It has, thus far, been a banner summer for Barnegat Bay fishing. Though the weakfish bite has been slow, varieties of other species have made fishing the bay an activity to remember for many local anglers.
Snappers have been providing fun fishing at numerous local locations, including lagoons and near the Mantoloking Bridge in Brick, said Pete from Pell’s Fish and Sport on Mantoloking Road. Likewise, there have been plenty of snappers around in the back bay and Toms River, said Mario from Murphy’s Hook House on Route 37.
The local docks “are loaded with snappers, blowfish, and banded rudderfish,” a report from Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said, and all of the local tackle shops are reporting excellent crabbing in the bay and rivers, though some of the crabs are small.
Of course, regardless of what’s happening on the bay – or even offshore – everyone wants to know where they can find keeper fluke. Most of the local reports we’ve received over the past week indicate that the infamous “throwback-to-keeper” ratio has increased to about 15-to-1 over the past week and legal size fluke are a bit harder to find. Indeed, cooler water temperatures were to blame in the ocean, and in the bay, the population of large fish is likely on the decline as they begin staging to make their way out the inlets and into the ocean.
“During the week, fluke fishing was hit and miss due the full moon,” the Norma K III party boat crew said in a report. “With the current running up the beach so hard made it tough for anglers to hold the bottom even with 16 ounces on some days.”
The Norma K crew, as well as the regulars at several tackle shops in the area, have reported that most of the fluke that have been caught this week have been hooked during the day, meaning the early birds aren’t necessarily the ones reaping the most rewards. The Norma K, by the way, is bottom fishing during the day and fishing for blues at night. Check out the boat’s website for trip details.
With the weather forecast for the weekend now having improved since the possibility of stormy weather was floated yesterday, it looks like fishing will pick up since winds will be squarely out of the east on Friday and out of the northeast Saturday and Sunday. These winds will likely push warmer water back toward the local beaches, hopefully spurring on the fluke bite in the suds.
As usual, we welcome your reports, tips and photos! Send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to feature them in this column.