Lately, I've been writing frequently in my Friday column about my many trips with my dad fishing near Barnegat Inlet.
This week is no different, as we headed out to one of our favorite late-summer areas. But the decision was made to stretch our drifts a bit longer and see what would bite.
The decision paid off. By venturing a little closer to some very-familiar–yet-rarely-navigated areas in and around High Bar Harbor and Barnegat Light, we found some interesting holes, deep cuts and grassy areas that were teeming with life.
The day produced a mix of a jumbo fluke (that's me holding one in the photo attached to this story), blowfish, sea robins, and more small sea bass than I could count. The tackle was nothing special: just bucktail rigs purchased from one of our favorite tackle shops, conventional rods and reels, plus 4-inch chartreuse Berkley Gulp swimmers.
September is, ironically, the time of year when you can plan your best summer fishing trips. The number of keeper fluke might be fewer in the back bay, but it's a time when boat traffic is minimal and one can discover new, "uncharted" areas and burn them into memory (or, at least your chartplotter!) for next season. The time between Labor Day and the striper run does not have to be unproductive – in fact, it can be one of the most fun periods of fishing all year if you put in some time, relax and spend a great day on the water discovering some new places close to home.
For what it's worth, fishing has been pretty good region-wide this week. Some of my fishing pals by Manasquan Inlet said the number of keeper fluke post-Isaac remains decent, and fishing close to the inlet (between Gull Island and the inlet wall, then out to the mouth of the ocean) is key.
Bluefish are packing the Manasquan River, and there are some occasional weakfish being caught in some well-known holes from the Route 70 bridge to the canal entrance (won't burn 'em in print, but ask around and someone will tell you).
The weakies and blues are also continuing to bite near the Mantoloking Bridge in Brick.
In the suds, keeper fluke were being caught by the Seaside Heights pier, according to the folks at The Dock Outfitters on Route 35 there. Blues were hitting metals and mullet in the bay and in the surf. A nice 32-inch striper was also caught off the pier.
Along the beaches from Brick to Ortley, everything from stripers to the occasional kingfish bit, along with a rare false albacore. Metals seemed to be the key. The water is loaded with bait, so at this point in the season, anything's possible.
It's a mixed bag on LBI too, where the folks at Surf City Bait and Tackle in (you guessed it) Surf City said this week kings, croaker, weakies, doggies and a few nice stripers have been weighed in. Beach buggy access begins in Surf City this weekend, so we're sure to have more reports from the borough next week!
Speaking of beach buggy access, rumors circulated online Thursday about access to Holgate being available once again. I haven't confirmed these rumors through an official source as of yet, but it's on my agenda, so look for a story Friday on the Ocean County Patch sites.
One more thing: It's still summer! So keep catching those fluke and enjoy the wonderful variety of species to keep us busy until striper season starts!