Conditions settling back down on Jersey coast
It seems like it has been at least a month since the ocean off south Jersey was accessible to anglers. That train of offshore hurricanes and a steady supply of high winds kept all but the very largest boats securely tied to their docks.
But, in the past week conditions have slowly returned to normal and last weekend some boats did head off in the direction of the deep.
Probably the biggest news coming back from out there was an extremely impressive 106-pound wahoo that was caught from a Cape May based boat named Common Sense. The captain steered the vessel south and put out lines at the 30-Fathom Line a bit inside the Baltimore Canyon. Things had to be pretty good because in addition to the wahoo the Common Sense cooler also contained a yellowfin tuna and a dozen and a half mahi.
Much closer to shore the partyboats have been anchoring up on the artificial reefs and some captain’s knowledge snags and their passengers have been getting some respectable numbers of triggerfish and porgies. They also are continuing to pull up summer flounder and seabass but those are now out of season and they have to be returned to the water.
The back bay and river anglers still are waiting for the fall striped bass run to hit its stride. Quite a few shorts have been caught but keepers are a rarity. The water temperature now has dropped into the upper 60s and that could be a sign the big bass might be ready, especially in the upper reaches of the Mullica and Egg Harbor Rivers. Live bait would be recommended but that should be no problem because there continue to be huge schools of peanut bunker and spot around.
Around the various jetties and bridges there has been pretty good action on sheepshead and taug. I would recommend crab for bait and keep in mind that you can keep just one taug. You also can expect to be pestered by hungry, and small, bluefish. It might not be a bad idea to have a second rod and reel with you and if you get one of those tiny blues use that combo to liveline the blue. Perhaps a large striper, blue or weakfish might decide it would make a good dinner. That has worked for me many times over the years.
In the surf there has not been very much going on. The biggest news would be some red drum being reported at Long Beach Island and the Wildwoods. A good example of the slow surf fishing would be the result of The Women’s Surf Fishing Club of New Jersey’s tournament at Brigantine about a week ago or so. Small bluefish were the norm. Just one kingfish was registered and the biggest fish of the event was a 15inch herring.
If you fish the back waters of Atlantic City, especially in the Chelsea section of town, you may have heard that area was closed to all water activities because of a bad sewage leak around the old Bader Field. That leak has been repaired and the waters in that area have been reopened.
The Delaware striper story is just about the same as the New Jersey story. There are plenty around but finding one of legal size is difficult. There are many in the Canal but they are of the catch and release size.
Summer flounder are legal in Delaware, unlike Jersey, but they are starting to make their fall migration out into the ocean. You still can find some in the back waters but we can expect the Old Grounds and Sites 10 and 11 to start coming alive with them. On the Cape Henlopen State Park Pier there is a mixed bag catch of flounder, spot and kingfish.
Then, there are the blue claw crabs. They have been plentiful all summer and into the fall and they continue to show no signs of slowing down. Some of the more expert crabbers are bringing home upwards of 5 dozen big crabs per trip. I wish one of them would invite me down for some crab cakes or garlic crabs!
The big boats seem to be heading south toward the Baltimore and Norfolk Canyons where there are abundant mahi and tuna swimming around.