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Fishing Friday: Fresh Fluke Season Means New Beginnings

Fluke season begins today, as we welcome back our weekly fishing column!

The author with a fluke in Double Creek Channel, Barnegat Bay. (Patch File Photo: Gary Nee)
The author with a fluke in Double Creek Channel, Barnegat Bay. (Patch File Photo: Gary Nee)
It's been a while.

If you're a loyal Patch reader, you might recall that for the first few years we were in Ocean County, I wrote a weekly round-up of local fishing reports and sprinkled in some news, anecdotes, tips and local photos for everyone to enjoy.

That all stopped the week of Oct. 29, 2012, when so many of us (including my own family) were the victims of Superstorm Sandy. With our houses flooded and some of us unable to even reach our homes, fishing was the last thing on the minds of most Shore residents. For some, fishing is therapy, but for many, a cheery fishing report while neighbors wrestle with whether their homes, cars or boats are salvageable just doesn't sit right.

And while many Shore residents are still struggling with the storm's aftermath 19 months later, I felt the start of this summer flounder season was a good time to re-start the weekly fishing column here on the Jersey Shore Patch sites.

So with a fresh fluke season comes a new beginning, as it has during many years when there was no natural disaster from which to recover. Though it used to begin earlier and end later, the start of summer flounder season, to me, always represented the true start of "summer." Nothing says summer at the Jersey Shore like fluke fishing.

That said, fluke season does, indeed, begin today (Friday, May 23). My Facebook feed seems just a little calmer than usual tonight since so many people are getting up early to nab their first 18-inch keeper. Photos from last year have been posted by many for "Throwback Thursday" just to get the juices flowing. (My own is posted as the photo attached to this story.) It's a good day.

So starting today, we collectively have until Sept. 27 until we call it a season. The minimum size this year is back up to 18 inches, with a five fish possession limit.

A few points to consider for early season fluking:

This is the time to catch fish in the back bay. If you're looking to save gas, or want to avoid Barnegat Inlet during construction as long as possible, head into the Oyster Creek Channel and drift the south bank of Island Beach State Park out to High Bar Harbor for some of the best action. Likewise, calm water fishing is available from the Route 35 bridge back toward Treasure Island in the Manasquan River. The flats inside Manasquan Inlet are another great spot this time of year (though Memorial Day Weekend boat traffic can get annoying).

For those leaving the dock from Long Beach Island, keep in mind that the Double Creek Channel – a prime early season fishing spot and the main southern channel to Barnegat Inlet – has been shut down. The state Department of Transportation came and removed all of the markers since they deemed it too dangerous to navigate. This presents an inconvenience, but the good news is that the state has committed to dredging the channel and restoring it. So from LBI, you'll have to follow the ICW channel an extra few minutes north to the Oyster Creek Channel and swing around to get to the inlet. But the OC channel is also a great fishing spot and will put you right alongside Island Beach State Park, an excellent location for early season fishing.

Many people have been asking me about the potential for a slot limit experiment on fluke coming to Island Beach State Park this summer. The good news is that I've been told by as good a source as it gets that the program will be implemented this summer. They're still working on some logistics, but official word and an announcement is forthcoming.

Now, for a few reports:

While many will be focusing on fluke this weekend, it should be noted that sea bass season opened Monday. According to a report posted by the captain of the Dauntless party boat out of Point Pleasant Beach, fishing action wasn't on fire, but there were more keepers than throwbacks on trips this week. The boat has also seen ling action ramp up to compliment the sea bass catch. The boat sails daily, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., year round.

The surf bite has been "dominated" by blues the past few days, according to the folks at The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights.

"The fish seem to be stretched out from Lavallette to Island Beach State Park," a report posted by the shop said.

Those in boats and kayaks have been catching stripers up to 48-pounds using the snag-and-drop method, as well as on the troll. A few bass are still being reeled in from the suds. Out back, there have been some blues on metals and other artificials; crabbing has been a bit slow.

For the start of fluke season the shop, on Route 35 south, has stocked one of the area's largest selections of Spro bucktails, so stop in and say hi.

Down the road at Grumpy's in Seaside Park, a report from the shop said "dinner size" bass were being hauled from the surf on clams, and anglers tossing bunker, mullet and Ava jigs were hooking up with blues.

"Bunker chunks, metal and SP Minnows were all working," when an employee of Murphy's Hook House on Route 37 East in Toms River surf fished at Island Beach State Park this week, a report said.

"There are some blues in the 3-4 lb range around the Rt. 37 bridge and into the river hitting plugs and small poppers," according to the shop's report.

A customer who was snagging and dropping bunker outside Barnegat Inlet this week was catching bass up to 30-pounds.

In other news, the crew of the Jamaica II party boat in Brielle gave us a sneak peak on Facebook of their new boat.  The boat is a bit shorter, but also a bit wider, and the same crew as always will be there when she returns to her berth at Bogan's Basin and begins fishing around June 5.

And with that, I wish everyone the best of luck this season. Stay safe, have fun, and catch 'em up! As always, we love featuring locals showing off their catches, so feel free to brag and send your catch photos to daniel.nee@patch.com and we'll post them with the column each Friday!
Brandy the Dog May 24, 2014 at 11:03 PM
Q. what do you call a fish without an eye? A. a fsh

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