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Mixed Bag Fishing as Shore Anglers Rewarded With Plenty of Keepers

Ocean, bay fishing holding up in most locations as fluke begin to move closer to the ocean

Friday's catch on the Reel Class out of Point Pleasant. (Photo: Capt. Allen Gonzalez)
Friday's catch on the Reel Class out of Point Pleasant. (Photo: Capt. Allen Gonzalez)
Fishing at the Jersey Shore this week has had its ups and downs – and so have the ocean water temperatures in the local area.

As the winds shifted from one direction to the other this week, swimmers and anglers contended with a daily guessing game as to how cool or mild the water temperatures would be. Upwelling caused by west winds plunged temperatures into the 50s in some areas this week, while a shift to the south later in the week moved the mercury back into the 70s in many places.

From my own observations on my boat, docked in Ortley Beach, the bay temperature has been holding steady in the mid 70s and by Friday, was at 77. It's prime bay fluking time right now, but as the water temperature increases as we lurch closer and closer to the proverbial "dog days" later this month, the fish will doubtlessly be located closer to the inlets, as they prepare to migrate to the open ocean.

What does all of this mean for fishing this weekend? While we've been playing the temperature game all week and adapting our fishing accordingly, things are pretty stable now, and this is one of the few times of year when you can catch a delicious keeper of one species or another pretty much anywhere you look. If you're fishing the bay, head a bit farther east in the channels. If you're fishing the ocean, the inshore reefs are teeming with life this time of year. Bucktails tipped with Berkeley Gulp baits work best, though I like to go with the old standby – the squid and spearing combo – in the ocean to entice the sea bass to bite a bit more often.

"The surf is giving up a nice size fluke now and again to those willing to work at it, and by nice size I mean 5 plus pounds," said John from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights, in a report on Friday. "These fish are far from the norm this time of year but they do exist."

As I mentioned above, the fluke are beginning to stage for their ocean migration, and the Dock's report reflects as much. John said action at the BI and BB buoys has slowed in recent days. On the plus side, a few black drum have also been caught at the pier in back of the shop, where customers can spend the day fishing to their heart's content.

A "huge" delivery of the aforementioned Gulp baits arrived at Grumpy's Tackle this week, the shop said in a report – just in time for a customer to use it successfully to beach a 6-pound fluke in the suds.

Anglers were finding fluke in the bay behind Island Beach State Park this week, Mario from Murphy's Hook House in Toms River said in a report. Fishing the areas behind the park can be a magical experience at times, especially during the week when there is less boat traffic. It's also a perfect place to find a keeper this time of year as they are on the move. According to the shop's report, fishing the drops at low tide is a best bet, since the fluke are waiting to spot a baitfish coming off a sand bar. Make sure your depth sounder is working well, though! Nobody likes to have to "get out and push!"

Snappers and crabs were both biting in the Toms River, the report also said.

"Even though sea bass is down to three a man, there are some nice bass coming in," Capt. Willie from the Dauntless out of Point Pleasant Beach said in a report this week. Other folks on the boat have been limiting out on fluke, while ling have also been boated. In other words, a tasty mixed bag in the ocean.

Likewise, it was a good day of fishing Friday for Capt. Allen Gonzalez on board the Reel Class charter boat out of Point Pleasant. Allen fished the wrecks in depths between 150 and 230 feet and the crew boated 150-plus ling, four keeper cod and eight jumbo flounder to 3-pounds.

The reports tell the story. Sometimes it's a matter of putting in some time, but everyone should be able to find a keeper or two no matter where they fish. That's the beauty of midsummer fishing!

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