A number of interesting species of fish have been caught or spotted in South Jersey waters recently. A couple of weeks back, a school of what was described as baby barracuda went splashing through Townsend Inlet. Since then, they have been seen or caught in back bays throughout the area.
Alex Sacchetti from Bayside Bait and Tackle in Brigantine said he was using Sabiki rigs for snapper bluefish in the cove on the south end of Brigantine and caught 50 small fish he later identified as baby blue runners, which he kept alive in a bait pen.
A sidelight to this is that he gave five to George Zeigenfuss of Brigantine, who used them as live bait to catch two sizeable keeper flounder in Absecon Inlet.
A saltwater garfish, or needlefish, was caught late last week by Charlie DeBow while flounder fishing at Cape May Reef. DeBow is the captain of the Sweeheart based in Cape May.
Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May that Jim Neville of Cape May caught a 4.78-pound pompano dolphin while fishing from the lobster boat "Coppa Setic." Pompano dolphin are described in McClane's Fishing Encyclopedia as a smaller relative of dolphin.
Robin Scott has seen or heard of several interesting species from the Margate back bays. She saw an amberjack that was caught on the Longport Jetty. And an angler caught and released a fish from the rocks in Longport that could have been a cobia based on his description. She has seen a northern barracuda and an alligator fish.
Other anglers who have reported back to Ray Scott's Dock in Margate have hooked sea horse and mantis shrimp. She has a pipefish in her "autopsy morgue" freezer. Pipefish look like reeds.
Gene Hawn of Port Republic said he caught a 5-pound tripletail while flounder fishing in the ocean. Tripletail often disguise themselves as a leaf floating on the water.
Plus, there have been several reports from people who could not identify the fish they have seen or caught.
Offshore, sailfish and swordfish recently joined the mix with tuna, wahoo, white and blue marlin and mahi.
These species of fish are not all unusual to these waters, but they are at least interesting. One of the reasons these fish are here could be the uniformly warm water in the upper 70s to 80 degrees.
Here's a counterpoint. Ed Collet, captain of the Miss Atlantic City charterboats, said codfish and ling were caught on recent trips. Those species are normally connected to colder water. And Scott said a partially-digested fish found in a flounder caught in the back bays of Margate was identified as a baby ling.