Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- June 22, 2023

Fluke fishing improves on the wrecks and the beaches, and bass hit plugs and sand bugs in the surf while bluefish take poppers and tins.

It’s been a week of changes as the sensational sea bass season closed on Monday and summer officially arrived on Wednesday. 

Folks will be turning their attention to fluke and by all accounts the fish appear to be cooperating. Reports indicate better fluking offshore on the wrecks and reefs and along the beaches.

John Pasculescu caught this nice fluke in the Ocean Gove surf on a bucktail.

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association held its annual tournament over the weekend and if the results are any guide, there are some big fluke around. Edward Shaefer of Ridgefield, N.J. was the overall tournament winner with a doormat of 12.42 pounds. Fishing out of the Jersey City port, Shaefer collected the $50,000 bonus prize for the biggest fluke over 12 pounds.  

There were seven ports in the contest, each awarding its own prize package. It was also a good week for bass and blues on the beaches and fluke in the rivers and bays. 

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the sea bass season closed with a bang and fluking has picked up in the bay and ocean.  He reported that Mike Drumm took first place for the Sandy Hook weigh station in the JCAA tournament with a 9.4-pound fluke. Hebert said bluefish are all over Raritan Bay and stripers continue to be caught by the Verrazzano Bridge. 

Tackle World in Rochelle Park proviced this photo of Mike Drumm and the 9.4-pound fluke he caught to win the Sandy Hook port prize in last weekend’s JCAA tournament.

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said a lot of fluke have been caught lately from the pier. The fish were hitting bunker chunks and pink Gulp. It seems that everything bites on bunker chunks at the Carteret Pier. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said stripers are still around hitting live bunker for the boaters while the beach anglers are getting them on plugs and bugs. Blues are also on the beaches at night, he said. Fluking has also been decent in Raritan Bay, Sciortino added. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said if you walk the beach in the morning, you’ll catch fish. Stripers are hitting plugs and feeding on sand bugs while blues are going after poppers. He also said the fluking on the beach is improving. There are still bass and blues back in the rivers as well. 

Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright posted this photo of Ernie Hammer and the big bass he caught on sand bugs earlier this week.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said fishing remains solid with good fluking off the beaches and bass on lures and sand fleas in the suds. Tuna fishing, he said, has been tough. Anglers have been spotting fish but getting them to bite has been another matter. June has traditionally been a good month, he said, but the bluefin may have bypassed us this year as reports indicate the fish are already up by Cape Cod. But he expects another body of tuna, especially yellowfin, to move into the area before too long. The surf fishing through Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach has been good for fluke and stripers. Both are eating the bugs and the stripers can be spotted patrolling the wash rooting around for them. 

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the weather has been an issue for the last couple of days but the fluking in the Shark River has been very good.  Ocean fluking has been limited due to the high winds but the boats that have made it out have done fairly well with fluke up to 6 pounds. 

Capt. Jay Richardella on Side Job Charters out of Belmar turned to fluking after the terrific sea bass season closed. He was chartered for the JCAA tournament and captured first place for the Shark River Inlet port with Everett Morgan of Neptune catching an 8.7-pounder. He hopes to start tuna fishing once the seas calm down. 

Side Job Charters out of the Belmar fished the JCAA tournament with Everett Morgan (center) taking the top prize for the Shark River Inlet port with an 8.71-pound fluke.

Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker out of Belmar was out bluefishing in the bumpy seas on Tuesday and said the bite was slow.  He did say the ocean fluking is getting better as he gave it a shot on the last day of sea bass season, bringing fish up to 5 pounds over the rail. 

Matt Haeger at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the wind and rain will be a problem for the next day or so but the fluke will be waiting when the boats get back out as the ocean bite has shown a real improvement. He added that there have been several threshers caught not too far offshore. 

Sand bugs are catching bass on the beaches and there are bluefish in the Point Pleasant Canal, he added. 

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said there are plenty of stripers in the surf with shads and plugs working at night and sand crabs during the day. There are bass and weakfish in the Manasquan River, he said, feeding on bunker fry. His advice is to go small with lures, plugs and flies. Offshore fluking has been getting better and he reported a 10-pounder caught late last week on the Axel Carlson. There are tuna to be caught, he added, but you’ll have to travel to catch them. The southern canyons have been producing bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin on the chunk, troll and popping plugs.

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach doesn’t expect to sail again until Friday’s charter. There are open boat dates for bottom fishing at the end of June and July. Check the website for details.

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that the Manasquan River fluke bite has been good the last few days with anglers reporting a good catch on Gulp tipped with spearing. There has also been a very good striper bite in the river on clams with many fish over 30 inches being reported. That bite has been best an hour or two after the top of the tide, he said. 

Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach shared this photo of Brandon Hoy and his crew on the Compass Rose with a 532-pound thresher caught earlier this week.

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick reported that local beaches continue to produce stripers on clams while drifting sand fleas is producing stripers and fluke. There are also plenty of stripers and blues in the Point Pleasant Canal, he added. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said anglers are catching bass up to 35 inches in the surf on sand bugs. Fluking has been decent on the beach with Gulp and bucktails and big blues have been in and out of the Manasquan Inlet. Crabbing is improving in Barnegat Bay, he said, with the lagoons providing better catches than the open bay. 

Scott Thomas at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said they’re getting bass on the beaches with clams, sand fleas and plugs. The blues are there too, hitting metal, poppers and mullet. The fluking on the beach is coming along as well and it’s been pretty good on the local reefs. There have been thresher sharks tight to the beach, Thomas said, and his goal this summer is to catch one from his kayak. We wish him luck with that. 

Best Bets for the Weekend

We’re in a bit of a weather delay as a northeast blow that began on Tuesday will hang around for a few days. 

Once that clears out, good fishing should return. Beaches have been a good bet with fluke in the wash on Gulp and bucktails.  At the same time, stripers are hitting plugs and eating sand bugs and bluefish are feeding on mullet and bunker chunks and chasing poppers and metal.  

Party boats should be sailing again by Friday, Saturday at the latest.  

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