Shore an­glers in for a breezy bat­tle this sea­son

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

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