Fishing was great this past weekend and all signs point to a great week ahead. Striped bass, blues, fluke and NJ black sea bass opens tomorrow the 17th. Here’s the LBI fishing report update on Monday May 16th.
With a wild week of windy weather the fishing reports aren’t flowing like they were. But things are starting to settle down and we have high hopes that mid-May will rock like it always does each year. Let’s go fishing!
FINALLY! The wind subsides enough to have a good go at it in Barnegat Bay this weekend. I will be loaded up with a flat of sandworms and a bucket of fresh salted clams. The target will be stripers, blues, and fluke. Casting lures along the sod banks and channel edges, drift jigging with shad darts tipped with sandworms usually does well for me this time of year for the schoolie bass. Anchoring up and chumming with the fresh clams can produce bigger stripers. Poppers on the west side for blues if we can find them. We can mix in some fluke fishing, it’s all up to you guys. We will be bringing the “kitchen sink”…something has to work…right?
Sat, Sun, and Mon, May 14, 15, and 16. 6AM to Noon each day. $165 person, 4 people max. All fish are shared. Also available to charter these dates.
See you on board!
Hi Flier Sportfishing
As I sit at my desk thinking about the surf fishing action on Long Beach Island, I wonder if these northeast winds will ever let up.
At least I see sunshine outside my window as the torrential rains are gone for now. But those darn winds gusting to 30-mph and more keep blowing their brains out. I knew this was going to be one heck of a week when I saw 10-foot waves in the forecast for Sunday and much of the week.
Now the big question is what the fishing will be like when this is all over. I just peeked at NOAA’s marine weather forecast, and it predicts lighter northeast winds on Friday, May 13, of just 10-mph with the wind shifting around to the SE after midnight and into Saturday when the wave heights are projected to drop down.
In my many years at the Jersey coast, I can recall our share of northeast storms, but few come to mind that were as strong and as lengthy in duration. But enough of that negative stuff, let’s see what positive things we might have in store for us.
Before looking at the surf action, take note of the pre-storm happenings in the bay waters. This year’s start to the summer founder season was earlier than it has been for a while. First results were very promising with many limits reported, especially in the Great Bay area. I heard of good catches inside Barnegat Inlet also. I didn’t hear much from mid-island waters, but that could very well be due to a lack of anglers trying there.
There were goodly numbers of smallish stripers in the bay waters, especially on the west side of the bay and around the LBI Causeway, with a few keepers in the mix. As is usual for this time of the year, drumfish are feeding near the sodbanks in the Tuckerton and Great Bays and assorted islands in that area.
Early season blue-claw crab action was an increase over recent years with recreational crabbers doing quite well on keepers.
The striped bass action in the surf of LBI was just really heating up when the storm arrived. In addition to keeper sized slot fish showing up, a surprising number of stripers over the 38-inch limit were being reeled in. A couple of bluefish even showed their faces.
A true barometer of what the action was like is to take a gander at the entries in the Long Beach Island Derby which began April 2 and runs until June 26. A total of 10 fish were weighed in prior to the storm with nine bass and one bluefish.
Courtland Foos leads the striper section with his 22.86-pounder caught on May 1 in Brant Beach on bunker. The fish measured 37.75-inches. Jay Shayne beached the second place linesider on May 3 in Surf city, a fish measuring just under37-inches and weighing 20.22-pounds.
Vince Orzel landed the only bluefish thus far on May 3 on a plug in Barnegat Light. The chopper weighed in at 5.52-pounds.
Of the nine stripers entered so far, 1 fell for fresh bunker, 3 for salted clam, and the rest for fresh clam. Holgate and Brant Beach produced the most fish with 3 each while Surf City provided 2 and Spray Beach 1.
There are cash prizes for the top fished entered in the contest with photo prizes which give anglers the opportunity to share their catches and still release them safely.
Registration for the Derby can be accomplished at any of the three official weigh-in stations. These are Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, and Surf City Bait and Tackle in Surf City.
The official website for the event is www.lbisfc.com. Those of you on Facebook can check out the event on its Facebook site, LBI Surf Fishing Tournament.
Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that these winds finally start to shut down. Once the waters clear up, there is not reason for good action to return.
Like it or not, state and federal circle hook gear restrictions will eventually become law with more species. It’s time to learn about circle hooks and perfect your technique fishing with them. While this is mainly focused around circle hooks and striped bass fishing, a lot of the ideas can be used for others.
Because circle hooks require a different approach, a lot of anglers need time to get comfortable. But like anything else, practice and learning from others is the best way to fast track your way to success. This article is for anglers who have never fished a circle hook before. And hopefully it also helps anglers who have some circle hook fishing experience too. Let’s start with the basics and go from there.
What Is A Circle Hook?
A circle hook is a style of fishing hook which is very round with a hook point perpendicular to the hook shank. An inline hook is not offset, meaning the hook’s point, barb and shank are all on the same plane.
How to confirm if a circle hook is inline? Lay the hook on the edge of flat table. An inline hook will lay flat. An offset hook will show its offset bent hook point and not lay flat. Offsetting a circle hook (bending the point to one side of the shank) reduces the conservation benefit of circle hooks.
The benefit of inline circle hooks is they set/catch fish in the jaw and radically reduce deep/gut hooking events. From a conservation perspective inline circle hooks reduce injury to fish and cause far less catch and release mortality.
Choosing The Right Circle Hook
Circle hooks are effective and dependable. But like all hooks, the anglers must choose the right one for the job. Unfortunately the fishing industry lacks a hook sizing standard so it can be confusing to compare hooks. This is especially challenging when looking at different manufacturers’ offerings. It’s always best to have the hooks in hand.
Fishing Hook Terminology & Characteristics:
The various styles of fishing hooks have distinct features which set them apart. Both a hooks profile/shape and the gauge/thickness wire stock used is very important. A hook can be broken down to these parts; eye/ring, shank, bend, gap/gape, throat/bite, point/spear and barb.
Circle Hook Size & Gap
When choosing a circle hook be mindful of the bait being used. Due to the relationship of a circle hook’s shank and hook point, the size and its gap must be considered. Always match the hook to the bait. A hook that is too large or too small is no good. Never ever choke the hook’s gap. Blocking the gap prevents the circle hook’s working ability. Both the hook size and hook’s wire gauge are very important.
Circle Hook Gauge Choice
Generally speaking nothing more than a light to medium wire hook is needed for targeting striped bass. A lighter wire hook is used for the easiest hook sets. But lighter wire means lighter line, lighter drag, lighter tackle approach. Using a big reel and a broom stick rod is not the recipe for success when fishing circle hooks. Thicker gauge hooks means more strength but these hooks do not set and penetrate past the barb as easily as medium or light wire hooks. For this reason it’s best to leave thick gauge circle hooks for big game fishing with heavy tackle for sharks, tuna and marlin fishing. Even in some of these cases a medium wire hooks will work better.
The Best Circle Hooks For Striped Bass
All of the top hooks brands make quality circle hooks options. Each one has slightly different variations in design, features and price points. The following are great options for striped bass fishing with bait.
Gamakatsu 2214 Octopus Inline Circle Hook
This mid-wire octopus inline circle hook is forged for strength. The bent is some what flat allowing for a little more are for a chunk bait to sit. It’s turned up eye is great for snelling and offers the best presentation. This is one of the best hooks for chunking and live bait fishing for striped bass! Gamakatsu Octopus Inline Circle Hooks
Owner 5179 Octopus Inline Circle Hook
This mid-wire hook has a straight eye, round octopus like bend and a large gap. It’s a great hook for both striped bass, redfish and billfish. There is also the 5114T which features Owner’s elongated “Mutu” style shape. It’s said that this elongated more oval like than circle helps increase the jaw hook ratio and has more strength once the hook is seated. Owner Octopus Inline Circle Hooks & Owner Mutu Inline Circle Hooks
Mustad 39951NP Med/Hvy Inline Circle Hook
The Mustad 39951NP is a medium/heavy wire hook (shown in the photo below) that is good for anglers looking to chunk bunker or any extra large baits with heavy tackle. For bunker chunking use the 9/0 or 10/0 size. Mustad also have some other great inline hook options. The Mustad 39928 is an Ultra Point mid-wire forged in-line circle hook has an octopus style shape which features a very round profile and a turned up eye. The Mustad 39944 is also a great hook which has a better price point, slightly shorter shank length, straight eye and is not forged.
BKK Inline Circle Hook
The BKK Hybrid Heavy Inline Circle Hooks feature a medium gauge wire inline circle hook that has a turned back eye, great for snelling. The hook shape has a very round curve, similar to the Owner 5179. BUT the BKK Hybrid Heavy Circle has a shorter shank and also taller rise from bend to barb giving the hook more throat. This offers two key advantages. One, more throat allows the hook’s bend to better accept bait without choking the gap. Two, once a fish is tight and hooked up it is much harder for fish to shake off these hooks, delivering a great hook-to-landed ration. BKK also has a proprietary “Super Slide” finish and coating that enhances hook penetration performance.
Eagle Claw L2196PG Baitholder In-line Circle Hook
This is the Baitholder In-Line Circle Hook that is perfect for fishing clams and worms. The barbs are on the shank so it is very important that the angler does not bait up and choke the gap. Do not use this hook with large chunk baits! The L2004 is a very popular hook for the billfish and guys. It too is good for striped bass in the 6/0 – 10/0 sizes.
VMC 7385 In-Line Circle Hook
This mid gauge wire forged non-offset circle hook is great for all purpose saltwater use. Featuring a unique elongated bend (similar to the Owner Mutu) with an extra large gap, straight eye and a small barb.
Also check out the VMC 7385LKCB. It’s a new idea, sort of specialty hook with a “B-Lok” (bait lock) stopper. The stopper, keeps the bait properly in place at the bottom of the hook bend and prevents the bait from creeping up the hook shank. This ensures the bait doesn’t choke the hook gap. In essence reduced the chances of missing a fish due to the impeding the hook up.
Better Fish Circle Hooks – Blog Coming Soon
It was a great weekend here on LBI, fishing out the month of April and kicking off the new month of May with phenomenal weather and really good fishing. Here’s the Long Beach Island fishing report for May 2, 2022.
Anglers in recent days have caught striped bass as well as a few black drum and bluefish. We also heard of a couple fluke, which as of today May 2 is open season here in NJ. Let’s Go Fishing!!!
Bluefish At LBI
Bluefish are slowly showing up. A few reports from the LBI surf and the bay. David Gerard reported catching a 14″ in his lagoon on Friday afternoon, “At sunset they were jumping like crazy. But I cooled off.” His catch was on a SP Minnow lure.
Black Drum Fishing At LBI
Black Drum are still being caught in the bay and a couple on the surf too (see Emmit’s catch on the last report update). Gio DeMarco (below) reported, “Took awhile but finally landed one.”
Fluke Fishing On LBI
Fluke – It’s that time again!!! Fluke season is open and anglers are finding fish. On Saturday Steve George from Night Strikes Guide Service posted a photo after a guide and shared, “What a beautiful day on the Island. I got out with Ryan and Andrew and we caught a 20″ fluke.” The day before Steve reported, “They are here!” And had a photo of a small bluefish he caught off the surf. He also caught some herring and small bass.
Striped Bass Fishing On LBI
Striped Bass activity on the surf and in the bay is and has been great. Here’s some recent catch photos that were sent in.
Catching Fluke in New Jersey is not as easy as it use to be. Just ask any old salty dog and they will tell you about how much better fishing was in their day. Well… Without a time machine we’re stuck fishing now!
Here’s my keys to Catching Fluke In New Jersey!
My key is understanding how they feed and where they hide. Fluke are aggressive ambush predators. They like areas where current moves and flows to bring meals to them. They lay and wait for their opportunity to prey instead of actively hunting like many other species.
Fluke migrate east to west through the year. While there is not one large biomass, there’s a common theme. Spring and early summer large fluke are found in the bays. Late Summer and Fall large fluke are in the ocean on the wrecks, reefs and open bottom. For a large portion of the season quality fluke can be targeted at all of the major inlets or areas in close proximity. These access points to and from the back water are always important choke points in the summer flounders migration.
“Finding and staying with a body of fluke is difficult. You don’t mark schools of them on the sounder and you definitely don’t see bird diving alerting to an active school. Since they are on the bottom it’s even difficult to keep track and log water temperatures. Your water temp gauge is reading the surface which is drastically different from the bottom temperature where fluke live.” – Fish Head Greg
Fluke Fishing the Bay
Every spring and summer there are tons of fluke in Barnegat Bay. We also have an advantage locally as our bay will hold fish throughout the summer season. As the water warms they simply move from the shallows and shoals to the deeper areas with cooler water. Since there’s not a ton of structure in our bay this often means the fish are located on drop offs, ledges and edges.
The edge of a channel or sod bank can provide an excellent habitat for many marine species that fluke will feed on. The fluke will lay head into the current and pick off just about anything that swims or drifts by that they can fit in their mouth. The key to increasing your catch in the bay is to make sure your baits are presented to the fluke in the direction they’re looking and feeding. Drifting and dreaming aimlessly across the bay will lead to nothing more than a relaxing day in the sun. That’s not all that bad, but if you want to go catching, you need to focus on those drifts and dial in on your target areas.
Stay on the motor and power drift along those channel edges. Bumping in and out of reverse while maintaining direction. Do not focus on a drift speed, but focus on your fishing lines and make sure your presentation is vertical. Your ideal drift speed will change with the tide. Some guys use their engine while others opt for a tiller motor or trolling motor. In recent years trolling motors have exploded on the saltwater scene. These saltwater units from Rhodan are a total game changer!
How To Rig Up To Catch Fluke In The Bay
My rig of choice for shallow water drifting is typically just a single jig. I like to go with a 1/4 – 1/2oz Magictail Round Head Big Eye Jig paired with a 4” Gulp Swimming Mullet or 4” Gulp Grub. Typically, I do not fish a teaser because it requires a larger jig (due to added drag in the water) to hold bottom. I pretty much stick with just a few key gulp colors and ride it out for better or worse. It all works. Catching fluke in dirty water tends to be easier with chartreuse and orange (Salmon).
When it comes to gulp, make sure your inventory is stocked up early in the season. As the fluke season runs on you’ll find the your favorite colors are often not in stock; or are in limited quantity. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to buy more of your favorites to find out everywhere is sold out.
Catching Fluke at Night
Catching Fluke at night isn’t out of the picture either. Take to some well lit areas like docks and piers, especially those with underwater lights. The lights bring in the bait and give the fluke enough site to become aggressive in the dark. A small (1/2-3/4 oz) glow Magictail Hoochie with a 4” Gulp Glow Swimming Mullet is the ticket. Chartreuse and Pink swimming mullet will also produce in these conditions. Work the jig slowly near the bottom and cast around to cover the entire area.
Ocean Fluking in NJ
Catching fluke out in the ocean is the are of focus in the second half of the season. You will find higher numbers of larger fish more frequently than in the bay; however, be prepared to lose some equipment. The big doormat of your dreams is more than likely tucked up close alongside or even inside of some gnarly bottom on one of our local wrecks. If you haven’t figured it out by now you should be working on your reading comprehension skills a bit. You’ll find the fluke alongside the structure!
Our local wrecks are home to loads of fish and crustaceans. Being ambush predators, fluke are not cruising around the ocean searching for a meal. They’re going to find an area that has a high likelihood of something swimming by they can snack on. Summer flounder will stack up in these areas. So it’s very important that when you catch a good fish you mark that area in your GPS and run that same drift again and again. Oftentimes you’ll find that where there is one good fish there are many good fish. Taking smaller more direct drifts on this structure will lead to more limits of fluke and a better shot at the doormat you’re looking for.
How To Rig Up To Catch Fluke In The Ocean
Again the Magictail Round Head Big Eye Jig is my jig of choice here. I find myself using anywhere from 1-4 ounces depending on the depth and conditions (wind, waves, current). I always opt for the biggest gulp possible and I am excited to really put the new 8″ gulp grubs to the test this year.
Typically in the ocean I am fishing a single jig looking for larger doormats however with this years adjusted regulations adding a teaser might become an option. Using a teaser hook with a 5″ gulp grub will allow you to focus on some of those slot fish. The “Teaser Hook” is added using a dropper loop with a specialty Gulp Hook made for us by Mustad (Model 3400BN in size 7/0) Before these hooks came out I used the classic Mustad Baitholder Hook or the Gamakatsu Baitholder Hook. Both of which are great hooks but the Mustad 3400BN is the perfect hook because it is not offset. This will prevent the bait from spinning and give it a more natural presentation.
If I am hunting specifically for doormats in the late season, there are times I chose to fish very big baits. These fish don’t always inhale these large baits and might short strike and hold the bait first. If you set the hook too early the short strikes can be very frustrating. For this reason I use a sliding snell rig when fishing whole squid, live snapper blues and extra long meat strip baits. Here’s a quick how to tie it…
Where ever you are fishing for fluke the best advice I can offer is to hone in and focus on small areas with the best structure. Always fish with lots of movement on the jig or bucktail. It will trigger a strike! When you feel a bite, take a swing! When the fish hit you must be sure to set the hook. If you miss just drop it back down and keep it moving. 99% of the time the fish will come right back. Once you’ve hooked the fish, slow down! Apply steady pressure with a nice slow steady retrieve. This will ensure the fluke’s viscous head shakes will not toss the hook. Dropping the tip when cranking will lead to a heartbreaker.
Catching limits of keeper sized fluke proves more difficult for anglers every year, but now after reading this, I’m confident you’ll improve your catches! Get out there and enjoy you time fluke fishing on the water!
Catching Doormat Fluke
Check out this video on our YouTube page of Matt’s 2022 Seminar at the Atlantic City Boat show.
There’s some nice fish hitting the beach! Recent days have offered good striped bass fishing off the Long Beach Island surf. Some black drum are also showing. For a more detailed report check out the last report post.
Yesterday Justus Mirth sent in a catch photo and report, “Thanks for the rigs and clam! I got this 40.5″ right after sunset and also had a 29″ bass earlier in the session. Mid-island surf.”
Yesterday at 1pm Dennis Street weighed in a nice 12# 33″ striped bass. He reported, “A caught a couple and missed a couple fishing clams at low water.” Low tide was at 12:23pPM Today low tide is at 1:06PM.
Emmit from Top Notch Tackle Rigs caught this black drum off the LBI surf a few days ago. In recent days reports of black drum off the surf and in the bay have been good. They love clam!
American Anglers Surf Fishing 101
American Anglers Fishing Clubs is hosting a Surf Fishing 101 this Saturday April 30th from 9am to 1pm on the beach in Brant Beach.
Use the enterance ramp on 66th Street which is near the Long Beach Twp Muniucipal Building at 6805 Long Beach Blvd, Brant Beach NJ 08008.
9AM – Meet at the beach. Either drive or walk on and set up for fishing.
10AM – Bayside Dave: Introduction to Surf Fishing & Q/A
11AM – Greg Cudnik: Reading The Water & Q/A
12PM – Carl Hartmann: Fishing Techniques, Rigs & Equipment for Targeting Multiple Species
ALL DAY: Demos & Vendors – Century Rods, Milspray Rustproofing, Top Notch Tackle
This past weekend was a good one here on LBI with anglers catching fish. For the most part clam was the top producer hooking up both striped bass and drum. The next 6 to 8 weeks are prime time fishing here on LBI. Let’s go fishing!!!!
LBI Surf Fishing Report
The water temps reached 50º this past weekend and things popped. There are striped bass of all sizes from schoolies to trophies. Now’s the time to hit the surf with clam to target striped bass. Here’s just a some of the reports that were sent in and shared.
Tommy McCann reported a pair of striped bass; a 25 and a 26 inch. Dave Minnick reported catching his first keeper of the year this weekend. Randy Edwards caught a couple good ones. First, a 42″ that he released and then the next day a 37.75″ that he kept for the table. Both on clam.
The largest fish that we heard about this weekend was caught by LBI Fishing Guide Connor Smilon caught a 47″ bass on clam.
The 2022 Spring Surf Fishing Derby is on. Here’s the current leader board.
Barnegat Inlet Fishing Report
Tog fishing is good now to the end of the month when the season closed. The Barnegat Inlet Jetty has been producing for a lot of anglers.
There’s also herring present which offered anglers light tackle fun this past weekend. Bob Haines reported, “No bass for us today but we caught a handful of Jersey Tarpon (slag for large herring).” We previously reported a striped bass catch from the inlet. We anticipate more bass reports from the rocks in the coming days and weeks. We are also on the look out for bluefish which SHOULD be here right now.
It’s the final days of spring tautog fishing. With good fishing from land based and boat anglers try your best to squeeze in another trip. The nearshore wrecks and reef sites have fish as well as the offshore wrecks.
Good cod reports have come in from the deeper water areas (100’+).
Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin Bay, Great Bay Fishing Report
Spring offers some of the best fishing in the local bays. Right now there’s lots of life. The two primary targets are striped bass and black drum. Fishing clam and bloodworms would be the two best to soak.
Todd Brophy fished clams in the bay via boat and reported 12 bass and three classy drum. We’ve heard a number of good black drum reports from bay beach and boat anglers.
News worth notes: This weekend’s bunker delivery also came in with inlet. Our local gill net bait boat caught a couple kingfish, blowfish and large herring. Do you recall the last report post (4/22) and the photo of the blowfish washed up on the beach? There’s more around than we all might think!
NJ Summer Flounder Opens May 2
Fluke season is only a week away. We are stoked to get in on some early season fishing this year. Quality fish are already staging up and eating. Here’s a recent catch by Camille Caruso who was fishing with John Howell who has a commercial hook and line permit. Camille Caruso caught this fluke on a jig with a large Gulp Grub. Here’s the specifics on 2022 NJ Summer Flounder / Fluke Season Regulations.
Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Update
It is not too early to start booking fishing trips with the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. Most of the 2022 New Jersey saltwater fishing regulations are now official, and the seasons are quickly approaching.
The summer flounder season will be opening on Monday, May 2, with a 3 fish per day bag limit. However, this year anglers may now keep two fish from 17 to 17.99-inches and one fish 18-inches or over. In recent years, all three fish in a bag limit had to be 18-inches or longer. The season will end on September 27.
The reduction in size should mean more fish fillets heading home for dinner.
The black sea bass regulations break the season into four segments with varying daily limits. It begins on May 17 until June 19 with a 10 fish per angler allowed daily. The second season goes from July 1 to August 31 with a 2 fish per day allowance. The next season is from October 12 to October 31 with a 10 fish per day limit.
The final segment runs from November 1 to December 31 with 15 fish allowed per day. The size limit for all segments is 13-inches.
The daily bag limit for porgies is 50 with a 10-inch minimum size. Anglers once again are allowed one striped bass daily of 28 to 37.99-inches. The early season for blackfish will end on April 30.
Anglers interested in taking advantage of the numerous saltwater fishing opportunities are advised to make their reservations early with one of the experienced captains of the BHCFA. Most of the prime dates fill up fast. Those who want to try their luck big game fishing for species such as tuna, marlin, and mahi-mahi are advised to contact individual captains for complete details.
Detailed information on the boats and captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can visit the website www.BHCFA.net