There does not seem to be any doubt now: Fishing in South Jersey is at a summer peak at mid-season.
Dave Showell said he is having his best week of the season on his safari-guided trips out of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.
Plus he said Friday afternoon he figured out the antidote for catching mostly undersized summer flounder.
He said he is netting mullet and using them as bait to catch summer flounder longer than the 18-inch minimum we are allowed in New Jersey.
He said he had just returned from a run into the back bays Friday with himself and Mike Marino that resulted in five keepers. He had four keepers for a crew of two brothers Wednesday.
He said the keeper ratio was one out of two. That is an awesome batting average because it has been a lot fewer than that. He was fishing in Great Bay-Reeds Bay environs.
Down the road at Margate, Robin Scott at Ray Scott’s Dock said Friday they weighed a 7-pound summer flounder caught by a crew that also racked four other keepers on the same outing. Robin said they also weighed 5-pound and 4.8-pound summer flounder.
Robin said she has every craft they have working for today (Saturday). She said they have two parties signed up to go crabbing that numbers 70 people.
While those are strong summer flounder reports, kingfish might be even more impressive.
Rick Andrews sent a message Friday he had just cleaned 50 kingfish. A report from another kingfish fan counted 62 caught. These kingfish are spread out in the “wash” or right close to the beaches in some areas.
Bloodworm, small chunks of shrimp or Fish-Bites artificials on small hooks and light gear are a good combo for kingfish.
And it seems as though just outside the wash, small weakfish are cruising and taking the same baits.
Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine said a regular from Pennsylvania, Andy Smith, has caught 11 or 12 keeper striped bass in recent days “by the bridge.” One measured 39 inches and another 31 inches.
Noel Feliciano always seems to have a good report from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. He said it was “steady” with triggerfish, nice-size tautog, a lot of kings in the surf, summer flounder and the occasional striped bass with plenty of bait fish in the Absecon Inlet area.
Inshore trolling is super for bonito, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and now cobia and king mackerel. A couple of reports put them as close as three miles off.
Offshore big-game fishing is also getting attention.
The 53rd Yacht Club of Stone Harbor Billfish tournament was held July 25 to Sunday. The fleet of 26 boats recorded 143 billfish releases with 133 white marlin and 10 blue marlin. Polarizer was the winner with 14 white marlin. The boat is owned by George Robinson, with Bill Davis as captain. Fishaholic, with owner Joe Zerbo, was second with eight white marlin and two blue marlin; Intuition and owner Tom Kilareski was third with 19 white marlin.
Rachel Linus, on Bob Barbaro’s Badger, was first-place angler and first-place female with five white marlin and one blue marlin.
Camryn Diller won the junior division with three white marlin on dad Jamie’s Canyon Lady.
Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.