Weekly Update (May 21, 2017)
Well, Fluke season is now upon us (almost). Thursday's the day and everyone is amped to get started. Of course, as fate would have it, looks to be a wet one as steady rain is forecast. Let's just hope we don't get too much rain so it mucks up the bay waters.
Early indications are the Fluke are in in the usual early season haunts but early by-catch is not hot and heavy by any means.
As for catching these early season Fluke take these 2 pieces of advice to the filet table.
Outgoing tide is key. The warming waters from the ebb are often like flipping a light switch. Get set up from the very last of the flood through the first couple ours of ebb and you have your best shot at some Fluke.
The second piece of advice is to keep baits and jigs small. Shad darts are deadly on early season Fluke. Remember, the water is still cool and the Fluke can be lethargic early. Put a small Spro Bucktail on your bottom hook and a shad dart on top tipped with some Gulp and you are good to go.
Stripering is feast or famine. Sharpies are getting them but not everyone is. The fun thing about this time of year is that you can get into some real cows. Something tells me this week is going to be good. Bait (bunker) are schooled up so things are going to break open. Last week's column touched on the same but if you want Bass you really need to be getting up early. The combination of sun angle and boat traffic makes bassing tougher as we get closer to summer. Get up early and find your own Bunker school and you can get a personal best.
Bluefish continue to be the most plentiful of your opportunities. Expect those bay bound Bluefish to be migrating toward inlets and to become much more hit or miss in the bay in the coming weeks. Ocean wise the Blues should stay heavy in-close for at least another 3 weeks before heading offshore. One of the most reliable patterns I have ever seen is that you can catch Bluefish at the mouth of Barnegat Inlet on the outgoing tide early in the season. Of course, it can get rough especially when a bunch of boats are trying to work the same patch.
BY THE WAY, Seabass also opens this week. Enjoy it while it lasts. Expect Seabass fishing to be phenomenal. The fish have not been picked on for months. Some good wreck numbers and some clam and limits will come your way. There is not as much social recogntion of the Seabass regulations as the Fluke regulations but Seabass regulations are absolutely egregious at this point. The generous bag limit of 10 Seabass gives way to 2 for the Summer season (staring July 2) and 5 for October - December. To those not in the know, the Seabass migrate and school up on offshore wrecks late in the year and party boats run offshore trips specifically for this. However, these trips are not cheap. Not many are going to pay $200 for 5 Seabass.