(Above) TAK Waterman in Long Branch shared this photo of a bluefin caught earlier this week on a Madd Mantis sand eel popper.
The Fourth of July weekend brought good weather and all of the summer favorites. Fluke, striped bass, bluefish and blue claw crabs made a holiday showing and there was even a report of snappers making an appearance.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said fishing remained pretty much the same as the week before with fluke getting most of the attention. Swings in the water temperature had an impact on the bite, but there were some decent catches in Raritan Bay. He also had good reports from the Verrazzano Bridge. Freshwater fishing in local waters for trout, bass, walleye and hybrid stripers has been good early in the morning and into the night with mid-day heat shutting down the bite.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said anglers are catching blues and fluke at the Rip on Sandy Hook. Blues are showing up along the Sandy Hook beaches as well. Folks fishing with killies are also getting fluke at the Keansburg Pier. He added that porgies are being caught at the Tin Can Grounds and the Rockaways.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the bluefishing is still going strong in the Shrewsbury River. He’ been catching them between 2- and 10-pounds early in the morning on topwater plugs. Sand bugs are still picking up bass in the wash and there are fluke in there as well. Pinto did say that fluking in the surf is just so-so. The crabbing, however, is picking up in the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the fluke fishing in the surf there has been good and steady while the it’s been a bit inconsistent for the boaters. Water temperatures have been fluctuating and that has been affecting the bite. There’s plenty of triggerfish on the jetties and inshore pieces, he said. As for tuna, Gleason said it’s been a tricky season so far. There are bluefin and yellowfin offshore but the fishing is still hit or miss. Gleason said the amount of sand eels around is just incredible but the mid-shore action has yet to develop. Gleason also reported bass are hitting plugs at first light off the beach. Gleason relayed an interesting story from earlier in the week when a buddy of his was reeling in a 25-pounder and a much bigger predator left him with little more than the head. The stripers continue to hit sand crabs in the Ocean Grove surf, but the fishing did seem to slow down slightly. Fluke are also in the wash hitting sand crabs and Gulp.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said it was a good Fourth of July weekend for local anglers. Fluke were biting in the Shark River and for party boat anglers with the shop weighing fish up to 9 pounds. Stripers, blues and triggerfish were also caught at the Shark River Inlet. Matthews said he had reports of early season snappers but they were still pretty small. Folks fishing the surf caught fluke, kingfish, blues and stripers. Matthews said the top bait for stripers seems to be sand crabs right now while Gulp and bucktails are catching fluke.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said it was a solid weekend of fluke fishing with a number of limits and some nice keepers coming over the rail. He’s got spots available for this week’s open boat fluke trips. Check his website for details.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said they caught porgies, sea bass and some fluke this week and he’ll be targeting fluke and sea bass for the next couple of weeks.
Paul Puccini at The Reel Seat in Brielle said the fluke fishing on the local beaches has been really good as has the boat fishing on local reefs. Tuna fishing has been hit or miss, he added, but the reports from the last few days indicate the action is picking up offshore.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply said there are bluefin and yellowfin to be had about 60 miles out near the Bacardi. There are also tuna being taken in the canyons. He believes anglers got a little spoiled the last couple of years with the incredible inshore tuna fishing. Now, with higher fuel prices and less than a guarantee of success, people are sticking close to home and missing out on good fishing. Just go, he advised. Trolling ballyhoo seems to be getting most of the action, but Tanger said jigs and popping plugs are getting their share of fish. Tanger said the fluking is very good in the Manasquan River and on the beaches with 4-inch Gulp swimming mullet and bucktails. Stripers are also in the surf hitting sand bugs and folks flyfishing around the jetties are also doing well with bass.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach said they’ve been busy catching ling, winter flounder, sea bass and the occasional cod. He’ll be heading out on an open boat trip for fluke this Friday with just a few spots remaining. Check the website for details.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said the fluking was more of challenge over the weekend with water temperatures dipping due to the southerly wind. He still managed to put his fares on keeper fluke with the highlight a 9-pounder caught on last Thursday’s trip. The Norma K III sails three-quarter day trips Monday through Friday and two half-day trips on the weekend.
Chris Parlow at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach also mentioned fluctuating water temperatures as the cause of the inconsistent fluking. After a tough weekend, it bounced back Sunday afternoon into Monday. Sand crabs and clams are catching stripers on the beaches.
Bill Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said the surf is still going strong with fluke in the wash and stripers on clams, sand bugs and plugs. He said eels are doing a number on stripers at night at the Route 35 and railroad bridges in the Manasquan River. The local wrecks and reefs offer a decent fluke bite with sea bass mixed in.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said they are getting into the summer routine with fluke, blues, stripers and crabs. The fluke are in the wash eating sand crabs and Gulp, the bass are on clams and sand crabs and blues are hitting mullet and metal. Kupper also reported that crabbing in the back bay continues to improve.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said it’s been decent fluking on the beach with a number of keepers weighed in at the shop. Clams and sand crabs are working for stripers off the sand and its mullet and metal for the blues there, too. Kerico advised anglers fishing the beaches to keep an eye on their poles in rod holders as cow nose rays are starting to show. Crabbing is getting better every day, he added.
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Best Bets for the Weekend
Fluking from beaches and boats looks to be a good bet for the weekend. Water temperatures appear to be heading in the right direction and fluke should be chewing in the wash and on the reefs and wrecks. You can also fish the beaches for bass and blues with early morning and evening the best times. Sand crabs continue to catch stripers and plugs and metals are scoring bluefish.