Margaret O'Brien said the few locals who gave striped bass fishing in the surf a try Thursday night and Friday morning and reported to her at Jingle's Bait and Tackle Shop in Beach Haven are getting a "little excited."

She said they caught a few striper and lots of bluefish that chased mullet in close to the beach in Beach Haven. She said the bait fish were herded right into the wash. Surfcast-ers tossing plugs such as Stan Gibbs and Atom Poppers picked off an occasional bass, but the bluefish would not touch anything but mullet.

All this is good timing for the 58th Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic that began today. The Classic continues to Dec. 2 with $1,000 grand prizes plus two-week segment, weekly, weekend and daily prizes for striped bass and bluefish. Sign up for $30 at Jingle's, Oceanside B&T in Brighton Beach, Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom and Surf City Bait and Tackle.

The Atlantic County/

Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby had its first striped bass entries. Gary Rzemyk and Greg "Rico" Maiuro, both Ventnor residents, made the cut in the second week with minimum-length 32-inch bass. Rzemyk's went 14 pounds at Captain Andy's Marina in Margate, and Maiuro's was 12.2 pounds at Ship Shop in Ventnor.

Linda Davoli of Brigantine weighed a 13-pound bass for the Derby at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine at around 5 p.m. Thursday. She rushed right back to the beach and on the first cast smacked a 3.2-pound, 20-inch bluefish. So she got two Derby qualifiers on the same day.

Kingfish ruled the first week of the Derby, which wrapped up Sunday. Mike Kopis-tanski of Margate had the heaviest with a 1-pounder certified at Ray Scott's Dock in Margate. Nine kingfish were entered in the first week.

The anticipated fall movement of bigger striper and bluefish has not begun yet, even though the mullet run is thick and has been going strong for weeks at least.

A report from Betty & Nick's in Seaside Park described the mullet as still heavy above Barnegat Inlet. The report from there sounds very similar to what is going on at Long Beach Island, Atlantic County and elsewhere. They have a lot of small to medium blues, and they are picking a bass here and there in the surf.

Bill Wiggins said from Fin-Atics in Ocean City that surfcasters fishing the beach in Great Egg Inlet and Corsons Inlet also are starting to pick off a few bigger bass. He said blues and kingfish are in the surf, along with loads of mullet.

Rob Barrett called from Dolphin Dock on Friday evening to say that the last few days, fishing inside Great Egg Inlet has been "on fire." He's been out on a boat with friends and using green crab and fresh mullet. He mainly has been fishing around the rocks at Seaview Harbor. One day, Barry Jacobson of Egg Harbor Township hooked up a flounder, a weakfish, sea bass, spot and sea robin. He put the flounder back, of course. Jack Sweeder of Ocean City had an 18-inch "grey ghost" tautog with a white belly and pale body. Ken Ruckle of EHT bagged an 11-pound sheeps-head.

And, Barrett said, those 1- to 3-pound blues that seem to be everywhere are also inside GE Inlet.

Offshore action seems to be more in the canyons to the north. Don Brown at Captain Andy's said Mike Driscoll on the Change Order did a night chunk at Toms Canyon. That crew went 7-for-12 on yellowfin tuna in the 60- to 80-pound class. Wiggins said he sold a lot of butterfish over the past couple of days to captains who probably were heading out this weekend.

Inshore wreck fishing for sea bass is decent, too. Pete Poillon said from Utsch's Marina in Cape May that the bigger sea bass are 20 miles off.

Utsch's runs its annual fall striped bass contest Oct. 25-27. The entry fee is $350 per boat to Oct. 17 and $400 after that. Call 609-884-2051.

Brigantine Elks Lodge 2428 holds its fish-around-the-clock Fall Striper Classic from Nov. 2-4. The captain's meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Lodge, 400 W. Shore Dr. The entry fee is $60 for a boat crew up to four and $25 for individual surf with cash awards to first, second and third for heaviest two and single heaviest. Call Guy Wilkins at 609-266-0423 or Mike Muncer 609-264-0631.

The Press Fishing Contest is over, but there is flexibility for getting the entries in. The online program is still active, and we still are getting entries in the mail.

Last Saturday, 9-year-old Alexis Domiano of Galloway Township caught a striped bass at Lower Bank Bridge on Mullica River. She is in the fourth grade at Reeds Road School. Howard Sefton weighed it for the Youth Division at Capt. Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City. Sefton made a note on top of the entry form that it was caught on a nightcrawler.

Karen Santoro submitted an entry for Allen Cohen of Ventnor. He brought a 1.35-pound porgy into Ship Shop. It was caught at Great Egg Harbor Reef.

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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 Saturdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email

You also can hear Shep's on-air fishing reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on WOND 1400 AM and on our website: