Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- September 14, 2023

Fluke fishing slows in the surf as the storm approaches, albies and bonito are caught from beaches and jetties, and local rivers hold accessible fishing for stripers and cocktail blues.

There are loads of fish around. The trick for the next several days will be getting to them. 

Hurricane Lee is roiling the surf and rolling the seas. Throw in the expected high winds and you’ve got tough September conditions. Fortunately, the rivers and bays are holding loads of bait and there are fluke, blues, bass and other species feeding on it. 
And once things calm down, the plentiful bonito, Spanish mackerel, false albacore and tuna should still be around. Whether the offshore fluke stay in place remains to be seen. 

Before Lee arrived on the scene, Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park reported that the offshore fluking was holding up nicely. He was aboard the Fish Monger late last week and witnessed 77 keepers come aboard. Six-inch Gulp grubs were doing most of the damage with fish up to 5 pounds. On the freshwater side, he said if you put your time in, you’ll catch fish. He’s expecting a good fall trout season as water levels are good. Stocking begins around Columbus Day. 

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said there’s a lot more life in the Arthur Kill now and he suspects the offshore weather is driving the fish in. Blues, snappers, spot and dogfish are now being caught. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said fluke anglers are still doing really well fishing rough bottom. That will likely change with the coming weather. Bonito, he added, are all over the place hitting epoxy jigs. Jumbo porgies are on the reefs and there are lots of spot and croakers in Raritan Bay. He also reported stripers in the rivers hitting worms. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said there were lots of keeper and short fluke in the surf over the weekend. If they stick around after Hurricane Lee moves on is anybody’s guess. Pinto said there have been plenty of bonito and Spanish mackerel around hitting metal and Exo jigs. A few albies are popping up as well and Bill Bertsch managed to get a nice weakfish to hit a popper in the surf on Tuesday morning. 

Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright shared this photo of Bill Bertsch and the nice weakfish he caught on a popper last Tuesday morning.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the fishing is good depending on what you’re fishing for. Bonito and Spanish mackerel were being caught off the beach before the big waves started and spinner sharks were hitting Madd Mantis poppers. The yellowfin bite has been good with chunks outperforming jigs and poppers and there are bluefin around keying on sand eels. The bait remains thick back in the rivers and there are stripers around. Ahead of the fall run, TAK Waterman just got new shipments of Allen’s Custom Plugs and Swagger Plugs. 

There’s loads of bait, mostly adult bunker, spearing and rainfish off the beaches in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.  Unfortunately, the surf has been building all week thanks to Hurricane Lee and it will be a few days before beach fishing returns. The party boats out of the Belmar Marina, such as the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II, continue to report solid fluking. The Big Mohawk had a good day on Tuesday with a boat limit of fluke and the pool winner just under 8 pounds. 

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said it was a big fish weekend with fluke up to 8 pounds. The fluking slowed down a bit since then but he’s been catching some bonito and almaco jacks on most trips. He also targeted mahi-mahi earlier this week, getting a boat limit for the charter. 

Capt. Danny Costantino caught this 8.2-pound fluke last Sunday aboard the Skylarker out of Belmar.

Capt. Pete Sykes on Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said the fluking has been decent but the forecast for big swells and heavy winds leads him to believe there’s a change coming to the fishery. He’s considering bonito and mahi trips so check the website or Facebook page for updates. 

Eric Bunz at The Reel Seat in Brielle said fluking in the Manasquan River remains solid with live bait such as killies or snappers out fishing Gulp. Squid strips are a good choice as well. Offshore fluking, he said, in water between 80 and 90 feet has been good, especially at the Farms. Big baits are producing some big fish. The Sandy Hook Reef is giving up big porgies and short and keeper blackfish are being caught in the Point Pleasant Canal on green crabs. The Manasquan River is giving up a lot of bass on plastics and they’re biting as far back as the Mantoloking Bridge in Barnegat Bay. The Manasquan Inlet has bonito, false albacore and Spanish mackerel hitting Hogy jigs while mahi-mahi are at the pots. The farther off you go, the bigger they get, he said. Yellowfin are at the Triple Wrecks and Bacardi and chunking seems to be working best for them. Bunz also reported that boats trolling in the evening in the Toms Canyon are connecting with bigeye tuna. 

Kyle Tangen at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach also reported a lot of life in the Manasquan River with fluke feeding on the enormous amount of bait around. He said there’s loads of short action which is great for the kids. Smaller Gulp baits are working even if the tails are missing. Togging has been good at the Manasquan Inlet and in the Point Pleasant Canal on green crabs.  Eels and live spot are working in the canal for bass and blues. Offshore, fluke anglers are doing well on the reefs and wrecks with 6-inch Grubs in any color doing the trick. There are also loads of bonito, Spanish mackerel, false albacore, mahi-mahi and cobia around. He had a report of a 30-pound cobia caught earlier this week. Tangen said there are bluefin east of the Mud Hole and yellowfin at the Triple Wrecks. Both are being caught on the chunk and with jigs and poppers. He, too, reported bigeye in the Toms Canyon. There’s been a lot of big yellowfin reported out there as well, up to 170 pounds. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz of the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported a successful canyon trip earlier this week, returning to the dock on Tuesday with 20 yellowfin and two swordfish. He also reported decent bottom fishing catching ling, blackfish, big porgies and triggerfish.

The Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach had a successful canyon trip at the beginning of the week catching 20 yellowfin and two swordfish.

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that the hot yellowfin tuna bite continued through the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday. The Triple Wrecks area was very good on Tuesday. Fish have been hitting poppers, jigs, and bait. Fluke fishing was also good over the weekend on the Sea Girt Reef and the Klondike area. The Manasquan Inlet has been producing good fluke action, he said, with a lot of throwbacks but a number of keepers caught each day. Stripers and blackfish have also been biting in the canal. 

Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach shared this photo John Gibbons with a nice yellowfin he caught on bait this past Tuesday.

Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said the fluking over the past week has been very good with lots of fish and plenty of action. He reported fish up to 8 pounds and Tuesday’s trip saw 30 keepers come over the rail after just a few hours of fishing. There are also lots of bonito around and Capt. Gregory reported a 9-pounder caught. His night bluefish trips over the past weekend were also successful with everybody getting their limits. 

A limit catch aboard the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach earlier this week.

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said it was a weird week with the fluke coming and going in the surf. The bite would be hot one day and then they’d vanish the next. Bluefish were in and out as well, as were the albies and bonito. The surf was starting to pick up due to the hurricane and it’s uncertain if it will be fishable by the weekend. 

Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported the first push of mullet of the season at Island Beach State Park and the albies were all over it. As of Wednesday, fluking in the surf was good as Grumpy’s weighed in the biggest beach fluke of the season with a 25-inch, 6.4-pounder caught on Gulp. In the back bay, Kerico said crabbing is so-so but the blowfishing finally picked up. 

Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park weighed in its biggest beach fluke of the year when Will Englehardt brought this 25-inch, 6.4-pound fluke to the scale on Tuesday.

Best Bets for the Weekend

With Hurricane Lee on our doorstep, rivers, bays and even freshwater ponds and lakes are the best places to fish this weekend.  

The Shrewsbury, Navesink, Shark and Manasquan rivers are all holding fluke, stripers, blues and other assorted species while Raritan and Barnegat bays offer spot, croakers, bass and blues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *