Just about every reporting station had the same combination of enthusiasm and relief for the area-wide great summer flounder season opener.
The first weekend, particularly Saturday, showed a strong sign that we might have some excellent action brewing.
Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsmen Center in Absecon was right-on when he understated: "The flounder have arrived." That seems to be a very appropriate description.
In a canvas of weighstations, there did not seem to be any of the bigger "doormats," but there were lots of 3- to 6-pound fish in the coolers.
Plus, weakfish continue to be a surprise.
Sunday's black sea bass season opener was something of a washout because of the weather, including a wind that just does not seem to ever calm down.
Flounder were surely the big happening. After the struggles many in the fishing industry endured since Sandy, the great flounder catches were definitely much-needed good news. And business was good, which brought smiles to many faces after a tough winter and early spring.
One of the neat stories came from Morgan Delany at Whale Creek Marina in Strathmere. He said 5-year-old Taggart Kohles was out fishing with local captain Jim Mumman on his boat Scoter. Young Taggart, of Strathmere and Philadelphia, had three bites that resulted in three keepers, the heaviest going 2.8 pounds. Batted a thousand!
Delany said he had 17 rental boats out Saturday and that every one had fish and almost all had keepers. He said the cleaning tables were constantly occupied.
Local veteran Herb Hollinger ran a flounder contest that Gary Riordan won with a 3.7-pounder. The rental boat top catch went to Jake Wisocki with a 3.9-pound weakfish.
Robin Scott called Saturday "absolutely killer" in the Margate back bays. One of the rentals came back to Scott's Dock in Margate with six keepers. When the day's catch was added up, Axe Patel said every rental except one had a keeper and most had more than one or two. The heaviest flounder for the day at Ray Scott's went 5-9.
Here are more samplings:
Garry Errickson of Goshen had four keepers before he caught the first short and then added another keeper, according to a report from Grassy Sound Marina. Chad Schwegel of Vineland and brother Adam Jr. totaled five keeper flounder, a striped bass and five bluefish for the weekend from the pier there.
Brennan Marine in Somers Point reported what might be the best catch as far as numbers. Mike LaTorre and his crew had 15 keepers and 29 puffer in Great Egg Inlet. They had clam for chum and bait for the puffer and used Gulp for flounder. Brennan's heaviest weigh-in of the day was 5.21 for Don Carty.
The Fish N Fun with Capt. Lee Scanny had 18 keepers on the morning run and eight more in the afternoon. Jammel Farrell took the pool on the early trip with a 3.14-pounder, and Kevin Smith had three of the eight later in the day, all 19 inches.
Also, Avalon Hodge-Podge weighed a 2.93-pound flounder for 9-year-old Griffin Barber of Stone Harbor. It was caught in Patty's Hole, one of the most popular and productive early-season spots.
Dave Roesch won Showell's weekend contest at Absecon Bay S.C. with a 6-pound flounder. He also had a 5-2 weakfish. He was fishing with Bob Wenzel, who was third in the flounder division with a 4-pounder and also had a 7-1 weakfish. Roesch doubled his fun when he took the prize in to Capt. Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City.
Luke Robinson was second at Absecon Bay S.C. with a 5-pound flounder. Terry Rotellini weighed in a 17-pound striper and a 5-pound bluefish to pick up a couple of prizes, and limited out on flounder.
Showell said the boat ramp in Absecon was full and that he heard of lots of limits.
OK, you get the idea: The first day of flounder was exceptional.
Weakfish seemed to be all over the region, too, with bluefish, some up to 10 pounds. Black drumfish are reported on the Jersey side of Delaware Bay in addition to off Delaware. Striped bass show no signs of leaving.
And we wrap up with big news for the offshore set.
Off the Hook Bait and Tackle at Hinch Marina in Cape May, and Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle both weighed mako sharks. Warden Pass with captain Val Fichera had a 213-pound mako and Rob Kurian on Sea-Easta had a 121-pound mako, and both boated keeper bluefin tuna.
The heaviest weigh-in of the weekend goes to Jimmy Crudele with a 263 mako that measured 6-foot-6 at Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle. Mike Cunningham at Sea Isle B&T reported Crudele had light tackle for an hour fight, and they worked a break from the 30-line to 200 fathoms. He described lots of life with big whales and dolphin feeding.
"Impressive," he said.
Yeah, Saturday was very impressive on the local scene.
* * *
Become a fan of Shep on Facebook at :
* * *
Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Tuesdays and 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: