There are lots of "panfish" along the beaches and decent catches in the ocean: Sounds like summertime fishing in and off South Jersey.
Noel Feliciano reported Friday from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that kingfish, spot, croaker and flounder are "out front" in the surf. Fishing the beach side of the T-Jetty is one hot spot. Plus, Feliciano said some triggerfish showed up around the T-Jetty.
Don Brown from Captain Andy's Sport Fishing Center in Margate said he caught flounder near the jetties in the downbeach surf of Absecon Island. Brown was casting and jigging a light jig head with mackerel and artificials and getting hits in "real shallow" water, sometimes in 2 feet.
Piermaster Pat Curran said several anglers reported the biggest kingfish they ever caught from the Ventnor City Fishing Pier to celebrate Independence Day. And anglers were out on the pier catching kingfish Friday morning.
Bloodworms are the traditional best-bait for kingfish, but Fish-Bites artificials are starting to work.
Mathews Basens had both last Sunday while fishing on Ventnor Pier. He is 12 and lives near the pier. He started out with bloodworms and switched to artificials. He had a total of 20 kingfish and showed he is a fine youthful sportsman by returning the small kingfish and keeping eight.
He said he was 9 when he started fishing in Lakes Bay. His mom Denise, and several interested pier crew members, kept an eye on him Sunday.
So that covers the surf along the beaches of Absecon Island.
A little south of there, one surfcaster reported to Fin-Atics in Ocean City that he caught 11 kingfish near the Ocean City Fishing Club Pier. Striped bass still pop up. Fin-Atics said they weighed two 17-inch striper caught from the Route 52 Causeway piers between Ocean City and Somers Point.
Mike Cunningham said he has been busy at the expanded Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle, and fishing is "OK" for kingfish, croaker and spot in the surf there.
Bloodworm is still the best bait for kingfish when they are mixed with spot and croaker. Mackerel strips with minnows and other cut bait and artificials are popular for flounder. Clam probably should be among the arsenal with triggerfish around.
Inshore fishing has had some good moments, when the weather allows.
The crew on the Full Ahead charterboat with Capt. Bob Cope had a memorable Fourth of July in the inshore waters. According to a report from Fred Klug at Baitn Tackle at Utsch's Marina in Cape May, Cope put them on sea bass and ling. They racked up 100 sea bass, 20 ling and had a tuna they released.
Another boat based at Utsch's had a good offshore trip Wednesday. Tom Daffin on Fishin' Fever IV had five bluefin tuna and a bigeye release that was estimated to weigh 328 pounds.
Cunningham said you have to go beyond two miles to get into clean water in the ocean, however. One captain reported he got three keeper flounder while drifting the Sea Isle Reef. He also said brown sharks are there.
Two other nice catches on Independence Day were also reported by dock tenants to Klug at Utsch's. One posted nine keeper flounder and another racked up three at Cape May Reef.
Back-bay fishing is sometimes affected by dirty water, too. Flounder fishers seem to have better catches on the incoming tide when the cleaner ocean water moves in. The consensus is that there are lot of flounder in the inside waters. Minnows are the traditional popular bait, but they have been scarce this summer. Gulp, mackerel, squid, spearing, cut bait and live spot are also well-used.
Brown also said spot are everywhere in the back bays of Margate.
Brown reported that the Capt. Andy's fuel dock is back in business with both gas and diesel pumping. That is the only fuel dock on the western (downbeach) end of Absecon Island.
Brown also announced that the first Tim Mitchell Flounder Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, July 27. Sign up for $20 per angler at Capt. Andy's on Amherst Avenue (609-822-0916). It will be a three-heaviest flounder contest with cash prizes. More details to be announced.
Incidentally, Curran said the fog lifted just in time for the fireworks, and they could see all four Atlantic City displays, plus Margate's a few blocks the other way and also Ocean City and even Sea Isle shows in the distance. And she was a coordinator for the eight bands playing music from the pier on Thursday.
And, the pier crew caught kingfish. Thursday was a memorable day in many ways for many folks.