Southern New Jersey Fishing Report- August 31, 2023

Fluke are biting well from the reefs to 20 miles off shore, and bluefish and albies are caught in the surf while triggerfish and sheepshead are caught around the backwater bridges.

Creekside Outfitters shared this photo of Tom Kowitski with a .72lb blowfish and a bonus kingfish from the Fish Hawks Blowfish Tournament. (@creekside_outfitters)

An active Atlantic, August super moons, and large swells from offshore systems have thrown a few curveballs to most anglers working the ocean reefs and snags for large fluke.  The past week’s weather made it challenging for anglers to get out and most bays and ocean spots were proverbially ghost-towns due to angry inlets.  Anglers able to sneak out found some serious current which made holding the bottom very challenging.  Surf and jetty fisherman working inlet rocks have been finding triggerfish, sheepshead, and tautog with consistency.  Bayside anglers are still finding some short and keeper fluke action, but the currents have been stronger than normal.  The offshore tuna and mahi bite continued at its epic pace as large numbers of both species have been hitting the docks earlier in the week.  As we turn the page on summer and head into September and the start of our Fall fishing, let’s hope it’s a quiet month in the Atlantic.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Here is this week’s rundown:  
Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River said it’s been hard to keep the green crabs in stock as anglers have been working the jetties of Barnegat Inlet for tog. The surf was pretty big mid-week, but anglers working the suds in the beginning of the week have been scoring on bluefish, fluke, and even some false albies. 

Creekside Outfitters in Waretown had slower reports this past week with the weather, but anglers able to hit the ocean have been doing well at the Garden State reef sites. The bay has been loaded with small sea bass, adult spot, and blowfish from the “BB” to the “42” marker. Fluke fishing was slow overall with a handful of keepers and shorts being reported around the inlet. A few triggerfish, sheepshead, and tog have been landed from the mid-island bridges. 

Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown has been working the ocean spots to put anglers on boat limits of fluke up to 25 inches. The skipper reported drop and reel fishing on good size fluke and charters were able to box 5-man limits in less than 3 hours. With booked out weekend schedule through September and school starting, weekday trips are available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for ocean fluke. 

The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light has been booked solid on bottom fishing trips throughout August and most of September. Capt. Ted has been focusing on some open bottom areas and the boat has been doing well on fluke and some sea bass. 

Tony’s Bait & Tackle in Manahawkin reported a solid week on the blowfish grounds with good numbers been caught from the “42” tripod marker to the “BB” buoy. There are some spot, kingfish, and banded rudder fish in the mix. The crabbing in the back is excellent with the western areas along Turtle Cove producing good numbers of keeper blueclaws. The mid-island bridges are producing a variety of species from short tog, keeper sheepshead to small bluefish. The beaches prior to the big swell were producing spot, kingfish, croaker, and fluke. 

Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor City reported good offshore fishing prior to the recent weather fronts with lots of yellowfin and mahi coming from the canyons. The mid-shore lumps to canyons also have been holding some nice wahoo taken by high-speed trolling. Anglers are still running off of Seaside to find squid and bluefin tuna as the shop has had a run on squid jigs. Closer to shore has been producing good numbers of fluke at the reef sites from Ocean City to Cape May. Each day is different with some producing mostly overs and other days where it’s a pick among lots of shorts. Gulp, strip baits, and rigged whole squid has been catching the largest number of keepers.  The bay has been slower on fluke, but better on tautog and bridges from the rock jetties and bridges. Anglers working the back marshes of the Mullica River and Great Bay have been finding large numbers of white perch. 

Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point had a shipment of shedders, but they may be all gone at the time this publishes. Shedders have been excellent for sheepshead, tog, fluke, and weakfish over the past week. The bay is still holding decent flounder along with some nice sheepshead. Anglers working the beaches have been mixing it up with croakers, kingfish, flounder, and small bluefish. The night bites at the bridges have also been producing some bluefish, small striped bass, and weakfish.  

Badfish Charters in Ocean City reported some schoolie bass action in the backwaters, but much better on the flounder front. The skipper has been booking mid-Sept to December striped bass trips for the fly and spinning gear. Capt. Brian’s dates book out fast, so give him a call. 

The Cape May area had a slower week as the winds and weather played havoc keeping most boats tied at the dock. The flounder fishing has been excellent from 15 to 20 miles out and anglers drifting Gulp and strip baits have been finding large numbers of overs. The better bite has been the offshore yellowfin, mahi, and wahoo bite as most canyons had excellent numbers. Boats hitting the deep with chunked baits and trolled spreader bars limited on yellows along with easy pot picking for mahi. Bayside has also been producing large numbers of variety with croakers, kingfish, and flounder being caught from both Cape May and the DE bay beaches. Some of the back creeks and rivers along the DE bay have been producing good numbers of white perch with bloodworms being the ticket. 

South Jersey Fishing Forecast

The best bet for the weekend will be to try to hit the reef sites if the seas are doable as most of our reefs have been loaded with keeper fluke. Basically, Barnegat Light reef to Cape May sites are producing fish, but you have to move around until you find a pile of them. 4- to 6-ounce bucktails tipped with whole squid, strip baits, or 8-inch Gulps will put you in a good position to box a few keepers. If the ocean grounds aren’t doable or you’re prone to the Atlantic flu, the inlets and beaches have plenty of variety to offer. Simple double hook setups available at most local tackle shops tipped with squid, Fishbites, or Gulp will provide opportunities ot catch kingfish, croaker, spot, and fluke. There are some schools of albies and bonita along Island Beach State Park and Long Beach Island, so don’t forget those metals and epoxy jigs. The best bet for bayside anglers seems to be the inlets for fluke and the backwaters for blue crabs. With the Labor Day weekend upon us, take some time to get on the water with friends and family. Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines!

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