Here's a departure from the long list of quality flounder and reports of break-out offshore action. There have been a number of unusual and almost-unusual but definitely very interesting catches around the area recently.
Bill Kleinow, retired chief of police in Little Egg Harbor Township now gone fishing, was trying for flounder at Intracoastal 131 in Great Bay on the boat Just Drifting on June 19. He hooked up with what he thought was a bluefish. When he and Perry Gargone netted it and got it on board, it blew up like a blowfish.
He took a photo on his cell phone and sent it to his wife Mary. She showed it to some friends but nobody could identify it.
So Kleinow decided to it take it into Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Island, where it was researched and identified by Scott Albertson as a smoothback puffer with the fancy name of Lagocephalus inermis. It weighed 3.71 pounds and was 20 inches in length.
Kleinow described the fish Friday as having two big teeth top and bottom. He said it is commonly called a rabbit fish in the southern climes.
It was entered into the Most Unusual division of The Press Fishing Contest. It is likely to be a solid contender for that title when the contest wraps Sept. 28.
Inshore lizardfish have won the Most Unusual crown in The Press Fishing Contest several times down through the years. Kevin Gandy caught one June 17 in Delaware Bay on the Bodacious party/open boat that Tim Smith runs out of Longreach Marina on Maurice River. It weighed 8 ounces and was 12.5 inches in length with a 4.5-inch girth. Gandy is from Millville.
They did not know what kind of fish it was, so they asked for help to ID it. A photo was relayed to the Rutgers Marine Field Station for research on Great Bay. After seeing what was described as an adipose fin behind the main dorsal, station director Ken Able said it was "reasonable" to classify it as an inshore lizardfish.
Brian Denver, 47, of Egg Harbor Township, caught a blowfish Wednesday in Ship Channel off Somers Point. He returned it to the water alive after weighing it with a hand-held scale and taking a photo on board his 28-foot Boston Whaler Miss Sugarpuss. Denver said it blew up like a beach ball. Blowfish are not unusual for this area, but the size of this one makes it notable. It weighed 10.2 pounds
The state record is 9 pounds, 10 ounces, and The Press Fishing Contest record is 9-12. By releasing it, Denver can claim neither but he does earn some respect. Both the state and Press Contest records date back to 1992.
Matt Cruse, a 35-year-old from Egg Harbor Township, caught a 2.33-pound, 38-inch needlefish in Rainbow Channel next to Ocean City. It was weighed and measured for The Press contest at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point.
He said he and his dad Gary, also of EHT, were back-bay flounder fishing on Father's Day when the needlefish attacked a bucktail. And, by the way, they also caught a couple of keeper flounder.
Gandy, who is 27 and was married June 9 - his wife's name is Melissa - said the day he caught the inshore lizardfish, patrons on Bodacious racked up 20 keeper weakfish. And on Sunday he hooked up with seven keeper-size flounder going to 3.7 pounds. So fishing in the Delaware Bay seems to be very decent.
The best inshore reports recently are of great sea bass and flounder catches on the artificial reefs. Mike O'Neill, captain of the Stray Cat charter/open boat berthed at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet, said to fish right smack in the middle of both the Ocean City and Great Egg reefs. He said they are "loaded" with flounder.
Ed Bronstein at Fin-Atics in Ocean City backed up O'Neill's report.
He said the flounder are "picky" in the back bays with small bluefish cruising around. He advised that some of the other reefs and wrecks should have sea bass and flounder if Ocean City and Great Egg reefs have them.
Bigeye tuna were added to the big-game lineup last weekend. They join yellowfin tuna, mahi, white and blue marlin along the 100-Fathom line of the canyons. And bluefin tuna are also starting to show up in the 30-fathom range.
A bluefin that weighed 137 pounds was caught on Jim Fowler's Tail Dancer last Sunday. Barbara Gates was on board and said they were trolling the 100 between Spencer and Baltimore canyons. Offshore Enterprises weighed the bigeye.
The offshore captains and crews are trolling ballyhoo plain and skirted, spreader bars, daisy chains and cedar plugs.
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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 Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section and daily online. Call 609-350-0388 or email email@example.com.
You can also hear Shep's on-air fishing reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7:05 p.m. on WOND 1400 AM and on our website at: PressofAtlanticCity.com