shep's hot spot

Drift the back bays of Hereford Inlet for flounder with minnows, squid, mackerel and other cut bait on the incoming tide.

We get good weather and we have good fishing. It seems like that's the program for weeks now.

If Mother Nature gives us a break for awhile, fishing is likely to get better. Minnows are slightly less scarce for the traditionalists who prefer them as bait for flounder, and the cold water has to warm up eventually ... doesn't it?

Offshore fishing had a twist for a number of captains who went out for bluefin tuna. Some of them got "covered up" - as one report described it - by big bluefish.

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Ted and Mike Wood took the Woodshed to the Lobster Claw for bluefin. They found 70-degree water and bluefish that went to 33 inches and more than 12 pounds, according to a report from Brennan Marine in Somers Point.

Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven posted that some captains looking for tuna described "alligators," meaning big blues, 40 miles off Long Beach Island along the 30-Fathom Line.

"Slammer" blues were not only offshore. Rich Ginnini of Margate caught a 13-pound, 32-inch bluefish Saturday while fishing from the Margate Pier. Emil Conti of Ventnor was the correspondent for that dispatch.

Bluefin were found at other well-known offshore stretches.

Libation Charters had a successful first overnighter of the season July 4-5. Adam Hedbavny was the angler of record for a 112-pound bluefin on the charter that returned to South Jersey Marina in Cape May. Charlie Langan from S.J. Marina reported they were at the Hot Dog and they also had three other bluefin and a hammerhead shark, all released. That is the heaviest bluefin so far this season at South Jersey Marina.

Libation Charters headed off again a day later and that trip resulted in 14-year-old Charlie Wilson catching his first bluefin, an 85-pounder.

Chris Lowrey of Clayton caught a 72-pound bluefin on the Wildwood-based Y-Knot charterboat with Capt. Joe Gillen. That was near Massey Canyon.

A lot of flounder in the 3-pound class were taken recently.

Christine Hill beat out her husband with a 31/2-pound flounder to his 23/4-pounder on a rental boat from Dad's Place in North Wildwood on Sunday. Howie Pollard got a 3 1/2-pound flounder from the Dad's Place Pier the same day.

At Grassy Sound Marina also in North Wildwood, 7-year-old Kayla Quirk caught an 18-inch flounder and 8-year-old Jacob Michels caught a 3-pounder. Both were from the pier there.

Mary Wright of Blackwood caught a 3-pound flounder while fishing on the Royal Flush partyboat out of Wildwood.

Flounder are also getting better at Cape May Reef, Reef Site 11 and Old Grounds, according to a report from Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood.

Sterling Harbor stages its 20th annual Duke of Fluke contest this Saturday. Anglers can register up to 7 a.m. Saturday. They have first, second and third in two divisions: single-heaviest and five heaviest, plus a Duchess women's and junior under age 15 divisions. And they have first, second and third for kayak anglers. The cost is $300 in the boat division and $65 for kayak. The rules meeting is 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Call 609-729-1425.

Grassy Sound Marina also has a popular flounder tournament this Saturday. This one is for the back bays between Corson Inlet and Cape May. It has a boat division with an entry fee of $200 per boat and a category for those who fish from the pier for $25. It also has two prize categories for single heaviest and three heaviest flounder. Call 609-846-1400.

And don't overlook kingfish, croaker, triggerfish and weakfish, and yes even some striped bass along the beaches and inshore. Sea bass and flounder are also inshore.

John Richards from Braintree, Mass., caught a 2.77-pound sea bass on the Miss Avalon docked at Avalon Sport Fishing Center.

The Press Fishing Contest runs to Oct. 31 and has $100 gift certificates in 11 categories. Plus, we award weekly best-catch certificates during the season.

Bob Gorbig of Egg Harbor City went against the trend of medium-size flounder that rule the waters here in South Jersey when he caught a 9-pound flounder on June 24. He earned the bragging-rights certificate for the week of June 23-29.

An early contender for last week (June 30-July 6) is Lester Kyle of Pedricktown with a 94-pound black drumfish he caught on July 3 and certified for the Senior Division at Higbee's Marina in Fortescue. That is the second big drum caught off Fortescue lately. It bumps the 84-pound drum caught by Don Stein of Fortescue on June 4.

Dick Herb said he had an unheard-of chilly 52-degree water Sunday in the back bays of Avalon where he had an experienced crew on the charterboat Escapade, and they came up empty. The water temp jumped up 8-9 degrees Monday and he had a charter of inexperienced anglers who went six for 12 with keepers in the warmer and somewhat cleaner water. "Like night and day," he said.

Herb is the acting chairman of the state's Marine Fisheries Council. He emphasized there is an important meeting 4 p.m. Thursday at the Atlantic County Library on Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway Township for those interested in an extension of the summer flounder season beyond the current Sept. 16 closing date. Herb said it's the main item on the agenda. The meeting is open to the public for discussion.

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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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