By all accounts, the unofficial end of summer saw the best fishing of the season.
Big fluke and plenty of them were caught on the beaches and from the boats, the tuna bite came alive inshore and offshore and assorted other species — bonito, mahi-mahi, Spanish mackerel and wahoo — all added to the action.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park received good reports of large mahi-mahi on the pots and plenty of Spanish mackerel around. The fluking was probably the best of the summer before the bad weather hit on Monday, he said. The much-needed rain will help the freshwater fishing, he added, as rivers and streams were very low due to the long dry spell.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at The Tackle Box in Hazlet also said that last week’s fluke fishing was the best of the season. Rough bottom was giving up the big fish. He also said the tuna bite turned on with yellowfin and bluefin relatively close. Porgies and triggers were biting as well and snappers are all around Raritan Bay.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the fluke bite really picked up off the beach with a lot of keepers coming to the shop with an 8.8-pound, 27-incher taking the top spot for the week. Pinto also reported a lot of Spanish mackerel and triggerfish around. Crabbing in the rivers is still good, he added.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said inshore bluefin bite turned on with a really good jig bite. Nomad jigs were doing the job. Gleason also reported plenty of yellowfin caught on jigs and poppers in mid-shore waters. Gleason said the fluke fishing has also been good off the sand with one customer, David Shriqui, catching a 23½-incher on a Gulp/spearing combo. There is an enormous amount of bait in Raritan Bay and back in the rivers and Gleason believes the fishing will pick up again once this bad weather passes. It’s still mostly short fluke in the Ocean Grove surf but there is a lot of bait off the beaches and in the surf and Spanish mackerel and bonito have been popping up most days.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said fluke fishing has been very good, both in the Shark River and from the party boats. There have been limits in in the river with fish up to 5 pounds. On the boats, the Big Mohawk reported an excellent day last Sunday with two double-digit fish up to 12 pounds, plus plenty of limits and loads of keepers. The Capt. Cal II and Ocean Explorer also reported good catches. Matthews said the bluefishing has been red hot for the boats out of the marina targeting them and there are chub mackerel in the mix. Bonito invaded the inlet several times in recent days and Matthews said epoxy jigs worked for them. Blackfish are also being caught at the inlet as well. It’s been quiet on the striper front but with all the bait around and the changing weather, Matthews believes they will be here in no time.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar is one of the boats fishing for night blues and they’ve been catching them like crazy. He’s limiting the passengers so there’s plenty of room and plenty of fish. Trips are scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday. During the day, he’s on the fluke grounds and has open boat trips set for this Saturday, then Monday through Friday.
Lloyd Bailey at The Reel Seat in Brielle said the fluking remains very good in the Manasquan River and out on the local reefs. He said the fishing has been especially good on the south side of the Axel Carlson Reef and the nearby Manasquan Reef. The yellowfin bite at the Chicken Canyon was very good over the holiday weekend and the inshore bluefin bite on jigs really took off.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said it was an epic weekend with a terrific bluefin bite less than 10 miles out and plenty of action chunking yellowfin in the Hudson Canyon. The mahi-mahi fishing was also excellent on live peanuts and spot. Tanger reported catching a 40-incher. He also said the there was a 70-inch wahoo caught in the Mud Hole trolling. It was a great weekend on the fluke grounds as well, he added, with lot of keepers on the local reefs and rough bottom. The fluking is still really good in the Manasquan River, he said.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI reported a phenomenal offshore trip that returned to the dock on Sunday with loads of tuna, mahi-mahi and tilefish aboard. It was the catch of the season for the Mimi VI. For the Mimi VI’s upcoming schedule and video of last Sunday’s catch, check out their Facebook page.
Chris Parlow at Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported a great weekend of fishing with very good fluking on the local reefs with almost all anglers catching keepers with plenty of limits reported. He said the inshore mahi-mahi action remained very good on the pots at the Glory Hole and Mud Hole while a few wahoo were also reported caught. Parlow added that the offshore tuna bite finally began to heat up with fish caught on the troll during the day and on the chunk at night. Yellowfin and bigeye were among the catches along with some swords and tilefish.
Pete Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick reported excellent fluking at the Axel Carlson, Sea Girt and Manasquan reefs. It’s also been good farther north off Long Branch and at the Shrewsbury Rocks. He’s also getting reports of bonito and Spanish mackerel popping up off the beaches and fluke in the wash. Blackfishing in the Point Pleasant Canal remains good, he said, but you have to weed through a lot of shorts to get a keeper.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the fishing was good over the weekend with a steady pick of fluke in the surf. There are still fluke being caught in Barnegat Bay along with small blues and bass. There’s a load of bait back there as well, he said, and that should be on the move soon.
Bob at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park also reported a very good weekend of fishing with a steady stream of fluke weigh-ins from the beach. He also reported false albacore, Spanish mackerel and bonito off the beach. Unfortunately, they stayed just out of casting range. He’s betting they’ll be moving in closer in the days ahead. Blowfish and spot are being caught in the bay, which he said is stacked up with bait. The start of the fall run can’t be far off.
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Best Bets for the Weekend
This past week showed there are still plenty of big fluke around. But they’ll be on the move soon so with just a little less than three weeks left in the season, it’s time to go.
The beach bite picked up in many spots, such as Sandy Hook, Sea Bright and Long Branch and reefs and rough bottom continue to give up big fish for boaters.
Whether you’re on a boat or the beach, keep your eyes peeled for Spanish mackerel, albies, bonito and bluefish.