LONG BEACH ISLAND REGION - Labor Day is now in the books, and the kids are back at school. That has traditionally been the official end of the tourist season in southern Ocean County. It certainly does not mean the end of the fishing season, however.

As I write this today, Wednesday, our thoughts are with those unfortunate folks in the Bahamas who suffered so much from Hurricane Dorian, and keep our fingers crossed for our southeastern states. At this point, it looks like we will be avoiding the worst of the storm and merely get some strong winds and moderately high tides.

Let’s take a look at what type of fishing we can expect in our area waters once things calm down. Although some fluke remain in the bay waters, the bulk of the population has made the move to the ocean waters. This usually means that boats fishing the inshore structures and artificial reefs will be enjoying some of their best fishing of the year until the season closes at the end of September.

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Captain John Lewis has been fishing the “Insatiable” on a steady basis recently even through some rough seas with some intrepid anglers aboard. The Marquis family with nine-year old Ashton and 12-year old Aliza bagged 10 fluke with two keepers and four nice keeper sea bass. On another trip the Hoven party of two boated 17 fluke despite the building wind and seas. Captain John says he is itching to get back out again now that the winds have dropped.

Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Reaction” sport fishing, who has been fishing the north end of Long Beach Island, had a couple of his charters cancel. He had Gino Arbasetti and Lou Marero on a 4-hour bay charter. With some good tidal conditions, they found fish and caught close to 25 fluke in rain-soaked conditions. Two fish made the cut to go in the box. All fish were caught on the S&S Bigeye bucktail.

The action on the surf scene continues to be respectable with showings of kingfish, fluke, small bluefish, and even occasional spurts of Spanish mackerel.

Our local bays are also ripe with fish. Many of these fish are small, but great fun on light tackle. In addition to the ever-present blowfish, there are weakfish, small stripers, black drum, triggerfish, and tog to be found if you know where to look. This is the time of the year when I like to anchor up with some clam chum and fish with top and bottom rigs baited with pieces of clam, squid, or worm. You never know what you might reel in next.

In addition, the fall will bring some of the best crabbing of the year. The crabs are big and getting ready for their winter hibernation in the mud. As the water cools, they will stock up on food, making them even meatier. They will tend to cluster together in the deeper water where it will be warmer closer to the bottom. This is a goodtime to stock up on some crab meat for the winter.

Heads up about the meeting next week of the Village Harbor Fishing Club on Friday, September13 at the Manahawkin Community Center on Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. The doors open at 7:30 with the meeting starting at 7:45. The guest speaker this month will be Mark Taylor who is president of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association.

I have a warm spot in my heart for this club as it is a group of folks who enjoy fishing and getting together to talk about it and learn new things. Guests are always welcome to show up and see what it is all about.

Anyone with questions or fishing reports is welcome to contact me at jamesghutch1@aol.com.