Longtime fishing columnist Mike Shepherd tells you what's biting, where to find them and how to catch them. His column appears Saturdays in The Press.

"Double weird!"

That's the way Ron Eble, captain of the Doris Mae IV partyboat, described the winter fishing off South Jersey right now.

The reason: They caught weakfish on two recent offshore trips. One of those trips also had a hake. That is a genuine odd-couple combination, for sure.

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The sea bass catches continue to be something to rave about.

Eble said Friday that the giant black sea bass fishing is "fabulous." He said they "leave them biting" with all on board bringing back limits each time.

And he said they had their best day of the season Wednesday for porgy on top of the awesome sea bass action.

A capsule of last weekend's Doris Mae IV fishing provides quite a variety of deep-sea denizens. In addition to sea bass and porgy, the weekend outings also had pollock and bluefish in the 3-6 pound class.

A 4-pound weakfish hit the deck Friday and a 5-pounder plus a 12-pound hake showed last Saturday.

"I don't know what's going on ... global warming?" Eble said. He said they fished 60 miles off Barnegat Inlet and registered water temps of 52 degrees.

Eble said they hardly have to move the boat, but sometimes they reposition it on a wreck to catch something other than sea bass, such as porgy, when they start hitting the limits of 15 sea bass per person.

The captains of the Doris Mae IV took the day off Friday because of the 20-30 knot winds. Ron and brother Chas run the Doris Mae IV from Barnegat Inlet on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. But Ron said they stay dockside in high winds. They were gearing up to sail Friday night for their regular Saturday offshore journey.

Call 609-494-7468 for schedule details, and to make a reservation.

Action at the wrecks

There is without a doubt a lot of life on the wrecks this winter. And, while codfish have not shown up off South Jersey, there are reports of them moving in to the ocean waters just to the north of us.

The Atlantic Star out of Wildwood Crest also has similar outstanding catches to rave about.

Recent Atlantic Star reports proclaimed: "Good weather, good fishing." They had some strong currents to deal with on the last couple of trips, but the catches of sea bass continued to be super. They had a 7-pound sea bass pool winner Sunday. And the previous day, Pat Amato of Egg Harbor Township had a 6.5-pound pool winner among his limit of sea bass.

Call Atlantic Star at 609-729-7776.

Mike O'Neill, captain of the Stray Cat open/charterboat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet, said the tautog action is more "on and off" now than steady like it has been so far this winter. He said they are getting "moody" and may be going into hibernation mode as the inshore water temps cool down.

So he has one of his "cast and blast" combination duck hunting-fishing trips planned for Tuesday. He is going tog fishing one more time Sunday and then switching over to offshore sea bass next Saturday, Jan. 26. Call 609-391-9630.

Joel Mick has the Evelyn Anne charterboat based at Kammerman's Marina at Snug Harbor in Atlantic City. He had an inshore tog trip last Sunday with three on board that had a few keepers among a catch of 35-40. He measured 46 degree water temps in 100 feet of water off Atlantic City. Call 609-652-9241.

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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 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on 1400 AM and on our website:


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