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Posted By Jim Hutchinson, Jr., July 27, 2020
Six-year-old Cameron Capuano shows off the king mackerel he caught at Barnegat Ridge with his father Chris and Grandfather John over the weekend. At risk of turning a traffic jam into a parking log, nearshore lumps and ridges (like Barnegat) were pretty hot with action over the weekend.

“Slaughter on the water,” and “Murder on The Ridge,” the words used to describe the “torrid in-close bluefin tuna bite” in this week’s reports for The Fisherman Magazine appearing in full in the August edition for NJ/DE Bay.

Those quotations come from our offshore reporter, Tom P., a man who’s never at a loss for words (as listeners to his weekly Rack ‘n Fin Radio program in South Jersey can attest). In his reports for the August edition of The Fisherman this week, Tom said the bite turned on for southern species along the mid-range grounds, “particularly at the Barnegat Ridge, causing flotillas of every size vessel, “from brazen 18-footers to 44-foot and bigger sportfisherman to descend on the inshore zones.” Crowded perhaps, but action is a cause for celebration.

Yes, the mid-range and offshore bite heading into the final weekend of July was pretty darn good, though the early forecast from NOAA Weather on Sunday afternoon at 4:31 p.m. indicates there may be a few swells to deal with to start the week, 3- to 5-footers turning in to 4- to 6-footers on Monday night into Tuesday. Southwesterlies to 20 knots and 3- to 5-foot seas continue into Thursday, but conditions for the weekend might be ripe for hitting the midrange lumps and ridges for a better variety of fish. And of course, yellowfin and bigeye (wahoo, marlin, swordfish, etc) from the Hudson to the Baltimore.

In addition to the Spanish mackerel in close (surfcasting close in many cases), a few good-sized king mackerel are in the mix, as are bonito and cobia. Meanwhile, bluefin tuna are only a dozen or so miles outside of many Jersey Shore inlets. Moving north to south along the Jersey Shore, it’s hard to discount the porgy bite in Monmouth County; for the most part, it’s been one of the hottest inshore bites going.

“Porgy fishing continues to be excellent in the bay and ocean, and ling fishing continues to be red hot in the deeper water at 17 Fathoms and the Mud Buoy,” said North Jersey field editor JB Kasper this week, adding “Increasing numbers of triggerfish are bending rods, and the big rays have started to show up in the shallows in the bay.” For those looking to head a little deeper, JB said bluefin catches early last week were had only 15 to 20 miles out, with yellowfin just a few miles farther.

“July is almost over, but the fishing definitely isn’t,” said Central Jersey field editor Ashley Viola in compiling reports for our August edition, noting that as we move further into the summer and waters warm a touch more, action along the inshore grounds gets a bit more diverse. “Off the surf anglers can catch blues, Spanish mackerel, fluke, kingfish, weakfish, rays, and sharks. In the bay, blowfish are starting to show up,” Ashley reported, noting that fluke can still be caught in back though best action with bigger fish has moved east. “Out at the wrecks and reefs, these bigger fluke can be landed as well as sea bass and ling,” she added.

“Flounder continue to be the number one target of anglers all along the South Jersey coast,” said South Jersey field editor Anthony Califano this week, noting that from front to back, the flatties have everyone’s attention in Atlantic and Cape May county; well, almost. “Anglers are also running into cobia and mahi around the buoys and pots,” Anthony said, adding “Inshore is seeing an influx of Southern visitors as well, including sheepshead and Spanish mackerel.” If you’re looking for keeper fluke, look towards the inlets as well as the wrecks and reefs. To spice the catch, try trolling Clarkspoons along the nearshore lumps and reef sites for a shot at Spanish and bonito. King mackerel are also showing nearshore, a few good size ones to boot; and keep an eye out for those big, brown torpedo-looking cobia.

Want a shot at a keeper-size (40 inches) cobia? Have a livie ready to deploy (eel, bunker, snapper), a bucktail armed and ready, or a Bomber/SP Minnow. If you’re first out of the inlet this week, you should seriously consider taking a shot at those sea buoys first before heading to the snags for doormats.

Summer doldrums? Hardly; adapt, overcome & improvise!

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