Captains contacted Monday for reports on Sunday’s opener of black sea bass season were generally elated by the resumption of one of the fishers’ favorites.
Mike O’Neill was 71/2 miles out Monday afternoon heading back from an inshore run when the local scribe called the Stray Cat captain for the scoop. O’Neill said Sunday was better than Monday because of somewhat milder ocean conditions.
He had 15 on board Sunday, and most limited out with sea bass generally from 21/4 to 4 pounds.
“Sea bass all over the place,” he said.
On Monday, like the other days, it was “drop and reel,” he said.
They also had chub mackerel, blowfish and triggerfish. A 4-pound triggerfish won the pool Monday. O’Neill said they also caught spot, which he thought was unusual because of how far off they were.
He has some advice for area captains: “Don’t put the boats away.”
John Nigro schedules the Starfish’s two-boat fleet out of Sea Isle City. He said Monday both the big partyboat Starfish and smaller Susan Hudson sailed Sunday. They “did good” he said.
The Susan Hudson had a charter from Maryland and the Starfish had 30-plus on board, He estimated that half of them limited out with 15 fish. John said they were “all nice size.”
They also had some triggerfish along with bluefish and porgy. They had 10 on board Monday but had not gotten back by late afternoon.
Tom Ferrara said Sunday’s trip was the best he’s had in the four years he has based the T-Wrecks party/open boat at Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City. He went 35 miles off with 10 people on board.
He said they amassed 128 keepers among an estimated total sea bass catch of more than 500, plus six triggerfish, bluefish and chub mackerel.
He also said they had a huge mahi hanging around the boat that rebuffed a variety of attempts to entice.
Good sea bass catches were reported from off Long Beach Island to off Cape May.
Limits were recorded at Little Egg Harbor Reef and Garden State North Reef by Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom.
Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim’s Bait and Tackle in Cape May that sea bass are plentiful at wrecks in the 30-mile range, plus in closer at the Cape May and Delaware reef sites.
Triggerfish are sometimes mixed in with them.
There is no better example of what the opening of sea bass season meant for business: Paul Thompson said Monday he had one of the biggest crowds he has ever had aboard the Porgy IV party boat out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May when he carried 70 customers Sunday. He said he kept trying to pull away from the dock but people kept “jumping on.”
A reminder: The daily possession limit is 15 (minimum length 121/2 inches), and the season runs through Dec. 31.
Keegan Rothman, of Northfield, had another remarkable day fishing the ocean Saturday.
Keegan caught what dad Dan Rothman and the local scribe tentatively identified as a Laine snapper, a Florida fish that looked to be around 1 pound. The fish went back into the ocean alive, like many those fishing partners catch.
They also caught a sizable triggerfish, a big summer flounder, sea bass and tautog, all of which went back alive.
Keegan is 11 and already has built quite a fishing legacy.
Dave Showell has been following the progress of striped bass movement from northern environs.
He runs a guide service from his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center and had a very decent run last week and into the weekend in the back bays around Great Bay. He had three in the boat early Saturday morning while on the radio.
On Sunday, he picked up a half-dozen in the 20-inch range. He said he marked a lot of fish, but they were not biting as readily as they did late last week, when he counted the catch in double figures.
Robin Scott at Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate said she had rental boats out Friday and Saturday, and the fishers picked off sea bass, tautog, triggerfish, small bluefish and out-of-season summer flounder in the back bays of Margate.
Tog remain thick around the rocks in Atlantic City and Barnegat Inlet. Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said a few weakfish have been caught at night on the rocks from Caspian Avenue, back toward Harrah’s Resort.
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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