The Hot Cod Bite is Worth the Ride
With the black drum in Delaware Bay (and also in Great Bay...see below), the bluefish still on the crush and stripers in the rivers and back bays chowing, who is even thinking about cod?
Yeah, cod. Scrod. Baccala, baby!
Along with ling, these delicious bottom dwellers are keeping rods bent over the wrecks and other structures, but now in deeper waters than in weeks past. Figure anywhere from 120-140 feet.
Along the south Jersey coast, that translates to at least a 20 mile ride, with 30 miles more like it. No matter the distance, the bite is on, with the cod inhaling fresh clam baits and also white leggers (rock crabs). On occasion, under favorable conditions, they’ll also wax jigs.
The cod being caught are ranging from the legal length (21-inches) to double digit weights, the largest we’ve seen so far via a party boat catch, at around 25-pounds.
There is no daily limit.
The rub? Unless you have your own float, the choice is either a charter or a party boat. The window is rapidly shutting on the latter, as the May 15 sea bass opener will have the boats currently hunting cod (and ling) making the switch to the much closer reefs and wrecks that are positively loaded with the biscuits. Unfortunately, that only leaves an eight day window and will entail a drive north to the ports of Point Pleasant (the Dauntless) and Brielle (the Jamaica II).
On the charter end, it’s easier to enjoy the cod action a little longer as the trip is your deal.
A proven baccala-buster is the Bayhound based in Sea Isle, but word from Capt. Al is that he is going to wait on the cod until the sea bass opener. “Some big sea bass on our wrecks mixed with the cod, but they won’t survive being released after being brought up from those depths. So, we’re waiting for the opener and then catching both,” he said.
Do cod have worms? Some do, some don’t. The lil’ nematodes are a bit unsightly but can be extracted from the fillets with a tweezer. However, when cooked (fried, baked, grilled) to an internal temperature of 140-degrees, the squirmers will die. No harm, no foul...and tasteless insofar as our t-buds can discern. Extra protein, too.
Great Bay Drum Action Still On
The black drum bite in Great Bay picked up again, and it looks as if this will possibly keep going through May. The boomers are on the prowl for clams and crabs in between searching for mates. The fish, from puppies to 35-plus pounds, are being caught from bank and boat. The trouble right now, and who knows for how long, is procuring surf clams, the fave boomer entree. With the bivalves in short supply, and expensive as per demand, some drum beaters are opting for blueclaw crabs and also white leggers. Pricey, yes, but you’ll generally get two baits per crustacean.