The beach at Holgate opened Saturday and surfcasters wasted no time.

The Forsythe Wildlife Refuge was posted with signs by the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association volunteers a couple of weeks back, and surfcasters have been eager for opening day ever since.

The beach there is open only for "walkers" as Margaret O'Brien described them Monday from Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven.

Chris Thornton of Shamong was among those walking and angling on Labor Day, and found flounder waiting there. He said Monday that he only had to walk a mile down the beach while casting and retrieving a jig and Gulp with a teaser hook. He picked off 10 short flounder and two keepers.

O'Brien said one trick to increase the catch in the surf there was to tip the Gulp with fresh spearing. She said two guys who tried that Sunday caught more than anyone.

Flounder fishing is strong around Long Beach Island. O'Brien said Miss Beach Haven fished the ocean in Saturday's rough conditions and racked up 63 keepers for those who toughed it out. She said Capt. Frank Carmada. reported customers started out using 8-ounce weights and then went to one-pound weights to hold bottom. Some anglers came back with limits despite the wind-blown seas.

Pop's Pride with Capt. John Koegler out of Morrison's Marina in Beach Haven has been catching keepers every trip he makes to Little Egg Harbor Reef, according to a report from Jim Hutchinson Sr. of the Beach Haven Charter Boat Association. And, when Koegler can't get outside when the wind is blowing, he stays in the back bays and racks up blowfish.

Down at the southern end of South Jersey, Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May that flounder fishing is the "best it's been" at Cape May Reef. Jim's weighed a 9.91-pound flounder for Ross Dickinson of Cape May that was entered into The Press Fishing Contest.

Other significant flounder catches from around the area: Sterling Harbor Marina Bait and Tackle reported Ken Freeman of Upper Black Eddy, Pa., caught 9-4 and 5-7 fish at Reef Site 11 off Delaware, and Justin Fesler of Cape May Court House caught two flounder to 22 inches near Cold Spring Inlet in his Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayak; Grassy Sound Marina in North Wildwood reported John Thompson of Paulsboro caught a small sea bass while fishing from the pier there and while he was bringing it in a 23-inch flounder gobbled the sea bass, took the hook and wound up on the deck.

The Press Fishing Contest had some fat flounder entered recently. The contest continues to Oct. 31 with $100 gift certificates in 12 categories, and bestows certificates for best-catch of the week. For the week of Aug. 13 to 24, flounder ruled during a run of doormats throughout August. Marco DiSario of Williamstown caught a 14.97-pound flounder Aug. 21 at Wildwood Reef and entered it at Moran's Dockside in Avalon. Allen Watts of Somers Point might have had a shot at it with an 11.85-pounder he caught in Absecon Inlet and registered it at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. But the weekly bragging-rights certificate goes to DiSario.

Other recent interesting Press Fishing Contest entries: Allen Cohen of Ventnor with a 2.85-pound, 42-inch needlefish caught Friday and entered into the Senior Division at Ship Shop in Ventnor and Keegan Rothman, 7-year-old from Northfield, with an 11.79-pound sheepshead weighed at Fin-Atics in Ocean City.

Andy Grossman reported from Riptide Bait and Tackle that Chris Devone of Brigantine caught a 105-pound wahoo and two yellowfin tuna 40 miles off Absecon Inlet on Sunday.

O'Brien called back Monday with news from the Rebait that Dave Bentley was returning to the dock with a mahi and a 55-pound bluefin tuna. Many of the offshore trips by boats out of Long Beach Island have been to Lemke's Canyon, O'Brien said.

Bonito and little tunny have been reported at Barnegat Ridge, she said.

Another boat that had on offshore success in Saturday's less-than-ideal conditions was Diamond Girl with Larry Stout Jr. out of Ocean City. Brennan Marine in Somers Point weighed a 58-pound wahoo, a 35-pound yellowfin tuna and mahi that he found at Wilmington Canyon.

Brennan Marine weighed another big wahoo, this one 66 pounds, on Friday. Jeff Polcer, Marty Berglung and Bill Carris on Hi Seas Drifter trolled ballyhoo at west wall of the Wilmington.

Capt. Ricky Wheeler fished the Wilmington on Saturday on Saltitude out of Canyon Club in Cape May and reported raising 12 white marlin. "Best of the year, so far," he reported by e-mail.

A busy tournament schedule around South Jersey begins Saturday and continues throughout the fall.

The 29th Stone Harbor American Legion Stephen C. Ludlam Post 331 runs an open tournament for anglers to fish from beach or boat for flounder, weakfish, striped bass, bluefish, kingfish, croaker and tautog . The captain's meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Legion, 117th St. and 2nd Avenue. The entry fee is $30. Call Jim Lutz at 609-254-2763.

The Association of Surf Angling Club opens its end-of-summer and fall tour in Avalon on Saturday. It is sponsored by South Jersey Surfcasters. Registration is $50 for six-person teams and $10 for individuals from 6-7 a.m. Saturday at the Avalon Recreation Center, 3000 Avalon Ave. Beach-access restrictions are waived for the contest hours for contestants only, and teams are requested to limit their beach buggies to a maximum of three, according to team contact Dan Siteman (609-287-8411).

The New Jersey Beach Buggy Association has its 20th Children's Surf Fishing, also on Saturday. Anglers 16-and-under can register for free from 8-10 a.m. at Bathing Area 1 at Island Beach State Park. Call Tim Burden at 732-279-3177.

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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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