Fish for flounder and weakfish in the back bays off Absecon with a 5-ounce Gulp crazy legs jerk shad tipped by shedder crab and you might even come up with a striped bass.

A number of recent reports describe what seem to be some odd signs.

Middleweight striped bass showed up in the last few days and another codfish surprised a crew that also caught a wahoo. It's just early September with warm water temperatures around 76-77 degrees, so it seems too early to be in a transitional stretch toward fall fishing.

Jerry String, captain of Undercover Charters that is docked at Sea Isle City Marina, took father and son TJ and Tyler Repici on an inshore trip Sunday morning. It was what String described as a "farewell" outing before Tyler left for Florida and school Monday morning. Tyler caught his first wahoo at the Cigar. String was trolling ballyhoo with a black and purple skirt. The wahoo weighed 40 pounds.

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They also caught a dozen little tunny. Then String changed tactics and fished a wreck, where they "crushed" flounder and sea bass. The surprise was a 12-pound codfish.

As String said in an e-mail: "Father-son trip to be remembered!"

Amen to that.

Contest update

The Press Fishing Contest, which runs to Sept. 28, got a Women's Division entry of a 16.8-pound cod from Mary Thomas of Jupiter, Fla. It was caught Aug. 24 at Deep Water Reef on Misty with Capt. Phil Judyski and certified at Moran's Dockside in Avalon.

Chris Murray of Northfield was trolling the Cigar and 750 Square with old buddy Ray Bergman Jr., who was up for a visit from Key West, Fla. They also fished the bottom for flounder, coming up with an 8-pounder. Bergman, a Ventnor native, had a 4-ounce bucktail out when a bluefin tuna grabbed on. It was 53 inches in length. They also had a couple of mahi fishing around some pots.

Murray, 41, has been fishing off South Jersey since he was a youngster, and he said Sunday that he has not been out much this summer. He did have a great trip June 22 at Spencer Canyon with seven yellowfin tuna.

Dave Showell was jigging a 5-inch Gulp Crazy Legs Jerk Shad tipped with shedder crab on the dropping tide on a hot "cooker" of a day Saturday in Absecon Channel. When he hooked up, he at first thought it was a weakfish. It was heavy, so then he expected to see a sizable shark. Then he saw the stripes, and realized it was a bass.

It measured 32 inches.

Showell runs guide trips from his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon, and he said Monday that he would have been 90 percent sure to catch a striper in one of those holes around Absecon Bay on Nov. 6. He thought it was a little unusual to get one in the mid-day heat in August when the water temps have been a steady mid-70s.

He said it proves the water temps don't mean that much. There are all kinds of bait fish in our waters, and Showell said it shows that when there is food around the fish will be there.

He has been hearing reports about a secretive group of anglers who fish at night that stripers are biting after dark. He said one of those anglers reported catching striper from the Longport Jetty. Mostly shorts, Showell said, exept for one keeper Friday.

Avalon Hodge-Podge reported an 11.67-pound striper was caught by Andrew Casting, a young surfcaster from Maryland, on Sunday. He was fishing with bloodworm on a kingfish rig.

Joe Menale Jr. took some live spot into the back-bay waters behind Brigantine on Sunday and hooked up with two striped bass. He got one into the boat that measured 31 inches at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine. Andy Grossman at Riptide said Monday that he has been getting reports of bass caught in the surf and from Brigantine jetty.

Weakfish continue to be impressive in a comeback after many lean years.

Showell had a revealing statistic to show the rally is real. He said he had one weakfish - and it was a short - all of last year. This year, he has put more than 100 keepers in the boat.

Weakfish were not around like this last year, so he did not target them. But that is a remarkable turnaround no matter what the circumstances.

Weakfish are biting at night in the back bays on the south end of Long Beach Island.

Margaret O'Brien reported from Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven that the locals there are catching them with lead heads and Gulp shrimp or swimming mullet, peanut bunker and minnow.

Cathy Algard reported from Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood that weakfish are "excellent" at Bug Light, which in the past has been one of the best spots to catch them in Delaware Bay.

Shedder crab always has been the best bait for weakfish in the bay.

Offshore reports

Some very decent big-game action has been reported.

Ben Ogden on Woodshed had a bigeye tuna near 200 pounds along with mahi while trolling ballyhoo. Brennan Marine in Somers Point also reported several white marlin raised.

Kim McCormick of Pottstown, Pa., celebrated her 46th birthday by catching a 46-pound yellowfin tuna at 19-Fathom Lump. Joe Gillen on Y-Know out of Wildwood had a 48-pound wahoo at the 30-Fathom Line. Frank Scirrotto of Cherry Hill on Stinky Fingers picked a 48-pound wahoo at East Lump. Those three catches came from Sterling Harbor Marina.

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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 and daily online. Call 609-350-0388 or email

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:


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