Winter is here, Christmas is upon us and New Year’s is coming up.
That seems to be a good combination for continued excellent striped bass catches in the ocean. “Epic!” is the oft-repeated superlative. “Can’t do anything wrong!” was another description.
Tom Ferrarra is running the six-pack center-console of the two-boat T-Wrecks fleet out of Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City. He said he got into an all-out “blitz” on Friday. He said they started out right off Atlantic City but only got one hookup.
So he motored north along Brigantine and saw some birds play off Little Egg Inlet. He stopped on them and his crew of three customers wound up with a limit of 33-37 inch bass plus one 25-inch “slot” bonus tag fish.
Ferrarra said he has family in from California, so he is taking some time off. He is scheduled to resume next Friday.
Chris Balaban of 24 Hour Bait and Tackle was taking a break and walking his dog on the beach Friday. He was watching the boats fishing off Ocean City and talking to one of the captains on the phone. Balaban said Dan Lorah and his 12-year-old son Louis and Jeff Silva were out on Lorah’s boat Keepin’ It Reel and they reported hooking up between 25 and 30 fish.
Balaban said the last three days have been super with bass stretched from Brigantine down to off Great Egg Inlet. There are a lot of 15 to 20 pounders in this mass of bass off South Jersey right now. He said that’s the way it has been lately.
Balaban has 24-hour tackle shops in Marmora and Egg Harbor Township and Tight Lines in Somers Point. He also said it was a beautiful on the beach Monday.
Noel Feliciano said from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that it seemed as though the fleet was more down off the Tropicana Atlantic City on Friday. Trolling is the main tactic and Noel advises captains and crews to slow-troll at 2 knots with those in-demand white-hot white Mojos. Umbrella rigs, stretch lures and bunker spoons are also in the spreads.
Noel said one of the captains he was in contact with by phone Friday was watching a fin whale right in close maybe a half-mile off the beach. He said birds were diving over the scene.
Andy Grossman reported from Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine that one of his regulars, Chad Hartensteiner, pulled his boat but put it back in the water because of the excellent fishing. His son Tyler and pals Mike Heim and Anthony Martin said they took the boat out and Grossman said they racked up 30-plus bass Friday including one that weighed 38 pounds.
Grossman said Ron Mattarazzo is another of his captains. He was out Thursday and was catching doubleheaders on umbrella rigs. Anyone familiar with umbrella rigs can understand that can be a challenge.
Mike O’Neill had a “super” combination day with blackfish (tautog) and striped bass Friday on the Stray Cat out of Seaview Harbor Marina. He went off to the Ocean City Reef and “whacked” tog. Then he came back inside the line and caught striper. He said a “little girl” on board caught a striper that was longer than she was and weighed 35 pounds.
Robin Scott said her cleaning table at Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate had vivid evidence Friday of a fish filet. Colin Brennan of Ventnor is one of her dock hands back in town on his break from college. He went for sea bass off Sea Bright and had to borrow a cooler from her to hold all the filets.
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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.