It certainly looks and feels and sounds as though we might be close to reaching a summertime peak for fishing here in South Jersey.
We are hearing about sometimes plentiful smaller fish such as kingfish, particularly in the surf.
Summer flounder are thick in the back bays and inlets, and more have been reported on the inshore reefs and lumps. Sea bass are inhabiting inshore and offshore wrecks and reefs.
The latest version of tautog season opened Monday. We have weakfish, striped bass and bluefish mixing it up with triggerfish, porgy and, just recently, croaker.
Offshore yellowfin and bluefin tuna have been solid, and mahi and wahoo are appearing to make the longer runs more valuable.
Spanish mackerel have appeared. White marlin and, also just recently, blue marlin have been reported.
What are we missing?
Oh, yeah, we’re also hearing about catch-and-release only brown sharks and sand tiger sharks along the beaches, mainly at night, and the lingering mako in the deep.
It is very interesting right now.
The water temperatures have jumped up to a more summerlike 70 degrees from the frigid lower 60s and even upper 50s of last week or so. That looks to have instigated some new activity.
Linda Davoli, of Brigantine, temporarily has given up surf fishing off her home turf. The former champion surfer has been riding waves between flounder trips in Absecon Inlet and inshore at what she described as her end-of-August lump off Brigantine.
She said she caught flounder Saturday — after the winds died and the greenheads drove her out of the back bays — including 22- and 23- inch keepers hooked up by a friend.(tncms-asset)bf89d9ca-68cf-11e7-a930-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
She bagged a trip Sunday because of what she saw was a “zoo,” with heavy boat traffic in Absecon Inlet, but was headed out Monday.
“Now, it is a normal flounder season,” she said.
Davoli said she shared her cache of 30 or so minnows for bait, splitting them with another captain.
Another example of flounder taking up residence in the ocean is at Townends Inlet reef. Tim Davis said from Moran’s Dockside in Avalon that ‘s where a pal of his, Jon Werley, had his limit of three keepers of 24, 23 and 21 inches long.
Flounder are without a doubt hanging in the back bays and inlets. Saturday’s 24th Duke of Fluke proved that, just as it seems to do every year. The contest was organized out of Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood.
Wayne Reichle on Feast or Famine won for the heaviest single flounder at 6.36. Michael Bascome on Size Matters was next at 5.79, and Mike Messina on Wendy 7 was third at 5.28.
The heaviest five was 23.03 pounds and went to Christopher Voss on She Gave In. John Peterson on Unreel had 20.89, and Ross Dickinson on U10 had 18.12 total.
Joe Muravsky was the kayak division champ with a single-heaviest 4.2, while Brad Hamilton came in at 3.81, and John Karler at 3.79.
Dana Townsend took the Duchess Award with a 3.5-pound flounder. Mike Schaeffer won the bluefish division at 3.96 pounds, and Clint Clement had a 3.06 sea bass.
The contest attracted 87 boats and 47 kayaks and was topped off by the usual awards bash, complete with a live band.
Mike O’Neill runs the charter/open boat Stray Cat from Seaview Harbor in Great Egg Inlet.(tncms-asset)467b8ace-4b92-11e7-a8e8-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
He has been trolling about 15 miles off and picking off 2-pound bluefish that are out there in large schools with mahi. A nice bonus developed in the past week or so: They have been enticing Spanish mackerel and getting the occasional cobia on No. 3 Clark Spoons.
John Sowerby is the captain of the Hooked Up II party boat that docks at South Jersey Marina in Cape May.
His most recent journey to the blue water resulted in what he termed excellent yellowfin tuna in the 40- to 60-pound class on a daytime chunk and jig. He said they had tuna under the boat throughout the day.
Yellowfin tuna have been reported more inshore at the Hot Dog on the troll and at Massey on the chunk, plus offshore at Spencer, Lindenkohl and Wilmington canyons, along with a few blue marlin and some makos.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.