We got some decent weather and conditions, and fishing responded.
We are halfway through this version of tautog season, and according to Bob Cope, captain of the charter boat Full Ahead out of Utsch’s Marina in Cape May: “It is good.”
Cope said Friday he has had limits all around every day this week, with fish up to 10 pounds. Sounds as if it is more than than just “good.”
He said he has been fishing two wrecks, and when one slows, he goes to the other and there are “fish all around.”
He said he is back at the dock sometimes by 1 p.m.
Paul Thompson was just getting back Friday late afternoon when the local scribe called as he steered the party boat Porgy IV to the dock at South Jersey Marina in Cape May.
He said he “got lucky today” at one spot. He could not offer a fish count because he was busy but said some were going home with dinner and some were not.
He said the bigger fish are in the 5-pound range. He said they are still cold, meaning the water temps at the bottom where he was fishing still in the upper 40s.
He also said he had 15 or 16 “beautiful” trash fish, which is how one of his fishers on board described the out-of-season sea bass they caught and returned.
Mike O’Neill on the Stray Cat open/charter boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet said they did “pretty good” on Friday after a “gangbusters” Thursday during which tog “chewed” all day.
The pool winner Friday weighed 6 pounds, and on Thursday it was 5½.
Mike said he is taking full advantage of the great weather. He said they had 50-degree water with whales and porpoises.
Joe Fumo made his first trip of the season Friday on the party boat Fish Finder II out of Brigantine. Joe said it started out great with tautog hitting “right away.”
Joe said it lasted a half-hour with a dozen fish, six of which they kept.
He steamed out to a wreck off Atlantic City where everybody on board caught fish.
But Joe said the sharks moved in and took control. He moved to another wreck and did nothing. A decent start, anyhow.
Joe said he will be back out there Saturday and plans to run 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until whatever happens with the still undecided summer flounder season.
Tog continue to be in combination with 15- to 20-pound black drumfish and a rare keeper striped bass around the Atlantic City rockpiles.
That tog-drumfish combination has been remarkable there for a week or so.
Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Cty has had steady weigh-ins and photo sessions with smiling fishers and their catches, mainly made from the A.C. jetties.
The presence of big bluefish in Delaware Bay was confirmed by Matt Slobodjian in his first report of the season from Jim’s Bait and Tackle in Cape May.
Matt said one went 14 pounds and was caught by Bill Palmer, a Cape May caster who was fishing from the bank at Thompsons Beach, up the bay a little from Cape May Point. Matt said the blues are close to the beach from the ferry jetty on up.
Palmer was using bunker for bait and trying for striped bass. Matt said the appearance of bunker was the “earliest we’ve had them.” And they are joined by herring. Matt said they also are catching blues with plugs.
That big blue might be an indication those slammers that were thick in South Jersey for a couple of years are on their way here again.
Good to hear from Matt.
And, oh, by the way, they also have those 15- to 20-pound black drum in the surf around Cape May, too.
Three black drum showed up on the Brigantine beach recently.
This week, John Devlin, of Brigantine, cranked in what seems to have been the first one reported caught from the beach there, and since then at least two others have been reported. Devlin’s was in the 16-pound range.
Good crab news
Here’s another sign of the improving season, which certainly got a charge from the super weather of the past few days.
Ron Meishcker, of Somers Point, runs the Patcong Creek Cleanup and the Patcong Creek Crabbing Tournament.
He reported an early start to the crabbing season. He said he caught a bushel Sunday in Great Egg Harbor Bay. He reported 15 little ones went back in the water for every keeper-size.
His message was that it looks as if it is going to great year.
The Patcong Creek Cleanup is May 21, and the big-time Patcong Creek Crabbing Classic is June 23-24. That one gets 350 crabbers from 13 states. More details to come on both events.
White perch contest
Next Saturday, April 22, is another first-class event.
It’s the 12th annual Landisville Gunning Club White Perch Tournament. It is billed as statewide and will start at 6 a.m. with 2 p.m. weigh-ins at the club.
Registration is $30, $15 for youth 10 and younger and $10 for active military and disabled veterans. First place earns $1,000, second $500 and third $250.
Sign up in person from 6 to 9 p.m. next Friday at the club located at Fourth and Cape May avenues in Estell Marnor or at njwhiteperch.com.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays.