There seems to be a bunch of 50-pound striped bass around this fall.

Another heavyweight was caught Thursday during a blitz of bass in the surf of Long Beach Island. There have been a half-dozen at least reported in the past few weeks from LBI to Delaware Bay.

The latest weighed 51.19 pounds and took over second place in the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. Joe Kovacs of Lumberton got it at Beach Haven.

Margaret O'Brien was away at a trade show in Atlantic City, leaving Gene Slaughter to weigh a load of fish at Jingle's Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven becauseThursday was a heck of a day on LBI. A couple of dozen bass were entered into the Classic and more caught.

Larry Weidner, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, caught two that weighed an identical 25.5 pounds. One was an inch longer, according to O'Brien. And defying the odds a little further, another 25.5 bass was caught the same day by Paul Haertel of Clifton, according to the Classic website.

Weidner was fishing at Beach Haven and Haertel on the north beach, which indicates the fish came in to the surf all along LBI.

The Classic striped bass leader is Raymond Sullivan Jr. of Brant Beach with his 56.7-pounder.

Lost in the excitement about bass hitting the beaches in stormy conditions was that the LBI Classic got a new bluefish leader.

Richard Crosta of Beach Haven caught a 16.06-pound bluefish Wednesday at Beach Haven. He also got five bass, keeping a 29-incher, O'Brien said.

The storm washed out the entrance to the Holgate beach, so it will be temporarily closed for repairs, O'Brien reported.

Along the Maurice River

Pat Harris weighed in four 50-pounders recently at Longreach Marina on Maurice River. Lenny Dolson of Vineland had a 52-pound, 50-inch sumo, plus a 46-incher. Albert King of Dividing Creek caught an even fatter fish at 50 pounds and 46 inches, plus a 41-incher. The other two anglers with 50-pound bass chose to remain anonymous.

Harris says she sees around a dozen 50-pounders each year, and last year she saw two that topped 60 pounds.

Harris said fishing is very good in the Delaware River off Maurice River Cove. Sal DiFrancisco Sr. and Jr. of Rosenhayn made two trips into Delaware Bay and had a 37-pound bass one time, and two 41-inch bass and a 38-incher the next day with John Stazione.

On Great Egg Inlet

Boats from southern Ocean County to Great Egg Inlet have been drifting off the north end of Brigantine to Holgate for bass. It looked as if 30 boats were in that stretch of water Wednesday.

Don Brown reported from Captain Andy's Marina in Margate that the fish are in the 20-pound class. Trolling and jigging works in 40 feet of water on out.

Great Egg Inlet also has bass. Jerry DePamphilis got a 38-inch bass there, according to Joan Barrett at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point.

Rob Barrett caught a 22-pound bass and a 6 tautog at Ship Channel Bridge. Joan said Rob was using real lead, a reference to the story about lead sinkers and bucktails that appeared in The Press on Friday.

A proposed ban on lead fishing gear was denied by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tautog fishing is "off the chart," Brown said. It is a strong as it has ever been from the bridges and in the back bays, he said.

One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City weighed a 2-pound, 18-inch kingfish caught by Ijaaz Yancy, a 14-year-old from Philadelphia, last Saturday in A.C.

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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:

Shep's Hot Spot

Anchor with bunker for bait in Delaware Bay off Maurice River Cove to catch striped bass, some weighing up to 50 pounds.

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