We are just a few days from the official start of summer and the fishing is beginning to reflect the calendar.
This past week saw an uptick in ocean fluking, schools of blues off the beaches and crabs filling traps. The rivers and bays continue to produce keeper fluke and there were better reports of bluefin and yellowfin tuna offshore.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said he’s had reports of more threshers moving into the area and better tuna fishing, especially in the southern canyons. Sea bassing remains good and the big stripers are a mile or so off the Monmouth County beaches. Freshwater anglers are catching smallmouth bass at Oak Ridge Reservoir and Lake Hopatcong continues to give up hybrid stripers at night.
Billy Phillips at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said anglers are catching fluke off the beach on sand bugs. The fishing is nothing crazy, he said, but the ocean fluking is getting better. A 12.4-pound doormat caught by Ted Gaydos took the top prize of $50,000 in this year’s Jersey Coast Anglers Association’s annual tournament held last weekend.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said blues in the 5-pound range were being caught on bunker chunks off the beach at Sandy Hook and more fluke were showing up in the surf. Blues are being caught at night in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers along with the occasional striper. Stripers are on the beach as well hitting plugs and sand bugs.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said there are still a lot of keeper stripers up in Raritan Bay taking plugs and flutter spoons while the jumbos are offshore going for eels, bunker spoons and Mojos. Gleason said the cocktail blues showed up off the Long Branch beaches and there’s more bunker around. He also reported a few weakfish, up to 26 inches, caught from the beach on soft plastics. Bluefin and yellowfin tuna are offshore, he said, with most taken on the troll but a few have been caught on poppers. Gleason said there are special sales in the shop this week for all those fathers that fish. Small blues were breaking off the Ocean Grove beach on Wednesday and the bass have been feeding on sand bugs right in the wash. Fluke are right in there with them.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fluke fishing in the Shark River is outstanding with live killies outfishing all other baits. Ray Leonard and his crew were one fluke short of a four-man limit on Tuesday calling it off-the-charts fishing. They tagged and released a number of fish. Matthews said the party boats out of the marina like the Big Mohawk are still doing very well with sea bass. With that fishery closing on Sunday, the boats will be switching to fluke, cod, ling and winter flounder. The Belmar beaches, he said, are giving up bass on sand bugs and plugs. The surprise catch of the week, Matthews added, was a wayward lobster caught by a fluke angler fishing from the L Street Pier in Belmar.
Capt. Jay Richardella on Side Job Charters out of Belmar found giant bluefin biting out by the Bacardi earlier this week, putting an 80-inch jumbo in the boat. There’s a lot of life around, he said, including yellowfin, thresher sharks and mahi-mahi. Side Job Charters has open dates for tuna and Capt. Richardella can be contacted through his web site.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar is wrapping up his sea bass fishing with a few open spots on Sunday’s Father’s Day trip. Capt. Sykes said jigging was the most productive method on Tuesday’s trip as a lot of sand eels have moved into the area. Once sea bass closes, Parker Pete’s will be turning its attention to fluke. Check the website for details.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said he’s been getting some keeper fluke while sea bass and ling fishing. He’ll continue bottom fishing once sea bass closes.
Jake Palmieri at The Reel Seat in Brielle said the fluking is good in the back bay and the sea bass fishing is still going strong on the reefs. There are bluefin at the mid-shore spots and yellowfin in the southern canyons.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply Co. in Point Pleasant Beach said shark fishing has become popular with threshers the main target. Tanger said the AB Buoy has been a good spot. Boats trolling ballyhoo in the vicinity of the Triple Wrecks have been doing well with bluefin while boats fishing the Lindenkohl and Spencer canyons are catching yellowfin. Bass are being caught in the local surf on sand crabs and artificials and there have been some weakfish in the mix as well. The Manasquan River, he added, still has lots of stripers.
Chris Parlow at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said the good sea bass fishing continues, especially at the Farms and the Shark River Reef. He said bigeye tuna and mahi-mahi mixed in with the yellowfin in the southern canyons this week. Parlow also had reports of bluefin being caught on some of the inshore spots. Parlow personally got into the action this week when he came upon a huge school of false albacore busting the surface at the Mud Hole.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said the ocean fluking is improving every day as the water warms. He recorded surface temperatures of 68 degrees on Tuesday’s trip, which saw a number of keepers come over the rail. The Norma K III is sailing Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and two trips on weekends from 8 a.m. to 12:30 and 2:30 to 6:30.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach will be staying with bottom fishing after Sunday with a few open boat trips for cod, ling, pollock and winter flounder. He’s also scheduled an open boat fluke trip for July 7.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said he’s getting reports of stripers on the troll with spoons and Mojos catching fish by the 3-mile line. The surf is still producing plenty of stripers on clam and plugs, he said, with some bluefish in the mix. He’s also been getting word of fluke in the wash and plenty of fluke at the Manasquan Inlet.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said there’s no shortage of fish, just anglers. Kingfish showed up in the surf joining the bass, blues and fluke. There’s dogfish around as well, and if you start catching them the only solution is to move. In the back bay, Kupper said there are bass in the lagoons and at the Mantoloking Bridge, especially at night. The Point Pleasant Canal has bass and blues as well.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said they have a bit of everything going on down there with bass and blues in the surf along with keeper fluke. The stripers are still mostly on clams while the blues are hitting bunker, mullet and plugs. It’s Gulp and bucktails for the fluke. Out of nowhere, Kerico said, the crabbing has taken off in the bay with lots of blue claws filling the traps.
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Best Bets for the Weekend
This is your last chance to get in on the excellent sea bass fishing, as long as the weather cooperates. Clear skies are predicted, but the wind may make for difficult conditions.
If you’re stuck on land, head to the beaches. Bass, blues and fluke are in the surf hitting clams, sand bugs, mullet, bunker, plugs and metal.