Southern New Jersey Fishing Report- May 18, 2023
Stripers are hitting clams and bunker on the beaches and plugs at night, and big weakfish bite well in the bay as fluke fishing picks up steam.
The sea bass opener occurred, but the heavy winds and seas had mid-week anglers seeking other options. The few headboats that made it out had a quick limits of sea bass along with several ling. The rest of the week looks a little tough in terms of sea bassing, but there are plenty of options from the inlet to the bay. Striped bass fishing has been much better along the beaches with fish in the 28- to 40-inch range. Chunked bunker and clam baits have been working equally for most anglers. The plug fishing continues to get better towards the evenings. Bluefish and weakfish have also been cooperative for bay anglers, especially early in the morning. Some of the weakfish have weighed over 8 pounds. Offshore action has started in the canyons with some bluefin being landed.
Here is this week’s rundown:
Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River reported solid fishing from Island Beach State Park with striped bass to 44 inches being landed off the beach. Areas around the north side of Barnegat Inlet have been holding some 3 to 5 pound bluefish. Clam baits meant for striped bass have been landing some out of season tog around the rocks.
Lacey Marine in Forked River had some reports of trolled bluefish on blue and white ponytails from the “BB” to the “BI” markers. Fisherman have also reported some bird action around the same areas with a combination of striped bass and blues. Fluke fishing has been solid from the BB to the BI drifting 3/4 oz jigs.
Creekside Outfitters in Waretown reported a good number of fluke being landed from the BB to the BI and some of the channels near the inlet. 3/4 to 1oz jigs tipped with Gulp baits have been working. The shop is selling bushels of green crab to target larger sea bass offshore.
Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown had charter after charter this past week and the crew has been bailing fluke to 6 pounds. Most trips are catching 3 to 4 man limits of fluke with the occasional striped bass mixed in. There are a few openings left in May, so give the skipper a call.
The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light posted a solid start to the sea bass season as the crew braved the windy conditions to box a limit of sea bass. With the winds cranking, the fished the bay for a few short fluke. The boat has openings for sea bass throughout the rest of the month, so give Capt. Ted a ring.
Tony’s Bait & Tackle in Manahawkin reported a solid showing of summer flounder in the southern parts of Barnegat Bay. The Tuckerton area has been solid for flatties to 5 pounds around the clam stakes and back channels. The mid-island channels have also been holding flatties on both sides of the tide. A few drum fish have been caught around the bridges and also off the southern inlet.
Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor City had decent reports of anglers picking up striped bass along the bridges along with several black drum over the past week. Fluke fishing has been very good along the shallower spots of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). Small jigs tipped with minnow, spearing or Gulp continues to work well for anglers. A decent showing of weakfish in the backwaters, especially the deeper holes, has been occurring and the shop recommends soft plastics soaked with shedder oil.
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Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point had anglers weighing in 4 pound fluke and 5 pound weakfish caught in the backwaters. Gulp and bucktail jigs have been the top lures to box keepers. Sea bass fishing was good for the few boats that made it out and the shop is hoping for better weather through the weekend.
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Badfish Charters in Ocean City worked prime striped bass spots in the bay and the skipper has been loading his clients with quality catch-n-release striped bass. When the bass are slower on the bite, the crew has been switching over to box a few flatties. There are a few dates available for the remainder of May.
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The Cape May area had drum bite bonanza over the past week with the recent moon phases. The drum have been on the bite in the 40 to 60 foot range on clam baits. Striped bass are also being landed off the Wildwood and Cape May beaches. I didn’t get a good report on sea bass as most boats have been tied to the dock. Fluke along the ICW continues to get better with short to keeper ratios of 8:1. Plain or white bucktails tipped with white and pink gulps are working with good success.
South Jersey Fishing Forecast
The weather looks questionable for Saturday, but much better for Sunday. Anglers looking to catch “the meat” will have the best bets at the local wrecks, but it will all depend on the sea conditions for anchoring. Clam baits and flutter jigs are favorites for sea bass on the wrecks. Striped bass along the jetties from Long Beach Island to Cape May are picking up live and fresh baits, as well as plugs worked in the mornings and evenings. Summer flounder would be the second best bet as there are plenty of fish to go around from North to South. Gulp, spearing, and bluefish strips have accounted for the largest numbers of keepers. Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines!
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