Shep headshot Mike Shepherd mugshot

A 4- to 5-foot great white shark was hooked and released by Chris O’Neill of Little Egg Harbor Township after a short fight that brought it to the boat.

Bob Cope had what he described as “alright” fishing for tautog recently on the charterboat Full Ahead out of Cape May.

He said Friday they hooked up with tog Thursday, including a 14.4-pounder and three others that weighed more than 10 pounds. Bob said they released the three 10-pounders and tried to let the 14-pounder go but it did not make it. He said he felt bad about that. He said he had 15 tog the day before. He will be running out of Utsch’s Marina in Cape May for a while longer.

John Phister, at Hook-Up Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor Township on Patcong Creek, reported one of his buds, Matt Cruse, was out on a boat with another fisher 10 miles off Great Egg Harbor Inlet on Wednesday. They had “real good” tautog fishing, Phister said Friday. They had six keepers. Phister said Cruse reported they were out at first light and started catching around 9:30 a.m.

Kelly Watts reported Friday afternoon he was fishing for tog on the Osprey IV partyboat out of Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City. He said a 10-plus-pound tog was the pool winner. Other tog were caught, but it sounded as though Watts wasn’t really keeping count.

Mike O’Neill said he has three bushels of crab left on the Stray Cat party/open boat. When he uses them up while fishing for tog, he’s going to take some time off. He launches from Seaview Harbor Marina, where the Stray Cat is docked, He will be running the boat Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Saturday, taking Christmastime off.

He said Friday that striped bass are offshore, indicating bass are well beyond the state three-mile legal zone. Striped bass are illegal to be caught outside that in federal waters. He said Friday the ocean water temps have dropped to 44-45 degrees.

Watts reported in addition that lightweight striped bass are in the surf at Long Beach Island. Surfcasters are pitching lures and picking them off.

That is very much the same kind of report posted by Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park about the surf-fishing at Island Beach State Park. That message described one “hard-core” fisher picking off five “schoolie” or short bass under the 28-inch minimum with lures at first light.

Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in located in the same neighborhood at Seaside Park. A reported posted on Friday put some decent bass in the surf. They are starting to get closer to keeper size, according to the report, which is an indication that they are all lightweights.

White perch are “crazy,” according to Phister. He said an artificial grass shrimp lure is working when grass shrimp are scarce.

Phister had a lot full of Christmas trees for sale at the shop, which is just located over the bridge near Somers Point on Ocean Heights Ave., a short time ago, but he said all but one was gone by Friday.

The next New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting is 5 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Atlantic County Public Library in Galloway Township. Recent developments from federal management meetings could make this one interesting.

Merry Christmas, to everyone. Here comes winter. Good time to cut back to one column per week which appear Saturday for a couple of months.

Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears in the Saturday print editions and online.

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