Ling and cod fishing was super Monday aboard, said Capt. Mario from the Down Deep Fleet. The trips are fishing deeper than before, because ling moved deeper, and winter flounder were also iced on the outing. Fluke fishing was good aboard Tuesday. Fluking was a little slow on a trip Wednesday morning, and another trip was fishing for them that evening, when Mario gave this report in a phone call. But fluking was shaping up, he said, and the summer flounder to 8 pounds were angled aboard. 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.
Customers bagged fluke occasionally who boated Raritan Bay, said Joe Sr. from Joey’s Bait & Tackle. Lots of bunker and other bait schooled the water. The bay’s shore anglers had fun with snapper blues that swam abundant at Keyport. Big cownosed rays, lots, 20 to 80 pounds, bit from the shore. Crabbing seemed good, and many customers crabbed. Keyport’s always popular for crabbing. Baits stocked include killies and fresh bunker. Fresh clams aren’t stocked this time of year, because they’re not in demand. Bunker, spearing and smelts were the most popular baits bought at the shop.
On the party boat Atlantic Star, Wednesday was probably one of the better days for angling keeper fluke this season, Capt. Tom said. The total number for the morning and afternoon trips was the best of the year that day. The afternoon trip especially gave up the fish. Not that a lot of keepers were pasted on the morning trip, but the number was improved. Both trips landed a load of throwbacks, like usual. Otherwise, fluking was about the same as before in past days aboard. All anglers caught at least throwbacks Wednesday, Tom believed. The morning trip’s high hook boated three keepers. Two anglers bagged two apiece on the afternoon’s. Tuesday’s fluking wasn’t good aboard. Only a handful of anglers showed up for the afternoon’s trip, because of the forecast, Tom guessed. The trip sailed anyway, picking at shorts, only a few keepers. A decent turnout showed up for the morning’s trip, and fishing was similar. Short action was okay, and not many keepers came in. Wednesday’s trips were totally different, and conditions were right. Wind made seas choppy, but that cooled the temperature. That was a good day. All trips have been sailing, and fishing the bay. The boat on Wednesday fished 25 minutes from port. If anglers don’t see a report for a day on the boat’s website, all trips have still been sailing. Reports have been repetitious, so there was nothing new for Tom to write. 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.
Wind blew against tide throughout Wednesday’s fluke trip on the party boat Fishermen, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. That hampers the boat’s drift, but the trip worked ocean snags, rocks and anywhere else the summer flounder could be caught, and the fish still managed to be reeled in. Some sizable sea bass did, too. If a trip could get a day when everything’s right, it would be a home run. Just got to have patience and keep working hard. Capt. Ron Sr. limited out and pasted three good-sized sea bass. Several anglers bagged two fluke apiece, and throwbacks gave up action the whole trip. Tom Krako won the pool with a 6.7-pound fluke. On Tuesday’s trip, no wind blew, and no current flowed, to drift the boat, and, again, the trip still caught, finding the fish at the end. The anglers slugged away, catching some good-sized fluke. One of the sea bass was a beautiful 5-1/2-pounder. Trips sometimes power-drifted, and Ron was sticking with his conviction to fish the ocean. Power-drifting wasn’t an option aboard Raritan Bay on Wednesday’s trip with wind against, for instance. The Fishermen is sailing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. However, a charter is booked this Friday and Monday mornings, so no open-boat trips will fish then. 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.
Fluke fishing was good way up Raritan Bay, said Joe Sr. from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Lots of the fish were small, and fluke bit in the rivers, too. “Just got to be patient,” he said. Great catches of striped bass were boated, anywhere bunker schooled. The bass were caught right in the bay, he thought, but locations weren’t heard. Bunker schooled abundant. Porgy fishing was just fair at Sandy Hook Reef. Nothing was heard about ling. Fishing was slow at Keyport Pier on the bay. But lots of snappers schooled at places like that. Crabbing was terrific. Surf anglers banked big rays, sometimes fluke and some dogfish, and a striper now and then. All baits are stocked.
Sailing from Twin Lights Marina, Jack Lawrence and son boated sea bass at Ambrose Channel during the weekend, Marion wrote in an email. 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. Baits stocked include the full offshore selection. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card.
***Update, Friday, 7/24:*** Great fishing for cod, ling, fluke and sea bass this week aboard, Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters wrote in an email. Cod to 40 pounds were plastered on a trip for cod. An individual-reservation trip for cod has filled on August 5. A few spots remain on an individual-reservation trip August 9 that will fish inshore wrecks. Individual-reservation trips are fishing for fluke every Tuesday, and children under 12 sail free, limited to two per adult host.
Blues 4 to 7 pounds, a pretty good catch, were wrangled aboard Wednesday on the Golden Eagle, a report on the party boat’s website said. On Tuesday’s trip, bluefish 3 to 5 pounds were caught at first. Big blues to 8 pounds showed up and were nailed later in the trip. All the blues were jigged on the trips. Weather looks good in the next days. Great time to bring family and friends, the report said. 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.
Fluking wasn’t as good on Wednesday as previously, for unknown reasons, on the party boat Big Mohawk, Capt. Chris said. The angling was good the first hour, then fell apart. But the fishing on trips was decent, pretty dependable, overall, aboard. A couple of 10-pounders were smashed this week on the vessel. Gulp grubs or mullets on bucktails and spinning rods fished best, by far. Spinning rods can cast away from the boat. The Big Mohawk is fishing for fluke 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
A 21-pound bluefish was crushed Tuesday on the party boat Miss Belmar Princess, an email from the vessel said. A couple of big blues and a handful of 6-pounders were angled on the trip. Plenty of blues were seen along the surface toward the end of the outing, “(but) they just wouldn’t cooperate,” it said. Five- to 6-pound blues were jigged throughout Wednesday’s trip. A good-sized population of the fish was found, and lots of birds worked the water, “(but the blues) just did not want to bite,” it said. The Miss Belmar Princess is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Saturday. Family Fun Days are sailing 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Friday and Sunday for fluke, sea bass, blues or whatever bites. The trips enjoy a sunset cruise on the way home. One of those trips on Tuesday landed a few keeper fluke and sea bass and had some action with throwbacks of both. ***Update, Thursday, 7/23:*** Lots of gator blues fed on bunker ferociously on today’s trip, and a few to a handful were slapped aboard each drift of the boat, an email from the Miss Belmar Princess said. The blues weighed 17 to 21 pounds, and readings were super. Fewer blues were caught than would be expected among that many seen, but the catches were a great improvement over the past weeks. The fish were jigged on Ava 47’s and Krocodiles.
A mako shark was bagged and another was released Monday on the Katie H, Capt. Mike said. He knew the water was warm for mako fishing, before the trip, and the anglers wanted to catch just any shark. They ended up with makos. Still, the water was warm for big makos. Small makos seemed still around. The trip fished at the Mudhole in 74-degree, clear, good-looking water. A trip Sunday sailed for sea bass and fluke. The sea bassing was good, and the boat drifted somewhat too fast for fluking. One or two keeper fluke and lots of throwbacks were hooked. The season’s first tuna trip is slated for August 8, Mike thought. That will be a day-trolling trip, not an overnighter, at the offshore canyons. If bluefin tuna are around, the trip will fish for them mid-range, on the way to or from offshore. Offshore tuna fishing sounded fair. On the shark trip, anglers were heard on the radio who fished for bluefins from the Bacardi wreck to Chicken Canyon’s northern end. They didn’t see much life, and one reported catching a mahi mahi and a white marlin. None talked about finding bluefins. Bluefin fishing didn’t seem great yet.
Fishing for fluke was up and down on the ocean, said Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters. Many throwbacks bit, but the keepers were decent-sized that were bagged aboard. Some big were around. The angling was good Monday aboard, and the trip frequently pulled in 5- to 7-pounders. One day would be good, and another wouldn’t, depending on conditions. The trips are grinding away, and the bigger fluke are there. Fishing was a matter of getting them to bite. Fluke trips include On the Water Seminars that teach bucktailing for the big doormats. Those are scheduled next for Wednesday, August 5, and Monday, August 10, and more will be scheduled if possible. Telephone to climb aboard or for info. Charters can also book the seminars. Novices learn bucktailing, and the somewhat experienced hone the skill, on the trips. Parker Pete’s will compete in the Point Pleasant Elks Fluke Tournament this weekend. 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.
Weather finally came around, Bob from Fisherman’s Den said in an email. That should spark angler interest, and some good fluking was made on Shark River and the ocean. The shop’s rental boats are available to fish the river. Snapper bluefishing began in earnest in waters like the river, and this was a time to get kids out and enjoy fishing for the snappers. Good angling for small striped bass was reported from local rivers on rubber shads and small plugs. Blues popped in and out of Shark River and Manasquan inlets this past week. Ocean bluefishing wasn’t like expected this time of year, but picked up some this week, and sometimes 10- to 12-pounders were axed. Get out and enjoy current fishing, Bob said.
Point Pleasant Beach
Ling, sea bass, winter flounder and still some cod were pitched aboard the party boat Dauntless, Capt. Butch said. The fishing was okay, and anglers averaged 10 to 20 fish apiece, a mix of those catches. The better anglers could sometimes catch nearly 30 apiece. If an angler pulled together a good mix of those species, that could be a good catch. A few porgies were bagged Wednesday aboard, and Butch hoped to scout around for porgies in the next days to see if more were around. The boat fished in 60 to 80 feet in the ocean for the sea bass. Then the trips pushed farther from shore to 100 to 140 feet for ling. Ling were the main catch, but the anglers often limited out on two sea bass apiece. If the bag limit had still been 15 apiece, the anglers could’ve limited out on that the past two days. Plenty of sea bass filled the water, and fewer boats fished for them, since the limit was dropped to two this month. Sea bass season will be closed starting on August 1. Butch hopes porgies will be around then for the trips to catch. The ocean was 72 or 73 degrees on the fishing grounds. That was the surface, and surely the bottom was chilly, considering all the cod that were in. Many of the cod were throwbacks that bit now. But a half-dozen to a dozen were keepers per day, depending on where the boat fished. The flounder were big, mostly 18 to 20 inches, making fluke look small. Almost all patrons limited out on two flounder apiece on Wednesday and some other day in the past days. Flounder from the ocean are excellent eating, even better than when the fish swim the rivers in fall to spring, when some anglers think they taste somewhat like the bottom mud. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Butch wasn’t asked whether the boat is bluefishing at night, but the boat usually bluefishes on some nights each week in summer.
Hot and cold: That’s how fluking seemed in past days, Capt. Matt from the party boat Norma-K III wrote Tuesday in a report on the vessel’s website. That was the most recent report at press time, and the fishing aboard saw a good number of throwbacks and some good-sized keeper in the mix. The anglers also picked at sea bass when the boat was drifted over rough bottom. A combo of squid and spearing hooked most of the keeper fluke. Gulps and bucktails caught some. Bluefishing was excellent on night trips Monday and Tuesday aboard. Lots of 1- to 2-pounders were clobbered, and lots more 2- to 3-pounders were angled than before on Tuesday night’s trip. Big blues “should not be far behind,” he said. A few big were around, but weren’t schooled up yet. He hoped the big blues could be chased within a week. Weather looked great for coming days. 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.
***Update, Friday, 7/24:*** Picked and scratched at fluke this week, Capt. Ryan from the party boat Jamaica II wrote in an email. Tons were throwbacks on some days. “Bigger fish some days,” he said. “Drifting conditions determine where we fish and what the results are.” Northwest wind helped this week, including helping some 5- to 7-pounders be caught. Bruce Casagrande limited out on fluke to 6 pounds. Carrie James limited out on fluke to 4 pounds and sea bass. Some huge sea bass to 6 pounds were cracked on a couple of trips. Remember that sea bass season will closed starting August 1, and won’t be reopened until October 22. Half-day trips are fishing for fluke and sea bass at 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and an all-day fluke marathon is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday.
Barnegat Bay’s fluke fishing was okay, said Mario from Murphy’s Hook House. “Let’s put it that way,” he said, and the fish were boated at the BB and BI markers and near Barnegat Lighthouse. On the ocean, one angler boated two keeper fluke, including a 7-pounder, off Island Beach State Park this week. From the surf, small blues and sometimes fluke were dragged in. The fishing was a little slow, and surf anglers took advantage of the fluke bag limit at Island Beach State Park: two fluke 16 inches or larger. Five fluke 18 inches or larger is the limit in the rest of the state. An angler weighed-in a 9-pound fluke caught from shore at an inlet to the north. That’s all the angler said about the location. Cownosed rays grabbed bait in the surf. Brown sharks, required to be released, were fought from the surf at night. Blowfish hovered in the bay, mostly to the south, but they held throughout the bay. Blowfish were plucked from piers at Seaside Heights or Seaside Park, for instance. Crabbing was good. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.
Blowfish nibbled along the dock, and more snapper blues did than blowfish, said George from The Dock Outfitters. Crabbing slowed from the dock and rental boats, for unknown reasons, and was pretty good previously. Crabbing was better at night currently. From the surf, sometimes fluke were eased in. Brown sharks, required to be let go, were wrestled from the surf, but the fishing wasn’t great. George saw one landed. He saw no bluefish from the surf. On the ocean, fluking was nothing great, and no place gave up a steady bite. Anglers kept saying the same thing about the angling. Sea bass were socked at Sea Girt Reef. 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. Baits currently stocked include killies and fresh bunker and clams.
If anglers got the right drift of the boat, they sacked fluke at the BI and BB markers on Barnegat Bay, said Mike from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. Fluking was good at the Tires on the ocean, and a report rolled in about fishing today there. Sea bass could be angled along the Tires. Fluke were boated north of the pipe in Seaside Heights on the ocean. Nothing was reported about bonito from the ocean. But a customer bought lures today to fish for bonito, and Mike expects to hear about the fishing in the next week. A few blowfish were rounded up at the BB. Crabbing was good. Baits stocked include killies. Fresh spearing are usually stocked daily now.
For anglers on the Miss Barnegat Light, fishing picked back up today and yesterday, a report on the party boat’s website said. The vessel is fishing for fluke and sea bass 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. The ocean warmed a bit, “putting them in a better mood to eat,” it said. Some keepers were taken, and shorts gave up good action. Weather is beautiful, “so come and join us,” it said.
In the ocean, fluke began to bite better, and lots were shorts, but some were keepers, and open bottom gave them up locally more than reefs, for some reason, said Kevin from Bobbie’s Boat Rentals. A few mahi mahi actually swam inshore, and he saw one, small, when fluking the ocean. He boated two keeper fluke two days ago and two yesterday from the ocean on two short trips 1 ½ hours apiece. Lots of sea bass gathered at ocean wrecks. Nothing was heard about bonito. A good number of fluke, mostly throwbacks, swam Barnegat Bay, and customers tugged them from High Bar Harbor and right off the shop’s fuel dock. A few crabs began to be trapped locally for the first time this season. The crabbing wasn’t good but began. Crabbing begins later here than at some places, because of cold ocean water from Barnegat Inlet. Anglers on foot winged a few bluefish from the inlet, but the fishing wasn’t good. Clamming was good on the bay, and has been all summer. 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 baits in season. Minnows and green crabs are stocked. Speaking of green crabs, a favorite blackfish bait, Kevin wasn’t asked whether blackfish bit along the inlet rocks, now that one blackfish became the bag limit starting Friday. Blackfish season was closed previously. Live spots were yet to become available to stock. Call ahead to order live grass shrimp. Speaking of the shrimp, a favorite weakfish bait, Kevin heard about no weakfish.
From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier: “I haven’t had much to offer lately in the way of reports. The boat has been laid up for repairs since Monday, but I just got the phone call … she’s ready! And so am I. I haven’t been to Barnegat Ridge yet this season, and now we’re going. The forecast is light and variable from the east. That’s perfection for offshore. Pushes the clean water in, gives a little surface ripple to make the lures skip better, and then we have it on our tail for the ride home. Targeting bonita, but always hopeful for more. The ridge is full of surprises this time of year. Could be bluefin tuna, mahi, albacore, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and sometimes none of the above. We’re going to give it hell and make a report. I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Running open-boat to Barnegat Ridge 5:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Three people max. All fish are shared. Monday’s weather is looking good, too. I’ll see how we do Saturday.”
Anglers worked hard to clutch a keeper fluke, 22 inches, a fat fish, among throwbacks hooked on a half-day trip Monday on the ocean aboard, said Capt. Lindsay from the June Bug. A keeper sea bass was decked among throwback sea bass and fluke on a full day trip Sunday aboard the ocean. Both trips reeled in fluke, sea bass, sand sharks and skates. About 30 of the fish were landed on Sunday’s trip. The trips fished at the WR2 buoy, the McAllister wreck and four or five places that produced in the past and did give up the 22-incher. Anglers can fish hard, but can’t catch keepers, if keepers aren’t there. More trips are slated for Friday and Saturday, and Lindsay will keep trying different spots to find ones holding keepers. June Bug will also fish for big game offshore this season. Bigeye tuna at the offshore canyons were almost the only big game caught that were heard about. Fishing needs to be in the right place at the right time for them. Yellowfin tuna, good-sized, 60 or 70 pounds, were reported caught one day, but the angling dropped off afterward.
Since 4 inches of rain fell last week on Wednesday, Great Bay was full of cedar water, said Scott from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. The freshwater hampered fishing, and the heat wave afterward kept anglers from fishing. No fish bit in the freshwater, and flies bit on the bay, in the still heat. Fishing kind of folded up. Nothing was available to report. But weather looks stellar for the weekend. On the ocean, flounder fishing “wasn’t doing it” at Little Egg Reef. Boaters had to sail up to 10 miles from shore to a couple of wrecks in 80 or 90 feet, and three keeper flounder was a good day. A couple of dozen green crabs were sold for blackfish bait, since one blackfish became the bag limit starting Friday. But nobody returned with feedback about blackfishing. Blackfish season was closed previously. Even crabbing was off, apparently because of the cedar water. Not a good week, he said. Baits stocked include minnows, green crabs, fresh, shucked clams and bloodworms. No live grass shrimp are stocked, because they would’ve died in the heat. Scott might try to net shrimp Friday to stock.
Fishing was slow during the weekend, but weather became good now, and all angling seemed to be turning on, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Ocean summer flounder fishing was picking up. A few mahi mahi were boated at lobster pot buoys, not far from shore. From the bay, Capt. Ed Goldman docked a 6-pound flounder and another keeper from a short trip a couple of hours today. That was good to see. Baitfish were showing up in the bay. Great Bay was full of bunker again. A few mullet Dave caught were just stocked live. He only caught one spot. Plenty of minnows are on hand, and the number is growing, and the baitfish are becoming bigger. Weakfish were about the only fish that seemed missing. But Dave wouldn’t be surprised if they began to appear. In the surf, kingfishing was like usual: One day, they were angled, and others, they weren’t. Knowing how many bloodworms to stock for bait for them was difficult. But the worms are stocked. Blackfish hugged jetties, and one became the bag limit starting Friday. Blackfish season was closed previously. Lots of triggerfish were around, and when they’re around, sheepshead must be. Just good summer fishing now, Dave said. Crabbing began picking back up.
Brown sharks swam all over the surf and were angled, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. The surf casters released them by law, and kingfish swam the water, but beyond the second bar, because of all the sharks, apparently. Kayakers nabbed the kings. The Kessler brothers today picked through 40 throwback summer flounder to bag a 6-pound keeper and a 5-pounder at Absecon Inlet on the Kelsey, dad’s boat. Another angler heaved in a 7-pound 3-ounce flounder from the inlet recently. Ken Weber bagged a 13-1/2-pound 32-inch striped bass at the Brigantine Bridge that grabbed a minnow on a flounder rig while he flounder fished. One boater reportedly hooked 20- to 24-inch, throwback stripers on the ocean under bunker that schooled toward Ocean City or Sea Isle City. Lots of bunker supposedly schooled there. The annual Kids Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Fishing Tournament was a success this weekend in Brigantine’s surf. One-hundred-twenty kids competed, fewer than some years, and publicity wasn’t as strong as usual, and was late, but the kids had fun. About eight kingfish were entered, and rays were caught. The first 100 kids receive a free rod and reel in the event, and loaner rods are available to those who don’t get the rods.
Customers, fishing on foot, cranked up croakers, kingfish, good numbers of kings and good-sized ones, summer flounder and triggerfish, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. That was at the T-jetty and from the surf, and was pretty good. Flounder were also brought-in from the sea wall at Gardner’s Basin. Flounder weighed-in included a 27-inch 6.7-pounder, a 25-inch 5-pounder and two 21-1/2-inchers. The 6.7-pounder pounced on a Fluke Candy, a floating jighead that suspends bait, available at the shop. That works well from shore. Bloodworms and minnows fished best for the shore anglers for these different species. Bloodworms are two dozen for $20 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Minnows are only $8 a pint or $15 a quart. Catch the special on bucktails at $1.79 for 1/8 ounce, $1.85 for ¼ ounce, $1.89 for 3/8 ounce, $2 for either ½ or 5/8 ounce, $2.20 for 1 ounce, $2.29 for 1 ½ ounce, $2.99 for 2 ounce and $3.49 for 3 ounce. The bucktails come in white, pink-and-white, yellow-and-white, chartreuse-and-white and red-and-white. One Stop also has a shop at Gardner’s Basin.
Tons of throwback summer flounder, a few keepers, hit in the back bay, and the water was dirty, said Capt. John from the party boat Keeper. Rain dirtied the water, he guessed, and when the water clears, that’s good. He doesn’t call catching lots of throwbacks good. He hopes the bigger flounder move in, and it’s time, he said. Rain forced a trip to return early aboard Tuesday. But weather was gorgeous on Wednesday’s trips. Lots of bait filled the water to attract big flounder, when they come in. John saw the season’s first peanut bunker. He’ll net the peanuts to keep in the livewell to fish on the trips as soon as possible. The baby bunker are excellent to liveline for big flounder. A few small sea bass were hooked on trips. The juvenile fish arrive each summer. No bluefish were hooked, but some were the previous week aboard. The Keeper is fishing for summer flounder 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 5 p.m. daily. The trips are only $28, because the fishing is near port, and the pontoon boat is economical on fuel. Rental rods are free, too.
The Stray Cat trolled bluefish and bonito 10 miles from shore, Capt. Mike said. The blues were dragged from bottom, over hills, on lures like feathers and Clark spoons on heavy trolling weights 6 and 8 ounces. The bonito hit on the turn. “They like the zig-zag,” he said. Little tunny swam the water, and the boat needed to troll a little faster for them. No exotic fish like needlefish and mahi mahi were seen. Just solid blues, and some bonito. Exotics are around, and trips just need to find them. Bottom-fishing collapsed, because of hot, 86- or 87-degree water. Mike hoped that bounced back because of cooler weather now. Sea bass looked hollow and white, like they swam in a sauna. But summer flounder bit at the fingers off Atlantic City ½ mile to 2 ½ miles. That was the place to be, and an open-boat trip was supposed to fish for them today. The ocean beyond 3 miles was dead, because of the heat. That could change, because of the cooler weather.
Back-bay boaters focused on inlets for summer flounder, said Nick from Fin-Atics. Maybe a keeper was hooked for every 20 or 25 throwbacks. Keepers were around and just needed to be searched for. Ocean reefs gave up good flounder fishing when weather and conditions were good. Weather should be great in the next days, and maybe the fishing will be on. Big sea bass swam the reefs. Cobia were heard about from Avalon Shoals, Townsend’s Inlet Reef and a couple of times from Ocean City Reef. Triggerfish were heard about from reefs a few times. Closer to shore, anglers reported schools and schools of bunker seen. They tried to snag and liveline them for bait, seeing if fish foraged on the menhaden. A shark like a sandtiger, if anything, seemed likely to bite. The season was late for striped bass or blues to be on the bunker there. Sand tigers must be released. Lots of brown sharks, also required to be released, were fought from the surf, on mackerel fillets on 7/0 or 8/0 hooks on wire leaders. Kingfish were kind of scarce in the surf, because of all the sharks. Some blackfish were yanked from along the jetties, and one could be bagged per angler, per day, starting last Friday. Blackfish season was closed previously. Fishing for yellowfin tuna, pretty much on the troll, sounded good all the way offshore, at places like Wilmington Canyon. Nothing was heard about inshore tuna. Back in the bay, striped bass anglers could probably land 15- to 20-inchers, maybe an occasional keeper, at night along sod banks or under lights. Stripers swam the waters.
Sea Isle City
The two anglers aboard Tuesday wanted to try something different, and the trip inshore-trolled, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service. Bluefish, false albacore and a 12-pound mahi mahi, a first for one of the anglers, were tackled. Then the trip bottom-fished, cranking up a 6-pound triggerfish, a monster. Throwback fluke were let go. A family aboard Monday whaled 12 to 15 sharks – browns, spinners and duskies – including at least five that weighed 100 pounds. That was one of the shark trips close to shore that release the fish, an opportunity to fight a big catch without a long trek offshore. Some of the sharks, like browns and duskies, are required to be let go. Farther from shore, small yellowfin tuna were drilled in 20 to 30 fathoms, at places like 19-Fathom Lump, Joe knew. He also fishes for them, and this was a chunk bite, or fishing with chunks of bait, not trolling. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
Fins & Grins Sport Fishing mostly fished on combo trips that fought blues off Cape May Point and then shot up Delaware Bay and fought sharks, Capt. Jim said. Plenty of the blues 2 and 3 pounds, good-eating sized, gave up fun on light trolling tackle. Plenty of the sharks like sand tigers and sandbars remained in the bay and were wrestled. Those two species must be released, and Fins tagged them for NOAA and let them go. The sand tigers are up to 250 and 300 pounds, and the trips are a chance to pull on big fish without the long sail offshore. Sometimes a shark that can be kept will show up, and Fins will steak up the fish, if anglers want. A few croakers and kingfish began to show up off the point. A couple of keeper weakfish, not big, were also hooked off the point aboard. Summer flounder fishing somewhat picked up on the ocean. Nothing to write home about, but a few keepers, mixed-in with shorts. Blues could also be trolled at the ocean shoals. Fins sails for all of these and any species available. The boat fishes every day, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability. Jim also saw small porgies, no keepers, from ocean wrecks. Small hooks weren’t fished, but if small were used, keeper porgies probably would’ve been landed, because clouds of the fish covered ocean wrecks.
***Update, Friday, 7/24:*** An angler who works at the shop toggled in five summer flounder from the back bay on a trip: three 17-inch throwbacks, a 15-inch throwback and a 20-inch keeper, said Mike from Canal Side Boat Rentals. Flounder fishing was surprisingly good on the bay, and many of the fish remained throwbacks, and keepers were less abundant than liked. But the bottom line was that flounder still bit in the bay. Other catches from the bay, like bluefish or baby sea bass that can swim the water this season, weren’t really heard about. Only flounder mostly were. Crabbing trapped lots of small blueclaws, not many large. One trip landed a bushel of throwback crabs. This will be a great late August and September for crabbing, when the hardshells grow to keeper-size. The shop stocked crabs for eating from Delaware Bay that were good-sized. 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. Frozen sand eels began to be stocked. Baits stocked also included minnows, scented and unscented squid strips, trolling squid, tube squid, spearing, herring, mullet, whole and filleted mackerel, clams in quarts, pints, a pound or nine ounces, whole or cut bunker, and Gulps. Tackle and supplies stocked include bucktails, rigs, hooks, minnow boxes, minnow buckets, minnow traps, nets, different crab baskets and more. Crabs, both live and cooked, are sold for eating, and picnic tables are set out to enjoy them, with umbrellas. Customers are coming, sitting and eating the crabs. There’s action, Mike said. The crabs are currently No. 2’s for $20 per dozen live and $25 per dozen cooked. The crabs are cooked in advance in the morning. The shop will clean and cook crabs anybody catches for $10 up to two dozen and $5 per any additional dozen.
Seventeen yellowfin tuna were bagged, and at least 25 throwbacks were released, between 20 and 30 fathoms Monday on the Heavy Hitter, Capt. George said. Skipjacks were also landed, and the anglers kept a few. George told them skipjacks were good-eating, and most canned tuna is skipjack. The yellowfins were on a chunk bite, and George knows an angler who caught them well the next two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. If anglers are interested, they better sail now for them. They could be here today and gone tomorrow. The Heavy Hitter was supposed to sail for them today. Small bluefish could be trolled in the ocean. Triggerfish could be cranked from ocean wrecks. Telephone if interested in any of this fishing. Everyone George talked with about summer flounder fishing, on the ocean, was disappointed. Lots of throwbacks and a few keepers bit. Most were 16 or 17 inches, an inch or two under the 18-inch size limit. A trip might score well. But a trip might return the next day and not.
On the party boat Porgy IV, summer flounder fishing barreled up a bunch of keepers Tuesday, Capt. Paul said. Flounder were bagged on every trip, but the angling, on the ocean, wasn’t consistent. Not all anglers landed a keeper. Sometimes a day was good, and another wasn’t, depending on conditions. The fishing wasn’t that hot. It could be worse, but Paul didn’t call the fishing decent. On Tuesday’s trip, a couple of anglers bagged four apiece: Phil Woznuk from Marlton and Brandon Edwards from Garnet Valley, Pa. One angler, Alex Levantowsky from Philly, bagged four on Wednesday. But Wednesday’s fishing was no good, and wind blew against tide, hampering the boat’s drift. The Porgy IV is fishing for summer flounder at 8 a.m. daily.
Summer flounder fishing seemed to amp up, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Sometimes good reports came from the back waters, and inlets fished well for the fluke, giving up some keepers. But the ocean reefs held the best flounder fishing. Little was reported about Delaware Bay’s flounder fishing, and a couple of anglers headed for the bay for flounder, but nothing was reported back. Lots of croakers gathered off Cape May Point, in Cape May Canal and at the Cape May ferry jetty and Higbee’s Beach. 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 attracted them. 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 Friday. Blackfish season was closed previously. Fresh clams, minnows and bloodworms are also stocked. Striped bass began to bite in back waters again, like along bridges at night, now that 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. In the ocean, the population and size of mahi mahi was exceptional this year, and mahi swam as close to shore as 5-Fathom Bank Light. Yellowfin tuna fishing was good for throwbacks to 60-pounders inside of 40 miles from shore. Chunking sardines caught them best, and some were trolled. But tinker mackerel schooled the water, so trips should bring sardines.