Sea bass have been sometimes spectacular on offshore and inshore wrecks and reefs, striped bass mainly weighing in the teens and 20s are active in the back bays and inlets with a few showing up in the surf, and tautog are thick around rockpiles, bridges and sod banks.
In other words, things have not changed much recently.
One of the things that makes fishing interesting is you never know what’s going to happen when you walk out the door and pick up a fishing rod.
Here’s an example. Paul Thompson is the captain of the Porgy IV party boat berthed at South Jersey Marina in Cape May.
On a recent inshore trip, he had some nice sea bass, some bluefish and porgy. He moved to a couple of wrecks to keep a decent catch going. On one of them, his customers picked off five sizable weakfish, with the smallest going 16 inches and the largest, which won the pool for the day, 21 inches.
A brief invasion of bonito around the Eighth Street jetty in Avalon reported a few days ago is another example of how fishing can surprise. It did not last long, apparently, but the jetty was decently populated by fishers on at least one evening.
On Wednesday, the first heavyweight striped bass of the fall migration into South Jersey was entered into the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. It weighed 48 pounds and was caught by John Matt, of Surf City.
On Saturday, Rob Vallone, of Tuckerton, put a 15.16-pound bluefish on the beach at Barnegat Light.
Vallone is a regular contestant with a number of entries in the Classic over the years. He took over the bluefish division lead with that one.
Both appear to be good harbingers that maybe bigger fish are on their way.
The Classic had five striper entries after Matt’s and no other blues. Late Monday afternoon, the Classic had registered 20 bass and 11 blues. A remarkable 693 surf-casters have signed up. The contest concludes Dec. 10.
Another interesting catch on Long Beach Island was registered by Ed McGlynn — a 7.02-pound, 26-inch red drumfish in Beach Haven, as reported by Jingle’s Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven.
Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim’s Bait and Tackle in Cape May that porgy and triggerfish are mixed with sea bass on structures in 20 fathoms.
He also said slammer blues are sometimes chopping off the sea bass as the fishers crank them up.
Tammie Carbohn reported from Avalon Hodge-Podge that tog are strong at the Townsends Inlet bridge and the Eighth Street jetty.
Tog are so plentiful around the Atlantic City jetties that Noel Feliciano has set up yet another cool contest. He’s calling this one the Tog Master.
It is free, will run from Nov. 16-30 and is limited to fishing around Atlantic City rocks. He’s putting up a $100 first-place prize and two $50 awards.
He also is setting up his Christmas contest with a theme of providing toys for area youth. That will be Nov. 30.
Striped bass have been active in the back bays.
Dave Showell has had some super outings with customers signed up for day trips on his guide service out of his base at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.
He added 10 more hookups to his collection early Monday morning.
Dave has a No Football/Puerto Rico Benefit striped bass contest set for 12:01 a.m. Friday to 11 a.m. Sunday. Anglers can contribute to a Puerto Rico benefit fund with a $20 entry and win cash and prizes. His idea is for contestants to preregister at a local tackle shop or marina and then weigh the fish there.
Call Dave at 609-484-0409 or go to his Facebook page for details.
The Brigantine Elks Lodge 2458 has its Fall Striper Classic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
It has divisions for boat crews of four with a $60 entry fee and individuals at $30. Half the money raised will go to Elks programs.
Sign up at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine (609-264-0440) or at the Elks Club.
And the Miss Avalon party boat will have a half-price fee for veterans and civil servants Saturday.
The day starts at 8 a.m. from Avalon Sportfishing Center. Call Capt. Irv Hurd at 609-967-7455.
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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.
Contact: 609-350-0388 ShepOnFishing@yahoo.com