Surf anglers this week became more acquainted with their friendly, neighborhood bluefish population, as reports throughout the week indicated cocktail blues have been all over the surf.
The blues will show up at certain beaches at certain times, but when they arrive, they’ve been hitting baits all over the place.
“Some scattered cocktail size blues were around off the local beaches yesterday hitting bunker chunks and mullet,” said Mario from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River.
“Surf continues to improve with reports of 2 pound blues hitting bait in Seaside Park yesterday afternoon,” a report from Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said.
Blues were also being found in the bay, hitting metals and poppers.
Of course, as fun as it can be to catch small summer bluefish, everyone wants to take home a nice doormat fluke for the dinner table. The fluke bite, as it usually does in August, is moving closer to the inlets and into the ocean as the fish begin to stage their full-on fall migration to the offshore grounds.
“Fluke hitting bucktails tipped with Gulp and a teaser is still the way to go if you want to move around,” Mario from Murphy’s said.
At Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park, customers have reported that fluking has been a daytime activity, mainly in the surf and at the Barnegat Inlet jetty.
“Fluking off the surf continues to get better and the bay and docks are still a blast,” a report from Betty and Nick’s said.
As we move into August’s midpoint, the best bets for fluke fishing will be the flats inside Manasquan Inlet near the commercial fishing channel (check your fishfinder to spot mussel beds inside the inlet where they feed) and in the ocean at the Sea Girt and Axel Carlson reefs and the Klondike Banks. For those heading to Barnegat Inlet, the eastern half of the Oyster Creek Channel along Island Beach State Park into the inlet proper should be providing plenty of fish. If boat traffic isn’t too bad, fishing the edge of the main inlet channel is a good bet. Watch to avoid the occasional breakers in the inlet itself outside of the channel, especially in the middle of the waterway to the south jetty.
For those fishing from shore, “the wall” at Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant Beach has also been a hot spot this past week, the folks at Alex’s Inlet Bait and Tackle said.
“Best baits have been fresh peanut bunker topped with squid, and killies topped with squid,” a report from the shop, which overlooks the inlet, said. “Anglers using squid with peanut bunker or killies have had better luck.”
Like elsewhere, blues have also been hooked at the wall this week. The fluke haul from the inlet this week has included keepers, the report said.
Barnegat Bay anglers can also enjoy the blowfish bite at the BI buoy and elsewhere, as well as a hot crabbing season that has re-energized in the last week or so. For those on the hunt for blowfish, “grab a blowfish rig and some clams, squid or Fishbites and drop it down next to your crab traps and drop lines and see what happens,” Mario from Murphy’s advises.
A quick shout-out to the crew of the Queen Mary party boat out of Point Pleasant Beach, who this week have found themselves in shark-infested waters. Black tip sharks, that is! Customers have been boating them all week, including one long-time angler on the boat who caught the biggest fish of her life. One day this week, the boat ran into 60 black tips, which are always released.
A video can be found here of recent black tip action, courtesy of the Queen Mary:
In other fishing news this week, a new state-record cobia was entered in the spearfishing category. William Maier of Medford was off Cape May on July 17, 2015 when he speared the 60 pound, 56-inch fish while free diving.
Maier was out with his father on his 20foot Boston Whaler, the Go Away. While diving, he saw three cobia swimming toward him. He shot the largest with a Riffe Euro 100cm. The fish ran hard and took about 50 yards of line off the reel. Surfacing, Maier locked down the line and was towed around for about 15 minutes without the fish tiring. A follow-up shot slowed the fish and allowed Maier to swim down, get his arms around the fish and swim it to the surface and into the boat.
Congratulations to William on your catch!
As always, we invite you to send in your reports, tips and catch photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature them here in this column!