10 Sep Saltwater Edge – September Surfcasting Forecast
Saltwater Edge September Surfcasting Forecast
The first cool breezes of September generally signal the transition to better action for local surfcasters. Resident striped bass and bluefish start to feed more actively on the abundant baitfish which can include silversides, bay anchovies, peanut bunker, mackerel, snapper bluefish, butterfish and if we’re fortunate, mullet. On any given day (or night) striped bass, bluefish, and on occasion bonito/false albacore will make forays into the local surf zone providing a target for local casters. The only wild card in September is the weather – tropical systems are always a possibility and they can induce a great bite or completely shut it down with high surf and dirty water. When you get nice days and nights accompanied with light winds a smart surfcaster will take advantage of them.
In September the bass and bluefish bite can occur day or night and the plugs most effective are minnow swimmers such as 7 inch Cotton Cordell Redfin’s and Bombers, Super Strike Needlefish (all sizes), Super Strike Zig Zag Darters, various metal lipped swimmers, and Northbar Bottle Darters (which are especially effective locally when the surf is up). Soft plastics such as a 7 or 9 inch Lunker City Slug-Go rigged conventionally or attached to a jig head with a strong hook will take those finicky bass that ignore hard plastic or wood. Top water poppers/spooks with a blue back can also be very effective during daylight along with various tins such as the Pt Jude Butterfish and Mullet. Surfcaster’s in the know will also be carrying some 1-2 oz white Andrus Jetty Caster/Rip Splitter jigs adorned with white or red/white Uncle Josh Striper strips.
Besides artificials, the nighttime caster looking to boost the average size of his bass into the bragging size category should seriously consider using live or rigged eels and eel bobs. A little known local secret is to use what we call “cigar butts” when mullet are present in the surf. Cigar Butts are eels that have been chopped in half courtesy of a bluefish. If the cigar butt is at least 4-8 inches long keep using it and fish it just as you would a darter. Cast out, let it settle and retrieve slowly with occasional twitches/jerks. Using live or dead mullet can also be VERY effective. Another trick is to acquire some fresh mullet, ideally about 4-8 inches, cut their tail off, use a strong 6/0 or 7/0 single hook and hook the mullet up through the nose. By cutting the tail off the mullet will cast very effectively without any added weight. After the cast allow it to settle, then slowly retrieve it with occasional twitches. I’ve taken striped bass into the 40 pound category with this little known technique.
Other Species – Atlantic Bonito and False Albacore
The most popular technique when targeting False Albacore (Albies) from shore is to throw long casting metal lures such as the Point Jude Po-Jee, Deadly Dick’s, Yozuri L-Jack jigs. But when the Albies are finicky and not hitting metals enterprising spin fishermen have been using casting eggs to present flies and soft plastics such as Albie Snax and small Slug-Gos. The egg provides the casting distance necessary to present these small lifelike profiles that fool Albies readily.
All local locations can be productive in September such as Sachuest Point, Easton’s Point, First, Second and Third Beaches, Cliff Walk, Ocean Drive, and Fort Adams. Hint: DON”T overlook shallow water areas when September bass will often be roaming in water three feet deep or less while chasing mullet. I’ve seen many casters fishing deep and getting bluefish while those fishing bubble weed filed coves catching cow sized bass. Get out before dark and find the bait fish, if nothing is on the bait during daylight stay there until after dark or come back during darkness.
September is the start of our local fall run – it’s the time when our resident game fish populations start to move. Get out there when you can or you could missing the best bite of the season!