***Update, Saturday, 5/23:*** Fluke fishing was great on Shark River on Friday, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. That was opening day of fluke season, and on some of the store’s rental boats on the river, scores of the flatfish, including a half-dozen keepers to 4 pounds, were landed. Striped bass fishing was good that day for boaters on the ocean. The bass, many 30- to 40-pounders, were on bunker, and Ed Andrejack from Allentown’s 43-pound striper, bagged on the party boat Golden Eagle, was the “big bass” that day, Bob said. A 42-pounder was cracked on the Miss Belmar Princess, and stripers to 36 pounds were weighed from the Big Mohawk. Those are all Belmar party boats. Good reports rolled in from private boats and charter boats about the angling. Tom Cook from Shark River Surf Anglers banked a 15-pound 15-ounce striper from the surf.
Four sizable striped bass to 35 pounds and a bluefish were trolled on the ocean to the south Wednesday with XTC Sportfishing, Capt. Scott said. A trip Tuesday steamed to Wilmington Canyon, trolling a yellowfin tuna. Then the trip caught tilefish, a great catch, and stopped at a wreck on the trip home, pumping in some cod. The canyon’s best water, he said, was 67.25 degrees, somewhat cooler than the 70 to 71 degrees offshore boaters found Friday. Only a gradual temperature break was found on the trip, and the water was blue, but not Caribbean blue, he said. One whale and a handful of working birds were seen, and no weeds were. More trips aboard were fishing today and Friday, and XTC is pretty much striper fishing now.
Some larger striped bass moved into the area, in the ocean, said Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters. Not a lot were nailed aboard yet, but the ones caught were large, in the 30 pounds. He’s looking forward to the season’s bunker showing up strongly. Then the striper fishing will be game on. Trips on the boat trolled the bass on bunker spoons. When bunker could be found, they were livelined, hooking stripers immediately, aboard. The bass bit finicky, and more were lost than landed, only because of that. Big bluefish also swam the water in large numbers. Fluke season will be opened beginning Friday, and Parker Pete’s will probably begin fluking sometime in June. That depends on factors like water temperature and when striper fishing slows. But Pete’s looking forward to “drifting and dreaming,” he said, and anglers should start booking fluke trips for July, for sure. Fluke trips aboard will include bucktailing seminars that sailed last year. That’s a chance to learn or refine bucktailing for large fluke in a non-threatening environment. 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.
“Stripers to 35 (pounds) today,” a report on the party boat Golden Eagle’s website said. Anglers aboard picked at stripers and a few blues on the trip, spending most of the day livelining bunker. Stripers and bunker looked like they began to move in. Weather looks good for Friday and the weekend, and the Golden Eagle is fishing at 7:30 a.m. daily.
The party boat Miss Belmar Princess resumed fishing today, after a Coast Guard inspection Monday, and rough weather in the next days, an email from the vessel said. A big area of bunker schooled off Shark River Inlet all day. “A couple to a handful” of bluefish were jigged on each drift on Ava 27s and 47s, it said. A couple of keeper stripers were even boated. A 37-1/2-pound striper was the pool winner, and was the angler’s first-ever striper. The Miss Belmar Princess is fishing for striped bass and blues 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
A charter is booked Friday on the party boat Big Mohawk, the vessel’s Facebook page said. But the boat will fish for fluke this weekend through Wednesday, Capt. Chris said in a phone call. Fluke season will be opened beginning Friday, and those fluke trips will continue daily through Tuesday. The trips will sail for sea bass daily starting Wednesday, opening day of sea bass season, and for fluke again the following weekend. A special striped bass trip will fish 3:30 p.m. until dark on Saturday, the Facebook page said. Daytime trips sail 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the boat. Sometimes they sail at different times on certain days like season openers and days afterward, so check the boat’s website or Facebook page or telephone it to confirm. Striper trips, like the one scheduled for Saturday, sometimes fish in afternoons to evenings this time of year.