The final weeks of fluke season, closing on Monday, didn’t follow the usual pattern, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. The deep usually holds the fish late in the season, and has been barren. Yet now, seemingly never-ending fluke bit in 7- to 10-foot shallows aboard. That was within casting distance of the dock. Sixty to 70 per trip were landed, including 12 to 15 keepers, and a good number of the keepers weighed 4 to 6 pounds. Fluke gorged on peanut bunker, bulking up, thick and fat. Trips for porgies waxed insane numbers, and a good number of blowfish. A good number of out-of-season sea bass also bit on the outings. Once fluke season closes, trips will focus on porgies, weakfish, blues, false albacore and striped bass that are swimming local waters. Charters are fishing, and open-boat trips will fish Wednesday through the rest of next week. Telephone to reserve.
The high hook yesterday landed eight fluke, and the trip’s fluke weighed up to 7 pounds, Capt. Mario from the Down Deep Fleet said. Fluking was holding up, and the fish schooled shallow, right off the marina. The year’s final marathon open-boat trip for fluke, sailing 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., will run Friday. Open trips are fluking daily through Sunday, the final day of fluke season. Porgy trips crushed lots of big, and open trips are fishing for them daily, too. Charters are available, and join the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open trips. Don’t miss out: lock in dates for fall striped bass, sea bass and blackfish trips.
Fluking wasn’t bad, kind of tapering, but not bad, said Chris from Fisherman’s Den North. They held nearby in shallow water, but fewer than just after Tropical Storm Hermine, when the fish became stacked in the harbor. Currently, more skittered around a little farther out, but still in close. One boater decked an 8-pounder and another good-sized just outside the harbor, and more of the fish a little farther out. Chris fished the river the past couple of days, clocking many cocktail blues 5 or 6 pounds and a few schoolie striped bass to a couple of pounds. The fishing was more about tide than time of day, producing on outgoing. But the stripers seemed to bite more often at night than during daytime. Lots more baitfish seemed to school the river at night. On one night, stripers crashed the water surface, but were difficult to catch, because of abundant baitfish. He fished Storm Shads and bucktail jigs. Most of the stripers whacked white, thin Otter Tails on the jigs. Porgy fishing crushed catches on boats. Boaters began to buy more crabs than before for blackfishing. Only one blackfish is the bag limit, but good-sized blackfish and good numbers seemed to bite, and maybe anglers also scoped out the fish for when the bag limit is increased later this year. Big bluefish began to show up for ocean boaters. Big thresher sharks and sometimes mako sharks caught were heard about. Fishing for mahi mahi at lobster-pot buoys sounded good. In the surf, lots of small blues were found. False albacore were fought from the surf at Sandy Hook and farther south, like at Sea Bright. Albies would pop into the water a couple of minutes, then move off. A few schoolie striped bass, not many yet, were eased from the surf. Baits stocked include fresh peanut bunker. Fresh mullet are carried on occasion, when available. Mullet schooled not in the harbor but in the bay off the harbor. Peanut bunker schooled the harbor, and some were larger, but small ones appeared lately. There must’ve been a hatch. Good-sized spearing schooled the harbor. Baits stocked also include all the frozen for inshore, chum for sharks and offshore baits including flats of butterfish and sardines. Green crabs and Asian crabs are in supply for blackfish, and eels began to be stocked for stripers. The store, new this year, the sister shop to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, down the dock from the Atlantic Highlands’ party boats, charter boats and private boats.
Belford and Ambrose channels turned out fluke, said Joe from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Some boats stuck with fluke, and some switched to porgy fishing. Porgies including big bit between the channels. Porgies were boated at Sandy Hook Reef and sometimes at the Tin Can Grounds. Some anglers fished for blackfish, though one of the tautog is the bag limit, until the limit is increased to six beginning November 16. Bluefish schooled Raritan Bay. Bigger blues were found sometimes at places. Weakfish were around, including at Chapel Hill Channel and in Navesink River at buoy 18. Good-sized snapper blues schooled. Crabbing was pretty good in the river. In the surf, false albacore and blues were fought. Any striped bass in the surf? “Not yet,” he said. Small stripers were played at the Sea Bright Bridge. All baits are stocked.
The party boat Atlantic Star’s fluke trips mostly fished Sandy Hook Bay, “maybe Flynn’s (Knoll),” Capt. Tom said. The fishing improved a little yesterday, rounding up a handful of keepers and decent short action. The angling this morning was off to one of the better starts, an improvement, he said at 10 a.m. when he gave this report in a phone call aboard. Almost all anglers caught, mostly throwbacks, and some keepers came in. Action like that keeps their interest, and the fishing wasn’t good on the trips, but was improved. Sometimes finding throwbacks could be difficult lately, even. Then trips would look elsewhere. A few fluke bit lately, though the angling wasn’t good, and if fortunate, the angler would boat a keeper. So trips will fluke fish through Sunday, the final day of fluke season, and will porgy fish afterward. The Atlantic Star will fish for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily through Sunday. Beginning Monday, the trips will fish for porgies during the same hours.
Daily trips for porgies were launched Wednesday on the Fishermen, and the angling was great that day and today, a report said on the party boat’s website. Wednesday’s trip fished one spot, plowing non-stop action, and all anglers filled a half-bucket to a bucket with the tasty fish. Several porgies weighed 3 pounds. Today’s trip fished only three spots, and one held small fish, so the trip left quickly. Several anglers limited out, and Blackfish Doug won the pool with a 3.8-pound porgy. For one angler and son, this was their first porgy trip, and they caught a cooler of the fish. The number of out-of-season sea bass biting was tough, because the boat could be filled with customers if just a few could be bagged. Bring a medium rod that can handle 6 to 10 ounces, because current ripped today, once it picked up. Double-hooked rigs with the hooks above the sinker worked best, and the local tackle shop carries them, if needed. Great fishing, great weather – doesn’t get better! the report said. Trips are fishing for porgies 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, for striped bass 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and for porgies 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The daytime trips will switch to striped bass once the bass show up.
A 241-1/2-pound thresher shark was weighed from the Mudhole at Twin Lights Marina, Marion wrote in an email. Another angler, Steven Chiulli, weighed a 223-pounder from the Mudhole at the shop. Rich Shehrer boated lots of blues and false albacore off Sandy Hook Point. Angelo and Karen Kelly boated a keeper fluke and blues at Sandy Hook Channel. 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. Baits stocked include all for offshore.
Two spaces became available for an individual-reservation trip for fluke Sunday with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph said. That’s the final day of fluke season, and Ralph obtained a slip in Avon that the boat will sail from beginning October 1. An individual-reservation trip for cod is full that day. Space is available for individual-reservation trips for sea bass October 27 and blackfish November 16. Sea bass season will be opened beginning October 22, and six will become the blackfish bag limit beginning November 16, from the current limit of one.
On the Big Mohawk, fluke fishing on the ocean was pretty good, Capt. Chris said. None huge was hooked Wednesday, but 9- and 9-1/2-pounders were the day before, and couple of 8s were the day before that. Bucktails with Gulps out-fished bait by far. Trips will sail for fluke 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Sunday, the final day of fluke season. Afterward, the boat will be dry-docked next week and will resume fishing daily the week afterward, sailing for porgies.
Tuna fishing was slow on a trip yesterday to today on the Golden Eagle, but mahi mahi fishing was great on the trip, a report said on the party boat’s website. The mahi were decked during daytime yesterday, into the night, and during daytime today. That angling was phenomenal. A swordfish and no tuna were caught at night. Tuna trips are fishing on certain days through October 24. Trips will run for bluefish and false albacore 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. A trip will bluefish at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Good albie fishing was axed and 15- to 18-pound blues were picked Tuesday aboard. “People had 6 to 8 albies,” the report said. Fishing was weathered out Monday aboard.
Blues 2 to 4 pounds, a few false albacore and a Spanish mackerel were pitched aboard today on the Miss Belmar Princess, an email from the party boat said. “There were a few different areas where we were able to catch fish throughout the day, and we had some nice shots, along with a good pick at times,” it said. “Overall, it was a nice day,” it said, and good readings were marked, plenty of birds worked the water and weather was beautiful. The Miss Belmar Princess is fishing for blues and false albacore 7:30 a.m. t 2:30 p.m. daily. Family fishing and sunset cruises are sailing 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., reservations required. Kids 14 and under are sailing free on morning trips Mondays through Thursdays through September when accompanied by an adult paying full fare. The back-to-school special, a $40 value, is limited to one child per adult and cannot be combined with other discounts. No reservations are required.
“Best day this year weighing big fluke,” Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote about yesterday in an email. Three came from a Belmar party boat and weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces, 9 pounds 4 ounces and 7 pounds 5 ounces. Private boaters got-in on the action, too. Fluke from those vessels included an 8-pound 12-ouncer and an 8-pound 9-ouncer. “Keep your eye on the rest of the week,” he said. “We should see some real doormats.” Fluke season will be closed beginning Monday.
With Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, fluking on the ocean remained good, Capt. Pete said. A trip yesterday aboard picked not a lot, but big. The keepers averaged 5 to 8 pounds. As long as weather fails to become bad, the angling should be good through this final weekend of fluke season. The season closes beginning Monday, and plenty of porgies schooled. Trips will probably focus on them and false albacore after fluke season. When the fall migration of striped bass arrives, Parker Pete’s jumps all over stripers. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway about individual spaces available on charters. Sign up for the email blast on Parker Pete’s website to be kept informed about the spaces.
Point Pleasant Beach
Decent fluke catches the last few days, a report said about fishing on the Norma-K III on the ocean on the party boat’s website. Pool-winning fluke averaged 5 to 7 pounds, and lots of life was seen on most drops. Trips are fishing sticky bottom, so bring extra tackle for snagging. Plenty of sinkers and plain rigs are carried aboard. Weather looks great for Friday through Sunday, the final day of fluke season. Trips will fish for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. daily through Sunday. Beginning Monday, trips will fish for porgies ling and cod 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Trips are bluefishing 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The season’s first tuna trip sailed Monday to Tuesday nights on the Gambler, an email from the party boat said. Nothing bit during the night, though drifting conditions were great, and a 3-degree temperature break was fished. After daybreak, the trip “pot-hopped,” fishing lobster-pot buoys for mahi mahi. That angling went great, loading up on mahi to 20 pounds. At 11 a.m., a few tuna were seen breaking water. The boat was put on the drift there, but fishing couldn’t get the tuna to bite. The crew was grateful for the mahi, but looks forward to tuna fishing turning on. A peel of Gulf Stream water currently seemed headed to the fishing grounds, but was still out of range. “Hopefully soon,” the email said. Dates remain for tuna trips, but book spots, because they fill. Before the tuna trip, an “exotics” trip fished inshore Monday, tying into false albacore and lots of mackerel. The trip also fished pots for mahi 30 miles out, but those held none. Trips are fishing for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. daily through Sunday, the final day of fluke season. Arrive early, because if the boat fills, the trips might depart early. Daily trips will fish for striped bass beginning in November. A wreck-fishing trip will sail 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. today, and bluefish trips will run those hours Friday and Saturday. Afterward, those trips will be ended for the season, because back-to-back tuna trips will begin, sailing until the striper trips start.
Small weakfish bit in the Toms River on both sides at Island Heights and Beachwood, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. Snapper blues 13 to 16 inches were played in the river on Snapper Zappers. Loads of bait including spearing and peanut bunker schooled the river. Blowfish were reeled from Barnegat Bay along Route 37 Bridge, off Dock Outfitters and farther south in the bay. An angler who picked up blowfish in the southern bay also caught porgies and a triggerfish Sunday. A few fluke hit in the bay, but most came from the ocean. A customer boated an 18-incher just inside Island Beach State Park on the bay Tuesday morning. Another customer that day fought small blues in the surf and had a false albacore strip the line off the reel. A few mullet, not a lot, migrated the surf, not a strong run so far. A token striped bass 18 or 22 inches came from the surf. Mostly bait caught in the surf, and fresh mullet are stocked. In the ocean, fluke schooled deeper water or 60- or 70-foot depths. Fluke season will be closed beginning Monday. Crabbing was slower early this week after the full moon. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.
Cocktail bluefishing was off the hook in Barnegat Bay on mullet, including from the dock, said Tom from The Dock Outfitters. Fluke, blowfish and kingfish, all small, nibbled from the dock. In the surf, a couple of bluefish were slid in. A few striped bass were rumored to be caught from the surf, and none was weighed-in. An angler or two got lucky, Tom figured, because he knows anglers who’ve been trying for stripers for weeks in the surf, finding none. A few mullet migrated the surf but were scarce. A few schooled the bay but were also not abundant. The bait supplier who’s been catching the baitfish 30 years is having a difficult time doing so. But fresh mullet are stocked, and so are fresh clams and worms. 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, boat rentals and jet-ski rentals. The boats will be available another week before they’re unavailable until spring.
Tuna trips were postponed with Tuna-Tic Sportfishing, because tuna fishing was slow, Capt. Mike said. The fish should show up any time at the offshore canyons, and the boat usually focuses on that angling this time of year. But inshore trolling was good for bonito, false albacore and mahi mahi. One of those trips sailed the other day aboard. Striped bass charters are beginning to book for November.
One customer’s trip boated eight keeper fluke on Barnegat Bay from Double Creek Channel to Sedge Islands, said Brian from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. Most customers who boated fished the bay, and not much was heard about the ocean’s fluking. But another trip took four keeper fluke on the ocean north of the range buoy, at a wreck, Brian thought. Blowfish still bit in the bay, including near the BI marker and the research buoy. A trip nailed them south of Key Harbor and off Waretown in 4 feet of water. Weakfish swam the bay off Berkeley Island Park. Shedder crabs were the bait to dunk for them, but shedder crabs were becoming scarce, and none was stocked at the shop. A friend was getting the crabs from a commercial boater. Any fish in the bay were best caught on outgoing tides. A customer yesterday reported he’s been banking 24-inch striped bass from the surf at Lavallette, showing photos of a couple. Nothing was heard about false albacore in the surf that some reported. Nothing was heard about fish like albies and bonito at Barnegat Ridge in the ocean. Tuna seemed scarce, but Toms Canyon reportedly served up good fishing for marlin and some mahi mahi. Offshore baits are stocked including flats of sardines and butterfish and rigged and unrigged ballyhoos. For inshore, killies and all frozen baits are carried, and so is frozen clam chum for blowfishing. Crabs were still trapped, though some seemed to nab them, and some didn’t, for some reason. What’s the bay’s temperature, 70 degrees? Brian asked. “It’s cooling down,” he said. A customer’s been reporting still trapping crabs.
On fluke trips on the Miss Barnegat Light on the ocean the past few days, there were “keepers for most with lots of action,” a report said on the party boat’s website. Sunday is the final day of fluke season, “so come get some dinner,” it said. The Miss Barnegat Light will fish for fluke at 8 a.m. daily through Sunday. Tuna trips will sail September 29 to October 30.
Barnegat Bay’s fluke fishing was a little slow, but still gave up some, said Alex from Bobbie’s Boat Rentals. He saw a couple of good-sized today, and nobody mentioned fluking on the ocean in past days. Previously, the fishing went well there at reefs. Back in the bay, cocktail blues began to be found, and he saw some today. He saw no weakfish from the bay lately, but unconfirmed reports said weakfish were rounded up from the water. No customers crabbed in past days, and Alex would say crabbing was slow. Clamming was good on the bay. 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. The store is known for bait supply, including live bait in season. Baits currently stocked include killies and green crabs. The killies, favorite fluke bait, will probably be stocked another week and not afterward, because fluke season closes Monday. Live grass shrimp can be ordered, and live spots will be carried in October for striped bass fishing.
***Update, Saturday, 9/24:*** From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier: “I had three trips in the last three days. All in the bay, all targeting weakfish and blowfish. Wednesday afternoon we anchored up on the west side of the bay and caught a bunch of blowfish. Thursday afternoon we only had one weakfish but caught six different species on shedder crab using the ultra-light tackle, so it was a pretty good trip for action. The other five species were blowfish, little blues, porgies, juvenile sea bass and fluke -- no, not keeper fluke. Friday afternoon we anchored up on the east side of Barnegat Bay, and for the first hour we caught nothing. Wind against tide, I re-anchored three times ... the worst. After a little while the tide started to roll, and the jumbo snappers invaded our live grass shrimp slick, hard! You couldn’t float a hook-bait through them, so we switched to 3/8-ounce shad darts tipped with shrimp. Vertical jigging the bottom, the first few fish were small sea bass. They also run in epidemic numbers in this spot. But then we caught our first weakfish, a respectable 14-incher. After that, it was game on for over 2 hours. We had 13- to 16-inch weakies almost as fast as you could get your jig to the bottom. The wind is going to keep us in the bay through the weekend, so we’ll target weakfish and blowfish along with all the other mixed-bag that comes with it. Sailing open-boat or charter Saturday through Monday. I’m stocked with live shedder crabs and live grass shrimp for the weakies, and clams for the blowfish.”
It appeared unusual, but some boaters aced summer flounder, good catches, at ocean reefs, and some didn’t, said Scott from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. Was a matter of the right spot. Boaters will see whether they get the weather to sail to the reefs on this final weekend of flounder season that will be closed beginning Monday. Big boats will be able to reach the reefs. Tuckerton Bay served up interesting news about weakfish to 6 pounds boated on live bait like peanut bunker. Scott would guess the Brick Pile and Rose Cove were places, because that’s where weaks showed in past years. One weakfish is the bag limit, so the fishing was a sport fishery, releasing most. Fishing for small fish like blowfish and kingfish never got going in Great Bay like it does during some summers. A few were hooked here and there, and baby sea bass schooled the water. Schoolie striped bass 16 inches and smaller were played on Mullica River during low light in calm wind. The wind mattered because the stripers foraged on peanut bunker, and anglers needed to see the disturbed water surface from the peanuts to locate the stripers, and calm wind, keeping the surface calm enough, was needed for that. They threw lures like Rat-L-Traps and poppers. Customers bought eels, an indication that larger, keeper stripers might’ve swum the river. The fish bit last fall, so the anglers looked for them now. Baits stocked in addition to eels include fresh, shucked clams, bloodworms and green crabs. Live grass shrimp had been stocked, after none had been carried in the heat of summer that kills them. But the livewell pump failed, killing the shrimp. Scott will try to net more Friday if conditions are right.
Good sign: a 30-inch striped bass was brought from the back bay to Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, Capt. Dave said. The fish was plugged on a Daiwa SP Minnow, and the angler landed several larger than 20 inches on the trip among stripers ambushing mullet. Fall fishing seemed coming along, no matter warm weather. Dave’s pretty much got the boat ready for striped bass, hopes to explore for them this coming week and to begin running striper charters in a couple of weeks. Striper fishing was pretty solid on Mullica River on eels and shedder crabs. Dave picked off mullet from the surf in the castnet this week pretty well to stock live. So some began to migrate the surf, and the run was probably peaking. If temperatures drop, signs of the changing season like that will probably happen big time. He’s loading up the livewells with live bait including the mullet and peanut bunker for stripers. Live spots from Maryland and eels are also carried for them. Shedder crabs are stocked, and a supplier just brought in more today. So soft-shell crabs for eating should be on hand this weekend, and the store raises them. They’ll only be available a short time longer this year, and keep up on the supply on the store’s soft-shell crabs Facebook page. Nobody was heard about who sailed for summer flounder to ocean reefs, and easterly wind seemed no good for sailing that far for many boats. Blackfish seemed to cooperate at surf jetties a little better than before, and nobody was heard about who fished for them at Brigantine Bridge. Lots of small to medium-sized blues ran the surf, Absecon Inlet and the bay.
Lot of fish, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. Anglers on foot at Absecon Inlet nailed catches including many blackfish and bluefish that both went crazy. Kingfish and large spots were yanked from the water. Herring and sometimes mullet schooled the inlet. Croakers were beaned from the sea wall, on the bay end of the inlet. If anglers couldn’t catch fish from the inlet now, they may as well hang it up, he said! They fished baits including fresh mullet, clams, herring and bloodworms. All those baits and more, a full supply, are stocked. ***Big Heads Up:*** Noel began a petition for anglers to protest the government’s planned closing of fishing the jetties along the inlet. Click the link to read and sign the important petition. The inlet is historically an important location for recreational fishing in New Jersey. The previous world-record striped bass, 78.8 pounds, was even caught a short walk from the inlet, at the Vermont Avenue jetty in 1982. The inlet is one of the best striper fisheries for recreational anglers. But the government apparently doesn’t know about fishing like that, and it’s up to anglers to stop the closure. The government recently said access will be granted, after Noel began to spearhead the protest. But until the government makes that official, the protest needs to continue.
Egg Harbor Township
A little began to be heard about striped bass caught, said Austin from 24-7 Bait & Tackle. The catches came from the surf, he thought, and a few mullet migrated the surf. Nothing was heard about bluefish in the surf. There was a craze of buying bloodworms for kingfish in the surf until the last two weeks or so, and that ended since. Nothing was heard about summer flounder, and he wasn’t asked a reason, but wind prevented boats except larger from fishing the ocean in past days, including for flounder, and the bay’s flounder fishing slowed some time ago. A few crabs still floated around Patcong Creek, running past the shop. The store’s rental boats are docked on the creek and are used for crabbing and fishing including on the creek, Great Egg Harbor River and the bay. Patcong is one of the best places for crabbing. Minnows, favorite bait for flounder, have been half-price throughout the fishing season, and will be carried through Sunday, the final day of flounder season, at least. The minnows are $3 for a half-pint, $6 for a pint and $12 for a quart. Baits stocked currently also include fresh mullet, shedder crabs, bloodworms and nightcrawlers. The company also owns 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora.
A surf caster socked a 29-inch striped bass at Brigantine, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. Another picked up two 18-inch summer flounder from the island’s north end surf. Snapper blues and kingfish roamed the surf, but the water was a little weedy in past days, making fishing difficult. Mullet heavily migrated the surf Thursday and Friday, and that was spotty since, or they showed up here and there now. They often school thick in the surf during September’s full moon that was on Friday, and keep doing so. The Brigantine Elks Fall Classic Tournament will take place November 11 to 13, and all profits will reportedly benefit veterans. Applications are available at Riptide and at the Elks. The annual Riptide Fall Striper Derby is underway until December 23. Prizes are $500, $300 and $150 for the first, second and third heaviest stripers, respectively, and $300, $200 and $100 for the first through third heaviest bluefish, from Brigantine’s surf. The $25 entry includes a permit that when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit allows the angler to drive the entire front beach in the town. Not all the beach can be driven otherwise.
Summer flounder were pounded non-stop from the ocean yesterday on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. Seven were keepers, and the fish paved bottom in 83 feet of water during the northeast blow. Wind was forecast to gust too strongly, kicking up 3- and 4-foot seas, for a trip to sail today. But an open-boat trip will fish for flounder Friday, the final open trip for the fish before flounder season is closed beginning Monday. Mike’s looking forward to fishing for sea bass when sea bass season is opened beginning October 22, and for blackfish beginning November 16, when the bag limit is increased to six of the tautog, from the current limit of one. The sea bass trips will steam to the deep for best catches off the bat.
Surf anglers tugged in small blues and some kingfish, said Bill from Fin-Atics. Mullet sometimes migrated the surf, so small striped bass were sometimes beached from the surf. But small stripers more often were angled from the bay along bridges. Small sea bass schooled all over the bay, and small weakfish swam the bay. Lots of small fish were around, because water was warm. Little was heard about offshore fishing, because wind and seas were rough for boating there. Boaters fished offshore during the weekend, tackling white marlin and a few wahoos. Crabs were still trapped.
Sea Isle City
A 31-inch striped bass was beached from the surf at 80th Street in town Tuesday, said employee Mike, not owner Mike, from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. He was unaware whether mullet migrated the surf, but kingfish were plucked from the surf. Bluefish 1 to 1 ½ pounds were banked at Townsend’s Inlet from shore. So were small weakfish and junk fish. Small summer flounder were boated from the back bay, and so were lots of junk fish including oyster crackers and skates. Small sea bass schooled the bay. A couple of boaters sailed to Townsend’s Inlet Reef for flounder the other day, but rough seas beat them up. Nothing else was heard about the fishing recently, because of seas. Previously, Ocean City Reef produced good-sized flounder, and the coral beds off Ocean City and Townsend’s Inlet Reef gave up flounder sometimes. Sizable out-of-season sea bass bit at places like that. Nothing was heard about offshore fishing for big game because seas also prevented those trips. Crabbing was good.
More of the annual traveling charters to Montauk aboard will fish this weekend, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Surely false albacore will school, and the year’s first of the trips, last weekend, hammered them, covered in the last report here. The trips fish the fall migrations of striped bass, blues and false albacore. Large sea bass were jigged on one of the trips last weekend, also covered in the last report. The trips fish until the end of October, and afterward Joe turns all attention to the migration of stripers and blues off Sea Isle City. His traveling charters also include annual trips to the Florida Keys in winter. See the traveling charters’ page on Jersey Cape’s website. Off Sea Isle currently, surely small blues schooled the ocean, and Joe wouldn’t be surprised if a few false albacore swam the water. His trips fought albies that most recently swam in small pockets in the water, covered in previous reports here. Summer flounder season will be closed beginning Monday, and Joe would imagine they bit in the ocean. The fishing’s usually excellent this time of year. A buddy said a ton of mullet migrated the surf at Ocean City last week. A decent amount of mullet have been schooling the back bay. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.
One or two summer flounder were clutched from the back bay here or there, said Mike from Canal Side Boat Rentals. But the fishing was slow, maybe because of freshwater from rain, he said. “But I don’t think so,” he said. The year’s final supply of minnows, favorite flounder bait, was stocked. No more will be ordered this year once they’re sold, because flounder season will be closed beginning Monday. Lots of snapper blues bit in the bay, and lots of small striped bass 12 or 14 inches were mixed in. “So that’s happening,” he said, and crabbing was pretty good, and should only improve. This is the time of year for that, and crabs chow down before crawling into the mud for winter. From the ocean, no news was heard about flounder fishing at the reefs. Mike tries to make it a point to ask anglers results who sail there, so they usually tell him if they catch. No news seemed to mean slow catches. The shop will probably be open through the first weekend of October before being closed for a winter break. Canal Side rents boats for fishing, crabbing and pleasure and kayaks. ***Get a $5 discount*** on a rental boat if you mention Fishing Reports Now. A large supply of bait and tackle is carried. Crabs for eating are sold, and the price depends on the market. Prices currently included $30 per dozen for live No. 1s. That size was somewhat smaller than earlier in the year, and currently 6 ½ or 7 dozen were in a bushel. No. 2s are smaller, but were currently good-sized. Someone had just mentioned how full of meat they were. No. 2s were currently $15 per dozen, $25 for two dozen and $10 per dozen for each additional dozen. Customers enjoy the crabs and other food, including shrimp, clams and oysters when available, at picnic tables with tents on the water at the store. Or they take out the food and enjoy.
Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter waited to hear results about tuna fishing on a couple of boats that sailed yesterday for the fish, he said. Charters on the Heavy Hitter will sail for tuna when the fishing is good. Not much was heard about boating in past days, and weather wasn’t great for the angling, including last weekend. A 4-hour trip Sunday aboard will probably troll for bluefish off Cape May Point.
Fishing for summer flounder hadn’t been good on the ocean after Tropical Storm Hermine, but gave up action in past days sometimes on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. Weather was rough on some days, but a couple of anglers bagged four aboard lately, and some landed no keepers, but that’s flounder fishing. Wind blew strongly Monday, and the day’s trip never caught many flounder. Some action was copped on Tuesday’s trip, and not all customers reeled in a keeper. Bob Herr from Alexandria, Va., that day, using a rental rod, bagged four. Gene Barkley from Upper Chichester, Pa.’s, celebrated his 90th birthday that day, Tuesday, bagged two on the trip and was tickled. On Wednesday’s trip, Ed Smith from Glen Mills, Pa., bagged four of the fish to a 5-pounder, winning the pool with that one. So a few flounder were around in past days, at least. Wind today was supposed to gust strongly to 20 or 25 knots. Whether that would affect the angling afterward couldn’t be known. But trips are slated to fish for summer flounder at 8 a.m. daily through Sunday, the final day of flounder season. Afterward, trips might be docked until fishing daily for sea bass beginning October 22, opening day of sea bass season. But Paul will see.
Blues 10 to 16 inches put out catches, pretty good, from the surf, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. A few striped bass were picked from the surf between the blues. They were throwbacks, but time was getting closer to when striper fishing will become better, and larger stripers should be caught in the surf then. A couple of surf casters reported reeling in 26-inch throwbacks. Mullet began to be seen migrating the surf. Those who could boat for summer flounder on the ocean in somewhat windy weather and somewhat rough seas seemed to catch at the Old Grounds and Reef 11. Flounder season will be closed beginning Monday. A 6-3/4-pound flounder was banked from Cape May Canal from shore. Nobody mentioned flounder from Delaware Bay, and that was surprising, because flounder fishing usually ramps up in the southern bay toward the shop this time of year. Good fishing for weakfish and some larger croakers was boated at Brandywine on the bay. The last Nick heard, kingfish and croakers were boated at 20-Foot Slough on the bay. He fished Wilmington Canyon on a charter on the Common Sense. A cooler full of mahi mahi was mugged, and a white marlin probably 50 pounds, the biggest Nick ever landed, was scored. Tons of bait schooled, and the water looked good. Crabs were still trapped in back waters. Nick is trying to keep fresh mullet stocked, and plenty of frozen are on hand. Baits stocked also include bloodworms and, through the weekend, minnows.