Mike Shepherd

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.

Here's another sign of spring: The Press Fishing Contest is underway. The contest is presented by TackleDirect, which is located on Tilton Road in Egg Harbor Township.

There are a couple of new features for the 2014 contest season, which starts today and runs to Oct. 31. A Catch and Release category with two prizes has been added, and two prizes will be awarded in both divisions for Youth Freshwater and Youth Saltwater, both of which are for ages 14 and under.

Other categories include Summer Flounder, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Kingfish, Tautog (blackfish), Women, Senior (65 and older), Freshwater, Other Than Boat (surf, pier, jetty, sod bank, bulkhead), Boat Bay/Inshore (inside three miles), Offshore (outside 3 miles), Most Unusual.

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All catches have to be verified at participating bait and tackle shops and marinas. There is no cost to enter and no pre-registration. Catch a fish, register it and enter it. Online entries can be submitted at PressContests.com after verification, along with photos and details if available.

Catch and Release entries must have a witness, be accompanied by a photo and entered online. Some species of freshwater fish, such as largemouth bass, can be kept in a cooler or bucket filled with water to be weighed and then returned to the water alive.

Each category carries a $50 prize at TackleDirect. And $100 has been set aside for a special best-catch prize to be determined at the conclusion.

A Catch of the Week bragging-rights certificate and publication of the leaderboard every other week starting May 17 round out the contest.

The Press Fishing contest goes back 61 years, and enters another new phase this year. It has operated under many different formats down through the years. Categories have been dropped to reflect fishing trends.

For example, striped bass were not eligible for awhile.

Direct questions, comments and suggestions can be referred to contest coordinator Mike Shepherd at 609-350-0388 or

Tournament time

In addition, the schedule of tournaments and fishing-related events gets busy this weekend here in South Jersey.

The Association of Surf Angling Clubs has its first contest today with the 52nd H.W. Shaner in Brigantine.

Next Saturday, it is the 32nd Karl Boehret Surf Fishing Tournament in Sea Isle City.

Registration is $50 for six-person teams and $10 for individuals from 5:30-7 a.m. at the Sea Isle City Community Lodge, 300 JFK Boulevard.

This one offers plaques for first, second and third places in team and individuals; the Al Quartucci Memorial Plaque for most fish by a youth; women's plaque for largest fish; and the mayor's trophy.

It is run by Delaware Valley Surf Anglers. Call Jane Jefferys at 609-624-1427.

OK, what about some fishing?

Loads of small striper continue to rule, and now they are cruising in the surf, inlets and bays in addition to rivers and streams.

Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said when the weather is good, the fishing is good at the T-Jetty and other rocks around Absecon Inlet.

Feliciano said he was very busy Friday with customers at the shop, and they are catching striper and black drumfish.

That's very similar to what's happening around Cape May from Poverty Beach to Cape May, according to a report from Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May.

Donald Bondiskey reported the same kind of busy activity at Captain Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City. He said white perch are moving downstream in the Mullica River, more toward Chestnut Neck.

Weakfish are scattered throughout, too.

So it looks as though the the latest scourge of wind, rain and cold did not chase them away.

Also this week, Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven weighed the first keeper striper.

And Margaret O'Brien was happy to report that it was caught by a 5-year-old named Max on Monday at Holgate on Long Beach Island.

The young man's last name was unavailable, and the bass was right at the 28-inch minimum. Gene Slaughter said Friday that they had two more keepers this week.

Just as tautog seemed to be getting fatter, the season ended.

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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:

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