It appears as though striped bass were not much bothered by the snowy weather.
Lots of quality bass are still being reported all along the South Jersey coast. Many of them are lighweights weighing in the teens.
There are some exceptions.
Noel Feliciano weighed a 33.1-pound bass Sunday at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City for a local fisher who was out on one of the jetties in Atlantic City and did not want to provide his name. The fish measured 441/2 inches.
One of the perks of owning a tackle shop is owners and staff occasionally are given fish to enjoy. This particular fisher also caught a smaller keeper-size bass he kept, so he gave Noel the bigger one.
In addition to taking the fish home for dinner, Feliciano had the idea to use the bass as part of a promotion for the Fishing for Toys contest he is running out of One-Stop this week. Santa Claus appeared on the beach in Atlantic City for a photo session connected with the contest Sunday. Santa also posed for a photo with the bass back at One-Stop, which Feliciano posted online and sent out to contacts.
Feliciano is running his Christmastime striped bass contest for the second straight year. There is no entry fee, but contestants/contributors can enter by bringing an unwrapped toy into One-Stop to be donated to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League.
It was a remarkable success last year. The contest continues through Sunday. Contestants can enter fish caught from land or boat. First prize is $250, second $150 and third $100.
The 33-pounder was not part of the contest, but Noel did have his first two entries. The early leader weighs 111/2 pounds and was caught by “Brazil” Josims, of Atlantic City.
Feliciano said there is a lot of bait in the water around Atlantic City.
Linda Davoli, of Brigantine, said she needed a beach day in Brigantine on Monday and saw gannets diving about a half-mile off, too far off for surf-casters to reach.
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic wrapped up its 63rd season Sunday.
The Classic had 19 striped bass registered in December, and the two biggest weighed 14.74 pounds and 14-even, trailed by 13.18-, 12.8-, 11.92- and 11.8-pounders.
The heaviest bass listed on the leaderboard weighs 48 pounds and was caught Nov. 1 by John Matt, of Surf City. Rob Vallone, of Tuckerton, has a 15.16-pound bluefish he caught Nov. 4.
More detailed results will appear here Saturday.
Early last week, some bigger bass were still off Cape May County.
Matt Slobodjian reported from Jim’s Bait and Tackle in Cape May that Richard Pavese, of Cape May, weighed one that went 47.7 pounds, and John DiDonato, of Hammonton, racked up a 41.8-pounder.
Matt reported that at that time, the heavyweights were off Stone Harbor and Sea Isle City.
Other ocean reports from off Long Beach Island tell of continued excellent striped bass action as of Friday.
Jingle’s Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven and Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom each had separate reports from captains who racked up 30 bass in a single trip.
A lot of these fish caught by trolling are slamming those red-hot white Mojo lures. Bunker spoons, umbrella rigs and Maja lures also are picking them off.
Don’t forget that striped bass are not legal beyond the 3-mile state zone.
Slobodjian rounded off his dispatch with useful information about other species. He said tautog are good on the wrecks in 80 to 100 feet of water, and black sea bass are more offshore from the 20-fathom line to the rockpiles inside Wilmington Canyon.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Tuesday and Saturday print editions and online.