SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY - The 2020 fishing season in Southern Ocean County is swiftly coming to a close. Colder weather has most area anglers turning their thoughts toward the upcoming holidays. However, there is still a goodly number of hardy folks still trying to catch one or two more fish.

Right now, the main targets continue to be tautog and striped bass. Boaters targeting the tautog, or blackfish as they are often called, are finding plenty of these good tasting wreck fish and many times returning to the dock with a limit of fish. Some shore-based anglers around Barnegat Inlet are still finding some keeper fish mixed in with many smaller ones.

Striped bass are a bit of a hit or miss fishery. On most of my recent trips, it seems to be a “miss” situation, but when my buddies go without me, they are catching fish. The best technique to use seems to vary from day to day as one day bunker spoons work best for trolling and on other days umbrella rigs or Mojo’s.

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According to news from the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association, come of their captains have been doing well for their clients. This includes Captains Brett Taylor, Jimmy Dugan, Carl Shepard, and Ray Lopez. Complete information on their trips can be found at www.BHCFA.org

While I have not been fortunate to get in on any top water action, some anglers have found fish working bunker schools and are having fun with topwater lures and other types of casting offerings. I have also heard reports of jigging with Avas and white shads.

The beach anglers on Long Beach Island are not finding bonanzas of stripers, but they are finding enough fish to keep working at it. Most of these fish are smallish, but occasionally they do reel in keepers. The Long Beach Island Fishing Classic still has one more week to run.

I got a real nice note from Jim Kain of Moorestown who was fishing with his wife Cathy on the beach in Loveladies. Jim said that both he and wife managed to beach some shore stripers while seeing one other person catch a bluefish. The Kains were casting a green teaser rig with a 4-inch white mullet gulp weighted with a Tsunami 8-inch eel. The fish were caught on the teaser.

In a few days I will write a column regarding Christmas shopping for those people who love fishing. I am awaiting the results of a survey sent out to various fishing “experts” and will collate them and have them available in time for your Christmas shopping.

Anyone with questions or fishing reports is welcome to contact me at jamesghutch1@aol.com.