We get a couple of nice days strung together, and fishing breaks out offshore and in the back bays and just about everywhere in between. Good reports are coming in from all around South Jersey.
Summer is just a few days away, and it looks as if big-game fishing is headed our way, hopefully along with va-cationers and summer residents.
John Sowerby, captain of the Hooked Up II that is part of Cave Man Sportfishing Cha-rters, said Monday that his charterboat made its first offshore tuna run out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May. He was not on board while Capt. Kobey Treadways piloted the boat for a successful debut that racked up four yellowfin tuna up to 80 pounds. Sowerby said it was a Saturday-to-Sunday over-nighter. Sowerby said all the fish attacked trolled ballyhoo during the day. They were working between Wilmington and Baltimore canyons.
Sowerby said this offshore tuna season is starting much later than last year, but last year was the unique year and this year is more the traditional. He said they were "slapping" tuna on Memorial Day last year. He said they had 73- to 74-degree water last year that dropped off to 68 sometimes. This year, it is more like 64-70.
Because of the cooler water, Sowerby hopes to see bigger bluefin tuna move in closer to the beach in 20-30 fathoms.
Matt Slobodjian filed a report from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May that described yellowfin and a few bigeye tuna along the 500-Fathom Line between the Wilmington and Baltimore.
South Jersey Marina was also the center of the shark competition world this past weekend. The South Jersey Shark Tournament was headquartered there. The contest was delayed one week by another weekend weather wipeout June 7-8, but they still had 52 boats enter. The heaviest mako took a pile of prizes that totaled $77,208.13. The boat was the Sea El U registered to Jack Hondros of Collegeville, Pa. The weight of the mako: 200 pounds.
The winning catch for the heaviest shark of the contest was a 280-pound thresher on the Jack N Ginga with John Fasciano. That prize was $3,000. Warden Pass with Val Fishera had a 248-pound blue shark for $1,500, and Generation with Robert Guarino had a 242 thresher for $1,000. The Warden Pass hooked up with seven sharks and released the other six. The total purse was a whopping $122,536.
Hinch Marina in Cape May weighed a 249-pound mako at Off the Hook Bait and Tackle for Dallas Clevenger that was caught on Going Deep with Capt. Bradford Foster. And Brennan Marine in Somers Point put a 150-pound thresher on the scales for Vince Buonoscere. He was on the Dolly's Watching and they were fishing the 28-Mile Wreck area.
Drumfish were very decent in Delaware Bay this spring. In fact, the last two weekly best-catch awards by The Press Fishing Contest were big drum. Rob Pettit of Vineland caught a 75-pounder on May 31 to take the best-of award for the week of May 26-June 1. Don Stein of Fortescue topped that by 10 pounds with his 85-pound black drumfish caught June 4 to take the weekly prize for June 2-8. They are both filed online on The Press' website. Stein's drum was certified for the Senior Division at Higbee's Marina in Fortescue, and Pettit's was weighed Longreach Marina on Mullica River.
Last week's winner will be announced next Tuesday. An earlier contender for last week is a 5.24-pound flounder caught June 12 by Mason Fargo of Harleysville, Pa. It was submitted for the Youth Division at Bayside Marina in Brigantine.
Flounder catches continue to be strong and with more fish out by the inlets than before.
The annual Brutus Flounder epic held Saturday in the Somers Point area is typical of what back-bay fishing is like. Tournament director Walt Gregory said they had 126 compete and 30 keepers. There was one 4-pounder - the 4.06-pound winner for Mark Evans. Second went 3.95 to Melody Price and third was 3.8 for Steve Colao. They earned the anglers $600, $200 and $150, respectively.
Gregory reported they had eight 3-pound fish and the rest were all 2 pounds. First, second and third were really close in length: 22 inches, 22 and 21.
Gregory said Evans was fishing on his boat R Brutus. Gregory got a bottle of scotch out of the deal.
The contest was in its 15th season and raises money for the co-sponsors, Elks Lodge 2563 in Egg Harbor Township and Somers Point American Legion 911, to support charities that benefit veterans and handicapped children.
Another popular contest is coming up this Saturday. It is the 26th Carpenters Local 255 Flounder Pounder. It benefits the South Jersey Cancer Fund. It carries a $500 first-place prize, $300 second and $200 third. Registration forms are at Absecon Bay Sports-man Center in Absecon, Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic, Dolfin Dock in Somers Point and North Pointe Marina in Brigantine. Lee Scanny is the tournament director (609-653-8995.)
There are other good back-bay reports, including from the Wildwood area. Mark Mastolone and Shane Black, a couple of 13-year-olds from Bayville, caught 21- and 20-inch flounder in Jenkins Channel on spearing and squid, according to a report from Grassy Sound Marina. Maryanne Anagnou at Dad's Place said an angler caught 13 kingfish from the pier. The pier anglers also caught flounder and decent-size crabs.
Another 8-pound flounder was captured recently. This one was 8.68 and caught by Jordan Hammel off Cape May, and weighed at Jim's.
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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:
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