Labor Day weekend is just around the corner and we are already starting to see some major changes winding down our summer season. The kids are now going back to school and the summer crowds we experienced for a few weeks have seemed to dwindle this past week. Fish now are most definitely on the move with the passing of the last full moon and the shorter daylight hours. Croakers are bunching up in places they haven't been, Baitfish is everywhere you look and the Flounders are fattening up and now seem to have started making their push out into a little deeper water from the back bays sounds and inshore sites.
We have hands down had one of our best weeks for catching Flounders just this past week since my last report however we are starting to see some signs that these fish are starting their migration pattern where they begin to move offshore. There are good bottom areas in sixty plus feet of water which just a few days ago seemed to be holding and endless supply of Flounder that now all we can catch on those particular grounds is a few throwbacks and we have found that the Croakers are now piled up just about everywhere we go on the inshore areas of the "old grounds." For the first time in several weeks I am finding myself with an uncertain plan when I leave the docks in the morning as to where we just might end up fishing on that particular day given the conditions that we have, it's not quite as easy as it seemed a few weeks ago with fish being available in so many different depths. There are still a lot of Flounders around but they just don't seem to be bunched up everywhere the way they are sometimes given this stage of the game, and they are most certainly moving around. We have found ourselves farther away from home at times and putting in some very long days finding fish and making them add up for us by the end of the day. The end results however so far have still been good and we continue to see quality fish and limit catches daily. The bulk of the fish right now are actually right where we would anticipate them to be this time of year. I'm just not going to hold my breath as to how long this good Flounder fishing is going to continue because they are not everywhere. I do expect to continue catching Flounder for several more weeks but the back to back to back days with forty or fifty plus keeper Flounders will undoubtedly be giving way to more of a variety catch with Flounder, Sea Bass, Snapper Blues and possibly even some Croakers on some trips within the next few weeks I would have to say. It is after all getting to be that time of the year where variety catch is more normal and even though we may not see the huge numbers with the Flounder on every trip it is still one of the best times of the year to fish and catch fish!
Since my last report we had some pretty easy days where the fish bit well in fairly shallow water with a minimal amount of rig loss. There was one day where even I had a chance to fish a little and landed a limit of nice fish myself so you know they must have been pretty thick! By Saturday however the winds kicked up out of the east and northeast and holding bottom became a chore with the tough current and the wind drift. Our numbers were way down from what we had been seeing all week but with the conditions we had it really didn't surprise me that much. On Sunday we had more of the same with the winds and the waves however by the end of the day the Ocean had flattened out real nice. Despite some real pretty fish the numbers still didn't add up for us though like they had been or what I had hoped they would with the quality of fishermen we had on Sunday and the condition of the ocean by the time we left for home.
Monday and Tuesday we were back hard at the grind and not only were the conditions in our favor but the fish bit well also. We were right back to normal with our average keeper landing and we even threw in a few bonus Sea Bass on a couple of drifts for good measure. Today 9/28 has been another decent day with the fish but we experienced one of our poorest keeper ratios we have seen so far this year. This was one of the better action days I have seen, at times we would literally have six or seven or even more anglers hooked up at a time with only 20 anglers at the rail. While the bulk of these fish went back measuring only 15 to 16 or so inches it made for a very action filled and interesting day and there were still plenty of keepers to go around along with a few more limits and some real nice fish spread around the rail. Many anglers told me that they had caught over a couple of dozen fish easily on this trip. Hopefully this type of action will continue for us for a couple more weeks at least as these fish continue to fatten up and stage for the offshore move. As long as there are no major storms we should be in good shape with the Flounders for a while longer and we can take advantage of them while they are still around while we can.
Water temperatures are actually pretty steady even with a few of the cooler nights we have had. For the most part our surface temperatures on the fishing grounds in the ocean have been in the low to mid seventies. The water clarity continues to fluctuate with the winds and the currents, I can't really say we are seeing crystal clear water the way we should but there are times we can see our fish twenty or thirty feet down as we bring them up and times when the water is very murky. The bottom temperatures are all over the place, one day the fish feel like they have been sunning all day and the next day they feel as though they just came out of a cooler. It never seizes to amaze me the changes that you see when you are out on the water every day, some very subtle and some that just smack you in the face and make you say wow.
As this summer season changes there will undoubtedly be changes in our fishing program as well. I look to continue drifting with my All-Day trips for the Flounder as long as we can continue to see the good numbers we have enjoyed all summer. It is just a matter of time though however before we will start to see the numbers of flatties start to decline and we will have to concentrate on the variety catch with the Sea Bass and the other species in the mix. I really don't expect to be anchoring over structure for a while though as these fish are spread over miles of bottom and when the drift and the conditions are right I can prove it. Generally it is mid September at the earliest before we begin to think about anchoring over the wrecks unless drifting just is not an option due to wind.
Full-Day trips will continue to sail seven days a week departing the docks at 7:00 a.m. and we will have Half-Day trips running daily also until after Labor Day when the Half Day schedule will cut back to four days a week. There are also several more special trips on the schedule for the Tilefish and the Sea Bass in the upcoming weeks. If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you would like to reserve space on an upcoming special trip or book a charter please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA. Don't forget to check us out on facebook for further updates as well as some of our recent pictures from our trips.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV