Fishing for summer flounder seemed slower the past couple of weeks than before on the bay, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. But anglers still sailed for them, and this was still the time to do that. Cooler water, because of cooler weather, seemed to make the flatfish stick around in the bay longer than during some years, before the fluke migrate to the ocean for the year. The bay’s flounder fishing was good earlier this season. Anglers now sometimes talked about numerous throwbacks. Forecasts for rough weather kept some from fishing the bay this weekend, though the shop still had business during the days. Without hearing a lot about flounder, maybe better catches were possible, but anglers just didn’t get after them. Even if the fishing is slower than before, the fish are still in, and won’t be later. Sharon would fish for them if she had more time. Trips will likely get into big flounder again later in summer, but in the ocean. Nothing was heard about the ocean fishing recently, and most customers who fish for flounder, fish the bay. Croaker fishing wasn’t bad in the rivers and ditches. Croakers even swam far up Maurice River, and that was unusual. White perch, catfish and even striped bass are usual catches there. The croakers in rivers and ditches weren’t a bad size. Spots had been around, somewhat, and might’ve become scarcer recently. Fish like spots and weakfish that prefer warm water seemed scarcer than usual this year, because of cooler water. No good reports were heard about weakfish, though the trout were reported earlier this year, when they push in during spring a moment to spawn. Afterward, they usually become scarcer a moment and return heavily in summer. A variety of fish can usually be hooked around the bay’s lighthouses now. That can include puppy drum, striped bass, weakfish and more. Plenty of customers geared up for crabbing. Baits stocked include minnows, shedder crabs, fresh bunker that arrives several times a week, fresh, shucked clams, and eels. Customers started to ask for eels more often, so more might begin to be carried. Clams in the shell are carried when demand for them picks up. Customers sometimes asked for green crabs for blackfishing, but no green crabs are stocked during the current one-blackfish bag limit. Demand is too low, but green crabs are stocked when the limit is increased in autumn. Other baits including clams can be dunked for blackfish. The Girls Place, located on Route 47, just after Route 55 ends, carries a large supply of bait and tackle, and is the long, one-story, yellow building on the right. It’s on the way to the bay.
The new moon was on Monday, and crabs were definitely shedding and mating, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. Crabbing wasn’t good, and new and full moons can trigger the blueclaws to shed and mate. Crabs won’t eat when that happens, making them difficult to trap. That usually lasts three to five days, and maybe crabbing will “cut loose” by the weekend. Crabbing hasn’t been the best this season, probably because of the cold winter and even Hurricane Sandy the year before. Both events killed crabs, the hurricane shoving crabs inland to die, and the winter freezing many. Two generations were affected. The last full moon, the super moon, two weeks ago, slowed crabbing an unusually long time. Crabbing was coming off some adverse influences. But this weekend will be between moons, usually ideal for crabbing. The crabs that were trapped were decent-sized, and crabs shed to grow throughout summer. Many crabbers prefer this late season for crab size. Fishing improved for customers. Catches sometimes included good-sized white perch, a few croakers and a few small striped bass from the creek. A decent run of small drum, babies, showed up there, like can happen this time of season in the state’s back waters. Some spots even showed up. A couple of rental-boat trips only fished, didn’t crab. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if crabbers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell-phone the store to be picked up. Reserve the boats ahead of time, because they can book up. A 7-inch crab, nabbed on the shop’s first day of crabbing this year, is the crab to beat in the season-long contest for the largest. The rental-boater with the biggest will win a free rental next year. Rental canoes and kayaks are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts, family reunions and birthday parties, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Check out Beaver Dam’s online store for gifts. A card for a 15% discount is available for holiday gifts, when customers request in person. Beaver Dam will be open daily for crabbing through Labor Day. Afterward, crabbing will be available on Fridays through Sundays, but the store will remain open daily for supplies and bait. Beaver Dam carries everything needed for a day of crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, snacks and drinks. Fishing bait includes minnows, and the store raises them, unlike other shops, so the baitfish are unusually large.
Summer flounder, not a lot, but some, including a few keepers, were decked on the party boat Salt Talk, Capt. Howard said. Probably 10 percent hooked were keepers, and the angling slowed compared with earlier this season. Still, this cooler summer seemed to hold flounder in the bay later than usual, before they migrate to the ocean for the year. The Salt Talk’s temperature gauge said the water surface was 79 degrees, the same as in past weeks. But other captains were heard on the radio saying the bay was in the mid-70s. Jim Butler on Saturday’s trip bagged two flounder, and both weighed about 4 pounds or more, and he won the pool. Mike Buehler won Sunday’s pool, but Howard didn’t get the fish’s weight. Bluefish and banded rudderfish were also swung aboard trips. The rudderfish were unusual, but lots swam the bay, and anglers took them home to eat. The boat fished between the wreck buoy and the shipping channel through the weekend, including because of rough weather. Wind blew strongly on Saturday and somewhat less on Sunday. A trip earlier in the week fished at the stakes, but not much bit there. Other boaters landed a few croakers closer to shore. The Salt Talk is fishing for summer flounder daily when no charter is booked.
The northern bay toward Miah Maul and Fortescue seemed to fish best for summer flounder, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Not much was heard about flounder from the bay near Cape May, the southern bay. Most customers who fished for flounder worked the ocean, and catches were good there at Reef 11 and the Old Grounds. Cape May Reef on the ocean also turned out some. On the bay, decent-sized croakers were yanked-in near Bug Light. Surf anglers hit the croakers at the concrete ship. Blackfish were boated along the rocks at Brandywine on the bay, and were cranked up along the jetties at Calpe May Inlet. Snapper bluefish swarmed around Cape May Point. Sand tiger sharks, required to be released, haunted the surf at night. Mullet started to be seen in the surf, so anglers might keep an eye out for early season striped bass in the water that might feed on them. Other baitfish, including lots of peanut bunker, filled the back bay. The baitfish will pour into the ocean this fall, feeding the migration of stripers and blues. Minnows, fresh clams, jumbo and regular-sized bloodworms, and green crabs are stocked.