We seem to be in kind of a waiting (and hoping) pattern for the fall fishing migration of striped bass and bluefish to arrive here in South Jersey.
The past few days seemed more like August than October, and even the water temperatures were listed in the 70s from Delaware Bay to Barnegat Inlet on The Press weather page Friday morning. That seems pretty warm for October.
With a record or near-record 80-85 degrees all around the region, Wednesday looked more like a summer beach day with the strand crowded with beachgoers, walkers and joggers, suntanners, surfers, paddleboarders, surfcasters and, yes, even swimmers enjoying a dip in the ocean.
Tautog are the hot item right now on the local fishing scene with weakfish a distant second. There seems to be a shot of kingfish here and there in the surf, but nothing consistent. Bluefish are trying to put on some weight with 2- to 3-pound fish not uncommon. The offshore set was geared up to make the long journeys to the canyons Friday in conditions that were forecasted to be decent, but there was no word on that by late afternoon.
A check of the weighstations for the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby revealed what appear to be the first bluefish entries. They were both caught by Curt Manganaro of Egg Harbor Township, according to Rob Barrett at Dolfin Dock Derby weigh station in Somers Point. One weighed 2.04 pounds and was caught Tuesday. The other went 3.13 and was caught last Friday, Sept. 27. That means Manganaro has a shot to win the first two weekly bluefish prizes of $50 each.
The Derby is contested on the beaches of Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport until Nov. 3. Derby categories are striped bass, tautog, and kingfish in addition to striped bass.
Barrett is putting his customers on tog in the Somers Point-Ocean City area. He took Anne Fox of Ventnor and George Mack of Somers Point out for tog, and both put nice keepers in the cooler. Fox got a 5-pounder and Mack a 4-pounder.
Betty Ann Van Duyne of Ventnor picked off a tog that weighed 5.9 at The Ship Shop in Ventnor. Matt Walker of Egg Harbor Township got two fat keepers on two different trips. One went 7.4 and the other 6.05. They were weighed at Brennan Marine in Somers Point.
Joe Fumo kept the Brigantine partyboat Fish Finder II in the back bays last weekend. Fumo said the conditions were fine in the back bays. He said the customers on the Fish Finder had "decent" weakfish and racked up a "couple hundred" porgy of which they kept 10. He said some of the weakfish were 5 pounds. Fish Finder is on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday six-hour inshore schedule for sea bass. The boat was out there fishing for them Friday.
Chris Higgins of Port Republic weighed a 7-3 weakfish for The Press Fishing Contest. It was caught Monday, and Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic was the weighstation.
Fred Klug reported from Utsch's Marina in Cape May that he took a day off from the Fishn Tackle shop there and went for sea bass with friends Tuesday. He said there was plenty of sea bass but not many keepers at the three locations they tried 19-27 miles off Cape May.
This a big weekend on Long Beach Island.
Margaret O'Brien at Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven said two events at Bay Village on Taylor Avenue should be well-attended as usual.
Sunday is the crowd-favorite Chowderfest. The weekend starts today with the Merchant Mart at the same location. The attention shifts to the Seashell Resort and Beach Club for a concert by popular artist Dean Ween in a sold-out prelude to Moday's opening of the 59th Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.
Proceeds of the concert benefit the Classic, which offers all kinds of prizes big and small. The grand prize for the eight-week contest is $1,000 for striper and blues. Two-week segment, weekly and daily prizes are among a long list of other awards, including pizzas and teddy bears. Sign up at Jingle's, Fishermans Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait and Tackle and Captain's Quarters in Brighton Beach.
Commemorative events for the 100th anniversary of the Ocean City Fishing Club have been numerous during this year. The three-day stretch from Oct. 17-19 will be big. That's when the OCFC is the host for a major surf-fishing contest on the O.C. beaches.
Teams from all over the East Coast with surfcasting heavyweights and legends paying tribute to the oldest surf-fishing club in the nation. Right in the middle of that, the OCFC has a tackle show planned for Oct. 18 from 7-9 p.m. at the Ocean City Sports and Civic Arena.
Custom rodmakers and lots of other tackle, lures, rigs, accessories and clothing will be available. The entry fee is $3. The O.C. Fishing Club plays host to 10 students from the Ocean City Intermediate School to go fishing and get a tour of the OCFC fishing pier. They are part of the club monitored by social studies teacher Nick Verducci.
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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: