Small striped bass are starting to put on some muscle, but there are still a ton of short striper — some not even 12 inches — just about everywhere.
Debbie Mooers at Grassy Sound Marina in North Wlldwood said Friday she gets reports from one of her fishers — John Robinson, of Cape May Court House — who is consistently catching 40-inch striped bass from a secret spot on the Delaware Bay.
She also said George Hobbs, of Stone Harbor, is catching striper with a fly-rod. Striper are biting on clam along the sod banks, Debbie added.
Noel Feliciano reported from One-Stop Bait and Tackle rock stars in Atlantic City counted 18 keeper-size striped bass Thursday night on the T-jetty. He said some were released, but a few were kept for the dinner table.
He said the fishing time period was narrow, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and the fish were all caught on light jig heads or bucktails that weighed a quarter ounce to three-eighths of an ounce with darker colored purple or black and red plastic tails rather than the pink that had been working.
He said the water clarity was Caribbean blue.
Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center had one fisher get in on the action that same night and report to him he racked up a bunch of those short striped bass and some 3-pound-plus bluefish caught on the rocks.
That was Beau Bosley, of Stratford, Camden County. Bosley also had the first keeper on opening day of striped bass season March 1 to win Dave’s first-fish prize. That one went the minimum 28 inches to be a keeper.
Bill Wiggins at Fin-Atics in Ocean City said soft plastics are working inside the inlets and up in some of the streams from Great Egg Harbor River to Sea Isle City. There are a lot of small fish in that Cape May County stretch of water, too.
Striped bass recently moved into the surf and are sometimes mixed with blowfish in that area and elsewhere. Bloodworm is a good bait for the small bass and blowfish in the surf. Pretend you are fishing for kingfish.
Tom Ferrara on the T-Wrecks open/party boat out of Atlantic City went for tautog within 10 miles of Atlantic City on Thursday and caught a bunch of fish but just one keeper.
Mike O’Neill’s most recent trip on the Stray Cat charter/open boat out of Seaivew Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet was Tuesday, and it resulted in another 10-pound tautog. He said he is seeing a lot of porpoise.
The current version of tog season is down to its last few days before it closes. The final day is Tuesday. We are allowed a four-fish daily possession limit with a 15-inch minimum for the nex few days.
Those sly weakfish fishers are trying to keep it under wraps but there have been reports of sizable weakfish — 7 to 10 pounds in some of the back bays. Not a lot, but a few is the way Michael Cunningham at Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle described it. He said they have been catching “a couple” of those 8- to 10-pound bluefish in that area.
Cunningham also provided a report about an inshore trip by captain Al Crudele on the charter boat Remain Calm that resulted in “beautiful” ling and tautog. Cunningham said Crudele reported seeing schools of mackerel and whales.
The Long Beach Island Spring Surf Fishing Derby starts a nine-week run Saturday.
The spring contest offers prizes for first, second and third places for the single heaviest striped bass and one prize for the single heaviest bluefish.
The registration fee is $20 at Jingle’s Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Captain’s Quarters in Long Beach Township, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom and Surf City Bait and Tackle.
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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.