Fluke fishing remains strong as bigger, more plentiful fluke are being caught from the beaches and boats.
Rough bottom on all the local reefs gave up the bigger fish while surfcasters are enjoying plenty of action on numerous smaller fish. Keepers are a little harder to come by from the sand. Rivers and bays still boast good fluking as well.
Keep a rod handy for all the tropicals around. Spanish mackerel, bonito and false albacore are popping up with greater frequency off the beaches and around the reefs.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the fluking has been really good for the last week. He’s received excellent reports from the Atlantic Reef, Scotland Grounds and the Shrewsbury Rocks. He also heard of Spanish mackerel at Shrewsbury Rocks. Freshwater anglers are hoping for cooler weather, he said, as the heat has slowed that fishing way down.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at The Tackle Box in Hazlet said many anglers are focusing on fluke now with just a few weeks left in the season. He reported some big fish being caught on rough bottom at the Rattlesnake, Shrewsbury Rocks and Atlantic Reef. The boats have also been getting into some bonito and false albacore and pot hoppers are catching mahi-mahi.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said there are loads of fluke in the surf there. Unfortunately, the vast majority are small. Pinto said there are reports of albies off Breezy Point and he suspects they should be off our beaches very soon. There’s plenty of bait around to interest them and the shop, he added, is loaded with jigs to catch them.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said there have been big bluefin in close off the Rockaways. Better numbers of yellowfin have showed up farther out and there are smaller bluefin mixed in with them. More and bigger fluke are being caught by boaters and the surf is full of shorts along with a few keepers. He said bass and blues have been feeding on the enormous amount of bait back in the rivers. Peanuts, spearing and mullet are all gathered in big numbers. The Ocean Grove surf is chock full of short fluke but keepers remain elusive. A big school of Spanish mackerel popped up just out of reach on Wednesday. Just a heads up to mark your calendars. The Asbury Park Fishing Club has locked in Sunday, March 19, 2023 for its annual Fishing Show.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said that he’s seeing a gradual change in the fishing with large quantities of bait on the move and predators in pursuit. He said bigger fluke are showing up on the near shore reefs and party boats out of the marina, including the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II, have been, enjoying excellent late summer fishing. The number of fluke on the beaches is increasing as well as they move out of the rivers. Peanut bunker, mullet and spearing in the Shark River are attracting schoolie stripers while boats targeting blues are finding plenty of action with chub mackerel in the mix.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said the fluking is very good right now with anglers getting easy limits. He’s got open boat fluke trips scheduled for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving the dock at 6 a.m. Capt. Sykes has also added night bluefishing to the schedule with trips scheduled for this Friday and Sunday night. Last Saturday’s trip was a big success with plenty of blues coming over the rail. Check the website for details.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said he’s been doing very well fluking. Last Saturday saw the season’s biggest fish so far, a 9 pounder, caught by Mike Paci from Lodi. The Skylarker was doing well with sea bass, too, but that season closed on Wednesday. Blues and chub mackerel are helping to fill the coolers.
Jim Sweeney at The Reel Seat in Brielle said the inshore fishing has been good for false albacore and mahi-mahi at the pots. Live peanut bunker are the bait of choice for the mahi. Anglers heading offshore are finding bigeye tuna plentiful, he said, and there have been some swordfish and a few white marlin. Sweeney said the east side of the Axel Carlson Reef has been giving up nice fluke with Fish Bites gaining favor among some anglers over Gulp. Supposedly, it has a stronger scent. Fluking has been decent in the surf as well and Spanish mackerel are starting to make more frequent appearances off the beach.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the Axel Carlson Reef has been on fire for fluke with lots of big fish reported. False albacore and bonito have also been caught in the vicinity. Fluke fishing is still solid in the Manasquan River, he said, and the night fishing for stripers has been excellent. There’s an enormous quantity of bait in the river right now. Big bluefin are in the Ambrose Channel for those who have the right gear while yellowfin and bigeye are in the Hudson Canyon. Tanger said the fluking on the beach has been good. A buddy of his got a 19½-incher on a fly rod. He also said blackfish are being caught from jetties and in the Point Pleasant Canal.
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain in New Jersey!
Chris Parlow at Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said good fluke fishing was reported this week at the Axel Carlson and Sea Girt reefs, with many limits and a number of larger fish being reported. He also said the fluking remains good inside the Manasquan Inlet. It’s still a struggle on the offshore grounds, he said, but there are tuna being caught. The mahi-mahi fishing has been good for those pot hopping and there’s been an occasional wahoo.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said there were a couple of tough days with a south wind making things difficult. But the fishing bounced back nicely at the beginning of the week with fluke up to 7 pounds coming over the rail. Capt. Gregory said he has 31-hour tuna trips scheduled for Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 and a 22-hour trip set for Oct. 7.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz of the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach returned from a successful tuna trip on Tuesday catching two bigeye up to 180 pounds and a number of yellowfin. The Mimi VI has a couple of open boat fluke dates on the schedule and bottom fishing trips for the end of the month. Details are on the Mimi VI website.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said there are fluke and blues on the local beaches while the Point Pleasant Canal is producing some nice size blackfish. Barnegat Bay fluke fishing remains good with plenty of fluke around the Mantoloking Bridge and mouth of the canal and the blowfish are biting at the BI and BB buoys.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said there’s plenty of action with fluke off the beach, just not a lot of keepers. There are also albies and Spanish mackerel off the beach along with bonito and a few blues. For whatever reason, he said, blues have not been as plentiful as in years past. Crabbing is still good in Barnegat Bay as is the blowfishing.
Frankie Z at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the beach fluking continues to be the best thing going on right now. Bucktails and Gulp are catching keepers. Keep your eye on your rod if you use a sand spike as the cow nose rays are still dragging poles into the ocean. Ethan Shannon was hoping to catch one with his dad when he hooked and landed a 46-inch cobia using bunker chunks. Bonito, Spanish mackerel and bluefish pop up from time to time off the sand.
Lastly, the Jersey Coast Shark Anglers Association is still looking for boats to join the Kids with Cancer Overnight Tuna Tournament on Sept. 10. Visit their website for more information.
Best Bets for the Weekend
Time to go fluking. The season is in the home stretch and the fishing is excellent. Party boats and private anglers are all reporting good catches on local reefs north to south. Rough bottom will yield the bigger fish. Surfcasters will find plenty of action, if not a lot of keepers.
Keep your eyes peeled for summer visitors like false albacore, Spanish mackerel and bonito as they are popping up just about everywhere.