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Fishing on the Fourth: Suds & Bay Edition

Don't let Hurricane Arthur shut down your fishing this weekend!

Photo Credit: Fisherman's Headquarters, Ship Bottom
Photo Credit: Fisherman's Headquarters, Ship Bottom
It's the start of a holiday weekend, in the middle of the summer, with (potentially) sunny skies and warm temperatures. And the ocean might be too rough to fish.

That means Barnegat Bay will likely be turned into an on-water traffic jam for a few days, where it will seem as if you can walk from boat to boat to get from one side to the other. Fishing might come with some unique hazards – pushing off from other boats in a narrow channel or getting to your favorite spot and having it "burned" by another angler. But if you still want to fish, Mother Nature may very well reward you with dinner.

We're going to mainly focus on the bay for this report, since it's unlikely that many recreational boaters will be hitting the ocean due to swells churned up by Hurricane Arthur, but we'll mix in some surf fishing reports where they're available.

We'll go from north to south, starting in Mantoloking and Brick, where surf anglers are finding fluke in the suds. Essentially everywhere, word is that the bass bite has cooled but fluke are still biting, mainly on bucktails tipped with Berkeley Gulp baits – a favorite for fluking pretty much anywhere.

Cocktail blues are occasionally being picked around the bay's northern bridges (Mantoloking and Route 37), as well as near Gunner's Ditch in Brick and under the Route 37 bridge between Toms River and Seaside. They're also biting in the Toms River, according to a report posted this week by Murphy's Hook House on Route 37 east.

Another option bay-wide, but especially in the northern bay, is crabbing. The crab bite has been on fire this week and there's no reason why it shouldn't continue through the holiday weekend. Crabbing is a great way to spend a day on the bay in an out-of-the-way cove, introduce kids and other family members who might be new to fishing to the sport, and possibly catch a delicious dinner to enjoy.

"Crabbing in the bay and river 'especially' is picking up nicely with customers coming in for bait saying that the keeper to throwback ratio is definitely improving," the report from Murphy's said, referring to the Toms River.

"Crabbing improves daily while some snapper blues are starting to show," a report from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said.

It might take some time, the Dock's report said, but when it comes time to break out the Old Bay and boil up some crabs at night, it will definitely be worth it.

"Fluke in the bay by the BB and BI is still producing nice sized keeper fluke," Murphy's report continued, with a customer bringing in a 20-incher he nailed there on Thursday.

Fluke also continued to be caught in the Double Creek and Oyster Creek channels, as well as between the BB and BI buoys, according to a report from Grizz's Bait and Tackle in Forked River, published by FishingReportsNow.com. Blues also continues to swim the central bay.

Keep in mind that the Double Creek Channel is technically closed to navigation, with all of the markers having been removed during the spring. This is because the channels got extremely thin over the winter (they were already bad enough last season) and the state Department of Transportation will be dredging them in the near future. Though I've seen guys running it based on the saved plots in their GPS units, it's not particularly safe and not particularly advisable to nudge around in there too much.

But however you make it to Barnegat Inlet, you'll likely find fish, a report from Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom said.

The fluke are biting when they want to, but "the inlet was full of bluefish feeding on small bait," a reliable customer told the shop staff Thursday. Light tackle plugging was suggested to get in on the action.

The upwelling of water temperatures was being blamed by staff for a slower fluke bite in the suds in LBI and at the inlet. I took a swim in Surf City on Thursday and the water was definitely chilly. The lifeguard stand at N. 5th St. had it pegged at 60 degrees even, though it felt a degree or two warmer, and with the winds shifting as Arthur passes, the temperatures are poised to change rapidly in the coming days.

In the mean time, "reports of some quality fluke fishing in the bay are keeping anglers optimistic," the report from FishHeads said, with a customer boating a nice 5-pounder in the last couple of days.

As always, we want to see your catch of the day. Don't be shy. Nothing wrong with bragging a little bit after a good day on the water. Send your fishing photos to me at daniel.nee@patch.com and we will feature them in future editions of the column.

Happy Independence Day, and let's stay safe and catch 'em up this weekend!
R Silva July 04, 2014 at 09:43 AM
You might want to remind these boats to watch the weather and maintain their boats too
Marynary July 04, 2014 at 09:59 AM
The last fishing story on here had a bunch of anti fishing posts.
Heywood July 04, 2014 at 11:21 AM
As you enjoy your little fishing venture, be sure to make way for the large and very noisy cigarette boats as they churn the waters up on their race to nowhere.

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