Fall is the favorite time of year for many anglers in South Jersey.
We are coming off a gorgeous full Harvest Moon, the nights are a little chillier to get the bait fish motivated to move around and the water temps dropped to under 70 degrees, and fall begins Sunday.
Don Brown cut out of Captain Andy's Marina in Margate on Thursday to get in a flounder trip before the season closes after Tuesday and had one of his best ever. He said Friday that they "scratched" around looking for a spot for most of the day. They went north past Atlantic City Reef and had a couple of flounder. Fishing with Andy Duncan and an angler he knows only as "Frenchy," Brown tried four spots. On the way back to Great Egg Inlet, they stopped at A.C. Reef.
He said it "turned on like a light switch" and they "maxed out" in an hour and half. Brown said there were a lot of nice fish and they hauled two 9-pounder over the rails.
Brown said they had long strips of cut bait plus squid on bucktails. They started out with 2-3 ounce bucktails in a slight wind. When they got back to Atlantic City Reef for their fifth stop of the day, the wind had picked up a little so they rigged out with 4-ounce bucktails and the flounder "were snapping them up," Brown said.
Brown said they left them biting and came back in the dark.
Joan Barrett said they weighed three 5-pound flounder at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point. The 5-pounder caught by 10-year-old Somers Point resident Charley Sturgis tops that list. He was fishing with his dad Eric in Ship Channel, which goes to show that fat flounder are still in the back bays. Jim McGettigan of Somers Point caught a 5-pound flounder with a bucktail and white tail inside Great Egg Inlet and Steve Berge of Egg Harbor Township got another 5-pounder with killer minnow and squid at Ocean City Reef.
"Fall fishing is always fabulous," Joan said.
Over at Ray Scott's Dock in Margate, Robin Scott said their is quite a variety of fish in the back bays. Rental-boat customers reported small flounder, triggerfish, tautog, sea bass, sea robin and blowfish. "They had a real good time" being out in great fall weather, Robin said.
Striped bass continue to show up. A number of anglers plug the sod banks or under lights at night this time of year, and give the rockpiles, piers and rips in the surf a try. At least one was reported caught next to an Atlantic City pier this week, and another in the surf on Long Beach Island.
Margaret O'Brien at Jingle's Bait and Tackle reported the ocean water temperatures dropped to mid-60s in the surf at Long Beach Island. She reported a "few more" stripers and some small bluefish, plus small and keeper flounder, spots and kingfish.
Tautog have been the other top catch. You can keep just one but lots are being hooked and, hopefully, released. Barnegat Inlet jetty, T-Jetty in Atlantic City and 8th Street Jetty in Avalon are three popular spots for tog.
They can also be caught at the Route 52 Bridge between Ocean City and Somers Point, and along most of the sod banks and off bulkheads. Green crab is the best-known bait for tog, but fiddler, calico and white-legger crabs are also used, and don't forget clam.
There is a lot of good stuff happening all around South Jersey this coming week and next weekend to get fall going.
Leading off the lineup is Monday's opening of the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby on the beaches of Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
The cost to sign up is $25 at Absecon Bay Sportsmen's Center in Absecon; One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City; Ship Shop in Ventnor; Fish Finder Marine, Bayside Bait and Tackle and Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine; Brennan Marine and Dolfin Dock in Somers Point; and Captain Andy's Marina and Ray Scott's Dock in Margate.
Badges and dash cards are required to obtain separate permits to have four-wheel vehicle access to each of the Atlantic County beachfront communities. They are available at Atlantic City at the engineers office in City Hall, and at the police departments in Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
A season permit is required to drive on the Brigantine beach. The fishing categories are striped bass with a 32-inch minimum, bluefish at 18 inches or better, tautog at 16 inches and kingfish at 13.
The Atlantic City In-Water Powerboat Show hauls into Sen. Frank S. Farley State Marina in Atlantic City for its 29th four-day run (Sept. 26-29). The admission is $15 and the schedule is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The annual Family Fun Day and Youth Fishing Tournament is Saturday, Sept. 28 at Birch Grove Park. George Foreman with the Association of Surf Angling Clubs, which runs the fishing part, said it starts at 7 a.m. with signups for young anglers age 15 and under that continue to 9 a.m. when the Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs contest starts.
Foreman said there will be lots of prizes, including bicyles and a custom fishing rod among other gear.
The third Association of Surf Angling Club fall tour is in Harvey Cedars next Saturday with a contest sponsored by the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Club.
One of the feature events on the summer competition schedule is the Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament. The LIBT also runs a golf outing, and that is Sunday, Sept. 29, at McCullough's Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township. The money raised from the golf and bluefish events benefit the AtlantiCare mobile mammography unit. The entry fee is $125 per person. Hole sponsorship signs are $100. It is an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Call Kim Kirk at 609-412-0641 or Cathy Stanley at 610-212-1687 or go to
Those of you reading online can get to the signup for the Women's Surf Fishing Club of New Jersey tournament today on the Brigantine beach. Signups are 6-7 a.m. at Community Presbyterian Church, 1501 W. Brigantine Ave., Brigantine. The entry fee is $10 for an individual and $50 for a six-member team. A $10 one-day Brigantine four-wheel drive vehicle access fee is available at signup, or club members will transport anglers to designated beaches.
And, anyone interested in a fishing flea market can do so at Utsch's Marina in Cape May from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., also today.
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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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