We are waiting for a changeover to that often exciting fall fishing.
The calendar on Tuesday turns to October, but the weather forecast for much of this week sounds more like summer with one day expected to climb into the 90s.
Fishing is more than decent with the wide variety that local fishers of all styles can get into.
Many reports describe super action on “cocktail” bluefish in the 1- to 3-pound range. They seem to be just about all over South Jersey waters.
They are feeding on the sometimes vast schools of bait fish such as bunker, mullet, spearing and spot.
Every once in a while, a bigger bluefish is reported.
Andy Grossman runs a fall fishing contest out of Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine. He offers overall and monthly prizes for striped bass and bluefish.
Going into Monday’s last day of September, well-known Brigantine surfcaster Frank Howardell was the bluefish leader with a 2-pound, 7-ounce entry.
Striped bass are mostly “schoolies,” shorter than the 28-inch minimum.
One nice keeper was certified Monday by Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. It measured 32 inches.
Dave Showell had one of his fishing safaris out in the Mullica River-Great Bay environs at first light Monday morning.
“Fishing was good today,” he said. “It was a nice pick.”
The catch included one 25-inch slot fish keeper and seven or eight short bass between 15 and 20 inches, plus a half-dozen nice bluefish they kept for dinner.
He said it got a little breezy, and the tide got pretty high. He said he had water temps up to 73 degrees, which seems warm for the last day of September.
Dave has live pens at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center for bait fish. He said he has big “corncob” mullet. He joked that some of the mullet are bigger than some of the striped bass he has caught this year.
Point Tackle in Somers Point reported an almost keeper 27-inch bass caught off a back bay dock in Somers Point.
The local variety continues to be remarkable.
Feliciano weighed triggerfish and tautog for the rock stars working the rockpiles in Absecon Inlet. Spot are plentiful in the surf and around the Ventnor City Fishing Pier.
Karen Santoro from Ship Shop in Ventnor said bloodworm and Fish-Bites artificial baits are in demand and eagerly snapped up by the spot fishers.
They also catch kingfish along with those small blues along the Ventnor beaches.
Windy conditions have affected offshore action.
Tom Daffin has been having real success catching swordfish.
He said Monday he has been defeating a couple on each of the daytime trips on his charter boat Fishin’ Fever based at Utsch’s Marina in Cape May.
He said he had a “really good one” recently that weighed 445 pounds.
Yeah, that’s really good!
He said they have been getting lots of bites while fishing with squid dropped to the bottom on 6- to 10-pound weights. He said there are reports of swordfish over a widespread area from Hudson Canyon to the north to Washington Canyon to the south.
Daffin, like many captains who ply the ocean, is anticipating the opening of black seas bass season Oct. 8.
Captains trolling inshore are picking up bonito, Spanish mackerel and small dorado.
There is a strong run of lizardfish with porgy in some of the backwaters.
We seem to have something for all tastes.
One of the fall fishing traditions of South Jersey is just a few days away. The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic opens a nine-week run Saturday.
The 65th annual event continues to Dec. 8 with a load of cash and special awards for striped bass and bluefish. For example, the second day of the contest offers a bonus day cash award of $500 for the heaviest striped bass.
For the overall tournament, the single-heaviest striped bass earns $2,000 and the single-heaviest bluefish takes $1,000. Three-week segment winners in each division pick up $500 prizes. There are many other awards, including those for women, seniors and youth. There also are prizes for red drum and nine other special prizes.
Signups are $30 and $15 for youth 17 and under at Surf City Bait and Tackle, 317 Long Beach Boulevard; Fisherman’s Headquarters, 280 W. 9th Street, Ship Bottom; Jingle’s Bait and Tackle, 1214 Long Beach Boulevard, Beach Haven.
Down the beach, there were no reports of entries in the first week of the Pat Erdman Atlantic County, Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby.
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Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.