The fishing conditions kept me at the helm of the skiff for most of the day’s trip. The water temperature dropped significantly the last couple days . With a water temperature swing, a flat barometer and a poor wind direction, it would have been a perfect day to skip fishing. I burned a lot of fuel and we went periods without any action at all. However, 2 hours and 45 minutes later, Wayne had his limit of summer flounder. Wayne travels in from Kentucky annually to fish the back bay waters for summer flounder. The new 18″ minimum size limit pushes reasonable to the maximum in our back bay waters . Regardless of the increased size of the flounder stock the majority of the large summer flounder are not found in our back bay waters or the Delaware Bay. The State of Delaware has a 16″ size limit and we fish the same bay. All things considered, 16″ is the appropriate size limit for flounder in Cape May County, NJ . The NJ Outdoor Alliance and the NJ federation of Sportsmen are prepared to fight to have Cape May County included in the Delaware region next season.
Jack was fishing in the back bay waters when this hard fighting summer flounder rose for his fly. Jack holds the Cape May County saltwater fly fishing record for speckled trout 8.5 pounds. Looks like he is also in the hunt for the summer flounder fly fishing record.
The early rise was tough but quickly forgotten. The sun peeked from the crystal blue atlantic. The outgoing tide formed an eddy in front of me. Moments later I felt the distinct thump of a weakfish hit. Great way to start the day! Flounder fishing on tap this afternoon. Update to follow.
Captain Gary remains zeroed in on the back bay flounder, his heaviest this morning was 6.5 pounds. A six pound flounder usually takes first place in the Grassy sound marina’s back bay flounder tournament.
I caught two 20″ keeper back bay flounder today. I fished for 40 minutes. The water temperature at the top of the tide was 63 degrees, 5 -10 SW wind and the water clarity was excellent.
The weakfish bite has slowed due to the spawn. The weakfish could be seen swimming around the structure but they were not interested in any lures. The stripers picked up the slack. Wayne caught a quality short striper on a smoke colored zoom. His first fish of his annual Jersey fishing vacation.
The key today was the right bait (artificial) , and the presentation. I found the flounder in very shallow water. I reached the bag limit in less than one hour. Captain Gary on the double touch also limited out today fishing in deeper back bay water. Today was an excellent day for flounder fishing for sure. The water temperature was 61 degrees on the top of the tide. The wind was SSW. The fishing pressure was very light .
Weakfish, during yesterday evening’s weakfish trip I targeted a new spot with friend CJ . CJ caught and released a nice weakfish. I had one spit the hook. We fished for about 45 minutes.
Slaughter beach on the Delaware Side of the bay is still producing black drum. That spot is a 12 mile run from the Cape May canal. The good news for fishermen docked in NJ is the black drum have set up on our side of the bay. Bob Lasko and crew boated nine black drum on a recent trip, some topped out at over 60 pounds. Jason and crew won the middle twp. drum fish tournament with a 89 pounder. If you want to catch a black drum now is the time.
The summer flounder opener was good. However, here in Cape May County most of the flounder caught were under the 18″ size limit. Gary had three nice size keepers. Reeves and crew boated 7 keepers . Debbie from the Grassy Sound marina reportedly weighed in a nine pounder. I have been busy catching spring weakfish. I will make my first flounder trip this week and I will post the results. The water temperature in the back bay today was 62 degrees on the top of the tide.
What is unbelievably refreshing is how resilient the weakfish have proved to be. Considering in 2009 Dr. Jamie Geiger of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, suggested that the weakfish stock may have fallen to such lows that managers might wish to consider invoking the provisions of the Endangered Species Act as one of the management tools. The listing seemed like a sure bet. As any fish stock experiencing decades of unlimited commercial and recreational harvest would surely end up that way. A timely weakfish recovery was not expected by the ASMFC under any circumstances.
The good news is they were wrong. With only three years of historic weakfish regulations (limited harvest) they are showing up in numbers not seen in decades along the entire east coast.
The return of the weakfish in this month’s (May )issue of On The Water magazine covers it well.
Update: 2014 weakfish season was the best for me in a decade.
Short stripers have gathered in good numbers at select locations on the Delaware Bay side of Cape May County. There has been at least one keeper striper caught from the ocean beach side of the county. Blood worms are the only bait to use at this point. There has been 3 summer flounder caught and one confirmed 8 # weakfish. This cold snap will slow the bite until the temperature bounces back up.
Missy Alcorn with a nice late season Striped Bass
The striper bite here in Cape May County has been hot over the last week for those in the know. For those that are not in the loop it has been slow fishing. The lumps just off the beach about two miles have produced a good amount of keeper stripers for the fisherman that have stayed dialed in. The Delaware Bay has consistently produced some heavyweight stripers for a few sharpies, they are not the information sharing type.