This frigid weather did not completely chill off the fishing.
Local captains and surf-casters going for striped bass and tautog fans out on the rockpiles picked off quite a few fish over the past couple of days. The early morning temps were in the 20s.
Tim Smith is running the Hooked Up II charter boat out of the Sen. Frank S. Farley Marina in Atlantic City. Tim is known for fishing in Delaware Bay, and the Hooked Up II was moved from its usual dock at South Jersey Marina in Cape May by John Sowerby to get closer to prime striper grounds off Ocean and Atlantic counties.
Tim was out on the water Friday afternoon when the local scribe called. His crew had five striped bass and had let one go. He was going to give it another 20 minutes in an effort to get keeper number six before heading back to E Dock at Farley.
He said to look for sand eels and bunker.
Dan Ponzio took a party out on the Atlantic City-based charter boat War Dance II on Friday morning. It was cold, and they called it a day early, but only after they caught three striped bass trolling off Atlantic City, according to Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. After Ponzio brought that crew back to warmer environs, he went back out with another group (that had not reported back by late Friday afternoon). Noel said that group was headed more north toward Long Beach Island.
The temps improved to 37 degrees, according to Feliciano.
Andy Grossman posted a photo on his RipTide Bait and Tackle website of Danica Zgalich with a 25-pound striped bass caught on the boat Oh Well with her dad, Paul Zgalich. It was one of 14 “decent” stripers they hooked while trolling Mojos 2 miles off the north end of Brigantine, according to a report that concluded with the description “great day” on the cold water.
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic had two more cold-weather entries to bring the total of striped bass to 33. William Clark Jr. of Springfield picked an 11.52-pound bass from the suds at Loveladies on Friday, and T.J. Loughran, of Manahawkin, registered a 9.54-pound bass caught at Ship Bottom on Thursday. The Classic continues to Dec. 6 with lots of prizes for striped bass and bluefish.
Tautog are also going strong.
Keegan Rothman, the young dedicated fisher from Northfield, was fishing with dad, Dan Rothman, on an inshore wreck. He called from the dock in Somers Point on Friday afternoon to report that he caught a tog that weighed 13.3 pounds. They were keeping it alive in a big cooler full of water so they could safely transport it to Hooked Up Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor Township for an official weigh-in before taking it back to the bay so they could release it alive.
That is very typical of those two ardent and responsible family fishers.
Dan said they had a few other keepers on an inshore wreck.
A private boat crew from West Creek hauled a tautog that weighed 7.7 pounds into One-Stop late afternoon Friday. Noel said the tog was among a limit of fish caught, Feliciano said that crew had bigger tog up to 10 pounds but put them back. They kept smaller fish that added up to limits for all. Another example of good sportsmanship.
And just to add to the local lineup, Feliciano said some ling are being caught.
A ling was among the qualifying fish in the Ocean City Fishing Club’s surf fishing contest held last Saturday on the beaches in Ocean City. A 38-inch striped bass that was returned to the surf alive topped the catch as around 200 surfcasters competed in the 50th annual invitational. Steve Kingsdorf led the Delaware Valley Surf Anglers to the team title of the Association of Surf Angling Club-sanctioned contest. The qualifying ling was caught by Sam Catalano of RH Custom Rods B team.
Last call for South Jersey concerned citizens, stakeholders and fishers to attend and participate in Monday’s important public comment hearing for New Jersey concerning summer flounder, black sea bass and scup regulations. It is 6 p.m. at the Stafford Township Administrative Building (260 E. Bay Ave., Manahawkin).
Follow Shep at: Facebook.com/ShepOnFishing.
Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.