Striped bass action, or maybe more precisely, anticipation, is building here in South Jersey waters.
A report of a keeper longer than the 28-minimum occasionally pops up, and fishers are enjoying catching quality fish but shorter than the qualifying limit.
Dave Showell continues to have success on his fishing safaris out of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.
Dave said Sunday was “real good” with two fishers on board with him. They picked off 13 striped bass, two of which fit nicely in the bonus tag category of 24 to 28 inches.
He said more than half of the fish measured 24 to 26 inches, too short to keep but fun to catch and release.
He was using mainly live spot as bait.
Dave is open for charters Wednesday and Thursday and this coming weekend. Call 609-484-0409.
He said the water looked muddy Monday, so he took the day off to work around Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.
Striped bass in that size category mentioned by Showell are spread all along the coast.
Joe Hughes from Jersey Coast Guide Service in Sea Isle City confirmed that Monday afternoon.
He has been splitting his time between trailering his boat to Montauk, New York, and fishing in Cape May County.
And what size did he describe most of the striped bass in both of those widespread regions? From 20 to 27 inches, just under the magic marker.
“Lots of fish,” he said. “The same year class.”
Hughes also often practices catch and release.
He did say there are some bigger fish, and he thought the transition to more keepers is developing.
That trend is another on which Showell and Hughes agree.
“It is looking good,” Showell said Monday.
Andy Grossman pitched in from Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine with a weigh-in of a slightly larger bass that measured 291/2-inches. Hans Vanbrill caught it in the Brigantine beach surf by the south jetty in Absecon Inlet.
Andy also said some of his boat captains are reporting 30-inch-plus striped bass drifting eels and using live spot for bait.
Grossman also said some kingfish are still lingering. Firth Bowden, of Bridgeton, picked off one, at least.
Bowden has two entries — one kingfish and one bluefish — in the Pat Erdman Atlantic County Surf Fishing Derby under way in Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, Longport and parts of Egg Harbor Township.
Noel Feliciano said from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that if they shut down the tautog season right now, it already would have been a good year.
He suggested fishing from the Atlantic City jetties with crab and sand fleas with a 3/0 hooks on a hi-lo rig, or with a tog jig at low water coming in.
“Keep it simple,” he said.
He said the rocks stars are catching “straggler” bluefish and striped bass in the Absecon Inlet channel and back bays at night.
Bluefish and weakfish are mixed in Townsends Inlet with a couple of triggerfish mixed in, according to a report from Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle.
O.C. club wins
An Ocean City Fishing Club competition team under captain Augie Conte III won the Merchantville Surf Fishing Club surfcasting contest Saturday.
Club secretary Margaret Feil said Monday they racked up 70 points in the Association of Surf Angling Club scoring system that promotes catch and release. She said they caught mostly bluefish.
The OCFC runs its own surf fishing classic this Saturday on the Ocean City beaches. It is the 51st edition. Signups will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 a. m. at the new location — the Ocean City Primary School, 550 West Ave. The registration fee is $65 for teams of up to six or $15 for individuals. Fishing will be from 7 to 9 a..m. and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for change of stations.
One-day four-wheel drive vehicle beach-access permits will be available.
Call tournament chairman Ed Parkinson at 215-680-6652 for details.
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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.