Late fall fishing is getting a lot thrown at it: cold nights, strong winds, rain and rough surf and ocean. So far, it continues to bounce back.

Striped bass are generally smaller than a few weeks back - mainly in the 15- to 20-pound class - but anglers seem to believe that there are plenty around.

Bill Nickerson at Fin-Atics said some bass were caught Friday morning in the Ocean City surf on the south end from 45th Street to Corsons Inlet. Clam seemed to be the best bait, Nickerson said.

Alex Sacchetti reported that Bayside Marina measured 28- and 33-inch bass caught Thursday on the Brigantine beach by Mark Mathes of Brigantine.

Bigger bass were around as late as Monday. That's when Josh Powell of Brigantine got a 47.9-pounder with a live eel at the rip in Absecon Inlet on slack water at the top of the tide, Sacchetti said.

John Bushell at Betty and Nick's in Seaside Park said they have a ton of smaller bass with keepers tough to find along the beaches north of Beach Haven Inlet. They weighed a 14-pound bass Thursday at Betty and Nick's.

Margaret O'Brien said from Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven that it was a cold morning and nobody had caught anything from the beaches by mid-morning Friday.

Striper are just off the beaches, according to several reports.

Scott Albertson said a boat captain reported Friday to Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Islands that he had birds and bunker a mile off Beach Haven Inlet. He trolled Stretch lures, but nothing was biting by early afternoon.

O'Brien was listening to radio reports from captains who were fishing in the ocean and catching 36- to 39-inch bass.

The Press Fishing Contest is over for this year. Winners are scheduled to be announced Dec. 18. The Press Contest has $100 gift certificates to be awarded for Youth Saltwater, Youth Freshwater, Offshore, Inshore, Other Than Boat, Most Unusual, Women, Senor, Freshwater, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Flounder and Tautog.

Kyle Cummings, a 7-year-old from Northfield, submitted a 31 ½-pound bass caught Nov. 16 in Delaware bay. Brennan Marine in Somers Point weighed it. That catch gives The Press Fishing contest best-catch certificate to Kyle for the week of Nov. 14-20.

Another top catch for that week was the 13.7-pound tautog by Brad Warren of Malvern, Pa.

For the week of Nov. 21-27, Stephanie Slimmer of Vineland earns the bragging-rights certificate with a 14-pound bluefish. She got it at the Banana Peel in Delaware Bay and certified it for the Women's Division at Longreach Marina on the Maurice River.

That same outing produced a 13-pound blue for R. Faith Slimmer, also of Vineland, that was entered into the Youth Division.

Other recent entries: Ann Fox of Margate with a 19-pound striped bass caught Nov. 18 and Joe Hartley, age 13, from Ventnor, a 13.36 bass on Nov. 21, both weighed at Ship Shop in Ventnor. Bill Troehler of Egg Harbor Township entered a 2.24-pound rainbow trout caught Nov. 26 at Birch Grove Park in Northfield.

An observant correspondent noticed that the 2010 Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic had twice as many striped bass as bluefish - 357 to 163 - entered as of Thursday with just three days to go before wrapping up Sunday.

A curious columnist looked back through excellent records kept by tournament organizers and posted on the website to check out recent past performances.

Since 2000, there have been two years with fewer bluefish: 2001 was low with 117 and 2000 was next at 122. The high mark was a blitz of 692 in 2005. That was many more than even the second-place year of 2008, which had 457.

The contest ran six weeks and ended in November until it expanded to eight weeks last year. Weather, of course, plays a significant role this time of year. For example, no fish were registered Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Striped bass have similar highs and lows. In 2003, 533 bass were registered, and in 2001 it was 486. The low year for striper was 2007, which had 110.

There were years in which the striper vs. blues catch was pretty even. In 2002, it was 399 bass to 396 blues. Last year, it was 257 bass to 228 blues.

There does not seem to be a trend developing from any of this, other than they catch a lot of fish in the fall on LBI, but it is interesting.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing column and Shep's Hot Spot appear Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or e-mail:

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