Sunday, August 23, 2009: Waves did not materialize to the expected degree. Still plenty of grind for 5- to 7-foot waves.
A congrats go out to Island towns which did a banner job in alerting the public to the threat from waves and dangerous water related to a close-passing hurricane Bill. Along with a digital sign on Bonnet Island coming onto LBI, towns not only their own digital signs warning of rough surf but Ship Bottom used its automated telephone warning system to alert residents via a recorded message.
The inlets were forgiving enough to allow fairly safe passage. Once on the ocean, the swells were there but not really hurting fluke drifts. That’s not to say the fish were cooperating. It seemed the bay was the better choice. Of course,there was no lack of ocean action on a toothier front. Huge schools of savage cocktail blues were everywhere, near the Barnegat Inlet. It’s odd. It seems to be a massive bluefish biomass out there but one that simply did very little bay time this spring and much of summer. It might be yet another reaction to the massive schools of bunker in the ocean. Everything else is out there feeding on them, why would small blues be any exception? Here’s a related Saturday email: “… The swell was not too big this AM and as the tide came up it seemed to drop down even further. We headed out to the first set of ocean buoys and there were wall to wall birds working 1-2 lb bluefish. We fluked but only came up with a 40" shark. With the lower ground swell we went to the inside of the north jetty and worked bucktails and ended up with 4 bluesfish and two 24" bass. WP.”
Generally, fluke fishing was the same old/same old: Loads of flatties with thimbles worth of cooler material. Here are pro reports telling of amazing numbers of flatties:
“Fluke, fluke, fluke, and more fluke. The bay fluke fishing is off the charts. Trips during the last two weeks have been landing over 50 fluke. With small blues mixed in it has been non-stop action! Today I had my two boys and wife out. In an hour and a half of fishing we boated over 40 fluke boxing 2 keepers. Capt. Alex F. Majewski, Lighthouse Sportfishing, 609-548-2511, Barnegat Bay, NJ.”
We're a little early with our report this week since we're taking the weekend off, but what a great week of fishing it was. As much as I love fishing for weakfish in the summer, it's beginning to look like we're not going to have much of a run this year. So this week was entirely devoted to fluke fishing in the bay, and to say that it was red hot would be a huge understatement. It was spectacular!
I started the week with Audrey and John Wendolowski, Walt Tatko (picture attached) and Kevin Broderick landing 43 fluke plus a half dozen bluefish from the inlet on the outgoing tide. Tuesday, George Barbezat brought nephew Jason and buddy Richie out and the action got even hotter in Oyster Creek, with the guys landing almost 60 fluke plus 15-20 bluefish despite a weird cross channel drift.
OK I say, it's late August and we're fishing in the bay, how much better can it get than over 100 fluke in two days? Turns out it got even better on Thursday, when Jack Hough brought his son Jeff and grandkids Matt and Katie out for what was expected to be their annual weakfish expedition. Instead, Team Hough landed an estimated 140 fluke in five hours with a dozen fat keepers for the table (picture attached). Add in a couple dozen blues and endless sea robins and it was non-stop mayhem on the boat all morning long.
Friday was the "slow" day of the week, as Chip Harter and Paul Buchanan were out in the unpredicted 20-25 mph winds that had us screaming down Oyster Creek Channel at over 3 knots for most of the morning. Still, the guys managed to put a couple dozen fluke on the boat with three making it home to the dinner table in very tough fishing conditions.
What a week. While shorts are still outnumbering keepers by at least ten to one, with this many fish being caught everyone is going home tired and with plenty for the table. We only have a couple more weeks of fluke season this year, so let's hope this holds up.
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters