shep on fishing hot spot striper ocean city

Fish for striped bass with clam or bloodworm, and tautog with green crab or clam, on the Route 52 causeway fishing piers.

Maybe what we need is this forecasted milder weather to give fishing a boost. Think of this: Temperatures of more than 60 degrees and maybe even pushing 70 by mid-week. Won't that be different? Water temps are creeping up degree by degree and winds are expected to lay down some.

Fishing this past week can generally be described as a few striped bass with fewer tautog and winter flounder. That could change this week if the weather warms up as predicted. White perch fishing is very decent on Mullica River.

At least more tackle shops are open or opening and more captains are getting their private, partyboats and charter and open boats on the water.

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Margaret O'Brien weighed the first bass of the season at Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven. It was caught on the "beach side" by John Smith on Tuesday. It weighed 13 pounds, 2 ounces.

Fishin Fever with captain Tom Daffin caught a keeper and two undersized bass Thursday in Delaware Bay. Fred Klug at Utsch's Marina in Cape May where Fishin Fever is docked said Daffin recorded water temperatures where he was in the bay of 47 degrees, which is getting up there to get the striper moving.

Donald Bondiskey weighed an 8-pound, 1-ounce bass for Terry Rotellini of Egg Harbor at Capt. Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City. Bondiskey also weighed another bass this week that went 8-8.

"Bachelor party" and "whacked" are terms that often kind of go together. Mike O'Neill had a slightly different take than what you might expect on that combination of words.

He heard tautog are biting at Ocean City Reef, so that's where he is heading today on the charterboat Stray Cat. He has a party of bachelors who are not leaving the dock at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet until 2 p.m. Sounds like they need some recovery time. But he was expecting to "whack" the fish when they get there.

On another recent trip, O'Neill saw some signs that the season might be in transition. He saw a laughing gull, an osprey, two pairs of black skimmers, one willet and least terns, which to him signaled a change for the better.

Ship Shop in Ventnor opens today. Karen Santoro said she will be there "bright and early." Dolphin Dock in Somers Point and Avalon Hodge-Podge both opened last weekend.

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If you are up early enough today, the annual youth fishing tournament, which is a tradition at Birch Grove Park in Northfield on the opening day of trout season, signs up contestants from 7-8 a.m. It is open to anglers ages 15 and under.

The contest starts at 8 a.m. and continues to 11 a.m. Anglers under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license.

Another event is the Cape May Fishing Flea Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Cape May Elementary School, 921 Lafayette Ave., Cape May.

New, used and vintage rods, reels and lures plus nautical and boating equipment will be for sale. Admission is $4, kids 12 and under free. Call 732-350-5674 for details.

The Ocean City Fishing Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, as many might already know. The main event on a busy year-long celebration is a super surf-fishing tournament set for Oct. 17-19 on the O.C. beaches. Mike Hayes of Palmyra is the chairman of an event that could attract 100 teams from all over the East Coast, including possibly 28 Association of Surf Angling Clubs in New Jersey. Cash awards will be $20,000, according to George Ingram.

That monster event tops the ASAC schedule. The spring events include the 51st H.W. Shaner on May 4 in Brigantine, the 32nd Karl J. Boehret on May 11 in Sea Isle City and the 22nd Surf N Land May 18 in Brigantine.

These are all open to teams and individuals. The ASAC schedule also includes four youth tournaments.

In addition to today's at Birch Grove, they are the Atlantic City Just for Kids on June 8, Brigantine Alliance on July 27, Harvey Cedars on Aug. 16 and the Family Day at Birch Grove on Sept. 28.

The busy schedule of tournaments is starting to develop. The Brutus Fluke is June 15, the South Jersey Carpenters Flounder Pounder is June 22; and Simply Bassin on Long Beach Island is May 4-June 30 (Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven, Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait and Tackle).

Details on these events and others will appear in subsequent columns.

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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:

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:

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