The emergence of spring seemed to put some juice into the local fishing scene.
Dave Showell was making his first hunt of the year on his fishing safari out of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. He was working in the Mullica River. He said he had one undersized striped bass and a few white perch by midday Monday.
He said it was a beautiful day even though the wind started to freshen, and his boat was running beautifully. A few fish with time to go on the nicest day of the year so far sounded like a winner on opening day there.
“Everything was 100 percent,” he said to the local scribe who called while he was out on the water.
Dave headed upriver to tuck out of the wind a little but said he would turn back to a spot where he saw some signs of something happening.
Mike O’Neill had a full complement of wreck fishers on a Sunday run with the Stray Cat charter/open boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet. Mike said they had keepers in a “slow pick” of tautog. The heavyweight for the day was a not-too-shabby 71/2-pound tog.
He said the water temperatures where he was fishing inshore pushed up to 50 degrees.
Mike also reported seeing a species of fish that once was a big deal in the spring, often around Good Friday. He said he saw two or three pods of mackerel.
Boston mackerel at one time was one of the species that got the ocean fishing season launched off South Jersey.
It has been years since we have a solid fishery for mackerel. They sometimes come through, but nowhere as thick in numbers as they once were.
Probably the coolest report came from Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City.
One of his regulars, Bo Khathavong, of Philadelphia, had a super day tog fishing on an Atlantic City jetty Sunday. Khathavong brought four tautog into One-Stop for photos and a video and to be registered for the in-house tautog contest Noel is running this month.
Khathavong took the lead in the contest with a 3.6-pound, 19-inch tog and weighed in three others of 18, 17 and 15 inches for his keeper limit of four among the 30 tog he caught.
He said Monday he was using both green crab and clam as bait, was done at 4:30 p.m. and then headed home.
Noel said Monday: “There is a lot of action out here.”
He said porpoise had bunker pinned up against the T-jetty in Atlantic City with a school of striped bass under them.
All shorts, it sounded like.
Michael Cunningham reported from Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle they are being caught with clam and mullet. Great Egg Harbor River and the inlets of Cape May County and at night under the lights in the back bays have produced what Michael described as a “herd of pee-wees.”
He also said blueclaws are starting to move aroumd, so crabbing season is maybe getting started, too.
Michele Tussing reported from The Girls Place Bait and Tackle in Port Elizabeth that the first keeper striped bass was caught in Fortescue on the Delaware Bay. She did not have a name of the fisher but said the catch measured 31 inches.
White perch continue to be sometimes plentiful in area rivers and streams.
Howard Sefton reported from Captain Howard’s Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City that Michelle Mangione, of the Atco section of Waterford Township, took the lead in his monthlong white perch contest with a 1-pound, 9-ounce, 14-inch jumbo.
Andrew Jackson, of Atlantic City, weighed white perch that weighed 1-8 and 1-6 at One-Stop. He said Monday he caught them in Lower Bank.
Here’s another reminder about the Landisville Gunning Club white perch tournament Saturday.
It starts 6 a.m. with fishing anywhere in the state and weigh-ins at 2 p.m. at the club at Fourth and Cape May avenues in Estell Manor.
The entry fees are $30 adults, $15 for youth 10 or under and $10 for active military and disabled veterans. Sign up at njwhiteperch.com or in person from 6-9 p.m. Friday at the clubhouse.
The prizes are $1,000, $500 and $250 for the top three places. Winners will be based on the total weight of each entrant’s five heaviest fish. A state-record white perch would earn a $1,000 bonus, and they also have a lunker pool for heaviest fish.
A fish fry with freshly caught and cleaned white perch plus clams and refreshments is a big part of this one.
Meetings in Avalon
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has metings scheduled this week at the Icona Avalon Resort, 7849 Dune Dr. in Avalon.
The public is invited. Directions for online comment and webinar participation can be found at mafmc.org. The meetings started Monday and continue to Thursday.
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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.