Drift for flounder with 4-6 ounce bucktails or top and bottom rigs with 4-6 ounce weights on the artificial reefs off South Jersey, including Little Egg Reef. Use minnows, squid and long strips of cut bait.

Plenty of flounder, with numerous big fish among them, is making life after Labor Day very, very upbeat.

Area anglers from inshore to offshore have what Scott Albertson described as an "opportunity." Great weather this weekend, for one thing; and also the continuation of remarkable flounder fishing.

The forecast for mild weather and ocean conditions means captains can reach the reefs, and Albertson said there are plenty of sizable flounder among numerous limits. He said conditions Friday morning were 2- to 3-foot seas and a light wind, which means Garden State South Reef and Little Egg Reef off Little Egg Inlet should have some traffic and continue to give up nice flounder.

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Albertson said he weighed a flounder of 9-plus pounds at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Islands for Sean Hancharak of Mysic Islands among a limit at Little Egg Reef

Albertson advised using bucktails or top and bottom rigs with weights that go 4-6 ounces with squid and minnow for bait. He said the idea of the heavy weights is to fish with the line as straight up and down as possible while drifting.

It was the same story pretty much all along the beachfront.

Don Brown at Captain Andy's Marina in Margate said drifting in 60-90 feet of water produces excellent flounder catches. He said to fish close to the structure with big strips of cut bait.

Mike O'Neill was out on Ocean City Reef with a charter Friday on the Stray Cat and he said in a live on-the-water report that flounder fishing is "off the hook" and "gangbusters." He said both sides and right on top of the reef were covered with flounder.

All of the reefs from Garden State North to Cape May are providing similar catches.

In the back bays

Back-bay fans can still catch some big flounder.

Scott at Ray Scott's Dock in Margate had a memorable catch Thursday morning. His spies (bait suppliers) called him about peanut bunker in the back bays of Longport. So Scott took one of the boats from the marina hoping to catch a striped bass. He snagged a bunker and put it out live, and hooked up with a big flounder along the sod bank. When he got it back to Ray Scott's, it weighed 9 pounds. Here's the unique part: It had only one eye.

Scott said is was the biggest flounder he ever caught. Wonder how it got to be that big with just one eye.

Tim Davis was busy making subs for the lunch crowd at Moran's Dockside in Avalon mid-morning Friday, but he provided a quick report about an 8 -pound flounder caught in the well-known , popular Avalon back-bay hot spot Paddy's Hole. That stretch of deeper water always seems to hold flounder.

The Keeper back-bay partyboat out of Margate is still fishing "way in the back," said Capt. John Herron. He gets four to five keepers every trip and eight on a good day. "No zeroes," he said Friday. Herron is running morning trips at 8 a.m.

Another double-digit doormat was reported. This one was 10-1 and was hooked up at Reef Site 11 by Bruce Doan on Star Ship, one of the private-boat dock tenants at Utsch's Marina in Cape May. Fred Klug also reported Jack Lynch on Heritage and crew had 14 keepers, including 8.4-, 6.7-, 5.6-pounders; Bob Cope on the Full Ahead charterboat had 17 up to 5 pounds. Klug reported a two-man crew on Patty Lee had 10 keepers, including 6.4, 5.0 and 4.6 fish, at Cape May Reef.

Inshore fishing took a step up. O'Neill said he has been catching bonito for more than a week. He said he crushed them with a charter Wednesday at Mud Wreck seven miles off Ocean City. The first pass trolling small spoons and purple squid hooked up seven. And then for the next 2 hours it was non-stop. They racked up 60 bonito. He was trolling figure 8s and zig-zag, and he said his mate "got an education" keeping the lines clear.

Inshore trolling has not had much attention in these waters, but maybe this report from O'Neill, who runs the Stray Cat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet will get captains motivated to try it.

Offshore is no bore

Offshore big-game action has its excellent moments, too.

Ricky Wheeler is a captain, but he was the mate on an "amazing trip" offshore on the Boss Lady with Bill May out Canyon Club in Cape May. They went on an overnighter Tuesday to West Wall of Wilmington Canyon and located bluewater that jumped up to 77.3 degrees. They put the lines out at 4:15 p.m.and had the first strike at 4:40 on the center line with an 8-ounce black and purple Joe Shute lure with a medium ballyhoo.

Then two outriggers hit. They got one in, so they changed tactics in the spread. Back on the troll, Capt. May told the crew that they were right under the boat at 100 feet. Seconds later, they had "explosions," and six lines went tight. They got four in the boat, including one they had to hand-line is because the reel cracked. The line parted with the bigeye next to the boat, but they gaffed it just before it "disappeared into the depths."

The description came off Wheeler's website.

Utsch's Marina set the date for its popular and prestigious striped bass tournament. It will be Nov. 8-9. Details will appear in upcoming columns here. And Klug also reported by e-mail that a "yard sale" of fishing gear, and also household goods, will be held Sept. 21 at the Marina. Call 609-884-2017 for details.

The second of the Association of Surf Angling Clubs tournaments is Sept. 21. The New Jersey Women's Surf Fishing Club runs it, and it will be held in Brigantine. We'll have more on this one next weekend. The ASAC late-summer/fall tour of tournaments started today with the South Jersey Surfcasters contest in Avalon.

Badges for the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby are available for $25 from Ray Scott's Dock and Capt. Andy's Marina in Margate; Ship Shop in Ventnor; One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City; Dolfin Dock and Brennan Marine in Somers Point; Bayside Bait and Tackle, Fish Finder Marine and Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine; Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. The tournament dates are Sept. 23-Nov. 3.

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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 Fridays, 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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