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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 5-31-18


One party boat kept bailing fluke, lots, at the Triangle on Raritan Bay, said Tim from <b>Dockside Bait & Tackle</b>. He was unsure about every place fluke were boated, but that was a spot, and so was off Great Kills and at the Keyport Flats on the bay. Off Coney Island’s parachute ride was another. No striped bass were heard about from the bay anymore. They were all heard about from the ocean. The fish sought deeper, colder water. Bluefish were angled from piers including the Carteret, Sewaren, Perth Amboy and Keansburg. The blues were also tangled from Laurence Harbor from shore. Killies and frozen baits for fluke are stocked like spearing, sand eels, squid strips and 1-pound boxes of whole squid. Fresh bunker and salted clams are carried. Freshwater baits including nightcrawlers and trout worms are in. Dockside, located on Smith Creek, a tributary of the Arthur Kill, is accessible from land and water at the fuel dock. The fuel dock is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Sea bass, fantastic catches, were pounded with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b> on the ocean, Capt. Mario said. Many big were tackled, and sizable ling and some winter flounder were mixed in. Open-boat trips are doing that fishing at 6 a.m. daily on the Down Deep, one of the company’s two boats, both 40-footers. The vessels feature full galleys and plenty of room, he said. Comfortable. Each accommodates up to 15 passengers. The Down Deep Bull, the other boat, sailed for a combo of fluke and striped bass on open trips that are running at 6 a.m. daily. The fluking was just getting started, and the striper fishing was hit and miss, but big stripers were around.  Sign up for the Short Notice List on <a href="" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a> to be kept informed about the weekly schedule and spaces available. Charters are available.

A charter yesterday limited out on fluke 10 minutes from the dock in the morning, <b>Manicsportfishing</b>’s Facebook page said. Only a 20-incher was biggest, but light-tackle action made up for that, it said. This photo of a happy kid on the trip sums it up, it said. The next open-boat trip will fish for striped bass Friday afternoon. Charters are available for fluke, stripers and sea bass.

The year’s first fluke trip fished on Memorial Day on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> on Raritan Bay, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. The angling was good, and the group aboard pasted 11 keepers including two 5-pounders among 40 throwbacks. Gulps caught best, like year after year. Steve “Duke of Fluke” Goldberg axed the year’s first keeper and limit of the flatfish on the boat on the trip. “Great start to our season,” Frank wrote. The fishing was excellent again on Wednesday on a trip. The trip had to fish the New York side of the bay, because of dirty water on the New Jersey side. So the anglers had to abide by New York’s 19-inch size limit, instead of Jersey’s 18-inch limit. The group came just two shy of a limit, boxing 16 keepers to 5 pounds, releasing lots of throwbacks, excellent action on throwbacks. Charters are fishing, and open-boat trips will fluke at 6 a.m. Friday through Sunday. An open trip will fish for striped bass at 2 p.m. Saturday. Telephone to reserve.  Bring Gulps and bucktails. For those who want to fish bait, plenty of dogfish, skates and sea robins are biting, Frank said!


Fishing was next going to sail today for striped bass with <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b>, if the trip wasn’t weathered out, Capt. Joe said. Trips clobbered stripers including in the 50 pounds Monday and in the 40 pounds Tuesday on the ocean aboard, covered in the previous report here. It’s big striper time! Joe said in that report. The bass were trolled on Mojos and spoons, and Mojos caught best.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

On the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>, this morning’s trip picked away at throwbacks and a few keepers, Capt. Tom said at 10:30 a.m. on the outing in a phone call. Trips hooked fluke at every place fished, and fewer were keepers than he’d like, but trips caught. Trips worked around crummy weather. Bait connected better than bucktails. The bait included spearing that are provided and Gulps and killies that anglers brought. The fish were taken including on spearing with no other bait on the hook. Squid fished alone wasn’t working. Sometimes killies seemed a little advantage. But whether killies or the anglers made a difference could be difficult to tell. Trips are fishing for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily.

Couple of big fluke! a report said about today’s trip on the <b>Fishermen</b> on the party boat’s website. The captain thought too few anglers would show up to sail in forecasts for rough weather. But the trip fished, and an 8-pound 6-ounce fluke won the pool. A 6-pound 10-ouncer was second-biggest, and a couple of 5-pounders and a bunch of other keepers were axed. Conditions weren’t the best, but the trip got it done. Wednesday’s trip slugged away at throwbacks and keepers, and most customers landed two keepers apiece. Tuesday’s trip worked hard to get it done. But some good-sized were waxed. Some anglers only reeled in throwbacks. Baby porgies, baby fluke and crabs were found in the fluke stomachs so far this season. No baby shrimp or tiny krill were, and none of that was read yet this season aboard. The crew will tell you what’s catching best when you climb aboard. Trips are sailing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. The boat’s voicemail message says the trips are fishing daily, and will say if a trip is expected to be weathered out. Otherwise, the crew is shaping up to sail every day.

Party boats scored fair on fluke, Johnny O. from <b>Fishermen’s Den North</b> thought, he said. Not a lot of the store’s rental boats fluked yet, but some caught the fish okay, nothing to write home about. Boaters who fished for striped bass found their pods, catching the fish on the troll or livelined bunker. Nobody was known who crabbed yet, and Johnny thought the season might be early for crabbing.

Fish were all spread out, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That seemed because water warmed in back waters like the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. The fish that were spread out included striped bass in the ocean surf. Ron, a surf angler, and buddies now fished the ocean surf for stripers, after fishing the beach on Raritan Bay earlier this season for them. The ocean produced best now, and stripers were a little more difficult to catch from shore than earlier in the season, when the bay produced best for the surf casters. He and friends often fished Gibbs metal-lipped swimmers and Gibbs bottle plugs. Bluefishing was picky in the surf. Ron fished the rivers the other night for stripers, but the water was too warm. The cooler ocean surf was better. Boaters caught stripers more in the ocean now than on Raritan Bay. In the ocean, the fish showed up from close to shore to 3 miles out. Fishing for stripers is closed beyond 3 miles from shore. Livelining bunker seemed the way to boat the ocean stripers this week. Buddies boated the ocean for stripers off Long Branch from a half-mile off to the 3-mile line on a trip, and said the only boaters who caught were those who livelined bunker. Trolling Mojos was real picky. Fluke fishing sounded slow on Raritan Bay. Keepers were decked near the 10 can off Sandy Hook Point. Boaters fished for fluke all over the bay, and maybe that meant the fish weren’t stacked at any one place. Black drum were boated on the bay occasionally. He saw a 73-pounder and two 70-pounders. Sea bass fishing was good on the ocean. People tried crabbing but were yet to trap them, really. 


Departing from <b>Twin Lights Marina</b>, Johnny Beard on the Par Tee boated three fluke off Barnacle Bill’s on Wednesday on killies, Marion wrote in an email. Greg Hanna on the Annie H bunker-chunked a 44-inch striped bass and also bagged a 3-1/2-pound fluke on a Gulp on Tuesday at Flynn’s Knoll. Twin Lights, located on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips, dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait-and-tackle shop and ship’s store. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card.

Some striped bass could still be boated in the back of Raritan Bay, said Capt. Pete from <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b>. They seemed only to bite on the change of tides. But the bigger stripers schooled the ocean toward Long Branch. They could be trolled on Mojos and bunker spoons and sometimes hooked on livelined bunker. Thirty-pound stripers appeared off Sandy Hook Point last evening, and Fin-Taz-Tic trolled them. Charters are available for stripers or fluke. Fluking was a little slow on Raritan Bay, especially on the New Jersey side, Pete heard. 


The next fishing is supposed to steam for sea bass on the ocean Friday through Monday with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>. Forecasts look like Monday’s trip could be weathered out. A trip fished for striped bass Monday on the ocean aboard but scored a donut. Last Lady is one of the few boats that fishes for cod each summer, and individual-reservation trips for that are now scheduled. They’ll run offshore on June 27 and July 11. Last year, June and July fished best for cod on the boat. Contact Ralph to reserve. An individual-reservation trip will fish for sea bass June 17. Annual individual-rez trips that fish every Tuesday will begin on June 19, and at first will fish for fluke and sea bass. Kids under 12 sail free on those outings, limited to one per adult host.


With <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b>, striped bass fishing was excellent on the ocean until Wednesday, Capt. Pete said. The angling was no good that day, the first really bad day of the fishing recently. But the catches will probably bounce back. That was after great catches the previous day, Tuesday, on a trip during the full moon. On Wednesday, the fish probably ate throughout the previous night, Pete said. He wasn’t asked to explain, but some anglers believe that fish eat during full moons because they can see in the light. So one theory could be that the bass were full and not eating. Until then, monster stripers to 45 pounds were clobbered on both morning and afternoon trips. The fish were mostly trolled on Mojos and bunker spoons. Striper fishing aboard includes Magic Hour Trips from 3 p.m. until dark. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual spot with a charter who wants more anglers. Sign up for the email blast on <a href="" target="_blank">Parker Pete’s website</a> to be kept informed about the spaces.

This looks like a good season for big striped bass on the ocean, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. John Reilly from Belmar’s Hooked Café smashed a 50-pounder on a private boat. Ray Soyka private-boated a 48-pounder, and Nickolai Kryvenka took a 45-pounder on a party boat from Belmar. Most trips reported catching multiple stripers in the 40-pound class. Surf-fishing for stripers was good for mostly throwbacks on clams. An 18-pound keeper was biggest reported. Shark River’s fluke fishing was improving, because water was clearing that became dirty from rain. More rain could slow the fishing, and the store’s rental boats are available for fluking on the river. Keep the faith – the sun will shine again soon, he said. That would help all fishing.

Was another good morning of bluefishing yesterday on the ocean on the <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b>, an email said from the party boat. The blues chased rainfish along the water surface, and five or six were hooked at a time, and some anglers limited out. Plenty of action until 11 a.m. At mid-day, the trip motored off for bottom-fishing. Plenty of sea bass – keepers and throwbacks – were angled. A good day of fishing overall, the email said. Trips are fishing for stripers and blues 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Beginning Friday, trips will also fish for fluke and sea bass 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily.

Fishing was banging away at bluefish 1 to 3 pounds this morning on the <b>Golden Eagle</b> on the ocean, a report said on the party boat’s website while the trip was fishing. Birds worked the water, and the bluefishing was also good on yesterday’s trip. Later on that trip, sea bass gave up decent action, and some were decent-sized. All the anglers were happy with their catches on the outing, it said. Trips are fishing for striped bass and blues 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Sometimes the trips target sea bass. Fishing and sunset cruises are sailing 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes the afternoon-to-evening trips sell out, and this Sunday’s is. Reserve ahead.

The anglers limited out on sea bass today on the ocean on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Lots of action all day, it said, and a few ling and cod were bucketed. The boat is fishing for sea bass 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through Friday. Beginning Saturday, two half-day trips will fish daily for fluke 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sea bass 2 to 6:30 p.m.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Several trips headed for striped bass and sea bass with <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b> on the ocean this past week, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. When fishing for sea bass was fast and furious, enabling the anglers to limit out with time to spare, those trips were also able to hunt stripers on the way in. Trolling with Maja spoons and Mojos was best for the stripers, but sometimes bunker pods popped up, where bunker could be snagged and then livelined for bait to catch. One striper trip limited out on overs and released additional. The bass weighed 35 to 44 pounds. Mushin plans to move the boat this weekend to Cape May to fish for tuna, mako sharks, tilefish and more through July, like it does every year around this time. The crew is anxious to get there, because those southern waters are holding the fish including tuna, makos and mahi mahi. Some room is still available for charters and open-boat trips for that. Charters and a few open trips sail for that angling.  

Catching fluke on the ocean was actually decent in mornings when trips had the weather to sail last weekend on the party boat <b>Gambler</b>, Capt. Bob said. That was Memorial Day weekend, and a few anglers limited out on each of the morning trips. Throwbacks and sea bass, including keeper sea bass, were mixed in. On afternoon trips, south wind that came up made the fishing tough. Trips are fishing for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. daily. Trips for striped bass will run 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays beginning today. A night trip like that fished last weekend for stripers, and the angling was difficult. But the boat will try for the fish, and the hope is that the catches pick up.

Fluking did see life at most spots fished in past days on the <b>Norma-K III</b> on the ocean, a report said on the party boat’s website. A few keepers were angled among throwbacks, and a few keeper sea bass were socked. The fishing can only improve. A 10-pound fluke won a pool aboard Saturday. “Nice to see some big fluke moving in this early!” the report said. A bluefish trip sailed Saturday night, did lots of searching, but wound up with mackerel only. The ocean was a little cold for blues, but the crew hopes it’ll warm and improve the fishing. The Norma-K III is fishing for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. daily and bluefish 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday through Sunday.

<b>Toms River</b>

Fishing was good this past week, said Virginia from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. Bluefish swam the Toms River. Bunker-chunks zonked them, and she chunked some every evening. Popper lures like Tsunamis and swimmers like Daiwa SP Minnows caught the river’s blues more sporadically and okay if anglers put in time and fished the right spot. Anglers had to keep moving to find the spot. But chunks worked better. The popper and swimmer fishing had been good a while. Surf anglers beached a mix of striped bass, blues and even fluke. The keeper stripers were larger than before. The surf’s stripers were angled on clams, bunker chunks, Daiwa SP Minnows with teasers, bucktails with teasers and even Ava jigs with teasers. White or light-colored teasers, like olive over white, caught. A 52.6-pound striper was weighed-in two evenings ago that was trolled on the ocean. The trip sailed from Manasquan Inlet, Virginia thought. Back in the surf, sometimes when anglers began to bank bluefish on bait, they tied on popper lures or Avas that whacked the blues well. The poppers were effective then but not really when blind casting. Occasional black drum were lit into in the surf on clams meant for stripers. Boating for fluke wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, in Barnegat Bay. The fish gathered more toward Barnegat Inlet in the bay, including off Barnegat Lighthouse and near the BI and BB markers. Fluking was good toward the back of Manasquan Inlet on bucktails or jigheads with baits like Gulp or Otter Tails with teasers tied above. Pink seemed the best color for those baits and teasers, and white seemed next best. Everybody seemed to fish bucktails or jigs there, not rigs. Sea bass fishing was phenomenal on the ocean, and ling and a couple of cod were mixed in. Virginia’s son works deck on a bottom boat, and trips limited out easily. Clams caught, but jigs, like an Ava 27 with a teaser, whacked just as many. Seemed unusual for jigs to catch equally, but that was happening. For teasers, anglers might use soft-plastic lures like pink Fin-S Fish or a Hogie sand eel. Spearing were also used on teasers. Some anglers used spearing on the jig or tipped the clam bait with spearing.  Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

Diligent surf anglers dragged in striped bass, bluefish and now even fluke when they put in time no matter the weather or the stage of tide, a report said on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’ website. Bait was the popular choice for the fishing. But dedicated lure anglers also cashed in. Boating for stripers was hit and miss on the ocean lately on trolled spoons or livelined bunker. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing, and boat and jet-ski rentals.

<b>Forked River</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 6/1:***</b> Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b> had been away a couple of days, he said. Before then, fluke fishing was decent on Barnegat Bay once fluke season opened last Friday. Quite a few customers limited out at Meyer’s Hole, picking through plenty of throwbacks. Anglers do that everywhere in New Jersey in the 18-inch size limit that’s in effect in most of the state. Bluefish 2 to 5 pounds were trolled on the bay on pony tails. No weakfish were heard about from the bay in a couple of weeks. Boaters picked striped bass on the ocean on trolled bunker spoons and Mojos. Not a lot of stripers swam, but the ones caught were big. Lots of customers crabbed, buying bait for that. They said they caught. Baits stocked include killies and all other baits for fluke like frozen, local spearing and the different squids. June is traditionally when shark fishing begins, and shark supplies are carried, like 25- and 50-pound flats of mackerel and bunker, mackerel chum and bunker chum. 

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

Fishing was slow recently, but catches included striped bass in Barnegat Bay, fluke in the bay, bluefish in Barnegat Inlet and sea bass on the ocean, said George from <b>Bobbie’s Boat Rentals</b>. In the ocean, bunker schooled deep, slowing striper fishing for the moment at least. Bunker appeared in the bay along the water surface, though, and a couple of anglers reported snagging them to liveline for the bay’s stripers. Those bunker along the bay’s surface seemed to move the best striper fishing to the bay from the ocean currently. But that’s today, not tomorrow. To reel a keeper fluke from the bay, many throwbacks were sorted through. The bay’s fluke were boated including near the Dike or at Oyster and Double Creek channels. The blues in the inlet were good-sized, like 20 inches. Nobody seemed to crab, and crabbing begins later here, along the barrier island, than along the mainland, because of colder water that flows in from the inlet. Nobody seemed to want to clam because of chilly water, but clamming’s usually good on the bay from the store. The bay was 60 degrees, and George takes the temperature daily.  Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and boat and kayak rentals. The boats are used for fishing, crabbing, clamming and pleasure.


This was the best early-season summer flounder fishing in the back bay that Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b> saw since he began to be at the store, he said. Lots of boats with two or three anglers limited out, and the flounder were good-sized. A 7-1/2-pounder was biggest at the shop since flounder season opened Friday. Several 5-pounders came in, and the chances of catching 3- and 4-pounders were good. Dave was working at his soft-shell crab tanks when he gave this report early this morning, and soft-shells are rocking and rolling, he said. He raises and sells them for eating, and keep up with the supply on <a href="" target="_blank">Absecon Bay Sportsman’s soft-shell  crabs Facebook Page</a>. He also sells shedder crabs for bait, and those will be the No. 1 bait for anything, he said, in the next week, while crabs are shedding. Striped bass are migrating north along the ocean front. Anglers especially along the surf and jetties are clobbering some big, especially if they fish at night. Any blues in the surf? Some, he said. Weakfish were picked while anglers fished for stripers in the surf. They were also picked in the mouth of Mullica River. Shedder crabs are always preferred bait for them. Weaks that anglers caught kept being seen at the shop.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Anglers on foot bombed big striped bass at night, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Absecon Inlet off Caspian Avenue was a hot spot 4 hours before high tides. Stripers brought to the shop today included a 42-pound 49-incher and a 42-incher. The 42-incher came from the sea wall that’s located at the back of the inlet. Two anglers also stopped in with a 40-incher apiece. A 51-inch 47.7-pounder was biggest weighed at the store recently. Holy moly. To catch the stripers, fish clams or lures including Daiwa SP Minnows. Stripers were occasionally landed during daytime. Bluefish, good-sized, phenomenal numbers, hit during daytime in the surf beside the inlet. Fish bunker or SP’s for them. Anglers on foot also nabbed summer flounder or fluke and kingfish from the inlet off the Flagship. That was a great place for those catches. Photos of 14- and 17-inch kings were posted on the store’s Facebook page. Weakfish were sometimes brought to the store, and were mixed in while anglers fished for any of these other catches. All baits, the full supply, are stocked. Join the store’s free Family Fluke Candy Tournament that began Friday, opening day of flounder season, and lasts until Saturday. Bring the family, and prizes for the heaviest fluke for adults are $125, $75 and $50 for first, second and third places, respectively. Prizes for kids 15 and younger are the same. Sign up at the store. Entrants receive a free Fluke Candy Rig. A father and daughter in the tournament came in with a 3.7-pound fluke and a 2.9-pounder. The daughter caught five of the flounder, and the dad caught none.


Bluefish swarmed all around off Absecon Inlet’s jetty in Brigantine, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. Anglers on foot were even into them when he gave this report at 3 p.m. today. Throw Daiwa SP Minnows, other lures, bunker chunks or any other “meat” to fight them. Andy mentioned nothing about striped bass from the surf. But the store’s Facebook page included photos of stripers from the beach like this 33-incher from the cove and these 29- and 27-pounders from the north end. Not too shabby! Some good catches of summer flounder were seen from the back bay. One woman who fished from shore kept reeling the flounder from the bay, checking-in a keeper a day, from an undisclosed location on the south end.  A 3-pound 10-ouncer was her biggest.  A 7-pounder boated on the bay was the biggest flounder brought to the shop this season. Riptide’s Summer Fishing Tournament kicked off, awarding prizes for the heaviest flounder, kingfish and blues. Entry is $10 per species, and anglers can enter one, two or all three divisions. The Riptide/<a href="" target="_blank"></a> 43-Inch Striper Bounty was up to $250. The cash is awarded to the next entrant to bring a striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s surf to the shop. Entry is $5, and all the entry fees are awarded to the angler.


Summer flounder fishing was pretty good, not bad, on the back bay on the party boat <b>Keeper</b> since flounder season opened Friday, Capt. John said. Weather was cloudy, rough and chilly, but lots of the flatfish were flung aboard. Some were good-sized, including a couple of 5-pounders, and lots of 4’s. The fishing especially came on in the last couple of days. Or maybe he got on them better, he said. But the fishing was good before then, too. Everybody’s happy, he said. A couple of 3-pound blues were hooked, but blues seemed to be migrating out of back bays and north. The flounder bit all usual baits: mackerel, minnows and Gulps. Mackerel and minnows are provided, and anglers should bring Gulps. Gulps fished on bucktails were common. Trips are fishing for flounder 8 a.m.-12 noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. daily. The rate is only $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $20 for kids, because the fishing is near port, and the pontoon boat is economical on fuel. Plus, rental rods are free.


The <b>Stray Cat</b> was in the yard for hull inspection, Capt. Mike said. Open-boat trips for sea bass will fish Friday, Sunday and Tuesday on the ocean. That angling’s been pretty good aboard. Small bluefish began to school the ocean. Stray Cat trolls them.

<b>Ocean City</b>

A number of summer flounder carpeted the back bay, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. He heard from many boaters who said the flounder were either 16-inch throwbacks or sizable keepers, like 20-, 22- or 24-inchers. Not many just-18-inchers, the legal minimum size, were hooked, they said. The fish were found in both shallow and deep water, for no known reason. The bay dropped to 58 degrees during the weekend. A number of striped bass bit in the surf. Big ones were reportedly hammered at Strathmere. Flounder were also heard about from surf anglers. Smaller stripers hit along bridges, mostly at night on, as usual, soft-plastic lures. Few sea bass seemed boated at Great Egg Reef, but fishing for them was supposedly good at the far end of Atlantic City Reef in 100 feet of water. Nothing was reported about sharks or tuna yet.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

These opening days of summer flounder season fished pretty well on the back bay, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Not exceptional, but nobody complained either. No huge were seen, but a good number of quality-sized were, including 5-pounders. Customers sometimes hooked weakfish or bluefish mixed in. The most exciting news was an increase in striped bass dragged from the surf. Mike saw some big, and in the low 40 pounds was largest. A bunch of 30-pounders were banked, and so were a couple of black drum. Fish salted or fresh clams for the bass. On the ocean, sea bass were boated, but anglers had to make a run for them. Those who caught, fished 20 or 30 miles from shore. Some crabs began to be trapped. Minnows, popular bait for flounder, were scarce but stocked for the moment. Sometimes they ran out. Fresh clams were scarce but were stocked and yet to run out lately. Keeping up with anglers who kept buying them was the challenge. It’s time: The shop’s annual flounder tournament will be held 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Entry is $20 per angler, and first place wins 70 percent. Second wins 30 percent, and third wins prizes from the store. Calcuttas will be $10 apiece for the heaviest weakfish and bluefish, and the winners take all.

Anglers last fished on Memorial Day aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. The boat’s trips that weekend were covered in the last report here and mostly homed in on summer flounder on the back bay, bagging some keepers among throwbacks released. That was opening weekend of flounder season, and the early season usually fishes best for the flatfish in the bay. Later, many flounder depart for the ocean for cooler water, when the bay warms. Then Jersey Cape nails them there. Striped bass are biting in the bay, and bluefish can still be found in the bay. The bluefishing will begin to wind down. “That’s how that goes,” he said. Fishing aboard will flounder fish this weekend and might fish for stripers and blues. The fishing for stripers and blues might throw popper lures and popper flies. The water is warm enough, making the fish active to slam poppers. Poppers draw explosive, visual attacks. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.


The back bay’s summer flounder fishing seemed to start with a bang during this past opening week of flounder season, said Mike from <b>Canal Side Boat Rentals</b>. “So we’re doing good there,” he said. None of the store’s rental boats are available yet, and this spring’s rough weather kept Mike behind. He wasn’t going to do less than a good job at getting them ready. But frozen bait was available last weekend at the store, and minnows, favorite flounder bait, will arrive today. Flounder heard about that were caught from the bay were hooked on frozen mackerel and spearing. Those who had minnows also caught well on the baitfish, but Mike saw no difference in catches on the frozen or the minnows. A buddy departed to flounder fish the bay and returned 45 minutes later with a limit, and gave Mike some. Nobody was really trapping crabs from the bay yet. That might’ve been because of shedding at the moment. Shedder crabs became available for bait at stores that stocked them, but were expensive. Before the shedding, the rough weather and cool water seemed to keep crabs from potting. Last year, crabbing was surprisingly good by Memorial Day weekend. But weather was rougher and cooler this year. The store carries crabs for eating eventually in spring and summer, but not yet. None was really available from New Jersey’s commercial crabbers, and some of the commercials were removing pots from the water, until the crabs scurry around better, when water warms. When rentals become available at the shop, Canal Side rents boats for fishing, crabbing and pleasure and kayaks. When that happens, <b>***<i>Get a $5 discount</i>***</b> on a rental boat if you mention Fishing Reports Now. A large supply of bait is stocked during the season. So is fishing and crabbing tackle and gear. Mentioned above, live crabs for eating are sold, once they become available. Customers enjoy the food at tented picnic tables on the water at the store, or enjoy them at their own location. Wine from Natali Vineyards in Cape May Court House is sold at the store. The state approved that last fishing season. Mike wasn’t asked whether the wine was available yet from the shop this season.

<b>Cape May</b>

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b> will next fish this weekend, for black drum on Delaware Bay, Capt. George said. The fishing remained good, and a buddy’s trip clocked them Tuesday, George said on Wednesday evening, when he gave this report. The drum will probably keep biting another week, he figures. Jim’s Bait & Tackle in Cape May’s annual shark tournament will be held Friday and Saturday. George knew about bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna that began to bite at one of the offshore canyons. He mentioned the angling last week, and the catches were yet to be confirmed then, so he said not to post about that in a report here. Now the tuna were confirmed.

Sea bass fishing was slow, said Capt. Paul from the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>. Some customers bagged one or two fewer than a limit yesterday among a small crowd aboard. But if a decent-sized crowd had been aboard, there would’ve been fewer fish spread among the anglers, not as good fishing. Not a whole lot of sea bass swam the pieces the boat fishes on the ocean. Paul couldn’t know whether more will migrate in. Northeast wind usually pulls them in this time of season. Paul would like to take a few drifts for summer flounder, and the boat will switch to flounder fishing once that angling picks up on the ocean. The water was cold for flounder, only 59 degrees on the way back to port yesterday. Paul supposed that back bays, warmer than the ocean, fished well for flounder at some places. Weather’s not been sunny, and the sun is needed to warm the ocean. When Paul sees a few sunny days and summer-like weather, the boat will begin flounder fishing. For now, trips will stick with sea bass, sailing at 8 a.m. daily. That should give up a few bites and fish.

A few striped bass were still slid from the surf, on clams from the ocean and on bunker chunks from Delaware Bay, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. Cape May is at the confluence of the two waters. Not much was heard about black drum from the bay’s surf recently. But check out this drum that was kayaked from the bay. Boating for the bay’s drum was good. They were still marked tight to shore, but catching them went much better a little farther out. Heavy current seemed to make them pull farther out. A healthy number of weakfish were angled from inlets and along surf jetties. Fish bloodworm on a float or a soft-plastic lure on a bucktail or lead jighead tight to the rocks at the inlets and jetties. Summer flounder fishing went pretty well on the back bay since flounder season opened Friday. Behind Wildwood, a usual early-season spot, gave them up. On the ocean, good sea bass catches could be made, the last Nick heard. Nothing was reported about sharks or tuna yet, but should be soon. All usual bait was in good supply at the store. That included fresh clams, fresh bunker, large minnows and jumbo bloodworms.

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