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Come visit after the Atlantic City Boat Show when stripers, fluke, weakfish and more feed in the fertile waters.
By Capt. Scott Newhall
Image courtesy of Google Earth.
Absecon Bay is a wide open expanse of water that lies about four miles behind Absecon Inlet. It contains vast flats that contain grooves and holes intermittently located amongst the skinny depths. On a blow-out low tide, many of the flats are completely exposed, while other areas only retain several feet of depth. Sod banks buffet the contours of Absecon Bay and some of these meadow edges contain drop-offs substantial enough to provide excellent fish-holding habitat. The most fished zone is the channel. The waterway leads right through a narrow passage referred to as “The Stakes” and into Absecon Creek.

On years when striped bass enter the back bays, the sod edges provide habitat for plug anglers to toss their wares to dusk and dawn bass in the summer and anytime bass when the water is cold. Spots and eels drug along the sod or an anchored boat chunking clam works in well in these areas in April, May or November. Even fresh bunker chunks draw stripers deep in the back bay when the fish truly invade the inside waters and the right elements exist. Sometimes seaweed and hungry crabs can make dead bait chunking difficult. Poling the flats in Absecon Bay is an option available for those who love Florida-style stalking for stripers. Once in a while a boat can be observed trying to sight-cast fish, but it’s an underutilized method.

With the weakfish rebound currently underway, trout have become a target once again in Absecon Bay. Most fish are a couple pounds; however, fish from five to eight pounds were caught in 2013.

Bluefish run rampant all over Absecon Bay while spots, kingfish, croakers and juvenile sea bass also make a showing. An August or September boat at anchor often means the anglers onboard are pursuing a mixed bag of these little guys plus weakfish and some fluke. A chum bag can help get the small stuff behind the boat, but isn’t totally necessary. Blood worms and grass shrimp seem to get the action heated on the frying pan fish.

The most pursued fish in Absecon Bay is the summer flounder. Plenty of throwback and keepers invade the waters along with a healthy stock of four to seven pound fluke. Every so often a double-digit slab is reported from the area and sets the bar for the early season fishery. Limits are not uncommon and the fish bite into July and August.

Since depths aren’t deep and don’t run much more than 13 feet, unless you head toward the ocean through the cans in Absecon Channel, this is the perfect place for light tackle. Fishermen employ ultra-light rods with 10- to 20-pound braid. Minnows are the other top bait for fluke and Capt. Dave at Absecon Bay Sportsman carries them by the thousands for his customers. Later in the summer, peanut bunker and mullet will make showing along the western sods of Absecon Bay and can even be seen flipping in the stakes for those ready to throw a cast net.

Speaking of The Stakes, some anglers choose to fish inside this narrow groove the cuts the bay, but it’s important to understand that it is a very tight waterway that all the boats run when coming out of the Absecon marinas and Faunce Landing Boat ramp. If a boat underway is going toward a fishing vessel actively angling in the stakes, the fishing boat should bump their motor and stay to the side of The Stakes. When the tide is low, larger boats may not be able to come off plane without risking running aground. In this situation, anglers should understand they might get waked. Some segments of the stakes are filling in and getting considerably.

Crabbing is another tremendous option in Absecon Bay. Blue Claw traps are dropped by the hundreds by the commercial men, but recreational guys set out their pots also. It’s a popular and productive place to catch some crab.

Kayaks, aluminum boats and larger fiberglass boats all can find their niche in Absecon Bay this year when the water temps rise and fishing commences once again.