It’s official: Striped bass are spread from Long Beach Island to Atlantic County and into Cape May County.
Joe Hughes had a charter on his Jersey Cape Guide Service out Friday when the local scribe called. And the luck held when one of his crew hooked into a striped bass while Hughes was on the phone.
He took the time to report they had several shorts, less than the 28-inch minimum.
He said he has been fishing the lumps along the 3-mile line and has caught striped bass that weighed more than 30 pounds.
Jigging is his “go-to” style of fishing, but he said trolling umbrella rigs is in the game plan.
Hughes is headquartered in Sea Isle City.
Dave Showell runs his fishing safaris out of his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. He was doing some work on the boat earlier this week, and he happened to have Tuesday free, so the local scribe took the opportunity and signed up.
It was a beautiful sunrise heading out of Absecon Creek framed by Atlantic City to start an awesome day on the water.
Showell first tried inshore, off Atlantic City, but that resulted in sand sharks, so he moved to off Brigantine where some birds were picking. He fished with live spot and jigs, but neither worked.
He thought about heading farther north to Long Beach Island but decided to tuck into Wreck Inlet to fish the back-bay waters between Little Beach Island and all the back to almost Absecon.
It paid off with constant action on striper shorter than the minimum but with two bonus tag “slot fish” between 24 and 28 inches.
A report from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom described the striped bass action as “lights out” from both land and boat.
Store staffer Willie Davis said Friday striped bass cover a wide range of sizes, from 16 inches to 25 pounds. They are beating up sand eels, so slender lures are working.
Davis said he fishes out of Manasquan and is catching bass “still to the north.”
That surely is an indication striper should be here for some time.
Tautog fishing is just as exciting.
Noel Feliciano certainly had the holiday spirit when he wrapped up his Tog for Turkey contest Thursday out of One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City.
He had 12 turkeys as incentive. He gave three away to contestants and the rest to people in need.
The winner of the Tog for Turkey contest was Ray Gonzalez with a 3.8-pound entry.
From Fishermen Headquarters, Davis also said from “tog are here.”
They have been gathered around the rockpiles and bridges, along the sod banks and on the wrecks and reefs in the inshore waters.
Feliciano also has his Fishing for Toys Christmas classic event well under way with toys and games starting to pile up.
Fishers sign up for this holiday classic by bringing in a new unwrapped toy or game into the shop in Atlantic City. The gifts are donated to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League for to be distributed to area youth.
The contest runs through Dec. 15 with $1,400 in prizes. The top three heaviest striped bass decide first, second and third places.
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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.