We got to experience this touch of fall a week or so early as result of this remarkable turn in the weather.

Can fall fishing — favored by many local fishers — be far off?

Well, we still have some time remaining on the calendar in the summer flounder season that wraps Sept. 21.

And there are some surprising reports of outstanding catches of fat keepers.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. files useful reports on behalf of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association, usually about what the charter boat captains are up to.

His latest missive was about a remarkable catch of summer flounder he had with friends while fishing Little Egg Harbor Reef on Thursday. They reeled in five keepers up to 21 inches. Perhaps the most surprising part of that trip was they also caught three other summer flounder that were shorter than the 18-inch minimum.

That is a heck of a keeper-to-release ratio that has not been typical of what has been prevailing most of the season, with more shorts than keepers.

And the reefs are not the only areas holding quality summer flounder.

Bill Cundiff, of Margate, picked off a 51/2-pound fat flounder in the back bays of Margate. That was the biggest in his three-fish limit. He reported to Robin Scott at Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate he also caught two weakfish.

He fishes exclusively with minnows as bait.

Incidentally, Robin cancelled crabbing trips on her rental boats Friday because of the windy conditions.

Carl Sheppard is the captain of the charter boat Star Fish based at Morrison’s Marina in Beach Haven. He said he has reports of summer flounder in the Long Beach Island back bays.

Michael Cunningham reported from Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle that summer flounder with a “couple” of keepers are in the Townsends Inlet area.

He said locals have reported “quite a few” keeper striped bass and weakfish.

He also said the inshore boat crews are catching bonito, Spanish mackerel and bluefish while trolling from Sea Isle Lump to 5-Fathom Bank.

Tautog and summer flounder are gathered around the rockpiles of Atlantic City. Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City said Friday the tog are biting green crab and the flounder are liking the traditional minnows and squid combo.

There are a lot of mullet and bunker throughout. Noel also said big (4- to 5- inch) shrimp have arrived in the backwaters.

The Flounder Finale contest will celebrate the final week of the season from Monday through Saturday out of One-Stop. Sign up there for free before fishing anywhere in Atlantic County waters from land or boat. The single-heaviest catch will bring $150 and a custom fishing rod. Second place gets $100 and third $50.

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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.

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

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