Shep headshot Mike Shepherd mugshot

Fishing columnist Michael Shepherd tells you what’s biting and where to catch them.

It sounded as though the weather was “gorgeous” on the ocean Monday morning, with calm winds and a flat ocean. Hard to believe the first day of winter and Christmas are coming right up.

Mike Keeping beat the weigh-in deadline Sunday to certify a striped bass for the Fishing For Toys contest out of One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. It weighed 28.1 pounds and won the first-place prize of $300 offered by Noel Felciano at One-Stop.

Keeping trucked two bass up to One-Stop, but one them belonged to his son and could not be counted.

Why? His son decided to drop his father off at the dock and go back out on the ocean to keep catching them off the Tropicana in Atlantic City on Sunday rather than stop fishing to spend time for a weigh-in process.

Gives you a hint about how good the striped bass gathering off parts of South Jersey is right now.

In fact, when contacted for a few details about the Sunday fun, Keeping was back out on the water Monday with a couple of fishing buds and they had four more in the boat by midafternoon.

Keeping said it was a little slower than the day before.

Josimar Domingos of Egg Harbor Township took the second-place money in the Fishing for Toys contest with an 11.5-pound striper

The Fishing for Toys started with Santa Claus making an appearance on the beach in Atlantic City and ended with Atlantic City Police Athletic League Sgt. Will Santiago bringing several PAL youth to One-Stop to haul off an impressive collection of toys, games and fishing gear donated as the entry fee to enter the weeklong contest.

This is the second year of Fishing for Toys, and it seems to be developing into a remarkable local Christmas classic.

Feliciano reported that one of the captains he was in contact with Monday stayed right off Atlantic City when some of the other boats in that inshore fleet hauled off up the beach toward Brigantine or Long Beach Island.

Feliciano said the captain was trailing those red-hot white MoJos just like everybody else out there, but he was trolling slower than most at 2 knots. And he got his limit in 20 minutes, according to Feliciano.

Bob Cope on the Full Ahead ran up to Sea Isle City and Ocean City from his dock at Utsch’s Marina in Cape May on Monday. He made it a worthwhile trip with stripers in the 28- to 43-inch class and lots of bites. He splits his schedule between fishing for bass and tautog. And he said he has good reports from farther up the coast, so good striper fishing should continue through the holidays and maybe into the new year.

Mike O’Neill said he had a charter on Saturday that “had a stellar day” while trolling Mojos off the Trop. They had their limit between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mike has one more striper charter today on the Stray Cat and then he is switching over to tautog starting Wednesday. He docks at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Harbor Inlet.

The Susan Hudson partyboat that is the workhorse of the Starfish fleet out of Sea Isle City last made a tautog run on Friday. John Nigro reported they only had 11 fishers but “did good” and all of them had keepers. There were also a lot of bites from small fish. The Susan Hudson will be sailing Wednesday to Saturday of this week leading up to Christmas.

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