The frigid blast got a few bigger striped bass stirring, but some reports say they are still concentrated above Long Beach Island.
One of the hot reports came from Jay LeVance, of Tuckerton, who fished the Brigantine Elks Striped Bass Tournament over the weekend with regular fishing partner and cousin Dave Pharo and Dan Ponzio, of Atlantic City, on Ponzio’s boat War Dance.
They left the dock at 5:15 a.m., ran an hour north to off Seaside Heights, fished hard snagging and dropping live bunker and were back at the dock in A.C. at 9:40 a.m. with three 30-pound-plus bass. They took first place in the popular Elks contest.
LeVance said Monday they had 11 fish in 45 minutes.
According to Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine, the fish weighed 341/2, 32 and 311/2 pounds. Since the contest was for the two heaviest fish, the total weight was 661/2 pounds as certified by Andy, who helped organize the two-day contest.
Zach Fiedler, an 18-year-old student at Cedar Creek High School, Chad Williams, of Margate, and Joe King, of Absecon, were second in the Elks contest with 28- and 25-pound fish, according to Grossman.
It was a rough trip outbound Saturday for Fiedler and his crew. Fiedler said Monday they rode 21/2-plus hours to off Long Branch in the freezing cold with “ice hanging off the boat.”
It was a far easier trip back in milder conditions, he said.
Grossman said Gary Witchley, of Rome, New York, won the surf division of the Elks event with 16- and 9-pound bass.
LeVance said Pharo weighed his fish for the No Football/Puerto Rico Benefit that was headquartered at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Pharo won the $100 prize offered by Dave Showell and donated it back to the contest for the Puerto Rico fund.
Nice going on a couple of levels.
The frigid blast that charged through South Jersey and the East Coast got a few more quality bass motivated, but reports indicate there are still plenty of middleweights to heavyweights to the north, off well-known areas such as Brielle.
Snagging and dropping bunker to the waiting bass that are dogging the schools seems to be the best bet for success in the inshore waters. Remember, they are out of bounds 3 miles out and beyond.
A few more are migrating down the beach farther in to South Jersey.
Greg Maiuro, of Ventnor, picked one out of Absecon Inlet on Monday morning that weighed 24 pounds when registered by Karen Santoro at Ship Shop in Ventnor.
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic had a 35.52-pound bass take over second place on the leader board. Anthony Morile, of Egg Harbor Township, caught it with bunker at North Beach on Friday.
Striped bass is not the only fishery of interest.
Tautog season will reopen, with a six-fish limit, Thursday.
Tog have their own legion of fans.
Noel Feliciano has been weighing them in for what seems like months at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City, so he decided to promote with a contest he’s calling A.C. Tog Master.
It starts Thursday and continues through the end of the month. Sign up at One-Stop for free before fishing.
Noel is offering $100 for the heaviest fish and two $50 prizes for the second and third heaviest. You have to fish from Atlantic City’s jetties and rockpiles for this one.
Irv Hurd is captain of the popular party boat Miss Avalon out of Avalon Sportfishing Center. He reported catching sea bass, porgy, triggerfish and tautog Saturday and almost nothing but sea bass Sunday. Also caught were three tog. He said Monday he can’t wait to get “togging.”
He will run tog trips Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The prolific Rothman father-son fishing team from Northfield was at it again Sunday.
Dad Dan said they caught tautog and a triggerfish but also sea bass, porgy and a small sheepshead. One photo they sent has the Atlantic City skyline in the background, so they were not far off Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.