Early Spring Fishing in Northern NJ

Early spring bass fishing in Northern NJ can be some of the best of the season.  As the water begins to warm the bass will begin their migration from the deeper water to staging areas near the spawning grounds.  The majority of the lakes and ponds in the area still have water temps in the high 30’s, low 40’s but only a 1 to 2 degree change in water temps can trigger the bass to feed.

1 PM to 4 PM tend to be the best times as air & water temps are at their warmest.  But be prepared it’s still cold and the proper lures for this time are required.  I prefer the “low & slow” type of lures and presentations.

The suspending jerkbait (Rapala X-Ray 8 & 10) in light colors is one of my favorites.  The jerkbait is a minnow-type of lure that usually invokes strikes as it sits suspended in the water column.  I prefer to throw the lure past the area I’m targeting, make 3 – 4 turns of the reel to get the bait into the water column, let it sit – sometimes as long as 15 – 20 seconds, than give it a few easy twitches, stop let it sit, and repeat.  You will have to experiment with the cadence – the twitches may need to be more aggressive and the pauses longer, or the twitches may need to be multiple easy ones with only a slight pause.  The majority of the strikes will occur as the lure sits suspended.

Another favorite is the jig.  I prefer black and brown colored skirts with a matching colored trailer — my favorite trailer is a pork rind.  The weight is usually 1/4 to 5/8 of an ounce.  Pitching around lay downs and rocks in the transition areas is always a good bet.  Remember, to keep the jig in contact with the bottom and slowly “pop” it.  If you are new to the use of the jig, I suggest you throw it in very swallow water and see the action as you lightly “pop” your rod tip.  You’ll be amazed at how much action is given to the jig, if you are too aggressive the jig will hop like a rabbit and not like the craw fish it’s supposed to resemble.

And than there is the spinnerbait.  You can cover a lot of water both vertically and horizontally, you can vary the retrieve speed, you can bump it off of rocks, docks and lay downs, which often triggers a fish to strike.  Remember to work the bait slowly and try an irregular retrieve – don’t just throw and retrieve it straight in, move your tip from side to side, pop the tip a few times, these erratic movements help slow the bait down and give the fish that opportunity to strike.  I prefer 3/8 – 1/2 of an ounce, silver willow leaf blades, with light color skirts at this time of year.

Finally the worm & senko always a favorite of fisherman regardless of the time of year.  Try to keep the sizes on the smaller side, 6 – 8 inches in colors of, black, pumpkin seed, black/purple & browns.

Tight Lines & Bent Rods