South Jersey Fishing Report [5/29]
Sea bass fishing is improving by the day, and the fluke season is off to a rip snorting start.
There are plenty of big bluefish around, and a new wave of stripers is arriving following the massive schools of bunker. Sea bass are beginning to show in greater numbers and, if you’re up to it, there is an abundance of tilefish in the offshore canyons.
“Keeper fluke and keeper sea bass. Pretty good fishing but I expect it to get better,” reports Capt. Fred Ascoli aboard the Miss Chris.
The Lady Chris is running into a lot of throwback fluke and small bluefish. No doubt keeper flatties will start coming over the rails very soon.
“It was a disappointing opening day of sea bass, and the fishing was only a pick most of the week,” says Capt. Paul from the Porgy IV. He continues, “It’s a mix of sea bass and fluke, but no limits for either. Some nice dinners going home, though. It should pick up when the bottom water temperature gets up a couple of degrees.”
It’s been a slow go on the Starlight this past week with only a few keeper sea bass coming over the rails. As water temperatures warm, both the sea bass and flounder should start to chew.
Capt. Jim on the Atlantic Star reports outstanding action with blueline tilefish and the sea bass are on the bite. Howard Buchmeyer (Cherry Hill, NJ) iced 15 bluelines to 15 lbs. and a limit of sea bass to 3 lbs., Art Strassler (Downingtown, PA) sacked a max catch of sea bass to 2.8 lbs. along with 20 tilefish, and Tony White (Cape May, NJ) waxed 12 bluelines and a sea bass limit to 3 lbs. Rail space is by reservation only.
“The bottom water is still a little too chilly to really get the crabs up and around, but a few are getting caught,” observes Stumpy at Dividing Creek Boat Rentals. A degree or two jump in the bottom temperatures and the blueclaws will go on the typical late May feeding binge. There are the big croakers and white perch that are on the bloodworm bite in the creek, and there is always the chance of a keeper striper.
It’s been a pretty good sea bass whompin’ on the Starfish and Capt. Bob says he’ll keep at it through the Friday of Father’s Day weekend, when the switch will be made to a pair of daily four hour trips with sea bass and fluke the targets. Bob Ferko from Philadelphia was high hook one trip with 13 sea bass, and it was a 9 sea bass sacking by Ron Kennedy (New Catsle, DE) and a 7 catch for Bob Anderson (Cherry Hill, NJ).
Capt. Victor on board the Captain Robbins told of very good sea bass and ling fishing on the offshore wrecks, and there were toss ‘em cod and big conger eels in the mix. Some of the ling were up to 4 lbs. Tom Pitts (Williamstown, NJ) drained a pool with a cinder block thick 20 inch sea bass, and it was a 19 inch sea bass for Tyrone from Delaware. It’s al about flounder and sea bass through the summer.
“We beat ‘em up pretty good from opening day and through Monday,” said Capt. John from the wheel of the Keeper describing the Memorial Day weekend whacking of the back bay flounder populace. Gulp!, minnies, mackerel and squid strips…all brought flatties to the net. Pool winners included Mike Chambers (Margate, NJ, 4.74 lbs.), Ed Grassia (Philadelphia, 3.32 lbs.)Tom Loughlin (Ocean City, NJ, 4.10 lbs.), Andy Layden (Ventnor, NJ, 3.36 lbs.), Alex Chell (Margate, NJ 4.68 lbs.)) and Philadelphia flounder pounders Sharon Pomanpe (4.56 lbs.), Matt Ligato and Pete Demassi (3.14 lbs. each), and Ian Robinson (4.68 lbs.). Note: the Keeper will not be making the afternoon run Thursday May 29 because of a mandatory Coast Guard inspection.
“Bob Bauman from Philadelphia won the Fantasy Fluke contest and it was worth $3500!” proclaimed a pumped Capt. Mike on the High Roller where the boat’s clean up of back bay and ICW fluke is underway. The skipper says the fishing was solid the opening weekend and will no doubt continue hot. Mackerel strips are the hot bait, but sharpies are scoring with the bucktail/Gulp! combo. Other pool winners included Alissa Brown (Cherry Hill, NJ, 4.4 lbs.), Fred Taylor (Washington Twp., 3.5 lbs.), Donna Muriasn and Linda Brownell (Maple Shade, NJ, 3.18 lbs. and 5.48 lbs.), Scott Farnesi (Merchantville, NJ, 3.71 lbs.), Russ Rodginske and Dennis Ulrich (Hammonton, NJ, 5.15 lbs. and 4.54 lbs.) and Greg Smith (Philadelphia, 4.77 lbs.
Capt. Chaz Eble on board the Doris Mae IV tells of good to bordering very good dropping for sea bass on this favorite rocks, wrecks and rubble. Catches are averaging 10 a rod, and many of the fish are in the 2-3 lb. range with some up to 4 lbs. like the one decked by Mike Koegler (Beach Haven, NJ) who won another pool with a 3.5 lb. humpy. Jim Wolosin (Medford, NJ) and Artie (Ship Bottom) were also in the money, both railing bass that weighed 3 lbs.
The Super Chic is laying down the tilefish in the offshore canyons, and Capt. Ted White observes that there are far more goldens being caught than bluelines. The deep dropping is very good, with many of along the rails during these reservations-only sojourns going home with a dozen of what is considered one of the most delicious fish in the Atlantic. The skipper says that he’ll continue running for tiles possibly into July, and he’s also booking sea bass, bluefish, sea bass and striper trips.’
“It’s been a slow pick at blues, and they’re all between 2 and 6 lbs., certainly not what we’re looking for,” reports Capt. Lenny from the Miss Barnegat Light. He’ll be hunting blues this weekend and, if they don’t turn on, he’s contemplating making the switch to fluke.
Capt. Adam on the Canyon Runner is receiving hot reports of yellowfin and bluefin action offshore, and there are a few dates available during June, July and August on the Viking and several in June for the 60 Ritchie Howell. Inshore, plenty of striped bass are around and the Canyon Runner is on the chase. Full day and special afternoon trips are available.
“Not great sea bass and ling fishing, but it’s getting better by the day,” relays Capt. Willie Egerter III on board the Dauntless, where average catches are 5 to 10 sea bass and 10 to 15 ling per angler. In the mix is the occasional keeper cod and big winter flounder, and it was a fatso 4 lb. flattie that won the pool for Philadelphia’s Clifford Rucker.
Those along the rails of the 125’ Big Jamaica are enjoying solid action with AVA and Kroc rocking bluefish, and there some stripers to 20-plus lbs. in the maelstrom of metal chopping. Bruce Mallorca (Dover, DE) cashed in with a 12 lb. slammer. It was a 12.5 pound money maker for Steve Herschman from Northampton, PA.
It’s fair to good action with sea bass and ling on the Paramount, and Capt. Frances Bogan says the sea bass are really staring to move in over the wrecks and structures and are pushing out the ling. As such, the catches of sea bass should begin improving by the weekend. It was a red hake take of 7 along with 4 sea bass for Vic Cifre (Lebanon, PA) and a dozen ling and 2 sea bass catch for Frank Cerba (Forked River, NJ).
The new Jamaica II is set to sail June 5 for sea bass and fluke. It will be two trips daily except Monday, when it’s a full day for sea bass and fluke.
Belmar: “It’s been crazy with bluefish. Sometimes there were 20 to 40 on at a time, and they’re all hitting Run Off Hammer jigs,” reports a fired-up Capt. Rich from the Golden Eagle. The choppers are averaging 8 to 14 lbs. with pool drainers weighing up to 18 lbs.
The long drifts are producing fantastic catches of 3 to 14 lb. bluefish along the rails of the Miss Belmar Princess, and there have been some stripers in the mix, like the 25 lb. and 28 lb. bass decked by Victor Jancula and Dale respectively. Pool winning bluefish were nailed by Ralph Toro (12.5 lbs.) and Royersford, PA’s Andy Mihalik (14 lbs.). AVA 27 and 47 jigs and Krocs are the crush.