Navesink River at the Oceanic Bridge turned out fluke fishing, pretty good, said Joe from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Striped bass were hooked there once in a while, and Shrewsbury River at Sea Bright Bridge turned up stripers pretty well, and fluke once in a while. Some fluke were boated at Reach Channel on Raritan Bay, not bad. Striped bass were trolled at Reach Channel and Romer Shoal, but especially well at Ambrose Channel, all the way on the far end, on bunker spoons and Mojos. One angler showed a spoon with the hook straightened from a striper that got off. That must’ve been some fish. Ocean surf fishing wasn’t so good. But shore angling from Leonardo wasn’t bad for cocktail blues on the bay. Crabbing was really good on Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers. All baits are stocked.
Boating for fluke was fair on Raritan Bay, dropping off a little, not a lot, said Tom from Fisherman’s Den North. Still, fluke 9 and 10 pounds were seen from party boats, and the shop’s rental-boaters bagged fluke. The rental boaters found fluke in the channel right off the shop. But places that gave up the fish also included off the Ammo Pier, at Reach Channel and off Sandy Hook. Striped bass were trolled at Reach Channel, across the bay from the store and at Romer Shoal. Some anglers drilled them well. Sometimes bluefish were hooked during the trolling. Stripers 30 and 40 pounds were whacked, and the run of big stripers was good this year. At the store’s sister shop, Fisherman’s Den in Belmar farther south, seven stripers 50 pounds or larger were weighed-in from the fishing, more than in a long time. A couple of 50-pounders usually are. Surf anglers on the ocean at Long Branch, farther south, tied into lots of throwback stripers but keepers mixed in. No customers mentioned crabbing yet, but the blueclaws were seen holding on, every time the store’s bait-holding pen was pulled up. Crabs were around, no doubt. The store’s rental boats are available. The shop, new this year, is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, home of party boats, charter boats and private boats, and near plenty of surf or shore angling from the bay to the ocean.
Catches of fluke weren’t as good as last week, but still came in on the party boat Atlantic Star, Capt. Tom said. Sometimes more keepers were swung in than at other times. For instance, on Wednesday morning’s trip, fewer fluke gave up action, but more keepers were bagged than at other times. And on the afternoon’s trip, throwbacks put out lots of action, but fewer keepers showed up. Conditions never drifted the boat well for the fishing on the morning trip, but drifted the boat well on the afternoon trip. The afternoon trip didn’t fish along the channel, where fishing for keepers can be better, because of ship traffic. Sometimes ship traffic disturbs the water and would slow the angling, so the boat is moved elsewhere. On this morning’s trip, anglers picked away at fluke, including a few keepers, so far, Tom said at 10 a.m. on the outing, when he gave this report in a phone call. One angler landed two keepers already, and the boat drifted well. When conditions are right, the fishing catches better. Not a lot of people joined the trip, because of weather forecasts. The sky was cloudy, but wind was calm. The boat’s been making every trip, no matter. Plenty of fluke filled the water, and sometimes fishing for keepers was better than at other times. Sometimes conditions never drift the boat well, and then catching throwbacks can even be slower. The Atlantic Star is fluke fishing 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily.
Friday it’s going to snow! a report said on the party boat Fishermen’s website. If you believe that, “then listening to the weather (forecasts) yesterday,” you stayed home from today’s daily fluke trip, it said. For those who braved the forecasts, today ended up beautiful on the water, no matter clouds in the morning. Fluke fishing was picky on the trip, once again, it said. Conditions failed to drift the boat at the first area fished, and drifted the boat too fast at the second. When the tide finally changed, offering a better drift, ship traffic nixed fishing at the channel. The trip picked away at fluke at a couple of places, and the high hook bagged four. A couple bagged three, “and so on,” it said. A 4-pounder won the pool. Frustrating day. Back at it tomorrow. Bring a shovel! it said. The Fishermen is sailing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and for striped bass 6:30 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays.