Friday represents the biggest day of the Jersey Shore fishing calendar: the start of fluke season.
There has been much said about when the season should start, with anglers from Ocean County and points southward always arguing for an earlier season. That said, there is nothing quite like the start of summer flounder season coinciding with the unofficial start of summer itself. There is something uniquely pleasant and synergistic about so many great Shore traditions beginning and re-starting all in one weekend each year.
On Thursday, state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin signed an order putting this year’s fluke regulations into place. This season’s size and possession limits for summer flounder remain 18 inches and 5 fish per day respectively. The state will also allow a special program to continue at Island Beach State Park which allows anglers to take two smaller fish.
The Shore Based Enhanced Fishing Opportunity Program will continue for 2015, allowing anglers to retain only two fish per day (not 5 fish) greater than or equal to 16 inches (total length) only at IBSP during the current 2015 New Jersey summer flounder fishing season. The special limit applies only to shore-based anglers; those in boats must adhere to the normal regulations.
With the start of summer flounder season comes another tradition: the usual “scouting report” from local anglers who have been out testing the waters – literally – to see what we can expect.
As usual, back bay anglers will likely be rewarded early this year with the most keepers. We’ve seen photos of keeper-sized fish commonly coming across our screen here, caught by our friends. Anecdotal, sure, but what isn’t when it comes to fishing? Local angler Nick Honachefsky, of Brick, nabbed a 6-pounder fishing the back bay on Thursday during a prospecting trip.
“With fluke season opening Friday, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate,” said Pete from Pell’s Fish and Sport on Mantoloking Road. Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s will give anglers perfect fishing days over the course of the holiday weekend.
The shop has a full line of “Gulp” in stock and a limited amount of fresh caught local spearing, so early birds get the bait.
There are other fish patrolling local waters as well, Pete said. Blues and small bass are still at the Mantoloking Bridge with the bass action coming mainly at night on drifted sand worms. One report from customer trolling Maja Bunker spoons had three keeper bass with one at 44-inches off Lavallette.
Finally, from the surf there are reports of bluefish action and small bass at night with a few keepers mixed in, the staff at Pell’s said.
The steady pick of bass and blues has continues across local beaches.
“Large blues and a few keeper bass are being taken from Seaside Park through IBSP,” a report from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said. “Cut bait and clams with popping plugs and swimmers are all scoring on these fish.”
“Schools of Bunker are starting to move into our area so be sure to have some bunker snags handy,” the folks at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park said, a sure sign of the spring bass run beginning to kick off in earnest.
Fishing really picked up on local beaches at night, so that might be the time to head out, the staff at the shop said.
From all of us at Shorebeat, have a wonderful start to your summer season this weekend, and best of luck to catch the fish of a lifetime! Show off those catch photos by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sure to publish them here over the weekend or next week!