Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sunday, July 22, 2007: Winds were more the spoiler today that yesterday – which ended up perfect. Not perfect was the bassing, despite quite a few folks casting for stripers. Baits are finding a here/there keeper in the suds but no regularity. Far better odds given when fishing west side of IBSP and out the north side of the inlet.
There is a notable upturn in weakfishing, mainly spikes with some keeper-age. I have noted these fish in the night, bayside SB, where they are willing to take small jigheads – and are small enough to yank up onto bridges. Overall weakies bite zone includes established prime grass shrimping grounds, including grassy, Middle Grounds (outside main boat flow zones), Manahawkin Bay (from bridges over to Turtle) and especially west B. Bay from 40 northward to overworked zones BB and BI. This might be the in-slaught of seasonal weaks. If so, that wave of sparklers is very late in arriving. This bite is also moving into very backbay areas, up some of the smaller creeks and areas better known for crabbing.
Bluefishing has perked a bit, all cocktails in bay and inlet areas with full-blown gators out at sea. Had an email mentioning South End blues have grass shrimp inside. That’s kinda interesting since that diet is very spring-ish, as the blues first arrive. It could possibly be a batch of very late arriving blues. There’s a better chance that the blues are intermingling with similarly-sized weaks and are imitating the weakfishes’ eating habits, focusing on downing every crustacean in sight.
Fluke fishing is just plain good – up from just plain decent. Overcrowded fishing grounds cashed in on plenty of flatties with one of the better summertime keeper rates in many years. Not that small fish weren’t far-and-away the main models, but the take-homes filled many a cooler. I had three different emails talking about techniques to nab larger fluke – while minimizing small stuff. The only thing in common had to do with larger and heavier baits.
Doormat notice: “Hi Jay, This afternoon 7/21/07 we landed a doormat fluke weighed in with the nice guys at Barnegat Light Bait and Tackle pictures were taken at the scale with my father Jay who caught the fish and his grandson Max also pictured. Fish weighed in at 11 Lbs. 9 oz. Michael”
Wind, rain and a really spectacular lightning display on Wednesday made for some challenging fishing conditions early in the week. Monday and Tuesday we continued to pick away at fluke and bluefish from the west side of the bay. Gulp! bait plus teaser combos seemed to produce the most consistent action, with double headers of small bluefish being a fairly common occurrence. There seems to be an unusually large number of small blues roaming around the bay and inlet areas this year, so we've scaled back on our tackle a bit to really enjoy these fish. All the fish we've cleaned have been gorged with shrimp, so not only are they fun to catch but they're delicious to eat as well.
The good news is that the summer weakfish bite seems to be coming together on schedule. I decided to give the grass shrimp chumming routine a try for a couple of hours on yesterday's trip with regulars George Selph and Bob Keller aboard, and found a pretty steady pick of nice sized weakies and small blues behind Island Beach State Park (picture). What was impressive was the overall quality of these fish... the ten weakfish that the guys boxed were all in the 17-22" range, not the 13-18" fish we normally see this time of year. If this is a sign of what we can look forward to in August, this could be a year to remember. Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters