Casting Plugs & Jigs (from Boat)
Most of the time when New Jersey Anglers start casting lures from a boat,
it is because there are indications that predatory species, such as
Striped Bass, Bluefish and Bonito are feeding. Seabirds will gather and begin diving
in areas where large schools of bait accumulate near the surface. If the bait in
the water are a smaller species, like spearing or peanut bunker, the birds may be
catching and feeding on the entire baitfish as it swims. In many cases the baitfish is being
slaughtered beneath the surface by Blues & Bonito, and the birds are feeding on the
remains of half bitten or injured fish.
If the bait is a large school of herring or moss bunker,
the birds will dive less often, because they can only feed on the remains of injured fish, unable to
catch a whole live bunker. Try to analyze the bait in the water by the behavior of the birds.
If you can confirm a school of larger sized baitfish, then you should use a large top-water plug.
Cast the plug into the feeding frenzy and dart it along the surface without reeling it in. Large Stripers which, like the
birds will prefer an injured bunker, to a live healthy one. Since the bass & blues are usually mixed up, the bass
cannot compete with the school of fast viscous blues, so they will depend upon a slower, easier meal, and the
plug makes that offering. Larger metal jigs also cue the bass when worked slowly. Drop the jig off the side of the boat
without casting. Bring it up slowly, pulling up and dropping the jig down until you get a strike.
To catch blues, just put on a small or medium sized metal jig, with a surgical tube or bucktail, and cast it as far away
as you can into the diving birds. Give the jig a chance to hit the bottom, then reel in the jig as fast as you can until
a bluefish grabs it. It is not unheard of to catch 20 or more blues in a half an hour using this method.
Weakfish will also be present on the bottom during these frenzies. This is a great time to drop a
white or yellow bucktail down to the bottom and begin jigging. Stripers and Weaks will find this very
Although finding flocks of feeding birds is a gold mine for boat fishermen, it is an opportunistic situation that cannot be found at anytime.
New Jersey bays & river inlets are riddled with lighthouse structures, rock piles, channel markers and the like.
These areas hold gamefish and baitfish and birds all the time. Try this method in those areas, even when there are
no indications that the fish are feeding, from the seabirds. The trick in this situation is to cast
directly into the structure and retrieving slowly. Large Stripers will wait around rocks to ambush
slow moving prey. Once your lure has cleared the structure, retrieve fast to try to pick up a bluefish.