Ocean conditions and weather were not that great over the weekend. Black sea bass season opened last Monday and the fishing was super to get it started. They were there when the weather broke on Monday.
Mike O’Neill had just pulled the Stray Cat charter/open boat into the dock at Seaview Harbor Marina and reported that they “loaded up again.”
He said sea bass catches are “absolutely phenomenal.” Everyone on board had their limit of 10 fish that measured more than the 12.5-inch minimum. Mike said the pool winner was a whopping 5 1/2 pounds.
He said he had a tougher day of fishing Monday than he had the last time he got out, which was Friday. He said he had to move the boat once all of 30 feet over on a wreck, while on Friday he dropped the anchor and never moved.
They had limits all around on Friday, too. He said it took three hours to fill up the coolers on Monday and on Friday it took a mere two and a half hours Needless to say they were back at the dock and cleaning fish early both trips. His next scheduled open boat is Friday, and, as of Monday night, he had two spaces open.
“Bluebird fishing day,” he said.
This is the time of year with the type of conditions we have, such as water temperatures starting to drop, that striper hounds check out what’s going on to the north of here. We still have warm water in the mid 60s.
And that’s pretty similar to what they are recording at Shrewsbury Rocks, one of the best known and productive fishing spots in close off Monmouth Beach between Sandy Hook and Shark River. Local captains visit there quite a bit.
A report from Alex Komdas at Reel Seat in Brielle revealed they still have water temps of 68 degrees. He said Monday they just started to get some reports of striped bass improving with fish in the 20- to 25-pound class that have moved in within the past week or so.
They are being caught mainly on the troll.
He said they are also expecting that big fall migration because they are hearing of good striped bass fishing developing in the the Sandy Hook area.
He also said they are just as excited about the little tunny (aka false albacore) action up that way. He said it is the best ever in the surf and in the inshore waters. We have had some reports about false albies here, but that sounded pretty cool.
He also said those small blues in the 2-3 class and sometimes up to 5 pounds that are thick here have disappeared from those waters.
Striped bass fishing here is improving too.
Bill Shillingford is a prolific practitioner of tag and release for the American Littoral Society. He is known as “Bucktail Willie” for the deer-hair bucktails he ties for selected customers.
He provided a report Monday about a friend who enjoyed two good days fishing for striped bass in the backs bays near Ocean City. Bill said Ted Duffy had seven bass up to 30 inches one day last week and nine bass up to 31 on another day. He was tossing a popper and using live spot as bait.
An unusual aspect of local fishing right now is the presence o sizable shrimp being caught by casting nets to capture bait. They are not grass shrimp, according to Noel Feliciano at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. Noel takes some impressive videos he posts on his web pages, and he showed one to long-time local bait man Chuck Law. According to Noel, Chuck said he never saw anything like them before.
Noel said that some of these shrimp that are captured in the nets are 3-4 even up to 5 inches.
Feliciano also had another good report about tautog on the rockpiles around Atlantic City. He said the keeper ratio is one in 10. The Barnegat Inlet jetty is also a tog hot spot.
The Ocean City Fishing Club has its 50th surf fishing tournament this Saturday on the beaches of Ocean City. It is an Association of Surf Angling Club event open to teams of up to six persons and individuals: women, youth and men.
The cost is $80 per team and $15 for individuals and registration is from 5:30 to 7 a.m. at the Ocean City Intermediate School, 1801 Bay Ave., in Ocean City. The contest is governed by ASAC rules. Contestants are assigned two beach fishing locations from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mike Collins and Bob Dever are tournament co-chairmen.
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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.