The offshore set is starting to see some signs of tuna and shark making an early-season appearance, and that adds more excitement to what is becoming a wide variety of fish in South Jersey waters.
A 250-pound thresher shark hit the scales Sunday night at Longreach Marina on the Maurice River. Eric Streahle reported Monday morning from Longreach that Mike Gallagher, who docks there, first went off to the Misty Blue wreck and hooked up with a shark, possibly a mako, that broke off. Gallagher trolled inshore and was about to pull the lines 8 miles off Cape May when the thresher came up and gobbled a lure.
Streahle also said an unnamed angler who also docks at Longreach had what was reported to be a 245-pound mako he caught Saturday.
Mike Cunnigham said from Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle that two mako were reported over the weekend at the 28-Mile Wreck.
Ed Bronstein at Fin-Atics in Ocean City said the offshore canyons had quite a fleet out there Friday and Saturday, and some decent-size 35- to 45-pound yellowfin were caught between the Baltimore and Wilmington canyons. Bronstein said Monday that bluefin were reported inside at the Elephant Trunk.
Brennan Marine in Somers Point reported blue shark at the 750 Square.
Charley Langan reported from South Jersey Marina in Cape May that the charterboat Hooked Up II brought back seven yellowfin weighing as much as 38 pounds.
"Gaffer" mahi are in the offshore mix, too.
Weakfish are adding a surprise package to the local fishing scene. There are reports of the once-plentiful weakies maybe making a comeback from Delaware Bay to Long Beach Island. Newport Beach, R.I., angler Carl Sagan caught a 5.3-pound weakfish and two others he released in Corson's Inlet, according to Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May.
Flounder continue to show strong in the back bays and striped bass are still cruising in the surf. Plus, 2- to 5-pound bluefish are running around the back bays and kingfish are scattered in the surf.
Fin-Atics weighed a nice 4.73-pound flounder that Kathleen Pusicz of Philadelphia caught in Ship Channel between O.C. and Somers Point. Bronstein said Fin-Atics continues to see some flounder that are coming off the new fishing piers at the Ocean City-Somers Point bridge.
Sea bass is another species that is contributing to the mix. Cunning-ham said the farther off you go, the better the catch. He pointed to the 28-Mile Wreck but also said that sea bass fishing is good in the 15- to 20-mile range.
Tournament action will switch from mostly surf to boat in a big way Saturday with different styles in three of the most popular contests of the season.
The Greater Atlantic Bluefish Tournament celebrates its 25th anniversary. Sign up Thursday at Brigantine Elks Lodge, 400 W. Shore Dr. The cost is $250 per boat. The total purse is $10,000 based on 75 boats. The GABT also has an associated flounder contest. Weighstations are Kammerman's Marina in Atlantic City, Sheltered Cove in Tuckerton and Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet. This tournament benefits cancer victims and their families.
The Buddy Devlin Memorial Flounder Tournament is based at the Margate Log Cabin. Sign up there or at Captain Andy's Marina or Scott's Dock, both on Amherst Avenue in Margate. It is $30 for Cabin members and $35 for non-members. First place earns $500, second $250 and third $100 for the single heaviest fish. Youth and female division winners take $50.
Then they go offshore from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May for the annual mako shark contest. Registration is $275 plus $150 Calcutta at Jim's, located on Route 109 just over the bridge going into Cape May. First-place prize money for the single heaviest mako is $1,250 with $750 for second, plus a rod and reel for third. Call 609-884-3900.
Also Saturday, a contest in memory of Nick Conner has been scheduled at Birch Grove Park in Northfield. Conner was one of the four Mainland Regional High School football players who died in an automobile accident last August.
Other popular long-running contests coming up soon:
•The Ladies Invitational Bluefish is June 16. Signups are at 6 p.m. on June 15 at American Legion Post 396, 3218 W. Brigantine Ave, Brigantine. The entry fee is $300.
•The 24th South Jersey Carpenters Flounder Pounder is June 23 with $20 per person signups at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point, Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic, North Point Marina in Brigantine and Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.
•The Brutus Fluke event is also June 23 with signups at the Egg Harbor Township Elks Lodge 2563 and Somers Point VFW Post 2189.
•The Ocean City Exchange Club runs its 26th flounder and bluefish combo for another June 23 test.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing column and Shep's Hot Spot appear Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also hear Shep's on-air fishing reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7:05 p.m. on WOND 1400 AM and on our website: