Frank Rich IV is the fourth generation in a fishing family.

He was fishing with dad Frank III off Atlantic City on Friday and hooked into his first ocean striped bass. His dad reported he did an outstanding job as it took him 15 minutes to reel it in to his dad’s charter boat Victoria Ann in a “hard east wind and rough seas.”

It weighed 40 pounds and was 461/2 inches in length (photo on C8).

The coolest part: Frank IV is 4, and this fish was bigger than he is, the elder Frank said.

Dad said he held the rod while his son reeled in the bass.

Frank III said it took him “all his life” to catch one that big and that it was a day he will remember forever.

Another neat side story is that Frank IV wants to have his memorable first catch mounted, so they have the bass in a freezer while they determine the process: skin mount or Fiberglas. Frank III said his son wanted the mount because his dad has other mounts “all over” their Northfield home.

Frank III charters out of Blue Water Marina in Margate for trips from the back bays to offshore.

He said it has been an “unbelievable” season for striped bass. The last two weeks, he has been fishing “locally” after three weeks of running up the beach. The bass have been off Great Egg Inlet recently.

They were trolling 32-ounce white Mojos on Friday. That is the hot tactic for bass in the ocean all along the beachfront.

Dave Showell, who operates a guide service out of his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, kept his streak going with keeper bass. He traveled the back bays to Wreck Inlet and fished off the red towers on the south end of Long Beach Island. He came back to Absecon Inlet in the ocean and said he saw nobody fishing off Brigantine.

Bigger bass have “finally” moved down toward Cape May, according to a report from Matt Slobodjian at Jim’s Bait and Tackle in Cape May.

He said they weighed 30- to 50-pound bass all week. A 52.3-pound bass was registered at Jim’s for Joe Valese, of Wildwood Crest. That one was caught south of Atlantic City, according to Matt’s report.

T.L. Sawyer, of Cape May, picked up a 38.3-pound bass on the troll off North Wildwood. Matt also said they are catching at The Rips off Cape May with eels.

The “suffering surf-casters” have been struggling from the beaches.

But a relative hot streak has been recorded as we head into the final week of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.

Only five striper were entered into the Classic from Nov. 18 to Nov. 30. When the calendar flipped over to December, the Classic had 13 bass registered in four days as of mid-morning Monday.

They were not huge but were quality 7- to 13-pounders. All but one was caught with bunker.

Mike O’Neill runs the charter/open boat Stray Cat out of Seaview Harbor Marina. After he got back and tied up to the dock Monday, he returned a call from the local scribe he initially received when he was 7 1/2 miles off.

He had another great trip, catching tautog with a lot of limits and a 12 1/2-pound heavyweight topping the day’s haul for a group from Belmar. He is catching those striped bass on other trips.

O’Neill also had a surprising report. He said he had 53-degree water temperatures Monday. Seems amazing for December. Mike will run charters and open-boat trips until Jan. 20.

Noel Feliciano is launching the Fishing for Toys tournament that was successful in its debut last year.

It is a striped bass contest that runs Dec. 9-16 with a top prize of $250. The second-heaviest bass is worth $150 and third is $100.

Sign up by bringing an unwrapped toy into One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City to be donated to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League. Feliciano said Santa Claus will make a visit to the beach at Vermont Avenue in Atlantic City from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

Feliciano said they are still catching tog on the Atlantic City rocks.

And his entry into surprising fishing news is that they are catching ling at the William “Bill” Demones Jr. Atlantic City Seawall Fishing Complex. Feliciano said one fisher reported catching 32.

Feliciano said they were mainly in the 12- to 13-inch range but one measured 16 inches. He said they were biting on chunks of fresh bunker.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.

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