A few striped bass in the 30-pound range popped up the last couple of weeks, and more recently, at least three 40-pounders showed up.
Fishing is not consistent area-wide for striper yet, but it is starting to improve to the north and in Delaware Bay.
Mike Ferrara, of Brigantine, outlasted a 49-pound, 13-ounce striper while fishing in the Brigantine surf with a clam Wednesday. He took it to Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine to be weighed. Ferrara moved into first place in the Riptide Striper Derby, run by Andy Grossman. Ferrara headed back to the beach with the fat bass taking up a lot of room laying in the back of his four-wheeler.
The fishing vibe then went to work, and almost everyone who drove by and recognized Ferrara or his vehicle did an abrupt turn or pulled up and jumped out to take a look at what probably is the biggest bass caught so far this fall in South Jersey.
At one point, Ferrara had a half-dozen vehicles collected around his truck.
Another heavyweight — this one 47 pounds — was caught Oct. 22 in the fifth week of the Atlantic County /Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby. Joe Cook, of Absecon, earned the $500 first-place prize and a $50 weekly prize in results posted by tournament director Don Brown from the headquarters at Capt. Andy’s Margate Sport Fishing Center.
Linda Davoli, of Brigantine, was another big winner. She earned $300 and the Mabel "Doc" Johnston Memorial for the heaviest fish caught by a woman with a 27-pound striper, and two weekly prizes of $50 for her bass and a 2.68 bluefish.
Other grand-prize winners of $300 were David Callaway, of Pleasantville, for a 1.04-pound kingfish, Tom Van Duyne, of Ventnor, for a 5.2-pound tautog, and Brown for a 4.9-pound bluefish.
Van Duyne also had a weekly prize with 4.75-pount tog. Kirk Manganaro took a pair of weekly awards with 3.13-pound and 2.04-pound blues. Richard Coles, of Pleasantville, won a weekly kingfish title with a 1.02-pound kingfish, and Gary Rzemyk, of Ventnor, had a weekly striper prize at 21 pounds. Weekly awards earned $50.
Davoli said Friday that striper moved back into the Brigantine surf in solid numbers. She said she caught eight while casting lures, and they were spread out all along the beach from the north end south. Davoli had one 15-pound keeper she released, and the others were all shorts.
Dave Showell just returned to Absecon Bay from a Friday striper guide trip to Absecon Inlet and the back bays. He was surprised first of all with a 17-inch summer flounder that he, of course, released. Showell said there are more short striper around than he’s seen for some time. He hooked up two shorts of 14 and 26 inches on Friday. He picked off a 20-pounder Tuesday.
He is hearing about the plentiful bait north of here, and he suggests that the bass and blues are hanging up there as a result. But he also said he does not think they are too far off schedule
Betty and Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park has weighed in five bass that were more than 20 pounds caught in the surf of Island Beach.
It started early this week. They had a 20-pounder come in from the beach at Seaside Park on Friday morning.
Brown reported Tom Lazar and Joe Nigro were among a crew that went from the docks in Margate to off Long Beach Island on Wednesday and had non-stop action on bass between 15 and 20 pounds with one 25-pounder and bluefish up to 15 pounds. Brown said they were caught jigging and trolling.
Fred Klug reported from Utsch’s Marina in Cape May that Capt. Bob Cope on the Full Ahead put his charter on striper in Delaware Bay on Thursday.
Klug described the day on Full Ahead as “plenty of action” with a 32-pound bass among a lot of small bass. Utsch’s is running its popular fall striped bass contest this weekend. He said they had 25 boats enter and 23 fished Friday.
In between, there are lots of striper in the back bays again. They are mostly shorts but there are a few keepers in the mix.
Mike Edge, of Northfield, got a 29-pound bass on Wednesday in the Margate back bays.
Tautog are still around rockpiles and sod banks. Matthew Vanaman, 6, of Mays Landing, got a 3.12-pounder while fishing with his father, Paul, in Longport.
George Foreman, who heads the Fishlanders Surf Fishing Club and is a member of the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, runs the Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs events for young anglers all over South Jersey. He is the winner of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association’s Youth Educational Award. The award will be presented Sunday afternoon at Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant.
The Press Fishing Contest will put the wrap on its 60th season next Saturday by publishing the 2013 winners.
Gift certificates for $100 will be presented to the champs in Youth Freshwater, Youth Saltwater, Women, Seniors, Flounder, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Boat Inside 3 Miles, Offshore, Other Than Boat and Most Unusual.
Plus other significant catches will be recognized.
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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: