Start Your Engines! March 1st Is Here.

It’s finally here, opening of Back Bay Bassin’! The somewhat mild and short winter should set up awesome back bay fishing along Long Beach Island and the surrounding areas to its north and south. A few recent reports from “Winter White Perchers” tell us our favorite seven striped fish are in the mix with perch. They are eating worms and grass shrimp, two great early season bait choices.

Early Season Backwater Striped Bass

South / Central Jersey is very fortunate to have a population of resident bass. They winter over in the deep holes and when hungry eat the simple stuff. What’s easiest to find, eat and digest? Soft baits like worms, clams, mussel, crabs and shrimp are their preference.

March 1, 2021 - Gary Adair caught this striped bass fishing today. He reported, "I got one but missed many more. Still getting dialed in with the new circle hook law. I missed more then I hooked."
Opening day striped bass caught today March 1, 2021 by Gary Adair. He reported, “I got one but missed many more. Still getting dialed in with the new circle hook law. I missed more then I hooked.”

The first place to hunt striped bass that are looking to eat is river side beaches and along the shallow dark bottom mud flats in the backwaters. Here, the water warms first. But sure to target these areas on the outgoing tide to ensure the warmest water possible. Time of day can make a huge difference. Fish midday and afternoons as opposed to mornings. Let the sun get out and warm up the shallow mud flats.

Don’t be afraid to look as far back as possible. You’ll be surprised what you find. As the days get longer, more hours of sunshine warm the waters and soon other areas will begin to produce. Then work towards the point, mouths and adjacent/outer banks.

Winter Flounder Fishing

We are all excited to have fun catching Striped Bass but don’t forget Barnegat Bay offers good winter flounder fishing which also opens March 1st. With a regulation of two flounder at 12″ some overlook the fishery but it is a great way to enjoy early season fishing on the bayside on LBI. I had a ton of fun growing up catching flounder on the Island’s bayside nooks and these same areas still produce. Ship Bottom and Surf City’s bayside dock and street ends offer a multitude of areas to fish. You just need to poke around. There were a few slow years, but last year was one of the better showings in some time. We hope that it’s the beginning of a new cycle and this year keeps the trend rolling.

Both bloodworms and sandworms are favorite early season baits. Winter flounder and striped bass love them.
This fat winter flounder as well as many more were caught by Dave Moores last year during the first week of the season. Worm and a cord bead is the classic approach to catching.

Fish Head Team member Steve-o shares, “If looking for winter flounder you need to pick your days right. I look for the water to break the 42 degree mark (45 is best) and then go on the first sunny day. I like fishing high sun midday. Rig up with a classic winter flounder set up and then soak some bloodworms or sandworm on the bayside. Add a corn kernel for extra bling! I’ve found my ticket to success to be finding and fishing the mussel beds. They are common along some sod banks and they hold fish. There are some areas that can be accessed land based if you know where to look. Another tip, when in the boat chum heavy!”

Current Bait Status

Just a heads up on the bait… We decided to not get live bloodworms for the last weekend of February since opening day the weather looked poor (on the long range when we had to place our bait order). We do our best to have the best bait, so we felt like selling five day old worms on Tuesday and then each day getting progressively older wasn’t the best idea. We expect to have a batch of beautiful bloods this week. We are hoping at latest Wednesday. We will be sure to post on our social media pages when they are in as well as our “Bait Board” on here. In the meantime Dyna Bait offers a great solution. Dynabait Freeze Dried Bloodworms work great, they are convenient and affordable. 

What’s Our Go To?

As many of our blog readers are looking to put a bend in a rod, so is the crew here at Fisherman’s Headquarters! The crew is stoked to get out and go fishing. We get questioned every day what do you guys fish. A quick poll from the crew has these as the top three approaches for early season striped bass fishing.

 Here’s Our Back Bay Favorites

  1. For bait fishing, bloodworms and clam are phenomenal baits that hungry striped bass love
  2. Kettle Creek Shads with Kalins 1⁄2oz jig heads
  3. Yo Zuri Mag Darters (4″ & 5″) & In Shore Minnow (3-1/2″), a top producers every spring for getting those lethargic schoolies to bite.

Here at Fisherman’s Headquarters, we have all your back bay needs in stock and more on the way.

Striped Bass

Opens March 1 – Resident striped bass that call our waters home year round will be hungry. A few days back in the bitter cold store staffer Grey shook the snow dust off with a couple cast and caught two striped bass fishing the bayside.  He tried the same spot this weekend but struck out. “They are definitely around but I wasn’t about to connect the right time and tide.”

This back bay striped bass could not resist a white Kettle Creek Shad fished on a 1/2oz lead head jig/ Such a super simple yet deadly combination!

NJ Striped Bass Regulations: The same limits as 2020 are still in place… One fish 28″ to less than 38″. The 2021 change is inline circle hooks must be used when fishing for striped bass with natural bait. As most know there’s lots of discussion and debate over situational specifics as well as possible exemptions (for bucktail tipped with pork rind, rigged eels, tune and worm rig) but NOTHING was approved in NJ. For right now there are no exemptions!

Here’s two great circle hook options:

Tog Fishing

NJ Tautog Regulations Reminder: New Jersey’s Blackfish “Tog” Tautog season closed on Sunday Feb 28. Team Fish Heads angler Rob Vallone went out aboard the Jamaica this past weekend to try his luck before the end of the tog season. Unfortunately he reported a bad trip. “It as a gorgeous late February day to scratch the itch but the fishing was dead. 14 anglers with only one tog. Ocean pout and big dogfish.”

New Jersey Blackfish Season will re-open April 1, 2021 with a 15″ minimum size and a 4 fish bag limit. There will be a lot of anglers ready to hit it hard after a long winter. A great spot to look on opening day will be the Barnegat Inlet Jetty. Every year April is very productive for land based anglers fishing the rocks with live crabs.

Here’s a photo of Anthony Gagliardi from opening day April 2020, where he limited out with four fish at 15 or better.

Summer Flounder “Fluke” Fishing

NJ Summer Flounder Regulations: For the 2021 New Jersey Fluke Season there were no size limit changes. It is still a 3 fish bag limit with an 18″ minimum size. However the exact season dates are still up in the air. Expect them to be finalized at the NJ Marine Fisheries Meeting this Thursday March 4th 5pm. Link will be posted on this page if you are looking to join in.

There’s two options on the table. NJ Fluke Options:

  • Option 1) May 22nd – September 19th, 121 days (the same as last year)
  • Option 2) May 28th – September 28th, 124 days

The two options really boil down to three days and a slightly earlier or slightly later season? Option 1’s earlier season is preferred by most anglers in South Jersey who want to target fluke in the bays before the Memorial Day rush (May 31, 2021). Option 2’s later season and three extra days is preferred by most anglers in North, Central and some in South Jersey who want the slightly later season to take advantage of fall fluke fishing along the beaches and the ocean waters and reef sites. Obviously the extra three days are a plus. 

After reviewing the options I wrote in that I prefer Option 2. Why? In late May there’s a lot more going on in the local LBI fishery with striped bass, black sea bass, black drum, bluefish and weakfish. The three additional days in September helps anglers fishing the LBI surf and inshore waters. September is a great month for fluke fishing NJ artificial reefs during a time when all other fisheries are slow or close. Option 2 helps close the gap between fluke and sea bass season giving saltwater anglers opportunity to fish.

2021 Summer Fluke/ Flounder Surf Fishing Guided Trips on Long Beach Island N.J.

I would like to announce that I have opened up my 2021 dates for Summer Fluke/ Flounder Surf Fishing Guided Trips on Long Beach Island N.J. >> *Daily starting 6/1/21 and running until 9/6/21 The last few seasons the fishing has been great and I expect that to continue this year and I’m really looking forward to hitting the beach again with everyone. I will once again be providing all tackle, bait and gear needed for a fun day fishing on beautiful LBI. *I would suggest if you are interested in joining me to Book as-soon-as-possible as I expect it to be another busy season with prime dates/days going fast. You can contact me for more information via email at Nightstrikes@comcast.net – Cell # 609-276-6983 or Direct Message me on my FaceBook and Instagram pages. Thank You,, Steve George / Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Svc. LLC

Shimano Vanford Reels & The Stradic CI4

The all new Shimano Vanford Reels are Shimano’s light tackle spinning reel for finesse fishing applications. It was born from its predecessor the Shimano Stradic CI4, which was a great reel in its time. The Shimano Vanford is everything and much more!

Here’s some of the great advancements, Shimano Flagship Technologies that put the Shimano Vanford Reels at the top as one of the best light tackle spinning reels.

Vanford’s Carbon Body & MGL Rotor

In your hand the CI4 carbon body and MGL Magnum Lite Rotor offer a feather light feel. The MGL rotor is significantly lighter and has 48% less rotational inertia which stands out with a touch of the handle.

To slow down and stop fast racing fish the 3000, 4000 & 5000 models have Shimano’s Cross Carbon Drag System. The smaller sizes (500-2500) have felt drags.

Vanford’s Micro Module Hagane Gearing

The Vanford has Shimano’s Hagane (cold forged) gear for durability. The gears features Shimano’s Micro Module Gearing. This new advanced gearing has smaller and more gear teeth for seamless engagement, power and the ultimate free functioning “smooth as butter” feel.

More Power & Smooth Feel - Shimano's Micro Module Gearing is an advanced engineering which uses smaller gear teeth and more of them to seamless engage gears at all times.

Shop Now At Fisherman’s Headquarters – Shimano Vanford

Vanford’s Silent Drive & Long Stroke Spool

Shimano Vanford Reels have Silent Drive which highlights their ability to use precise tolerances so the reel has no internal play. Its worm gear driven oscillation system with Long Stroke Spooling gives a beautiful line lay and smooth operation even under load. The improved line lay also offers better casting distance.

Not only is the Shimano Vanford a really nice looking refined reel... it is feather light and features numerous advancements over the Stradic CI4.

Vanford’s X-Protect

X-Protect offers durability and water resistance without sacrifice. Shimano’s use of labyrinths offer water resistance protection like a seal BUT with the ultimate smooth and free turning performance.

From light tackle saltwater fishing to ice fishing and finesse fresh water drop-shot fishing  Shimano Vanford Reels are the right choice.

Shimano Vanford Reels

Light tackle saltwater anglers will appreciate the advancements Shimano has made taking the Stradic CI4 series to another level with the all new Vanford. Here in our local NJ waters this reel is an amazing choice for backwater fishing lures and small jigs. Great choice for fluke, weakfish and striped bass.

Starting at $229… 5 sizes 500, 1000, 2500, 3000 4000, 5000.

Shop Now At Fisherman’s Headquarters – Shimano Vanford

‘Round In Circles!

Striped Bass Circle Hook Regulation & Implementation

I held off posting my circle hook blog in hopes Wednesday’s (Feb 3rd) Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (SBB) Meeting would have clarified major concerns raised by recreational anglers in regards to the new circle hook mandates.

This striped bass was caught aboard Fish Head Charters on a live bunker fished on a circle hook. Circle hooks drastically reduce the rate of deep/gut hooks when striped bass fishing with natural baits.

After listening to the entire 5 hours and 15 minutes meeting, I’m disappointed to share that there was no outcome. Literally what started and could have ended in short fashion went ‘Round In Circles! Yes I get it, parliamentary procedure via Robert’s Rules Of Order must be followed. But there had to be a better way. All 280 in attendance (for the most part) went unheard and unanswered. Why? Because public comment was cut out due to time constraints.

What was done? They created a new ad hoc committee (created for a particular purpose) established to develop a definition of “BAIT” that would require the use of circle hooks and method of fishing that would require the use of circle hooks and how to handle incidental catch. The committee will report back to the SBB at a special meeting in early March, hopefully sooner in. This group will clarify for the States the intent of the circle hook provision. Maybe this is and will be the better way? I sure hope so.

So we wait until then for clarification.

If you didn’t know… yes the rules are set!

2021 Circle Hook Regulations For Striped Bass Fishing With Bait In NJ

Are You Fishing For Striped Bass With Baits? If so you must fish an in-line circle hook. J-hooks are prohibited when bait fishing for striped bass. Snag and drop fishing with weighed treble hooks is history!

For New Jersey Anglers – Circle Hook Regulation As Per NJDEP
In-line (non-offset) circle hooks must be used when fishing for striped bass with natural bait in all state waters.

Effective January 1, 2021

This new regulation is Part Two of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) management plan which started in 2020 with cuts to the Striped Bass bag limit and minimum size. It’s purpose is to decrease release mortality.

So What Are The Major Concerns?

Long story short, recreation anglers do not want new regulations to destroy historically productive and sustainable fishing methods.

There’s a very specific style of fishing that this new circle hook mandate was intended to regulate… Stadic Fishing to prevent gut hooking events. Anecdotal evidence from many experienced anglers up and down the “Striper Coast” all agree, when natural baits (fresh or live) are dead sticked for striped bass with traditional J-hooks, deep hooking or gut hooking is highly likely. However, with inline circle hooks these risks are almost eliminated.

On the other hand with Active Fishing, when anglers engage in trolling or fishing with rod in hand (cast and retrieve), fishing a J-hooks is different and poses little risk to fish with regards to deep hook or gut hook situations. Anglers trolling tube and worm rigs, jigs tipped with a pork rind strip or a surfcaster swimming an eel skin lure rarely if ever gut hook striped bass. These new rules punish some classic and sustainable approaches to striped bass fishing.

This striped bass was caught aboard Fish Head Charters actively fishing a bucktail.

A LOT of time was spent presenting the tube and worm fishery’s case but little to no time was spent discussing the topic of incidental catch. I already know the situation here on the Jersey Shore with surfcasters fishing fresh mullet on mullet rigs come fall. While these rigs are made for bluefish and the angler intent is to target bluefish, striped bass and fluke are occasionally caught. Do these striped bass have to be released? If not addressed this debate will rear its head time and time again. Another common incidental is spring clamming for black drum in the bay. For this reason I was very happy to see the last minute addition of incidentals to the motion for the new committee to address. 

Diving In Deeper

The clear oversight is obvious when looking back at the last ASMFC meeting (10/21/20) when the coast-wide circle hook mandate first released. One, a lack of comprehensive knowledge of the striped bass fisheries methods of fishing. Two, a poor definition of bait. Due to this each state moved forward with their interpretation which varied from state to state. Some states like Maine and Massachusetts asked for exemptions in order to save their classic and popular modes of fishing, tube and worm. 

What is the definition of “BAIT”?

Maryland has published, BAIT is “any item that emits an odor or scent such as worms, minnows, crayfish, insects, and food items. The addition of any scent to an artificial lure or fly to make it smell like bait, makes it bait.” That’s very broad reaching!

Here in New Jersey, the state spells out “natural baits” and separately released their interpretation… “Natural bait is anything whole, living or dead organisms (animal or plant) or parts thereof.” Thankfully artificials/synthetics like plastisol grubs/shads/eel (imitations), Gulp and Jig Strips among others are not considered natural bait.

This gets hairy!

Again no pun intended and very concerning. Natural hairs and hackles/feathers are a mainstay in the fishing tackle world, dating back to the 13 century!

Striped bass love to eat flies and it’s a blast catching ’em with this mode of fishing. Could lures like flies that feature natural hairs be in jeopardy?

In Conclusion

As one can see due to the ambiguous nature of the law there’s a lot that can be discussed, debated and extrapolated. The bottom line is, there must be clarification and it must be done soon. We all need to embrace the new laws and work together as a unified Striper Coast to  safeguard striped bass.

Atlantic Shore Wind Farm Meeting 1/28/21

Windmills are coming to Long Beach Island and the surrounding areas in NJ. This should not be ground breaking news.

Hot off the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Zoom meeting I figured it was right to share my feelings of the situation. This is not to detail the entire situation, project or debate fine points. There’s lots of information available with some simple searches on Google. I encourage all to do it and read up on things. Might want to start here… AtlanticShoresWind.com

The Jan 28th Recreation Fishing Meeting And Listening Session was the second of its type. It started off bumpy with tech trouble but then took off and was really good. I don’t think it could of went any better. Why? Some great public comments were made and Atlantic Shore (AS) was listening.

This is a photoshopped image modified and give a possible hint at what the windmills off Long Beach Island could look like.

The Atlantic Shore Lease is located approximately 9 to 20 miles off the New Jersey coast, between Barnegat Light and Atlantic City, encompassing approximately 183,000 acres.

Offshore Wind Farm Key Concerns:

The reason for the meeting was to list out the concerns and hear public comment/concerns from the recreational fishing community with regards to the Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) and the AS lease site. Here’s the list that was presented…

  • EMF
  • Habitat
  • Transit Lanes
  • AIS
  • Radar Clutter
  • Access
  • Cable Burial
  • Anchoring

EMF – Electro-Magnetic Fields

This is the hottest and most debatable topic and needs its own individual meeting(s). The quick and dirty… Some species of fish like flounder and sharks are affected by the EMF from the cables. The “Flounder Fence” issue is very concerning and possibly detrimental to NJ’s fisheries.

There will be a large network of cables, more on them below. There’s talk that an EMF study is being finalized but so is the plans of the OWF project. Seems like someone is putting the cart before the horse. Also there is major concern that information from the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) will be used to speculate about the AS lease site and project. The five wind turbines at the Block island Wind Farm are totally different than hundreds of turbines off the Central Jersey Coast. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

Habitat

Areas were discussed and shown on a chart detailing the lease site and sensitive areas that were brought to the attention of AS by recreational and commercial fishermen. Most of the areas detailed were at the southern area of the site off of Atlantic City.

There was positive discussion about building structure around the base of each foundation to both protect from erosion and also help build a habitat to hold fish. I hope more discussions develops on this topic as it could help anglers. Possibly we could ask (who knows what they will give us) for a few (if not all) special locations which would have extra high rock piles 10-20″ tall, maybe some piling of clean construction materials (concrete) to help build small or large artificial reefs throughout the lease site.

Effect On Existing Artificial Reefs

Good news for anglers, “The Lease Area and export cable routes are planned to avoid artificial reefs and wreck sites. These artificial reefs will also be avoided during construction and maintenance of the project. If new artificial reef locations are established, these will also be included in our project design planning.”

Transit Lanes

For transiting vessels the offshore wind turbines will be placed in a uniformed grid layout that has transit corridors of no less than 1 nautical mile. The number of wind turbines and their distance between individual ones is still not known. These rows allow for safe transit of all marine traffic and will take into account existing vessel traffic patterns and hopefully will take into account recreational fishing vessels heading offshore to the deep.

A major concern to sport fishing vessels out of Barnegat Inlet would be heading to the Spencer Canyon or any waters to its south. If there isn’t a transit lane offshore sport fishing vessels will be dealing with an excessive route. Unfortunately Beach Haven Inlet vessels they will have a much harder time choosing a route with minimal detours heading to the Baltimore or any waters all the way up to the MudHole. Obviously there will be a way to get through BUT, this is an area that anglers need to speak up and voice their opinions. What are your needs for transit lanes and exactly where! To the best of my knowledge the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association is in communication with AS representatives but I did not hear a public comment. I’ll be looking for more clarification about this.

AIS – Automatic Identification System

Yes wind turbines will be marked and illuminated to meet the needs of mariners and requirements of the USCG and FAA. However that is not enough. In my opinion each turbine must have an AIS transponder for the utmost in marine navigation safety. This way each and every turbine’s position is listed or overlaid as a point on GPS plotters. At busy times marine traffic could bottle neck as vessels transit through lanes. Especially in bad weather and times of limited visibility AIS will be very helpful to mariners.

Radar Clutter

How will the wind turbines display and clutter on a radar screen? This is especially important in foul weather situations which is why AIS is crucial. I’d like to see a screen shot or hear from a mariner with experience navigating by the Block Island Wind Farm.

Fishing Access

There will be no restrictions once constructed. Fishing will be allowed right up to the piles. However vessels can not tie off. Rhodan GPS Anchors are game changers!

Here’s Captain Greg Cudnik long arming a hump head black sea bass one fall day. While it’s up for debate there is potential the AS OWF will offer structure that holds a variety of species. What species will benefit and what species will be hurt? Only time will tell.

Cable Burial

Two types of cables will be used; inter-array cables network the wind turbines and export cables will go to substations. All cables will be buried 6 ft (2m) and some areas will need rocks to protect/support the cable.

The concern about the soft sandy bottom type which is predominantly found in the area was mentioned. Sand shift with currents and especially with storms. As per AS, “All cables will be monitored for burial throughout project operation.”

Details On The Cable Were Shared

The main core of the cables will be made of up of three inner cables, surrounded by insulation and shielding. Then a chain mail armor jacket with a thick plastic outer covering. Obviously designed for the marine environment

Anchoring

Anchoring is a common practice by bottom fishermen. The topic was listed but was not discussed in detail. Will anchoring be allowed? I assume so but maybe this needs clarification.

Public Comment On Windmills Added

I felt strongly and commented that the first and foremost list of concern should be Recreation Fishing Opportunities. This three word phase is broad and wide reaching, but is the utmost importance!

Statewide Contributions By Anglers In NJ

In 2018 the American Sportfishing Association along with data from NOAA published (link here) $1.3 billion in economic output was contributed by New Jersey’s anglers and it supported close to 9000 jobs. As noted in the report from 2018 to 2020 there was a 66% increase in excise tax collected therefore 2020 contributions are significantly higher. The graphic below details some trends on the U.S. Recreational Fishing Economy published in 2016.

With regards to the high risk of the project to the states important fisheries, Bob Rush Charter Captain of the Starfish and NJ Marine Fisheries Council member commented, “If/when the fisheries are ruined as a result of the OWF will there be mitigation? Subsidies?” Not much of a reply back.

What Took Me By Surprise

This was a public meeting for the recreation fishing industry and community to air our their concerns and comment to AS. With only ~70 in attendance I thought it was a poor turn out considering the timing and convenience of Zoom. WTF!?! How was not one other tackle shop on the call!?! Pathetic! Maybe because the Orsted (another separate OWF project taking place off of Northern NJ waters) meetings went so poorly there was a lack of interest? Huge thanks to our Recreational Fisheries Industry Rep Captain Adam Nowalsky (also from Recreation Fishing Alliance) and Fisheries Liaison Officer Captain Kevin Wark (from Barnegat Light). Without these two well respected captains the situation could be a lot different.

Offshore Wind Turbine Foundation Type

The style of foundation was touched on briefly and it sounds like the exact type was not chosen yet but they are leaning towards the monopile style (single column is lowest cost). With that said the jacket style (BIWF) might not be out of the question. The jacket style’s lattice framework offers the best habitat for fishing structure.

Read Up!

I encourage all interested and concerned to read up on the OWF topic. I’m diving in to learn more as I’m new to this new world of wind. Although distinctly different information on the Block Island Wind Farm is a good start. The Dublin Array Offshore Wind Farm is another project in the Irish Sea. Construction will start soon about 10km off the coastline of Dublin Ireland.

Other Links To Read…

Offshore Windmills and the Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Fish

Evaluation of Potential EMF Effects on Fish Species of Commercial or Recreational Fishing Importance in Southern New England

Effects Of EMFS From Undersea Power Cabled On Elasmbranchs And Other Marine Species

The Fisherman Magazine: Myth or Matter: Is Offshore Wind Blowing in Too Fast?

$250M Paulsboro Marine Terminal

Little Egg Reef Gets New Materials – NJ Artificial Reef News

In 1984 NJ’s Division of Fish & Wildlife officially began the NJ Artificial Reef Program. Currently today there are 17 reef sites where one quarter of all fishing trips in NJ occur.

NJ has 17 reef sites. 13 are in federal waters. Four are in state waters.

All would agree that fluke, black sea bass, tautog as well as many other species benefit from the structure and the habitat artificial reefs create. As these sites age they evolve. Some materials collapse, shifting sand covers pieces and some sink into the sand. To keep the state’s network of reef vibrant and prospering new deployments are vital.

Due to funding and staffing, the Reef Program was dormant for a number of years. Then the program started up again. Between 2015-2019 there were 209 deployment with the majority (182) focused on the souther sites (Cape May, Ocean City, Townsends, Wildwood). But the sites local to Long Beach Island have had little to no enhancements in 15 years.

“Teenagers in the Association’s Junior Mates Program learned of the situation and asked what could they do. This humble beginning sparked a grass roots campaign which snowballed into an intensive campaign by the BHCFA. These efforts attracted the attention of concerned individuals and groups on the local and even national levels.” Jim Hutchinson Sr shared and continued.

“The group’s original reef replenishment goal of $100,000 was reached thanks to the efforts of the mates, local community involvement, and matching funds from the Ann E. Clark Foundation and the Sport Fishing Fund. The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club’s Striped Bass Derby generously donated $50,000.”

Three New Vessels Added To Little Egg Reef

Finally! After two years of hard work from the captains and mates of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association (BHCFA), there’s new materials on the Little Egg Reef.

On Thursday January 14, 2020 Captain Pete Clark (NJDEP Fisheries Biologist & Reef Coordinator) and Captain John Lewis (BHCFA President) oversaw the sinking of three vessels; a 140-foot barge, a tugboat and a push boat.

This photo shows the beginning of the deployment. All three vessels are shown in this picture. Photo courtesy of The Fisherman

The tug boat and push boat were towed up from Norfolk, Virginia on the barge. All of which were cleaned twice and cleared by the US Coast Guard prior to sinking.

The final piece sinks. Photo courtesy of The Fisherman

Now with the new substrate on the Little Egg Reef native species of epifauna and flora will grow. Soon they will be home to crustaceans, mollusks and bait fish. Once established predatory/game species will move in and support recreation anglers for many years to come.

Photo by diver Rich Galiano detailing a flourishing wreck.

Lewis gave special words of praise to the Junior Mates for the efforts and participation. “Kids today take a beating for various reasons. Our kids have adopted a ‘can-do’ approach and worked their tails off to implement their ideas and dreams.”

This article contains content provided by Jim Hutchinson Sr & Jr, the Fisherman Magazine and the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife.

LBI Fishing Report Update 12/30/20

This will be the last fishing report of 2020. Thanks to our fishing community for following along all year and sharing reports.

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Great Holiday stretch. From the entire team at Fish Heads Happy New Year!

Off The Surf

Some anglers are still trying and a few are catching. No spectacular report but we have heard of some surf side linesiders on tin and teaser as well as bait.

Gary Thorp caught and released a 26″ bass Monday at the beginning of the incoming tide with his five year old son. Gary and son were using bunker on a hi-lo CIRCLE HOOK rig Gary reported, “I think he’s hooked on surf fishing for life!”

Camrin Ruffin sent in this photo from a recent fishing session on the surf.

Ben Morris reported on Sunday, “No better way to spend a cold late December morning. The surf was calm and clean. I pulled one about 21″ at sunrise. Had a few bumps after that catch but wasn’t able to hook up.” Joe Grey got one off the surf on Sunday too.

A number of skunked out reports came in from anglers fishing all over the LBI beach from Barnegat Light to Holgate.

Dead Whale Washes Up On LBI Surf

If you didn’t hear the news yet… there was a 32′ humpback whale that washed up on the beach in Loveladies on Christmas Eve. The southerly wind and waves moved it up to its final resting place in Barnegat Light on Christmas Day.

Photo by Melanie Cassie Photography

Word from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is that a definitive cause of death could not be determined. Due to the size removal would have been difficult so it was buried on the beach, back away from the water’s edge and covered over with a large mound of sand.

Bottom Fishing

The hardcore bottom anglers are catching fish from tog to sea bass, porgies, ling and cod. Most of the action is taking place at the deep water offshore spots.

The tog fishing has been hit or miss. Some anglers are having a banner day followed up by a dead day. Those putting in the time are finding catches and some are putting quality fish on the deck.

Not sure if you heard yet… Angler Chris Sullivan from Waretown caught a 25.8 pound tog recently, potentially a new New Jersey State Record Black Fish. Chris was fishing out of Cape May with Captain Tom Daffin on the Fishin’ Fever. The story we got was he fished the day before out of Barnegat Light on the Mary M. They had left over live white crabs from Fishermans Headquarters so they brought them down for the next day’s trip. Baited up on a Centruy Pro Togger the bite came and Chris put the screw to ’em. Epic Catch Sully! Congrats!!!

Maintenance Matters

Here at the end of the year it’s time to clean things up and responsibly put them to rest for the winter hibernation. Now’s the time to clean and lube reels, wipe down rods (clean blank guides, grips and seats), warm water wash lures and organize things. I give a quick light spray of CRC656 to my terminal tackle boxes to prevent corrosion. A little maintenance now saves a much larger project in the spring!

We are open daily all winter long with all of the essentials for reel service and repair whether dropping off or DIY. We have parts and lubricants in stock.

Fishermans Headquarters is a Factory Authorize Penn Reels & Van Staal Service Center

LBI Fishing Report 12/19/20

Things have settled down from the recent blow. The ocean water today was still a little churned up and dirty but improving. There’s bass on the beach if you are looking to go. We did not hear many reports but we did get a couple. There’s also anglers catching fish in the boats.

Paul Karner caught his first striped bass off of the surf today, three in total. All were caught on his DIY teaser fished with a diamond jig. There’s no better way to target the schoolies off the surf right now that fishing a teaser!

Here’s Pual K with one of three striped bass he caught today off the Long Beach Island surf.

Another report came in from Paul Lindsey. “Finally back on the bass! Bunker was washing up on the beaches down on the south end of the island this morning. There’s still plenty of life here!”

Here’s a striepd bass that was caught and released by Paul L. today.

Here’s a photo from Sloane on the LBI surf a few days back.

Sloane Endick caught this LBI surf side striper a few days back, before the most recent storm.

UPDATED SUNDAY 12/20/20

Paul Michael reported, “Today was a very weak day for me. I worked from Holgate all the way up to Cedars. Only caught tone fish. My buddy Dave got two fishing the mid island surf. Only heard of a couple fish. I’m hoping Monday is better.”

Captain Steve Purul from Reel Fantasea Fishing Charters was out today for the his last trip of the 2020. “Wrapped up the 2020 fishing season with my favorite salty bunch of pirates! It was a slow start but gave way to a busy dec and action packed end to the 2020 season with doubles, triples and quadruples on every drift!”


Black Fishing

Paul Haertel reported another great day on the tog grounds with a boat limit plus to 10.39#. Store staffer Grey was aboard and reported having a fund day. Paul shared he is loving his new Rhodan Trolling Motor. He said it’s so good it’s cheating, “They should be illegal!” The Rhodan GPS Anchor/Trolling Motor is a total game changer for so many different fisheries. They really shine for locking up (virtual anchoring) over wrecks.

Here’s Grey with a pair of good ones!

Black Sea Bass

Sloane stopped in the shop a geared up on Friday for a black sea bass trip. Today she was out fishing the deep water grounds with Capt Nick Perello. They murdered ’em!


Here’s our most recent video report from Wednesday Dec ember 16th…

Let It Fly Fishing Report Update

Let It Fly Fishing Charters is staying warm with hot fishing recently.

Saturday repeat client Drew Fialko was aboard for a fun day of fly fishing. We fished the near shore waters of Long Beach Island. At daybreak the birds and bass were active and fishing was strong for the early morning.

Drew caught ten striped bass on the fly. Three were slots and seven shorts. Also missed a few bites and caught two big herring. We tagged and released seven of the ten fish

Warm temps, no traffic, calm seas & willing fish.

Others are hanging it up but we are still fishing. With unseasonably warm temperatures so far this month and much less traffic in recent trips we will be fishing it out… calm seas and fish willing.

Are you looking to get into late fall light tackle fishing? Give Let It Fly Charters a call 16093771299