I love writing about fishing, but I don't claim to be an expert. However, many of our local tackle shop owners are experts, and if you want to be in the know, these are the guys to speak with.
This week, I stopped in for a chat with Gary (Grizz) of Grizz's Bait and Tackle in Forked River, who told me that fluke action in the bay was yielding keepers, but with the hot bass bite few anglers were out there hitting the flatties. There is some limited action in the ocean, he said, but the bay is the place to be, specifically between the BI and BB buoys. Both of those areas have been yielding more flounder than the Oyster Creek or Double Creek channels, Myers Hole or "the dyke" which cuts through sandbars out to Ol' Barney. For those fishing this area, Grizz told me the incoming tide has been the ticket for many anglers to find keepers, so keep that in mind. The bay tides should be incoming in the mid-to-late afternoon all weekend, so feel free to sleep in! You might not miss the bite!
The same situation is playing out in northern Ocean County and southern Monmouth County. There have certainly been reports of keeper fluke scored in the ocean (on the party boats, specifically) but anglers told me this week that the most solid action could be found on the Manasquan River, anywhere from the channels west of the Rt. 35 bridge to Clark's Landing, beside the main channel.
For those fishing the ocean, the hot spots this week have been in shallow water, specifically close in near Bay Head and off the public beaches at Island Beach State Park. Besides that, well, pick a reef and give it a try. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the Barnegat Light reef to be the best ticket this weekend, since it's best suited for drift fishing.
But the fluke bite, until this article, hasn't been getting headlines. Bass have. The striped bass bite remains consistent in the ocean up and down the Jersey coast. The key, of course, is following the bunker pods. Big pods have been spotted off Point Pleasant Beach, Lavallette and Harvey Cedars over the past week, proving that a blitz could occur anywhere, any time. Snagging and dropping has been the best bet everywhere. The ocean currently remains the top bass-producing spot, though bay anglers are still reeling in some fish from the flats west of Barnegat Inlet.
Also, for the first time all season I've heard some solid reports on crabbing this week. Is it the moon phase? The water temperatures? Some whacky weather? Who knows (except for the crabs) but they're around and chomping throughout the area.
Finally, I'll note that sharking – specifically for threshers – has been decent over the past week. Most of the charter captains out there don't have many more available dates for sharking, so if you want in on the action, get in touch with one of the skippers soon before all the trips fill up!
One final thing – feel free to brag! Send me some photos of your catches at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include them in this column.