We have had a great variety of fish being caught in and off South Jersey as we take off into fall.

Noel Feliciano enjoyed a rare a break from running One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City and took a ride on the beach there Monday afternoon to see what was happening on the opening day of the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby.

He said he saw one surfcaster make two casts and catch two striped bass while plugging next to the Garden Pier in A.C. He said they were both schoolie-size bass and that the angler released them. But that's a good sign that striper fishing might start popping soon. Feliciano said there are some 12- to 19-inch bass around.

Down the beach a stretch, Don Brown reported from Captain Andy's Margate Fishing Center that bass are "on the beach" there, too. He said mullet were cruising the surf in Margate and Longport. Brown said the bass on that end of Absecon Island were 20-30 inches.

Bass have to be 32 inches to qualify for the Derby, and the keeper minimum is 28 inches.

Beach-access permits are required to drive on the beach, and they can only be obtained with contest entry badges and dash cards, in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport. It costs $25 to enter the contest. Of course, you can park and walk the beach, too.

Feliciano said the beach was "beautiful" after his scouting-report ride uptown Atlantic City, and added that it is well worth the 25 bucks. Enter at One-Stop, Captain Andy's, Dolfin Dock and Brennan Marine in Somers Point, Ray Scott's Dock in Margate, The Ship Shop in Ventnor, Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon and in Brigantine at Fish Finder Marine, Bayside Marina Bait and Tackle and Riptide Bait and Tackle.

The Derby continues to Nov. 3 and has grand and weekly prizes for tautog, kingfish and bluefish in addition to striped bass.

More mullet expected soon

Elsewhere, surf-fishing has had its moments but does not quite look to be in midseason form.

Mullet moved into the surf but don't seem to be thick yet. When they are close to the beach, bluefish are often there. As a result, 1-4 pound blues have been caught from the beach and inshore with mullet on mullet rigs.

Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood reported Ray Pashuk of Wildwood Crest and Dale Hummel of Sydney, Australia, were plugging the beach picking schoolie bass and had one keeper. And Frank Scirrotto of Cherry Hill had a super early-season pick with 30- and 31-inch striper chunking sardines - that's what the report said -in the back bays of Wildwood, and he also got a 20-inch flounder the same way.

The streak of 10-pound-plus flounder entered into The Press Fishing Contest pushes right up to deadline. The season is closed as of Wednesday (Sept. 25) here in New Jersey.

Jim McKinley of Seaville got a stretch-run flounder that weighed 11.21 pounds. It was caught in the Avalon back bays on Saturday with live spot. He weighed it for The Press Fishing Contest at Moran's Dockside in Avalon.

We have had eight flounder weighing double figures entered into the contest. The heaviest received so far (with just today to go catch a challenger) went 14.97-pounds and it was caught back on Aug. 21 by Marco Disario of Williamstown.

There have been a decent number of 8 and 9-pound flounder entered, too.

Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle reported that Jim Musemeci of Brigantine had several keeper flounder up to 5 pounds in the back bays inside Absecon Inlet.

The Press Fishing Contest continues to Oct. 31 and offers $100 gift certificates at participating bait and tackle shops and marinas located around South Jersey.

Offshore happenings

Offshore action muscles back into the news with some great reports. The Tea Cup in the vicinity of the Elephant Trunk had a couple of calls for having yellowfin tuna, mahi, white marlin and wahoo. It seems like it can be a daytime chunk and trolling tactic.

But the remarkable catches are still way down south at Washington Canyon. Some local boats are even journeying all the way down to off Oregon Inlet in North Carolina. Off the Hook Marina at Hinch Marina in Cape May reported Blaine Champlain, captain of Judge sportfishing, went on what was described as a double overnighter off Oregon Inlet. It paid off with 33 white marlin.

John Sowerby of Hooked Up II charterboat also out of Cape May has been advocating long trips, too. He reported another awesome offshore haul. He called it "fabulous" big-game action at Washington Canyon.

He also relayed an interesting story. Seems like a group from Mincerva, Ohio, in the Youngstown area, was scheduled for an offshore outing off Alabama near the oil rigs, but stormy weather raised up. They made a last-second appeal to Sowerby and he took them to the Washington. They got their money's worth with 20 yellowfin tuna and one bigeye.

Sowerby said it as almost all on the daytime chunk. He said the yellowfin were "swarming" around the boat. The bigeye took three hours on light tackle for yellowfin.

Sowerby said they "were the luckiest anglers anywhere".

A couple of youngsters fishing on Y-Knot out of Wildwood had a couple of nice tilefish. Kyle Killen, 15, had a 10-pound grey tilefish and Robby Grant, 10, picked a 19-pound golden tilefish, according to a report from Sterling Harbor.

Meanwhile, a few black drumfish were caught in the surf along with one red drumfish. Weakfish seem to be coming on and sea bass season reopens Friday. The surf has lots of spot with some kingfish and croaker.

The Northfield Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs contest is Saturday at Birch Grove Park in Northfield. It is for youth 15 and under, and registration starts at 7 a.m. according to George Foreman, who runs the event for the Association of Surf Angling Clubs. There are all kinds of prizes from bicycles to fishing gear.

And, the Atlantic City In-Water Powerboat Show is Thursday through Sunday at Sen. Frank S. Farley State Marina in A.C. Admission is $15.

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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: