Fishing in South Jersey seems to be in a transition phase from summer to fall.
Two main factors contribute to the potential changeover. One is the fact that we can’t keep summer flounder. Two is the fact that we can’t keep black sea bass.
Striped bass are still mostly shorter than the 28-inch minimum, but a few keepers pop up.
Bluefish in the 1- to 3-pound range are plentiful just about everywhere from the inshore waters through the inlets into the backwaters.
Dave Showell was working around the dock at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center on Friday when birds and bait made acommotion in Absecon Creek.
He said he got the itch, grabbed a small rod and jumped on his small boat and went after the small blues that were causing the fuss.
“I couldn’t stand it,” he said of his desire to go catch some.
He said that on one cast with a popper lure with two hooks, he had a blue on each hook.
Dave said there is a blitz of bait fish at sunrise every morning on Absecon Creek.
Mike Cunningham said Friday from Sea Isle Bait and Tackle that they have “quite a few” blues in the 1- to 3-pound class in the waters around Townsends Inlet.
He said they are biting on fresh and frozen mullet, plus chasing half-ounce to to 3/4-ounce spoons and plugs.
They should keep things busy for awhile.
Triggerfish is another species getting a lot of attention. Reports are coming in from inshore waters and around the rocks, bridges and piers.
Bob Cope, captain of the Full Ahead charter boat out of Cape May, said that’s about all there is to keep on the inshore wrecks in the interim.
He said the trick to catching them is that they might be on one “piece” of a wreck and not on another, so you have to find where they are residing.
Cunningham said there is a clam boat wreck a couple of miles off Avalon that is holding triggerfish, some of which weigh up to 4 pounds.
Irv Hurd is putting his customers on the party boat Miss Avalon based at Avalon Sport Fishing Center on triggerfish. The Sea Isle City party boat Starfish is getting them, too, according to spokesman John Nigro.
Captains agree that when black sea season reopens Oct. 8 with a 12.5-inch minimum and a 10-fish daily possession limit, fishing for them should be super.
Striped bass and weakfish add to the mix. Showell is getting striped bass with some bonus-tag keepers on his fishing safaris. And he said one of his young regulars, Eian Donati, has been picking off keeper weakfish.
Mike O’Neill runs the charter/open boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Harbor Inlet. He added croaker to the lineup.
He also is catching porgy and weakfish on his inshore wreck runs. He said the water is a little dirty. He has been fishing at Atlantic City Ridge and in 80 feet of water.
He said he is switching over to tuna fishing 40 miles out while waiting for black sea bass season.
Noel Felciano said from One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that porgy are “going crazy” in the back bays. The minimum keeper size for porgy is 9 inches.
Feliciano said to use bloodworm and head-on shell-on shrimp cut in half for bait to catch porgy.
He also reported bluefish plus blowfish.
Robin Scott added lizardfish in her report from Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate.
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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.