This should be a big weekend for fishing. With the Fourth of July holiday, some have three and even four days off. Kids are finally out of school, and a variety of fish are here for almost every taste. All we need is decent weather.
For most, flounder fishing will be the main attraction. Offshore reports promise exciting action for those heading out for tuna, marlin, mahi and shark. Kingfish are spreading out in the surf and can be sought from beaches, jetties and piers. Sea bass are on inshore wrecks and reefs, along with some flounder.
A 256.5-pound bigeye tuna caught Saturday, June 26, by Sue Kaiser on Fish Trap put a charge into offshore fishing. It set a women's record for the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club.
It was a birthday trip for Kaiser. Six years ago to the day on a previous birthday, Kaiser fought a bigeye tuna for one hour and 45 minutes but it got off, according to husband Bill. He said she thought she might not get another chance at a big one.
If you fish long enough, sometimes the opportunity comes around again. That's what happened Saturday, when Sue turned 43. She also fought this one for an hour and 45 minutes, and obviously it did not get away.
Sue has a number of other nice fish that did not escape, including her previous heaviest catch - a 165-pound bluefin last year on Fish Trap. That one is also a BHM&TC women's record. She holds a third club women's standard with a 21-pound bluefish, Bill said.
Captain/owner Bob Beideman trolled Fish Trap along 100-Fathom Line on Saturday, June 26 when the bigeye crashed a Hawaiian Eye. Beideman runs the charterboat Fish Trap out of Morrison's Marina in Beach Haven. (609-706-8557).
He was the mate on Sea Fern in 1982 when Fern Palmarozza battled a 167-pound bigeye for 4 hours and 50 minutes. That was the 28-year-old club record Kaiser broke. Beideman was a prophet when he told Sue if the record was topped, he hoped she would break it on his boat.
Beideman said Kaiser did a heckuva a job. At the end of that fight, she was completely spent.
Sea Isle City won its annual duel with Avalon on Saturday, June 19 in the Townsend Inlet Reef Fund Flounder Tournament. Avalon leads the series 3-2. It was a close finish, with SIC racking up 22.81 for the heaviest five fish to 21.21 for Avalon. Rich Schad led SIC with the heaviest fish, 6.25 pounds. Other Sea Isle leaders: Mike Shaak, 4.5; Andrew Heivli, 4.06; Mike Mally and John Mair, both 4.0. Chet Johnson had a 5.17 flounder for Avalon.
The awards ceremony was at Sunset Pier in Sea Isle. The tournament has raised more than $10,000 for the continual expansion of the T.I. Reef, according to organizer Jim Moran of Moran's Dockside in Avalon. The money goes directly to maintaining and improving the reef by sinking boats or with reef balls and concrete.
Moran said a boat sunk there two weeks ago brought the number to six vessels. The artificial reef is located 3.8 miles from Townsend Inlet, a short boat ride to a productive inshore fishing grounds.
"We are going to continue to junk it up," Moran said.
Long Beach Island/Great Bay
Flounder are in the surf at Long Beach Island. Fish for them with bucktails or flounder rigs with minnow, squid, Gulp. Cast out and slowly retrieve. Kingfish showed up in the surf and a few striped bass remain. Bloodworms are the most used bait for kings. Striped bass take clam and bunker. A 35-pound striper was caught recently in the ocean off LBI and a 35-inch bass from the surf at Holgate. Bigger flounder seem to be in the area of the fish factory in Great Bay. That's where Jack Herman of Galloway Township picked off five keepers. Great Bay locals seem to stick with old-fashioned minnow as bait. Crabbing is great in streams around Mullica River and white perch continue to be strong in those same waters.
Flounder are plentiful in back bays of Absecon Inlet. A few 4-pound plus flounder are there. It is the same back of Great Egg Inlet. A couple trips resulted in standout keeper hauls off Somers Point, one angler with 15 over three days and another with five on an outing. Gulp - the swimming mullet is popular - minnow, squid, mackerel strips and frozen spearing have fans. Waters off Kennedy Park in Somers Point, Broad Thorofare, Scull Bay, Anchorage Point and off the barge in Lakes Bay hold flounder. Kingfish are more consistent in the surf from Longport to Brigantine. Bloodworm is the traditional bait. Some surfcasters switch to Fish-Bites, Gulp bloodworm, small pieces of clam. Longport rocks, Ventnor and Margate piers, and ocean jetties and T-Jetty in Atlantic City have decent kingfish catches. Striped bass are around sod banks and rockpiles.
Cape May County
Same here with flounder: lots of fish, lots of throwbacks with a few nice keepers. The back bays are thick with flounder. Try the deeper holes behind Ocean City at Intracoastal Waterway marker 270 at the end of Peck's Bay. Fish with bucktails or jig heads with Gulp: 4-inch swimming mullet, 3-inch newpenny shrimp or ghost shrimp. Bigger fish seem to be seeking deeper water as weather and water temperatures heat up. Try the entrance to Whale Creek at ICW 337-339 or 346-348 coming out of Ludlam Bay at Flat Creek, and Main Channel behind Sea Isle City. Bucktails with mackerel or Gulp and a Gulp on teaser with chartreuse is one method for flounder. Kingfish are doing pretty well in the surf from Wildwood to Ocean City and beaches in between. The 8th Street Jetty in Avalon is a top kingfish spot.
Why should flounder fishing be different here? Pat Harris at Longreach Marina on the Maurice River said a lot of 17-inch plus flounder and under the 18-inch limit are frustrating anglers. Some fishing off Egg Island and False Egg Inlet are getting two or three keepers. Try a double-hook flounder rig with minnow and squid. The edge of the channels out in Delaware Bay from 14-Foot Light to Miah Maul have flounder. Old Grounds and Reef Site 11 off Delaware have been worth the ride for some.
There are good reports about bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, blue and white marlin, several varieties of shark and now mahi. Many troll plain ballyhoo or with Ilander and other skirts, spreader bars, green machines, cedar plugs. Offshore strikes have been reported at Lindenkohl, Wilmington and Baltimore canyons; Poorman's, Lobster Claw, Tea Cup, 19-Fathom Lump. One recent report put small mahi 12-15 miles off. Another report had bluefin returning to Cigar after disappearing for awhile. Sea bass and flounder are strong closer to the beach at reefs and wrecks and in 55-60 feet of water. Flounder are at Cape May Reef right on the tires and bridge rubble.