By Tom Pagliaroli
The warming trend is giving all hopes of a quick arrival of spring, but runoff from the last blast of snow (up to 11 inches in some coastal areas) will keep the waters cold for some time. . .and ruling out another spate of cold weather and another significant accumulation would be foolhardy. March is not known for being "The Cruelest Month" without reason, and one must remember that there can be a huge difference between the first spring-like day and the first day of Spring.
Still, there are encouraging signs on the fishing front that the inevitable arrival of warm weather will bring with it a heating of the water. Several of the party boats sailing from Brielle and Point Pleasant are reporting an uptick in the catches of ling, pollock and cod. The catches of the latter have been interesting as there seems to be an abundance of sub legal fish being caught, many just an inch to three short of the 21 inch minimum possession length limit. This could augur well for next year if they manage to escape the commercial nets. Keepers are ranging from 21 inches to 5 lbs., with some private craft coming back to the docks with decent counts of double digit baccala. These are being caught on the farther offshore wrecks. Ling have been averaging from 1-2 lbs. and the pollock from the minimum 19 inches up to 24 inches.
The absolute cure for spring fever is a three day prescription, March 20-22, at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ. The massive Somerset Saltwater Exposition is an everything 'n anything under one roof kind of show when it comes to saltwater fishing. From sedge bank stripers to canyon big-eye tuna, from a party boat sortie to an exotic angling vacation, it is all here. More on this next week.