Inshore Summer Fluke Transition

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.

Summer flounder are ambush predators that feed aggressively making them a very fun fish to target.

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.

Big fluke are caught at night when fishing areas where small bait, snapper bluefish and spike weakfish prey are hanging.

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.

Here's the author, Steve George with a summer flounder caught off the rocks at the Barnegat Inlet near the Lighthouse.
Here’s the author, Steve George with a summer flounder caught off the rocks at the Barnegat Inlet near the Lighthouse.

Closing Remarks

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

Author: NightStrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC

My Name is Steve George (a.k.a.Nightstrikes) and even though I cut my teeth growing up along the banks of the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania fishing as a child I quickly realized my real passion for fishing when I moved to New Jersey. The saltwater got into my veins very quickly and even today after over 40 years of fishing the Surf, Back Bays & Inlets of NJ the passion is still there stronger than ever. I’ve had a very important mentor back then just starting out and I have always vowed to give back to the sport that was given to me from him and others over the years. My journey really got interesting the last 20yrs or so as I started writing/reporting along with helping others during the infant age of the internet and the birth of the fishing websites/message boards like the BassBarn and StripersOnline to name a couple making many great friends over this time and lead me to become a member and officer of the Berkeley Striper Club – Seaside Park NJ. Currently I have been writing a monthly column for On-The-Water Magazine called “From the Surf” for the last three fishing seasons and it has been a great experience sharing my adventures and providing some tips and techniques to my fellow fishermen. It’s time to take to the next level of giving back as I would like to offer a variety of guided surfcasting fishing trips and private lessons to surfcasters of all ages and skill levels during the entire fishing season. Trips will be customized to every aspect of surf fishing that I do starting in April and continuing into December. Day and Night Trips will be offered from Sandy Hook NJ to Cape May NJ. Early spring trips will target resident Striped Bass and the arrival of Big Bluefish invading our waters. These trips will include safe handling Catch & Release practices and tagging these young Striped Bass for research. Come May will mean searching and catching maybe the fish of a lifetime as we will hunt Big Post Spawn Striped Bass migrating up the coastline fishing with some of today’s most sought after custom fishing lures that these Big Bass can’t resist during their journey. If you don’t have the tackle and equipment to handle and land these fish it will be provided for you. Once summer rolls around its time to fish for Summer Flounder/Fluke along the beaches daily during the open season. Again if you don’t have the tackle and equipment to catch keeper fluke I will have you covered including my favorite baits and rigs along with access to the best locations I have found over the years. And finally “The Fall Run” which is a special time that starts off looking for False Albacore in September and then looking for the migration of Striped Bass and Bluefish Blitzing our beaches shortly after during October and November into December. Again what I really want to do here is to make you a better surfcaster going forward by teaching the techniques, how to read the water, understanding the tides and moon phases and strategies that you can use year after year. I hope you come along with me on this next journey of my life and maybe someday you can pass on what you have learned to the next generation of fishermen with a passion for Surfcasting the Jersey Shore. Contact me via Email _ to book your dates for the 2020 Fishing Season or Call 609-276-6983 Thank You, Steve George

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