Decent weather equals decent fishing. We catch this mild, almost summer-like weather, and fishing takes another leap because of it.

Sea bass season opened Wednesday, and summer flounder season launches next Friday; and we have great reports of striped bass, bluefish and black drumfish.

It is surely getting good here in South Jersey.

Mike O’Neill is the captain of the open/charterboat Stray Cat based at Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet. He was in the ocean when the local scribe called Friday morning. He said fishing was “crazy” on black sea bass and snapper bluefish.

Noel Feliciano is the owner/operator of One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. He said the catches of striped bass and big bluefish overnight Thursday into Friday morning was “crazy.”

And just to back them up, James Loftus, who subbed as spokesman Friday for Jim Moran at Moran’s Dockside in Avalon, said bluefish in the back bays of Avalon were — you guessed it — “crazy.” It was almost the first thing he said, continuing the theme. Blues there are in the 5-9 pound class, which is very typical of what is happening throughout South Jersey.

Feliciano maybe topped the day’s news with a weigh-in of a 17.2-pound bluefish caught by Jusef “Jamal” Long of Atlantic City, who was fishing with his fishing partner and brother Clarence Small on the T-Jetty in Atlantic City. They fish the Atlantic City jetties all the time, “almost every day.” He said Friday that fishing is “amazing.” He said he and his brother hit the T-Jetty at 4:30 a.m., and he estimated 30 rock stars had bluefish hooked up.

Jusef said he was using an SP Minnow and a white Yozuri. He said the bluefish ran 40-50 yards, and it took five or six minutes to get it up next to the jetty where his brother netted it, He only had a short time to fish because he had to get to work as a cook at Resorts International. When the 34-year-old was called by the local scribe, he was on his way back to the T-Jetty. Can’t waste any time when the blues are in!

Next best, cool thing: The brothers have donated an estimated 90 pounds of bluefish to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission for the “Fish to Feed” contest that Feliciano is running.

Black sea bass season kicked off Wednesday, and it sounds as though it is starting out strong.

O’Neill said the biggest black sea bass they had on board midday Friday weighed 2.5 pounds. He said it was drop and reel. He said the ocean temperature off the beach where he was set up was 55.8 degrees in an 18-knot wind. O’Neill was almost as impressed with the numbers of snapper bluefish that were out off the beach. He said he hasn’t seen as many in years.

The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association and its remarkable Junior Mates program made a presentation to the Beach Haven Council on Monday night concerning replenishing deteriorating artificial reefs off New Jersey. Capt. John Lewis is president of the BHCFA that heads the campaign. Liane Lopez is one of the Junior Mates taking a key role in the reef program. The Council issued a proclamation at the meeting supporting the program, according to information provided by BHCFA spokeman Jim Hutchinson Sr.

It sounds as though the fishing is the finest kind as we head toward Memorial Day weekend and the start of the almost-summer season here in South Jersey. Good time of the year to be an eager fisher.


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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.

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