After my last report we once again managed to get in another five days in a row before our next little break during the beginning of just this week. It seems like we have been stuck on a five trip a week schedule with the weather that we have had recently but for three days in a row last week the Ocean looked more like a mill pond than anything else giving us a few of the nicest days on the water at this time of the year that you could ever ask for. We even had a few fish biting for a bonus!
With the weather the way it was and with a few nice Flounder still around, I took advantage of the conditions we were given on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and we did some drifting and dreaming and even a little catching of some true quality Flounder along with some decent Sea Bass and a few Snapper Blues in the mix. While the fishing never really got fast and furious and at times was even painfully slow, we were rewarded with some of the nicest Fluke that we have seen all year. We didn't have the numbers of throwbacks we had been accustomed to earlier in the summer but the average size of the fish seemed to make up for the lack of action at times and definitely kept everyone tuned in at the rail.
Rarely will you see the Ocean as flat as it was for those three days late last week, if anything it was actually too still at times with drift speeds far less than what you would want for the ideal Flounder drift, however with the number of flatties we were able to land and keep, evidently those conditions were good enough! We landed nearly a hundred nice keeper Fluke in the four days that we were able to fish for them which ended up being our best week for keeper Fluke landings since late in August. With the slow drift that we encountered we also saw the highest landing of Skates that we have seen all year. These pesky bottom dwellers became a real problem for us on a few of the drifts that we made pouncing on nearly any bait that hit the bottom. There is nothing like pulling up a circling Skate out of 80 plus feet of crystal clear water when you know there are nice fish being taken all around you. While the Skates were certainly not welcome, they did manage to fill in the gaps of some otherwise very slow drifts with at least some sort of action even if it was the wrong type.
We knew that with the Ocean having been slick flat calm for so long that we would certainly have to pay for it at some point in time but we didn't exactly know that Saturday would be that day. The forecast wasn't really all that bad; North to Northwest winds blowing 10 to 15 with gusts up to twenty didn't really sound all that bad especially knowing that the wind and tide would be together for the better part of the day. We knew however by the time we left the docks Saturday morning that this forecast was about to be blown out the window along with anything else that wasn't secured. It was blowing a solid 25 when we took the ropes off Saturday morning and it seemed all too clear that drifting was no longer going to be an option for this trip. Offshore we went in search of some heavy structure to anchor over and hopefully some Sea Bass. When we got to the grounds it was very fresh, winds were still blowing every bit of 15 to 20 and there were some higher gusts. Waves were manageable but there was still a little flood tide left over and some of the swells were a little steep. Once the anchor was stuck in the bottom it was only a matter of a few seconds before we had the first few fish in the boat and I knew then that we had a chance. We saw a nice variety catch of fish on Saturday with a nice steady pick, and while some folks definitely made out much better than others, by the end of the day I would have to call it a pretty successful trip. Top hooks were well into double digits with keeper Sea Bass and we had a nice smattering around the boat with Flounder and a few Blues and even a Triggerfish. Bites were plentiful at times with tons of short Sea Bass biting along with an ample amount of nice keeper fish.
Sunday the Ocean looked just like we had left it during the latter part in the week, slicky flat. With these optimum conditions back to drift we went and once again we were rewarded with some slow but very decent Flounder fishing. Along with the nice Flatties we also had a mix of Sea Bass, some Blues and of course more of those pesky Skates to keep your arms and shoulders in shape. Our drift was painfully slow especially early on but the fish did add up somewhat by the end of the day and once again we saw some very nice flat fish in the 3 to 5 pound class on the average come in over the rail.
In my book we have had five pretty decent days in a row of fishing and other than Saturday with all the wind driven waves, the Ocean couldn't have been much friendlier to us. We saw no fewer than a dozen different species of fish come over the rail throughout the week and fish suppers for just about everyone onboard was common. We saw several more limits of Flounder taken this past week at a time when most of the specialists think they have moved on and we also saw some of the best Sea Bass fishing that we have seen since the early run this past spring. Freezer packing fishing?? not hardly, but not too shabby either as far as I'm concerned, and I think we have a good chance to see even better especially with the Sea Bass in the upcoming weeks.
Even though we have seen some decent Fluke fishing the last couple weeks, I feel as though we have been dodging a bullet with our continued success. There is no doubt that some of these fish are making the trek to their offshore winter spawning grounds and many of the fish I have cleaned are starting to fill up with roe and have one fin out the door. Our days on concentrating our fishing efforts with just Flounder are certainly numbered, it's difficult at this time of the year just to get the conditions to even try anyway. There are some more Flounder starting to move around up in the Delaware Bay now, in fact some of the boats way up on the flats encountered some of their best action with the flatties of the season during just these past couple of weeks. I do think we will continue to see more Flounder where we will be fishing however from here on out I suspect that the majority of our time, unless we have a very light crowd or perfect conditions, we will be primarily anchor fishing for Sea Bass. This is getting to be that time of the year and with what I saw just this past Saturday I'm pretty sure that this is going to be our bet for catching fish in these days and certainly the weeks ahead.
While we were enjoying the flat Ocean on Sunday Capt. H.D. was also enjoying some favorable conditions however he was about eighty miles away from us and he was fishing in a little bit deeper water. About six or seven hundred feet deeper in fact and the fish were biting down in the abyss! It's been a while since Capt. Has been able to get back to the Golden Tile grounds but the fish Gods were smiling on him this past weekend and they were once again able to see huge success with both the Goldens and the Blue Line Tilefish. Most anglers had more than their fill with these deep water brutes and according to a few accounts these fish bit from the very first drop of the lines in the morning before the sun peeked over the horizon until the very last drop of the day. Capt. Alicen was at the docks when they got back in and was able to get a few pictures of their success.
Fall has always been just about my favorite time of the year to fish and according to the calendar the fall season is just about upon us. This is the time of the year that you hardly know what to expect from one day to the next with what you might catch no matter where you are fishing. This is the variety catch time of the year and the outlook is good for just that. I do have to say that with the All-Day trips from here on out expect more and more wreck fishing and the majority of our efforts will be for the Sea Bass. I do expect to continue seeing a few Flounder, Blues Triggers and from time to time some Trout and Croakers but our drifting days are about to end. I will continue to run seven days a week and we depart the docks at 7:00 a.m. We usually get back to the docks sometime after 4:00.
If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you would like to book a private charter or reserve space on an upcoming special trip please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV