The Nicole Born Memorial Surf Fishing Tournament got the Association of Surf Angling Club’s tour of South Jersey beaches started Saturday on Long Beach Island with some interesting happenings.

First, they had 41 youth fishers sign up. According to contest coordinator Rich Hedenberg, that set a record for youth participation in an ASAC contest.

Hendenberg said Monday they had a total of 305 surf fishers sign up, which means that way more than 10% of the contestants were age 17 or younger. ASAC has been plugging away since 1915. Hedenberg said all the youth contestants recevied Daiwa rods and a goodie bag.

Keeping the kids involved in fishing is “what it’s all about,” Hedenberg said.

There were a lot of short striped bass caught, all 27 inches or shorter that did not count because they were less than the 28-inch state minimum.

The one fish that did make the limit won the top prizes. The Nicole Born contest also had 27 women register, and one of them, Jackie Scarriellie, was the lone woman on a four-person crew called Team Noodle out of Forked River. She put a quality 221/4-inch bluefish on the beach to give her team the points title and take women’s honors for most and largest fish.

ASAC tournaments score points for length to encourage live releases. Hedenberg owns RH Customs Rods in Galloway Township. His team was the sponsor of the opener.

The next stop on the ASAC tour is the 38th Karl J. Boehret Classic May 11 in Sea Isle City. The Delaware Valley Surf Anglers and Jane Jefferys will run that one.

Signups will be held 5:30 to 7 a.m. that day at the Sea Isle City Community Lodge, 300 JFK Boulevard. The entry fees are $10 for individuals and $60 for teams with up to six contestants. The following Saturday, May 18, will be the Surf N Land contest in Brigantine. The tour then returns Sept. 7 with the H.W. Shaner in Avalon kicking off the fall events.

The load of short striped bass is typical of what has been happening along the beaches. Bigger striped bass have been increasing, however. The rock stars in Absecon Inlet are hooking up with some keeper-sized fish, and many of them are being released.

Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle is running another of his cool promotions. He is calling it Fish to Feed Bluefish Tournament.

The premise behind this one is to catch bluefish to be registered at One-Stop in Atlantic City and donated to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. There is no entry fee, and the winners of the first-place prize of $125, second prize of $100 and third prize of $50 will be determined by total weight of fish donated.

He already has hads two fish donated caught Sunday by William Prestegord, of Philadelphia, with a total weight of 8 pounds.

Prestegord runs an outdoor adventure company called FMT Outfitters, and he brings tours to Atlantic City to fish. He started a program of donating fish to charities in Philadelphia. Last year’s total was 300 pounds of fish donated. Noel picked up on that good idea.

Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine had another weigh-in from a young fisher when 7-year-old Rexx Bannan, of West Berlin, brought in a 1-pound, 15-ounce bluefish.

He and his dad, Todd, bought some clam and a bunker and were back a half-hour later. That one is the early bluefish leader in Grossman’s spring-fishing derby.

Paul Thompson made a tautog run Sunday from South Jersey Marina in Cape May. His customers aboard the Porgy IV party boat “scraped together’” 25 keeper tog and a lot of shorts all around the boat.

He is shifting tactics beginning Friday because the tautog spring season has its final day Tuesday. It is closed as of May 1. He is going to run black drumfish trips beginning 2 p.m. Friday. He plans to be back at the dock at 10 p.m. He said Monday that it will be by reservation.

Call 609-884-1214 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.

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

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