This past week saw improved fluking in the bays, rivers and surf and the return of terrific tuna fishing. Mid-shore spots and the canyons produced bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
There are also big albies and bonito out there.
The beaches are giving up blues and bass on bait and artificials and the crabbing is finally coming to life.
But it wasn’t all good news this week.
The New Jersey fishing fleet lost one of its most admired and well-loved captains with the passing of Capt. Jeff Gutman of the Voyager.
Capt. Gutman was a highly respected fisherman and fierce advocate for the fishing industry in the state. His absence will be keenly felt by his many friends and colleagues and our deepest condolences to his family.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said he’s getting better fluke reports, mostly from the rivers and Raritan Bay. It’s still on the slow side out front, he said, but there are hints of improvement.
On the freshwater side, he said the largemouth action has been good at Lake Hopatcong and the Monksville Reservoir. The lack of rain, however, has left the streams at low levels and that has hurt the trout fishing.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the fluke bite in Raritan Bay has been good and getting better with fish up to 8 pounds reported.
There are still a few stripers around, he said, but mostly on the New York side of Raritan Bay.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle reported better fluking in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers, but it’s still slow out front. Even so, John Gillis from Port Monmouth managed to pull a 4½ pounder from the suds.
Pinto said there are also scattered blues and bass off the beach with more blues at the tip of Sandy Hook.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman said he’s getting better reports on fluking from the sand with Gulp and bucktails. An 8-pounder came out of the Long Branch surf this week.
He also reported plenty of schoolie bass in the surf along with a few keepers. A 35-incher was landed from the beach on a popper.
The bluefin tuna fishing has been good on jigs, Gleason added. Mad Mantis poppers have accounted for some fish as well.
Sand bugs have been working well in the Ocean Grove surf on stripers. The fish are mostly in the 24- to 27-inch range, but they’re fat, healthy fish and a blast on light tackle.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fluking hasn’t been great in the Shark River with shorts dominating the action.
Still, he reported, that a couple of 6 pounders have been landed. A diver friend of his said the river is loaded with life, including stripers, but the bite hasn’t matched what he’s been seeing.
Marty Westerfield at the shop said he’s been fishing the surf early with small poppers and doing well with short bass. There were also blues biting at the Shark River Inlet on Wednesday.
Now that sea bass season is closed, Matthews said the party boats out of the marina are targeting fluke and ling.
Capt. Ron Kish on the Capt. Cal II is among those chasing fluke. After a banner sea bass season, he’s fishing off the beach and finding a few keepers among the many shorts. Those who stay at the rail and work their bucktails have been going home with dinner.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said that the offshore striper fishing has slowed down but the ones he’s getting are huge. His last bass trip over the weekend produced a 47 pounder.
He had his first fluke trips this week and while there were plenty of shorts, there were also some nice keepers in the mix.
Parker Pete’s is planning several on-the-water bucktail seminars this season.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters reported good tuna fishing at mid-shore spots and the canyons with the better fishing in the canyons for bigeye and yellowfin.
He’s currently booking tuna trips and can be contacted through his website.
Tommy Freda at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the tuna bite in the canyons has been excellent.
When not at the shop, Freda is a mate on the Mushin and he reported terrific bigeye and yellowfin fishing this past week. He also found some time to go tile fishing and reported that bite was good as well.
He said the inshore bluefin bite cooled off a bit this past week but there were fish caught.
Closer to home, there are nice fluke being caught at the Sea Girt and Axel Carlson reefs and in the Manasquan River.
Kyle at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach also reported outstanding tuna action this past week. He said it was bluefin mania at the Triple Wrecks and the Glory Hole.
He fished aboard Big Nutz Required and reported that all the fish were around 40 pounds. And there were plenty of them caught on cedar plugs, daisy chains and poppers.
The southern canyons, he said, were giving up bigeye and yellowfin.
He also reported there are big false albacore by the Rezor Wreck and the Shark River Reef.
Gary at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach also received good bluefin fishing reports at the mid-shore spots.
He said the fluking is picking up in the Manasquan River and there are blues and bass in the local surf. A buddy of his got a 32-inch striper on a 6-inch Gulp grub he was using for fluke.
Capt. Matt Sonsnowski of the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said it was a good finale for the June sea bass fishing. The jig anglers outfished those using bait but both filled coolers with sea bass and ling along with cod and some winter flounder.
The Norma K III is now sailing for fluke and will sail for cod and ling on Friday and Saturday nights. Sea bass will be back on the menu on July 1 when the season reopens with a bag limit of two fish at 12½ inches.
Frank at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said the fluke fishing is slowly picking up in the ocean. The Manasquan River, he said, is offering much better fluking with killies and squid working best. There have been keepers caught at the Manasquan Inlet as well
There are bass in the Point Pleasant Canal, he said, hitting swim shads and live eels.
Pete at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach reported good fishing lately with fluke, blues and bass on the beach and in the bay.
In the surf, the bass, he said, are hitting chunks and poppers.
In the bay, he said the fluke action is best north of the Mantaloking Bridge on killies and squid strips. The crabbing, he added, is slowly getting better in the bay.
Phil at Dock Outiftters in Seaside Heights said black drum, striped bass and bluefish are being caught on the beach from Mantaloking down to Barnegat Inlet.
The bay fluking has been okay, he said, at Good Luck Point and the crabs, he added, are slowly appearing in the bay.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fishing has been good with black drum, bluefish, striped bass and fluke in the surf.
The blues have been chewing on mullet, bunker and metal, the bass on bunker chunks, clams, poppers and plugs. The drum are eating clams.
The fluke are going for a bucktail rig with Gulp.
The fluking is also decent in the bay, he said, and there are blowfish at the BB Buoy.
Francine at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said it’s been bass, blues and fluke there as well and she was happy to report the fluke are getting bigger. The blues, she said, have been going crazy on the mullet.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
There are plenty of options for the weekend with better fluking in the rivers, bays and beaches. Killies, squid strips and bucktails with Gulp are all working. You can also try sand crabs as both fluke and stripers are hitting them in the wash.
Small blues are also popping up in the bays and rivers, at the inlets and off the beach.
If you have the opportunity, head offshore for tuna. The bluefin are relatively close and the canyons are holding yellowfin and bigeye. Be well.