Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- August 31, 2023

Fluke fishing is fantastic from the rivers to the reefs out front, hardtails pop up off the beaches and jetties, and mid-shore yellowfin are caught on jigs.

Summer may be winding down, but the fishing isn’t. 

Fluking is probably the best it’s been all season both on the beaches and from the boats. Local rivers continue to give up plenty of fish and bigger fluke are on the reefs and wrecks. 

A cornucopia of bait, including adult and peanut bunker, mullet, killies, spearing, and rainfish, is stacked up in the bays and rivers, thick in the surf and out in the ocean. Southern species like Spanish mackerel, bonito and false albacore are popping up all along the coast. And the bluefin and yellowfin bite continues. If the weather plays along, it should be a terrific Labor Day Weekend.  

There is one important reminder: sea bass fishing is closed as of Sept. 1 but will open again on Oct. 1. 

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park sailed out of Atlantic Highlands over the weekend and found small bluefish all over the place. They spotted Spanish mackerel breaking but there were no takers. Hebert said the blues were feeding on peanut bunker. Fluking, he said, is holding up nicely on the beaches and offshore. 

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said the Arthur Kill is loaded with peanut bunker and there have been a few blues taken at the Carteret Pier, just not as many as the anglers would like.  

Patrick Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said a lot of nice fluke are being caught off the beach on killies, Gulp and bucktails. False albacore and triggerfish were reported at the Shrewsbury Rocks and Sciortino said bonito and Spanish mackerel are also popping up off the beaches. Small blues are all over the bay and anglers are catching all the spot and croakers they want from the Keansburg Pier. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the fluking in the surf keeps getting better and better. He got his limit from the beach last Saturday morning and a 22-incher on Wednesday at Sandy Hook. There are blues off the beaches as well and small stripers in the Shrewsbury River. Crabbing, he said, is very good in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers right now. Pinto said the shop is fully stocked with Game On Exo Jigs, a favorite for albie season. 

Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright shared this photo of Joe A. and the 4.5-pound fluke he caught in the Sandy Hook surf on Gulp earlier in the week.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said there are lots of bonito and Spanish mackerel around but albies became scarce. He’s sure they will return as they always seem to disappear in late August and come back in September. Boats that have been able get out in the bad weather continue to catch bluefin at the lumps on live squid. Yellowfin are scattered, he said, but hitting jigs when located. Gleason said there is all kinds of bait in the rivers and blues are in there having a feast. Fluking is good in the Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach surf, but fishing has been tough since Tuesday with a big hurricane heave making for difficult conditions. It should lay down by the weekend. 

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fishing is very good with party boats out of the marina catching keeper fluke, bluefish, sea bass, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and triggerfish. The Shark River still has plenty of fluke and blackfish are biting at the inlet. Matthews said divers are seeing a lot of stripers in the river, but they don’t seem ready to bite. Surf anglers were doing well with fluke and blues until the surf started crashing but they will be back when things calm down. 

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said there’s all kinds of life around and his charters have been doing well with fluke and sea bass. It’s been a very good season, he said, and barring any big storms, the good fishing should continue. 

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing said his private charter on Wednesday got the job done despite the heavy swell. Fluke and sea bass filled the coolers. He’s got open dates for charters in September and will be scheduling open boat trips. Check the website for details. 

Smiling anglers hold their catches on Wednesday aboard Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar.

Capt. Jay Richardella on Side Job Charters out of Belmar has been doing well with inshore fluking and catching his share of bonito and Spanish mackerel. 

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar put this young angler on some bonito on Wednesday.

Matt Ruggieri at The Reel Seat in Brielle said false albacore, bonito and Spanish mackerel are pushing into local waters in greater numbers. He hasn’t heard much on the bluefin bite this week other than the squid seem to be thinning out. Yellowfin are within 60 miles hitting jigs and there are some large mahi around. 

Kyle Tangen at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said fluking on the offshore reefs is excellent with bigger profile baits such as 6-inch Gulp grubs catching the bigger fish. The Manasquan River is chock full of a wide variety of bait and the bass fishing at night has been very good. Soft plastics, plugs, eels and whatever else you might want to throw are all working, he said. There’s lots of fluke in the river as well. Small blues, bonito, Spanish mackerel and albies are all popping up offshore and bluefin can still be had on the squid grounds. Yellowfin are hitting jigs 40 to 50 miles out, he added, and the Monster Ledge and Mud Hole are holding some nice mahi. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported bringing a huge catch of big porgies back to the dock on Tuesday’s trip. He’ll be scheduling open boat trips in the coming weeks so check the website for details.  

Fluke and sea bass caught aboard the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach earlier this week.

Capt. Danny Gregory Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said fluke fishing remains pretty good with some really nice seabass in the mix. He believes the good sea bass fishing will pick right back up when the season reopens October 1. He reported fluke up to 9 pounds this past week and a good day of fluking on Wednesday. He’s also added a Sunday night bluefish trip this weekend leaving the dock at 7 p.m. 

It was a good trip on Wednesday for this angler aboard the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach.

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that the bluefin tuna and fluke bite has continued throughout the weekend. Bluefin up to 125 pounds have been weighed in at the shop, mostly caught livelining squids. He also reported that the fluke bite on the Axel Carlson and Sea Girt reefs was very good over the weekend with fish hitting a variety of different baits including Gulp, spearing and smelts. He highly recommends tipping your bait with squid strips at all times. With the ocean being affected by the storms, he also reported that the Manasquan Inlet is still producing a large number of fluke and there are plenty of schoolie stripers hanging around the docks and bridges. Blackfishing in the Point Pleasant Canal using green crabs has also been very good. 

Captain Bill’s Landiing in Point Pleasant Beach posted this photo of Don Wagenblast and Chris Parlow with a pair of nice fluke caught on the Axel Carlson Reef over the weekend.

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported that the local beaches continue to produce fluke and blues along with a few albies landed.  

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the fluking slowed down a bit there, but it’s been good just a little to the south. Blues are in and out of the surf and the boats offshore are getting Spanish mackerel and false albacore. Back in the bay, there’s bait galore with small blues, snappers, grunts and small jacks chowing down.  

Scott Thomas at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said blues, albies and Spanish macks are off the beaches and fluking is still very good in the surf.  He said there are sand eels in the wash as well. He heard the bluefin bite picked back up on the lumps. The amount of bait back in the bay is insane, he said, with mullet, killies, spearing and peanuts all stacked up. There are also tons of spot, along with pinfish and blowfish.  

Best Bets for the Weekend

Once again, it’s fluke. The surf is giving up lots of fish and there’s been an improvement in the number of keepers. Gulp, killies, bucktails and spearing are working from Sandy Hook down to Island Beach State Park. 

There are also loads of bluefish in the rivers and on the beaches and blues are offshore as well along with tropical species. And the crabbing is excellent in all the usual spots.  

Have a safe Labor Day Weekend. 

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