Fishing for fluke remained good, depending on conditions and the angler’s skill, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. He was away on a Bermuda cruise, but returned, and the vacations are finished for now. Somebody should remind his wife that he’s a poor angler on a fixed income, he joked. They also spent a week in Atlantic City and another in Aruba this summer. Charters are resuming, and the next open-boat trips for fluke are slated for Thursday through Saturday, and weather forecasts look good. Fluke season’s been excellent aboard, and a 10-pounder was currently the year’s biggest. Multiple 7-, 8- and 9-pounders were axed, and so were many 4-, 5- and 6-pounders. Anglers who knew how to jig and work the whole trip usually limited out. The harder anglers worked, the better the results. Frank will travel far to reach the best fluking, and sometimes traveled more than 20 miles. Calls are starting to come in for charters this autumn for striped bass and blackfish. Trips have even been booked for next year. Frank suggests anglers lock in dates now, instead of settling for whatever’s left. Last fall’s striper fishing was the best in 20 years. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”
High hooks socked seven or eight keeper fluke apiece, and fluking was good, on the Down Deep, Capt. Mario said. The anglers kept no more than their limits, and ling fishing was also good aboard. A few cod, winter flounder and blackfish were mixed in during ling trips sometimes. Charters are fishing, and click here for the open-boat schedule for the next weeks, including open trips for sea bass, while the sea bass bag limit is increased to 15 from September 1 through 6. Three is the current limit, and sea bass season will be closed starting the next day for a time. Or sign up for the Short Notice List on the Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open trips.
Several keeper fluke were bagged, and throwbacks were let go, on an open-boat trip on the Staten Island side of Raritan Bay on Saturday with Papa’s Angels Charters, Capt. Joe said. Wind blew against tide, hampering the boat’s drift, at first on the outing, and better conditions and fishing were found on the Staten Island side during the final couple of hours. A couple of keeper fluke were bagged, and throwbacks were released, at Reach Channel on the bay on a charter Thursday. Both trips fished with spearing and squid. Open-boat trips for fluke are available twice daily, in the morning and afternoon, when no charter is booked, and telephone to climb aboard.
Wind blew against tide four days in a row on fluke trips on the party boat Fishermen, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. That hampers the boat’s drift and therefore fluking, and wind blew even harder on Sunday’s trip, almost impossible for the boat to drift. But the boat was power-drifted, Ron working the throttles all day, “to catch what we did,” he said. Some good-sized fluke came up, including a 6.4-pounder. A few anglers totaled three keepers apiece, good-sized, and a bunch of throwbacks. But not enough keepers were hooked to go around. A charter fluked aboard Saturday in the lousy conditions, but managed to catch a good bunch of keepers and tons of throwbacks. A fluke larger than 7 pounds won the pool, and Ron got to take a cast, landing a 7.4-pounder that he released. Capt. Ron Sr. played chef aboard that day, managing to limit out on fluke, between flipping burgers. On nighttime trips, porgies and croakers are getting bucketed now. The Fishermen is fishing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and for croakers, porgies and bottom fish 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. daily except Sundays.
The party boat Atlantic Star is catching fluke, better on some trips than others, and throwbacks certainly outnumber keepers, Capt. Tom said. But every trip picked at keepers, and fluke were in, and the angling depended on conditions. All trips fished Raritan Bay recently, at places like along the Navy Pier, sometimes at Reach Channel. A few more keepers were lifted aboard than usual on Sunday afternoon’s trip, in somewhat better conditions. Sometimes anglers on trips landed 15, 20 or 25 throwbacks apiece. Sometimes the boat drifted fast, and heavy weights had to be fished. Eight ounces had to be dunked on Friday afternoon in strong wind. Conditions weren’t as bad on Saturday. Sometimes the boat drifted slowly on trips. Fluke currently were found in places where they weren’t last year. More throwbacks were currently around than earlier in the season. But every trip sailed aboard lately, and again, the fish were there, and each trip’s conditions affected results. 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.
Good fluking in the past week on the Hyper Striper, Capt. Pete wrote in an email. That included with charters led by Bob Centamore, Robert Keilson, Wally Clouse and Lou Petrocelli. The fish weighed up to 6 pounds, and see some of the photos on Hyper Striper’s Facebook page. Visit Hyper Striper’s website. The boat is also sailing for tuna and is booking striped bass charters for fall.
Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters was away for a wedding, returning Sunday evening, but his crew told him fluking was the best all summer, Ralph said. Charters are sailing, and individual-reservation trips are fluke fishing every Tuesday, and kids under 12 sail free, limited to two per adult host, on those individual-rez trips. Ralph will add a marathon individual-reservation trip for fluke on the final day Last Lady isn’t chartered before fluke season is closed on September 28. An individual-reservation trip for cod is set for September 11, and all other individual-rez trips for cod are currently full. Spaces remain for an individual-reservation trip that will wreck-fish on August 24. Space is available for a special, individual-reservation trip for sea bass that will run on September 4, during the only week when 15 is the bag limit, before sea bass season is closed afterward for a time.
Great weekend of fluke fishing, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Plenty of large were seen at the shop, and Jin Park from Edison’s 11-pound 12-ouncer was biggest. He whaled the fish on the ocean on a Belmar party boat on a 6-inch, chartreuse Gulp grub. Fluke seemed stacked up in the ocean at usual rough bottom north of Shark River Inlet, and at reefs south of the inlet. Rivers held plenty of fluke, but fewer keepers than the ocean did. Snapper blues swarmed rivers, and remember that 15 is the bag limit, because wardens are watching. The shop’s rental boats are available to fish Shark River. Small striped bass started to show up in the surf, but that wasn’t a viable fishery yet, really. Bob hears that plenty of mullet are schooling back waters. When they migrate to the ocean in a month or so, some good striper fishing should be seen from the beach. On the ocean, lots of mahi mahi were boated, and a 15-pounder was weighed-in.
Anglers picked at large bluefish 12 to 18 pounds Sunday on the party boat Golden Eagle, okay fishing at first, slowing down next, picking back up later, a report on the vessel’s website said. The same-sized blues were clubbed on Saturday’s trip, and lots were seen and marked, “but they didn’t bite like they should,” the report said, maybe because of boat traffic. Bluefishing was good aboard the weekly nighttime trip on Saturday. Blues 10 to 14 pounds were picked on Friday’s daytime trip, and mahi mahi and cod were also whacked. Afternoon trips slid in fluke and sea bass in past days. The Golden Eagle is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Saturday. Fishing trips/sunset cruises are running 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily on Sundays through Fridays, and reservations are required on those outings. Some of those trips have been sold out, so check with the boat. Also, it’s time to book tuna trips. Twenty-four-hour trips are scheduled for September 28 and October 5 and 19, and space remains, but is filling up. See the Golden Eagle’s tuna trip page online.
Big blues were bombed throughout the weekend, good fishing, on the party boat Miss Belmar Princess, an email from the vessel said. The 12- to 19-pounders were clobbered on the ocean to the north. On today’s trip, the angling was somewhat slower, and plenty were marked, but because of the “conditions, they just didn’t want to bite,” it said. But big blues, the same size as previously, were picked. The Miss Belmar Princess is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily.
Some of the year’s best fluking, on the ocean, was smashed with Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, Capt. Pete said. That included on a trip Friday, when the angling was excellent. The catch included two 9-pounders and plenty of 4- to 6-pounders. Many of the fish were cookie-cutter sized, and anglers had to work for them with bucktails, but the angling was super. The way it should be, he said. Fluking was also good aboard Saturday on a trip that targeted big ones for The Friendly Sons of Shillelagh Fluke Tournament. A 7-pounder was biggest aboard, and the size was beautiful again, many of the fluke weighing 3 to 5 pounds, and the trip pretty much limited out. The bites came in spurts, and Pete pitched aboard three keepers in 10 minutes, for instance, and then the angling would slow a little. One of the anglers limited out, and three of that angler’s fluke weighed 5 pounds. Gulps in Nuclear Chicken and Pink Shine fished best on the trips, and experienced bucktailers are limiting out with no problems. The trips are fishing rough bottom, and the angling was also phenomenal on a trip last Monday aboard, covered in a previous report. Fluking was a bit of a grind this Sunday aboard, and wind forced the outing to push back near the beach. Smaller fluke gave up action, and better-sized ones were mixed in, and the angling ended up catching well, and a 7-pounder was largest. Trips are grinding away, banging out good-sized fluke, and this is the time to get after them, and Pete didn’t always say that this season. Parker Pete’s this season hosted On the Water Seminars to teach bucktailing for fluke. Three of the trips sailed, and because response was good, two more of the trips were added for last Wednesday and this Wednesday, and one or two might be slated for September, if the angling holds up. Last week’s was weathered out, but two or three spaces remain for this week’s. A charter could even book for the fishing, if anglers want. An email about the seminars said: “Are you tired of reading reports of people catching big (fluke)? Do you usually ‘drag’ bait and hope for the big one? Are you being out-fished when you go out fluking? Are you ready to get hooked on bucktailing in a non-threatening way?” The trips are inexpensive, and email Pete for more info. Also, don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Jump on Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the emailed newsletter to be kept informed about last-minute, individual spaces available to fill in charters. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page.
Action was wild, and nets were flying, at times on Saturday morning’s trip for fluke on the ocean on the party boat Jamaica II, Capt. Ryan wrote in an email. The trip was “on some nice fluke,” he said, and Dave Toochen from Philadelphia won the pool, and took the lead in the monthly pool, with a 9.8-pound fluke, and limited out. Dale Isaacs from Manchester landed twice his limit of large fluke, keeping no more than his quota. Tons of throwbacks also bit, and some large sea bass were cranked up. “Most caught, a few watched, but many took some meat home,” Ryan wrote. “… get ‘em while it’s hot!” The Jamaica II is fishing for fluke and sea bass 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday.
Manasquan River’s fluke fishing was a pick, and throwbacks dominated, but sometimes keepers were bagged, said Eric from The Reel Seat. The bigger fluke were mostly hung on livelined peanut bunker or snapper blues. Sometimes Gulps caught them, like before, but the live bait worked better. Striped bass fishing was good on the river at bridges on small plugs, and bluefish were around in the river. Ocean fluke fishing was good, sort of breaking open two weekends ago. The catches were made including at Sea Girt and Axel Carlson reefs. One customer docked a 9-pounder from Sea Girt Reef on the Jamaica II. Ling fishing was good, consistent, on the ocean, like in previous weeks. Sizeable sea bass were hooked among them, and squid were jigged on nighttime trips for ling. Bonito fishing was very good at Manasquan and Barnegat ridges, and quite a few chicken mahi mahi swam the water. The bonito were trolled on Nos. 1 and 2 Clark spoons, feathers and jets, and were chunked on spearing, or spearing was tossed into the water, and hooked spearing were flat-lined in the slick. A little farther from shore, tons of small bluefin tuna 15 or 20 pounds, good catches, were trolled at Little Italy and the Monster Ledge, on the same lures that the bonito were. Farther out, plenty of bluefins swam, and yellowfin tuna were mixed in, toward 30 fathoms or in the Atlantic Princess wreck vicinity. Mahi were “that much bigger” there, he said. In those areas, most of the tuna were trolled, but some were jigged or popper-plugged. Farther still, Hudson Canyon’s fishing broke wide open, on the troll again, instead of chunking during daytime like before. Quite a few bigeye tuna, and some yellowfin tuna, were trolled. Not much was heard about marlin, but that didn’t mean marlin weren’t around. Anglers concentrated on tuna, and a few tuna, not many, were chunked overnight. Many of the trolled tuna were taken on ballyhoos on Joe Shute skirts or spreader bars.
For surf anglers, fluke and blues were the main targets during daytime, and brown sharks were at night, John from The Dock Outfitters wrote in a report on the shop’s website. Browns must be released, and some regular customers banked good-sized fluke from the surf at Island Beach State Park, though the anglers were “tight-lipped.” Gulps rigged all different ways grabbed the fluke, but so did killies with squid, the tried and true fluke set-up. Those were the two choices to fish. On Barnegat Bay, snapper blues kept kids busy fishing from the dock, while parents crabbed from the dock. Crabbing was yet to bounce back from “record” catches before the full moon, but that could change any day. 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.
Each drift on the party boat Miss Barnegat Light scooped up mostly throwback fluke the last couple of days, the vessel’s Facebook page said. A few drifts looked like fishing for keepers was going to bust loose, but mostly throwbacks would start being hooked again. Multiple keepers, the page said, were swung in during those better drifts. The Miss Barnegat Light is fishing for fluke and sea bass 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.
On the Super Chic, fishing for bonito was good on Sunday, like it was on the previous weekend, Capt. Ted said. On the trip, small blues and a couple of skipjacks were mixed in, and Clark spoons were trolled. Fluke fishing, on the ocean, was up and down. Fluke were there, but conditions weren’t always ideal for the angling in past days. The boat drifted too quickly on Thursday. Conditions weren’t bad on a trip Friday, and the boat didn’t drift much on Saturday. Fluke were landed, but Ted wished the fishing was better then. Trips will fish next on Wednesday through Sunday, mostly for fluke. Ted was unsure what Thursday’s trip will fish for. A trip is supposed to bluefish Saturday night. Bluefishing was also up and down, and sometimes big blues were pasted from the ocean, both during daytime and nighttime, after small blues were previously. Nighttime seemed a little better for big ones recently. The year’s first canyon tuna trip is currently booked for September 12 or 13 aboard. Boats from the docks didn’t catch many tuna at the canyons Friday and Saturday. Weather was windy much of last week, and none of the boats sailed for tuna Tuesday to Thursday that Ted knew about. Not much was heard from the docks about bluefin tuna caught closer to shore in past days. A handful of the fish were found, spotty fishing, not like before.
***Update, Tuesday, 8/19:*** From an email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier: “Some very interesting fishing going on right now. Just came out of a good stretch of trips. Every visit out to the inlet jetty we are connecting with stripers and blues on live grass shrimp. The bass are mostly 20 to 24 inches. Very few will measure the 28 inches necessary to make it in the cooler but they scream line on the 10 pound spinning outfits we use. Also in the mix are houndfish and blackfish. Houndfish are 3 to 4 foot long needlefish that put on quite a display when hooked. They tailwalk and greyhound just like a billfish. We anchor up and chum with the shrimp into the jetty and drift back our shrimp baited hooks with no weights or terminal tackle other than a small swivel and occasionally a bobber. The tide is perfect the next couple of afternoons so I will be running open boat trips for this or Barnegat Ridge, whichever you guys want to do. I am also shrimping 3 to 4 pound weakfish in the bay. Not just once but 5 out of 6 trips now. I struck out yesterday (Mon) morning but got a big one that same afternoon. Catching a lot of 17 to 18 inch fluke while targeting the weakies and a few too many sand sharks. Going all the way down to the 6 pound rods for this action. Barnegat Ridge is all lit up with bonita and mahi mahi right now. Besides the usual small chicken dolphin there are 10 to 20 pound bulls mixed in this year! Lots of sandeels and squid in the bellies of the bonita and mahi. Flatlined cedar plugs are the hottest lure for us right now. They are crushing everything in tight to the boat. I am running Open Boat trips tomorrow, Wed Aug 20 and Thurs Aug 21. Noon to 6 PM. We could run to the Ridge or shrimp the inlet jetty and then shrimp the weakies in the bay. Whatever you guys want to do. The forecast is mint, the wind will be 5 to 10 knots out of the east with no threat of storms. … 3 people max. All fish are shared. The boat is always available for charter on these dates, as well. Beyond that, the only other two days I have available in August are this Saturday, Aug 23 and next Tues, Aug 26. I have both morning and afternoon trips available this Saturday. Tues would be Noon to 6. Charter or Open Boat.”
Great Bay turned out great catches of croakers and some blowfish, a report on Scott’s Bait & Tackle’s website said. Best places were off Graveling Point and behind Holgate. The bay held lots of small summer flounder, and bigger flounder were located in deeper holes off the Fish Factory and in Little Egg Inlet. Brown sharks, required to be released, stalked Grassy Channel in the bay. On the ocean, Garden State Reef was “booming” with flounder, the report said. Not much was heard about flounder from Little Egg Reef in the ocean. One trip pulled a 4-1/2-pound 22-1/2-inch flounder from there.
Some sizeable summer flounder were still checked in from the back bay at Riptide Bait & Tackle, a report on the shop’s website said. One angler boated a 5-pounder near a sod bank and a channel marker, saying snapper blues schooled the area. Another angler bagged a 4-1/2-pounder, and both fish were boated near the island’s north end. Fishing for keepers seemed decent there. In the surf, brown sharks were targeted. Browns must be released, and the angling was best in morning or at night. The DO/AC Beach N Boat Challenge, the fishing tournament set for Friday to Sunday, will include Brigantine, as well as Atlantic City, the two places fish entered can be caught. Anglers must register by Tuesday “to get into the bonus money,” the report said. Use Riptide’s number 5077 to enter free.
Blue, clear water “rolled out,” affecting some fishing, but rolled back in now, said Capt. Mike from the Stray Cat. Bonito became scattered that gave up great angling before, and tuna fishing struck out on a trip Friday inshore. Trolling for the fish was dead. But summer flounder fishing remained ridiculously good in 80 feet in the ocean. Sizeable flounder, lots, chomped, and 4-1/2- to 6-pounders won pools on the boat’s last three trips. Except for flounder, was a tough weekend of fishing. But bonito and tuna catches could bounce right back. Charters are fishing, and the next open-boat trip will sail on Wednesday.
The party boat Miss Ocean City is running a limited fishing schedule for the moment, and telephone the vessel for the slate, Capt. Victor said. The schedule for the Captain Robbins, the company’s other party boat, will be announced at a later date.
Sea Isle City
Twenty-one keeper summer flounder, averaging 5 pounds, were crushed on the ocean Sunday with Ace Brickman and friends aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. The fishing was like the good old days, but better, he said. The fish included an 8-1/2-pounder, a couple of 7’s and a bunch of 6’s. The five anglers also landed throwbacks on the 6-hour trip. On Saturday aboard, Corey Holland and friends wanted to catch mahi mahi and troll the inshore ocean. A small mahi, four bonito and some false albacore and blues were tackled. The trip had to move to get away from the blues, small, but lots. On Friday morning, Mike Roth and friends released dusky sharks to 60 pounds and a brown shark on one of the inshore shark trips aboard. The trips, usually within 10 miles from shore, are a chance to fight big fish without the long trek offshore, and usually last until Labor Day weekend. In the afternoon, Dave Smith and sons boated three keeper flounder to 4 pounds and lots of throwbacks on the ocean. Ideal tides, high in the evening, are coming back around for striped bass fishing on the back bay on popper lures and flies, another specialty aboard. Jersey Cape is also fishing offshore for tuna and big game, and no specific reports were heard, but tuna fishing remained good, Joe knew. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
A group of six from Harrisburg fished Delaware Bay on Saturday with Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim said. They tugged in 40 or 50 summer flounder, including one keeper, a small cobia and small blues. The trip fished the stakes near Fortescue and toward Miah Maul, and seas were flat calm. After the anglers departed, Jim headed back on the bay with a friend that day, and they fished 60-Foot Slough and the mouth of Cape May Canal. Not much was doing in the area, and two throwback flounder were released. No boats were seen at 60-Foot and the mouth of the canal, but boats were seen toward the Punk Grounds, the 19 buoy and 14-Foot Light. Jim had planned to fish the Old Grounds on the ocean for flounder on a trip with two anglers on Sunday. But the anglers seemed to want to fish Wildwood Reef on the ocean, because they heard flounder fishing was good there, so the trip fished there. Seventy-five flounder, including one keeper, and a good-sized triggerfish were landed, and jacks were reeled in at a buoy. The ocean looked beautiful and crystal clear, and wind picked up a little that day. But the two days were great, Jim said, and both trips fished for the flounder with Gulps and minnows on double-hooked rigs. Gulps definitely caught better. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including duck and goose hunting, during the waterfowl seasons. Anglers can even enjoy a combo of duck hunting and striped bass fishing on Delaware Bay over a series of days in autumn. Fins also offers salmon and steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s lodge. The salmon fishing can begin around Labor Day, but the first trip is booked for the first days of October, when the angling should be peaking. Fins also fly-fishes for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.
Summer flounder fishing is good, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. The conditions have to be right, and lots of the fish are throwbacks, but a charter on the ocean Saturday beat a bunch of keepers, among lots of throwbacks, with Anthony Berenato from Hammonton’s Mohawk Farms. The keepers were 18 to 22 inches, and George was supposed to sail on another flounder trip today. He was supposed to join a tuna trip today on a friend’s boat, but as good as tuna fishing was last week, the angling became dead in past days, so the tuna trip was nixed. Tuna fishing was dynamite at the canyons last week, on the chunk during daytime. But just like the angling suddenly slowed, it could come on again. Small bluefish could be fought from the ocean, and triggerfish could be pumped from the wrecks.