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Fishing Friday: Fluking Heats Up, Depending Where (And When) You’re Fishing

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A happy customer with two keeper fluke on board the Gambler party boat. (Photo: Gambler Crew)

A happy customer with two keeper fluke on board the Gambler party boat. (Photo: Gambler Crew)

A quick drift spurred by a post-storm afternoon sea breeze made fluke fishing at the Axel Carlson Reef difficult during a trip this week for the Shorebeat crew, but things improved inside Manasquan Inlet, where fish were swiftly hooked.

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Contrary to most seasons, when fluke fishing has squarely shifted more towards the ocean by August, some of the best anglers are continuing to put together catches in the Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay – close to the inlets, but in a scenario resembling more of an early summer pattern.

Still, the skilled captains on some of the local party boats have been putting their customers on the fish – fluke and all – in the ocean this week. The Dauntless, out of Point Pleasant Beach, saw tons of porgies come over the rail (so many that some on board stopped fishing before the trip was over) as well as more fluke than in the recent past, a report from the boat via said. Many triggerfish, an August treat in New Jersey waters, were hooked.

On board the Gambler party boat, there were fluke up to 7-pounds boated, however sea conditions were crucial in determining how fishing would turn out.  “Bucktailing with GULP! has been better than bait dragging and spearing-squid combos have been doing the trick,” Capt. Butch said on social media.

Mornings were better than afternoons, given the strong southwest winds that kicked in most days this week.

For surf anglers, just the opposite applied. Many of the best catches were put together at night, especially at Island Beach State Park (which has a special 16-inch size limit for fluke).

“Along with the usual fishing reports for this time of year, blues, fluke, rays, kingfish, and sharks on the night tides” were caught, the crew at The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said. Many catches, the report said, go unreported this time of year, but one slipped through – a 34-pound bass caught in the suds off IBSP.

Meanwhile, bluefish have returned to Barnegat Bay with a voracious appetite over the past few days. Mostly snappers were caught, but fish up to 10-pounds weren’t unusual. They can be found at the mouth of the Toms River, near the bridges and even from shore, The Dock staff said. One biggie was even caught right at the end of the dirt road near the shop. Metals and poppers were the best bet for hooking them.

Fluke were also being beached by anglers fishing IBSP, the folks at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park. The same could be said for the entire stretch of northern Ocean County. Most fish were caught by folks targeting them with bucktails and a teaser. There were also reports of sharks and “lots” of cow nose rays in the surf.

“Snappers and crabs are keeping people busy in the Toms River,” said the staff at Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River, via a report. The same went for most areas of Barnegat Bay. Locals said crabbing in the Manasquan River was also excellent.

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