We caught over a hundred bluefish this morning. Single hook topwater plugs only! (We missed well over 500 hits, but this makes it fun, especially when you account for how quick release is.) My brother Rick's Mako LTS pulled away with he at the wheel, my nephew Kyle, my son, Matt, and myself seated amidst perfect calm, an American flag folded motionless on a pole in the distance, as if at reserve in an atmosphere fit for the vocal recitation of a psalm.
Earlier in May, blues gorged on the annual worm hatch. Today they stuffed themselves on grass shrimp. But they're eager for whatever fish forage, obviously. They'll hit a plug half a dozen times or more, often at boatside. For all the fury, you don't set the hook, which almost never works, and at worst flings the lure back at your face or would ding the boat. We did witness blues break up a school of some kind of fish, possibly spearing, half a dozen blues going airborne in the frolic. Later in the summer, these busts are more common and larger, although the best topwater action is May and June.
There are cocktail blues, mostly ounces over a pound to a few over two. I caught today's largest, close to 3 1/2 pounds, 23 inches. On light tackle it's a thrill every time one's on.
We each got a megadose of vitamin D on the Manasquan River today, but cocktail blues are in all the New Jersey inshore systems--other states too--doing the same thing during the spring migration: feeding on the worms and grass shrimp, and shifting to forage fish later. Look for flats associated with seven to 10 foot deep channels. Many of these blues hit in two feet of water. In Sandy Hook Bay near Shrewsbury River, for example, much larger blues are present with greater depths and bunker. But some anglers go after cocktails in kayaks where creek backwaters provide solitude and frantic action.