The long-awaited NJ fluke season opens tomorrow with the weather forecast being a bit better than it usually is at this time. After the rain and gusty south winds end tonight, it should go to northwest. The same three fluke at 18 inches applies, except for three at 17 inches in Delaware Bay, and two at 16 inches from shore in Island Beach State Park.

Even though the wind will be 15-20 knots Friday with gusts to 25, which keep small craft advisories up through Friday afternoon, that’s a good drifting wind in the ocean as boaters can run almost into the beach and drift out in calm conditions near shore.  However, don’t expect miracles as the ocean is still cool and the bite may be sluggish. The reefs should be a good bet if its not too windy, and sea bass should provide variety there.

Don’t hesitate to fish inside, as anglers casting jigs for blues and stripers have been hooking fluke for some time  — and the waters are warmer. I heard that a proud, but not very knowledgeable fishermen walked into a tackle shop with a 29-inch fluke yesterday before being thrown out with his illegal catch.

Fluke season usually opens with a northeast wind which is good for the Raritan Bay fleet which can shelter and catch well at the Sandy Hook Bug Light. Northwest will push boats to shore, but they’ll probably be fluke there anyway.

Capt. Stan Zagleski is moving his departure with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands up to 6 a.m. from tomorrow through Memorial Day before going to his regular weekday sailing time of 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. However, he’ll continue to sail at 6 on weekends and holidays throughout the fluke season.

At Belmar, the party boat bottom fishing fleet has been doing very well with sea bass and ling which will remain the targets. The Big Mohawk is sailing limited sea bass trips, which require reservations, over the weekend.

The Golden Eagle from that port only found a few blues Tuesday before heading off to a boat limit of sea bass plus ling. On Wednesday they found blues to be scarce, but Allen Hopkins of Reading, Pa. was fortunate to boat a 30-pound striper on his first fishing trip. The only problem then was that once that striper was aboard they couldn’t leave state waters — and the inshore sea bass fishing was picky.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing Saturday at 7:30 for sea bass. They only jigged two blues Wednesday, but then limited on sea bass. The Jamaica will also be running Saturday and Sunday night bluefish trips from 7:30 p.m. to about 2:30 a.m.  A June 1 sea bass Marathon trip requires reservations by calling 732 528-5014.

Tom O’Connor has been fishing on South Amboy Beach, where bunker chunks have been producing blues and a few stripers for the many anglers fishing there. Tom had both a 10-pound blue among the smaller ones this week plus a 31-inch striper. He noted that the beach has been kept very clean this year.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno fished Island Beach State Park yesterday evening and did nothing there. Jerry said there were relatively few anglers fishing in the park. On the way back to Point Pleasant they fished the canal where Maren released a short striper on a Bomber and Jerry missed a couple.

I tried the canal briefly this morning without getting a touch on my paddletail jig. The regulars weren’t even fishing since the daytime bite has been so poor. That will change tomorrow as they seek the several large fluke which have been released there this month. Joe Melillo has plenty of bait and rigs at nearby Castaways Tackle, but he had no encouraging word about the surf fishing due to beach replenishment that discolors the waters.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports for the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association as follows:

“It is Memorial Day weekend 2019, and the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are busy welcoming visitors and fish alike to Long Beach Island.

The big news in town is the official opening of the summer flounder season on Friday, May 24. Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” says he is switching gears from stripers and drum fish to fluke and the great wreck fishing going on for black sea bass. He is excited about what he feels will be a “great season.”

Captain Alex Majewski of “Light House Sportfishing” notes the spring run of fish is at full throttle. He has been seeing stripers from schoolie size to over 30-inches in the back bay and inlet waters. Captain Alex especially likes fishing for these bass with artificials. He has heard of some good catches of big bass trolling off Island Beach State Park, but no word yet on snag and drop fishing with live bunker. He has also been involved with some big bluefish in the bay waters caught in just a few feet of water on topwater plugs.

Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Reaction Charters” recently had angler Mike Galindo along with his son Mason and co-worker Dave Stankiewicz on a 5-hour ocean charter looking for striped bass. After hearing of slow action on the stripers, they decided to hit some of the local wrecks for black sea bass. It was a great decision as the guys caught over 100 fish comprised of 40 keepers up to 22-inches, along with some ling, mackerel, and a small bluefish. It turned out to be a great day on the water.  “

Dr. David Cheli left his Brielle office to catch this big blue on an Ava jig with red tail in the Manasquan River this week

Cheli blue

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