This has been a great season for blueclaw crabs. The catches have been described as excellent for much of the summer in back bays from Long Beach Island to Wildwood.
Pat Damiani at Polly's Dock in North Beach Haven said it is the best in 10 years. He sends his boat rental customers out to anchor off the marshes inside Beach Haven and North Beach Haven such as Marshelder, Parker, Ham and Shelter islands.
He said the keeper rate is 90 per cent, and boats regularly come back with a half a bushel a day. He reported the total haul by his customers for three weeks is 38 bushels.
Mary Ann Schutz at Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic says Nacote Creek at Quaker Ditch is a good spot, but any of the little creeks off Mullica River produce including above the Parkway Bridge to Swan Bay.
Schutz recommends crabbing around slack low water and the start of incoming tide. She said they had a little bit of crab shed recently that slowed it up, but she expects it to come back soon.
Ray Scott sends the rentals from Ray Scott's Dock in Margate to the mile stretch behind Ventnor Heights, and tells them to anchor close to the sod banks. Two boats came back from there Monday with two-dozen crabs each.
They recently had a crab-off among a Philadelphia family of 12 that racked up 107 blueclaws. So far, that is a season-best at Ray Scott's Dock.
Scott gives his customers mackerel heads for crab bait rather than traditional bunker. They are cheaper at $3 for a pack of six.
Rob Barrett said this is the best crabbing year in the 25 years he and wife Joan have been operating Dolfin Dock in Somers Point.
There are a number of good spots in the Somers Point area, including the stretch of water next to Caroline's Bar and Restaurant. Barrett sends his rentals there. He also points crabbers to Patcong Creek and creeks around Beesley's Point. Crabbing from the old Somers Point-Beesley's Point Bridge is great for families, Barrett said.
Chris Lynch at Larsen's Marina in Sea Isle City said it gets better every day and September is the best month. Ludlam Bay is perfect he says because it is wide and shallow. Like elsewhere, crabbers anchor up along the sod banks and in shallow water. Lynch said boaters are catching 1 1/2 to 2 dozen crabs in four hours.
Mary Ann Anagnou at Dad's Place tells people about the fishing hot spots, but you have to rent a boat to get the secret crabbing spots inside Hereford Inlet. The top catch for this season on a rental is 170 keepers for five people. Anagnou says crabbing is always good there, and this is one of the best in her 21 years at Dad's Place.
Cathy Algard at Sterling Harbor Marina Bait and Tackle said the bulkhead on Richardson's Channel along the south side of Rte. 47 going into Wildwood is well-known. The railroad bridge in West Wildwood is another.
She said this is one of the best years for large and plentiful crabs.
There are two popular methods of catching crabs - hand lines and nets for those who like a little action and various styles of traps. The minimum size to keep crabs is 4 1/2 inches and a limit of one bushel.
1) Long Beach Island/Great Bay
Wayne Pollock of Highland Lakes caught a 10-pound black drumfish Sunday, Aug. 29 near Parkway Bridge in Mullica River. They are catching croaker more than flounder in the ocean off Beach Haven and Little Egg inlets. Weakfish just under the 14-inch minimum have shown up inside Barnegat Inlet.
2) Atlantic County
A lot of spot are in the surf and just off the beaches, along with croaker, small bluefish and flounder. Tautog are hugging sod banks in Margate back bays munching green crab. Snapper Zappers take small bluefish inside. There are plenty of flounder in back waters.
3) Cape May County
Flounder, croaker and bluefish are in Poverty Beach surf at Cape May. Use cut mackerel or mullet. Spot are biting on high water at Wildwood Crest. Bluefish are in back bays and inlets. Baby sea bass are also over the bays. Sabiki rigs take them and spot.
4) Delaware Bay
White perch are thick in creeks and streams around Maurice Cove. Bloodworms are the top bait.
The looming Hurricane Earl likely will curtail offshore and inshore fishing for maybe a couple of days. Skippers who ventured out between the two storms had white marlin at the canyons and tuna and mahi inshore at Elephant Trunk and 19-Fathom Lump.