Shep Hot Spot flounder Hereford Inlet

Drift for flounder in the back bays of Hereford Inlet and down to Avalon with minnows, squid, mackerel and live spot. Incoming to high water seems best.

Sounds like fishing got hot, too.

From the biggest summer flounder of the season so far in South Jersey to big-game fishers charging offshore, it sure seems to have been a real good weekend, with conditions and weather aligning to create decent action.

Dan Schafer of Del Haven was fishing his boat with cousin Chris Weast of Atco and Greg Welch in the back bays of Stone Harbor. They were competing in the Duke of Fluke fishing contest run by Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood on Saturday. They were using live spot as bait.

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Chris Weast of Atco shows the 13.6-pound doormat of a summer flounder he caught Saturday in the back bays of Stone Harbor, making it the heaviest flounder taken in the 20-year history of the Duke of Fluke fishing contest.

Oh, yeah, it weighed 13.60 pounds and was the heaviest flounder ever caught in the 20-year-history of the event run by George and Cathy Algard.

Not that some of the other tournaments so far this year were not successful, but the Duke of Fluke had a great turnout with 116 boats and 33 kayaks entered. Even second and third heaviest were more than decent with Jordan Hamel on Salem Wolf and Thomas McCouch on Gotta Habit with 7.70- and 6.57-pound fish, respectively.

They have a five-heaviest division, and that went to Adam Crouthamel on Adam Bomb with a total weight of 23.44. Mike Bonacci on Spin Cycle had a 23.05-pound total and Daniel Avena on Gold Rush was third at 21.53.

The kayak title went to Glen Bowen with a 4.26-pound fish. Missy Gattone took the Duchess crown at 4.93, and Lyle Rutty earned the junior prize with a hefty 6.13 pounder.

They had two other divisions: Joseph DeLio had High Hopes and a 3.84-pound sea bass and Frank Arnold had a .70-pound bluefish on Sea Chaser.

The back bays seemed to be filled with 3-pound flounder for awhile, including when a couple of other contests were held, and now they seem to have put on some weight.

Grassy Sound Marina in North Wildwood also ran its yearly contest, and also had a decent turnout and catch. The winner of single-heaviest was Tom Dunleavy of Villas with a 5.75-pound flounder. John Casey of North Wildwood was second at 3.9 pounds and Chip Gruff of Cape May Court House was third at 3.75. Jerry Lynch, of Millville, won three-heaviest total weight of 10.7 pounds. Diane Casey of North Wildwood took the women's award with a 3.65-pounder. Gary Spreckley of Philadelphia won the youth division at 2.82. Joe DiTullio of Cape May was the winner of the pier division.

Debbie Mooers also had a non-tournament report from Grassy Sound Marina that included a 11.3-pound sheepshead and one other by the Cavitti crew from Stone Harbor.

When Schafer was contacted Monday about some details on his big flounder catch, he was eager to get back out on the water. He heard sheepshead have moved in, and he was revved up to go after them.

Schafer operates Insomniac guide in the back bays and inshore waters on his 18-foot flats skiff. He said he likes fishing with light gear such as 10-pound test line and -ounce jig. He said he has had a number of 8-pound flounder, but this doormat is his boat-best. His guide service is based at Sterling Harbor.

The offshore crews got their chance, and expended some pent-up energy.

Jerry String and Undercover Charters out of Sea Isle Marina had an active Sunday at Massey Canyon. Ryan Hearon, 10, cranked in his first-ever bluefin tuna. It weighed 45 pounds. John McGroarty had a 75-pounder. They moved off to Baltimore Canyon and picked up tilefish. Eleven-year-old Owen String had the biggest golden tilefish, and Mike, Tracy and Jason Hearon caught grey tile.

Tim Davis at Moran's Dockside in Avalon called Monday afternoon to report a 242-pound bigeye tuna had just been weighed at Avalon Sportfishing Center. It was caught by Chip Romp, and will be entered into The Press Fishing Contest.

Bluefin tuna also were reported at the Hambone, Chicken Bone, Hot Dog and 19-Fathom Lump.

Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May that the "majority" of the tuna are bluefin but that more yellowfin are showing up, and they are not taken solely by trolling as chunking sis tarting to work, too.

Inshore, Brennan Marine in Somers Point reported Keith Zaid on the Plastic Cloud had a good day with three keeper flounder, one 5.5 pounds, and nice sea bass. Wayne King was the crew.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays and Tuesdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email:

You also can hear Shep on 1400 AM from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays, plus reports Fri-days, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on 1400 AM and on our website:

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