Looks like the invasion of big striped bass has begun in South Jersey.
At least a few genuine heavyweights weighing more than 40 pounds have arrived, and some 25- to-30-pound-plus striper have been recorded.
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic got a new leader in a big way.
Chris Masino, of Beach Haven, hauled a 43.06-pound bass out of the suds at Beach Haven on Friday morning. He was using bunker as bait. It was certified at Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven.
That bass was much bigger than the previous entries, weighing more than the next three bass combined on the Classic leaderboard as of Friday afternoon.
Two other bass were registered Friday for the Classic.
Chuck Kortman, of Williamstown, picked a 15.10-pounder at North Beach, and John Campbell, of Evesham, got a 13.66-pounder at Loveladies. That brings the number of Classic entries to 14. The Classic also has a bluefish division, but none have been weighed as yet.
“It was an exciting day on the island, “ CaroleAnn Palmer said Friday from Jingle’s.
The contest continues to Dec. 9 and offers a load of prizes. Still time to sign up for $20 at Jingle’s, Fisherman’s Headquarters, Captain’s Quarters and Surf City Bait and Tackle.
Noel Feliciano posted a report and a photo of a fisher identified as Khyri Lewis with a 50-pound bass caught in Delaware Bay.
Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom reported that a fisher named Justin Marti hooked into a “personal best” 49.60-pound striper on the troll, and another named Ryan Horton connected with a 35-pounder, also on the troll.
And the shop website proclaimed, “It’s on!”
A couple of reports put quality bass inshore in the ocean off the well-known landmark red towers at Surf City.
And they are moving down and into Atlantic County waters. When the weather is not “crushing us,” as one correspondent lamented, striper are motivated. They are being trolled with bunker spoons.
Dan Ponzio is the captain of the War Dance party boat based in Atlantic City. He went out Friday morning, got beat up by the conditions but caught bass while trolling a bunker spoon and returned to One-Stop with a 25.6-pound striped bass.
That bass was the second fish entered and took the lead in a One-Stop shop contest that offers a $200 St. Croix fishing rod for heaviest fish. The contest continues to Nov. 25. There is no entry fee or preregistration required. Just bring your striped bass into One-Stop for a weigh-in ceremony that includes a photo session.
Noel is also hooked up with Kelly’s Corner Pub for a striped bass contest for Atlantic County waters. It is underway and continues to Dec. 16. Contestants can sign up for $20 at One-Stop or Kelly’s. The contest is for the heaviest striper caught from boat, beach, pier or jetty. An awards banquet at Kelly’s is part of the action.
Striped bass are much prized and highly anticipated this time of the year. But there is a segment of the local fishers who value tautog as much.
The rocks fans who work it from the jetties and rockpiles and bridges also have incentive. That’s because the tog season opens from one fish daily to a five-fish daily possession limit beginning next Friday, Nov. 16.
Tog are very decent around the jetties from Barnegat Inlet to the T-Jetty in Atlantic City, and the other popular and productive rockpiles down to Avalon, Wildwood and Cape May. Green crab is the main bait.
White perch continue to be active in the area’s rivers and streams. Triggerfish are often mixed with tog around the rocks.
South Jersey fishers need to participate in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission public comment hearing Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Stafford Township Administration Building in Manahawkin or by going to asmfc.org to chime in online.
Summer flounder and black sea bass regs are part of the agenda.
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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.