For Memorial Day Weekend, there’s something for everyone. Striped bass, bluefish, fluke, black sea bass and ling are all in the mix.
For the freshwater folks, there’s plenty of trout around plus large and smallmouth bass and panfish.
Now if the weather will just cooperate, it will be a good unofficial start of summer.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said jumbo bass continue to bite in Raritan Bay. There’s been a lot of action trolling, on plugs and shads and chunking.
The sea bass fishing has been excellent since the opener. He and a crew from the shop fished over the weekend easily putting together limit catches. They even hooked a thresher that ate one of the sea bass as it was coming to the boat. The shark spooled the light reel in less than a minute.
The streams and rivers are running a bit lower, Hebert said, but there are still plenty of trout to be caught, especially in the deeper pools.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said big bass and monster blues continue to make for happy anglers fishing Raritan Bay. Sciortino said shop regular Chuck Tyman Manny has been catching, tagging and releasing stripers in the 50-pound range all week.
The shop also weighed in an 8-pound fluke over the weekend. Sciortino said he had good reports from anglers fishing shallower, warmer water in the bay with squid and killies.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the bass fishing in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers slowed up a bit but there are still plenty of fish being caught, most on the small side.
There are small blues in those rivers as well, hitting metal and top water plugs.
He heard of a few fluke caught in the rivers, but the bite was on the slow side.
Out front, it’s been a pick of stripers in the surf on clams and small plugs. The offshore action is better on the troll with a number of big stripers caught and released.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch reported good fishing this past week with beach bass on clams and shads. He even heard of some small fluke in the surf. There are tons of bunker off the beach, he added.
Sea bass fishing has been good on jigs and bait. He also had reports of fluke caught in the rivers along with bass and blues.
I’ve been trying sand crabs in the Ocean Grove surf for stripers but there haven’t been any takers as yet.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fluke season got off to a good start with limit catches reported in the Shark River from both the rental boats and at the L Street Pier.
The party boats, he said, are sticking with sea bass as the fishing is red hot and it will be a while before the ocean fluking gets in gear.
Gator blues continue to hit lures in the Shark and Manasquan rivers, Matthews said, with fish up to 18 pounds.
A few of the big bluefish have also been taken in the surf along with some stripers. The largest bass weighed in at the shop this week was a 20-pounder caught by Tom Cook of the Shark Rivers Surf Anglers.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar has been taking advantage of the excellent sea bass fishing adding winter flounder and ling to his catches. One trip this week also saw a bunch of 3-to 5-pound bluefish come aboard.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters has both of his boats getting in on the action. The Express has been concentrating on sea bass with excellent results while the smaller boat has been catching jumbo stripers on the troll. He also reported getting his first thresher of the year.
He’s currently booking trips for ocean stripers, sea bass and summer flounder.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar has catching slob stripers and black sea bass as well, sometimes both on the same trip. There have been some ling mixed in, too. This week’s stripers have been in the 45- to 50-pound range.
He’s filling up his schedule with striper and sea bass trips and booking offshore tuna trips as well. He can be contacted through his website.
Ryan at the Reel Seat in Brielle said it’s all about sea bass and stripers right now. The sea bass fishing is on fire and the bass are biting in the Manasquan River, offshore and, to a lesser degree, on the beach.
He also reported some nice fluke caught in the Manasquan River over the weekend.
The tuna bite has gone quiet after that early charge of bluefin and folks are waiting for the next body of fish to arrive.
Jason Szabo at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach reported good fluke fishing in the Manasquan River and at the south end of the Point Pleasant Canal in Barnegat Bay. Half-ounce jig heads tipped with Gulp are working and Szabo said a 6-pounder was caught earlier this week.
Big blues up to 15 pounds are still busting tackle in the Manasquan River while smaller ones in the 5-pound range are biting at the north end of the canal.
Striped bass are biting at night at the bridges in the river and three-quarter-ounce jig heads tipped with white plastics are doing the trick. There were also some rumors of weakfish around.
On the beaches, he said, it’s still a slow pick.
Tom Murphy at Captain’s Bill Landing said keeper and short fluke are being caught in the Manasquan River. He also reported bluefish in the Point Pleasant Canal.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported awesome fishing with sea bass and ling. He said the sea bass are starting to fill in on the inshore spots and there seems to be ling everywhere.
The Mimi VI’s schedule has filled up quickly but will be sailing some open boat dates toward the end of June. Check the website for availability.
Capt. Matt Sonsnowski on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach reported another great day of fishing on Wednesday.
There were a lot of good size sea bass along with a plenty of ling. Most anglers went home with their limit. Sosnowski said the bergal were a bit pesky but if you were patient, the right bite came along.
All of the catches were on bait. Reservations are still required on the Norma K III and space is limited.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick said there have been some nice fluke caught in Barnegat Bay and the Manasquan River since opening day. The bass are biting in there, too, on small plugs and plastics.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said it was a good fluke opener in Barnegat Bay for the people who got out early. Once the boat traffic started, the fishing shut down.
He said there are bass being caught in the surf on plugs and plastics.
The crabbing is getting better every day with some big males, up to seven inches from point to point, ending up in the traps.
Ray Kerico, owner of Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said he had good fluke reports from Barnegat Bay. There were even a few flatties reported caught from the sand. Bucktails and Gulp were doing the job in both places.
Bunker chunks are working for bluefish in the bay, he said, and the crabbing is coming along nicely.
Folks fishing with clams are having most of the luck with stripers in the surf, he added, but a few have been caught on artificials.
Best Bets for the Weekend
If the weather cooperates, the surest bet is black sea bass. The party, charter and private boats have all been doing very well on the local reefs, rockpiles and wrecks since the season opened almost two weeks ago. Bait and jigs are both working.
The fluke season got off to a nice start with good catches reported in the rivers and bays. Best spots for this time of year are shallow, warmer water. Killies, squid, Gulp and bucktails are the usual favorites.