Local fishers are starting to feel their mojo working now that the spring fishing run has started.

A 50-pound striped bass was caught and released in Delaware Bay, a 9-pound bluefish was caught in Townsends Inlet and a 12.5-pound tautog was caught last weekend inshore.

There have been reports of weakfish in the back bays. Black drumfish are active in the Delaware and Great bays and in between. White perch are consistent and plentiful when they are located in area rivers and streams.

It is good to get the young fishers going. We had some noteworthy striped bass catches by kids.

One of them earned a special recognition in last Saturday's Landisville Gunning Club White Perch Contest. Paisley Davenport is a 7-year-old first-grader at Davenport School in Egg Harbor Township. She was fishing all morning in the rain with her dad, Josh, and they were catching a lot of white perch all day in the Great Egg Harbor River.

They were about to head back to the dock to end their contest outing when the rod bent. Paisley took the rod and brought in her biggest fish ever. It weighed 35 pounds when at the tournament weigh station at the gunning club in Estell Manor.

She was awarded special prizes of a fishing pole and T-shirts.

Josh said they fish all the time and have been catching a lot of white perch.

Another 7-year-old picked a striped bass off the Brigantine beach Wednesday. Domenic D'Aversa was bugging his dad, Anthony, to go fishing.

They picked up some salted clam from Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine and headed out to the beach on the south end, near the jetty. On his first cast, Domenic had a bite and reeled in a 30-inch, 12-pound striper. It is his biggest striper so far.

A short time back, 8-year-old Michael Newhall, of Absecon, and his 10-year-old brother, Alex, went fishing with dad Scott. They made the approximately hour-and-a-half ride to haul their boat Time Out up to Raritan Bay.

They got into what Scott described as an "epic" three-week run of striped bass off New York City. Michael hooked up with a 37-pound striper, and Alex caught a number of shorts less than the 28-inch minimum.

Scott, who runs fishing charters out of Absecon, said they had about 30 bass that day trolling pink Bluewater Candy Mojos lures.

"World-class fishing," Scott said Friday.

Good to get the young people into fishing.

Phil Coccia, of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, was fishing with his sons, 7-year-old Ezra and 9-year-old Phillip, on the Jersey side of the Delaware River on Thursday and hooked up with what may be the biggest striper of the year in New Jersey.

It was an estimated 50-pounder that went back in the water alive after a photo. It was a valuable catch-and-release lesson for the boys.

Chris Conroy, of Oceanview, was fishing with a few buds and hooked up the first big bluefish and wanted to be the first to weigh one. He took it to Cameron Koshland at Boulevard Bait and Tackle in Oceanview, where it weighed 9 pounds. His pals did not seem to miss him. They kept fishing and continued to rack up a bunch of 5- to 9-pound blues.

"Things are popping," Koshland said.

He got into striped bass himself one night while plugging.

He said there a lot of small bass along the sod banks. "Stripers in diapers" he called them.

A good example of the kind of white perch catches we have are the results of the Landisville tournament. Brett Young and Mike Pacitti won with the heaviest five fish at 7.25 poounds and the single-heaviest at 1.65 pounds. Hunter, Jeff and John Reese were second in heaviest-five with 6.10 pounds.

First-place earned $1,000 and second $500.

The Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs annual Birch Grove Park youth trout contest sponsored by the Northfield Alliance for the Prevention Drug and Alchohol Abuse is April 27.

It is for ages 5 to 15. Registration will be held 7:30 to 8 a.m., with fishing from 8-11 a.m.

Children must be accomapnied by an adult at all times. The outing includes classes, awards and hot dogs and refreshments, according to George Foreman, one of the contest directors.

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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.

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Contact: 609-350-0388 ShepOnFishing@yahoo.com

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