LONG BEACH ISLAND AREA - As I write this report, it is hard to ignore the fact that we are in the midst of a great Fourth of July weekend at the Southern Ocean County shore. The weather is great, there are giant crowds on the beaches and waters, and the anglers are boasting of their catches. Let’s take a look at some of these catches.

The weekly Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association shows a wide variety of fish around. The head boat “Miss Beach Haven” with Captains Frank Camarda and Bob Yates are finding the fluke fishing steadily improving with keeper fluke becoming common. A look at a recent day’s catch shows keepers to 4.2-pounds along with tons of dogfish, black sea bass, sea robins, and a few weakfish. The big excitement was a 20-pound class cownose ray. On another trip, a 5.25-pound fluke ruled the roost. The “Miss Beach Haven” offers both bay and ocean trips.

Black sea bass are now legal once again to catch and Captain John Lewis on the “Insatiable” reports a mix of fluke, sea bass and blowfish. The fish are moving around, and he works several spots to find the fish. Captain Carl Sheppard had the Horowitz family out recently on the “Star Fish” and the group caught over 30 fish. Included in the mix were many nice sized black sea bass.

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In the Barnegat Light area Captain Alex Majewski of “Lighthouse Sportfishing” reports the fluking in the bay has been improving. However, the strong northwest wind means he must use power drifting for success. Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Reaction” fishing has been finding loads of action drifting for fluke in the Barnegat Inlet waters and channels leading to it. Despite winds that are often fighting the tides, he has been using his trolling motor with great success to find the fish.

Captain Steve Purul of “Reel Fantasea” Sportfishing has been putting his anglers on excellent fishing with light tackle on a mix of stripers, blues, fluke, Spanish Mackerel and Atlantic bonito. Some of his neatest fishing has been sight casting to fish breaking the surface. Most of his striper catches are shorts, but a few have been large enough to keep along with bluefish ranging from 1-6-pounds.

Captain Jimmy Zavacky had the “Reel Determined” 80 miles out looking for tuna recently. They found the fish to be plentiful and feisty. They ended the trolling trip with a bigeye tuna weighing 100-pounds and six nice yellowfin tuna ranging in weight from 30-60 pounds. He was fishing green squid spreaders, plugs, ballyhoo, a bomber and daisy chains.

Andy Tonnesen at Tony’s Bait and Tackle in Manahawkin tells me there is an excellent tuna bite in the canyons while inshore you can run into bluefin and little tunny. Just outside Barnegat Inlet he adds that small bluefish, Spanish mackerel and bonito are being caught trolling #0 and #00 Clark spoons. Andy adds the bay crabbing is very good also, which I personally can attest to.

Captain Dave DeGennaro has been finding big game fish with a recent trip producing yellowfin tuna, mahi, bluefin tuna, and big bonito. He was fishing the “mid-range” tuna grounds.

In other action Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom says that there are lots of blowfish in the bay. They recommend small hooks with a weight on bottom baited up with clam or squid. Chumming helps attract and gets the puffers active. This is a great family fishery. They are also touting the surf fishing action for kingfish and fluke. Fresh bloodworms are the top bait right now. They say there are tons of shorts with keeper-sized fish in the mix in the surf.

Fish Heads adds the surf shark fishery has been top notch. This is usually a night fishery, but there have been some notable daylight catches. The remind everyone to know the laws. “These sharks (sandbar aka brown sharks and sand tiger sharks) are prohibited to be possessed. They must not be landed and must be released in the wash.”

Comments, questions, and fishing reports are welcome at jamesghutch1@aol.com