We have something happening in the fishing world with fall conditions arriving. Overnight air temps down into the low 50s and water temps sinking into the low 60s combine to give some hope that fall fishing might finally start as we head into mid-October.
Small to medium bluefish rule, and they are in every report from Cape May to Long Beach Island. They are in the 1- to 4-pound class and, according to one report, they now prefer “meat,” such as bunker and mullet, over lures.
A nice tautog was entered into The Press Fishing Contest, and the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby at One-Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City. It weighed 4.9 pounds and was caught by Mauro Juarez, of Pleasantville, on Sunday from the Madison Avenue jetty in Atlantic City. Noel Feliciano at One-Stop measured it at 18½ inches.
Juarez is an auto mechanic in Pleasantville and has been fishing the Atlantic City rocks for 10 years. He caught a 6½-pound tog last year, but this was the biggest he has caught this year. He said he has been catching and returning live to the water a lot of smaller tog. He fishes for tog in the daytime with crab as bait.
Feliciano ducks out of One-Stop on an almost daily basis to shoot some video of the fishing going on around Atlantic City to post on his website. The ocean was rough Sunday, and Feliciano was not quite ready to shoot. Juarez whipped that fat tog up on the rocks in 90 seconds, which was too fast for the action video but turned into photo op.
With tog in and around the rocks, Feliciano said you have to haul them in quickly to avoid getting hung up and broken off.
Juarez said Monday he is looking forward to next month because that when the bigger tog (aka blackfish) move in.
He also goes for striped bass at night in the same general area of Absecon Inlet and the jetties there.
When Feliciano was done his cinematography and returned to One-Stop to put it online, another jetty jockey hauled in a 4.1-pound tog. Then, Feliciano got stuck in the store because his wingman, son Jeremy, got the itch to go fishing and left to hit the rocks himself.
“They are big healthy fish,” Noel said. “They look like footballs.”
They are mostly under the 15-inch limit, so those are going back into the water. It is one fish daily per person right now. We have to wait until Nov. 16 for the daily possession limit to go to six.
The Longport Bridge is open for fishing. Robin Scott at Ray Scott’s Dock said Monday tog fishers have to work in the dark and in the cold because the fishing hours are 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
She reported both tog and the same small bluefish prevalent just about everywhere also are staying close to the bridge. And tog are gathered tight at other rockpiles, such as in Barnegat Inlet.
There is some action on striped bass. On Saturday, John Navratil picked off a dinner-perfect 28 1/2-inch keeper while fishing with a live spot in the back bays of Margate out of Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate.
When they cut that fish up, it was skinny and not only had in its belly the 7-inch spot used as bait but also 11 calico crabs. Navratil has caught a couple other bass recently with live eel.
Weakfish were biting in the mouth of Mullica River and off Fortescue in Delaware Bay, but they have yet to bounce back. Blowfish were pretty thick from the fish factory to the stakes off Graveling Point in the Greay Bay area, but there are no recent reports about them.
A few kingfish are around — emphasis on few — and some have been decent size. A 15 1/2-inch, 1.4-pound kingfish caught Friday by Larry Clark, of Galloway Township, was entered into The Press Fishing Contest and the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby at One-Stop. Richard Coles, of Pleasantville, and Firth Bowden, of Brigantine, both caught 14-inch king recently. All were caught in the Brigantine surf.
The 38th New Jersey Beach Buggy Association Great Fall Classic surf fishing contest is Saturday at North Wildwood. Six-person teams can sign up for $50 and individuals for $10 from 6-7 a.m. at the Anglesea Fire Hall. This is an Association of Surf Angling Clubs-sanctioned event.
Also Satutrday: The Strathmere Fishing and Environmental Club will hold its annual beach cleanup beginning 9 a.m.
At 4 p.m. at the Strathmere Fire House, Hugh Carberry will make a presentation about the history and current state of the New Jersey artificial reef program. Carberry is the director of the state’s reef program. It is open to the public. Call Randy Roash at 609-970-2360.