Striped bass inshore just off the beaches and tautog still plentiful around the rocks and maybe moving more offshore - that seems to be the trend right now on the fishing scene off South Jersey.
A number captains took advantage of the great weather Friday, which resulted in several outstanding reports from off Long Beach Island all the way around to Delaware Bay.
And what seemed intriguing: Bluefin tuna made an appearance relatively close to the beaches.
Striper showed up Friday in Delaware Bay off Husted's Landing. Ken Hildreth reported from Husted's that he heard from four boat crews that all hooked up striper. Jim Pattitucci with Joe Zimmerman and his son Joe Jr. had 35- and 31-inch bass. Dean Taguwa and son Chris had fish on when they contacted Hildreth, and Bruce Pierce and Barry Seay each called and said they were catching fish, too.
Hildreth said that they were fishing with bunker at Reef Site No. 2.
Off Cape May, Fred Klug reported Friday, charterboats out of Utsch's Marina had bass trolling off the beach.
The Fish Trap charterboat had 10 keepers and released 12. Capt. Tom Daffin on Fishin Fever had seven, and Northern Lights also had seven. Klug said the water is getting colder so the bass are moving, possibly up the river where the guys out of Husted's might be getting the benefit.
Blake Griffiths reported from Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom that trolling bass is better than surf-fishing for striper.
He said they seemed to have moved in closer to the beach in 35-40 feet of water off Long Beach Island. They previously had been more likely found at 55-60 feet.
And Griffiths said trolling is working with Umbrella rigs, 9ers and Blackie's Tube jigs.
Other reports put bass still schooled up off both ends of Long Beach Island and off Brigantine. And a few bluefish are scattered throughout.
Capt. Mike O'Neill had the Stray Cat charterboat out for what he described as "really, really beautiful flat-calm" weather day out of Great Egg Inlet. O'Neill was headed back to the dock at Seaview Harbor Marina on Friday afternoon when he reported they went togging because he found the striper action to be slower than it has been inside the 3-mile zone legal zone for bass.
O'Neill said they fished outside the line for tog, and had plenty of action with lots of bites - small fish but with keepers up to 5-6 pounds.
O'Neill warns that the Coast Guard and state conservation officers are patrolling the 3-mile line checking on skippers and handing out tickets to anyone with bass outside the line. Bass are legal inside 3 miles.
So the suggestion is to fish for tog or sea bass offshore first and then come back inside the 3-mile line for bass rather than the other way around.
The Starfish partyboat returned to Sea Isle City with tog on Friday, too. Bob Rush said they had six limits of six fish and others with four to five fish, the heaviest weighing 6 to 7 pounds.
While tautog are spreading out into deeper waters, they have not left the rocks and jetties along the beaches. Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said the T-Jetty in particular has them in solid numbers. Josh Falcone at Viking Outfitters in Barnegat Light said they are still plentiful around the rocks in Barnegat Inlet.
Maybe the most intriguing fishing news here in South Jersey is that bluefin tuna have appeared relatively close to the beaches off Long Beach Island. Falcone and Griffiths both mentioned bluefin in as close as 3 miles off and out to 5-6 miles. Neither correspondent had confirmed bluefin catches but had heard reports that they were seen splashing on the surface.
The theory is that the preponderance of sand eels as forage is why the bass and now bluefin are collecting in relatively the same stretch of water.
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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: