Back in business!
Black sea bass season turns on again Sunday, and local captains are wired.
The Starfish fleet has both boats cranked up for the return of sea bass. John Nigro, the excited spokesman for Bob Rush at Starfish Enterprise headquarters in Sea Isle City, said the big boat, the Starfish, already had 20 signed up for Sunday, and the smaller boat, Susan Hudson, had a charter with 22 or 23 on board.
They will leave at 7 a.m. John said Friday afternoon the phone has not stopped ringing, so they are probably going to run Monday, too.
The last time out, they mainly caught triggerfish and small bluefish.
Mike O’Neill painted the deck and was pulling the tape off the Stray Cat on Friday at Seaview Harbor Marina when the local scribe called. He said he was sold out for 10-hour offshore sorties Saturday and Sunday.
He will run open boat trips Monday, Wednesday and Friday leaving at 6 a.m., but O’Neill said he has a habit of departing early.
He caught porgy, triggerfish and small blues last trip out on Sunday, and said fishing that day was “good, very good.”
Striped bass are migrating down the beach into South Jersey. A 32-pound, 45-inch striped bass caught Thursday from the beach at what is known as the Miracle Mile in Seaside Park surely has the Ocean County striper hounds fired up. It was caught by Mike Petro, of Pittsburgh, with an old-fashioned Bomber lure and weighed at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park.
Francine Cutter at Betty and Nick’s said late Friday afternoon the Friday night crowed was coming through on the way to the beach. She also said little tunny, also known as false albacore, are keeping the boat crews busy trolling.
Moving down the coast, Dave Showell who operates a guide service from his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon is solidly getting into keeper striped bass in the Mullica River-Great Bay stretch of water. On Friday, he had a trip for only one: Mike Marino, of Philadelphia, who was looking for dinner.
“He found dinner!” Dave said.
They caught 28- to 30- inch bass with spot as bait. On Monday, he took three guys out, and they hooked up what he said was an easy 30 bass on lures and kept three. On Thursday, a crew had a 15-pound class bass top the catch, and Friday’s catch was pretty much the same.
Between all of that, the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic registered a new leader in the striped bass division. Patrick Presutto, of Little Egg Harbor Township, picked off a 27.36-pounder at Harvey Cedars on Thursday.
Steve Warren, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, got his season started with an 18.96-pounder he caught Monday in Surf City. It was entered into the Senior Division of the Classic.
Steve has had other success in the Classic — a couple of 20-plus-pound bass in 2015. The Classic runs through Dec. 10 with divisions for striped bass and bluefish loaded with a lot of prizes.
And to follow a progression downbeach, Bill “Bucktail Willie” Shillingford, who fishes Sea Isle City environs and tags fish for the American Littoral Society, provided this missive: “Can’t find bass since Sunday but fluke will not leave. Caught 19 fluke Friday, but only one over 18 inches. I have never seen this many fluke in October.”
Bill has tagged more than 20,000 fish, so he knows what he is doing.
Let’s go the other way, too. Jay Levance, who sometimes works at Absecon Bay, “just got back” Friday afternoon with Dave Pharo, his regular fishing partner and cousin, and Joe King.
They had been “up north above the equator,” off Belmar. Jay said you can catch as “many as you want” up to 50 pounds. They were trolling bunker spoons.
The magic combination continued Friday when the local scribe called Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle to get what was expected to be a report about tautog.
It turned into another live report when Mike Pomykacz walked through the door with a tog that weighed 3.6 pounds. That’s not the first time that’s happened.
Noel said they are catching some nice-size tog, but he also said they are catching striped bass in Absecon Inlet in back of Harrah’s Resort.
A couple of nice kingfish were weighed at One-Stop on Thursday by Richard “Kingfish” Coles, of Pleasantville, who picked 1.1- and 1-pounders off the Brigantine jetty. Coles entered the larger one into the Atlantic County Surf Fishing Derby.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.
Contact: 609-350-0388 ShepOnFishing@yahoo.com
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