Customers were heard about who boated summer flounder near 14-Foot Lighthouse, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. That’s not uncommon to find flounder in deeper water around the shipping channel like that this time of year. But reports were also heard about flounder decked toward Fortescue, farther north in the bay. Kingfish, croakers and a few weakfish seemed to gather in the southern bay. Flounder reports sounded okay, not great, and fishing for them seemed best on the ocean. Sharon joined a flounder trip Friday with friends that landed 10 good-sized keepers, and lots of throwbacks, on the ocean. The trip fished a wreck 19 or 20 miles off Cape May, quite a distance. Not everybody has a boat to sail that distance, but if trips can fish away from crowds like that, that can help. The trip also fished a reef closer to shore, on the way back to port, and the angling wasn’t as good, turning out one flounder, and breaking off one, Sharon thought. The trip’s fishing needed to stay right on the wreck. If the fishing ventured away from the piece, the catches slowed. The friends returned to the wreck the next day, boating six good-sized keepers, not quite as good a catch, and a few sizable sea bass. Sometimes a wreck needs to replenish with fish, or the angling might not be as good on a trip soon after, because of that. Sharon’s trip fished top-and-bottom rigs with short leaders to help avoid snagging. Tackle will be lost when fishing wrecks. But Spro jigs and a variety of tackle was fished. Smelts and Gulp mantis shrimp caught best. Seas were like a lake, and weather was perfect. “You couldn’t beat it,” she said. Weather was great for both fishing and crabbing throughout the weekend. Crabbing seemed to improve for commercial crabbers, and if it improved for them, it usually improves for recreationals. Not much was heard about surf fishing. Kingfish probably held in the surf at some places. They usually do this time of year. Fishing the surf for sharks like browns, required to be released, probably gave up catches, like before. 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.
One boat with two anglers docked three summer flounder 20 to 23 inches, said Bruce from Money Island Marina. A couple of 19-inchers were seen, and a few good-sized flounder were around, and throwbacks were released. Nothing tremendous, but flounder fishing was worth the effort. Croakers and blues swam the bay, and so did sharks. White perch and croakers were plucked from Nantuxent Creek, running past the shop. The marina features a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, gas, bait and a few items of tackle. Bait stocked currently included minnows, spearing, mackerel and other frozen bait. Live grass shrimp are usually stocked on weekends. The shrimp and bloodworms are dunked for the perch and croakers in the creek, including when fishing from the docks.
Crabbing was a lot better, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. The year’s first bushel of crabs was trapped Saturday on one of the rental boats. A customer today, who was still crabbing when Paul gave this report in a phone call, thought he was going to bushel-out, but Paul would see whether that happened. Two to three dozen keepers was the average catch. A few always trap fewer, like eight keepers. A few caught better than average. Crab sizes were becoming larger, and lots of the blueclaws were 5 ½ and 6 inches. The creek seemed in good shape, and jellyfish even showed up, unusually. That meant saltwater from the bay pushed into the creek, and saltwater is good for crabbing. Though crabbing picked up, fishing seemed slower, but Paul was unsure how many hardcore anglers jumped on the rental boats. Hardcores are supposed to climb aboard this weekend, and fishing was surprisingly good on the creek previously. White perch, croakers and schoolie striped bass can roam the creek. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if customers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell-phone the store to be picked up. Rental boats should be reserved ahead of time to ensure they’ll be available, because the boats do book up. This weekend was slamming with customers. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts and family reunions, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Everything needed for crabbing is available at the shop, from bait, traps and nets to snacks, drinks and suntan lotion. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.
Five keeper summer flounder 20 inches and larger were bagged on a trip Saturday on the bay with Erica Leigh Charters, Capt. Tom said. Throwbacks were released, and a few croakers and blues were boxed. A throwback cobia was also let go that hit in open water in shallows, not along structure like buoys that cobia sometimes gather around. Most of the flounder came from 16-foot depths, and one was bagged from 24 feet. The end of outgoing tide gave up the most catches. Tom knew about three other boats that fished for flounder from Fortescue that day, and the trip with Erica Leigh seemed to land the most fish.
A trip picked up friends at Rehoboth and fished the bay on the Delaware side Friday, said Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters. Two 19-inch, keeper summer flounder, some throwbacks and a 25-inch striped bass were cranked in. The striper was a keeper in Delaware’s 20- to 25-inch slot limit. The trip fished for flounder at the Ice Breakers, piles of rocks on that side of the bay. Some of the piles rise above water, and some are submerged. Not a lot of flounder bit, but the keeper ratio seemed better than at some places these days. The striper bit along the break wall. Fins and Feathers trailers the boat from Avalon to fish the bay, launching wherever’s nearest the fishing. Fins fishes from the back bay at Avalon to the ocean and Delaware Bay. A variety of outdoor adventures are actually offered, including saltwater fishing, duck and goose hunting along Delaware Bay and in surrounding states, during the waterfowl seasons. Trips also include fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches, salmon and steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s lodge, and snowmobiling from the lodge.
Shark fishing was great on the bay aboard, said Capt. Jim from Fins & Grins Sport Fishing. One of the trips Saturday evening released six sand tiger sharks 200 to 300 pounds. Some of the bay’s sharks, including sand tigers, are required to be released, and Fins is tagging them for NOAA, then letting them go. The trips are a chance to fight big fish without the long sail offshore. Sometimes a shark species might be caught that’s allowed to be kept. Then Fins will steak up the shark, if anglers want. The shark trip nailed bluefish off Cape May Inlet, then anchored at a wreck for the sharks. Shark trips are fishing for a combo like that, and the bluefishing’s been good for 2- to 3-pounders off Cape May Point and the inlet. That’s fun on light, trolling tackle, and the blues are good-eating size. The bluefishing’s also been good at places like 5-Fathom Bank, farther from shore, and sometimes other fish, like bonito and mahi mahi, can be mixed in there. Trips aboard also boated sea bass and summer flounder, including a few keeper flounder, from the ocean. Things are picking up, Jim said. Fins fishes every day, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availablility. Trips fish the back bay near Wildwood, the ocean and Delaware Bay. All trips depart from the slip at Wildwood.
Plenty of croakers gathered off Cape May Point, in Cape May Canal and at the Cape May ferry jetty and Higbee’s Beach, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Kingfish swam off the point, and sharks haunted there and the surf. Dusky, sandbar and sand tiger sharks, all required to be released, roamed the waters, and were a blast. A chunk of mackerel on a large hook on a 2-foot, wire leader clocked them. A couple of anglers headed for summer flounder on Delaware Bay, but nothing was heard back yet. Ocean reefs held flounder, and that fishing seemed to improve. Striped bass began to bite in back waters again, like along bridges at night, once the new-moon current slowed. Thin-profiled lures on jigs caught them, and Berkeley sand eels worked well on them and also flounder. Peanut bunker and mullet began to be heard about from back waters more than before. Blackfish and triggerfish loitered along jetties and inshore reefs, and green crabs are stocked for blackfish bait, now that one of the tautog became the bag limit starting July 17. Blackfish season was closed previously.