A 511/2-inch eel steals a headline from striped bass, which had been dominating the fishing news lately.
Francisco Rodriguez of Atlantic City caught a 13½-pound American eel that tops the current world record of 9 pounds, 4 ounces.
He was fishing from Atlantic City Boardwalk on Sunday with a hunk of bunker for bait. Rodriguez, 61, is a native of Puerto Rico and lives in Atlantic City with his son and fishing partner Francisco Jr.
The fish was certified for The Press Fishing Contest at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. In 2008, Steven Carmen of Egg Harbor Township entered a 13.10-pound American eel he caught at Longport in The Press Fishing Contest.
The current International Game Fish Association record is 9 pounds, 4 ounces caught by Jeff Pennick in Cape May in 1995, according to David Mattagiese, an IGFA staffer who hails from Cape May.
The tale of striped bass can be described through the results of recent tournaments.
By far, the best results are from Utsch's Marina Striper Classic based in Cape May.
The three-day contest finished Saturday, and it is likely that most of the boats fished lower Delaware Bay.
Art Kushner of Cape May on Dreamer was consistent on his two fishing days with 111 pounds total weight for three fish each outing. He took first overall with 222.3 pounds for six fish. Ken Zwirko of Union on Atlas Reels/Bunker Down was second at 218.3 and Tim Tanghare of Cape May was third at 199.1 on Clean Sweep.
Another 50-pound bass popped up when Zwirko got a 53.9-pounder on opening day. Cape May's Joe Breuss on Service Calls II had second-heaviest at 47 and Kushner was third at 47.3
Ernie Utsch reported 45 boats entered. Utsch said the fishing was "very good, even on the bad days."
The MICA (Mystic Island Cooperative Association) Striped Bass Tournament finished a four-day competition and contest official Jamie Gallagher said the most important number was the $2,000-plus raised for the Make A Wish Foundation.
Gallagher said 56 fish were weighed and 36 boats entered.
Al Waldron, Oceanville, on All I Could Afford had a two-fish total of 60.5 pounds topped by a 32.3 pounder. Whoop Bass with Mike Clay of Little Egg Harbor Township had the heaviest bass at 33.3 and was third overall total-weight at 57.5. Steve Pinkos of Port Republic on North American was second at 59.9 in total weight.
The Maynard's Cafe Jimmy Stewart Striped Bass Tournament on Saturday had 128 entries but only seven fish weighed. Captain Andy's Marina reported that John Martin beat out John Reese 31-8 to 31-6 for the title. Jamie Farrell was third at 29-2.
The third week of the eight-week Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic started out on fire with bluefish. On Oct. 25, 24 blues were caught and six bass. That's the day that Mike Cucinotta of Manahawkin and Louis Prete of Bechtelsville each had 14.63-pound blues. Kurt Horensky of Beach Haven had the week's heavyweight bass at 45.75 pounds.
The Jersey Shore Striper Tournament is Friday to Sunday with single-heaviest striped bass prizes of $2,000 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third, plus $500 first and $300 second for heaviest bluefish. The entry fee for a boat crew up to six is $200 and $40 for individual beach fishing. Call 609-741-7728.
The captain's meeting for Saturday's Local Boys Striper Tournament is 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Hackney's Boat Yard on the Margate Causeway. Prizes are for first, second and third heaviest bass. Proceeds go to the Gold Foundation. Call 609-839-8045.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing and Shep's Hot Spot appear Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or
e-mail: sheponfishing @yahoo.com