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Saturday, June 22, 2024

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Fishing Line: May 22

Photo Credit: Sea Star III
Ed Hannan and his pool-winning, 32.04-pound drumfish.

By Mark Robbins

Welcome to that time frame that harbors a lull between seasons, and one where the backwaters rule for a two-week-plus period. Blackfish are out, and sea bass has yet to commence, so heading out to the wrecks and reefs isn’t the best option. Yes, some flounder were caught from those areas late in the blackfish season, but not in numbers where it makes the trip worthwhile. If you’re searching for flounder, then the back bays and deep holes in the back are where you need to be. When you get this issue, the opening of sea bass season will have just started, so action on the ocean will be increasing, but as of this writing, the area behind our barrier islands is best. Of course, the two exceptions to this unwritten rule, about fishing the ocean, is the action that the surf anglers are enjoying, while soaking clams along the beachfront, and the drumfish in the Delaware Bay. Let’s check it all out.

Capt. Chuck, aboard the Sea Star III, reports that the bay is slow on the flounder front, but he will continue trying till sea bass season opens on May 17. He’ll focus on sea bass till the fluke fishery picks up at the reefs. Either way, it promises to be some good fishing.

The Prime Time Drumfish Trips began recently and the action on both trips was good. The first two pool winners for these spring trips were Ed Hannan with a 32.04-pounder and Ryan Eppler who took home the money with an 11-pound fish. The first drum of the season was caught by Paul Bodkin and it weighed in at 17.5 pounds.

The Sea Star III runs drumfish trips on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Reservations can be made by calling 609-884-3421.

The Miss Chris is now sailing trips for sea bass at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., then heading out at 6 p.m. for drumfish. Trips vary depending on the day, so make sure you check out their schedule before arriving. Their schedule is available through their Facebook page, at 609-849-9453, or at capemayfisherman.com.

Capt. Skip, from Stalker Fishing Charters, will continue to target big bluefish in the back waters for a couple more weeks. He has weighed blues to 14 pounds during recent trips. Doing some light-tackle fishing for these hard fighters is a real blast. Give him a call at 609-972-5218 to reserve a trip for two, or to grab a seat on an open boat trip.

Diane and Joe, at Cape May Bait and Tackle, report that fishing in the Cape May area is improving. Stripers are being caught from the bayside beaches on plugs while the beaches along the ocean have provided larger bass that are taking clam or bunker chunks. The middle to late days of May are the top time for striped bass fishing, with early morning, or after dark, being the best times to head to the beach.

Black drum are off the beaches in 20 feet of water while some have been caught by those fishing the surf.

Cape May Bait and Tackle has live, salted, and red clams available for sea bass anglers, and live clams for those fishing for stripers or drum fish.

Boulevard Bait and Tackle was busy with reports and pictures of great beach action consisting of multiple bluefish and striped bass catches. Catches of note were stripers up to 48 inches caught, then released, by Rob and Wade and slot-fish (keepers) caught by Ted (28 inches) and Joe who landed a 28.5-inch fish.

A bluefish and a striper for Cathy and George. Photo Credit: Boulevard Bait and Tackle

During that same time frame some nice flounder catches were recorded in the back waters. Highlighted catches went to Nina with a 6.5-pound flattie, and to Dominick, a young angler, who caught a 21.5-incher while fishing with his dad, Glenn.

Sea Isle Bait and Tackle recently held their 100% Cash Payout Flounder Tournament. Ninety-five anglers entered the two-day tournament which was conducted under some challenging conditions.

Joe K. with his 5.5-pound, tournament-winning flounder. Photo credit: Sea Isle Bait and Tackle

The flounder division was won by Joe K. who weighed in a 5.55-pound, 24.25-inch fish. Second place went to Mark Larson who brought in a 23.25-inch fish that weighed in at 4.73 pounds. Third-place was claimed by Jason Bartholomew who brought a 4.66, 23.75-inch specimen.

Flounder, stripers, bluefish, drumfish, an occasional weakfish, and now sea bass. Get out there, get your line in the water, and get ready to set the hook. Good luck, take care, and I’ll see you around.

Submit fishing news and photos to mrobbins@cmcherald.com.

Columnist

Author of The Fishing Line, a regular column published in the Cape May County Herald covering the local fishing scene.

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