Sunday, February 25, 2024

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The Fishing Line: School’s Out; Fish In

 

By Carolyn Miller

Lots of exciting events going on in Cape May County, so whether you are a visitor or a resident get out and enjoy all the county has to offer. Our fishing charters, marinas, and bait shops are waiting to make your trip a memorable one.
The Royal Flush is now catching flounder, sea bass, kingies, snapper blues, croakers, and a few weakies. They say the action is getting better as the ocean temperature rises. Some notable catches are Sara Small from Media, Pa., with her 2.5 pound flattie, and Bette Dructor from Philadelphia with a 2 pound sea bass. Captain John is sailing 2 trips a day and a night trip on a limited basis.
Captain Chuck, Sea Star III, is bringing in a mixed bag, too. Ocean trips were successful for fluke and sea bass; the Bay was fluke, weakfish, bluefish, kingfish, and croakers. The Drum fishing seems to be slowing down.
Flounder have started to bite at the Old Grounds, according to Sterling Harbor. Several boats had their limit with fish up to 28 inches reported. Trish and Tom Griffith and Bill Cline of Washington Township, had a limit of flounder up to 28 inches. Flounder are also still being caught in the back bays. Justin Fesler of Court House, reported 2 keepers and lots of tailor blues while fishing on his Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 kayak. Spearing and mackerel strips were the baits of choice in both the back bays and the deeper water. Weakfish are still around the inlet jetties and in the back bays. Bill and Dave Hansen of Philadelphia, checked in with a 5 pound 15 ounce weakfish and another one at 6 pound 9 ounces.
Shark fishing is in prime season with blue, makos, and thresher sharks being caught. Captain Mark on the Angry Wife out of Wildwood, weighed in a 382 pound Thresher at South Jersey Shark Tournament that was caught between the 20 and 30 Fathom line. Bob and Sharon Bigwood of Woolwich Township, ventured offshore and came home with a mixed bag of yellowfin, Mahi-Mahi, and tilefish up to 31 pounds.
Bill (bucktail willie} Shillingford fishing out of Whale Creek Marina found short stripers eager for surface plugs and trolled bucktails.. Bluefish up to 30 inches could be had. Willie had a Grand Slam with a 24 inch weakfish to go with his striped bass, bluefish and fluke.
Grassy Sound Marina had another good week on flounder. Some nice size fluke to 25 inches. Bill Wallace, Court House, caught 2 keepers with the larger at 24 inches fishing the top of the incoming tide on minnows and bucktail near the marina. Jim Barr, Sewell, fishes from his kayak and caught a three fluke all over 21 inches at the mouth of Turtle Creek on minnows, outgoing tide. Mike Ciarlante, Bensalem, Pa., caught two keeper flounder to 22 inches in Jenkins Channel on minnows, outgoing tide.
From the Grassy Sound Fishing Pier, Brian McHenry, Honey Brook, Pa. caught a 25 inch, 5 pound flounder caught on bunker, incoming tide while Santiago Dianna, Philadelphia, showed off a nice sheepshead caught at low tide on clam.
Fishing remains very good for Captain Ray’s fly fishing charters. For the weakfish the fly seems to be the most productive and consistently seems to catch the larger ones. Chartreuse/white clouser flies still continue to produce and are catching larger fish than spinning gear. Ray believes the way a fly ghosts along is more appealing to the weakfish than other artificials. You will still have to work hard and put in time with some outings tougher than others. Luckily there have been enough sea herring, blues, and small stripers around to provide action while waiting to catch a few weakfish.
One night Ray witnessed a pod of weakfish spawning near the surface. A mass would come up around the boat for about 5 or 10 seconds, and then go down out of sight. Sometimes when they are actively spawning they can be real tough to catch on artificial presentations. This bite didn’t turn on till after dark. With the weakfish stock still down, they are releasing almost all the fish caught and kept one nice weakie that had some gill damage and would not have survived.
Another night in the back bay Ray and friends were lucky to find a 100 yard area where a pod of stripers was working some adult size spearing. They had it pushed up against a sod bank and you could see them swirling and chasing the baitfish. Ray says he has not seen that kind of surface action in a long time; memories of the good old days when stripers were plentiful and that was a every night occurrence. The charter that night was freshwater fly fisherman from Arizona, who had never saltwater fly fished and had a super night catching 15 stripers. He couldn’t believe the fight and the way they were attacking the baitfish. Way to show off Cape May County, Ray.
NEWS: Casting for Recovery is inviting you to join their [no cost] weekend retreat for breast cancer survivors. Relax, heal, and find new strength in a beautiful environment and learn to FLY FISH all in Sea Isle City, Sept. 26, 27, and 28. Deadline is July 18. Email/ Fax/ or Mail application. www.castingforrecovery.org or Casting for Recovery, PO Box 1123, Manchester, VT 05254, 888-553-3500. E-mail: info@castingforrecovery.org Questions; Jackie Bradley, South Jersey Program Coordinator at rabradley50@hotmail.com 609-861-3761
Inquire about Volunteer and Donation opportunities as well.
Safe boating classes are taught by Flotilla 86 of Lower Township. July 12 and Aug.9 in Price Hall at Academy & Seashore Roads, Cold Spring. This class fulfills the state requirement for operating a vessel 12 ft. and over and for a person age 16 and over. The cost is $45, call 609-889-7160 to reserve a spot.
Project P.O.R.T.S. , Promoting Oyster Restoration Through Schools, is an education and community-based oyster restoration program that helps revitalize Delaware Bay oyster populations and the important fish habitat their reefs provide. Students throughout South Jersey make shell-filled mesh bags as part of Project PORTS and then the bags serve as a settlement surface for young oysters (spat) when the bay’s oyster population spawns this summer. Your help is needed deploying the shell bags into the bay, June 21, 9 AM, Marine Police dock, 2669 Ogden Ave, Port Norris. Load 10-lb shell bags onto barge. Shane Godshall at 856-825-2174 or shane@littoralsociety.org or Lisa Calvo at 609-440-4560 or calvo@hsrl.rutgers.edu
Sterling Harbor’s 21st Annual Duke of Fluke Tournament, July 12, 729-1425 or e-mail sterling harbor@comcast.net
The Fishing Line runs year round so keep sending your reports and pictures to cmiller@cmcherald.com. Column and pictures are posted online at www.capemaycountyherald.com and on Facebook. Pictures that do not show up in the print version are online. Check out epektales.com for Miller’s children’s book “Counting the Fish in the Sea: The Story of the NEAMAP Trawls.”

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