By: Steve George – Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Svc. LLC
As the “Dog Days” of August fall upon us here along the shores of Long Beach Island New Jersey it’s a period of change. It is especially evident with Fluke Fishing (Summer Flounder) which is the main target species for most summertime surfcasters. As an angler looking for success catching and maybe a great dinner for family and friends, one needs to look for the signs and plan accordingly with tackle and gear.
Look Deeper When The Water Is Warm
This is the time of the year with the hottest weather for New Jersey. That means the water temperatures rise to a steady level high. We all look to cool off and so do the fluke! If you have felt the heat along the surf line and possibly lost the consistent bite or bigger fish it’s time to move.
The fish move into the cooler waters and that means deeper water. The main bodies of these schooled up fish will start staying out and away from most of our local beaches and that’s why boat anglers start to see an increase in action in the ocean.
But as a land based fishermen that doesn’t mean our season is over and in fact it sometimes it gets even better. Now is when I shift attention to the Barnegat Bay and Barnegat Inlet. The deeper holes and channels have water temperatures sometime 10 degrees cooler. This is where I find fluke holding for the rest of the season. At times better fish and active ones.
Last Season Fluke Fishing Gear
So you now know where to look. But it is also time to change up some of your tackle and gear! For the most part we use lighter 7’ and 8’ spinning rods and small spinning reels in the 2000-4000 size.
Along with it goes much lighter weight tackle; lead sinkers, bucktails, leader and line. However, you want to beef up some if planning on fishing along the rock jetty at Barnegat Inlet. There I would suggest a longer 9’ rod and a 4000-5000 spinning reel. You’ll need to be able to cast and fish weights up to 3oz. Here the fast moving current demand it. You’ll need to slow down your baits at times with heavier weights and be able to lift/swing fish up and over the jetty rocks to land them. Having a more moderate and higher rated fishing rod will allow you to do this with success. Smaller lighter rods run the risk of breaking.
Having a large landing net is a great option. Also for your personal safety on the jetty I recommend a good pair of Korkers Cleated Sandals!
Late Season Locations
Aside from the Inlet, another favorite place of mine to fish this time of year is along the banks of the bay. It is very similar to fishing the front surf line. In some occasions you will need just a bit more casting distance to reach the deeper channels where the fish are laying waiting for you. I try to hit these locations early in the morning before the boat traffic gets too hectic and also after sunset and into the night.
Some of my biggest fluke were caught late at night. Snapper bluefish and spike weakfish prey on baitfish around bridges and dock. Sometimes large fluke show up and feed.
Essentail Terminal Changes
Another change I make is to increase the size of hooks and bait. I go with a minimum of 5/0 hooks, up to size 7/0. They match up great on my go to baits, the 5-6” Berkley GULP! Grubs and Swimming Mullets. The fish like bigger baits at this point in the season and also it helps avoid gut hooked fish. We need to protect all throwbacks for the future of the stock.
As we head into the latter days of summer there’s a lot more fluke fishing still to go. Gear up right and target promising areas to make the most out of your trips. The Mullet Run is right around the corner and with it the back bay fluke exodus. Then we will have another chance to score on the beaches. Until then, there’s great opportunities to find and catch keeper fluke on the inside.
Good Luck and Stay Safe,
~ Steve George – Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC
Looking to book a guided land based fishing trip on Long Beach Island? Give Steve a call at 609-276-6983