Outdoors: Head to Jersey for salt water action
With temperatures forecast to be in or close to 100 degrees this week, these dog days of summer make for tough fishing in local streams, rivers and lakes. If you crave big, good eating fish, head to the Jersey shore for some saltwater action.
According to our On the Water fishing reporter, more keeper fluke were reported in northern New Jersey as anglers make the most of the dwindling summer flounder season. Boat anglers continue to get the better fish on bucktails on rough bottom while the surf anglers saw an increase in keepers from the beach. There are still plenty of shorts around, but bigger fish are biting.
Small blues, kingfish, Spanish mackerel and short stripers fill out what’s being caught from the beach. And the bluefin tuna bite goes on and on. There are also more mahi-mahi showing up.
Mark at Tackle World in Rochelle Park reported a definite improvement in the size of the summer flounder caught in the last week. He also said the shark fishing has been crazy good.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, said boats continue to see bigger fluke coming over the rails. The biggest of the week was a 10-pound, 5-ounce doormat caught aboard the Elaine B II out of the Highlands.
Anglers fishing the rough stuff are getting the keeper fish in the 6-8-pound range and the Ambrose Channel is starting to give up bigger fish as well. Raritan Bay is loaded with cocktail blues, while plugs and sandworms are getting bass on the Sandy Hook beaches. Offshore, the Bluefin bite is still going strong around the Atlantic Princess.
Mel Martens, at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright, said the fluke fishing has seen a big improvement from the sand with a number of keepers coming ashore. A buddy of his got three along with bunch of shorts earlier in the week. Martens said he’s been having success with a floating jig head tipped with a Gulp swimming mullet. The jig head is on a dropper loop above a sinker and he fishes it close to the jetties. He said a lot of fish bite right at his feet. The crabbing, he added, is outstanding in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers.
Bluefish and fluke are biting in the Ocean Grove surf, but the Spanish mackerel, which pop up almost daily, stay just out of reach of shore anglers. Some anglers are also waiting for the snappers to show up here in the surf.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, reported larger fluke are moving around with more fish being caught in the 5-10-pound range. Matthews said there are still a lot of fluke in the Shark River, but shorts dominate the catch. Boats fluking in the ocean are filling out their catches with sea bass and blackfish.
In southern New Jersey, On the Water says bait is beginning to stage as peanut bunker and mullet swim up and down the lagoon at dawn and dusk. There are two weeks left in August and the fishing has improved on the big fluke front with most shops reporting fluke being caught in the 6-10-pound range. The ocean bite should get into full swing through the remainder of the season as these fish start to pull out of bays and estuaries.
The pelagic bite has continued to be hot offshore with yellowfin, mahi and billfish out deep while Spanish mackerel, bluefin, cobia and bonita are hitting lures in the 10-30-mile range.
This past week a Philadelphia angler caught a rare for the area 90.6-pound Cobia, a fish normally found in southern waters like Cape Hatteras and beyond. He caught what may be a pending state record at Cape May, while fluke fishing.
There are plenty of tog off the jetties for anglers to have a great time catching, but remember you can only take one fish home at or greater than 15 inches. If you like the backwaters, the last few weeks of August are great for small striped bass on poppers or the fly, but these can only be targeted dusk to dawn.