Paul Thompson said he was "hanging on" Friday while talking on the phone out in the ocean on a fishing trip with a crew of anglers on the Porgy IV partyboat.
The veteran captain said they were managing to pick tautog despite the rocking conditions. Several of his patrons had their six-fish limits. And some of the fish were "6 or 7" pounds, he said.
He said it was a tough day out on the ocean, but he said he always has people who want to go fishing.
He said he was 10 miles off, and the first surprise is that the cell phone call went through and he answered. He said he had 43-degree water, which is about right for this time of year, and a sloppy southerly wind on the day before winter arrived.
It was around 3 p.m. and he was thinking about calling it a day in a little while.
Thompson is scheduled for 8-hour trips leaving the dock at South Jersey Marina in Cape May at 8 a.m. He will be running at least to the new year, and then see what's happening and make a decision.
He said there is not much going on with striped bass off South Jersey, but he did hear radio reports from boats out of Delaware that they were trolling up a few stripers.
Most of the other reports were from last Saturday. Cold and wind kept most captains dockside this week.
Those reports were excellent, however.
The Atlantic Star charterboat out of Wildwood Crest had all on board rack up limits of sea bass with some in the 6-pound range and many 3-5 pounds. They also had some bluefish. Local anglers among the crew with great catches included Rudy Fristachi of Rio Grande with a 20-fish sea bass limit to 6 pounds plus blues; and Mike Jung of Cape May Court House with his limit while working a metal jig.
The Atlantic Star is reservation-only for offshore sea bass and tilefish Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays to the end of the year.
The sea bass season is open to Dec. 31 and then closes for a couple of months, so now is the time to get on one of the offshore trips to catch giant sea bass.
The Starfish partyboat docked in Sea Isle City pulled up inshore and all on board had their limit of tautog. The Starfish will continue operations to at least the end of January.
Tom Daffin, captain of the charterboat Fishin Fever IV out of Utsch's Marina in Cape May, said its big-fish time. He said he has had some great trips with limits of tog to 10 pounds. Daffin has dates for charter and open seats for tog fishing through January, and switch to codfish, pollack and ling starting February. Daffin took Fishin Fever IV offshore on Dec. 1 and caught cod, pollock and ling, and sea bass.
Mike O'Neill on the Stray Cat charter/open boat at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet, also says this is the time of the year for bigger tog to move in. O'Neill also has reported some remarkable tog hauls. He runs "cast and blast" combo duck hunting and fishing trips that so far have been more angling than shooting. He will be running all winter, and does not let snow deter him from sailing if he has a crew ready to go.
Doris Mae IV with captains Ron and Charles Eble has likewise had some excellent trips from Barnegat Light. All on board had limits of sea bass, many 2-6 pounders, plus some porgy and ling. Cindy Eble said Friday fishing is "fabulous" right now.
The North Star partyboat is docked at Ocean City Fishing Center, and captain Tim Barrus runs 16-hour offshore trips Sunday, Wednesday and Friday leaving at 1 a.m., and has 8-hour trips at 8 a.m. the rest of the time. The North Star has a daily schedule to Jan. 25, according to Mary Barrus. They did "really well" last Saturday, she said.