LBI Fishing Report 3/12/23

Some years start off cold and slow but not this year. So far early spring striped bass fishing the bayside of Long Beach Island has been nothing short of exceptional. The bass are and have been ravenous, chewing baits and lures. The team is getting into good fun fishing. Reports from customers fishing the greater local area are also positive. The local river action continues and spots in the adjacent river mouths/bays are turning on.

Bloodworms are the bait of choice! We suggest fishing bloods on a high-low rig (2/0-4/0 circle baitholder by Eagle Claw) with a 2-3 ounce bank sinker. Fish Heads Tip: DyanBait freeze dried bloodworms or Fishbites BagO’Worms are two great options to get more milage out of your live bloods. Also juice it up with Fin-Essence

In the evenings and nights cast small swimming plugs like a Daiwa SP Minnow, Yo-Zuri Inshore Fingerling in both sizes, Nomad Shikari 95 size and Rapala SXR 10. Swim shads are a go too option and must have in the bag. NLBN 3 inch with a ⅜- ¾  oz head or a 5” Kettle Creek paddle tail has always been a staple.

During the early months of the season the bass tend to hang around the sod banks, bridges, rivers, river mouths and bays. A seven or eight foot rod (Option 1: Tsunami Airwave Elite Light – TSAWESS-762LT $169.99, Option 2: Magictail Inshore Light – MT-701SL $219.99) paired up with a 3-4k sized reel (Option 1: Penn Battle DX 3/4k $149.99, Option 2: Shimano Stradic 3/4k $219.99) make the perfect combo to have fun with some of the local early season schoolies!

Other Fishing Opportunities

White perch are highly sought after during the winter and spring. These delicious panfish can be caught on bait and artificial. Grass shrimp, bloodworms and earthworms are the baits of choice. Small grubs and minnow style soft plastics 1-2″, 3″ at absolute most, work on a small jig or can be fished on a float.

Winter flounder are another tasty species to catch during the spring months. These are best targeted using bloodworms as well as clam and/or a kernel of corn. Chumming is suggested. Winter flounder have much smaller mouths than summer flounder so be sure to use a small hook or use a classic winter flounder rig.

Tide Chasers Podcast

Over the winter I was asked to join in on the podcast and share a little bit about myself, business, fishing, the LBI area, offshore wind and much more. The Tide Chaser Podcast is live now!

LBI Fishing Report Week 1

March 1 – March 5th

Striped Bass season kicked off with a bang on Wednesday, March 01.  As expected with the moderately warm winter the fish are here and active in LBI’s bay and tributary rivers.  On opening day, the bite was strong with bass chewing both live bloodworms and lures. On the lure side; 3 inch No Live Bait Needed, Tsunami Swim Shads, Kettle Creeks, Rapala Xraps, Nomad Design Max Vibes and Shikaris were the ticket to get tight.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday the lure bite slowed somewhat with the water dropping a few degrees, but the blood worm bite remained.

There’s good numbers of bass here locally and some have been caught to 34 inches. With the days getting longer and hopefully warmer and sunny, the water should jump back up a few degrees to turn the lure bite back on.

Stop in the shop to get geared up for all your back bay fishing needs. If not in the local area we can get a tackle package of essential sent quickly to you. Reach out or shop online,

P.S. No reports on winter flounder but now is a good time to try for them.

Booking Now 2023Summer Fluke Surf Fishing Trips on LBI

The 2023 Regulations have been set and they are the same as last year.
Opening Day on Tuesday May 2nd and until Wednesday 9/27.
*5 Month Season
Size & Bag Limits:
3 fish possession limit with a slot. Two fish at 17 to 17.99 inches and one fish at 18 inches or greater.
*Message Me for more information if you are interested in booking a trip to enjoy / learn such a great fishery we have here during the entire Summer on beautiful Long Beach Island NJ
Prime Time Days go fast especially weekends so it pays to set your day/dates early before the season starts.

**Can’t wait to see what adventures wait in 2023 as I celebrate 40yrs fishing the Jersey Shore 👍 and I hope you can join me.

call 609-276-6983 or Email me at and you can also find me on FaceBook & Instagram

Book Now for Summer 2023 on LBI NJ
Some nice Summer Fluke from last year all caught off the beaches of LBI NJ

Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC / Steve George

How The Sharpies Fish The Early Spring

The early spring can offer some of the year’s best fishing. With regards to our local area, south central NJ coast, Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin Bay and the areas in close proximity to the north and south anglers have great fishing opportunities. It’s usually special because compared to the fall there is a lot less anglers fishing. But don’t expect great fishing off the LBI surf or at the inlets. In the early spring look around back!

What to catch in the early spring

Striped Bass, Winter Flounder, White Perch

Baits: Baits like live bloods are always best and effective on all three species. No fish can turn down an east to digest worm in the early spring! If the price of live bloods or the necessary care that comes along with live baits is a hassle for you, check out DynaBait’s Freeze Dried Bloodworms. Other natural soft baits like squid and clam are options. Grass shrimp is a prime bait for perch. Also striped bass love them. Last September I was grass shrimping for weakfish and caught a winter flounder so I know they eat shrimp too. For worming bass early season these TNT rigs are perfect. Here’s the classic winter flounder rig options from Tide Rite.

Lures: Soft plastics are great in the spring when fishing shallow water with a slow approach. The Kettle Creeks and Tsunami Swim Shads have worked very well for me over the years. More recently I have fallen in love with the No Live Bait Needed. Skinny minnow pattern plugs are good too as they match the jumbo spearing that are commonly around in the early spring. I like the Yo-zuri Fingerling , Yo-zuri Mag Minnow or Daiwa DSPM13 SP Minnow. Anglers can never go wrong with a small jig like a bucktail or a lead head rigged with a plastic. Also popper draw attention to trigger strikes and are easy to fish in shallow areas. My best catching back bay popper is the Stillwater Smack-It Jr and the Storm Chug Bug.

When to fish the early spring

Fish the warmest water you can find, which is commonly mid to later in the day, shallow areas on the outgoing time.

Where to fish the early spring

Sorry I can’t publish exact spots but stop in and patronize the shop, get to know the team and we’ll help point you in the right direction. It’s best to start out searching for public access on Google Maps or Google Earth. Lots of valuable information can be gathered scouting satellite images as well as the old school method of nautical charts (we have them in the shop) or the new school method of Navionics. Some local fish producing general areas over the years… the Mullica River and the river mouth, Great Bay area, Toms River and the many west side of the bay creeks. All are fishy area to scout. The early spring is all about fishing the rivers, creeks, sod banks and bay!

How to fish the early spring

Generally speaking in the early spring, approach with a slower retrieve, smaller lure profiles. As the spring progresses larger profiles will prevail. On the bait side of the game, nothing beat live blood worm for striped bass and winter flounder. Other details were previously provided in the sections above under baits and lures.

Another Major Considerations…

Current Water Temperatures

The water temperature is one of the most important factors to consider in the spring. Much more so now than in the fall. Why? Because the waters are cold and the fish are on the lethargic side. As the days get longer (March 17th will be the first time we have 12 hours of sunlight 7:06am – 7:06PM) the sun warms the rivers and shallow areas of the bay first, especially darker mud bottoms. As we get into spring the average daily temperatures help turn up the dial too. As these shallow waters warm the bottom water temperatures especially in deeper areas stay cold. This stratified water column can make or break an outing. Tide plays a huge role is spring time fishing success too. It’s even more important when fishing closer to the ocean or ares that have ocean water tidal flow/influence.

Here’s current water temperature data for the Barnegat Bay from USGS. The top chart details the west side of the bay near Waretown. The bottom chart details the east side of the bay, near the inlet in Barnegat Light. The Barnegat Light location gets both bay (outgoing) and ocean (incoming) waters temperature readings depending on the tide. The Waretown location gets much less influence of ocean water.

Looking at the past 30 day chart… The Barnegat Bay water temperature at Waretown is currently (3/1/23 2:30PM) at 45º. It had a low of 30º on Feb 4th at 2:49am and a high of 48º on Feb 17th at 3:45pm and then again on Feb 21st at 3:54pm. Barnegat Light is currently at 42º (3/1/23 2:30PM). It had a low of 32º on Feb 5th at 3:30am and a high of 45º on Feb 17th at 2:49pm and then again on Feb 24th at 5:30pm.

The ocean temperature yesterday record by IBSP Park ranger 44º.

End Of “Off Season” Fishing Report

The last weekend of February is over and I can hardly believe that this Wednesday is opening of back bay striped bass fishing. Winter flew by! Well it isn’t officially over until March 20th and Punxsutawney Phil (groundhog) back on 2/2 said six more weeks of winter (which would be March 16th). Fortunately the 10 outlook doesn’t seem too warm nor too cold, but we do have an active pattern of coastal lows this week, one after the other. Here’s the Fishing LBI Fishing Report Update for Sunday February 26, 2023.

At this point in the season usually there aren’t reports to help better plan an approach. In this case, fishy anglers look back to their logs and past info to guide them. Link coming soon… “How The Sharpies Fish The Early Spring”. This year it all hold true but things could be accelerated a week or two due to the short, mild winter. Also the positive fishy news has flowed through the grapevine of great winter bass fishing. Since illegal, we do not condone or would have posted about them all winter long. I’m here to share the news.

I expect anglers to enjoy a great month of early season in the local waters targeting striped bass, winter flounder and perch. As mentioned, there’s striped bass here and are waiting. Perch fishing is an all winter long thing for those that know where to go and know what to do. Winter flounder rounds out the trio and should be hungry and waiting in the back bay areas, usually around the bridges and creek/river mouths in the early part of the season. In the not so distant future I expect a showing of weakfish because the past couple years I’ve had an uptick in my catches of weakies. We’ll see. Maybe there’s a return of the bluefish?🤞

Salt Water Expo

We’ll be there again in full force and for sure bringing the heat. Save The Dates – March 17-19th!

LOCATION: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center97 Sunfield AveEdison, NJ 08837
DATE/TIME: March 17-19, 2023Friday: 12pm – 8pmSaturday: 10am – 6pmSunday: 10am – 5pm

Reminder – March 1st Tog Fishing Closes

LBI Spring Derby Surf Fishing Tournament

The 21st Annual LBI Spring Derby runs April 1st to June 25th. Registration is $20 and will begin soon. Stay tuned for more information.

Better Fish Circle Hooks For Striped Bass

Here’s Part 3 of a three part blog series to help you Better Fish Circle Hooks! Read the first two parts for more information on many the fundamentals include defining and confirming inline circle hooks, hook terminology, characteristics and most importantly choosing the best inline circle hook for striped bass fishing.

Part 1Circle Hooks & Striped Bass

Part 2Fishing For Striped Bass With Circle Hooks

Baiting Up Matters!

There are a variety of great ways to hook live baits on circle hooks and there is a wrong way. Do not choke the hook gap! Let me repeat. Never block or obstruct the hook’s gap! 

Top Five Natural Baits & Matching Hook Sizes For Striped Bass:

When riggin up to bait fish striped bass the angler must ask. What bait is going to be used and how big is the bait?

This photo demonstrates a circle hook’s text book workings, a corner of the mouth hook set! On May 8th Team Fish Heads Paulie caught this 42″ striped bass of the LBI surf on fresh clam. Due to the regulations this fish was over the 38″ maximum slot limit size so it had to be release. Fortunately Paul was following the rules and fishing bait with an inline circle hook. In this case the hook was a OWNER. The fish was properly hooked, caught and safely released with no damage to the fish.

Tips For Fishing Circle Hooks

Have you tried a circle hook before? Have you had good or bad experiences? When approached and fished properly circle hooks offer anglers no downside. With these tips you will better your results and just might fall in love with them.

  • Do Not Fill The Hook Gap! – The more exposed the hook the better. Too much bait on the hook obstructs the hooks ability to find the jaw. When using larger baits some anglers prefer to bridle baits with the entire hook outside of the bait. Keeping the hook free and exposed is a key part of effectively fishing circle hooks.

For best results anglers must fish circle hooks differently than a traditional j-hook.

  • With A J-hook – An angler detects a bite and then uses the rod to make a fast and powerful hook set to drive the hook point past the barb. This might be in the fish’s face, lip/jaw, mouth, throat or worse esophagus. This traditional hook set when using circle hooks is a bad tendency.
  • With A Circle Hook – An angler detects a bite but must be patiently aware. Commonly pointing the rod at the fish, anglers wait 3-5 seconds before slowly tightening the line and applying firm pressure. This is to allow the fish to first take/eat the bait/hook and then turn with it. As the fish moves, swims away, the hook finds the corner of the mouth (jaw) and then comes tight. Most of the time when swallowed a circle hook slips out of the esophagus safely and perfectly finds the jaw. This is the magic of circle hooks!
  • Do Not Set The Hook! – Circle hooks set themselves. Attempting to set the hook (like a j-hook) will result in pulled hooks and lost fish.
    • Crank – Don’t Yank!
    • Once Tight – Begin The Fight! 

Lever drag conventional reels and spinning reels with a secondary free spool drag (Penn Live Liners, Shimano Baitrunners) are great for fishing circle hooks. They make it very easy for an angler to patiently drop back to a fish.

This tuna ate a livebait and the circle hook work perfectly! The photo shows the hook set right in the corner of the mouth.

For anglers looking to broaden their horizons and have some tricks when situations call for it, here are some hooking options more specifically for live bait fishing with bunker, herring, mullet, spot, etc. 

Common Hooking Options:

  • Across The Nostrils: The nose is one of the best locations for most situations so long as baits are good quality and conditions allow. It allows for live baits to swim and breath freely when drift fishing with a minimally invasive hooking. When bites occur the bait rips off easily so it does not impede the effectiveness of the hook. However if baits rip off too easily try other options.
  • Hook Up Through Both Lips: Great hook holding power that’s effective for head hits but chokes and kills baits fast. Good with a cast and retrieve approach.
  • Hook In & Through Roof of Mouth – Great hook holding power that is good for casting and slowly retrieving. Must hook with care so the bait is not killed prematurely. Can’t be used in heavy current as the flow opens the bait’s mouth and floods with water killing the bait and making it spin.This hooking is very similar to hook in and through the cheek.
  • In The Back By Dorsal – A very popular choice which keeps the bait upright for live lining and kite fishing. Some anglers choose to hook at different locations of the back; ⅓ front, ½ middle or ⅓ rear depending on the baits, conditions and way fish are eating. This hooking option is the easiest to “overhook” and take up too much of the hook’s bend and gap. Be cognizant!
  • Underside Breast (Under/Behind Gills) – A very underutilized location that offers good hook holding and also commonly helps get the stubborn bait to swim down. This hooking location allows for the hook to still be in the front portion of the bait but set back from the nose therefore helps when fish are short striking. Yes it kills a bait faster but usually a bite comes sooner. 
  • Hook Near Anal Vent Or At the Tail – One of, if not the toughest spots with little risk at killing the bait. This hooking usually gets baits to swim away but commonly keeps the bait at or near the surface. Improves hook ups on short strike tail bites. When utilizing this hooking location/option be aware that the bait’s tail kicks will send pulses and this can mask light touches from skittish fish. Also be aware live bait will need to be given line consistently so it can swim and not be killed by being pulled backwards in the water.
  • Edge of Collar (behind the gill and out through the side): Good for lively yet soft baits. I’ve found this option to be very good on calm days when I want my baits to get away from the boat and swim off to the side. This also keeps the baits swimming shallow.
  • Bridal – Best hook freedom and for large baits but adds rigging time. Great for trolling.

My favorite all purpose circle hook for striped bass fishing is the Mustad 39944. This series of hooks is called the Mustad Demond Inline Perfect Circle and that is exactly what I like to call them, the perfect circle. They have a good shape with a slightly shorter shank and a nice curved bend that hooks well, holds well. Even though they aren’t forged, the round wire hooks are strong enough and their needle point is sharp enough too. Moreover it’s available in a full size range from #4 to 10/0 and available in 50 piece packs so it’s convenient for me. They are a much better price than a lot of the other hook options too.

Philadelphia Fishing Show Feb 17-19

Hello Everyone,

Our 4th Annual Philadelphia Fishing Show will be held Feb 17-19, 2023 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. 

There are over 230 booths of fishing tackle, guides, lodges, apparel and more. All fishing, no junk! There are also boats, outboards, and RV’s on display. Check out the Hawg Trough, a 5,000 gallon gamefish aquarium. Catch a fish at the show in our fully stocked Trout Pond. See the 3,000 lb Great White Shark replica, get harnessed up and and go toe-to-toe against the rod and reel that caught him. Our newest attraction this year is our Virtual Fishing simulator that lets you battle a variety of species from all over the world.

There are three seminar rooms going around the clock for all three days with some of fishing’s top captains and guides sharing what they know about the sport they are most passionate about. Speakers such as Capt Tom Daffin, Nick Honachefsky, Frank Mihalic, Capt Freddy Gamboa, and Capt Alan Lee, just to name a few. The seminars are FREE and included with your admission to the show.
Meet Dave Marciano, captain of the F/V Hard Merchandise from Wicked Tuna. He will be at the Fishing Nosara booth during the entire show. He will also be giving a seminar on Giant Bluefin Tuna on Sunday at Noon. Check out our website for the entire seminar schedule and list of exhibitors.

Admission is $12 for adults, Kids 6 to 12 $6, 5 and under are FREE. FREE parking for everyone. FREE Seminars. Food and beverages available inside the show. 
For all of the info, visit:

Hope to see you there!
Thank you,
DaveDave DeGennaro

Back Bay Adventures

732.330.5674 cell

SRHS Fishing Flea Market 2/11/23

The annual Southern Regional Fishing Flea Market is coming up quick!

Save The Date: Saturday 2/11/23

The event is in the Southern Regional Middle School cafeteria.

Doors open at 8am for public.

All proceeds benefit the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club. The money raised goes to offset the cost of fishing trips for the club/students and also fund the scholarships for four year members of the club.

We are looking forward to seeing you at this year’s show.

Previous year’s post…

LBI 2022 Year End Fishing Report

First and foremost Happy New Year! Thank you to everyone for a great 2022. It was a fishy fun filled year! We wish you tight lines in 2023. May your many trophy fish dreams come true. Let us at Fish Heads meet and beat your expectations this new year.

This week was much more mild compared to last week’s cold snap. Most anglers getting out are targeting blackfish. Some went deep for sea bass and a few are still catching striped bass too! For a look at the current Barnegat Inlet temperatures take a look at the end/bottom of the post.

On the black fishing front, the rock solid bite that went strong most of December hit the brakes with last week’s cold snap. The inshore wrecks and reefs were very good but the Artic weather took over and sunk to slow the action. Most anglers reported slow to sporadic fishing with better reports coming from the deeper water areas where the bottom temps held up better. It seemed that white crabs were doing best. As the temperatures creep back up we expect the bite to too. Dante from Magictails is fishing as hard as always getting out every weather. He has tagged and released a lot of big monster tog this year. On Wednesday he couldn’t get this one to swim away. It weighed on the shop scale at 18.35#, a true monster!!!

We get asked many times a day… “Are there still tog biting in Barnegat inlet?” We can’t say there is a bite but it’s possible you might find a fish or two. This seal was caught eating some tog in the inlet on Monday by Eric Tell.

Striped bass, Yup they are still around! Few to no reports off the surf but if the temperatures stay mild there will be schoolies in the suds all of January. As far as striped bass in the ocean we had two recent reports. Captain Mark aboard the Waterproof reported finding striped bass on top during their ride to go tog fishing (inside 3 miles). He said catching them was quick and easy. Another report came in on Friday (12/30) from Captain Mike Greene aboard the Luckey Stripes. He said tog fishing wasn’t good, alot of small fish, but striped bass fishing was. “28-34″ bass on bunker. They were all hanging on the surface slow motion rolling only a couple miles from Barnegat Inlet.”

Deep water sea bass fishing was on tap with anglers getting out and catching. A recent report came in from Zach P, a Fish Head’s team employee home from college for the holidays. He was out fishing aboard the Voyager out of Point Pleasant and caught a bunch of black sea bass and a couple weakfish. We received more positive deep water bottom fishing reports from other local anglers getting out there. Unfortunately this fishery is closed Jan 1, 2023.

Reminder, today 12/31/22 is the last day of the 2022 Striped Bass Bonus Program. 2022 Permits/tags are NOT valid in 2023. Be sure to submit logbooks before January 15, in order to be eligible for 2023. All harvests were to be reported at time of event but if not done, get it in now. 2023 Applications usually start up in the early springtime.

Another reminder 2022 Fishing Regulations and Limits remain in effect until official updates are published by the state. Stay tuned to the winter meetings to see how things play out.

Below are two screen shots from the Barnegat Inlet tide and temperature gauge. Before looking know that the location of the gauge is USCG Station Barnegat Light which means that it is in the bay, just inside the inlet. The gauge records bay waters on the outgoing tide/current and ocean waters on the incoming tide/current. The one month chart/graphs show a steep temperature drop on the evening of 12/23. December 24th LBI was frigid, icy flooding, hard west winds. There was a morning windchill of -12º and a wild sea smoke sunrise. The cold stuck around for a few days but since Christmas the temperatures has slowly trended warmer and just got back to the 40º mark.

This sea smoke sunrise was captured by Matt Reitinger on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was an Artic blast that had LBI sub zero and an icy mess. Streets were flooded skating rinks and many seasonal houses that were not winterized (or people out of town for the holidays) had busted pipes adding to the icy streets.

LBI Fishing Report 12/23/22

The water temperatures are cold; skim ice in the lagoons, bay at 37º near the BI marker, ocean in the mid to upper 40’s depending on the area. The weather has been brutal with very short weather windows but “open” there’s fishing opportunities for those who still can’t shake the itch. Both striped bass and tog were caught Wednesday and Thursday. Also heard of a nice bluefin tuna caught too.

Here’s a late season Fishing LBI Report Update for the Long Beach Island area, most likely the last one of the year.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year!

Striped Bass Fishing

The prime bass fishing from the beach and boat is well behind us but there are fishing opportunities for those looking. Recent weather windows proved to be successful for a couple boats working the troll. Mark Dear reported good fishing on Wednesday fishing off of Brigantine in 40-50′ of water. He said all of the fish were caught on whiote mojos, “Birds were around and we were marking a ton of fish.” Sounds like they also could have tried dropping some spoons or jigs.

Off the surf there is little participation but anglers are picking some schoolies. Joe Handley reported peanut bunker and a couple striped bass on the LBI surf, “They (peanut bunker) were stretched out patchy the length of the Island pretty much all day Wednesday. I was snagging and putting them, out on a Carolina rig. Some bait pods has bass. I caught 4 mega fat shorts.”

Store staffer Paul has been putting in time off the surf and has been finding a few small bass fishing a AVA Diamond Jig rigged up with teaser.

Blackfish – Tautog – Tog Fishing

Tautog fishing is good when weather allows boats to get out. Right now and into the new year it will be the main game for anglers looking to get tight and bend a rod. Right now we are fully stocked up on tog baits and tackle. We have live green crabs and white crabs however it’s uncertain how long we will have these prime baits stock.

Bluefin Tuna

Every year in the Thanksgiving to Christmas timeframe we get a shot at some nice bluefin moving through our area. Usually these fish are taken on popping gear. This time of year it is not for the faint of heart as conditions can be brutal. Here’s a recent catch by Alex Widney fishing aboard Rum Tales with Capt Fred Soper.