Fish for red drumfish in the surf around Cape May. They are biting very early in the morning on mullet as bait or on Gulp twister tails on 3/8-ounce to 1/4-ounce jigs.

The Press Fishing Contest wraps up with the 2012 winners appearing in a super display appearing in today's paper.

The contest had lots of great entries with photos that appeared online all season, which was May 4 to Sept. 28. A number of the bigger fish caught inshore were relatively early in the season.

Drew Hemerich of Brigantine picked a 66.5-pound black drum off the beach in Brigantine on May 15 to win Other Than Boat.

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Brian Lipski of Philadelphia got a 55-pound striped bass in the surf at North Wildwood on May 31 to take that coveted title, and Chris Stewart of Egg Harbor City caught a 50-pound bass on June 10 to win Boat/Bay Inshore.

Plus, Bill Kephart of Brigantine got a 9-pound, 4-ounce bluefish in the Brigantine surf on May 16.

Gary Goll of Cape May Court House took Senior Division with a 37-pound, 8-ounce striper May 17. He also had entries for a 26.22 striper on opening day and 6.05-pound weakfish on May 22. Goll is 65 and says he fishes "every day" now that he has retired from Unisys. He mainly fishes the 8th Street Jetty and the beach in Avalon.

Another interesting trend that developed this season - in addition to big fish early - was an invasion of big cobia. Denise Marie Theiler of Little Egg Harbor Township caught one that weighed 34 pounds for the Women's Division title.

John German of South Dennis and the captain of the partyboat Miss Avalon took a day off to go fishing on Blind Luck with Gary Twiggs of Cape May Court House. They went to 3FB off Cape May and brought back 66 and 48-pound cobia.

All three of those cobia were caught Aug. 19.

Another cobia entry weighing 50.8 pounds was caught two days earlier by Chris Bieberbach of Cherry Hill.

The Most Unusual Division is always interesting and often fun. This year, it was a little tougher than unusual, so Kenneth W. Able at the Rutgers University Research Station on Great Bay was contacted for some advice. He confirmed what stood out as the winner.

Evan Winokur of Margate, fishing with father Barry three miles off Ocean City on Aug. 13, caught a 2-pound houndfish. It was 38 inches in length. Houndfish are those long, narrow fish with a nasty beak we sometimes hear about leaping into boats and injuring or even killing anglers, mostly in southern waters.

There were other contenders.

Bill Kleinow of Little Egg Harbor got a 3.71-pound smoothback puffer June 19 in Great Bay, Rich Biester of Paoli, Pa., caught a 3.2-pound oceanic puffer at Wildwood Reef on July 30, Joe Miskofsky of Bellmawr caught a 2.76-pound remora Aug. 30 at The Cigar, and Kevin Gandy of Millville got an 8-ounce lizardfish June 17.

Another season trend: Plenty of puffers were reported throughout the area this year. One that was not in the contest weighed 6.44 pounds caught by Russell Rodjinske of Hammonton inside Absecon Inlet.

On the final day of the contest, Mark Onofrio of Northfield caught a 1.2-pound octopus on hook and line with crab as bait inside Great Egg Inlet. One problem: Octopus are related to mollusks and are not a fish, and this is a fishing contest. Incidentally, another octopus was reported caught on a hook and line in the same area by another angler.

Another entry that got some attention for Most Unusual was an 18.88-pound sheepshead from Eian Donati of Egg Harbor City. That was a contender mostly because of its unusual size, which is a Press Fishing Contest record.

There were a other records and notable catches this year, which we will get into in next Saturday's column along with some Youth Division details.

While on the subject of contests, results are in for the early stages of the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby and the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.

We are already approaching the end of the fourth week of the two-month Derby, and it has not been red-hot action according to the information supplied by headquarters at Capt. Andy's Marina in Margate.

Linda Davoli of Brigantine leads the women's division with a 13-pound striped bass caught in week two. She also won bluefish that week with a 3.2-pound catch. Gary Rzemyk of Coral Gables, Fla., took striped bass with a 14.4 fish and Gary Born of Brigantine had a 1-pound, 4-ounce kingfish, both in the second week.

Don Brown of Margate took week three striper with a 15.14-pounder and Dina Parenti of Brigantine won kingfish with a 12.8-ounce catch.

The striped bass and bluefish entered into the Classic are starting to put on some weight. Robert Vallone of Little Egg Harbor Township is on top of the leaderboard with a 28.88 bass caught Sunday with bunker at Loveladies. Courtland Foos of Wilmington, Del., made his latest visit to Long Beach Island pay off with 22.06 and 18.69 bass. Randy Swartley of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township slammed a 16.13-pound bluefish on bunker at Surf City, also Sunday.

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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 Saturdays in the sports section.

Call 609-350-0388 or email

You can also hear Shep''s on-air fishing reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on WOND 1400 AM and at


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