With a calm ocean from west winds and a forecast of sunny weather with temperatures up to the low 40s, Friday appears to be as nice a day to fish offshore as can be expected in mid-winter.
Bottom fishing in NY/NJ Bight at this time of year is often poor due to very cold bottom water from snow melt flowing out of the rivers, but that wasn’t the case yesterday when the Ocean Explorer sailed from Belmar. Though the catch wasn’t too impressive, they reported lots of bites on bottom even though most were from bergalls.
They did catch 7 or 8 keeper blackfish plud some shorts, a few ling and a small cod. As a result, they will be sailing again on Friday. The wind forecast is northwest at 5-10 knots before going to soitheast in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, rain arrives tomorrow night and is forecast for Saturday.
Paul Haertel of the JCAA reminds NJ anglers that comments on the proposed fluke season (as noted in my blog), have to be in by noon tomorrow. His comments follow:
“The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration is accepting comments for the 2021 Recreational Summer Flounder Season. All minimum size and possession limit regulations will remain unchanged, including the Island Beach State Park and Delaware Bay special management areas. The possible options are as follows:Option 1) May 22nd – September 19th 121 days (the same as last year)Option 2) May 28th – September 28th 124 daysNo other options are available for our 2021 fluke season. Please include the following in your comments:1. Your preferred option (1 or 2)2. The state or county you fish in or from3. Describe the type of angler or general public category that best fits you (shore angler, private boat, party boat, charter boat owner/captain, or other type of fishing industryPlease make sure to include “2021 Summer Flounder Options” in the subject line when providingcomments to the following email address: NJmarineFishPublicComment@dep.nj.govThe comment period will close on February 26, 2021 at 12:00 PM. Comments need to be received prior to that time to be included in this management decision at the March 4th, 2021 Marine Fisheries Council Meeting. When available the webinar information will be posted at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/mcnclmtg.htmThe Jersey Coast Anglers Association encourages all those who wish to comment to do so via email and/or during the public comment period during the meeting. We also realize that some people have different opinions and we respect that as well. We know that some back bay fishermen and others prefer the early season. Those who favor the early season believe that fluke bite better in their areas during May, they are anxious to get the season started and pointed out that there are often storms during September that ruin the fishing.However, that being said JCAA member clubs strongly support Option 2 with later season for the following reasons:1. We need to close the gap between when fluke season ends and sea bass season begins. With an early season there will be an 18 day gap with little for the inshore and shore based anglers to fish for. With the later season this gap will be narrowed to just 9 days.2. In the spring there are plenty of other fish to fish for. Sea bass season opens on May 15th and good sized striped bass, bluefish and black drum are available as well as a smattering of weakfish.3. The water in the ocean and even the bay is too cold for fluke to bite in May.4. Tackle stores, marinas and other businesses will suffer during the fall since other than being able to keep one blackfish there is not much to fish for unless you run offshore.5. With the later season we will have the opportunity to fish 124 days as opposed to 121 days with the earlier season. This could at least give us a little buffer if the ASFMC/MAFMC forces us to cut back again.6. Many fishermen like to target large and even trophy sized fluke as they migrate offshore and feed heavily stopping at reefs and wrecks along the way. There is a good chance of catching a true doormat during this time of the year.7. Most surf fishermen prefer to fish for fluke during the fall as their best opportunity to catch keeper fluke is during the mullet run.8. Polls were conducted on various Facebook fluke fishing group and with over a thousand responses people favored the later season by a margin of more than two to one. Even the Back Bay Anglers group favored the later season by a margin of 30-18.9. After losing most of our fall season in 2017 we were able to extend it again in 2018. At that time, we agreed to begin the season on the Friday before Memorial Day (5/25) and ended it on 9/22. In 2019 we lost a day at the tail end of the season which ran from 5/24-9/21. Then in 2020 we lost two more days at the end of the season which ran from 5/22-9/19. It seemed that the Friday before Memorial Day had become our traditional opening day and we would like to keep it that way. It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way and have a later season. Next year and for the next few years Memorial Day will come earlier again so we can start the season earlier then. To reiterate, we now have an opportunity to close the gap until sea bass season begins from 18 day to just 9 days. Let’s do it!”