We see it on social media, hear about it, and would love to experience it on our own beaches. Rarely if ever do you see a striped bass blitz like they see in New Jersey on a Delaware beach. Depending on who you ask many will tell you Delaware is a “swim-by” state in the fall. The fish don’t come close to shore in the fall as often as in the spring. Once they round the “point” so too speak of Cape May if they head straight out, they are a good five to six miles off our shoreline, immediately in the EEZ. This is happening right now. As usual the anglers in Jersey are being treated to epic striped bass blitzes on the beaches. Tons of bunker being pushed towards and onto the beach by schools of striped bass and bluefish. The action is killer, the crowds are almost as bad. One thing they get in New Jersey this time of year we do not get in Delaware is shoulder to shoulder surf casters going for these fish. Then again look at our beaches in the summertime, and it is kind of like that except everyone is actually fishing. In Jersey when the bass blitz the beach, so do the anglers in full force from all over the coast. The action is wild, especially the fish feeding, which you can see in a video below which is one of the best I have ever seen of striped bass on bait along the beach. We do get blitzes like this in Delaware, but if you aren’t there you would never know. They are over before they happen, which makes fishing a bit difficult.
In Delaware when a migratory bass is caught from the surf, the next day there are a lot of people on the same beach as the day before hoping to hook up. The problem is that migratory bass was moving along the coast on its way south. Going back to the same spot in hopes of catching more of those bass will not work. It is the definition of insanity at that point, unless you get lucky and another school comes through. Those striped bass are already long gone from that beach. Unless there is a bunch of sand eels camped out on a sand bar off a beach, the bass will just keep moving south. Since going back to the same spot will most likely not work, what do you do? You fish where ever you feel the most comfortable and hope another school comes by because that is how it happens. You can’t predict when or where, but it is best to be somewhere in case it does happen.
Striped bass video of the blitz in New Jersey on Thanksgiving day by Chris McIntee
Several years ago (about 10) I was on 3Rs with a friend showing them how to surf fish. There was one vehicle south of me near the entrance. All of a sudden off the coast out a quarter-mile or so, you could see birds working the water hard, they were gannets. I looked at my friend and said … See those birds? If they turn towards us that school will come close to the beach and we have one shot of possibly hooking up. The school turned, but we didn’t hook up at all, the lines were getting bumped like crazy by fish swimming past. The guys down the beach hooked into one fish and it was a beast of a striped bass. I stopped by on the way out to talk to the guy.
Me… “That was a nice fish good work!” Before the guy walks up to the truck his buddy yells don’t say anything about that fish, he’ll park next to us. The guy is smiling and shaking his head back and forth. He knows what I know, those fish are gone and not coming back, ever. All he wants to do is go home now.
Him … Thanks, it was my buddy’s first striped bass from the surf”
ME … That is awesome!
Him … “Yeah, but not really … because now they don’t want to leave and think there are more out here. That school was gone before it got here, and I can’t convince them otherwise.”
Me… Good luck with that, looks like you will be here for a while too. It isn’t even dark and your buddy just put a head lamp on.
He just said thanks, shook his head and walked back to his jeep. I could tell he knew he was in for a long fishless night.
Despite the northern blitzes we still get bass in the surf, but like everywhere else you have to be there when it happens. Especially in Delaware, because by the time you realize a school is going by they are already gone. Even in New Jersey the blitzes are on random beaches that change constantly.