The fishing season is nowhere near being over, and the season so far has been interesting. As with most years, some things have not changed much from last year but other things have.
Margaret O'Brien keeps detailed records of fishing on Long Beach Island. She marks calendars and keeps a log book at Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven.
She said Tuesday, Sept. 6, a couple of things that happened last year seem to be happening again. They now have very few mullet, a favorite bait fish for striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and even flounder. Her records of last year have an entry that show they had a "trickle" of mullet on Sept. 17.
Last year, she listed a lot of days in September that recorded high surf. We have had some rough ocean days recently.
O'Brien said this summer's fishing was good in the bays for flounder with a lot more keepers, but crabbing was off. O'Brien reported not many keeper flounder in the surf, and that "dried up" recently.
She said the water temperature around Long Beach Island was 76 degrees on Oct. 1 last year. That is just about what the temps are now.
One of the highlights of this summer's fishing in the Long Beach Island surf is shark fishing at night. O'Brien knows of one surfcaster who has caught 15 brown sharks.
Jim Wallace at Jim's Bait and Tackle on the other end of the area at Cape May said striped bass fishing in the spring around the Cape was "terrific" for the past two years. Numerous big stripers were caught in the surf and from boats.
Black drumfish were also caught in the surf, but that fishery was way off in Delaware Bay.
He said Tuesday fishing was better generally but there were fewer people and boats this year. He expressed disappointment in the strict regulations. He said there are a ton of flounder around, but when anglers are catching one keeper in 25 "it's difficult" (to stay upbeat).
Offshore fishing was a highlight this year for boats out of Cape May and elsewhere, Wallace recalled. He had two recent reports since Irene that indicate big-game fish are still off South Jersey: tuna on the 40-Fathom Line inside Baltimore Canyon on Monday, Sept. 5, and a recent double-figure white marlin catch and release.
Jim Moran reported from Moran's Dockside in Avalon that this season started out "gang-busters" with great tuna fishing offshore and flounder in the bays.
But he said it turned "average". He said he never weighed so many "nice-size" flounder.
Flounder regulations are expected to change next year. "If they lower it (the size or bag limit), it would be great," he said.
He said there is nothing in the back bays right now, and there are a lot of small kingfish in the surf sometimes with croaker and weakfish.
The sea bass season ends Sunday, Sept. 11, and tautog have been cleaned off some of the rocks even though anglers are allowed just one keeper.
Moran, Tim Davis and the other regulars at Moran's see signs in the back bays of Avalon that indicate this could be a great fall fishing season. There are lots of mullet and peanut bunker in the "incubator" back there, Moran said.
Moran also had a current offshore report from between storms. Bill May on the Boss Lady charterboat out of Avalon trolled up six yellowfin tuna in the 50-pound class Saturday, Sept. 3, on the 40-Line between the Baltimore and Wilmington canyons.