Yet another interruption in the fall fishing season.
Each time we endure one of these blasts, fishing seems to recover.
Just before Saturday’s storm, fishing was very decent. We had some middleweight to light-heavyweight striped bass reported from Atlantic County north to off Long Beach Island and on up to Island Beach State Park.
Tautog were equally high quality on inshore wrecks and decent but not as big on rockpiles.
Mike O’Neill, captain of the Stray Cat party boat/open boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina, called after dark Monday to report that tautog “are chewing their heads off.”
He said they are all in the 3- to 4-pound class. O’Neill, who is running an open boat Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, said it was all blackfish, aka tog, and no striper Monday.
Saturday was a very active day for striped bass.
Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine certified several, including a 42-pound, 3-ounce catch by Justin Bewley on the Emanon. It was caught “not far off the beach,” according to Grossman. The crew of the Emanon recorded another keeper and two shorts (under the 28-inch minimum).
Mike Skelly of Hi-Point Pub in Absecon caught a 28-pound striper Saturday on the Tyin’ Knots charter boat. According to Grossman, it had a tag in it, and he was waiting to hear back about where it was inititally caught, tagged and released.
Brett Taylor, captain of the Reel Reaction charter boat in Waretown, works the waters in and around Barnegat Inlet. He reported a good striped bass bite, also Saturday, for a charter. They went seven for 10 on striper from 36 to 42 inches, according to the captain’s report.
Dan Ponzio, captain of War Dance, and Mark Hanson, captain of Tremendous, took a ride with Mark Schrenk, captain of the Jesse James, on Saturday. The charter boat captains had a chance to take the day off but decided to combine for a striper troll off Brigantine. They had three bass, the largest going 12 pounds.
Noel Feliciano ran a house contest out of One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City that was won with a 41 1/2-pounder caught last week. That earned Pete Mussa, of Northfield, a $200 St. Croix fishing rod. He was fishing with Carl Frandino on the Reel Keepher in 53 feet of water from Barnegat Inlet up to the red towers on Long Beach Island. They had a decent day, with a couple of 20 weights added to the action. They were all caught trolling Mojos, two on green and one on white, Mussa said Monday.
Mike Keepings, of Northfield, was second in that One-Stop contest with a 30.6-pounder. Mike Dabundo was third with a 28-pounder.
Surf fishing for striper is keeping up. One of the good indicators of how that is going is the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. That contest registers every fish caught every day, so there is an accurate log of what’s developing.
The latest entries as of late Monday afternoon were from Saturday. Patrick Gallen, of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, registered a 7.82-pounder caught at Beach Haven with bunker as bait.
Michael Fahey Jr., of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, picked a 9.78-pounder at Loveladies, also with bunker. Zigurds Lieljuris, of Delran, had an 11.06-pound entry Friday in Harvey Cedars.
The number of striped bass registered in the Classic was up to 35. The leader is Chris Masino, of Beach Haven, with a 43.06-pounder. The Classic continues to Dec. 9, so there is still time to pick off one of the plentiful prizes.
Still, no bluefish have been entered.
The Atlantic County Surf Fishing Derby closes Sunday. The Derby offers prizes for striiped bass, bluefish, tautog and kingfish. Surf-casters can still sign up for $25 at Atlantic County weigh stations.
Tautog up to and more than 10 pounds have been reported. Most notable was that 13.3-pound tog caught Friday by 12-year-old Keegan Rothman, of Northfield. He was fishing with his dad, Dan, on an inshore wreck.
They brought the fish back to the dock alive in a water-filled cooler and then to Hook Up Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor Township to be weighed, registered and and photographed. It was then returned to the water alive.
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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.