It’s prime time summer fishing.
More and bigger ocean fluke are being caught, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are popping up off the beaches, snappers are in the rivers and bays and the crabbing is very good in those same locations. All you have to do is go.
Rich Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said fluking on the reefs and wrecks has been very good. The tuna fishing, from what he’s hearing, has been hit or miss. The fishing isn’t terrible, he added, but it’s not up to the level of the past several years and he believes anglers may have been become a little spoiled.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the boaters are doing well with nice fluke on rough bottom at the Rattlesnake and the Farms. Everybody fluking seems to be getting their two sea bass as well. Sciortino said there are some cobia around and plenty of triggerfish. Stripers continue to be caught in the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty and boats are jigging blues in the ocean.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright reported it was a slow week for fluke in the wash with a lot of small fish. The bass are there, however, early in the morning on poppers, small plugs and sand crabs. The best thing going on, Pinto said, is the crabbing in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. Snappers are in the rivers as well and thick around the Oceanic Bridge.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the fluking has been good in the wash and there are plenty of schoolie bass in the surf. The yellowfin bite is good, but inconsistent, as the fish are constantly on the move. A hot spot one day will be lifeless the next. Gleason said he’s been getting good reports on the ocean fluking and there have been cobia caught as well. There have been more sightings of Spanish mackerel off the beaches and the bite has been good on triggers. Spanish mackerel are popping up off Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach but not in any great numbers as yet. The striper bite has slowed down but a few continue to be caught on sand crabs. An algae bloom turned the ocean a funky shade of green earlier this week but it cleaned up nicely by Wednesday.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said fluking has been good for the party boats, like the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II, sailing out of the marina with fish up to 9 pounds reported. Killies have been working well for fluke in the Shark River and off the local beaches. Anglers fishing the pier at the marina are using bobbers with the killies. There is a lot of life offshore, he added, with tuna, sharks and mahi-mahi. The fish aren’t always cooperating, but they are there.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar has been chasing tuna and said the fishing has been good the majority of the time. He’s been catching yellowfin on different spots about 60 to 70 miles out. He’s been doing some inshore trolling and catching Spanish mackerel and kingfish. He has open dates for offshore trips where tuna, mahi-mahi and wahoo are all on the menu. There are also openings for fluke and sea bass trips. Check his website for details.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said the fluking just keeps getting better as the water gets warmer. The pool fish are running about 6 pounds. Plenty of keepers came aboard on Wednesday’s open boat trip, he said and he’ll be sailing open boat next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said the fluking has been very good with a lot of slot fish and fluke up to 5 pounds. He’s also been catching ling and sea bass. He added that there are a lot of spinner and dusky sharks around as well.
Jake Palmieri at The Reel Seat in Brielle said yellowfin tuna are scattered offshore from 30 to 90 miles out. The Bacardi is one spot that has been producing, he said, but it’s not a sure thing as the fish have been moving around. He said there have been plenty of big bluefin spotted in close, but it’s been tough getting them to bite. Offshore fluking has been very good, he said, and in the Manasquan River as well.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the Manasquan River is full of life. There’s a ton of bait in the river, he said, and fluke and stripers are taking full advantage of it. It’s mostly small peanut bunker. Finesse baits, small plugs and poppers are working for the bass while Gulp 4-inch swimming mullet will get the fluke. The fluke, he said, are even biting at night under dock lights. Flyrodders are also doing well with the bass. The beaches to either side of the inlet are giving up plenty of fluke and Spanish mackerel are hanging just outside the inlet to get in on the bait bonanza. Tanger said the yellowfin bite has been good on the lumps as long as you’re willing to go looking for them. He advised getting away from the fleet in the well-known spots and do a little searching. He also reported big bluefin in close feeding on bunker and bluefish. There have been plenty of sightings, there just haven’t been many hooked.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said they probably had about 50 keepers come over the rail on Tuesday’s trip. The fishing has been very good this past week, with some anglers catching multiple limits. The Norma K III sails three-quarter day trips Monday through Friday and two half-day trips on Saturday and Sunday.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI said it was a good week of bottom fishing for fluke and winter flounder. He’s a little disappointed that the ling fishing isn’t better but boat limits on the other two species are easing the pain. Monday’s trip also saw a large ribbonfish come over the rail. There are still two spots available for the Oct. 16-17 offshore tuna trip. Check the website for details.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick said Barnegat Bay crabbing continues to be good with plenty of nice blue claws while the surf is yielding bluefish on bunker and mullet. There are also schoolie stripers and fluke in the wash. The local wrecks and reefs are producing a decent fluke bite with sea bass mixed in. Giacalone said the Axel Carlson appears to be the better spot lately.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said bluefish continue to pop up off the beach there along with Spanish mackerel. There are lots of fluke in the wash; you just have to weed through the shorts to get a keeper. If you’re fishing the beach, he warns, keep an eye on your rod as cow nose rays are dragging poles into the ocean. Fluking in the north end of the bay is holding up and the crabbing is good.
Jenni Ackerman at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said blues are being caught from the beach on metal, epoxy jigs and poppers. There are still plenty of fluke in the wash as well, hitting Gulp and bucktails. Crabbing really picked up in Barnegat Bay, she said, and added that the bay is overrun with blowfish. They’re a fun fish for kids to catch and great eating.
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Best Bets for the Weekend
It’s time to go fluking. Wind and tide conditions dictate how the fishing will be, but warmer water has added consistency to the bite. Boat anglers are finding more and bigger fish, especially on rough bottom. Gulp, bucktails and killies and squid are all working.
The fluke are also biting off the beach as are blues, Spanish mackerel and schoolie striped bass. Crabbing is very good in most rivers and bays and the snappers are in there as well for kids of all ages.