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Captain's Focus

Snapper blues have invaded the surf, which is good news for those planning to use them as bait for large fluke -- or bad news for those trying to fish soft baits. I fell into the latter category this morning at Bay Head as my 6-inch Tsunami Eel was quickly eliminated -- and several Gulp tails were lost when I switched to fluking. Yet I still managed to release five fluke. A couple were 13 1/2-inchers, but two of 16 and 17 inches would have limited me out if I had kept walking south to Island Beach State Park where shore fishermen are allowed two at 16 inches.  Finally, I actually beached an 18-incher that hit a jig with a 4-inch white Gulp Swimming Mullet. Allen Riley of South Plainfield also found lots of snappers at Monmouth Beach that jumped on Snapper Poppers. He said they were very aggressive, and Tony Martino of Ocean Township even caught them on a Deadly Dick. The 4-to-6-inch snappers can be fished alive, but John Mazzeo of South Plainfield used a snapper fillet to hook a 20-inch fluke.  While there was a hot fluke bite yesterday at Sandy Hook Reef, Bruce Vitale of Piscataway said it wasn't like that today when he fished Funny Pharm from Atlantic Highlands there. He ended up at the Rattlesnake to get Steve Failla Sr. and Jr. into three keeper fluke in the 3-to-4-pound class. They saw tinker mackerel plus schools of bunkers out there -- and a big school of snapper blues also popped up. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reports there was decent jigging for small blues today, along with some bonito and mackerel.

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