hot spot flounder margate

Drift for flounder in the back bays of Margate and Longport with minnows, squid and mackerel as bait on top and bottom rigs and jig heads with rubber tails.

Doesn't it seems as though we have been anticipating this weekend for a long time?

As just about every angler knows, today is the start of summer flounder season and Sunday is the start of black sea bass season. And we might get some decent weather.

And other things are lining up to hopefully launch a great mid-spring stretch of fishing with surprising weakfish catches, fat and lean striped bass and bluefish. And toss blowfish, kingfish and white perch into the stew.

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Here are some examples of what can happen.

Lee Scanny was running the Fish N Fun partyboat last Saturday. It was pouring rain and he had a troop of Boys Scouts from Harleysville, Pa., on the morning trip, and he had a party of seven bachelors in the afternoon. Despite the conditions, the two trips combined for 23 keeper flounder. The Fish N Fun sails from Captain Andy's Margate Fishing Center in Margate.

Scanny said "it hurt" to put them back.

Mike Tabasso took the Atlantic City-based pontoon partyboat High Roller out for a back-bay outing inside Absecon Inlet and racked up a spring grand slam of keeper striped bass, keeper weakfish, many bluefish and keeper flounder. He said that trip was a couple of weekends back.

The High Roller, docked at Gardner's Basin, has been out several other times and totaled nine flounder between 19 and 22 inches, and just one short. Nine out of 10 ain't bad!

Tabasso said the flounder actually were a by-catch because they were anchored up for stripers with clam as bait.

Brook Koeneke piloted Duke of Fluke from its berth in Somers Point on four pre-season jaunts. He said the flounder are there right where you would expect them to be this time of the year residing in the bays and flats between Beesleys Point and Great Egg Inlet. He did some research and reported four keeper-size flounder and lots of bluefish. He said signs are "pointing to the positive side."

Family Fisherman, another back-bay specialist now berthed in Sea Isle City, has been working the back bays there.

Captain Tony Hoffman said he had two charters that resulted in weakfish and bluefish. Hoffman's boat is built in the mold of the other pontoon partyboats and will run similar twice-daily schedules.

Joan Barrett at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point said some big flounder are hanging around the Route 52 fishing piers. She said it looks like the season is going to start with a blast.

Mike Hurchik reported a 40-inch striped bass was caught from the Ventnor Fishing Pier on Friday by Damon Dukes. And there was an echo of last year when Hurchik reported spots "galore." Spots were a season-long staple last year, and it looks like it could happen again.

The Press Fishing Contest is off to a very decent start. The first Youth Division and the first striped bass entries are entered. Dylan McGraw of the Villas section of Lower Township caught a 6-pound, 8-ounce weakfish on Sunday. It was entered at Budd's Bait and Tackle in Villas. Anthony Pitucci of Brigantine had the first striped bass entry with a 22.2-pounder caught Wednesday in the Brigantine surf. Bayside Bait and Tackle in Brigantine certified it.

John Loew of Newport picked off an unusual catch Tuesday when he hooked a 6-14 bowfin while fishing in Salem River.

He was going for largemouth bass with a bobber and gizzard shad. It was weighed at Higbee's Marina in Fortescue. He has it swimming in his brother's fish tank.

"It's got some teeth ... like a piranha," he said Friday.

There are lots of other stuff on and off the water in celebration of the flounder season opener.

A contest with a different twist starts today in Atlantic City. It is the Weekend at Kelly's Flounder and it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. It runs Saturday and Sunday to June 23.

Registration is a one-time $20 fee and can be made up to 11 p.m. each preceding Friday at Kelly's Corner Pub, 2721 Arctic Ave. in A.C. Entrants can fish from boat, beach, dock or jetty and can weigh one heaviest fish each day. Call 609-233-9774.

Dave Showell runs what he calls a Customer Appreciation "grand slam" this weekend at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center for flounder, striped bass, weakfish and black drumfish, and because there are lots of blowfish around, he might even add them. Captain Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City has a three heaviest flounder contest that ends 6 p.m. Sunday. Both are free with no preregistration.

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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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