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Tournament catches highlight strong fall fishing in and off South Jersey

Tournament catches highlight strong fall fishing in and off South Jersey

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Fall fishing is headed toward November this weekend.

Good fishing reports are widespread along the South Jersey coast out in the ocean and into the inlets and back bays ... kind of right on schedule.

A couple of popular surf-fishing contests are receiving some quality entries.

The Pat Erdman Atlantic County Surf Fishing Derby recorded some decent registrations for the tautog division.

Tournament director Don Brown reported Monday that Hoa Tran, of Atlantic City, took the division lead with a 7.1-pound, 23-inch tog caught Sunday from an Atlantic City jetty.

Firth Bowden, of Millville, is the kingfish leader with a 1.6-pound, 15-inch entry caught in Brigantine and weighed at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine.

The Derby’s first entry was put up on the leaderboard last Tuesday when Bill Erdman, of Linwood, picked a 13.4-pound, 34-inch striped bass off in Atlantic City. The Derby carries the name of his dad.

That 7.1-pound tog was the first of two caught back-to-back by Tron. He added a 3.7-pound tog to the list Monday for the Tog Masters contest Noel Feliciano is running out of One-Stop.

The Tog Masters continues to a Halloween finale Saturday. The total weight of the three heaviest fish determine winners in this one. The top three heaviest earns $150. Second place gets $100 and third place $50. There is no entry fee; just sign up at One-Stop.

Other 3-pound tog have been caught in South Jersey waters.

Tran said Monday when contacted by phone that he fishes the A.C. jetties along Absecon Inlet a lot. Tron said he is 55 and has been fishing the area for 35 years. His biggest tog ever went 8 pounds and was caught last year.

And, oh, by the way, he said he was out there again Monday morning and got a couple more tog with the one keeper mentioned above. He uses green crab as bait and likes to fish both high and low tides.

Dave Taylor, of Linwood, put a 10.20-pound striped into the Derby at Tight Lines in Somers Point.

While the Derby has been highlighted by 30-inch range tog, the 66th Long Beach Surf Fishing Classic has had a number of quality kingfish entries.

Richard Bergman, of Atco, caught a 1.42-pound, 15.5-inch kingfish and put it into the Senior Division of the Classic.

Duncan Turner, of Barnegat, added an 11.2-pound striped bass to Classic lineup.

Both contests have bluefish divisions but no entries yet in either.

Black sea bass rule in the ocean with the party boats and charter boats reporting lots of limits for their customers.

Mike O’Neill of the Stray Cat charter/open boat out of Seaview Harbor Marina said fishing for sea bass, bluefish and triggerfish has been excellent. He will be running Wednesday and Thursday and next weekend.

John Nigro said the customers on the Starfish party boat out of Sea Isle City all had limits of sea bass plus bluefish and porgy Sunday. They will sail again Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Follow Shep at


Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Mondays online and Tuesdays in print.

Contact: 609-350-0388

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