Noel Feliciano puts in a lot of hours at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City during the main part of the fishing season.
He is an effective and tireless promoter of fishing in the Atlantic City area. He got a chance to take a needed break Thursday and went fishing in the ocean with a class group of fishers on the Brigantine-based charter boat Jessie James with captain Mark Shrenk, mate Eric Gilchrist and one of Noel's shop regulars and another well-known captain, Dan Ponzio, of Atlantic City.
They had a group that consisted of other boat captains, so Noel was in with some heavyweights. Ponzio, for example, runs the charter boat War Dance out of Atlantic City.
Noel said they left the dock at 4 a.m. Thursday, returned at 5:30 p.m. and spent the next hour-and-a-half on what he described as a "filet line" cleaning up their catch of black sea bass.
Noel said the biggest sea bass Thursday were in the 4- to 5-pound class and that they were releasing some that were 14 to 15 inches long.
Noel said Friday it was the best ocean trip he ever experienced.
"If I can't fish (in the ocean) for the next five years ... I'm happy!" he said.
Shrenk said they were fishing in 250 feet of water 60-plus miles off with a fleet of other boats. He said it was an awesome day with mild conditions.
Feliciano is known for creating quality videos of fishers on the Atlantic City jetties and the general fishing scene around Absecon Inlet and posting them online. He said the sunrise going out over the ocean was beautiful.
Shrenk has been chartering since 1988 and said this latest run was "awesome."
The last day of sea bass season is Monday (Dec. 31). Shrenk catches numerous other species, including tautog, striped bass, tuna, sharks and basically "whatever is in season."
He said tog have not been spectacular lately, and striped bass were beyond the 3-mile state limit and illegal in federal waters — all good reasons to take the offshore jaunt for black sea bass.
Ling and cod are among the species Shrenk will target. He said Fishingbooker.com has his information. Search for Jessie James Charters.
Here's a neat little insight in the fishing world that hints at what it takes sometimes.
Mike O'Neill is the captain of the Stray Cat charter/open boat that launches from Seaview Harbor Marine in Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
He was fishing Wednesday for tautog and said it was "very good." He had a 10-pound plus tog win the pool and a few 5- to 6-pounders. He counted at least three keepers for all on board.
He said last week that he was going to keeping taking the Stray Cat out until his supply of crab ran out. He changed his mind and set out in his truck to a bait barn in Belmar to stock up again, but his truck broke down. He said he is in the process of "scavenging" crab and shrimp from his local fishing buds. He said Friday he is scheduled to go out again Sunday and Monday.
John Nigro, DJ for the Starfish fleet that operates out of Sea Isle City, said Friday the Susan Hudson was out Wednesday and Thursday. He said they did OK Wednesday and that it improved to "real good" Thursday.
Nigro said a few fishers went both days, and 10 already had signed up for the next trip Sunday.
Fishing off South Jersey seems to be very decent as we head toward 2019.
Meeting in Galloway
The next New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Galloway Township branch of the Atlantic County Library System.
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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.