The fifth turn of the calendar page is prime time for the Garden State’s inshore and back bay/tidal river fishing fraternity, and the first round of a grand double shot goes off Saturday with the opening of the fluke (summer flounder) season.

This will be followed by the May 17 second round when the first segment of the black sea bass season commences.

While both are beyond popular with the aforementioned angling groups, it’s the flatfish that gets the nod when it comes to availability as it can be caught from the banks, jetties, and beaches sans the need for a boat. Granted, as the summer progresses, more and bigger legal length fluke are caught aboard a float of some kind; however, that one can still catch dinner from a jetty rock, sod bank, bulkhead, and/or surf puts it ahead of the sea bass in least from this corner.

Tom P.

And don’t be surprised at some of the sizes of the flatties caught in the back, particularly during the early going. Fish to four pounds are not uncommon, with plenty in excess of five pounds, and heftier, brought to net.

Early season flatties have, and continue flooding into the bays, tidal rivers, and ICW, and furnish exceptional light tackle opportunities into June. That's the Berkley Gulp! Selection, either in a jig head, bucktail, or on a teaser hook accounts for huge catches is a given. In the early going, it’s the three and four-inch Shrimp, the three and four-inch Swimming Mullet, the four-inch Grub, and the Peeler Crab that are eagerly, well, gulped by hungry flounder.

gulp bait
Tom P.

Favorite “meat” baits include live killies (minnows), the killie/squid strip combo, a strip or mackerel, and squid/spearing.

The daily limit is three fish at an 18-inch minimum in the ocean, bays, and rivers; in Delaware Bay, it’s a trio at a 17-inch minimum; in the surf along Island Beach State Park, it’s two at a 16-inch minimum.

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