It was a wild week with bluefin tuna breaking on bunker at the Shrewsbury Rocks, a mere three miles off the beach. It might be something you’d see in the fall, but unheard of in August.
Jim Stonaker out of the Atlantic Highlands was fluking in the area last Friday with yours truly aboard when the fish popped up. He’d heard a rumor the tuna might be around and was ready with his popping rod.
We chased them most of the morning between episodes of fluking as they exploded on bait then vanished just as quickly as they appeared. For those on the fluke grounds that day it was a sight to see.
We came up empty but the following day there were reports of bluefin over 60 inches caught in the area.
Overall, it was a good week of fishing.
Rich Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the fluke fishing has been extremely good in deeper water. The Axel Carlson Reef, he said, has been giving up some really nice fish.
The porgy bite has also been very good, close to Breezy Point.
And Hebert went tuna fishing, chunking yellowfin up to 63 inches on sardines in mid-shore waters.
Phil Sciortino Sr. at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the boats are doing very well on fluke on the Scotland Grounds. He also had good reports on the porgy fishing on the rock piles in Raritan Bay.
He’d heard about the bluefin and remembered the days when their appearance so close to the beach was not that unusual.
Steve at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands also said the deep-water fluking is very good right now with a lot of big fish being landed.
He said the crabbing remains good in the bay and rivers and he’s been selling loads of traps, nets and tongs.
He also mentioned that worming for stripers under the Sea Bright Bridge is still very good at night. It’s not an easy place to fish but the bass are there.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the beach fluking is improving, with a few more keepers among the many shorts. He personally picked up three keepers in the Sea Bright surf just before the weekend.
He also reported bluefish off the beach with fish in the 2- to 4-pound range. There are short bass in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers and the crabbing remains good in the rivers as well.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch reported that a buddy of his was among the fortunate ones who got into the inshore bluefin, landing a 60-incher. The yellowfin bite farther offshore remains incredible, he said.
The surf is giving up a lot of short fluke with the occasional keeper mixed in and small bass are hitting white Kettle Creeks and Mag Darters in the suds.
The boat guys, he added, are starting to get into false albacore and the rivers are choked with peanut bunker, spearing and rain bait that should fuel a good fall run.
It’s still small fluke in the Ocean Grove surf but one I caught this week coughed up a 6-inch sand eel, which I take as a good sign. The bait is building up in the ocean and there are short stripers to be had on Kettle Creek shads
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reported a great weekend of fishing with tuna anglers calling it some of the best action they’ve seen in years. Trolling, jigging, popping and chunking are all producing. The majority of the catch has been yellowfin.
Fluke fishing has been very good, he said, with more keepers then we have seen the last in the last couple of years. The party boats out of the marina have been returning to the dock with plenty of limits and a number of fish exceeding 9 pounds.
He said the porgy fishing has been solid and the same goes for sea bass and blackfish. He, too, had reports of albies off the beaches.
Matthews added that the bait is building in the rivers and he has high hopes that all the peanut bunker, spearing, mullet and snappers will make for a good fall fishing.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar reported an epic week of fluke fishing aboard the Parker Pete Express.
Tuesday’s bucktail extravaganza, sponsored by Palmer Tackle, tallied dozens of keepers with many fish between 6 and 9.6 pounds. Other trips during the week scored equally impressive catches.
Capt. Sykes said these fish are on the chew as they get ready to head out. The extravaganzas are limited to 18 anglers so call ahead to reserve a spot.
Capt. Jay Richardella on Side Job Charters reported an incredible trip over the weekend with the boat going 4-for-6 on bluefin tuna just five miles off the beach.
More than 20 bonito and a dozen each of Spanish mackerel and false albacore also came over the rail.
He’s also been doing very well on his inshore fluke and sea bass trips. He can be contacted through his website.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the yellowfin bite has been lights out. He and his pals went 15 for 17 on jigs in about an hour and a half late last week about 60 miles out. The fish were up to 70 pounds.
It seems that everyone making the trip for yellowfin lately meets with success.
He also reported false albacore off the beaches and that the fluking is holding up on the reefs and in the Manasquan River. The river, he added, is chock full of bait.
Jason Szabo at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said bluefin tuna, Spanish mackerel and mahi-mahi showed up at the Manasquan Ridge earlier this week
He said the fluking has been spectacular, especially on the mussel beds to the north in deeper water, about 80 to 90 feet.
It’s not bad in the Manasquan River either. A six pounder was caught right from the dock behind the shop, Szabo said. The river is loaded with bait and the bass fishing by the bridges at night has been excellent on shads.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III reported good fishing on Monday and Tuesday with plenty of nice fluke up to 9 pounds. There were lots of sea bass to go with them.
Capt. Matt said bait, Gulp and bucktails have all been working.
The Norma K is also running night bluefish trips every Friday and Saturday. Reservations are required for all trips.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach is having success on both the fluke and tuna grounds.
Wednesday’s trip saw a 9½-pound fluke come over the rail and his most recent canyon trip ended with a boatload of yellowfin and mahi-mahi.
Frank at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said the crabbing remains excellent at the Mantoloking Bridge. He said the Point Pleasant Canal is producing blackfish during the day on green crabs and stripers at night on eels.
He added that the surf is still producing fluke, bluefish and an occasional striper.
The offshore tuna bite has been red hot, he said, with chunking, jigging and popping all working.
Pete at Charlies’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the bluefish have been cooperating in the surf, which is also giving up a lot of short fluke. Bigger fluke are being caught in the Manasquan River.
The river’s bridges are a hot spot for bass at night on shads. He also said the boats are doing well on albies off the beaches.
John at the Dock Outfitters is Seaside Heights said crabbing, blowfish and snappers in the bay are keeping most of their customers occupied. In the surf, folks have been doing well with kingfish on Fishbites.
Bob at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fluking has been good at the Sea Girt Reef and improving in the surf with more keepers showing up among the shorts.
Blowfishing has been very good in the bay as has been the crabbing. The usual crab spots are getting a lot of attention so he suggests going a little off the beaten path for better results.
Dennis at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fluking has been pretty good off the jetty at Barnegat Inlet and small stripers are starting to show in the surf.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Deepwater fluking is your best shot at a big one. The jumbos are chewing but who knows when they will decide to head out. The season closes on Sept. 19.
You can also head to the beach as the surf has fluke, stripers, blues and kingfish. The bait is building in the ocean and false albacore and Spanish mackerel can join the beach party at any time. Have fun.