Offshore fishing is at an early peak and many memorable trips are reported by captains from all over South Jersey.

The Bonnie Lee made its first voyage of the season Sunday and the Cummings family racked up an excellent score.

Bob Cummings said they sailed to Spencer Canyon and trolled an assortment of baits and lures in 80 to 100 fathoms.

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Jon Cummings took the stick when a blue marlin struck. They estimated it weighed 350 pounds. It was the first blue marlin he hooked.

Bruce Cummings Jr. got his first white marlin. Bob said it was all over the top of the water as they chased it down for a mile.

"Pretty fish," Bob said.

His brother Brian also fought a white marlin. A 4-foot mako gobbled a green machine. All were released.

By the way, they also picked up 15 yellowfin tuna.

"Pretty good trip," Bob said in an understatement. One blue marlin, two white marlin, a mako and 15 tuna. That's more than pretty good.

Bob said they had beautiful blue water but that it seemed a little chilly - 66 to 72 degrees - for what they were catching.

On board were Bob and sons, Jon, 19, and Jason, 28, of Northfield; Brian of Egg Harbor Towhship; Bruce and Bruce Jr., 16, of Northfield; and Bob Ogden of Mays Landing.

John Sowerby took a charter on Hooked Up II out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May to Spencer Canyon on Sunday. His customers were also treated to a white marlin display of jumping, twisting and splashing.

Charlie Langan, charter coordinator at S.J. Marina, said it took 45 minutes to get it to the boat, a few minutes on board for photos and "hugs" and back in the water it went. They also had five yellowfin tuna and a mahi to bring back to the dock.

Jerry String went to the tip of Baltimore Canyon with brothers John and Dean Picente from Virginia on an Undercover Charters trip from Sea Isle City. They fought 15 yellowfin tuna and kept three.

The other consistent and just as important fishery right now is a real improvement in the number of keeper summer flounder throughout the back bays, inlets, inshore and in the surf.

The Press Fishing Contest got a new flounder leader with the first double-figures entry. John Austin of Cape May Court House picked an 11-pound, 8-ounce, old-fashioned doormat fishing in a rental boat last week. It was certified at Grassy Sound Marina in North Wildwood, which is running a flounder tournament July 9. Call 609-846-1400 for details.

Sean Windfilder, a 12-year-old from Somers Point, caught a 3.77-pound flounder with minnows in Ship Channel, reports Rob Barrett from Dolphin Dock in Somers Point. Chris DeMaio of Drexel Hill, Pa., picked up four keepers, also in Ship Channel.

Flounder fishing in the back bays of Margate is described as lots of hits, lots of bites and lots of fish 20-plus inches. That report from Ray Scott's Dock in Margate put fishing like that all over the bay waters.

Dennis Ondiejka picked up a 4-pound flounder while fishing inside Hereford Inlet with Artemis Anagnou. That was reported by Mary Ann Anagnou at Dad's Place in North Wildwood.

The Press Fishing Contest received a number of interesting entries recently, including a smooth butterfly ray from Ray Scott's Dock. It weighed approximately 100 pounds and was caught by Michael Rubin of Blue Bell, Pa.

Joyce Beam Esser of Kempton, Pa., caught a 5.28-pound sea bass and entered it in the Women's division. It was caught June 13 on Townsend Inlet Reef.

Mike Hassell of Avalon caught a 22-pound wahoo Sunday at Baltimore Canyon. Mark Koochembere of the South Seaville section of Dennis Township picked a 4.17-pound weakfish on June 17 in the back bays of Avalon. All were certified for the contest at Moran's Dockside in Avalon.

Entries for The Press Fishing Contest can be submitted at:

Go to Sports and then Boating and Fishing and scroll down to the fishing contest logo. It costs nothing and the prizes are $100 gift certificates from sponsoring bait and tackle shops and marinas.

All you need to do is catch a fish and take it to a nearby tackle shop and marina for verification and then mail an entry form, or better yet enter online with photo and details of the catch if available.

Here is an item from Rhode Island of interest to local striped bass fans.

Peter Vican, a well-known striper hound around Block Island, set a state record there with a 77.4-pounder. It was caught around 3 a.m. Sunday with live eels about one mile off the southwest tip of Block Island.

Vican fishes two or three nights a week with his fishing partner of 12 years, Don Smith. Vican, 60, and lives in East Greenwich on the mainland, broke his own state record of 76-14 from 2008.

The world record is 78-8 set by Albert McReynolds while fishing from an Atlantic City jetty in 1982.

Vican said Friday just before heading out on a fishing trip that this is the second time he just missed McReynolds' world record. He has been challenging that record all these years.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing column and Shep's Hot Spot appear Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section and Thursdays in At The Shore. Call 609-350-0388 or email:

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