Life after summer flounder season is very good.
Rob Barrett said he thought he might be able to close the doors at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point and go golfing on Friday, but anglers going togging wouldn't let him off. And he was going out himself later Friday for tautog.
Jeff Szmeis of Egg Harbor Township had the heaviest of a bunch of tog weighed recently at Dolfin. It was 6½ pounds and was caught at the Seaview Harbor Marina rockpile inside Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
The Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby opened Monday on the beaches of Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport. George Bucci of Northfield gets bragging rights for the first entry.
He caught a 4.19-pound tautog Thursday from the rocks in Longport and weighed it at Brennan Marine in Somers Point.
A number of striped bass have been caught. A few are keepers over 28 inches but not big enough to qualify for the derby, which has a 32-inch minimum length. It seems as though spot are beating kingfish to the baits in the surf.
Bluefish are starting to put on some weight.
The derby minimum for kingfish is 13 inches, 16 inches for tog and 18 inches for blues.
Two nice tog were caught at the Route 52 (Somers Point to Ocean City) fishing pier, according to George Brennan. Korey Renart, 10, caught a 4.72-pounder, and his dad caught a
5-pounder. Hailey Walker of Egg Harbor Township caught a 3.43-pound tog and entered it into the Youth Division of The Press Fishing Contest at Brennan.
Axe Patel at Ray Scott's Dock and Corey Soloman at Capt. Andy's Margate Fishing Center, both in Margate, reported lots of tog are hugging the sod banks in the back bays there, and are around the bridges, piers, pilings and bulkheads. Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said tog are "the real hot deal" around the T-Jetty and other rocks in Absecon Inlet.
The summer flounder season ended at Dolfin with a doormat flounder. It weighed 8.64 pounds and was caught Tuesday at the Longport Jetty by Eric Zimmerman of Philadelphia. Cathy Crossland at Bayside Bait and Tackle said an angler she called John the Plumber pulled an 8½-pounder out of Eagle Bay behind Brigantine to say goodbye to flounder season.
Sea bass opened Friday, but the wind came up and halted the day's celebration.
Joe Fumo said the Fish Finder II partyboat out of Brigantine tried to make its first ocean trip of sea bass season but ran into rough conditions and prudently came back into the bays.
Fumo said the Fish Finder II will be on a 6-hour schedule on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
They had excellent action last weekend in the back bays on weakfish. Fumo said the back bays are "loaded" with weakfish going up to 26 inches, so that's where the boat wound up Friday.
Mike O'Neill said they were rocking on the Stray Cat partyboat 8 miles off Great Egg Inlet on Friday and the sea bass fishing was not good. He said they had a bunch of croaker and 10 sea bass, and he was pulling the anchor to head back by mid-afternoon.
Dave Showell said Friday from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon that sea bass are in the back bays, including some keepers more than the 10-inch minimum length.
Weakfish are showing up all around the area. Howard Schwartz of Egg Harbor Township caught 3- and 4-pound weakfish, one of which he had to put back alive because the daily limit is one fish at 15 inches. Barrett said he was fishing the Ocean City inlet fishing pier.
Kenny Hildreth at Husted's Landing said they have been catching keeper weakfish for a week and a half at the mouth of Back Creek off Delaware Bay. He said grass shrimp, bloodworm and hard crab cut up into leg sections are taking them. Higbee's Marina in Fortescue had a similar report of consistent weakfish catches in the surf there.
Incidentally, the first phase of the dredging project at Fortescue Creek is over. Fortescue Capt. Ben Stein said Friday they took three feet off the sand bar that limited access, and now all the boats that use Fortescue can get in and out at all tides.
Stein said that there is a phase two that he thinks will start mid-October.
Stein said weakfish are in close to the shore. He said to fish the first 12- to 18-foot dropoff, which is a mile out.
Black drumfish and red drumfish are creating some excitement around the area, too.
Andy Grossman called Friday afternoon from Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine to report a 13-pound black drumfish was just caught in the surf there by Bob Roof of Brigantine. Grossman said it weighed 13 pounds and was caught on the front beach with a fresh Riptide rotter clam.
Grossman reported two red drum were caught inside Wreck Inlet. Barrett said 86-year-old John Sweeney of Prospect Park, Pa., got a 24-inch red drum while fishing behind Ocean City.
Add triggerfish to the mix in the back bays.
Joan Barrett called later Friday to report that husband Rob, in addition to limiting out with his one tog each trip, also was catching triggerfish.
The Women's Surf Fishing Club of New Jersey held its annual surf fishing tournament last Saturday in Brigantine. Angel Mancini, who was fishing as an individual and not as a member of one of the Association of Surf Angling Clubs, was the star of the day.
It was the first tournament she ever fished, and of course caught a 31-inch black drum to take the overall biggest-fish prize and the Mermaid Cup for heaviest fish by a woman.
Tournament director Christine Pancoast said Mancini was immediately recruited to join the Women's Surf Fishing Club.
The tournament had 18 individuals and 20 six-person ASAC teams compete. South Jersey Surfcasters won the first-place prize with 150 inches of bluefish, Anglesea Surf Fishing Club out of Wildwood was second at 105 and Fish N Fuzz, a team of policemen, was third at 81.
Richie Brennan of Fish N Fuzz caught blues that measured 67.75 inches to take the individual prize, and Mike Cammarata of Northeast Anglers had an 18-inch flounder.
Youth prizes went to Jimmy Jones with a 13-inch blue in 13-and-over and C.J. Baker with a 12-inch blue in 12-and-under.
The ASAC contests are decided by length of fish, measured by the sponsoring club.
Another worthy event with a connection to the fishing world is the Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament this Sunday at McCullough's Emerald Green Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township.
Money raised in this event and the LIBT fund the AtlantiCare mobile mammography unit. The entry fee is $125 for a round of golf, lunch and other prizes. Sponsorship of one of the holes is $100. Call Kim Kirk at 609-412-0641 or Cathy Stanley at 610-212-1687.
* * *
Become a fan of Shep on Facebook at:
* * *
Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email: