Black sea bass season opened Oct. 8 with awesome catches that continued into the weekend.

A couple more examples of excellent fishing surfaced.

Irv Hurd, captain of the party boat Miss Avalon based at the Avalon Sport Fishing Center, said fishing has been “amazing” and that there “has not been a bad day!”

Irv kept the Miss Avalon dockside Monday and took the downtime opportunity to call and help out the local scribe with a super report from Sunday.

He said he had 10-fish limits of black sea bass all around. The weather and ocean conditions were very good, he said, adding that the ocean was “alive” where he was fishing 14 miles out.

Adding to the excitement was the equally remarkable catch of triggerfish, porgy and two-pound bluefish, plus some blowfish.

He said he has counted 20 to 25 triggerfish, plus trips where they had nine and seven blowfish.

Irv schedules the Miss Avalon for Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. He sets up for six-hour trips but has been known to stay longer if the fish are cooperating.

John Nigro, DJ for the Starfish Fleet headquartered in Sea Isle City, sent some photos of happy customers on the Starfish with lots of fish caught Saturday and Sunday. They showed quality black sea bass, big porgy and triggerfish.

They will resume their schedule Tuesday, according to Nigro.

The black sea bass seem to be more plentiful in 80 to 100 feet of water. Some of the black sea bass are in the 4- to 5-pound class.

Sunday was also a super day inshore along the 30-Fathom Line.

That’s where Dan Ponzio on the War Dance out of Atlantic City and his nephew Greg Goff caught three bluefin tuna and two yellowfin tuna.

The biggest bluefin weighed 88 pounds, and the others were in the 55- to 60- pound range. They released one of the bluefin. The yellowfin tuna were in the 35- to 45-pound class. They were trolling naked ballyhoo.

Ponzio said Monday this is the first decent sign of tuna moving in. He said sand eels are everywhere in the inshore waters. He also said they caught a 10- to 12-pound blackfin tuna that they released. He said that is a rare catch for our waters.

John Sowerby, who runs the Hooked Up II out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May, backed up Ponzio about the lack of tuna.

So he has been “slamming” tilefish when a weather window allows him to venture farther off to Wilmington Canyon.

He said he has been hooking up with golden tile and blue line tile. One of the golden tilefish caught Sunday in 600 feet of water in the Wlimngton weighed in the “high 40s” and was the heaviest tile ever caught on the Hooked Up II, according to the captain.

And as an extra added attraction attraction, Sowerby has been catching a lot of mahi.

Sowerby is a fixture in Cape May but said he is moving the Hooked Up II to the Golden Nugget (Sen. Frank S. Farley State Marina) in Atlantic City on Nov. 1. Sowerby said Tim Smith, captain of the Bodacious out of Fortescue, will run the boat for striped bass.

Incidentally, the state record for golden tilefish is 63 pounds, 8 ounces caught in Lindenkohl Canyon in 2009.

Bluefish continue to rule. They are in the ocean, surf, inlets and back bays. Kingfish are increasing, and spot are sometimes thick in the surf. Pompano are still here enjoying the 70-degree water temps.

Paul Lavigna, of Brigantine, caught a 10-pound, 28 1/2-inch sriped bass in the Brigantine surf when certified for the Riptide Bait and Tackle Fall Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.

Noel Feliciano said from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that the T-jetty has tautog, occasional triggerfish and those small bluefish.

He said one jetty regular reported he caught 15 kingfish, came into the shop for more bloodworm and was headed back out. Little tunny, a few mahi and bonito were reported caught inshore, likely by trolling.

This Saturday’s surf-fishing contest sanctioned by the Association of Surf Anglng Clubs is the second Merchantville Fishing Club event on Long Beach Island.

Registration is $60 for six-person teams and $15 for individuals from 5:30 to 7 a.m. at Surf City Fire Hall, 813 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City.

Follow Shep at


Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press.

His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.

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