of the Chesapeake, water temperatures are cooler than at the same time last winter, thanks to cold weather and snowmelt. Surface temperatures are slowly creeping up through the mid 40s, and everything looks on track for a mid-April spawn. Striped bass are moving up the bay and into the Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, Choptank and Susquehanna rivers.
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the lower Susquehanna River has stained water conditions and water temperatures around 40° thanks to rain and snowmelt. Out on the flats, water temperatures can be as high as 46° on sunny days. Late-week rain and continued snow melt will probably keep water temperatures depressed for the next few days.
Water temperatures in the middle and lower bay regions are holding around 45° this week. Calmer conditions this weekend will most likely bring out a few catch and release fishermen.
In inshore areas of upper Delaware Bay, short stripers are being caught and released, mostly by anglers fishing bloodworms and grass shrimp for white perch. Small stripers are also being caught in the lower Delaware River. Note that beginning on April 1, the striped bass season is closed above a line running east from the South Jetty of the C&D Canal to the Pennsylvania line. Anglers using any type of bait in this area must use non-offset circle hooks even if they are not targeting striped bass.
According to our Southern New Jersey fishing reports, the best bet for getting into fishy action this weekend would be to fish the backwaters using artificials and bloodworms for striped bass. The surf has had some schoolies, but the temperatures in the bays is warmer than the ocean and this will generally produce better action. It’s early in the season, so remember to fish SLOW!
In Northern New Jersey. It’s time to try for stripers in the surf on clams, worms, and shads. Although the fish aren’t big, they are around and working up an appetite as the water warms. The bass bite has been on fire down at Oyster Creek, but the biggest fish has been just about 25 inches.
Backwater areas on the West End of the island were holding some schoolie stripers, and the fish have been a little more active thanks to warming water temperatures. .
The holdover striper fishing has been particularly good in the Housatonic River, and the fish will only get more active once the water begins to warm. The Providence River and Narrow River typically hold some holdover stripers, but there haven’t been any positive reports from these areas. Anglers are predicting that the first sea-lice covered schoolies will show up along the Rhode Island coast sometime in mid-April.
Cape Cod/ Massachusetts
Thanks to a little sunshine this week, holdover striped bass began to stir in some fresh and brackish waters connected to tidal rivers. Boston Harbor, and the Mystic River in particular, has given up a few holdover schoolie stripers to persistent anglers.