Early in the week I had a chance to fish with my wife Jennifer and son Luke. Although we got a late start in the morning, and we picked up 3 keepers to 22 inches fishing some of the smaller channels. The choice bait was 1/2oz Big Eye bucktail tipped with Berkley Gulp.
I had Julie Burstein and Mark Maben of Maplewood, NJ and their two boys (Ezekiel and Micah) out on a backbay fluke charter. We searched for keeper flatties in a couple of prime spots but could only muster fish to close to keeper length. This was the first time the family ever fished a bucktail and they quickly learned how to feel the bite. All in all the first-time flukers did a great job landing and releasing close to 45 flatties - if it was last years regulations we would have had 5 keepers in the box, but a slightly different story this year.
In between charters, I had a chance to fish solo for a few hours and ended with 2 keepers to 20 inches - it seems the fish are in small pockets spread out. You have to work really hard for them right now and change up your tactics to match want they want. And more importantly, you have to constantly monitor your lure from being fouled by eel grass/cabbage.
A pre-4th trip, I had a Mike Sella and his 15yr old son Mike Jr. from Montrose, Colorado out for a quick afternoon bay trip. The father and son team picked away at fluke and 4-6lb bluefish blitzing on spearing, but couldn't boat any sizeable fluke. After about an hour into the trip, the south winds kicked up and increased to 20 knots with gusts to 25 based on USGS Barnegat Light weather station - making it next to impossible to keep the bait on the bottom. The pair still had a great time spending quality father and son time together.
With the tropical system that has gone past and a week of strong south winds that dropped the surf temps to the upper 50's - the ocean fluking will take a little while to regain it's already slow momentum - let's hope for some NE winds in the next week or so to warm things up. The bay has lots of shorts with keepers mixed in - but have to contend with some of nature's variables - water temps, winds, and tide.