For the second year in a row, Spanish mackerel, usually a late summer target, have showed up early, popping up along the beaches and at the inlets.
Fluking also picked up over the past several days with a lot more action and a number of nice fish reported caught.
Offshore, the tuna bite remains strong with bluefin and yellowfin reported.
Plus, there’s action on bass, blues and fluke in the surf.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said he’s been hearing about the Spanish mackerel on the beaches and better fluking on the Axel Carlson and Sea Girt reefs.
Hebert said the bluefin bite has been good for Fisher Price IV out of Highlands. Sharks became a nuisance, he said, when they began intercepting the tuna before they got to the boat.
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Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the fluke fishing has been good in the Raritan Bay channels and down along the beach. He also reported porgies on the Tin Can Grounds and bluefish by the Keansburg Pier.
He’s had reports of Spanish mackerel at the Shrewsbury Rocks and triggerfish on the sticky bottom off Deal.
Joe Julian Jr. at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands said porgies are also biting at the Bug Light and by the Coast Guard Station on Sandy Hook.
He said there have been some big fluke, up to 33 inches, caught in the Shrewsbury River near Highlands. There have also been some stripers on worms under the Highlands Bridge.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said the bluefin continue to bite. He and his crew of friends have been catching them mostly on top water plugs.
The Long Branch surf, he said, has been giving up keeper and short fluke on Gulp and bucktails along with schoolie bass and cocktail blues. The stripers are hitting sand bugs and poppers and blues on metal and SP Minnows.
He, too, reported Spanish mackerel off the beach.
Stripers are hitting sand crabs in the Ocean Grove surf but the action has slowed down in the last few days. A local sharpie who said he was getting at least half a dozen stripers a day on bugs, said he’s seeing more birds diving on bait and the bass may be keying on that.
There are kingfish around, too, so small pieces of clam off the beach is another option.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said Spanish mackerel were at the Shark River Inlet on Wednesday morning. He recommended using a teaser along with the epoxy lure as many of the fish went for the teaser.
The fluking has been pretty good in the Shark River, he said, with fish up to 8 pounds. The party boats out of the Belmar Marina are all reporting good fluke fishing. Capt. Ron Kish of the Capt. Cal II said a 10¾-pounder was caught on Wednesday.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar reported an outstanding day of fluke fishing aboard the new Parker Pete’s Express on Wednesday.
With 18 anglers aboard, Capt. Sykes said it was a bucktail extravaganza. Fishing rough bottom, nearly everyone got their limit with high hook, Peter Fauth, getting nine keepers, keeping only three.
The pool winner was 7 pounds. The outing, sponsored with Palmer Tackle, saw over 50 keepers caught and many shorts released.
Capt. Sykes said it was an amazing day of fishing and Parker Pete’s will be putting together similar trips with Palmer Tackle in the next several weeks.
Capt. Jay Richardella on Side Job Charters out of Belmar reported very good bluefin and yellowfin tuna fishing 60 to 70 miles out.
He’s been getting most of the fish on the troll in the vicinity of the Texas Tower.
He’s also fishing for fluke and black sea bass much closer to home and he can be contacted for availability through his website.
Tommy Freda at the Reel Seat in Brielle also reported good tuna fishing along the 30 Fathom Line and at the Triple Wrecks.
He also said the fluking picked up on the local reefs, and it remains good in the Manasquan River. He, too, reported Spanish mackerel at the Manasquan Inlet.
Kyle at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach had plenty to report with good fluking in the Manasquan River with bucktails and almost any kind of Gulp. He favors 5-inch Grubs and shrimp and an incoming tide.
The tuna are a little scattered, he said, but the bite is still good at the Texas Tower, Triple Wrecks, and the Spencer Canyon. They’re catching them on the troll, jigging and poppers.
Kyle was fishing earlier in the week aboard Big Nutz Required when the boat hooked, landed and released one of the biggest white marlin he’s ever seen, in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds.
He’s also had reports of good daytime swordfishing and Spanish mackerel, blues and stripers in the surf.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach said the bottom fishing has been super with good catches of fluke, ling, winter flounder and black sea bass.
He’s also started his inshore tuna trips and the first of the year on Wednesday was a big success with a number of nice fish coming over the rail.
The Mimi VI is running open boat trips daily so call and check for availability.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant reported catching keeper fluke on rough bottom on Monday’s trip, but he would have liked to have gone home with a few more. There were sea bass in the mix along with plenty of short action.
He said those bouncing bucktails and Gulp caught most of the keepers. He believes the fishing will improve as the moon continues to wane.
The Norma K III has openings this week but requires reservations so call 732-496-5383. Capt. Sosnowski has also scheduled night bluefish trips this Friday and Saturday.
Anthony at Capt. Bill’s Landing reported better fluking at the Axel Carlson and Sea Girt reefs over the past week.
Frank at Gabriel Bait and Tackle in Brick also said it’s time to break out the epoxy jigs as the Spanish mackerel have appeared at the Manasquan Inlet. There are also schoolie stripers and cocktail blues at the inlet.
He said the fluking has been good off the wall at the inlet, back in the Manasquan River and out front on the beach.
Pete at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the fishing has been good in the past week for blues and fluke out front and in Barnegat Bay. The fluking has been best, he said, north of the Mantoloking Bridge.
Blowfishing has been very good at the BI Buoy, he said, and chum logs are a must. He also heard of some kingfish in the same area.
Phil at Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights there’s a scattering of fluke being caught from the sand and loads of bunker off the beach.
Crabbing is picking up nicely in the bay, he said, and the fluking has been good by the Mathis Bridge and Good Luck Point.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fluking from the beach has been very good with bucktails and Gulp, especially with a Gulp teaser. The blues are also in the surf.
He cautioned beach anglers to keep an eye on their rods in sand spikes as big rays and sharks have made off with unattended tackle in recent days.
Grumpy’s is now operating under longer hours, open from 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Francine at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said Spanish mackerel showed up for anglers on the jetty at the Barnegat Inlet this week. Blues are also being caught on metal and SP Minnows.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Grab your epoxy lures and teasers and head to the beach and inlets to get in on the Spanish mackerel. You’ll also find fluke, blues, short bass and kingfish off the sand on metals, shads and bait.
Fluking has also improved on the reefs and rock piles. Sea bass and ling are mixed in with the fluke and will help you fill the cooler. Have fun and stay safe.