By On The Water.
Northerly autumn winds kept the south shore surf calm and deceitfully inviting that Saturday morning. It was in mid-November, but even under sunny blue skies, the morning chill made it feel like late December. With a frigid 8 to 10-knot wind at my back, it felt like my diamond jig could carry as far as the growing fleet, which was stationed about 300 yards from shore; but, inevitably, I kept coming up short. As the sun broke the horizon, foamy, white surface explosions appeared in the distance. Striped bass were feeding so violently, I could see bunker leaping from the water in droves with both feet planted in the sand. A surfcaster to my right pulled in a hickory shad on an Ava-style diamond jig with a green tube while the rest of us stood there, silently casting and willing the bass to push in shallow. It never happened. But for boat fishermen on the south shore, this was peak Long Island striper fishing.
I spot-hopped across 20 miles of beach that day to no avail. In several cases I found the bait, but there were no bass on them. With the amount of bunker sitting in 30 feet of water just out of reach of surfcasters, it was easy to understand why there were no bass tight to the beach. I folded my waders into the truck bed and headed into downtown Long Beach for a consolation beer with some friends, where I’d begin to make a plan for Sunday. That’s when I received a text from Capt. Brandon Weitz at Causeway Bait and Tackle, inviting me to join him and his buddy, Tom, on the Lady Ashley II the next day. My Sunday surf plans quickly folded…
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