This is the time of year that reports start coming in about big flounder moving into the cooler inshore waters while some still hang in the deeper channels of the back bays and in the inlets. And that seems to be happening pretty much right on schedule.
The Press Fishing Contest just picked up three entries - two of more than 10 pounds and one for a 14-pounder -that are good examples of that mid-August pattern.
A 14.97-pound flounder is the heaviest so far in South Jersey. It was caught at Wildwood Reef by Marco DiSario of Williamstown on Thursday, and certified at Moran's Dockside in Avalon.
Richard DiGiacomo of Danville, Pa. put one in the Senior Division that weighed 10 pounds, 7.36 ounces when he registered it at Fin-Atics in Ocean City. It was caught Monday.
Bob Krzynowek of Galloway Township got a 10.65 flounder Aug. 15. This one came from Little Panama inside Absecon Inlet and was weighed at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.
So, we have one inshore, and one in the back bays.
DiSario said he fishes a lot in the summer from his little skiff in the bays. His pal Tyler Fruits suggested they go offshore in his boat Bird Play. They left Townsends Inlet and wound up at Wildwood Reef on a nice flat day.
DiSario said he makes his own bucktails - "couple hundred," he said.
And he was using one when he hooked up with the big flounder. He said it ran the boat and when they saw it, they realized they did not have a big enough net for it. So Fruits got a gaff and hooked it in the mouth. But the flounder did not like that and went crazy, and jumped off the gaff.
So they had no choice but to hit it with the gaff, which put a hole in it, but they got it on board. DiSario said they caught it at 8:30 a.m. and did not get to weigh it back at Moran's until late afternoon, so he thought it probably weighed more than 15 pounds when they first brought it on board.
Maybe it's the homemade bucktails that make the difference. Krzynowek ties his own, too. He uses what he described as a round-ball "jig-tail," and he ties the deer hair on them. He had Gulp shrimp as bait.
He was out on fishing bud Eric Krause's boat Green Apple. Krzynowek had long-sleeve shirt and long pants on as a buffer between him and the fierce greenheads around the marshes along Little Panama, but underneath he had his lucky T-shirt from his family that says "Dad, Good Luck Fishing". Krzynowek is 71.
The photos of Krzynowek and DiSario, plus DiGiacomo are on The Press Fishing Contest website.
Young anglers were in the action, too. Hailey Walker, a 10-year-old from Egg Harbor Township, caught a 4.15-pound flounder while fishing from one of the Route 52 Bridge fishing piers. It was entered, also with a nice photo, into the Youth Division of The Press Fishing Contest at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point.
Rob Barrett said Friday from Dolfin Dock that bay fishing has slowed off Somers Point but that Great Egg Inlet was packed thick with flounder.
Nunce Sacco of Linwood had three keepers to 23 inches while drifting at No. 4 Buoy in Great Egg on Wednesday. He was using Gulp, squid and minnows.
The local fishing community is no doubt aware that the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 big-game tournament was this past week at the Canyon Club in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Md.
They have had a remarkable tournament with 117 sportfishing craft complete with crews and captains chasing after $1,808,910 in prize money.
After four days, 226 of 237 white marlin, 13 of 15 blue marlin and one sailfish were released. And in a surprise, through Thursday only 15 tuna were caught, along with three mahi and five wahoo. The final fishing day was Friday, but official results won't be announced until Saturday morning after all the information from the two weigh stations is compiled.
But there is some offshore news to report from recreational nontournament skippers.
Michael Del Rosario of Margate files regular reports, and is latest sortie was "under the light of the blue moon" on Tuesday night in search of bigeye tuna. His crew consisted of Curt Ricciardi, Jeremey Juffe, Ken Hayek, Mike Barker, Mike Weiner and Chris Polizza. They planned well and went north to Hudson Canyon to avoid the traffic from the fleet in the Mid-Atlantic 500.
They started trolling at midnight and quickly had two rods bouncing. In an hour-and-a-half, they had bigeye estimated to be 140 and 160 pounds. They were firsts for Ricciardi and Weiner.
And keeping to the theme of using custom-made lures, Ricciardi manages Offshore Enterprises in Atlantic City for Jon Weiss, and Del Rosario said the tuna "gobbled them up."
The haul also included three longfin tuna.
And here's a first-time report from the new tackle shop in the Barnegat Light area. Josh Falcone opened Vikings Outfitters at Viking Village, and his big news was that striped bass started showing up in the area. He said they are mainly 16-24 inches with the biggest he heard of going 29 inches.
He said a "ton" of bait moved into the back bays of Barnegat Inlet, including spearing, mullet and herring.
Surf-fishing on the north end of Long Beach Island has a lot of flounder and nice-size kingfish, and brown sharks at night.
Viking Village has a number of charter and partyboats berthed there, and Falcone said flounder are also in the ocean and bay. The partyboats report limit catches of 2- to 5-pound flounder.
And to add to the variety, Barrett said a 10.37-pound sheepshead was caught by Doug Large of Egg Harbor Township from the old bridge fishing pier between Longport and Ocean City.
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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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Drift for flounder in Great Egg Inlet with minnows, squid and Gulp.