The remarkable inshore bluefin bite grabbed all the headlines this week.
Considering all that’s happened this year, it shouldn’t really be any surprise. At least it’s one of the few good things.
There’s also been plenty of action on bonito, false albacore and Spanish mackerel. The mahi-mahi are inshore as well and there have been terrific reports on the fluke fishing.
Plus, with all the bait building up in the bays and rivers, it looks like were on the cusp of a good fall run.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park reported solid inshore action on bonito, false albacore and Spanish mackerel this week with the added bonus of an occasional bluefin tuna.
He also reported that a lot of black tip and spinner sharks have been caught as they are feeding on all the bunker along with the tuna.
The wind was a factor this week, making for some sporty seas, but he said the party boats did well with fluke on hard bottom.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said there the fluking has been really good with a little more than two weeks left in the season. The rough bottom in areas like the Rattlesnake and Scotland Grounds are giving up big fish and lots of limits.
The porgy bite has also been good on the Tin Can Grounds.
Boaters off the beaches, he said, are getting into bonito, false albacore and Spanish mackerel.
Steve at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands also reported good fluking on hard bottom. He had good reports on big fish in the Ambrose and Chapel Hill channels.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright reported several bluefish blitzes on the beach this past week. Last Friday, the blues stretched from Sea Bright to Long Branch and were gorging on peanut bunker and spearing.
He also heard of blues and Spanish mackerel at the Rip on Sandy Hook.
The keeper ratio is getting better for fluke in the surf, he said, but shorts are still in the majority. He also reported small bass in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers hitting poppers.
And, he added, there’s been a lot of talk about the inshore bluefin bite.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch was among those fortunate to get in on it.
He said the bluefin are big and the one that swallowed his Madd Mantis popper was 69 inches. The fish hit the plug just 20 feet from the boat and was landed after a 30-miute fight.
Offshore, the yellowfin fishing continues to hold up nicely.
The beach fishing has been good, he said, with decent catches of blues and short bass in the surf. There’s plenty of action on fluke off the beach just not a lot of keepers.
The bait is thick in the surf and in the Shrewsbury River, he said, including spearing, peanut bunker and rainfish.
Small blues blitzed the beach in Ocean Grove this week and there are plenty of small fluke in the wash. Spanish mackerel are popping up off the sand and there have been albie sightings but too far off the beach to reach.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fluke are feeding well with the party boats out of the marina reporting better than average fishing with big fluke and plenty of limits. Ben Green had a 7½-pound fluke on the Capt. Cal II.
The Shark River, he said, is still producing as one shop regular reported getting seven keepers. He kept his limit and returned the rest along with numerous shorts.
Matthews said the bait continues to build up in local estuaries and the bass and blues are feeding on them at night.
Surf fishermen, he said, are seeing more fluke in the surf now along with bass and blues.
Capt. Pete Sykes at Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar reported Tuesday’s charter had a field day with jumbo albies and Spanish mackerel.
His previous trip was a bucktail extravaganza that saw a 9-pound, 2-ounce fluke come over the rail along with numerous fish in the 6- to 8-pound range.
He’ll be sailing for fluke until the season closes on Sept. 19 and then may make some offshore trips in search of tuna.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar said the wind played havoc with his tuna schedule this week but he had inshore charters for fluke, sea bass, bonito and false albacore on tap.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the arrival of bluefin tuna inshore caught everyone’s attention this week. Fish over 65 inches have been reported, caught mainly on poppers.
He said the yellowfin bite offshore is still good with tuna in the 50- to 70-pound range.
The fluking remains solid on rough bottom and bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and some mahi-mahi are popping up on the reefs.
Dylan at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the striped bass fishing in the Manasquan River at night has been excellent with the outgoing tide best.
He had a report of a 10-pound fluke caught at the Axel Carlson Reef earlier in the week and there was a 6-pounder caught in the Manasquan River right in front of the shop’s fuel dock.
Blackfishing is good in the Point Pleasant Canal as well, he added.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz of the Mimi VI reported that this week produced a wide variety of species. Monday and Tuesday’s charters decided to do a run for blues, bonito and false albacore chumming and jigging on local lumps.
The trips produced excellent results with even some bluefin tuna mixed in with the other species.
He also reported his daily bottom fishing trips though the end of August saw good catches of sea bass, fluke, winter flounder, cod and ling. A 9½-pound fluke was among the pool winners.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III said Wednesday’s trip was met with a pretty big swell but they still caught some nice-size fluke. The pool winner went a little over 6 pounds and a majority of the keepers that came over the rail were in the 3- to 5-pound range.
Gary at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said the yellowfin bite is still on at the Triple Wrecks and there were mahi-mahi caught on the eastern edge of the Axel Carlson Reef. He said the shop has plenty of butterfish and sardines for the weekend.
He also reported that there are bigger stripers in the Manasquan River, up to 36 inches, hitting live eels at night.
Frank at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported bigger blues have showed up in the surf hitting mullet, metal, and epoxy jigs.
He also said the canal has been good for blackfish during the day and stripers at night on live eels. The tog are at the Manasquan Inlet as well.
Pete at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said there were a lot of small blues and fluke in the surf. He said shop regular, Tim Burden, of the N.J. Beach Buggy Association, weighed in a 3.1-pound fluke he caught from the sand.
The blues are hitting metals and epoxy jigs and the albies and Spanish mackerel are popping up from time to time.
He said the mullet are balling up in the Manasquan River and it won’t be long before they make their exit.
Phil at Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said there are blowfish, snappers, black drum and kingfish in the bay. The crabs are still plentiful there as well.
The beach is giving up cocktail blues and small bass along with cownose rays if you’re in the mood to battle one of those.
Bob at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fluke and bluefish continue to bite in the surf.
He is as surprised as everyone else about the bluefin being in close but knows of two caught off Monmouth County.
The crabbing remains good in the bay but the usual spots are getting a lot of pressure. You’ll have better luck in the less frequented lagoons, he said.
Northern New Jersey Fishing Forecast
There are loads of options, but with just over two weeks left in the season and some of the best fishing of the year happening right now, go fluking. Hit the rough bottom with Gulp and bucktails.
The beaches are also affording an opportunity for fluke with more keepers showing up in the wash. You’ll also have a shot at bluefish and bass and a chance at Spanish mackerel and false albacore. Have fun and be safe.