Tautog fishing is keeping it lively after the holiday blitz.

Paul Haertel is a well-known and respected fisher in the Ocean County environs. He is an officer in the Jersey Coast Anglers Association and a dedicated fisher on his boat Angler.

He was out on the ocean at Garden State North Reef on Friday afternoon. He said ocean conditions were “snotty,” but the water temperature was a relatively warm 48 degrees.

One other boat was out there. Haertel said tog fishing was a little slower than it has been. He had three keepers, but no big ones, with tog in the 6- to 7- pound range. Not too shabby.

Big ones were definitely on his resume recently.

He and another well-known fisher, Dante Soriente, had a memorable trip this week. They had a 14-pound, 15-ounce tog and a 12-pounder they released. They followed that with a 11.5-pounder. They were using those Magictails tog jigs with light tackle that Soriente markets.

Soriente topped off the day with a 20.96-pound tog. They kept that one. The tog state record is 25 pounds, 5.92 ounces set in 2015 by Frank LaMorte.

Haertel said good fishing in January is a bonus compared to last year, when we had at lot of frigid weather.

Travel down the coast into Cape May County waters, and it was pretty much the same story.

Cameron Koshland enjoyed a day on the water on a winter break from his Boulevard Bait and Tackle in Ocean View. He was out with a fishing bud Thursday off Wildwood when Sal Alongi, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, hooked up with an 18.36-pound tog. Alongi’s previous best was a 14-pounder, according to Koshland.

Bob Cope was just pulling his charter boat Full Ahead into the slip at Utsch’s Marina in Cape May when the local scribe called late Friday afternoon. He said they caught a few tog but it was a “scrounge.”

He, too, registered one of those double-figure tog on a recent trip with a 13-pounder.

Just before New Year’s day, Dan Ponzio made a last-day black sea bass run with a crew on his Atlantic City-based charter boat War Dance. He provided some photos of a cleaning station and deck covered by black sea bass.

Just prior to that, Ponzio was out with Noel Feliciano, who also took a respite from his One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City, on another local boat, Jessie James, with captain Mark Schrenk, and they had a super haul of black sea bass.

Black sea bass season is closed right now until a new opening date emerges.


The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting Thursday afternoon into evening at the Atlantic County Public Library branch in Galloway Township was sparsely attended.

It developed into a presentation and conversation about wind turbine farms planned for inshore off the New Jersey Coast.

It is early, but now is a good time to sign up for the New Jersey saltwater registry. It’s required, but it’s free and easy to comply.

Go to the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife website to fill out the form.

The Lacey Township High School Fishing Club will hold its 10th fisherman’s flea market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 12 in the high school gym, 73 Haines Street in Lanoka Harbor. Admission is $3. The flea market benefits club students by raising money for club activities and scholarships for student members, according to information provided by club adviser Jeremy Muermann.

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Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.

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Contact: 609-350-0388 ShepOnFishing@yahoo.com

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