Drift for flounder in Absecon Inlet with mackerel strips and Gulp on bucktails or Carolina rigs.

Here we go with "great-flounder-fishing-to-start-the-season" Part II.

The survey that started Monday for Tuesday's publication continued Friday with a call to John Herron on The Keeper partyboat that was out in the back bays of Margate.

Herron said he had a light crew of 11 anglers on board. They departed the dock at Blue Water Marina at 8 a.m. and by 9:20 a.m. they had three keeper summer flounder. And while he was on the phone, two anglers brought two more fish over the rails.

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He said it was a "wow!" day on Friday even though it was overcast because they had a good combination of southwest wind and tide, and "they are biting right now."

On his first trip on opening day last Saturday, The Keeper had a full boat and totaled 25 keepers, plus a 3-pound weakfish and several bluefish.

Herron estimated that more than 100 keepers were recorded by The Keeper in the first week.

Mike Tabasso on Atlantic City's back-bay partyboat High Roller also had a great opening day and week. He recorded 91 keepers for the week up to Thursday. His opening-day stats: 14 keepers and 24 short flounder, plus 4- and 3-pound weakfish, on the 8 a.m. morning run, and 19 more keepers in the afternoon.

One of his regulars, Walt Russell of Tuckahoe, had six keepers. Another, Tom Darcy of Egg Harbor Township, had the heaviest flounder on opening day at 5.1 pounds, and he also had the 4-pound weakfish.

The heaviest flounder of the week went 6.28 pounds. The High Roller rolls from Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City.

"This is the best start to the flounder season in my 11 years," Tabasso said.

The 6-pound, 1-ounce flounder caught on opening day last Saturday by David Roesch became the "most-entered in a contest champ" when it showed up in The Press Fishing Contest. The Egg Harbor City resident already won opening-day honors at Captain Howard's Bait and Tackle in EHC, where it was signed up for The Press contest, and it took the opening-day crown at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.

The first day also resulted in the first flounder entry for the Youth Division of The Press contest. It went 2.6 pounds and was caught by Ryan Ferdinand of Merchantville at Patty's Hole inside Avalon and certified by Avalon Hodge-Podge.

We also received an opening-day Senior Division flounder entry from John Snyder of Egg Harbor City. The flounder weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces at Captain Howard's and was caught in Absecon Bay.

Bob Wenzel of Egg Harbor City waited until the next day to catch a 4-1 flounder in the back bays inside Brigantine, and he, too, entered it into The Press contest.

Incidentally, we will catch up with The Press contest's Catch of the Week starting in Tuesday's column.

Sea bass season opened Sunday, and Mike O'Neill took the Stray Cat open/partyboat offshore in rough conditions. He said the wrecks were "swarming" with black sea bass.

He said fishing was real good with squid as bait. Squid is not what you first think of as bait for sea bass, but O'Neill said it was effective because the plentiful dog sharks are not as attracted. He said he had lots of keepers in the 2- to 3-pound class, plus out-of-season tautog.

He said there was a lot of action in the water. They saw a whale, porpoise and big pods of bunker outside Dog Lump. He has not fished since then because he is in the process of building a house, but he is scheduled for an open boat Sunday and Monday. The Stray Cat sails 8 a.m. from Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet.

Weakfish are getting a lot of attention, too. It is looking very good with some nice-size fish popping up.

Roesch caught a 5-2 weakfish with his 6-1 flounder. Sean Kienzle of Egg Harbor City had a 7-pounder last Saturday. Steve Muszynski of Chalfont, Pa., caught a 4.88 weakfish from the 8th Street jetty in Avalon.

Striped bass are still here in good numbers. That 8th Street Jetty gave up a 20-pound striper to Gary Goll of Cape May Court House. It was registered for the Senior Division of The Press contest at Moran's Dockside in Avalon. Goll had three contest entries last year.

Teddy Gill of Ventnor had a big day Tuesday at the Longport Jetty when he hauled 25- and 19-pound striped bass off the rocks and weighed them at Captain Andy's Marina at Margate Fishing Center, where they were entered into the contest.

And a 9.04 bluefish also came off the 8th Street Jetty. Ethan Szyszko, a Penn State senior from Bensalem, Pa., caught it.

Black drumfish are improving. Bob Cope had a charter on Full Ahead that racked up 14 keepers, 10 of which were kept, according to Fred Klug at Utsch's Marina in Cape May. They were fishing Delaware Bay on Thursday.

A 32-pound black drum was caught on the Avalon Fishing Club Pier by Arthur Lintgen of Perkasie, Pa. It was entered into the Senior and Other Than Boat divisions of The Press contest.

We are starting to get into the busy competition schedule. The Greater Atlantic Bluefish 26th renewal is set for next Saturday, June 1.

It is subtitled "Neighbors Helping Neighbors." The registered non-profit benefits a patients assistance fund for those unable to work due to debilitating illnesses.

The entry fee is $250 per boat and the captain's meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Lodge, 400 Shore Drive in Brigantine. Weigh-ins will be held at Kammerman's Marina in Atlantic City, Seaview Harbor in Great Egg Inlet and Shelter Cove Marina in Tuckerton.

The Margate Log Cabin's Buddy Devlin Memorial is a heaviest-flounder test, also is set for next Saturday. The entry fee is $35 for non-members and $30 for members.

Sign up at Capt. Andy's Marina and Ray Scott's Dock, both on Amherst Avenue, and the Log Cabin at 608 Jerome Ave., all in Margate. The payouts are $500 for first, $250 second and $100 third, plus $50 for women's and youth winners. The captain's meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Friday.

Shep on Fishing on Air and Ray Scott's Dock have teamed up to give away a free back-bay fishing trip for four each month during flounder season.

To enter, call Shep on Fishing on Air from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on WOND 1400 AM at 609-927-1100, or call Ray Scott's Dock at 609-822-6819, or email:

We'll pick a winner for a trip to be used sometime during June.

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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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