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Fishing Friday: Rays in the Surf, Fluke Back on the Bite

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Cownose Ray (Photo: Aquarium of the Pacific)

Cownose Ray (Photo: Aquarium of the Pacific)

There’s been one similar phrase of advice to anglers fishing the surf over the past week: watch those poles.

Rays and skates have invaded the Shore area as warmer water brought the species northward into local waters. There are been numerous species of rays, as well as the more common skates, being caught up and down the New Jersey coast. Those species are notoriously difficult to reel in, almost feeling like dead weight at the end of one’s fishing rod. Skates are also armed with spines that can cause a painful cut and some species of rays have the capability of stinging. Mostly, cownose rays have been hooked in local waters. For more on handling rays and skates safely, here are some tips.

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While it’s nice to see some new life in the ocean, most anglers are ultimately on the hunt for something to eat. The good news is that the fluke bite has been reinvigorated over the past several days, with anglers catching the popular species both in the surf and from boats.

The most positive reports have come from the Barnegat Inlet area as well as the Manasquan River. Both seemed more reliable than the ocean, though there has been a good amount of eel grass making things messy in the bay and Barnegat inlet areas over the past couple weeks, given the high temperatures.

Fluke fishing in the ocean remained slower than normal, perhaps a testament to the amount of time it took for ocean waters to warm to more seasonable temperatures this year.

“With small baits in the wash, small blues and fluke seem to be interested at times,” a report from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said. “If you’re looking for a good bend in your rod this time of the year, night time sharking is your only choice. The night tides are also bring large cow nose rays into the feeding zone.”

Snapper blues swam the Toms River as well as the northern mouth of the Point Pleasant Canal, providing fun for anglers in boats who stumbled upon them. Crabbing was decent, most report said, especially south of the Route 37 bridges.

Sharking at night continues to be hot, and tackle shops are urging customers to aware of regulations on sand tiger sharks, which have been caught by many over the past week. Sand tigers are a protected species and must be released immediately.

“It′s illegal to take, possess, or land sand tigers and sandbar sharks,” Ray from Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park said.

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