Eager fishers now have a lot to do, and it seems right on time with Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer coming up.
Black sea bass season opened Wednesday with excellent results on the ocean wrecks and reefs. Striped bass and bluefish continue to dominate along the beaches, in the inlets and back bays.
Weakfish are increasing in those same waters. Black drumfish are impressive in size. Just over this weekend, stringers of kingfish were displayed online. Bluefin tuna and mahi have been caught out in the deep offshore.
And the fan-favorite — summer flounder —will join the lineup Friday for the rest of spring and though the summer.
The fishing scene in and off South Jersey is vibrant.
Reports on black sea bass describe some great fishing.
The Sea Isle City-based Starfish fleet had two perfect days, Wednesday’s season opener and Friday, with everyone on board catching their limits (10) both days, according to dockmaster John Nigro.
That was followed by trips Saturday and Sunday on which, he said, everyone caught dinner. He said several fishers took the trip three times out of those four days to get in on the super action.
John said Monday he has never seen so many fish. They will run offshore for black sea bass Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and on Saturday they will change up to a four-hour excursion for summer flounder.
Ryan Morse, of Cape May Court House, contributes regular reports, usually about tautog. He was on the Porgy IV party boat with captain Paul Thompson on Saturday and had five black sea bass keepers, including a doubleheader.
The heaviest three weighed 6 pounds. Thompson said they had a 3 1/2- to 4-pounder top the day’s catch. The Porgy IV operates from South Jersey Marina in Cape May. Thompson is running daily starting at 8 a.m.
Striped bass and bluefish are a potent 1-2, particularly around the jetties.
Noel Feliciano had another super report Monday about striped bass caught mainly at night. His Fish to Feed bluefish contest is up to 935 pounds of fish donated to needy area residents.
The contest takes in donations of bluefish from fishers at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. He was talking to a pair of fishers who were out on the jetty about the bluefish, and almost as an afterthought they said they caught weakfish.
He weighed one weakfish at 4 1/2 pounds.
We are allowed one weakfish per day. He also reported that kingfish moved in around the jetties and were biting on bloodworm as usual. He sent one photo that showed two guys with a stringer of a double-figure catch.
Dave Showell has his customer appreciation event Friday and Saturday out of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. It will start at 12:01 a.m. Friday and run to 6 p.m. Saturday.
It has $100, $50 and $25 gift certificates for summer flounder, striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and black drumfish. Plus he has added $25 for youth 14 and under for the heaviest blowfish, black sea bass, white perch and sea robin.
Grassy Sound Marina has its opening day flounder contest Friday. Jim and Debbie Mooers offer two $100 gas gift certificates, one to the public and the other for dock tenants.
Bill “Bucktail Willie” Shillingford is the leading tagger for the American Littoral Society with more than 20,000 fish tagged and released. He has been fishiing these waters for more than 50 years.
Shillingord will give a seminar on how to catch striped bass and summer flounder with demos and a question-and-answer session open to the public for free on June 1. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Whale Creek Marina in Strathmere.
A $4,000 bass haul
Jason Burger, of Bridgeton, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Northeast Division opener on the Chesapeake Bay with five bass weighing 23 pounds, 9 ounces.
In North East, Maryland, Burger earned $4,000.
In a news release, Burger said he spent the day fishing isolated grass clumps and wood near the mouth of the Susquehanna River. He said he caught about 10 keepers all day, and ended up weighing all largemouth.
“I’d usually fish different areas that are more normal for this time of year, but with the weather they’ve had, I fished some old stuff,” said Burger, who earned his first win in FLW competition.
“When they have a lot of rain, they open up the Conowingo Dam, and it muddies up the water in the North East area. And when they close it, the water near Havre de Grace is the first to clean up, so I stayed around the mouth of the river and targeted spawning and prespawn fish.”
Finishing third was John Vanore, of Mullica Hill, who caught five bass weighing 21-2. He earned $1,784.
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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.