Dick Crosta of Beach Haven was in Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven on Friday morning taking a break from fishing.

He might have been worn out from reeling fish after he hooked into six striped bass.

Crosta, a regular in the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic, said the surf and inshore waters off the south end of LBI are loaded with gannets diving over huge schools of bunker with striper and bluefish attacking them from underneath.

He said bunker were spread for miles on either side of where he was fishing and gannets were splashing into them all the way. He said he caught a striper about every half hour.

Crosta said it started Thursday. He said this is the best fishing of the season so far on Long Beach Island. And the word among the beach buggy fraternity was that bunker schools were thick from one end of Long Beach Island to the other.

O'Brien said Holgate was "lit up." Surfcasters were snagging bunker and rigging them up live to catch bass and blues when they invade the surf.

So it looks like it will continue with - hopefully - a nice weekend possible. For surfcasters, being there when that kind of beach biltz occurs is the bomb.

Basil Shehady at Barnegat Light Bait and Tackle said bunker were south of the inlet and sand eels north of the inlet, and bass and blues were going after them. He was just as excited about excellent tautog catches on the Barnegat Inlet jetty.

The hot striper action had not yet moved to Brigantine, although Andy Grossman weighed a 20-pound bass for Joe Jaskiewicz of Marlton on Friday morning at Riptide Bait and Tackle. Grossman also weighed a 10-pound bluefish caught Thursday by Tom Donnelly of Pequea, Pa.

Grossman said Bob Daley of Lindenwald took over second place in his Riptide Fall Striper Tournament with a 32-pound, 6-ounce fish caught Monday with bunker on the north end of Brigantine.

Absecon Inlet had a couple days of outstanding striped bass fishing.

Tuesday was excellent and Wednesday was moderate to good, according to Curt Rott at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.

It slowed up a little in the wind Thursday. Rott weighed a 24-pound bass Friday morning for Dennis Hood, who caught a 23-pounder earlier this week. Rott said captains and crews mainly are using live spot and some are trying eels.

Jimmy Miller of Brigantine and crew highlighted Tuesday's action in Absecon Inlet. According to a report from Bayside Marina in Brigantine, they had 18 keeper bass in a catch of 20 on the outgoing tide.

Great Egg Inlet has the same kind of super action, according to Rob Barrett at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point. He had a list of what he called "celebrities" to prove it.

Barrett took Bob Atack of Egg Harbor Township to the north bar of G.E. Inlet on Thursday night and got an 18-pound bass with bunker. Brian Cummings of EHT got a 16-pounder there.

B.J. Gray, who runs the Breakfast Shop at Smith's Clam Bar in Somers Point, caught a 20-pound bass at the south bar.

Barrett said Tom Adamson of Ocean City caught a 22.84 bass at Anchorage Point and Al Rock, also EHT, caught a 14-pound blue in Ship Channel, both inside GE Inlet.

Skippers fishing the south bar in Corson Inlet and outside Cuma Lumps have been doing really well on bass, too. That's the word from Fin-Atics in Ocean City. Surfcasters had stripers and blues Thursday in the surf on the south end of Ocean City.

Wesley Bandy said from Gibson's Bait and Tackle in Sea Isle City that bass are on the beach close to Corson and Townsend inlets, and they are all over the inshore waters.

Bandy said Joe Roberts, owner of Shoobie's Restaurant in Avalon, had nine striped bass and a bunch of blues Thursday off T.I. Inlet. He said just about everyone who goes outside comes back with a keeper.

Mike O'Neill, captain of the charter/party boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet, claims sea bass fishing is "the best I've ever seen." He has been fishing these waters for 32 years, so he knows what he is talking about.

He said he leaves the dock at 6 a.m., is offshore fishing in 150 to 170 feet of water by 8 a.m., and often by 10 or 11 a.m. the anglers are limited out and done.

He was out there Friday morning with mate Matt Cruse working the deck. He said they already had a limit of sea bass by midday and closing in on a limit of tog with eight anglers on board.

O'Neill said sea bass weigh 1 to 4 pounds and average 2 pounds. O'Neill said they are also catching big blues, plus, when he fishes inshore, striped bass. And, O'Neill said they are getting 15 to 20 codfish per trip.

The Press Fishing Contest is winding down to the Nov. 30 deadline, and significant catches continue to be entered.

The latest is a 13.73-pound tog from Brad Warren of Malvern, Pa. It was caught Tuesday and entered at Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May.

Duffy Colton of Galloway Township got a 39.6-pound bass Nov. 2 in Mullica River. Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic certified it.


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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing column and Shep's Hot Spot appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section.

Call 609-350-0388 or e-mail: sheponfishing@yahoo.com