Striped bass in the heavyweight division have appeared recently all around South Jersey.
Several 40-pound-plus class bass were topped by the first 50-pounder to be entered into The Press Fishing Contest this season. Sean Hillegass of Rio Grande caught one May 26 that weighed 52 pounds, 2 ounces and was 50 inches in length. He certified it at Off the Hook Bait and Tackle at Hinch Marina in Cape May.
Frank Hannum of Galloway Township put in a day's work Sunday when he hauled in 41-pound and 15-8 bass into Captain Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City. He was fishing with fresh bunker in Great Bay. Donald Bondiskey said it was a busy weekend at Captain Howard's and Hannum arrived at around 5 p.m. Bondiskey said the weigh-in "brightened" up the end of the day and weekend. He also said that an unnamed angler fishing with Hannum had two keeper bass, too.
A productive day despite the winds that whipped the area.
Gary Walton of Cape May Court House got a 41.2-pound striper at Townsends Inlet Bridge, according to a report from Avalon Hodge-Podge.
Marty Havlichek of Princeton pulled a 41-pound bass out of the surf in North Wildwood. It was weighed at Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May.
Chilly water and consistent winds have affected fishing. That combination might have something to do with the presence of fat striper. The water temperature listed on The Press' weather page Monday morning was 57 degrees Sunday at Steel Pier in Atlantic City.
Best of the Week
The Press Fishing Contest bestows Best Catch of the Week certificates during the season. Two people share the bragging-rights award for the week of May 19-25. Mike LaTorre Jr. of Egg Harbor Township has a potential state-record smooth dogfish pending approval. It weighed 20.40 pounds and measured 4 feet in length at Captain Andy's Marina in Margate. LaTorre caught it in Methodist Ditch off Risley Channel and Scull Bay inside Great Egg Inlet on May 24.
Area surf, back-bay, pier and even inshore anglers have been invaded by big dogfish, so it is not so surprising that a state record might be among them.
The second Best-of that has to be recognized: the 60-pound black drumfish submitted online by Ruth Thraen of Eldora. It was caught May 23 and weighed at Two Chums Bait, Tackle and Boat Rental in Sea Isle City. She was fishing Delaware Bay with husband Chris, who entered a 56-pound black drumfish into the Senior Division.
The contenders among entries from last week include the first 8-pound flounder of the season. It went to Steve Jenniss of Ocean City and was an official 8.21 at Fin-Atics in Ocean City. Jenniss caught it at 18th Street in O.C. on May 27. Phil Judynski of Avalon picked a 3.09-pound sea bass off Townsends Inlet Reef also Monday. Moran's Dockside in Avalon weighed it. And Randy Portnoy of Egg Harbor Towship got a 58-pound drum he registered at Dolfin Dock.
May 22 was a memeorable day for 4-year-old Patrick Tull of Millville with a 2.7-pound weakfish and a 2.4-pound flounder both caught in Flat Creek behind Strathmere. Whale Ceek Marina entered them into the Youth Division for Patrick.
It is easy to enter The Press Fishing Contest. Catch a fish and take it to a weighstation - 30 are located all over South Jersey - to be verified. Enter online with or without a photo at presscontests.com or mail the entry form. The entries can be viewed at anytime on The Press Fishing Contest website.
Kingfish kindred Lazz Santello of Sea Isle City sent a dispatch to proclaim that "kingfish are in" along the beach there. They are suddenly plentiful on other beaches, too, including those in Brigantine and Atlantic City. Bloodworm is the best bait. Artificial worms don't seem to be working yet.
In other news: Flounder and weakfish are strong in the back bays; spot, croaker and weakfish join kingfish around the rocks and piers; drumfish are piling up at Tussey Slough, Pin Top and north of Brandywine in Delaware Bay; sharks and small bluefin tuna are offshore; sea bass are solid on the wrecks and reefs.
Jim's Shark tournament out of Cape May had plenty of fish and 28 boats compete Saturday, according to a report from Matt Slobodjian. They weighed seven makos and hooked up many smaller fish that were released. Cracker Jack took the honors with a 260¼-pound mako, while On Time scaled a 230-pounder; and Sea Esta had a 178-pounder.
Slobodjian said the crews also connected with blue sharks. He reported they were caught along the 20-Fathom Line.
The Local Boys Flounder Tournament, held a couple weeks back, had four fish within two ounces of each other. Kyle Fauth took first with a 5-2 catch on the Matty-Lynn skippered by Bob McDonnell. Three 5-0 fish came next. Bryan Morgan was second with a 23-inch tie-breaker over Ron Aita and Jason Cadiou, who split third with 22¾-inch fish. That weigh-in must have been fun.
Coming up this week: The Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament has its 29th classic Saturday with the captain's meeting at 6 p.m. Friday at the Brigantine American Legion Post 396 (call LIBT president Kim Kirk at 609-412-0641); South Jersey Shark out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May on Friday and Saturday with the captain's meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday (call 609-884-2400); Recreational Fishing Alliance Bass River Flounder on Saturday with the captain's meeting at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Breeze's Bar and Grill in New Gretna.
The LIBT funds the Atlanti-Care Mobile Mammography unit, and the Bass River event benefits the RFA and Tucker-ton Seaport and Museum.
Shep on Fishing on Air and Ray Scott's Dock teamed up to offer a free back-bay fishing trip for up for four each month.
There are four ways to enter: Call Shep on Fishing on Air from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on 1400-AM WOND at 609-927-1100 or Ray Scott's 609-822-6819, or e-mail:
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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 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: