Anglers wanted to sail for a combo of sea bass and fluke Saturday with Outcast Charters, Capt. Joe said. The sea bass fishing was decent, barreling up quite a few 3-pounders. Then the trip fluked 2 ½ hours, nailing nine keepers, including two 5- and 6-pounders, among throwbacks. So the fluking was pretty good. Outcast now will either fluke or fish for a combo of fluke and sea bass on trips. Trips are available from either Staten Island, N.Y., or Sewaren, N.J. Though New Jersey’s sea bass season will be closed starting Friday, New York’s will remain open. Eight sea bass 14 inches or larger is New York’s bag limit.
Fluke fishing showed improvement, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. Trips averaged six to 12 keepers apiece that weighed up to 7 pounds. Thirty to 50 throwbacks were released per trip. So, shorts dominated, but that will change soon, he said. The better anglers came close to limiting out on every trip. Standing next to someone catching keepers, when shorts is all you catch, is frustrating. “It’s not just dragging bait anymore,” he said. It’s about making the bait look more appealing than another’s. On some days, catching fluke is easy. But currently, anglers had to work. The harder you work, the better you’ll score. Frank will teach you, but the rest is up to you, he said. Dialing in on one great bite was difficult, because the fish were spread all over Raritan Bay. Fluke were found on every stop, just not the mother lode. The next open-boat trips, unless a charter books the dates, will fluke on: Friday, July 31; Monday through Wednesday, August 3 to 5; and Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8. No trips will fish August 9 through 16.
Fishing was super on trips for ling and cod, said Capt. Mario from the Down Deep Fleet. That was on both 12-hour, marathon trips and 8-hour trips on the Down Deep, one of two boats the company runs. Lots of ling were pounded, and good catches of cod, and also winter flounder, got whipped. On the Down Deep Bull, the company’s other boat, fluke fishing was picky at first but improved as the week went on, and was excellent on a trip Sunday. The trip found a new body of fish, and the catch included an 8-pounder, two 7-pounders and a bunch of 3- to 5-pounders. Charters are sailing, and join the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open-boat trips. Also see the site’s open-trips page for available dates. Open trips include 12-hour marathons for fluke or ling and cod. Up to 15 passengers can be accommodated.
Somewhat fewer fluke bit the past couple of days on the party boat Atlantic Star, Capt. Tom said. Quite a few throwbacks still hit, but not the big numbers of previous trips. Some keepers still came in, and anglers still landed two, four, six or 10 or 12 throwbacks. Kids still caught, and all trips sailed, and customers enjoyed the outings, is the best way to put it, he said. Alex Callahan, Eatontown, clobbered a 9-1/2-pound fluke on Saturday afternoon’s trip. Every trip sailed aboard since June 2. Wind was somewhat annoying on Sunday afternoon’s trip, but on the bay, the weather was fishable. The boat fished the bay on all trips, like before. Sometimes Tom didn’t post a report every day on the boat’s website, because the fishing was often the same, or there was nothing new to post. But all trips sailed. The Atlantic Star is fishing for fluke on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m.
When conditions were right, fluke failed to bite, and when conditions were terrible, anglers slugged away at the fish, Sunday on the party boat Fishermen, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. The boat drifted perfectly at first, in the morning, when the fish failed to chew. Later, anglers slugged away at throwbacks and keepers, when conditions worsened. A 7.2-pound fluke won the pool. No report was posted for Saturday, and on Friday, a charter fished aboard, and the bite was good. More keepers were bagged than expected, and weather was perfect, and fluking conditions were good. Ron and Capt. Ron Sr. also fished during the outing, each limiting out, Ron on bucktails, Sr. on bait. The Fishermen is sailing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Trips are fishing for porgies, fluke and whatever bites 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Great days Saturday and Sunday aboard, said Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters. Two trips bottom-fished those days, walloping ling, sea bass, cod, pollock and big winter flounder. Saturday’s trip, with the Wounded Warriors, cranked in as many fish as they could catch. Sunday’s trip was similar. Cod to 40 pounds were plastered on the most recent individual-reservation trip for them, and one space is available for one of the trips August 5, because of a cancellation. Another was just added for September 2. An individual-reservation trip will fish inshore wrecks August 9, and another was just added for August 30. Individual-reservation trips are fishing for fluke every Tuesday, and kids under 12 sail free on those outings, limited to two per adult host. A few spaces are available for this week’s.
Decent weekend, Bob from Fishermen’s Den wrote in an email. Several good-sized fluke were taken on Shark River on the shop’s rental boats and the ocean on Belmar’s party boats. Some huge bluefish were tackled on the party boats Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess on the ocean. One weighed 24 pounds, and the number of blues was fewer than liked, but grew every day. Two cod 29 and 23 pounds were weighed-in from a Belmar charter boat. The marina’s offshore anglers scored well. One, Lou, a store regular, boated a 140-pound yellowfin tuna. That was the largest tuna from the trips. ***Update, Tuesday, 7/28:*** The party boats today ran into big blues, “not bags full, but enough to keep people happy,” Bob wrote in an email. The fish weighed up to 22 pounds, and Shark River’s fluking was good today. Andrew Meli from Wall cashed in on four keepers and a good numbers of throwbacks. “Things are looking better,” Bob said.
Weather was great, and fluke trips aboard sailed, said Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters. Some days of the fishing were decent. Trips Thursday and Friday picked away at throwbacks and sometimes keepers to 7 pounds. A trip Saturday competed in the Point Pleasant Elks fluke tournament, and 5 pounds was the biggest fluke aboard the outing, but the keeper ratio was good. The trip probably could’ve limited out, but moved on, looking for tournament-winning size. Still, sizable fluke 22 and 23 inches or larger were plowed. Hard southeast wind kept Sunday’s trip fluking close to shore. Seventeen-inchers, an inch under keeper-sized, bit the whole time, including double-headers. Sometimes keepers to 6 pounds came in. Fluking might’ve felt like work recently. But that will change, and a new body of fish will move in, Pete feels. Fluke trips include On the Water Seminars that teach bucktailing for the big ones, and space is available on August 5 and 10 on those outings. Novices learn the skill, and the somewhat experienced hone it, on the trips. Charters can also book the seminars. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway, about individual spaces available on charters. Jump on Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the email blast to be kept informed about the spaces. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page, where it says Join Our Newsletter.
On the Katie H, a trip Saturday limited out on sea bass and caught ling mixed in, Capt. Mike said. Then the trip fluked, grabbing four keepers, including a 25-incher, and some throwbacks. The ratio of keeper sea bass seemed less than a month ago. But a limit was made, and sea bass season will be closed starting Friday. Weather was perfect. The year’s first tuna trip is slated for August 7 or 8. That will be a day-trolling trip, not an overnighter, at the canyons. A friend fished Lindenkohl Canyon, overnighting both Friday and Saturday on the trip. But the angling was no good, and lots of boats filled the water. Only mixed reports, up and down, spotty, were heard about bluefin tuna, closer to shore. But that could change, and that first tuna trip on the Katie H will fish for the bluefins, along with canyon tuna fishing, if the bluefins are possible to catch.
A few 18- and 19-pound bluefish were fought aboard Friday on the Golden Eagle, a report on the party boat’s website said. Lots of big blues broke the water surface, but were difficult to catch. On Saturday’s trip, monster blues broke all over the surface, and the anglers did get some to bite. On Sunday’s trip, bluefishing was a little slow, not as good as before. Again, the fish were seen, but getting them to bite was the thing. A few big were beaten by the end. On today’s trip, a few blues, huge, 18 to 20 pounds, were socked in the morning. In the afternoon, 3- to 5-pound blues were picked. The Golden Eagle is fishing at 7:30 a.m. daily. Fishing and sunset cruises are sailing at 4:30 p.m. daily, and reservations are required for those outings.
Whoa! Capt. Ryan from the party boat Jamaica II wrote in an email Saturday. Looks like the usual August fluke bite is getting cranked up a week early, he said. Great fishing, especially on Saturday afternoon’s trip. Tons of bites, and lots of good-sized keepers mixed in. Even newbies cracked three or four keeper fluke and a bunch of throwbacks apiece. A few customers and their catches included: Chris Molinari, limit of fluke to 5 pounds; Dave Tootchen and Dave Nelson, a limit of fluke apiece; Young Park, four keeper fluke to 4 pounds; Donny Patrick, four keepers; ad Carol and Jim Stanger, eight keeper fluke to 5 pounds. Get them while its hot! Ryan said. Weather looks great in the next days. Half-day trips are fishing 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and an all-day marathon is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday.
For boaters on the ocean, fluke fishing seemed to improve a little during the weekend, said Eric from The Reel Seat. A good number of keepers were around, among shorts that gave up plenty of action. The fluking seemed better to the north, from the Red Church to Sandy Hook. But fluke were scratched out at Axel Carlson and Sea Girt reefs, if local anglers didn’t want to travel far. Pink Shine and Nuclear Chicken were hot colors. Manasquan River’s fluking was pretty darn good, he said, and lots of the flatfish were also reeled from Manasquan Inlet’s wall. Tinker mackerel schooled the inlet, and if anglers could jig a tinker with a Sabiki rig to liveline the baitfish, catching a keeper fluke was almost guaranteed. Striped bass, mostly shorts, swam the river at the Railroad Bridge and Route 35 Bridge, and swam Point Pleasant Canal. Four-inch Fin-S Fish in Arkansas Shiner and 4-inch shads on jigheads hooked them. But a few were landed on Daiwa SP Minnow and Bomber lures. In the surf, fishing for brown sharks, required to be released, was good. Mackerel, bluefish and bunker got them to bite, and high tides at night fished best. Ling fishing on the ocean pulled in good numbers, like 12 to 25 or 30 per angler. Gulp Ghost Shrimp hooked them well, so the water seemed to warm. Tuna fishing seemed to produce well at the 100 Square at Hudson Canyon the past couple of days. Yellowfin, bigeye and longfin tuna were trolled. But sometimes tuna were chunked and jigged at night at the canyon. “So that’s starting,” he said. Mahi mahi catches were pretty darn good from Chicken Canyon all the way to the offshore canyons. Definitely keep some small lures in the trolling spread, he said. Chumming for mahi at lobster pots also did the job. Bluefin tuna fishing was pretty good at the Texas Tower and the Bacardi wreck for 60- to 80-pounders, decent-sized, mostly on the troll. But a couple of trips that were heard about jigged the fish when bait was found balled up. Closer to shore, bluefins were picked away at the Atlantic Princess wreck and the Chicken Canyon, not great, but some caught. Those bluefins ranged from 20-pound footballs to 40- or 50-pounders, and trips really needed to fish for them at first light or dusk. Black and purple seemed hot colors. But Green Machine spreader bars and daisy chains connected. Eight-inch shells caught.
Point Pleasant Beach
A longbill spearfish was trolled and released at Hudson Canyon on Friday with Mushin Sportfishing, Capt. Ray wrote in an email. That’s an infrequent catch, and was the angler’s first billfish. “(Now the angler) will be on the billfish slam tour, with a challenging one out of the way,” Ray said. The spearfish looked like a white marlin, when it swam into the spread. It swiped a ballyhoo with an Ilander skirt in the prop wash. The trip arrived at 4:20 a.m. at the Hudson, along the East Wall. A bigeye tuna, “the right bite,” Ray said, was hooked within 10 minutes. The fish was fought more than an hour, wreaking havoc on the crew! But then the bigeye got off, and the crew saw the hook pop out. A few mahi mahi were trolled aboard that morning. The spearfish bit at 1 p.m. That was a day-troll, or a one-day trip that trolled, not an overnighter. Overnighters both troll, during daytime, and fish with bait, or chunk, as it’s called, at night. An overnight, open-boat trip arrived at the Hudson Saturday evening, at the spot where the bigeye tuna bit Friday. Another bigeye was hooked, this one within 5 minutes, and the 220-pounder was landed in an hour. Chunking at night was slow, except a few mahi were caught. In the morning, trolling went 3 for 5 on longfin tuna, a decent bite. Mahi really snapped on the troll, and 30 of the fish to 15 pounds were subdued. A trip earlier on Saturday bluefished aboard. Big bluefish were seen in the chum slick, but refused to bite, like most of the fleet experienced. That seemed because of spawning. Blues were there, at least, and anglers hope that getting them to bite is only a matter of time. The trip then limited out on two sea bass per person and bagged some triggerfish to salvage the day.
Catches of fluke were picky Friday through Sunday on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. Throwbacks turned out plenty of action, and keepers were hung only here and there. Gulps seemed to hook the bigger fluke, and Matt hopes to see more keepers as the week goes on. “August is a very good month to fish down here,” he said. On night trips, bluefishing wasn’t as good during the weekend as it was early last week. Blues 1 pound were picked during the weekend, and a bunch of mackerel were caught on one of the trips. The angling was slow overall, “but the big ones should be here soon!” he said. Bigger blues showed up starting on August 2 last year, and that’s this coming Sunday. 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 for blues 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
Snapper blues and blowfish, both small, nipped along the dock, a report on The Dock Outfitters’ website said. The snappers are always small at first during the season, and grow quickly. Crabbers weeded through throwbacks to come up with a decent catch of keepers. Crabbing was easier from the shop’s rental boats than the dock, because the boaters could move and find the blueclaws. In the surf, fluke fishing was a slow pick. Surf fishing for brown sharks, required to be released, was good at night. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, boat and jet ski rentals, a café and a dock for fishing and crabbing.
A few more keepers were sacked Thursday and Friday than before on the party boat Miss Barnegat Light, the vessel’s Facebook page said. The boat fished for fluke and sea bass, and the angling was a little tougher on Saturday’s trip, but a few keepers of both were boxed. The fishing was better on Sunday’s trip, because the boat drifted more. The Miss Barnegat Light is fishing 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Sea bass season will be closed starting Friday.
***Update, Tuesday, 7/28:*** From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier, about the season’s first offshore trip aboard: “I had a full open-boat trip to Barnegat Ridge on Saturday with John Mazzone from Wayne, Lenny Araneo from Barnegat and Chris Sakoutis from Staten Island. We threw the ropes at 5 a.m., and throttled up for Barnegat Ridge North. When we arrived, the water was ugly green, so I didn’t even put the lines out. We ran another 17 miles east to the Resor wreck, which also had poor-quality water, no birds, no life – so we just kept trekking east. A few miles shy of the Atlantic Princess, we saw the water turn one shade better, not great, but better. I started putting out the seven-rod spread one at a time, and in that short time, the water turned blue. Like blue-blue! That alone raised morale, and my adrenaline was through the roof. At least we were fishing now. Even if we don’t catch, we’re in the right water, dragging the right stuff. There were three scallop draggers working the area, chick birds hitting the water here and there, a few good readings, a sea turtle. A guy on the radio had just boated a good-sized bluefin, and in an effort to help his buddy find him, he referenced the same scallop boats we were working! Things were looking good. Except, no hits. We worked the area for a few hours, without a touch. As we circled around, Lenny caught a glimpse of some surface action off the bow. We took a swing-by to what looked like small skippies or boohoo mackerel, splashing and feeding. Just as the last lure passed the commotion, the 50W International in my T-top holder was screaming line out. I only had two rods up there, a way-back ballyhoo, and a rainbow spreader bar. From the sound of the runoff, I was sure a big bluefin had just inhaled the ballyhoo. But when I went to grab the rod out of the tree, it was the spreader bar that was on. Whatever, we’ll take it. John grabbed the rod from me, and went to work on this fish, for 25 minutes. As the fish got near, I warned him about getting the rod out of the gimbal belt, as the fish will be deep and spiraling, under the boat. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I saw the rainbow spreader bar streaking from one side of the boat to the other ... on the surface! Now I’m thinking I’ve got to gaff this ‘green’ tuna while he streaks by the boat, except, as he gets close enough, it’s not a tuna. It’s a wahoo! And not just any wahoo – it’s massive. Lenny leaders him, and I stick this 6-foot beast with a headshot. Lenny added gaff No. 2, and after a briefing with my crew, about how dangerous this fish is to have onboard, a 93-pound wahoo hit the deck. One hit, one fish, turned our whole trip around. Here’s a few minutes of video as we land him that Chris shot on her IPAD. Sorry about the language and lack of composure, but I really wasn’t expecting a wahoo!” ***Another Update, Tuesday, 7/28:*** The wahoo was boated on a Canyon Runner rainbow spreader bar and weighed-in at Long Key Marina in Waretown, Dave said. “I like to give credit where it’s due,” he said. The trip departed from Bob’s Bay Marina in Barnegat.
Summer flounder, a couple of sea bass, a brown shark and some sand sharks and sea robins were angled from the ocean Friday on the June Bug, Capt. Lindsay said. The flounder and sea bass were throwbacks, except for a 22-inch, keeper flounder that a 7-year-old landed. A similar mix of fish, no keepers, was toggled aboard Saturday. June Bug will begin fishing for tuna and other big game this summer. A few yellowfin tuna caught were heard about on the radio, and the location was unknown. Nothing was heard about bluefin tuna.
The bottom fell out this weekend, said Capt. Mike from the Stray Cat. The boat inshore-trolled, bottom-fished and summer flounder fished on the ocean, and that was all slow. The water turned over, and boat traffic was heavy. If a net was dipped over the side, three other boats showed up. Previously, inshore trolling cleaned up on bluefish, bonito, false albacore and mahi mahi. A mahi was hooked but got off 9 ½ miles from shore aboard then. “You can go from hero to zero (quickly),” he said. But the good news is that an open-boat trip will fish for flounder on August 5, he said. Telephone to jump aboard. A $500 discount is no longer available on overnight tuna trips. “They had their chance!” he said.
Lots of action on summer flounder was lit into from the back bay on the party boat Miss Ocean City, Capt. Victor said. Sometimes keepers were mixed in, not on all trips. Croakers even began to be hooked from the bay aboard. The Captain Robbins, the company’s other party boat, will begin fishing the ocean August 10, he hopes.
Sea Isle City
A family aboard jumped on one of the inshore shark trips Sunday with Jersey Cape Guide Service, Capt. Joe Hughes said. They beat and released six or seven brown sharks and a huge duskie shark about 150 pounds and 7 feet. Many of the sharks, including browns and duskies, are required to be released, and the trips, usually within 10 miles from shore, are an opportunity to fight big fish without the long trek offshore. The sharking’s been good, and another family fished for summer flounder on the back bay that morning aboard, Sunday. They tugged in a keeper and a bunch of throwbacks. Flounder still swam the bay, and ocean flounder fishing was picking up. Fishing’s been good. High tides at dusk will be ideal this week for popper fishing for striped bass on the bay with lures and flies. Joe expects to sail for them a time or two this week, and the angling, a specialty aboard in summer, draws explosive, visual attacks along the water surface. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
A trip aboard picked up friends at Rehoboth and fished Delaware 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, a keeper in Delaware’s 20- to 25-inch slot limit, were cranked in. The trip fished for flounder at the Ice Breakers, the piles of rocks, some rising above water, some not, on that side of the bay. Not a lot of flounder bit, but the keeper ratio seemed better than some places these days. The striper bit along the break wall. A trip Saturday fished the ocean at Sea Isle Lump and Townsend’s Inlet Reef. A bunch of throwback flounder and skates bit. Seas were dead calm, and no current ran, and no wind blew. The water was 79 degrees at the lump. Tons of baitfish schooled the ocean. Butterfish and bunker were seen. Lots of dolphin swam, and a huge sea turtle, the size of a Mack truck, was seen. The trip fished the back bay on the way back to port, but only crabs bit. Schools of blues were seen on the ocean, and fishing for them would probably be okay, if trips targeted them.
With Fins & Grins Sportfishing, trips limited out on sea bass and reeled up summer flounder, including a couple of keepers, at ocean reefs the past two days, Capt. Jim said. Was good to see the sea bass and to see the flounder fishing improving a little. Shark fishing was great aboard Delaware Bay. 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 the inlet and Cape May Point. 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. Things are picking up, Jim said. Fins fishes every day, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availablility.
Tuna fishing was dead Friday on the Heavy Hitter, Capt. George said. The trip chunked until 9:30 a.m., and only bluefish, a bunch, bit. Then the trip trolled, and a couple of mahi mahi were caught, and a couple were missed. Seventeen yellowfin tuna were chunked aboard Monday, covered in the previous report. Boat traffic was heavy on Friday. The trips have been fishing between 20 and 30 fathoms, and anglers have been telephoning to go. But George will wait to see if the fishing turns back on, before going again. A few boats caught the yellowfins Friday, but most didn’t. George spoke with anglers who sailed for the tuna Saturday, and bluefish even disappeared, they said. Bigeye tuna were decked at Lindenkohl Canyon, according to second-hand reports. George knew anglers who fished Baltimore and Wilmington canyons. Any tuna caught there came from the Wilmington. Some white marlin were taken at the Baltimore. A trip Sunday on the Heavy Hitter reeled in triggerfish, bluefish and throwback sea bass from the ocean. Fewer were caught than wanted, but some were landed. Summer flounder bagged on the ocean were heard about from Ocean City and Cape May reefs, and the fishing seemed nothing to write home about. One boat might score 12 or 15 keepers, a good catch. But others might total one or two keepers.