Despite a lousy start to November with the latest blast of wind and rain, there is some brighter news.
Four 30-pound plus striped bass were reported recently from Long Beach Island to Cape May, and that's after the 47-pounder caught last week that got the buzz going among South Jersey surfcasters.
The 59th Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic had two 30-pounders in the past week. Robbie Vallone, of Little Egg Harbor Township, moved into the lead of the Classic with a 30.66-pound striper he caught with a plug at Harvey Cedars on Sunday.
He held the lead for two days until Brian Schmidt took to the beach also at Harvey Cedars on Tuesday. Schmidt put Vallone into second when he weighed a 31.13-pound bass. Schmidt had a memorable day no matter what happens over the final four weeks of the Classic because he also carted a 22-pounder off the beach.
There have not been any bluefish entered into the Classic, but the striper count just topped 10.
John Tefankjian, of Brigantine, got one in Absecon Inlet that weighed 33 pounds Wednesday. It was certified at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine.
And just in time for the popular Utsch's Marina Striped Bass Tournament next weekend, the first bass of the season was weighed at the Cape May headquarters. Fred Klug reported from Utsch's that Pete Didio got a 35-pounder while fishing on Capt. Jeff Clayton's charterboat Rolling Thunder on Thursday.
The 47-pound bass caught Oct. 22 by Joseph Cook, of Absecon, made it into The Press Fishing Contest, which wrapped up its 60th season Thursday. It was certified for The Press Fishing Contest at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. A great photo appeared with last Saturday's fishing column.
Other great stretch-run entries for The Press Fishing Contest include a couple of tautog weighed at The Ship Shop at Ventnor. Tom Van Duyne got one that went 5.15 pounds on Monday, and Len Kanoff entered one into the Senior Division that went 4.7 pounds.
We give anglers a week or so to get final entries in, so it will be a couple of weeks before we get to checking them out. To date, there are 146 entries. The Press Fishing Contest awards $100 gift certificates sponsored by local bait and tackle shops in the categories of striped bass, flounder, bluefish, most unusual, boat bay/inshore, other than boat, offshore, women, senior, youth freshwater and youth saltwater, plus a number of special prizes.
Linda Davoli, of Brigantine, has been showing them how to catch them in Brigantine. She owns first, second and third places in the Riptide Bait and Tackle's Striper Derby for bass caught on the "front beach" there with striper that weighed 26-14, 24-10 and 215/8 pounds. She has had several others while casting with a lure.
Up until the latest reports of striped bass, tautog catches were without a doubt the best thing going here in South Jersey. There are lots of small tog with nice keepers mixed in, but they have been plentiful around the rocks, such as at the Barnegat Inlet jetty, the T-Jetty in Atlantic City, the 8th Street Jetty in Avalon and the rocks around Townsends Inlet, plus close to the bridge pilings and sod banks throughout. Green crab is the best bait, and calico crab work well.
A few red drum have been reported, including one in the surf at Atlantic City by Jeremy Feliciano, who also got a keeper striper, with a lure and a stinger hook. "Skinny" metal lures with tube tails have been working in some areas. Sand eels and bunker have been around, and some surfcasters are also using clam as bait. And boat captains and crews have reported big bluefish at Barnegat Ridge, so trolling or jigging the inshore lumps might pay off.
Next weekend is a busy one for striped bass tournaments in South Jersey. There are three on the schedule.
Utsch's Marina in Cape May has its annual two-day contest Nov. 8-9. It offers some fat cash prizes. First place is $3,000, second $1,500 and third $750. Calcutta side bets could push those numbers higher.
The cost is $250 per boat. Sign up at Utsch's located at 1121 Route 109, Schellinger's Landing. Call 609-884-2051 or go on-line at capemayharbor.com. Call 609-884-2051.
Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle is running its first. Mike Cunnigham is calling it the South Jersey Striper Slam. This one is a little different because it is a winner-take-all for the cash with prizes for second and third, and it excludes Delaware Bay. The boundaries are Great Egg to Cape May inlets, and within three miles.
The registration is $125 with a maximum or five per boat. Plus for a $50 entry, you can fish from a kayak or from the beach, sod banks and bridges. It also has a Calcutta for heaviest three and for heaviest bluefish. Fishing hours are 7 p.m. Friday (Nov. 8) to 3 p.m. A captain's meeting is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 8 at Sea Isle B&T, 42nd St. and Park Road. Call 609-263-6540.
The Maynard's Cafe Jimmy Stewart contest was moved to next Saturday, Nov. 9, another consequence of the stormy start to November. They are calling this one the 13th and 14th annual because it was blown away last year by Sandy. Contestants can fish from boat, beach or jetty from Hereford to Little Egg Inlet.
The captain's meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Maynard's. Enter for $40 per person at Maynard's or Capt. Andy's Margate Sport Fishing Center, both on Amherst Avenue in Margate. Call Maynard's at 609-822-5723 or Capt. Andy's 609-822-0916. Proceeds go the Gold Foundation and the Children's Diabetes Foundation.
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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: