The first red drum report I’ve received from above South Jersey this year came from Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park this morning. John Bushell noted that angler Kevin Deiter released a 33-inch red drum (probably in Island Beach State Park) while also catching small stripers that were chasing rainfish up on the beach. Though there were a few red drum reported from the northern NJ Shore last year (including my two puppy drum in two days at Pt. Pleasant Canal), none were anywhere near 33 inches

There was also another first today as Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina reported winter flounder are already being caught off the docks there. One angler had a limit today, and a couple of 14-inchers were caught recently. Matthews noted that some legal stripers are being caught in the surf at night, while little tunny have surfcasters running to catch up with them some days.

I have yet to be anywhere on shore when little tunny make a showing, and stripers were just as disrespectful of my efforts this morning. The waters at Spring Lake and Manasquan were beautiful and there was just a light swell, but I only raised one fish to my popper.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc returned to the same area where he limited on stripers Friday with his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands, but the tide was slack. He waited and waited, but there was never enough current. A move to another spot wasn’t much of an improvement in the drift, but a few large stripers were caught.

Also at that port, Capt. Ron Santee reported a one drop day of porgy fishing along with some sea bass and a few blackfish on the Fishermen.

The Bolden Eagle from Belmar went offshore for blues  and read them — but they wouldn’t come up. They did pick at some 2-to-5-pounders along with porgies, sea bass and a jack on jigs.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported good mixed bag bottom fishing with porgies, sea bass, blackfish and even triggerfish.

The Big Jamaica has a few spots open for Tuesday’s 7 a.m. canyon trip. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. Tuna fishing was tough on trips over the weekend, but loads of dolphin were boated. A big swordfish and several tuna were lost Saturday night.

Fishing conditions look good for the morning with only a 10-15 mph SW wind early before some gusts to 25 late in the day. Friday is looking great with a 5-10 mph north wind, but there’s a forecast of 20-to-25-mph east winds on Saturday that should bring migrating stripers heading toward NJ under diving birds.

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