Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- June 29, 2023

Keeper fluke are caught from the wrecks and reefs to the beaches and rivers, a nighttime bluefish bite turns on, and stripers eat clams and sand fleas in the surf.

It’s summer, when anglers’ thoughts turn to fluke. Actually, most think of them year-round but now they’re biting. 

Despite some rotten weather, fluking has picked up nicely in the last week in the ocean, rivers and bays.  
Party boats report keepers on the reefs and wrecks, surfcasters are getting them in the wash on sand bugs, Gulp and bucktails and it’s bucktails and Gulp back in the rivers and bays. 

There are also plenty of bass and blues in the same places. The blues are biting offshore and several boats are now scheduling night bluefish trips. It’s a good time to go fishing. 

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said he heard the fluking is on fire. Reports from the party and charter boats have all been excellent. He added the bluefishing has been very good, especially down to the south. There’s plenty of water in the rivers and streams up north and he said the trout have now spread out. The bass have moved off their beds and are a little harder to catch. 

Tackle World in Rochelle Park outfitted young Tony Yunganaula with his first rod and he promptly went out and caught his first fish earlier this week.

Danny Stolba of Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said there have been blues hitting bunker at the pier but the rainy weather has kept participation down. A few fluke have also been in the mix on Gulp and bunker. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said everybody’s fluking now with good catches reported at the Rattlesnake and Shrewsbury Rocks. He said a lot of big blues are being caught out front and folks are still catching bass on the New York side. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said there’s loads of big blues in the rivers and in the surf hitting topwater plugs. There have also been a few bass caught in the surf on poppers and bugs up to 25 inches. It’s an early morning bite on the outgoing tide. Fluke in the surf slowed up just a bit, he said, as persistent south winds chilled the water. 

Mike Pinto of Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright got this 35-inch bluefish on an Island X Hellfire 200 earlier this week.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch also reported good fluking off the beach and on the boats with Gulp and bucktails. It’s been good in the local rivers as well. Stripers continue to eat sand crabs off the beach and Gleason’s friend Shawn Matthews got a nice surprise when he landed a redfish fishing bugs in the surf. Another body of bluefin arrived in the area, he added, and he said there were reports of a few taken on jigs. The shop will be holding a special Fourth of July sale so stop by and check out the deals, he said. The bass bite on sand bugs hasn’t slowed up in the Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach surf. There are also fluke and sun dials in the wash. 

TAK Waterman in Long Branch shared this photo of Shawn Matthews and the redfish he caught in the surf this week.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the Shark River is giving up some very nice fluke. A 25-incher caught from a rental boat came into the shop earlier this week. 

Fisherman’s Den in Belmar posted this photo of a 25-inch fluke caught from a rental boat in the Shark River earlier this week.

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said his charters are enjoying the fine fluke fishing with limits and pool winners up to five pounds. He also reported good bluefishing with fish in the 3-to 5-pound range. 

German Discerns caught this 5.4-pound fluke aboard the Skylarker out of Belmar last Saturday.

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing said he’ll be starting night bluefishing trips this Friday and will continue with them on weekend nights through the summer. Open boat fluke trips on the Parker Pete Express will start on Sunday with more dates added throughout July. Check the website for details. 

Matt Haeger at The Reel Seat in Brielle said the fluke are chewing pretty good in the Manasquan River and on the reefs and wrecks. The party boats are all reporting good catches. There are also a lot of out-of-season sea bass coming up and going right back, he added. Starting Saturday, July 1, anglers are permitted to keep one fish at 12½ inches. Bass and blues are biting as well in the Manasquan River and at the inlet. Tuna anglers are taking the ride and finding fish, he said, but they are not close. 

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the fluking in the Manasquan River is crazy good with light jig heads and Gulp. Anglers are using 1/8- to 3/8 of-an-ounce jigs with 5-inch Gulp and catching loads of fish. Ocean fluking lit up this week as well, he said. Tanger said no weight or just a split shot is working best for folks fishing sand crabs for bass in the wash. There’s lots of blues around, he added, and there are bonito in with the blues out in the ocean. The east wind that blew for days, he added, pushed bait back into the river and lots of blues and stripers ended up in the Point Pleasant Canal. Finally, Tanger said he heard rumors of inshore tuna but the better bet was out in the canyons.  

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that the ocean fluke fishing has been good this week when conditions have permitted boats to sail. The Manasquan River has also been good as an alternative to the ocean, with a number of nice fluke caught on the ocean side of the railroad bridge. 

Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said the ocean fluking has been very good with lots of action on keepers and shorts.  Fish have been up to 6 pounds. Jigs and Gulp are working but some anglers have been successful dragging bait as well. He’s also been doing well on night bluefish trips with fish between 4 and 8 pounds. The Norma K III sails three-quarter day fluke trips Monday through Friday then two half-day trips Saturday and Sunday. There are also family fun trips every Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach took a break from bottom fishing to get in on the good bluefishing. He’ll be getting back to the bottom with some open boat trips scheduled for next week and later in the month of July. Check the website for details. 

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick reported that the Point Pleasant Canal has been good for stripers on live eels and blues on metal. The Manasquan Inlet offered a mixed bag of keeper and short fluke while the surf produced fluke in the wash and schoolie stripers on sand fleas. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the beach fishing has been really good with bass on clams and sand bugs and fluke on bucktails and Gulp. Bluefishing was a little iffy this week in the ocean but it was better back in the bay. Crabbing was also pretty good back in the bay. There have been scattered reports of weakfish as well. Charlie’s will be starting its weekly free fishing clinics on July 12 and holding them every Wednesday throughout the summer. Check the website for details. 

Scott Thomas at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fluking really picked up on the reefs and beaches this week. Gulp and bucktails were doing the trick, he said.  Triggerfish are starting to show as well. He also reported that Frankie Z from the shop had an unusual visitor this week when a tarpon showed up at his dock. Between the tarpon and the redfish, we’re off to a strange start this summer. Thomas said the crabbing has been good on the west side of the bay as has the blowfishing. 

Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park posted this photo of a tarpon taken by store employee Frankie Z from his boat dock at the beginning of the week.

Best Bets for the Weekend

Fluke look like the way to go this weekend with the delicious fish occupying rivers, bays, the surf and offshore.  Rivers like the Shark, Shrewsbury and Manasquan appear to have plenty to catch. Offshore wrecks and reefs are also producing lots of fish. Gulp and bucktails will do the job.  

There are also bass on the beach eating sand bugs and poppers and bluefish in the rivers, bays and ocean hitting metal, poppers and bait.

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