It sounds like July 4 weekend was a winner in two ways on the local fishing scene - lots of fish and lots of people getting out and enjoying excellent weather. Bill Wiggins said it was the busiest weekend by far he ever had at Fin-Atics Marine Supply in Ocean City. Tons of people - and anything they wanted to do fishing they could do, because of the great weather. Wiggins said usually they have one really good day, but they had three really good days this time.
One look at Bill Nickerson Sunday right in the middle of the action told the story: they were hustling at Fin-Atics.
Spot have joined kingfish in the surf at Ocean City, Wiggins said. The reefs have sea bass and some flounder, and yellowfin tuna are at the canyons.
Jim Moran at Moran's Dockside in Avalon said everything is good. He is happy with plentiful flounder, even though there are lots of throwbacks. Kingfish are in the surf now that striped bass have thinned out, and offshore fishing has turned on. "Let's keep it up," Moran said. Tim Davis, who works at Moran's, put in four straight long days, so Moran gave him Tuesday morning off.
Bill Bittmann at Sterling Harbor Marina Bait and Tackle in Wildwood said it was "crazy busy" and steady from Wednesday through Monday. He said flounder fishing is good at Miah Maull in Delaware Bay and off Cape May Point, plus marlin were reported at Spencer and Lindenkohl canyons and yellowfin tuna and tilefish at Wilmington Canyon.
It was no different for Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine. The weekend was phenomenal and so busy he was wiped out of everything. "I have an empty store," he said as he awaited deliveries. He sold out 15 flats of bloodworms to surfcasters catching kingfish on Brigantine beach.
Steve Harris hooked six kingfish and an 18 3/4-inch flounder in the Brigantine suds, Grossman reported.
Phenomenal was also how Rob Barrett at Dolphin Dock in Somers Point described the weekend. Flounder fishing is great inside Great Egg Inlet. "Stay in the bay to play," Barrett said. He reported one rental boat came back with 30 bluefish caught under the Ocean City toll Bridge.
Mary Ann Schutz at Chestnut Neck Boat Yard said she got a lot of visitors in her air-conditioned office Tuesday. She said the weekend was great, very busy. She added it was also great that she got to take a boat ride over to Atlantic City to see the fireworks at The Borgata. "Best I ever saw," she said.
Fishing was decent at Longreach Marina on the Maurice River. Randy Sirrott of Mannington caught eight flounder that measured 18 1/2-26 inches; Mike Cargen, Bellmawr, had five keepers; Michael and Arielle Russ, Port Norris, with Mason Berstler, Vero Beach Fla. had 18, 20 1/2 and 21-inch flounder and three blues. Sue and Bill Wells, Port Norris, had their limit of weakfish: one 16-inch.
Proud Mary's Sports Bar and Grill runs its flounder tournament this weekend (July 10 and 11) that opens the Chelsea Cup series based in Atlantic City. Sign up for the contest at Proud Mary's, 3209 Fairmount Ave. The cost is $15. The contest is a benefit for Vince Schultz cancer support. Call 609-348-3322.
The Duke of Fluke tournament out of Sterling Harbor Marina Tackle Shop in Wildwood is Saturday (July 10). This one has boat and kayak divisions for heaviest single fish and five heaviest fish. The entry fee is $250 per boat.
The contest also includes calcuttas for sea bass and bluefish. The captain's meeting is 7:30 p.m. Friday (July 9). Everything, including entertainment from two bands, takes place at Sterling Harbor, Route 47 going into Wildwood. Call 609-729-1425.
South Jersey Tournaments has two offshore events coming up from Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May: Ocean-Viking Showdown July 7-11 and Tuna Tournament July 14-17. Call 609-884-2400. Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club holds its 41st White Marlin Invitational July 28-31.
Long Beach Island/Great Bay
Flounder are moving more toward the fish factory in Great Bay. Mary Ann Schutz at Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic weighed a 9.4-pound flounder caught in the ocean at Little Egg Harbor Reef by Scott Kennedy of Chatsworth. Harold Kresge of Lansdale, Pa. caught a 13.7 mahi at the Cigar on July 4, Schutz said. Two 8.8-pound flounder were weighed recently at Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven. One was caught in the back bay and the other off Miss Beach Haven. Three-pound bluefish are in the Long Beach Island surf south end with flounder, and hickory shad are splashing around the jetties.
Back bays of Great Egg Inlet and Absecon Inlet have loads of flounder, mostly shorts with a significant number frustratingly just under the 18-inch minimum. There is a theory that bigger flounder start to move into deeper water as the air and waters temps heat up. But Rob Barrett says they are still in the bays. Drift Ship Channel, the Anchorage and off Kennedy Park in Somers Point. Medium bluefish showed up in the same area. The flats behind Brigantine and the channels inside Absecon Inlet hold flounder. Kingfish are plentiful in the surf at Brigantine, around the ocean jetties in Atlantic City and downbeach to Longport.
Cape May County
Flounder are biting at The Rips and off Cape May Point. Hereford Inlet has decent-size flounder. A 7 3/4 pounder was taken on Dad's Place rental in North Wildwood; and a 5.15 pounder was caught by Steve Dyl, Wildwood, with a Tsunami squid near Grassy Sound, reports Sterling Harbor Marina Bait and Tackle in Wildwood. A 9.7-pound flounder came from the bay side of Townsend Inlet Bridge, according to Moran's Dockside in Avalon. Kingfish are in the surf from Wildwood Crest to Ocean City. One of the top stretch of beach for kingfish is Strathmere to Sea Isle City. The 8th Street Jetty in Avalon has been consistent with kingfish.
Flounder fishing is good at Miah Maull, Flounder Alley east of No. 19 and along the drops off Maurice River at Egg Island. Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May weighed an 8.36-pound flounder caught by Edgar Reese, Princeton, at No. 19. Reef Site 11 and Old Grounds, both off Delaware, have flounder. Bluefish have shown up off the Maurice River.
Reports from offshore fishing grounds have been exciting and consistent. Tuna are in the canyons and some of the well-known inshore locations. Now they have moved to within easier range at East Lump near Sea Isle Ridge 18-20 miles off Townsend Inlet. A couple of 50-pound bluefin plus small mahi and bonito were caught there Saturday. Bill Lacovara of Ventnor fished the Lobster Claw to Spencer Canyon, saw a pilot whale and trolled a spreader bar 500 yards back to go 1-for-2 on bluefin tuna with Bart Beck, Bill Upperman and Jim Smith. Lindenkohl Canyon is another turned-on big-game spot, along with the deep of Wilmington Canyon. More inshore, sport fishing craft are maneuvering Massey's Canyon, Hambone, 19-Fathom Lump, Cigar. In addition to spreader bars, ballyhoo with Ilander skirts - one report suggests pink and white - cedar plugs, feathers, green machines have been trolled. Yellowfin, bluefin and bigeye tuna, white and black marlin, an assortment of sharks and mahi have been fought. Sea bass are on the inshore reefs and wrecks. Sterling Harbor Marina Bait and Tackle in Wildwood weighed a 5-pound, 2-ounce sea bass from Cape May Reef.