Striped bass made a powerful return Friday.
Mike O’Neill was on his way back steering the Stray Cat to the dock at Seaview Harbor Marina and could not contain himself when the local scribe called.
“Hey, hot striper” action, and then he added, “finally.”
He said they had birds working and striped bass “all over,” with loads of sand eels apparently the attraction. He was in tight to Corsons Inlet, and they were picking them off by trolling and jigging. He said it started about 10:30 a.m. and continued to 1:30 p.m.
“Fantastic!” Mike said.
Mike has been having real success fishing for tautog, but it looks as though he will switch over to mainly striped bass in the near future. He is going for striper again Saturday with a charter, and his next open boat trip is Monday.
Tim Smith was running the Hooked Up II charter boat out of Atlantic City but is back at South Jersey Marina. He was fishing the same stretch of water as O’Neill on Friday and was halfway back to Cape May when he got the call.
His description about Friday’s fishing was, “All you wanted!”
He said the bass were in the 12-pound class. He said his crew of customers had all it wanted and suggested they cut the trip short, so he headed back early.
That school of bass spread to off Ocean City, according to another report.
Manuel Isidro, of Atlantic City, is one of the rocks fans who is a regular at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City, along with his dad.
It was Manuel’s turn. According to Noel Feliciano, of One-Stope, Manuel hooked up 17 striped bass while plugging from an Atlantic City jetty. Noel said Manuel reported one bass measured more than 30 inches but none was weighed in because Manuel returned them all back into the water.
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic got its first entry for December when Pete Kelly, of Cedar Run, pulled an 8.61-pound striped bass onto the beach at Loveladies. He used bunker for bait. All of the latest entries into the Classic, which ends Sunday, were caught with bunker.
Can’t overlook tautog
Carl Graetz, of Egg Harbor Township, caught his personal best, an 8-pound tautog, this week on the Osprey party boat that works out of Gardners’ Basin in Atlantic City. On Friday, Feliciano said, Graetz not only topped that personal best with a 13-pound tog but won the boat’s pool for the second straight week.
John Nigro, DJ for the Starfish fleet out of Sea Isle City, said they were “hammering” them again, and not too far out. He said Friday some of the tog are “humongous” and then sent a slew of photos to prove it. John said the fleet will run this weekend and likely Monday, too.
Feliciano has organized his second Fishing for Toys striped bass contest that was so successful in its debut last year for the Christmas holiday season. The contest is Dec. 15-16, and like last year, the only entry requirement is to drop off an unwrapped toy or donation.
The Atlantic City Police Athletic League under the guidance of Sgt. Will Santiago again will be the beneficiary. The prizes: $200 for first place, $100 for second and $50 for the third heaviest striped bass.
The contest is for boat or land-based fishers and starts at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and continues to the final weigh-ins at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at One-Stop Bait and Tackle. The front of One-Stop was filled with gifts last year that took a truckload to haul away.
Call Noel at 609-348-9450 for details.
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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.