Saturday, July 9, 2016

Peanut Bunker: A Game Changer

The water temperature in the Bay at midweek was in the mid seventies.  Most fishermen will tell you that is way too warm for stripers.  Yet, this has been one of my best weeks of shore fishing in the Bay. So, what's going on?
Peanut bunker have entered
the Bay in big numbers and
have lured in all kinds of fish
to feed including stripers
and bluefish (right).
Peanut bunker have changed the game.  In the last couple of weeks I have seen big schools of these baby menhaden moving around in various places. This is unusual because we usually don't see them until late summer. They have lured in all kinds of fish such as stripers, bluefish, fluke and even sea robins. Wherever this bait gathers, big numbers of fish follow.  And, these predators have followed it into the Bay regardless of what the water temperature is reading.
One issue when chasing down stripers is that there are almost equal numbers of bluefish around. Because of that, the use of plastics is out. So, I have been going with a bucktail jig (half ounce) when fishing the bottom and a Jumpin Minnow when fishing the surface. I am adding inexpensive grub tails to my jig that makes it even more effective. The jig has caught more because it is also attracting bottom feeders.  Most of the stripers I am catching are schoolies up to 22 inches.  The blues are running three to six pounds although there have been some huge ones around after larger menhaden when you can find them.
So far this year the Bay would have to be given an A+ rating. I know other hotspots of the past don't seem to be producing this year, but the Bay has been excellent.
It is now July 9. The Bay should have died weeks ago.  It hasn't.  Credit peanut bunker and the occasional schools of adult bunker for the recent good fishing.