Sure enough, the weather calmed down and the fishing is picking up. Chip Gruff caught 26 summer flounder, with 4 keepers. He Just missed a limit trip, a nice one was lost at boat side. I was out just for a short trip and picked up 3 keeper summer flounder to 23″. The fishing should be good this week for, summer flounder, Black Drum, weakfish , Mako shark and maybe tuna. Excellent time to use some vacation or sick days.
The ASMFC is considering a proposal to create 2 summer flounder rules sets for New Jersey. This is an excellent idea. The region/zone approach will make it possible to fine tune the summer flounder size and bag limits. The marine habitat of the Delaware Bay for example, attracts and holds a smaller average size summer flounder, than the waters found in North Jersey. This is due to the documented fact, that as summer flounder mature they migrate north. This creates a hopeless situation for New Jersey fishermen fishing the Delaware Bay and other Cape May County waters. Regardless of the increases in the summer flounder stock,the average size flounder has not increased in these areas, and never will. New Jersey’s summer flounder can not be managed effectively without area specific regulations (zones). If this proposal is approved the the minimum size summer flounder for the Delaware Bay will be between 16 and 17″, if not, it could jump from the current 18.5″ to 19″ this season. Summer flounder fishing is not about catch and release, it is about harvesting fish for the table.
However, the 18.5″ minimum size in this area, has pretty much turned the summer flounder season into a catch and release situation.
Here are a couple of options they are considering:
Regional Option 3-Split New Jersey Option 3A This alternative proposes the State of New Jersey be split in half, establishing north and south portions. The northern portion of New Jersey would be included with the current Northern Region of New York and Connecticut while the southern portion would be included with the Southern Region of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The line of demarcation would occur around Little Egg Inlet with Great Bay included in the Southern Region keeping New Jersey counties intact.
Table 6. Regional Option 3A with example management measure
Example Size Limit
Example Possession Limit
NORTHERN NEW JERSEY*
SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY*
Regional Option 4-Delaware Bay included in the Southern Region Option 4A This alternative includes Delaware Bay in the southern region of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Table 8. Regional Option 4A with example management measures
Example Size Limit
Example Possession Limit
Example Season (in number of days)
Invest little, gain a lot”, this gambler’s mantra rings true with the Beach and Boat fishing tournament. It runs for just about the entire NJ fishing season. Giving everyone more than enough time to fish. Thousands of dollars in cash and prizes for the top 10 heaviest inshore Jersey fish. The tournament had 750 fishermen involved in 2013,this year (2014) there was over 8000. This tournament will continue to increase in both participants and value. There was talk of adding a Calcutta next year, this would make the tournament pay out the largest of any inshore tournament in New Jersey,I am sure. The awards banquet was held at the River Rock restaurant and marina. The food was excellent, the staff was fantastic and the place was beautiful. If you fish in New Jersey at all, do yourself a favor sign up. I forgot to mention, it is free at the moment!
There is a pretty good swing in the amount of effort it takes to catch fish. When you have the right conditions and knowledge coupled with a large number of fish, your chances of catching fish are best. As the fish numbers decreases, the amount of effort, knowledge and time it takes to catch them increases. The number of sport fishermen also decreases with each step of difficulty. Long before any fish management authority declares the Striped bass or any other game fish over-fished, the ability to catch fish is out of reach for most.
In the past, many striped bass fishermen caught ,100, 500 and a few hit 1000 28″ keepers in a season here in Cape May County, NJ. Most of these exact fishermen have not caught a striped bass this season, let alone a keeper. Weakfish, at one point recreational fishermen would line up at fish dealers like Jack king’s, with hundreds of weakfish to sell. I doubt, if any of these fishermen could catch a single weakfish using the same fishing techniques today.
The good news is the Striped bass and weakfish population numbers are good enough for the (skill sharp) angler to consistently catch. However, an adjustment of expectations is necessary for anyone striped bass fishing this season.
Here is the new norm: 25 striped bass for the season, including shorts , is obtainable for the weekend fisherman. A 100 striped bass season is within reach for those that are able to pick their days.
Many skill sharp anglers that dedicated their time targeting weakfish, during primetime, caught 25 weakfish for the 2014 season. An elite few hit 100 weakfish for the season. I would say a good 95% of these weakfish were released.
The jury is still out on New Jersey red drum and speckled trout for the 2014 season.
I was glassing the open water of the sound when I spotted them, six or so mullet leaping from the water. This little activity put me on a feeding school of migratory stripers , that eventually lead me to the ocean. Just short of the Oceanfront the bass cornered the bait, using a sandbar to their advantage. Turns in the air, stripers on the surface, it was that kind of morning. Today I was under – gunned for these stripers, big migratory bass were in the mix. They made quick work of emptying my reel of line. I hope this was a preview of this year’s fall fishing. The conditions needed for the coveted Jersey reds and speckled trout bite remain elusive. However, all things considered, the striper fishing has been pretty good so far.
The conditions for red drum and speckled trout have not lined up this season, yet. However, the stripers are always fun to stalk. Today they were up on the marsh during the flood tide. This is really a lot of fun, as the stripers will hold in the grass. The above striper held tight as we approached. I was able to get a couple of pictures without him even flinching. When he finally realized we could see him in the grass, he darted out of sight in a split second. Today we cherry picked stripers for hours.
The Striped bass can be very elusive this time of the year in Cape May co., NJ, but they are here. This is a transition period between summer and fall fishing. The bluefish are still just about everywhere, they are from the snapper size to about 3 pounds. They are making it difficult to fish for anything else. The water is still warm at 71 degrees. The clarity is good but not excellent.
I had planned on pushing hard for speckled trout and red drum this week, but the conditions are not in place yet. However, targeting and catching weakfish this time of year is just as rewarding. The NE wind that is blowing today could jump start the weakfish east south migration, ending the season in the back waters. The water temperature is 68 degrees and the water clarity is excellent. This was a beautiful day to be saltwater fishing.