Fluke season is chugging along, but anglers targeting bluefish have come up with some great catches in recent days.
"The blues were right out in front of [Manasquan] inlet, just 7 miles away, and high hooks had limits of the smaller blues," said Capt. Howard Bogan of the Big Jamaica out of Brielle, referring to his July 4 trip.
On his website, Capt. Howard wrote that his July 5 trip also yielded a nice catch of blues about eight miles off the beach, and the action was steady all day long.
"Everyone caught their limit and released many more today," he wrote.
High hook the boat was a 5-pound bonito.
I personally swung by the Manasquan side of Manasquan Inlet after a Patch staff meeting Thursday and saw anglers reeling in bluefish after bluefish over the rail. They were catching them mostly on squid-baited hooks, but also Hopkins lures.
Friends tell me the fluke bite continues to be strong on the Manasquan River. Most boats are now fishing the area from the Route 35 bridge, along Gull Island to the mouth of the inlet. As I mentioned in my July 4 fishing report earlier this week, seek out the help of a diver to fill you in on where the muscle beds are inside the inlet or use your fishfinder to discover rough bottom. That's where the fluke will be hiding.
The report from Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park was pretty high on the bluefish bite in the local suds.
"Poppers and small metals are the popular choices, bunker if you prefer to soak bait," 'Grumpy Hisself' wrote on the shop's daily fishing report.
Fluking from the beach was "spotty," as reports were infrequent due to low participation, Grumpy wrote, but crabbing seemed excellent in the bay.
The flies bothered anglers at Island Beach State Park and on LBI Thursday, as west winds blew them. So the fishing boat Knot Reel Farmers ran off the Garden State South reef to escape the bugs and find the fish, according to a report from Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom.
The first drift yielded some "fat and happy" sea bass, which were thrown back to swim another day. But the crew found lots of life at the reef overall, including bluefish and a good deal of bottom action.
Old Barney Charters did some wreck fishing this week as the winds didn't cooperate with the fluke drift. Sea bass, ling and toad fish were hooked.
Finally, fluke were being beached in LBI rather steadily this week, I've been told. The customers at Oceanside Bait and Tackle have been bringing them in at a nice clip. It's been a mix of keepers and throwbacks all week. This week's photo is of shop customer John Nixon, who weighed in a couple flatties just before the July 4 holiday.