Joseph Cook, of Absecon, holds the 47-pound striped bass he caught on the beach in Atlantic City on Tuesday. It is 49½ inches long.

A 47-pound striped bass caught on the Atlantic City beach by Joseph Cook, of Absecon, on Tuesday got surfcasters, and really anyone waiting for that fall run of big fish, wired.

Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said it was 49½ inches long and caught with clam. That fish is entered into The Press Fishing Contest and the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby. It will be hard to beat in the Derby, which runs to Nov. 3.

Striped bass are mostly schoolies, but there are a solid number of keepers to keep the hopes up that the chilly weather and water temperatures dropping to the lower 60-degree range will get this thing started.

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Mike Cunningham reported from Sea Isle Bait and Tackle that he has back-bay anglers reporting catching up to 10 per outing, mostly after dark and in the early morning, and telling him that the keeper ratio is one in 10.

They are pitching Zooms and Fin-S and soft plastics. One tossed an Atom Popper and got two keepers in Townsends Inlet.

A couple of bass with heft were reported in different areas. Josh Falcone at Viking Outfitters at Viking Village in Barnegat Light said a friend of his caught a 42-pound bass in Barnegat Inlet. Scott Albertson of Scott's Bait and Tackle reported a 33-pounder was caught trolling a Stretch 25 inshore off Long Beach Island more toward Barnegat.

Linda Davoli is a well-known surfcaster who has lived in Brigantine all her life. She knows all the spots along the Brigantine beach. She hit one of them early this week after predicting bass would show up. She said she caught 18 one day and 11 another, not all keepers. She took three keepers to Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine to weigh them for the fall striper derby that Andy Grossman runs. She is first, second and third with 24-10, 13-4 and 12-pound striper.

She said the beach-buggy crowd has been calling to find out where she is fishing, and sometimes crowding her favorite spots. That's because Davoli is officially on fire. She also picked up a 26-pound red drum. And early Friday, she went to the north end and hooked up 27- and 30-inch bass.

She said she is catching them with surface plugs in shallow water inside sand bars.

Falcone also said big bluefish are biting at Barnegat Ridge. That fishery was confirmed by a report from Betty and Nick's Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park.

The first month of the Derby in Atlantic County has had few entries. It has divisions for striped bass, bluefish, kingfish and tautog.

Weekly striper prizes went to Gary Rzemyk, of Ventnor, with a 21-pound bass on Oct. 17 and to Kirk Manganaro, of Egg Harbor Township, at 21 pounds on Oct. 22. Manganaro also has a bluefish winner at 3.13 pounds back in the first week on Sept. 27, and Davoli with a 2-8 blue on Oct. 8.

Jigs McMenamin, of Ventnor, is the fourth-week tog winner with a 4.75-pounder caught Oct. 20, and George Bucci,of Northfield, was the opening-week winner with a 4.19-pond tog.

Kingfish entries have been thin, but David Callaway and Richard Coles, both of Pleasantville, had a duel within the contest. Callaway took the first week with a 1.04-pound entry and Coles took the second week at 1.06 pounds on Oct. 6.

The Press Fishing Contest wraps Thursday.

A 4-9 Atlantic spadefish caught by Jim Machesani, of Sea Isle City, while fishing on the Starfish partyboat in 50 feet of water was entered in the Most Unusual Division at Sea Isle Bait and Tackle. Chris Higgins, of Port Republic, caught a 7.33-pound weakfish and weighed it at Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic. Jay LeVance, of Tuckerton, got a 5-1 weakfish and certified it at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystics Island. Ed Rutecki, of Sea Isle City, picked a 5.54 red drumfish at Townsends Inlet. It was entered into the Senior Division at Moran's Dockside in Avalon.

And T.J. Kepner, a 5-year-old from Somers Point, had two largemouth bass entries for the Youth Division. One weighed 5.05 at Brennan Marine in Somers Point and the other 4.12 at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point. Both were caught at Birch Grove Park in Northfield.

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


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