by Frank Ruczynski
Can you believe it's June already? The nearby beaches are filling up fast, the kids will be out of school in a few days, and the official start of the summer season is only a little over a week away. The spring fishing season flew by, but it was one I'll remember for a while.
With the late start to the season and the long winter still fresh on my mind, I hit the water hard this spring. After two months of fishing almost daily, it caught up with me: I've been down for the last week with a head cold, which turned into a chest cold, which turned into bronchitis. I'm beginning to feel somewhat human again and I'm dying to get back on the water. I'd rather be sick for a week in the offseason than a day in the spring.
Before I came down with the cold, I bought a new Apple iMac. The new software and operating system definitely takes a little getting used to, but the upgrade should allow me to edit photos and video much more conveniently. Since I've been grounded, I decided to play with the movie software and put together a short teaser with some of my weakfish shots from this spring. It's a little dramatic and the legend stuff should be taken in jest, but I think it's amazing what ‘s available out there to us now. The potential possibilities have my head spinning.2014 Spring Weakfish
Ok, let's get back to fishing. I'll start with weakfish since that's where I spend most of my time. The spring run was one of the best I've experienced in a while. I tallied over 100 weakfish between 24 and 30 inches so far this season. Daytime action is beginning to slow down due to the higher water temps and summer-like boat traffic. Many of the inlet and bay-shore rock piles continue to surrender sizable weakfish, but expect the best action to take place around sunrise and sunset. I'll be fishing the back bays on the grave shift soon. Back Bay Beauty
Striped bass action has been good for some and a little slower for others. Cape May County anglers experienced a decent clam bite on the bay-shore beaches while a little further north in Atlantic City and Longport rock-hopping anglers are landing cows on clams, bunker, and plugs. I didn't spend much time chasing stripers this season, but a few of my South Jersey surfcaster buddies are scoring some beautiful linesiders. While it's always great to hear about big striped bass, numbers seem to be down a little from prior years. Enjoy the action while you can because those big girls will be heading north for cooler waters soon.
The 2014 Summer Flounder Season is off to a good start; despite my opening day flop. I fished behind Sea Isle in Ludlam Bay on opening day and it was a circus. I was hoping the Friday opening would keep the crowd down a little; I was wrong! A steady northwest wind, 100s of boats and narrow channels don't usually make for a great day. We ended up with a couple of throwbacks and a lesson learned: don't fish on opening day again. With the new 18-inch size limit, I suspected keeper-sized fluke would be tough to come by, but a remarkable amount of flatties over 20 inches have been reported so far this season. The best action seems to be reported by anglers using bucktails tipped with Berkley Gulp baits or minnows, if you can find them. Backwater temperatures have been good, but expect most of the keeper-sized flatfish to make their way towards the inlets over the next few weeks. Another Throwback
The bluefish bite has been dependable so far this season, especially up in the Barnegat Bay. Recent trips have been lots of fun as the top-water action has been insane with two fish taking one plug multiple times. I used to hate bluefish, but I've found a new appreciation for them over the last few years. In my mind, they used to get in the way as I was jigging or plugging for what I considered to be much more desirable species such as striped bass and weakfish. I think their aptitude for chomping my soft plastics right behind the hook probably had something to do with my dislike for bluefish, too. Top-Water FunTwo at a Time
The oceanfront beaches from LBI northward are offering some incredible bluefish action. Slammer bluefish can't pass up a fresh chunk of bunker, but they're taking plugs and metals, too. For some reason, we rarely see the same kind of bluefish bite south of Brigantine. If you don't fish north of LBI at least once in a while, you're really missing out. Slammers in the Surf
Freshwater fishing opportunities shouldn't be overlooked. Once those big bass come off their spawning beds they're going to be hungry. I've been hitting the local waterways with my little fishing buddy, Jake. We've done a little bit of everything from casting poppers for chain pickerel and largemouth bass to bait fishing for bowfin and snapper turtles. We're exploring some new waters and finding some great things. I'll share some of our new experiences in the next week's report. Look at Those Teeth!