Cape May Fishing Spring Season 2016

After winter-like conditions delayed the start of Cape May’s spring fishing season, things got good fast.

As spring weather finally arrived captains like Ray Szulcewski, who owns and operates the Tiderunner, a fly fishing and light tackle charter boat, finally took to the water April 14, eager to find striped bass and bluefish. Within about 30 minutes of launching he and his buddy (the author of this article) were catching bass. In only two and a half hours, we landed and released 24 striped bass, the biggest of which was about 21 inches. All fish were caught on chartreuse flies, fished deep and slow.


As an added bonus, we caught two large bluefish and lost four more that bit off our flies. The biggest was 32 inches. On a fly rod,  fish of this size are brutal fighters. They are powerful and understandably reluctant to leave the water.


In the ten days that followed, the fishing varied, although there were lots of small striped bass and the large bluefish continued to show up.

One of those big blues actually had a 9 inch striped bass in his stomach. Captain Ray reported catching lots of bass between about 9 and 15 inches long, so maybe the bluefish were targeting these smaller bass.

The reason for that is perhaps the scarcity of Atlantic herring, an important bait fish.  Usually there are good numbers of herring this time of year,  but they’ve made a poor showing so far. With fewer Atlantic herring,  the big bluefish are eating small striped bass.


Whether the presence of large bluefish and lots of small striped bass is a good sign for the 2016 fishing season or not remains to be seen. At least the weather has become milder and less windy, making it easier and more pleasant to be on the water.


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About Paul Kerlinger

Paul Kerlinger, Ph.D. is a scientist, author and nationally known expert on bird migration. He's done extensive studies on hawks, Snowy Owls and neotropical song birds. Kerlinger is the former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, His books include How Birds Migrate and Flight Strategies of Migrating Hawks. He's an ardent fly fisherman and organic vegetable gardener.