Small striped bass with a few keepers mixing in continue to keep fishers busy throughout South Jersey.
A couple more slammer bluefish, plus a few kingfish and blowfish, add to a lineup that also includes weakfish and black drumfish.
Spring fishing is getting a little more interesting, probably because the water temps seem to be consistently hanging around the mid-50s.
This next item from Noel Feliciano is not atypical of the striped bass action just about everywhere. Emanuel Valentin is one of his regulars at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City.
Noel said Monday that Valentin was casting lures from the Melrose Avenue rocks into Absecon Inlet. Valentin said he hooked up 40 bass, all under the 28-inch minimum except for one that weighed 17.5 pounds and measured 36 inches long.
Dave Showell was enjoying a beautiful day on the water around Great Bay with a father-son crew from Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, when the local scribe called.
Charles Molcavage and son Charley were getting some guidance from Captain Dave on casting bucktails with Gulp along a sod bank back.
He said they had a dozen shorts so far, from baby bass up to 23 inches. Dave said he spent some time looking for signs of bluefish in the backwaters but did not see any.
Feliciano said he weighed three sizable blues recently, including one that went 11 pounds.
On Monday afternoon, he had a fisher bring in a 21.5-inch, 3.2-pound weakfish.
Steve Purul, captain of the charter boat Reel Fantasea, had one fisher recently rack up some numbers described as “just under” 30 bass while fishing in the back bays of Barnegat Inlet.
Contests, piers and more
The Long Beach Island Spring Derby surf-fishing contest had its second striped bass weigh-in.
Greg Legacki, of Williamstown, caught a 12.56-pound bass at 1:30 a.m. Sunday at Harvey Cedars. It was certified for the tournament at Surf City Bait and Tackle.
The Derby has divisions for striped bass and bluefish and continues through June 24.
Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom posted a report about 13.06-pound black drumfish caught in the surf at Long Beach Island by Matt Pratt on Saturday.
The Ventnor City Fishing Pier is open for business, with Art Levinson and Dan Zamieto the pier masters. Art said Monday afternoon they have had some pier fishers purchase membership keys that open the gate to the outer end, and they have had some fishers give it a try, mostly just one or two at a time.
Asked if they are catching anything, Art answered with an emphatic “nope.”
He said the water was a “thousand times” warmer last year at this time.
The second of the Association of Surf Angling Club’s spring competitions is Saturday — the 34th Karl J. Boehret event on the Sea Isle City beaches. Jane Jefferys is an organizer for the host Delaware ValleySurf Anglers.
It is set up in the standard ASAC format, open to teams and individuals. Registration is $60 for six-person teams and $10 for individuals and will be taken from 5:30 to 7 a.m. at the Sea Isle Community Lodge, 300 JFK Blvd. Surf-casters can fish from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at a first station and move to a second station to fish from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m..
The awards ceremony, complete with lunch and door prizes, will start at 1 p.m. Four-wheel drive vehicle beach access fees will be waived for the day. Transportation will be provided to entrants who do not have four-wheel drives. ASAC rules will apply.
Prizes are plaques for first, second and third teams and individuals, along with a most-fish plaque for youth and a largest-fish plaque for women, plus a a mayor’s trophy for the largest fish. Call Jane at 609-624-1427 for more details.
Jane turned into a reporter Monday with information about the ASAC opener. The first Nicole Born Tournament was held April 28 on Long Beach Island. Jane said they had 64 teams and 29 individuals compete. That is a super opener as far as numbers of surf-casters.
Fishing was tough, but Jane said Reggie Vasta of the Women’s Surf Fishing Club of New Jersey beat them all with a 33-inch black drumfish. John Hille of the Southern Regional Surf Fishing Club was second overall for the day with a 28.5-inch striped bass, according to Jane.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.