The back bays are heating up.
We have had a couple of solid additions to the already wide variety of fish we are enjoying in mid-July.
Jared Hernandez was fishing one of the sod banks in the back bays of Atlantic City when he spied a fish swimming along the bank.
Hernandez, of Atlantic City, said he cast at it for five minutes with clam as bait. It swiped a couple of times but did not take, and then finally he hooked up. It was a triggerfish that weighed 2.7 pounds when he brought it into One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City.
The 18-year-old Hernandez also caught a second, smaller triggerfish.
Noel said Friday he certified two other triggerfish that weighed 1.6 and 1.5 pounds for other fishers.
That 2.7-pounder was the first and is the heaviest triggerfish registered in the Trigger Happy contest Feliciano is running out of One-Stop. It is a free contest, but contestants first must sign up at the shop.
Feliciano also said croaker have made an appearance, but it does not sound as though that is a sustained action.
Tia Bucci, of Linwood, knows the waters around and inside Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
She went fishing in Ship Channel off Somers Point on Thursday night and caught a 7.1-pound, 27-inch summer flounder. A nice big fish, and not unusual for her.
We have reports of summer flounder moving out to the inshore wrecks and reefs, but obviously they continue to lurk in the backwaters, probably mostly in the deeper cooler channels and depressions. Drifting bucktails with Gulp or plain hooks with big minnows are the most-reported tactics, and before and after high water seem to be the best times.
Inshore fishing is decent, too.
John Nigro is the DJ for the Starfish fleet that operates out of Sea Isle City. He said they also had triggerfish in the ocean as part of a mixed-bag catch that included summer flounder, small sea bass and kingfish.
Mike O'Neill did not mention triggerfish Friday among a mixed bag of fish they have been catching on the Stray Cat charter boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina.
He said they have been catching nice black sea bass — we are allowed two right now — a few summer flounder with few keepers. Mike is flexible and goes for what's biting, as do most of the area's captains. He has been bottom fish and trolling. He has registered mahi and skipjacks, plus snapper and medium bluefish. He said the blues are in two schools — one with fish up to 10 inches and the other with fish to 14 inches.
O'Neill said there are bigger blues farther offshore. He had an offshore open-boat trip schedule for tuna Sunday but said it is sold out.
John Sowerby, captain of the Hooked Up II out of Utsch's Marina in Cape May, said Friday that big-game fishing has become a "pick" in the well-known canyons in reach of South Jersey's sportfishing craft.
He said a few yellowfin and bluefish tuna are spread out at deep-water locations such as the Lindenkohl and Spencer canyons. But to get into some serious tuna, you have to travel a distance to the southwest corner of the Hudson Canyon to the north or go way down south.
He did report that mahi-mahi fans can find plenty of them at Poorman's Canyon. And he said there is nothing on the inshore lumps.
The Snider Inshore Fishing Challenge, a new event with the Philadelphia Flyers legendary goalie Bernie Parent as host, is set for Saturday at the Canyon Club in Cape May.
The fee is $1,000 per boat with unlimited fishers to fish for summer flounder, black sea bass and the most unusual.
The contest will benefit the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. For more information, call the foundation's Katy Bowers at 215-952-4157.
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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.