Summer flounder seem to be holding on to their ranking as the fan favorite against a number of contenders.
Last week, Bill Mendenhall Sr. and Jr. made their trek from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, to the back bays of Margate, like they have done since forever.
They racked up 94 fish with regular partner Skip Van Lew on a rental boat from Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate to come away with two keepers both at the minimum 18 inches.
The Mendenhalls were back Monday with another fishing partner and topped both of those amazing numbers with 112 flounder and three keepers. Bill Sr. was high hook with all three keepers (picture on B8), one 20 inches long, and he racked up four doubleheaders, according to Robin Scott.
A signficant number of flounder are being caught throughout the back bays, inlets and inshore waters, but there sure seems to be a carpet of fish under the 18-inch minimum there and on the inshore lumps in the ocean.
One of the quality catches recently was reported by Sue Burns at Point Tackle in Somers Point. Dave Filarski weighed a 7.8-pound flounder he caught with a mackerel strip near the Longport Bridge. Filarski docks at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet.
Another was recorded at Avalon Hodge-Podge by Rob Myers,of Pittsburgh. He weighed a 5.5-pound flounder caught in the back bays of Avalon with a minnow.
Noel Feliciano weighed five flounder Sunday, including a 4.7-pounder.
That fish was among a three-day accounting by two brothers visiting from Philadelphia that included five flounder Sunday after two striped bass, a weakfish and a flounder the previous two days.
All of their catches were made in the Atlantic City area from the rockpiles or the front beach near the jetties or while fishing Absecon Inlet in a kayak.
Kingfish are in the surf or just outside of the breakers at various locations.
Tim Davis at Moran’s Dockside in Avalon said Monday they are “on fire” at the beaches there from 39th to 42nd streets. The Eighth Street jetty in Avalon also collects kingfish.
Other kingfish hot spots are Quincy Avenue in Margate, the Ventnor fishing pier and the rockpiles in Atlantic City. Kingfish often move in and out with the tide and up and down the surf, so some beaches can produce while others don’t.
A popular twist
Bloodworm on hi-lo rigs with small hooks is the traditional combo for kings.
A recent twist has gained popularity — the six-hook Sabiki rigs snipped off to two three-hook setups. Artificial worms such as FishBites or small pieces of shrimp also are used as bait.
It is sea bass season with the current edition allowing two fish daily possession at 13 inches. Mike O’Neill said Monday they can catch their limit for all on board in 10 minutes.
Mike runs the Stray Cat charter/open boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina. O’Neill said the surface temperature Monday where he set up 8 miles off was 73 degrees, but it was so cold on the bottom that flounder were not active. He said they caught some ling.
Victor Hartley, captain of the Miss Ocean City that sails from McGlades on the bay, said a charter of Pennsylvania residents headed by Steve Turi all had their limit of sea bass, the largest measuring 191/2 inches.
He said each member of the group hooked up with about 20 fish. Hartley said smaller fish are inside, with larger fish out to 20 miles.
Striped bass got more active recently in the back bays, probably because of an invasion of peanut bunker. They are chasing top-water lures. A few are decent size. Davis and a couple of buds picked off three recently.
Bluefish are cruising, and they are not just the snapper variety as some are in the 3- to 5-pound range. Weakfish are biting on bloodworm floated under a float near the rocks and chasing pink lures on bucktails or jig heads. And Felicano said the first croaker have appeared.
Offshore, yellowfin, bluefin and bigeye tuna, plus a few mahi, have been recorded.
Sue Burns said Monday she was on a trip to Spencer Canyon on the Terminator out of Somers Point and defeated four yellowfin tuna in the 50-pound class among a lot of small “football-size” fish. She said they trolled Squid Nation Flippy Flop lures.
And just to provide a contrast, crabbing is great.
There was an important story in Monday’s Press about the trash left from crabbers and fishers. Remember, if you bring it in, carry it out.
A New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting will start at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Atlantic County Library on Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway Township.
The agenda will include summer flounder and probably sea bass, according to Chairman Dick Herb, of Avalon. The state is waiting to hear from the feds about the next steps, if any, as a result of the 18-inch minimum adopted here that has been ruled out of compliance.
And, finally, a reminder about the Duke of Fluke tournament Saturday at Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle in Wildwood. Call Cathy or George Algard at 609-729-1425.
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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.