The weekend’s big wind did little to dampen the enthusiasm of fluke anglers as they brought the 2021 fluke season to a close. The general consensus was that it was a better-than-average season with good fishing throughout, which made for happy boat and surf anglers. Unfortunately, the tuna folks got some bad news. The excellent inshore bluefin fishing was brought to a screeching halt with the abrupt closure of the fishery by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Determining quotas have been reached based on reported landings, the bluefin tuna fishery will close effective 11:30 pm, September 23 and reopen on Oct. 3. Hopefully, they’ll still be around by then. In the meantime, anglers will have to be satisfied with stripers, bluefish, porgies, and blowfish. Black sea bass opens on Sunday, Oct. 8.
Northern New Jersey Fishing Report
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the bluefin bite had been excellent off Rockaway and in the Ambrose Channel but then he had got wind of the closure. There have been a lot of boats chasing the giants in the area over the last couple of days so he knows that news of the closure would not be welcome. He hasn’t heard much on the freshwater front lately other than fall trout stocking will begin on Oct. 12.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said big blues up to 10 pounds showed up in the Rip at the tip of Sandy Hook earlier this week. Stripers are showing in the surf as well, he said, as the bait is heading out of the rivers and Raritan Bay. Porgy fishing has been good off Breezy Point and in front of the Sandy Hook Coast Guard station.
Tom Giglio at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the false albacore showed up off the beach on Tuesday morning. Sightings had become scarce so it’s good to know they’re still around. There’s a load of bait around, he said, including mullet, peanut bunker, and rainfish. Bluefish and bass are feasting on it in the surf.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch reported bass and blues in the surf there and back in the rivers. He said the crabbing is still holding up back in the rivers as well. He also reported on the crazy bluefin bite that is now on hold. Big pods of adult bunker have been off Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, and Bradley Beach all week. There’s also a lot of mullet in the wash and anglers have been picking schoolie stripers and blues in the 3- to 5-pound range.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fluke season ended well. Despite the wind on closing day, the party boats out of the marina still managed to put good catches together. While some of the party boats are taking a little break for maintenance before sea bass season begins on Oct. 8, a few continue to sail for blues, porgies, and triggerfish. Matthews reported that mullet have hit the beaches from Deal to Belmar sparking action in the surf on blues and bass. He also reported good blackfishing at the Shark River Inlet with plenty of fish caught. The only problem was that just a few were keepers. With all of the mullet and peanut bunker stacked up in the local rivers, Matthews expects a good fall run.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar just made it in under the wire on bluefin going 3-for-5 on tuna from 250 to 400 pounds on Wednesday. He’ll be back out there come October when the fishery reopens and he still has open dates. Side Job Charters will also be sailing for stripers and sea bass in the coming weeks.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said he’s been doing well with bluefish and chub mackerel. There has also been good action on porgies, blackfish and triggers when he’s been bottom fishing. Capt. Spinelli will be turning his attention to sea bass when that fishery opens on Oct. 8.
Capt. Pete Sykes on Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters will be running his first sea bass extravaganza of the season on opening day and still has a few spots open for that trip. Frank Quadrino at the Reel Seat in Brielle said there were plenty of bass and blues in the surf and back bays. The blackfishing has been good at the Manasquan Inlet and Point Pleasant Canal, he said, but again, keepers have been scarce.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said things have gone a little quiet with the closing of fluke season. The good bluefin bite also a took a hit with the unexpected closure of that fishery. But, he said, the enormous amount of bait is on the move and blues and bass can be picked at most beaches on topwater lures and soft plastics. The bass aren’t too big, he said, but he expects to see larger fish as we get farther into the fall run. The Manasquan River is also giving up a lot of stripers on shads and live eels.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported anglers fishing the local surf are picking up bluefish on mullet and metal. There are also schoolie stripers in the wash hitting plugs and soft plastics. Small blues can be found at the Mantoloking Bridge while the blowfishing in Barnegat Bay at the BB and BI buoys is excellent.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the fluke season ended on a high note for beach anglers and now the bass and blues have moved right in. There are also a lot of bass being caught around the bridges at night on Kettle Creek shads and other soft plastics. The crabbing in the Barnegat Bay slowed down, but the blowfishing in on fire. Chum heavily to get them under the boat, he said, and use clams for bait and you’ll catch all you want. He’s been busy getting ready for this year’s Surf Turkey Tournament held Thanksgiving Weekend. Check the shop’s website for details or stop in to sign up.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said small blues up to 2 pounds are all over the surf. Mullet and metal are catching those. He’s also hearing more chatter of stripers in the wash. He, too, said it’s great blowfishing in Barnegat Bay at the buoys. With all the bait around, he is expecting a very good fall run.
Northern New Jersey Forecast
It looks like a good weekend to walk the beaches. The forecast is calling for sunny and mild weather and surf anglers have been enjoying a steady pick of bass and blues from the beach. Popping plugs, swimmers, shads and metal have all been catching fish.