Hot and heavy ... in two ways.
Fishing looks as if it is in midseason form, and Memorial Day weekend was a winner for fishers and stakeholders. Bait and tackle shops and marinas seemed to be in constant motion from fishers eager to get in on the action.
Here’s what they have to enjoy: summer flounder, including what was probably the first double-digit weigh-in; striped bass, including one estimated 50-pounder that was released; some 4- to 5-pound class weakfish; continued attacks of bluefish; and the arrival of kingfish.
Add that was just land-based, or the inlets and back-bay action. Black sea bass and ling are biting on the inshore wrecks and reefs, and black drumfish are moving in the Delaware Bay and in some of the other bays of South Jersey.
Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon had a big winner in the summer flounder division of his Grand Slam Customer Apprecation contest that celebrated the holiday and the season opener.
Thomas Johnston caught a summer flounder that weighed 10.2 pounds. Dave reported that Johnston and his family made their first fishing trip of the year, and Johnston culled throught a lot of summer flounder shorter than the allowable 18 inches. He finally got the winner with an hour to spare before the contest closed Saturday.
Debbie Mooers reported from Grassy Sound Marina in North Wildwood that the fishing and business has been good. They also had an opening-day contest that was topped by the 6-pound, 25-inch summer flounder caught by John Dailey, of Abington, Pennsylvania.
Debbie said Monday they had striped bass, bluefish and kingfish caught from the pier there. She said “gator” blues are chasing surface plugs in the back bays, and they weighed a 4.2-pound weakfish caught by Stevie Repport, of Marlton.
The same kind of action has been reported from the Absecon Inlet area.
Noel Feliciano said Monday from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that they have bluefish at the end of T-jetty, and kingfish in the surf next to the T-jetty and oceanfront jetties at Vermont and Massachusetts avenues.
He weighed in 4-, 3 1/2- and 3.2-pound weakfish.
Noel posted a video of two of his regulars combining to release a 50-pound striped bass. Tony Pano, of Pennsylvania, and Atlantic City’s Emanuel Valentin were on the T-jetty when Pano hooked up with the heavyweight.
He fought it from the jetty to the beach, where Valentin helped him release it unharmed and lively as it swam off in the night.
“Too big to keep!” Pano said Monday.
Robin Scott said from Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate she had every boat out and had to bring in extra help to keep up with the demands of her customers for rental boats and pontoon party boats, plus the traffic through the bait and tackle shop. She said midafternoon Monday that some of the rental boats were going out for the second time with crews of late arrivals.
Good weekend all around!
Robin is the weigh master for the annual Margate Log Cabin Summer Flounder Tournament scheduled for Saturday. The event will hold signups at the captains meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Log Cabin located at 608 N. Jerome Ave. in Margate. The entry fee is $30 for members and $35 nonmembers.
Tony Morgano is the tournament organizer. Registration forms can be picked up at Ship Shop in Ventnor and at Ray Scott’s Dock. Prizes are $300, $200 and $100 for the first-, second- and third-heaviest summer flounder, plus $50 for the female with the heaviest flounder and $50 for the youth 16-and-under winner.
A couple of other events are coming Saturday, including the 21st Brutus Fluke Tournament co-sponsored by the Egg Harbor Township Elks Lodge 2563 and the Somers Point AMVETS Post 911.
The entry fee is $30 per angler, and the fishing hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. from boat, kayak or beach. The cash prize for the heaviest summer flounder is $500, and there will be 12 other noncash awards.
The contest includes a $100 award in the 14-and-under junior angler category and $100 for the heaviest bluefish, according to a release from Walt Gregory and Fred Vineyard.
The registration deadline is the conclusion of the captains meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lodge at 1815 Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, just over the Patcong Creek bridge.
Pick up registration forms at Point Tackle Marine, Somers Point Marine, Tightlines and 24/7 Bait and Tackle, Gregory’s Bar, Finatics, Ocean City Tourist Center and Back Bay BBQ; or email BrutusBoy6665@aol.com.
Proceeds support local veterans and children’s charities.
An additional feature: Captain Brook Koeneke has set aside a special trip for contestants on the Duke O Fluke back-bay pontoon party boat that operates from Higbee Avenue and the bay in Somers Point.
Bill “Bucktail Willie” Shillingford is the leading active tagger for the American Littoral Society tag-and-release program. He has been fishing Cape May County waters for more than 50 years and will hold a fishing seminar with demos and a question-and-answer session starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Whale Creek Marina.
It is free and open to the public.
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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.