They had an old-fashioned bluefish blitz Monday morning in and around Absecon Inlet.
Just about every fisher who was enjoying the spectacular morning as the sun came up to launch a beautiful day also enjoyed super action with “gators” slamming the lines all morning and into mid-afternoon.
Noel Feliciano called from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City mid-morning with an excited report. He said he took his usual early-morning walk to document what was happening on the rockpiles in Absecon Inlet. He said he saw a few fish and took a few photos and a video.
He also picked off a couple himself and then went back to One-Stop just a few blocks away.
A little while later, he got a call from one of his regulars, Isidro Valentin, who said it was fishing of the finest kind for bluefish. Noel got excited and had to go back to see what was happening.
He said that as he was heading out on the T-jetty for the second time, he counted 20-some rock stars fighting fish. Some of the fishers were pulling them up so fast and furiously the fish were airborne before they flopped down on the rocks.
He said one of them was a genuine slammer that weighed 15 pounds, 6 ounces and was 39 inches long. Lou Tiernan, of Springfield, Pennsylvania, caught it. He comes down to Atlantic City often in the spring and fall, and this was his biggest blue.
Tiernan confirmed it was an “amazing” morning. He bought an SP Minnow lure, went out on the jetty and hooked up on the second cast. He said there were a lot of blues in the 6- to 8-pound class.
The run of bluefish is great timing for Feliciano’s Fish to Feed contest. The contest asks fishers to donate their bluefish to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.
Noel said he dropped off 34 pounds of bluefish Sunday. On Monday, he had what he estimated to be a whopping 260 pounds or more he was going to take to the A.C. Rescue Mission. He said two of his contestants donated 12 fish Monday that weighed a total of 90 pounds. And another contestant donated a striped bass.
There is no fee to enter the innovative contest, but the fish must be weighed at One-Stop. He is offering $125 for first place, $100 for second and $75 for third, and the prizes will be determined by most total weight.
Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine was just as excited as he reported that the blues are “all over” the south jetty in Brigantine just across Absecon Inlet from Atlantic City.
Andy had a half-dozen blues in the 9- to 10-pound class, and others almost as big, weighed in Monday. When the local scribe called mid-afternoon to get caught up on the mayhem, Andy said it was still going on.
Here is Andy’s lineup for early Monday: Anthony Pitucci, of Brigantine, goes 1-2 in the Riptide Spring Fishing Derby with 10-pound, 3-ounce and 10-pound entries that bumped Greg Antell, also of Brigantine, back to third with a 9.5-pounder.
Antell also hauled in a 7-12 blue Monday.
Other toothy critters caught Monday on the Brigantine side included Mike Fabiani’s 11-pounder that was not registered for the Riptide Derby and an 8-pound qualifier caught by Mike Smaritto, of Brigantine, that is now out of the money.
Up the beach a stretch to Long Beach Island, Jingle’s Bait and Tackle reported that surf-caster Richard Sherman hauled in a 15.48-pound striped bass and an 8.72 blue.
Tammie Carbohn at Avalon Hodge-Podge said they have blues around Avalon. She said some 3-pound blues have arrived, and they still have some of those bigger blues in the back bays.
Greg O’Connell is president of the Association of Surf Angling Clubs and a member of the Merchantville Surf Fishing Club.
That group of South Jersey surf-casters just came back from a fishing tournament in Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
He said Monday they took second place for the second straight year, and he captured the most-fish title. He said the club won the team title in 2016. Wonder what those Carolina citizens think about South Jersey lads going down and coming back with honors.
ASAC will have its second stop on the spring tour of South Jersey beaches Saturday with the 38th Karl J. Boehret Surf Fishing Tournament sponsored by Delaware Valley Surf Anglers in Sea Isle City.
Registration is $60 for a team of up to six and $10 for individuals from 5:30-7 a.m. at the Sea Isle City Community Lodge, 300 JFK Blvd. in Sea Isle City.
Fishing will go from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at the first position and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at position two. The awards and a free lunch complete with door prizes will start at 1 p.m. at the lodge.
First-, second- and third-place plaques will be awarded for the most points based on total length of catch for teams; first, second and third plaques for individual most points; most-fish plaque for youth; and largest and most-fish plaques for women.
Four-wheel drive beach permits have been waived for the hours of the event.
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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.