Monday, April 21, 2014

Striped Bass at Dekorte Park, New Jersey Meadowlands


The New Jersey Meadowlands' Dekorte Park has brackish flats connected to the Hackensack River about a mile from where we fished channels perhaps three or four feet deep as tide fell. The outflows churn water out from flats above walkway dikes, and stripers move in pods to position along and in the currents. Fred nailed his striper just aside from the current on a four-inch swimshad. I noticed his retrieve speed was a little quicker than mine. I switched my three-inch to a four-inch swimshad. In the meantime, Fred had another on he lost. I experimented with retrieve speed and cast placement. Sometimes I let the shad vibrate in the current without reeling. It was that strong. But all to no avail for me.

Then apparently the pod moved out and on. We tried another outflow and a couple of others after that. Tide moving out quick, it became easier to hang up on white cedar trunks that never decay after many dozens of years.

We discussed my past success here, along with my son's lost striper, and inferred that the stripers seem to hit best with some depth remaining, closer to the top of the tide. The water needs to be flowing out, but perhaps fishing is best in the first two or possibly three hours of waning tide. It's easy to imagine that a number of striper pods are on the prowl and when one moves off from an outflow, another might come.

They apparently follow the channels from the river. As we left shortly after sunset, a bittern passing overhead with full, kite-like wings, mud flats were left exposed towards the Dekorte Center. My son and I have seen the flats fully exposed at low tide, besides these channels that seem to direct fish traffic. Cedar stumps emerge black and profoundly aged, as if the 19th century rises from the dead.

I lost three swimshads to stumps. I feel no loss, but be prepared to lose some of any lures you might bring. However, by fishing the first couple of hours of waning tide, and swimming your lure over the stump tops, you're less likely to hang up.

Stripers should be around through May. Dekorte Park is catch and release, and that's good for two reasons. One, this was one of the world's largest garbage dumps just decades ago. Black leachate still emits from the surrounding hills. Those aren't natural. They are garbage filled over with dirt and small trees planted atop. And secondly, it's good to know the fish get put back to go on with their lives.



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