Shore anglers in for a breezy battle this season
With the arrival of summer, perhaps the Jersey and Delaware shores can shake off the persistent winds that have plagued the areas throughout the spring. As Capt. Norm Hafsrud, the former Boyertown resident and long-time charter boat operator, told me on Tuesday, “This has been the windiest spring I have ever experienced.”
That does not imply the fishing has been bad, it just means you really had to pick your days. A number of very large doormat summer flounder have been weighed-in. It is just that the over-all numbers of the popular flat fish seem to be off.
Almost all that flattie action has been taking place in the back bays, although there was a 10-pounder hauled out of the Ocean City surf about a week ago. I don’t know what that particular angler was actually targeting but he was using a bucktail and squid combo. A bit earlier, Rob Caruso of Lansdale also checked-in a 10-pound flounder. Rob took that beauty on a bucktail and Gulp! combo while fishing from his kayak in Absecon Inlet near the Atlantic City casinos.
Elsewhere, the fluke action has been fairly wide spread. Ludlam Bay, the waters behind Strathmere and Margate and a stretch of the ICW just south of the Ocean City 34th Street Bridge have been productive.
While New Jersey’s summer flounder season didn’t open until May 25, the state’s most popular game fish was in the news all winter. That had to deal with a mandate from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) that had ordered very draconian changes to the state’s regulations. The Commission ordered a 19-inch minimum size and a shorter season, despite well-proven research that shows almost all fish that size are breeding females. The research also shows that undersized fish returned to the water suffer a high mortality rate.
With that in mind, New Jersey took on the ASFMC and placed in the state out of compliance and is appealing not only to NOAA but also the White House to put some reason in the fluke regs. If these efforts fail there is a possibility New Jersey will not have a flounder season next year.
Elsewhere, the kingfish activity is picking up on a daily basis. If you can get access, the various ocean-side fishing piers have been the best spots for the kingies. The back bays also are giving up some nice catches of small sea bass, small stripers, sea robins, skates and rays. Also, a young lady battled an impressive 15-pound sheepshead that she hooked in Grassy Sound inside the Wildwoods. A green crab was the bait. I have been noticing increasing schools of peanut bunker and spearing in the back waters so all of those easy meals should help keep the various game fish inside for some time to come.
Down in Delaware Bay there has been a noticeable slowing of black drum action. I don’t know if that is the result of all the wind or whether the season has come to an early end. Those that are being caught are tending to be in the 30-pound range.
If you are a real sea bass fan the place to be is offshore. Smaller fish are hovering over the inshore reefs and snags but for the really big humpbacks a visit to the deep water is a must. Most of the big partyboats have been out in 100 or more feet of water but most of the passengers are bringing home bag limits of big fish.
Traditionally, June is mako shark season in New Jersey and this June is no exception. On those few days when boats could venture forth there have been some spectacular rewards. The largest so far this year weighed in over 500-pounds. I have caught makos but I am not sure I want to deal with one that size! A few threshers also have been taken.
If it is tuna and mahi you seek my advice is to head south toward the Baltimore and Poor Man’s Canyons. There have been good reports on yellowfin and big eye. We also should start to see some billfish showing up shortly.
I know it is easy to forget, but New Jersey does require a no-fee salt water fishing permit. You can get your by calling up www.countmyfish.noaa.gov then print out the permit can carry it with you.
Across The Bay
Our friends in Delaware also have been doing well on summer flounder. Some of the spots I know they have been catching them include the Cape Henlopen Park Pier, Lewes Canal and Massey’s Ditch. There have been some in Indian River but the bite there has not been steady.
Black sea bass also are abundant in places such as the Del/Jersey Reef, Old Grounds and Sites 10 and 11. Some stripers are reported around the Oyster Rocks, but black drum and bluefish see to have left the area.
For you tuna fans just point your boats toward the Poor Man’s and Baltimore.