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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, August 23.

| Port Elizabeth | Money Island | Newport | Fortescue | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY
Port Elizabeth
Weakfish schooled the bay, and croakers showed up, were also tugged from the water, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. Summer flounder fishing seemed kind of picky on the bay. Not a lot of news was heard, though. Heat in past weeks often seemed to keep anglers from fishing. Cooler weather arrived and seemed forecast to continue, and people looked forward to that. Mauricetown Gunning Club’s white perch tournament was supposed to be held last Saturday, and results were yet to be heard. Fishing for the perch had been good on Maurice River, at least before the heat. Crabbing’s been good this season, not bad. 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.

Money Island
One boater docked 10 or 13 blues from the bay at Money Island Marina, Bruce said. Not a lot was heard about catches otherwise, and heat had been keeping boaters from fishing, but weather became cooler currently. Customers fished from the docks yesterday, even, in the better weather. A few white perch were hooked from the docks recently. Plenty of bait including minnows and all the frozen was stocked. Bruce could net minnows whenever he wanted. Take advantage of a free pass to the boat-launching ramp for first-time users to experience the marina’s amenities and hospitality. The pass must be signed by the marina’s owner. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, fishing docks and gas. The fishing docks, $5 per adult and free for kids, can offer angling for white perch, small striped bass, and croakers, at different times of year. A 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 h.p. outboard is available to rent to fish the creek.

Newport
Crabbing was spotty because of shedding and mating since last week’s full moon, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. The shedding and mating should end any time now. Full and new moons can trigger the blueclaws to shed and mate, and they won’t eat then, potentially slowing catches. Not all crabs shed on each of the moons, though, and customers probably still averaged one to two dozen keepers, and some trapped more. Only shedding, not mating, happened earlier this year. Mating begins later in the season, and now both shedding and mating happened on the moons. Effects of just shedding on crabbing lasted maybe two to three days previously, and effects of shedding and mating now lasted maybe three to seven. This has been a great crabbing season, one of the best, and Paul expects to see some monsters, he said, caught into September, so long as no major storm hits, like a tropical storm. Customers trapped good-sized this season, and crabs shed to grow, so bigger could appear. Plenty of small also skittered around, and that could bode well for the future population. A 7-15/16-inch crab was the biggest trapped this year so far from the store, and the customer with the year’s biggest wins a free boat-rental next year, an annual prize. White perch fishing was good on the creek. Two groups targeted the fish and were pleased during the weekend. Customers fish and crab from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Reserve rentals ahead, because they can book up. Beaver Dam can host groups like scouts and 4H, including for an educational day on the water. Groups like birthdays and family reunions can also be hosted. The store stocks everything needed for crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to snacks, drinks and suntan lotion. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Fortescue
Summer flounder fishing was decent on the bay, dropping off in the past week or so, said Capt. Tom from Erica Leigh Charters. The next charter for the fish is Saturday. The flounder definitely included keepers, and they were up to 22 and 24 inches. Flounder were found at all different places in the bay, from the 32 buoy in the north to 60-Foot Slough in the south, but were about halfway between shore and the shipping channel, not in the deep like at the channel. The bay was warm, about 85 degrees, and a bucket of minnows for bait could die because of the warmth, if hung over the side of the boat. Heat in past weeks seemed to keep many boaters from fishing the bay. Weather was cooler currently. Small bluefish were angled from the bay. More and more croakers appeared in the water.

Cape May
Ten or 12 locals boated the bay every morning, bagging summer flounder, said Joe from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. The average angler’s trip who boated the bay less frequently bagged only a couple. Customers fish the bay locally, so no news was heard about flounder from the bay farther north, like toward Fortescue. Lots of spike weakfish schooled the bay. Not many croakers were around, but sometimes a few were banked from the surf. Cape May is located at the confluence of the bay and the ocean, so the surf wraps around the town like a peninsula from the bay to the ocean. Surf anglers also beached small flounder, small blues, kingfish, weaks and brown sharks. The blues tumbled into the surf in mornings and evenings, chasing bunker. Fishing for the kingfish could be good at times. Fishing for the browns, required to be released, might’ve become slower than before. They could bite throughout the day, but dusk is Joe’s favorite time to find the sharks. Nighttimes and mornings could also fish well for them. Warmth kept some anglers from fishing this past week. Some fished in early mornings until maybe noon to escape the heat. Crabbing was super, the best in years, locally. Crabbing might’ve slowed during the days surrounding last week’s full moon, because of shedding and mating the moon could cause. But it would pick back up again, likely.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

Stifling heat seemed to keep some from fishing, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. Not a lot of reports rolled in, but weakfish and blues were supposedly boated near Fortescue. One angler reported getting into them, and the shop’s bait supplier netted weaks from the bay, saying they were scattered and kind of had to be looked for. He also said bunker were scattered, a little scarce, in the bay, maybe because of the heat. The netter struggled to catch them daily. Summer flounder fishing was okay in the bay, Sharon thought. Again, they needed to be hunted. New Jersey’s 17-inch minimum size limit for the bay’s flounder probably helped, compared with 18 inches in most of the rest of the state. Flounder were supposedly reeled from ocean reefs, when boaters had the weather to sail there. Despite the heat, strong wind sometimes blew that could be difficult for boating. The eighth annual Mauricetown Gunning Club’s perch tournament and barbecue will be held Saturday. See info on The Girls Place’s Facebook page. Perch fishing was good in Maurice River, the last Sharon heard. Nothing was heard in the heat in past days. Fish were around to be caught, if anglers could take the weather. Crabbing was okay, and again, fewer crabbed in the heat. Baits stocked included shedder crabs that arrived regularly. Keeping shedders alive could be challenging. They become stunned when taken from the heat outside to refrigeration inside. If they died, they were kept fresh in refrigeration and frozen afterward. They’ll work great for bait that way anyway, and Sharon prefers fresh or frozen when fishing. No green crabs are stocked, and customers sometimes asked. Green crabs are carried once the blackfish bag limit is increased to six beginning November 16, from the current limit of one. Large squid, like for trolling, seemed to be scarce world-wide. The reason was unknown. 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.

Money Island

Few fished in the heat, said Bruce from Money Island Marina. Even dock anglers were scarce. Strong wind kept most boaters from fishing Saturday, too, and the wind also kept the docks bobbing that day, the shop’s Facebook page said. Summer flounder reports were widely mixed, it said: “some limiting out, others with no keepers.” When anglers last fished from the docks, on Nantuxent Creek, they nabbed white perch, croakers and small striped bass. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, fishing docks and gas. The fishing docks, $5 per adult and free for kids, can offer angling for white perch, small stripers, and croakers, at different times of year. A 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 h.p. outboard is available to rent to fish the creek. Baits stocked included plenty of minnows.

Newport Crabbing remained good at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. “It’s been holding,” he said, and catches ranged from about two dozen keepers to a bushel per trip. A couple of trips trapped a bushel apiece, and quite a few trapped three-quarters of a bushel. The number caught seemed to depend on skill or experience. Some of the crabs trapped were still good-sized, and lots of 3-1/2- to 4-inchers were around. Four-and-a-half inches is the legal minimum size. The 3-1/2- to 4-inchers seemed a good sign that crabbing will continue a while. Those crabs will grow. The moon is full, and crabs are mating and shedding. Full and new moons can trigger mating and shedding, and crabs won’t eat then, and that can slow crabbing. That lasts three to five days on average. But not all crabs shed or mate on each moon. No customers fished in past days. Customers fished two weekends ago, catching white perch well, covered in the last report here. Baby black drum showed up in crab traps currently, seeming to suggest fish were active. Customers fish and crab on rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Reserve rentals ahead, because they can book up. Beaver Dam stocks everything needed for crabbing, from traps, bait and nets to drinks, snacks and suntan lotion. Beaver Dam can host groups from scouts and 4H to birthdays and family reunions, including for an educational day on the water, if groups want. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Cape May

Not much was heard about summer flounder from the bay locally, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Fishing for croakers was good at Brandywine in the bay. Weakfish also schooled there, and croakers and kingfish schooled Cape May Channel off Cape May Point. That’s at the confluence of the bay and the ocean. Cocktail blues sometimes gave up good catches in the surf from the bay to the ocean. Kingfish were beaned from the ocean surf. Large sharks were fought from the surf in evenings. On the ocean, flounder fishing improved at Wildwood Reef, Cape May Reef, Reef 11 and the Old Grounds this past week. Crabbing was excellent, a great year for crabbing.