The thing with flounder fishing is that you're always learning something new.
The basics are the same: rig with enough lead to hold bottom, hook your bait, catch a drift, then send 'er down and wait for a tug on the other end of the line.
But the little things – of which you sometimes have no control – can determine whether you'll end your outing with a cooler full of fish or a trip to the local seafood market to pick up something for dinner.
This week was interesting in many ways. We had extremely strong south winds on several days, a southwest wind another day, and "mixed up" water in many locations (see attached photo) as the tide in the back bay was going out during the mid-afternoon hours. I fished Barnegat Inlet from my boat this week and was caught in the middle of it. The result: a few shorts for my efforts.
With the ocean all stirred up, everyone was fishing inside this week, it seemed. The drift, opposite the tide because of those strong winds, provided some fun moments but few fish. This exercise can serve as a quick, immediate tip for all of the central and southern Ocean County anglers out there – fish the incoming over the next few days – but it also serves as a paradox to my experience fishing the inlet, where the outgoing tide is almost always superior to the incoming.
Indeed, a report on FishingReportsNow.com from Grizz's Bait and Tackle in Forked River indicated that the incoming was the ticket this week, confirming my suspicions.
I'm not saying to switch your long-time tactics around because of one week of anomalous fishing, but be open to changing your approach when even the tride-and-true methods fail. A good word of advice for skippers looking to hit the bay this weekend: fish 90 minutes before high tide and 90 minutes after. The tide change is often a good time to pick up some keepers, and you'll have three hours of fishing during which at least some of the time there should be a bite. It's a compromise, but it should work.
A few quick notes:
- I'm hearing some snapper blues and even a few blowfish are hanging around the Mantoloking Bridge in Brick. The tip comes courtesy of Pete at Pell's Fish and Sport on Mantoloking Road there. The county also opened a beautiful fishing and crabbing park at the bridge this week, which you can read about here.
- If you're searching for triggerfish, try the Klondike Banks if the ocean cooperates. I'm hearing some good things are coming out of that area on many fronts. If nothing else, it's one of the best and easiest spots at which to nail a doormat.
- Ocean waters are warm. The fluke bite has improved in the surf, and arguably most of the keepers I've been hearing about over the last week have been caught in the suds (when the winds are cooperating).
- Weakies are around. Yup, you heard that right. Head over to your old haunts and give it a try. I'm going to see if any of the areas near the Route 72 bridge are holding any. I haven't caught one there the past two seasons, but it might pay off to check it out. Will report back next week.
- Be alert for rays. Cownose rays can deliver a sting if not handled correctly. They were spotted in the ocean in Spring Lake this week, and my neighbor told me he hooked one while fishing a creek on the western side of the bay in Manahawkin.