Crab the Grab for South Jersey Flounder
More specifically, the two-inch natural Gulp! Peeler Crab, and the where are the back bays and ICW.
I’ve heard it at least a dozen times the past few days from anglers working the flats and channel edges in the likes of mid-to-lower Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, Great Egg Harbor Bay and down the ICW through Stone Harbor, the diminutive Gulp! crustacean is scoring smashes, thrashes and hits on the fluke.
Indeed, the remains of baby blue claw and calico crabs are showing in the stomachs of filleted flatties. While a fave early season victual, the fact remains that they are omnipresent targets and flounder, being the opportunistic feeders they are, will not pass up a crab lunch, be it the real deal or a close enough visual/scent impostor.
Observes Capt. Scott Newhall from Time Out Charters in Absecon, “I’m a proponent of big Gulp! baits like the five and six inch grubs, but there are those times when the fish are keyed on what’s scurrying around in front of them, like small crabs and shrimp. That’s when the Gulp! Peeler Crab comes in to play, especially when we’re drifting the flats areas.”
Presented on a 3/8 or 1/2-ounce jig head and worked in a soft and very short lift-twitch-drop and repeat cadence, the Peeler is going to get pounded. Some opt for a drag-soft-lift-drag presentation, and this is effective as well.
We prefer plain (unpainted) round jig heads, but companions score big Peeler points employing the chartreuse or white head game plan.
No matter the approach, have the fillet knife ready.