Some of the fishers who attended the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting Thursday night at the Atlantic County Public Library in Galloway Township expressed concern that extending the summer flounder season by eight days might come back to affect us in the future with more restrictions if the state's quota is surpassed.

Others said there are just not enough boats and crews out fishing this year, mainly because Sandy put a hurting on docks and marinas where they berth, to even get us close to the limit.

Dick Herb, captain of the charterboat Escapade out of Avalon, is the acting chairman who was in charge of the Marine Fisheries Council on Thursday night. He said Friday that he has no problem with the two extra days that were authorized. The recommendation of extending the season by six days was changed to eight during the meeting, which was covered by Press of Atlantic City reporter Rich Degener.

Other proposals called for an 11-day extension or no change.

If the windy, rainy weather and cold water doesn't give us a break soon, the quota may not be close to threatened (challenged).

Brook Koeneke, captain of the Duke of Fluke docked in Somers Point, said Friday morning from the back-bay partyboat that just in the past week they had what seems to be a typical stretch. He said fishing was "fantastic" Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off Drag Island near Somers Point.

"We had some fun." he said.

On Wednesday, it slowed. He shifted to behind 16th Street in Ocean City on Thursday and they "had some fun" again catching flounder.

On Friday morning, he was trying to maneuver into a good drift a half-mile behind Ocean City, and he had 54-degree water and could not see Somers Point nor all the way across Ocean City because of fog.

It was not raining at the time he was on the phone, but he said the air was "thick."

"The weather is not right," Koeneke said. "We get a couple of decent days and then a couple days of not-good weather."

He said his mornings "could be a hell of a lot better" with customers. He had 18 and 13 on recent morning excursions.

Concerning the newly extended summer flounder season to Sept. 24 from Sept. 16, Koeneke said he is "more than a little concerned" that the extension might "come back to bite us". He said he is happy for the "ocean" guys that they got an extension that will get them close to the start of the sea bass season on Sept. 27.

Closing that gap does not mean much to the back-bay partyboat and rental boat operators because they don't go outside. The Duke sails 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily from Higbee Avenue in Somers Point.

Sea bass season

Incidentally, sea bass season is open right now to Aug. 8 and then closes before reopening Sept. 27 to Oct. 14, and then closing again, and reopening again from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. The daily possession limit is 20 fish at 12.5-inch minimum.

And there is a wide group of anglers who just like to catch flounder and have no real stake in what the regs are.

Jay LaVance of Tuckerton showed up twice recently in The Press Fishing Contest. He was fishing with girlfriend Melanie Hulick on May 31 when they limited out on flounder. He caught a 5-pound, 1-ounce flounder that day and entered it into The Press contest at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Islands.

Then, on June 30, he won the Yacht Club of Pleasantville flounder tournament with a 3-15 flounder.

LaVance has been fishing the Great Bay area "all his life" and says he "loves" the flounder season extension. He likes to fish the ocean for flounder. "It's far better" out there that time of year, he said. So for him, the longer the season, the better

He had just returned home from fishing mid-day Friday on a scouting trip for the Sunshine Foundation tournament based in Tuckerton. He said the water was coffee-color and cold, and he was fishing with live bunker, live spot and live mullet, and had a short striped bass.

Contest updates

The Press Fishing Contest is in midseason form with quite a variety of fish around.

A king mackerel that weighed 15 pounds, 7 ounces was entered by Ricky Wheeler of Northfield on July 9. Wheeler is the captain of several charterboats in the Cape May area, but he got a chance to reel in some fish himself while out with Carmen Rone on the Good Karma. Rone said they had a few bluefin tuna they released that day. They were fishing some lumps off Cape May.

Rone said Friday that that was the first offshore trip he made in nearly a month because of weather and conditions. They had a bunch of yellowfin tuna on that trip.

It is a theme repeated over and over again. The weather dictates, and when conditions allow, fishing comes on strong.

Rob Barrett called from Dolfin Dock in Somers Point with an excellent report of flounder. He had three anglers limit out recently. Dennis Dembroksi of Cherry Hill took the lead in the Dolfin Dock flounder contest with a 5.9-pounder. He was fishing behind Brigantine. The other two limits came from Ship Channel and Rainbow Channel between Somers Point and Ocean City. Bob Fowler from Delaware County, Pa., and Bob Phillips of Ocean City had them.

Greg Gregory and Jim Boney had what Barrett described as an "up the river grand slam". They combined for a keeper striped bass, two black drumfish in the 10-pound class, croaker, white perch and a weakfish they released. They were no doubt in Great Egg Harbor River.

And in freshwater fishing action at Birch Grove Park, three 11-year-olds - C.J. Brown, Charley Murray and Adam Gitzas - each picked off largemouth bass on artificials. Brown's weighed 2.89, Murray's 2.71 and Gitzas 1.45. Barrett said they brought them into Dolfin in a 10-gallon bucket filled with water, and with an adult in tow, weighed them and took them back to Birch Grove where they were released.

The Press Fishing Contest started May 5 and continues to Oct. 31 with $100 gift certificates in 11 categories from sponsoring bait and tackle shops and marinas. In addition to those prizes, The Press Fishing Contest awards weekly best-catch bragging-rights certificates. All it takes to enter The Press Fishing Contest is to catch a fish and take it for verification to a participating weighstation, located all around South Jersey. Then enter it on-line with photo and details if available or mail it in. The entries appear all season on The Press of Atlantic City website.

Shep on Fishing on Air and Ray Scott's Dock in Margate teamed up to offer a free back-bay fishing trip for up to four people each month during the season. Anyone interested in taking an all-expense paid fishing trip for up to four can call Shep Talking Fishing on Air at News-Talk 1400 WOND at 609-927-1100 between 7-8 a.m. Saturday or Ray Scott's anytime at 609-822-6819 or email: or

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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:

You also can hear Shep on 1400 AM from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays, plus reports Fri-days, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on 1400 AM and on our website: