LONG BEACH ISLAND REGION - It is Friday, May 22, and there are a couple of hot items to talk about. First, today is the opening day of the summer flounder season in New Jersey. This season is always eagerly awaited as fluke are accessible to most people, and they are a great eating fish.

This early in the season the water temperature is still a bit cold. The last reading that I heard was just below 55-degrees in the bay water. Because of this, the water in the bay becomes a bit warmer on the outgoing tide as it goes from high to low. If possible, fish this tide.

Also, this is the time of the year for gnats. If you are going fishing right now, and especially if there is not much wind, be sure to take plenty of bug spray.

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I received two early reports. Captain Fran Verdi of the “Francesca Marie” out of Cedar Run reported that he hooked up with a couple of nice fish. My son Jim Jr. was fishing around Tuckerton and picked up a pair of 18-inch flatties, just legal size.

Fisherman’s Bait and Tackle reports the Long Beach Island surf is producing the occasional striped bass and small bluefish. Blowfish, kingfish, and dogfish are also in the suds to add some variety. They are keeping their fingers crossed that last week’s strong winds will have striped bass and big bluefish in close to shore looking for food in the white water. They are recommending that surf fishermen try using fresh bunker chunks for the best chance for larger stripers. Tonight, May 22, is the new moon, and that should help to get things going.

In a report from the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association, I learned that some of the captains made trips recently with positive results. Captain Nick Perello made a trip offshore looking for tilefish. Captain Nick reports they “did very well” and returned with a full fish box of golden tile. Topping the day was a 47-pound beauty.

Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Reaction” Sportfishing made a couple of wreck trips last week with family members and loaded up on some beautiful black sea bass along with one nice pollack.

Also, today, Governor Phil Murphy announced that party boats such as the “Miss Barnegat Light” and the “Carolyn Ann III” out of Barnegat Light will now be able to carry up to 25 passengers. There is a strict protocol which calls for social distancing and regular cleaning of materials and surfaces. The captains of the BHCFA have been preparing for this and have set up their procedures. In most instances, these procedures go beyond the state requirements.

Murphy had previously opened up the boats with a maximum of10 anglers aboard. This was done at the same time when he opened up the state to for-hire fishing trips and boat rentals.

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