Salt Spray Report: Bites abound but keepers harder to come by at the Jersey shore

Summer flounder is dominating the fishing news in a variety of ways here at the Jersey shore this week.

If it is almost constant rod-bending action you desire, all you have to do is visit any of our back bays. In fact, based on the reports I have been receiving, it is a waste of gas to trek off to the artificial reefs and lumps. Saying that, while you will reel in scads of flatties, generally only a small portion will be of keeper size. Here are some examples: Skip and Rob Van Lew of Downingtown had an incredible 140 fish but they were able to keep just two. Saying that, the keepers were over 20 inches each.

A friend of mine was out this past Tuesday and he did a bit better. He had 56 throwbacks and 4 keepers. Perhaps one of the best throwback to keeper ratios of the past week belonged to Mark Palmaro and his son Mike from King of Prussia. They had a half dozen nice fish out of the 17 they caught. The Palmaros were fishing aboard The Viking of Capt. Norm Hafsrud.

Boyertown’s Matt Reidnauer and his son and daughter, Jake and Katie, got to take home 4 good-sized fish but I did not hear how many they had to hook to get those four. Tim Lambert also of Boyertown entertained his dad, Bruce and daughter Lexi. Their largest flattie was 21 inches, but it was Lexi who was high hook for the day on her very first fishing trip.

Advertisement

Then there was John Schlegel and his kids Dave and Anna from Reading. They did land about three dozen fish but there only was one keeper among them. And, John McCloskey of Boyertown had his kids out for two trips and all they could say was they had a huge number of shorts but some legal fish went into the cooler

So, you get the idea. You can have a lot of fun and not be bored but don’t expect to have a load of fish to clean at the end of the trip. I also should mention that this sort of action is identical everywhere from Cape May to Long Beach Island.

Any time the state gives you something you should take it. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has started a program to give away free large J-hooks to flounder anglers in an effort to help cut down on the mortality rate of all those undersized fish that are being thrown back. I can’t speak for other counties along the coast, but in Cape May County 14 bait and tackle shops are participating. A total of 20,000 hooks will be provided.

If you haven’t heard by now, the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Council is not all happy with New Jersey’s opposition to the drastic cut backs in the flounder catch they had mandated for this season. The ASMFC ruled N.J. out of compliance because the state refused to implement their order. But, the ASMFC was overruled by the feds in Washington and the members of the council have vowed revenge. This saga will continue to play out for some time to come but just about everyone seems to agree that the ASMFC is way off base.

Inshore trolling is being productive, mainly for Spanish mackerel and tailor-sized blues. An occasional king mack or cobia also may jump on your hook.

On the reefs, a friend of mine was on the OC last week and she landed a very large seabass measuring over 17-inches. The humpback bite on a Gulp! and strip of shedder oil soaked squid.

Out in the deep, the big numbers are on the members of the tuna family, both on the troll and the chunk. A few white marlin have begun showing up and I heard of at least one blue marlin.

On the news front, a long time Cape May County partyboat may have made its last trip. The Capt. Robbins apparently has some serious issues with the Coast Guard inspection and that may spell the end of a long career on the water.

And, in case you have not heard and are planning a trip to the beaches of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is shut down due to a total electrical power failure and the islands have been evacuated. Apparently a construction company severed the main feeder lines and repairs may take another two weeks.

ACROSS THE BAY >> Something rather unusual tops the Delaware news this week. The Cape Henlopen Pier and the surf have started turning up monkfish. If you haven’t seen one of these, they have a face only a mother can love but they are delicious. Monkfish fans liken the taste to lobster. I don’t know how long they will hold in the area so if you would like to take a shot at this delicacy you better do it fast.

Also in the surf, the great run of kingfish is continuing. There also are croakers up to 10-inches showing up off the piers, especially when you are using bloodworms. However, I have heard of a couple of anglers who were spooled when large rays picked up their bait.

Finally, crabbing could not be better. Herring Creek seems to be the hottest spot, but Love Creek and IRI also are housing some of these exceptionally large crabs. Bunker is the bait of choice.