Fishing Report Update April 8th

Good early spring fishing continues for anglers hunting the waters of Long Beach Island. Striped bass, perch, tog, winter flounder, black drum and kingfish are all on tap. Here’s an update on the fishing front here on Long Beach Island.

Local Striped Bass Fishing

The Causeway Bridges are getting better and better as well as other mid-island areas. Catch reports from the north and south end’s bayside areas are also becoming more frequent from anglers fishing live bloodworms and artificial lures. The Barnegat Bay’s westside sod banks, points and tributaries are fishy right now and soon the flats will turn on. The Great Bay and Mullica River continue to produce.

Some surprisingly good healthy bass cruising the bay.

Craig Harkness reported, “Perfect day today. Started off fishing the bridges with artificials (softbats) in the morning. Got two bass and then hit Fish Heads for live bloodworms. Then set up on the sod banks fishing 3/0 circle hook hi/lo rigs. Got three striped bass.”

The LBI Surf

The Long Beach Island beaches usually starts up with slow fishing in April and then rev up in May. If blues show this year, they would be a front running catalyst.

The Spring Surf Fishing Derby kicks off!!! Click here for more info.

Tautog Fishing Report

April is the one month spring tog season. Each year it offers some of the best fishing of the year. The best part is it’s good for for both land based and boat anglers.

Jeff Crabtree is one angler who puts a ton of time in and it shows with his consistent catches season in and season out. Yesterday he struck again! Jeff caught and weighed in a solid 8-LB tog. This was one epic fish for land based togging.

Boats fishing the wrecks put together good catches this week. One recent report came in from Capt. Jeff Warford. He has been out a couple time in recent days taking advantage of the great weather. He shared, “I’m loving the new Rhodan GPS Anchor. It’s a Game Changer! I’m loving the Rhodan Life.” Jeff and crew were recently locked in over some good structure and they pulled a nice catch together. Here’s Captain Jeff with one of the biggest of the day.

Kingfish… What the heck!

It is not a common catch for early April but it proves there are a few here this early in the year. Yup a northern kingfish! Paul Lindsey caught this king today on his new rod and reel. He stopped in and set up a new ODM DNA surf rod matched up with a Penn Battle DX. Couldn’t dream of a more perfect weapon for the local area fishing. It’s a great pair with a balance of performance and quality at the reasonable price.

Raritan Bay Bass Fishing

Raritan Bay has been good and it’s just the start of a great spring run. Lots of anglers with nice fish coming on top water spooks and metal lips.  Some big fish are in the mix too. Lots of great fishing still to come!

Here’s Fish Heads Alumni Dan D. with a serious one that committed to a top water spook. Dan was fishing a Doc Spook aboard Shore Catch.

Winter Flounder Fishing

Dave Moores made his first winter flounder fishing trip a few days ago. He managed two flounder. The next couple weeks are the time

Linda Lee Sportfishing Report

Saturday I was able to get the boat up to Keyport and get settled into the slip for the early spring striper run. I had my Mate Dan Rosetto and Mike Brazaitiis with me for first trip and it was lights out fishing first thing in the morning until we packed it in around noon. Guys were trolling 9er rigs and doing very well. We were focusing on jigging and that produced for us as well using SP Minnows, Nicholas Lures Magnum Spoons, and Tony Maja Shad jigs. I still have some dates available if you looking to get in on the early season fishing. Call / text Capt. Ryan Horton for availability 609-276-8032. Price is $150 pp up to 6 anglers.

BHFCA April 5th Update

Spring has officially sprung in the Beach Haven area despite some lingering winter-like temperatures. The captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing have begun preparing for their spring and summer fishing adventures.

One welcome sign is the Association’s announcement that their much-acclaimed Junior Mates Program will be resuming this year after being suspended in 2020 due to the Corona Virus.

Association President Captain John Lewis announced all classes this year will be held outside at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club. Mask usage and physical distancing will be utilized to maximize safety standards. The first class will be held on Thursday, June 24, at 7pm.

The Junior Mates Program is designed to provide youngsters with a variety of expert teaching and hands-on experiences to educate them about fishing and provide them with the background necessary to become a mate on a fishing boat. Complete information on the Junior Mates and paperwork can be found on the BHCFA website at www.bhcfa.net/junior-mate-program.

Meanwhile, Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” has splashed his boat and already brought some fish aboard in a shakedown cruise. Some short striped bass provided nice first of the year action for Captain Gary.

Captain Alex Majewski of “Lighthouse Sportfishing” kept occupied over the winter hitting small ponds in the Pine Barrens. He had productive days with catches of pickerel and largemouth bass. Perhaps getting ready for the new regulations on striped bass, he tried circle hooks with live minnows for pickerel with some “excellent” results. His boat, the “Debbie M” has been upgraded with a Rhodan trolling motor, allowing him to stay positioned over wrecks.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing took time this winter for some long-awaited projects including a new house and a new garage. He did construct an electric hoist for his spare Minn-Kota trolling motors. He says he is now ready to start fishing.

Captain John Lewis of the “Insatiable” is now ready to resume making boat deliveries to mark time while he is not fishing. Captain John has been making deliveries for both dealers and private owners for many years and makes many yearly trips back and forth from New Jersey to Florida for boat owners.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.BHCFA.net

Easter Sunday – NJ Fishing Report

A lot of progress was made this week coming down off the Worm Moon (Sunday 3/28/21) and entering into April. More anglers are getting out on the water and more fish are being caught. Best of all, bigger fish are showing up. Here’s the Easter Sunday Fishing Report from the crew at Fisherman’s Headquarters. Happy Easter!

Fish Head store staffer Max is holding up a healthy striped bass that went for a metal lip plug on Saturday afternoon.
Fish Head store staffer Max is holding up a healthy striped bass that went for a metal lip plug on Saturday afternoon. For more on the report see below.

Attentional Recreational Anglers: Please be conservation minded all year but especially during this month of April. A lot of the striped bass that are being caught right now are pre-spawn. The recruitment of our stock depends on their survival. If you weren’t aware, Circle hooks are required when fishing for striped bass with bait. Bait is defined as any marine or aquatic organism live or dead, whole or parts thereof. This does not apply to any artificial lure with bait attached.

Striped Bass Fishing

The local fishing in the Long Beach Island has turned up a few notches. Other areas, rivers and bays are full on!

Paul Lindsey was in the shop again today gearing up with things. He reported, “Fishing today was slow for me. I hit the low tide and fished all morning. Had to make a couple moves to find action. When I did it was all micros on paddle tails. Some anglers fishing bait near me were picking at fish too. Thursday and Friday was much better fishing even though the wind was kicking. There was a nice size range for our local area with most fish between 25-28″. This is up from last week. On Friday I managed another keeper size fish that I sent back to grow up. Thursday and Friday it was all on juicy live bloodworms. Your (Fish Heads) bloods have been really nice!” Paul mentioned that on Thursday, an angler fishing clam right next to him caught two black drum. We shared the post that day on our social media. This was the first black drum report we heard.

Here's Paul with one of many striped bass he has caught in the past few days.
Here’s Paul with one of many striped bass he has caught in the past few days.

Funny how we mentioned, “Recently some flies showed so it’s safe to say the spring’s first black drum will be caught any day, if not already. With the full moon here it’s time!” on the last fishing report update post and then BANG!

The first black from we've heard and see are these two which were caught down in Great Bay. The report came in from Paul Lindsey who was fishing next to the anglers who caught them
The first black from we’ve heard and see are these two which were caught down in Great Bay. The report came in from Paul Lindsey who was fishing next to the anglers who caught them.

Hunter Dargay has been putting in a lot of time fishing the local waters of LBI’s bayside and it is paying off for him. Friday he stopped in and got two dozen bloodworms. He then stopped back an hour or so later and got another two dozen worms. Later he shared a solid report, “I lost count at 37, might have caught 40. All were in the 22-25″ range and were released. The wind was cranking and they were on the chew. It was a day of fishing I’ll always remember.”

Hunter caught a bunch of striped bass worming the LBI bayside this weekend.
Hunter caught a bunch of striped bass worming the LBI bayside this weekend.

Anglers fishing the various spots of the Causeway Bridges have been catching good with bait and lures. 

Tog Fishing

Fish Heads Store Staffer Jared was out on the Barnegat Jetty today on the hunt for tog. he reported a decent day but a slow bite, “I really had to work for them. They were hitting clam much better than crab. The water was right at 45 degrees. Once that warms up a few more degrees things should start getting really good.” 50 degrees is the magic number!

Anthony Gagliardi and buddy fished the jetty too. They found some shorts but no keepers.

Tony Butch fished out on some snags in the boat. He reported, “Headed out late and fished the afternoon. We fished fished deep and then shallower. Had bites all day with lots of shorts. The last stop on the way in was lights out!” Here’s five for the table.

Here's a blackfish catch photo from Tony Butch.
Here’s a blackfish catch photo from Tony Butch.

Paul Haertel was out today and reported, “Nothing big but we did manage to catch our boat limit.”

Raritan Bay

The Bay offers great fishing every spring. You just can’t miss out on it. A few nights during the past work week, Fish Heads Alumni Dan got into good fishing. These were some of the first reports we heard of quality fish and then photos of some monsters from the kayak crew. More recently this weekend boat anglers go into the action.

Fish Head store staffer Max and Swag had good fishing today. They said both shads and swimming plugs were getting smoked. Max reported, “Most fish weren’t up top but there was a good buddy of striped bass. Anglers trolling were picking at fish pretty good. We drifted and casted which producing a good catch count.”

Neal Hafner caught this 39.5" striped bass fishing the fly in Raritan bay on Saturday evening.
Neal Hafner caught this 39.5″ striped bass fishing the fly in Raritan bay on Saturday evening.

Fish Heads Alumni Nick Deg was on the water today with his buddy Neal. They reported a great day, “Fish were active in the shallows and eating the fly. Neal managed a 39.5″ bass on the fly. Watching the eat was awesome! I got a 43″ bass too on top water.”

Here's Nick DeGennaro with a 43' striped bass he caught on a top water lure.
Here’s Nick DeGennaro with a 43′ striped bass he caught on a top water lure.

White Perch

Store staffer Frezza and Tate fish the local waters for white perch and they caught 15 fish in a short session and reported, “Non stop action!”

LBI Fishing Report Update 3/28/21

Another great week of early spring fishing in the books! We saw one major change this week compared to last… the fish are moving around and feeding in many more areas. While the early season hot spots are producing other areas are beginning to shine especially Long Beach Islands stretch from North End, Mid Island and South End. Individual Fishing Reports Further Below

Here's Frank Perricone with a nice striped bass he caught off the banks of the Mullica River fishing bloodworms this weekend.
Here’s Frank Perricone with a nice striped bass he caught off the banks of the Mullica River fishing bloodworms this weekend.

Fishing on Long Beach Island and the surrounding areas is consistent offering anglers fun spring fishing. Back Bay Striped Bass anglers continue to have good action fishing the sod banks, bridges and rivers with both bait and artificials. The majority of fish on the sod banks are taken on live bloodworms. Some customers reported multiple double digit catches fishing areas in the local bays and rivers. Also, Perch are plentiful so be prepared with smaller hooks and extra baits.

The time for Winter Flounder fishing is now! Store Staffer Steve-O reports that the bay has warmed up significantly. He has been lurking around and catching striped bass after dark but we will soon fit in some daylight hours for flounder. There’s only one way to go… live bloodworms, clam chum and some corn. The latter is like an ice cream sundae without the cherry on top.

Recently some flies showed so it’s safe to say the spring’s first black drum will be caught any day, if not already. With the full moon here it’s time!

It’s kinda of nice to check back in with the a report post from one year ago.

Temps – Moon – Tides

Approaching today’s Worm Moon (the full moon of March) the tidal range increases (higher highs and lower lows) during the waxing moon phase. Now on the down side of the moon tides will wane into April. These tidal flows are important to understand how the water is moving in one direction or another and how much is moving. Looking at the Barnegat Bay Buoy (below) it’s great to see the water temperature warming trending continue.

Looking at the Barnegat Bay Buoy it's great to see the water temperature warming trending

This past week’s average temp was 51 degrees here on LBI. With a dew point right around the same we had a dense marine layer some days. It’s a common Spring thing but the high on Saturday of 80.8 degrees was extraordinary. We need these mild and warm sunny days to continue to push along the spring’s progression. With a cold front coming through it look the final days of March might not help much but that’s ok. March was very nice to us, especially the second half. In a few days it will be April’s turn to shift us into the next gear.

Here’s Some Individual Fishing Reports

The “abundance of bunker” reports in the bays and rivers continued this week. They stuck around all winter, so let’s hope they stay all spring too! A couple customer reported snagging bunker fishing lures the past couple of night.

Bobby Capri reports, “There’s small striped bass are all over the back bay right now. Saw some bunker flipping too. I was out fishing bloodworms on the banks with my son Mason on Saturday. He caught his first perch and striper. My buddy caught a handful of fish too.”

Chris Lambert caught his first bass of the year, "I got to see the take not far off the sod bank."
Chris Lambert caught his first bass of the year, “I got to see the take not far off the sod bank.”

Hunter Dargay is fishing and catching LBI’s bayside. He reported, “A little windy but they were chewing good. I’m having fun fishing for the small ones while waiting for the big boys to come around soon.”

Paul Lindesy reports, “The past month around LBI and its back bays has been something special. So much fun and beauty to this game and our lands. I’ve now caught bass every day for over the past two weeks. Gear up. Get out there. Have Some Fun!” So far Paul has caught one keeper sized striped bass and a whole bunch of shorts in the 23 to 27″ range. Frank Perricone fished with Paul one day recently and they enjoyed their time fishing and landing a couple. It was blowing but 75 degrees. On Sunday during a break in the rain, “I got one on the first cast.”

Dave Minnick had a great day fishing Saturday,  "Perfect morning for some back bay fishing."
Dave Minnick had a great day fishing Saturday, “Perfect morning for some back bay fishing.”

Gabe Trevena asked for guidance and we geared him up. He reported back, “Thanks for all of the help! We caught about 20 fish today fishing Great Bay.”

Matt Curtis and his son fish Saturday afternoon and caught some striped bass worming in the bay.
Matt Curtis and his son fish Saturday afternoon and caught some striped bass worming in the bay.

Ocean Wind Offshore Wind Farm Meeting 3/24/21

I recently learned of Wednesday March 24, 2021 “Ocean Wind Offshore Wind Farm” virtual meeting hosted by Friends Of Ortley Beach on Facebook. Offshore Wind, more specifically the developments of Atlantic Shores and Ocean Wind are very concerning to me so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn more.

Right out of the gate the presentation was an advertisement, highlighting the same talking points published on their website. But some of what was presented surprised me. I thought portions was off the cuff and not factual. What it really comes down to is until the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) is published everything is shifty.

  • Orsted Ocean Wind will not have turbines closer than 15nm off the coast. Really first time I heard that.
  • Ocean Wind will not have any storage solutions onshore. Wind’s inconsistencies remain inconsistent. Atlantic Shores said this same thing and then a meeting or two later said they had onshore storage planned but no details provided. Technology isn’t there yet with both batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Ocean Wind will create countless new jobs. I would like to see some estimates. Because it puts a lot of jobs at risk. The economic impact of recreational fishing is tremendous; 18k+ Jobs (Table E2), $296M in Federal/State/Local tax revenue (PG8). NJ’s 5000 commercial fishing jobs (fleet, processing, wholesale) are in Jeopardy. Right now in the state Orsted has about 200 employees and expect the Ocean Wind development to have ~50 full time employees to management and maintenance. How many subcontractor jobs will be created and how long will these jobs last? Where is the data? It’s available somewhere because it was spoon-fed to the unions who are in support of the projects.
  • When asked about the failure rate. “There is no failure rate.” That’s impossible. Well a quick search what do you know? Maintenance costs can make up ~30% of the overall cost of energy and failure rates are much higher offshore than onshore. The components that fail the most are the pitch/hydraulic system, gear box or the generator. The biggest failure in these groups are oil issues (oil leaks, unscheduled oil changes, unscheduled oil top ups)

The meeting had overwhelming interest proving the public wants more information and wants to engage with developers. Sadly the question and answer portion was limited. After the meeting I was compelled to email the Orsted representatives.

My Email

Hello and thank you for having the meeting to inform the public today. Personally I felt like the meeting was an advertisement for the project and for the most part did not address the communities concerns. While that might have been the intent of the meeting I ask, Can Orsted schedule additional meetings ASAP?

I would like to see informative meetings where the overview is skipped. This general information is listed on your site. There’s no need to present it at each meeting. In my opinion, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. The public wants details and after far too many years they aren’t being shared. We have to wait until the NOI and/or COP?

While there’s so much to discuss I will put my personal expertise as a fisheries stakeholder aside and ask for more information on the fundamentals that pertain to the general public. I’ve had to read 1000’s of pages and spend way too many hours at meetings to not get a straight answer. A large portion of NJ ratepayers have this frustration. The ones who do not are unaware of these projects being fast tracked in ‘their” backyards.

Costs & Risk To Ratepayers

On the call there was reference to an independent study which stated ratepayers should expect ~$1.46+/- per month. I would assume this is a variable rate that would go up each month/year? Or is it fixed?

I attended the NJ BPU meeting Feb 26 to learn more about in depth topics. The public needs to have more information published on the topic of the transmission system, transmission costs/upgrades as well as curtailment costs and mitigation. I’m really looking for any documents that detail specifics rather than “studies show”.

Can someone explain more about the following article;  www.njspotlight.com/2019/09/19-09-15-216-rsted-okd-to-bring-its-offshore-wind-power-ashore-at-oyster-creek-facility/ I assume Orsted agrees with this news source since Orsted is listed under as Major Funder.

The article states… “Ocean Wind will pay the first $10 million of transmission costs. From there to $130 million, Ocean Wind will incur 70 percent of the costs with 30 percent recovered from ratepayers. From $130 million to $174 million, the costs will be split between the developer and ratepayers. After $174 million, ratepayers will pay 100 percent of the costs.” 

This is alarming given the slide in which Orsted’s Mid-Atlantic Project Development Director Christian Bjol presented at the Feb 26th NJ BPU meeting: “Risks are real: Between 2013 and 2016 alone, German ratepayers had to pay $1.2B. All costs associated with delays and cost overruns passed along directly to ratepayers.” Please comment.

Risk To Birds

Marc, in regards to your comment on the call… “data collected on birds over a 20-30 year period showed that birds this far out were slightly above zero.” I would like to see this study. One link I suggest you read to bring you up to speed on the topic, NJCleanEnergy.com – 2004 NJ Offshore Wind Energy: Feasibility Study. I’ve also attached the same study which I’ve highlighted a few important points on the topic of sea birds for your enrichment. It was my goal to save you the time that I had to spend. I’m on the water well over a 100 days a year. There’s terns, gannets, shearwater, petrels, gulls, among others. I occasionally see soaring raptors (ospreys) surprisingly farther offshore than most would believe, 7-10 miles when bunker schools are present on the east side of the reef sites, exactly where the lease sites are located.

Pg 196: “Little is known about the presence and movements of the more pelagic seabirds.” Is very much concerning especially considering it’s now 15+ years later and I don’t see much research on the topics.

Pg 195: “The presence of large numbers of birds throughout the year in portions of the project study area suggests the potential for some risk to these species.”

“Studies from Europe provide some insight regarding potential collision impacts, although this insight can only be used after more thorough investigations in specific project areas are done.” Were these studies done? Where can I read about them?

Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Program

Please correct me if I am wrong… Orsted is currently operating two 12MW turbines at the CVOW Pilot Program (27 miles off Virginia Beach). Where can I find public documents that detail the activities and findings of both offshore and onshore topics?

Again I thank you for your time and look forward to learning more about the developments. I would appreciate a reply but please refrain if it will contain the cookie cutter response, “the many benefits outweigh the negative impacts”.


Thanks for reading. If the topic of Offshore Wind is concerning to you I suggest digging in and learning more about the topic. Review the developer’s sites, BOEM and be sure to look at Save Our Shoreline NJ The subject is wide reaching covering all of the basis from environmental, fisheries and wildlife concerns, ratepayer’s energy costs, sustainable coastal communities, political theater, veiwshed, marine safety and many other .

Fishing Report Update 3/21/21

Spring is here and the fishing is only getting better! The past couple of weeks have offered up good early season fishing at times with anglers catching perch, striped bass and winter flounder.

For early season spots think creeks, rivers and the west side of the bay. These are the areas that produce first every year. With the recent sunny days the water temps are creeping up and fish are beginning to get active. One would have thought that Thursday/Friday’s weather would have jacked things up but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t put on the breaks. It pushed on the gas peddle! The waters are very clean clarity wise, the fish are feeding and they are moving around some more. As the days get longer, more sun light warming things up, it’s only getting better.

There’s a couple bass starting to be caught on lures from the LBI bayside waters. We expect this to improve in the coming days and weeks.

Scott Hill caught a couple striped bass fishing the bayside waters behind LBI on Saturday at sunset. He caught two fishing lures and said that other anglers fishing live bloodworms were catching too.

Nate Kirby has been fishing the Island’s bayside and finally today he got his first of the spring. “Just got my first striper of the spring. It hit right at dusk on a black and purple swim shad. It was a health clean fish about 23″.”

Nate Kirby has been fishing the Island's bayside and finally today he got his first of the spring. "Just got my first striper of the spring. It hit right at dusk on a black and purple swim shad. It was a health clean fish about 23"."

Tom Lewis headed out this afternoon in the boat on the hunt for bass and perch. He found both of them. His report, “We really good today fishing live bloodworms. In four hours we caught 14 bass (some keeper size) and 40+ perch with some really big ones in the mix.”

Tom Lewis headed out this afternoon in the boat on the hunt for bass and perch. He found both of them. His report, "We really good today fishing live bloodworms. In four hours we caught 14 bass (some keeper size) and 40+ perch with some really big ones in the mix."

Matthew Denora and his wife were out today and enjoyed the beautiful day fishing the sod banks. They caught a couple striped bass, biggest was 26.5″.

Matthew Denora and his wife were out today and enjoyed the beautiful day fishing the sod banks. They caught a couple striped bass, biggest was 26.5".

Some of the team members from the shop have been out catching. Max has been fishing just about every afternoon in his boat and he’s catching consistently. He’s fishing the west side of the bay not too far of a ride from his lagoon in Forked River. Jordan has been into the fun too, fishing with his buddies the Winton brothers. They are stringing up good sessions one after the other. Jordan said the bass are crushing small lures with aggression.

We heard of a couple winter flounder about a week or so back but this weekend we only heard one report. Scott Grove reported, “I was fishing for perch on the mainland bayside and was catching winter flounder.” Now’s the time to hunt for them!

Paul Lindsey is keeping the streak alive fishing every single day since the season opened on March 1. He has been in the shop just about everyday stocking up on live bloodworms and essential fishing tackle. Recently he has been into some big white perch and more striped bass. His biggest bass so far was a 29″ that has a whole bunker in its mouth. For a photo check out our Instagram Page. Here’s Pauls report from today… “Day 21: Clean water clarity and light winds to kick off the day with temperatures starting at 25 degrees and warming to 60 degrees. I fished with my buddy Herb and we did well. A little slower than earlier in the week but we caught a good number of bass including a double header. We’ll be back out at it tomorrow. Thanks Fish Heads for the primo juicy works. Tight Lines!”

Some spots in springtime are all about the water temperatures. Knowing the tides and the ocean’s effects will better help your plan your sessions. It can make or break your time on the water. Here’s a look at the recent readings at the Barnegat Bay Buoy. The rising temperatures represent the outgoing tide and the falling water temperatures are the incoming tide which is influenced by the cold ocean water. Spots close to an inlet will have this effect. Areas far away from inlet may not. Next time out fishing bring a thermometer. You might be shocked at how your fishing starts and stops based on the water temperature change that is very tide dependent.

Just a heads up the spring time sands on the surf are soft! It’s common this time of year as the sand is naturally stacking back in as the winter storm activity tapers off. They new sands are unsettled and can be hazardous to 4×4 buggies. As always drive the beaches prepared, aired down and with the proper proper gear in case of emergency.

ASMFC Striped Bass Circle Hook Meeting 3/16/21

Finally! There’s clarification on the murky mandates on the circle hook front.

Today the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) approved the guidance for state implementation of circle hook measures for the recreational fishery, “Circle hooks are required when fishing for striped bass with bait, which is defined as any marine or aquatic organism live or dead, whole or parts thereof. This shall not apply to any artificial lure with bait attached.”

I attended today’s three hour ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Mgmt Board Meeting and this is what I can share.

Timeline Of Circle Hook Reqs

To reduce the discard mortality of striped bass, in-line circle hooks are required when recreational fishing for striped bass with natural bait, live or chunk. This is nothing new. It was approved in October 2019 by ASMFC with an implementation mandate deadline of January 2021. States implemented but lots of questions and debates bubbled up! “Things got hairy” at the ASMFC February meeting when things went “‘Round In Circles”.

At that meeting an ad hoc committee was developed to define bait (Task 1), identify methods of fishing that would require circle hooks (Task 2) and also iron out how to handle incidental catch (Task 3). The goal was to create a binding component with consistency across the geographic range of the striped bass fishery. Remember states can always be more conservative, so only time will tell what each state chooses to do.

Recreational anglers must do their part to reduce dead discard. Through public awareness and education anglers must embrace the circle hook mandate to help the striped bass stock immediately. There’s calls right now for a 10 year moratorium so this is not joking matter.

Bait Definition – Task 1

“Bait is defined as any marine or aquatic organism live or dead, whole or parts thereof.”

Thankfully this wording is specific and to the point. It allows tube and worm fishing. It allows the use of pork rind (as well as squid for that matter) when bucktailing for striped bass. It allows eel skin plugs. And best of all… It allows hair and feathers for the dressing of hooks; flies, teasers, tails. The removal of the reference to terrestrial animals or plants was a huge win (motion failed 1-11) for the fly fishing community!

Personally I was happy to see they did not get too far into the muck and mire with this. It could of got very wordy. Then in turn, hard to understand and adopt by masses. Processed baits like Gulp, FishBites, among others that include fish oils could have been looped in, but they were NOT.

While this might not seem like a big thing on the surface. I personally feel it is huge. Why? It sets precedence when circle hook mandates come down on other species. Yes I see them coming to fluke. How else do recreational anglers reduce dead discard?

This healthy striped bass was caught and released by Captain Brendon Craig fishing live bunker on a circle hook.

Methods Of Fishing – Task 2

There was agreement that the circle hook requirement was intended to focus on static bait fishing where gut hooks are common. It was never intended to apply to classic sustainable methods of active fishing (troll, cast and retrieve, vertical jigging) artificial lures with bait attached. There was consideration to specify active fishing methods. The result was the second sentence, “This shall not apply to any artificial lure with bait attached.”

Rigged Eel Debate

There was discussion on rigged eels. Eels are marine organisms and even when rigged they are not considered an artificial lure; therefore, rigged eels fall into the bait category and must be rigged/fished with circle hooks. There could be future exemptions if requested and pursued by states but for now this is how it sits.

Snag & Drop Fishing

Snag and drop fishing is prohibited. Snagged bunker must be brought in and re-hooked using an inline circle hook. If the scenario plays out where a bass hits a snagged bunker while it is being retrieved, the fish technically must be released. Some anglers will be very disappointed by this however it is a win for the striped bass. Snag and drop fishing was a very popular and effective method BUT it had a very high mortality risk.

Sloane Endick caught this striped bass fishing live bunker.

Incidental Catch – Task 3

The handling of striped bass incidental catch when targeting other species with bait and non-circle hooks boiled down to two options, To Keep Or Not To Keep.

  • A – Allow anglers to keep striped bass that are incidentally caught
  • B – Require anglers to release striped bass that are incidentally caught.

There’s valid argument on both sides and the has been in hot debate for months. Why? Proving an anglers intended target species is near impossible; therefore enforcement must focus on possession not intent to target.

Striped bass fishing commonly overlaps other species such as perch early season and bluefish during the season among other species. Plus the social media buzz from wiseass naysayers added fuel to the fire. For example the all too common, “I’ll still use j-hooks while chunking. I’m targeting bluefish,” jeering statements. Due to these loop hole seekers, allowing incidental striped bass catches would make the circle hook law unenforceable.

Fortunately the ASMFC put an end to it with a 12-1 vote for Option B.

Striped bass caught on any unapproved method of take must be returned to the water immediately without unnecessary injury.

In the case of fishing the surf with a mullet rig. It’s the anglers intent to target bluefish with a classic skewer style mullet rig with split double fang hook baited up with a fresh or frozen finger mullet. An incidental striped bass catch is not uncommon. When it occurs, the striped bass must be release. Anglers hoping for a striped bass while fishing mullet rigs should think about rigging up with a circle hook. In the mullet run time frame most striped bass are small but there are keeper size fish in the mix. Take the same rig and use a split ring to attach an inline circle hook to the skewer. Be sure to have a split ring plier because the hook needs to be removed each time for baiting.

Here’s Bayside Dave with a health striped bass he caught off of the LBI surf.

LBI Fishing Report Update March 15, 2021

Wasn’t that nice while it lasted? The recent cold blast has those early spring clean ups, boat preparations and outside duties back on hold. The rest of this work week looks iffy but the upcoming weekend has sunny potential.

Here’s a fishing report update to add some info to our last (3/12/21) post.

Anglers are fishing and some are catching. Most are of shorts however there were a couple keeper bass caught. Here’s some recent catch reports that customers shared.

Striped Bass Fishing Reports

Dave Pellon got this 20″ bass on live bloodworms a couple days ago.

Dave Pellon got this 20" striped bass on live bloodworms fishing the sod banks of the Mullica river.

Mark Frederick caught his first striped bass in the windy and cold conditions recently.

Mark Frederick caught his first striped bass in the windy conditions this past weekend.

Paul Lindsey has been out everyday fishing this March and he’s starting to find some fish. Today he reported, “Cold but sunny, 39 degrees with a cranking wind. I knew the water quality was going to be worse today but I wanted some fish for dinner. I got live bloodworms and put my stake in the mud. I caught a few bass and some fat perch for the table. I’ll be back out again tomorrow.”

White perch offer great early season fishing and they are great table fare.

Bob Neuweiler shared, “Despite the sporty conditions, I fished the kayak and tagged one striped bass on the Mullica Sunday.”

Winter Flounder Report

Joe Antiorio has been hunting winter flounder. He shared this photo today. “Hey remember these? First keeper of the 2021 year. Can’t get ’em unless ya try!” Thanks for rocking the Fish Heads Striper Hat Joe! We hope it brings you lots of fishy luck this spring!

Winter flounder come out of the mud and feed on the sunny days of March and April.

Delaware River Fishing

Anglers on the Delaware river are starting to pick up bass. Heard of bass up to 30″. They will soon have good ones showing on the banks.

You might ask why share this kind of info on a report blog based in the Long Beach Island area? Because we have customers and readers from all around the tristate area. Actually 57% of the FishingLBI.com blog traffic comes from western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Florida Vacation Fishing

Jon Kelly is on vacation, loving life down in Key West. He caught his first tarpon.

Jon Kelly caught his first tarpon while down in Florida on vacation.

Spacex Rocket Launch

Did you catch the Space X rocket on monday?

March 14th at 6:01am SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photographer Jennifer Khordi was out on the Barnegat Inlet Jetty taking pictures of the Milky Way and captured this photo of the rocket crossing the Milky Way galaxy. Photo by J.Khordi
March 14th at 6:01am SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photographer Jennifer Khordi was out on the Barnegat Inlet Jetty taking pictures of the Milky Way and captured this photo of the rocket crossing the Milky Way galaxy. Photo by J. Khordi

Fishing Report March 12, 2021

What a great week of weather and an awesome weekend ahead. Anglers are out and about fishing the early season spots and finding some striped bass on live bloodworms. We expect this weekend to offer fun early season fishing at the early season areas such as the Mullet River and the Toms River. Both of these areas have resident hold overs. We expect new arrivals to show in our local waters soon. For the best action, look towards the west sides side creeks and rivers for and especially on the outgoing tides when the water is warmest.

Reminder, if targeting striped bass with bait state law mandates inline circle hooks.

Perch will be another great game for the next few weeks.

Winter flounder is also an option, but no reports from anyone yet.

Now’s the time to gear up and prepare for the 2021 spring season. Here at Fisherman’s Headquarters, we are here with bait and tackle covering all of your fishing needs.

Update: Saturday March 13 – Store staffer Grey found some bass last night fishing the night shift. He was using small soft plastics. Other reports came in from anglers fishing worms at the early season spots. Paul Lindsey shared, “The sun has been out and the water is warming up. Fish are getting active and anglers are catching.” We also heard one good report of winter flounder fishing the bay on the south end.

At night striped bass hunt the shadow lines for easy prey. This striped bass was fooled by Grey Coleston who's a team member at Fish Heads.
At night striped bass hunt the shadow lines for easy prey. This striped bass was fooled by Grey Coleston who’s a team member at Fish Heads. If you want to learn how to catch bass on light tackle with no need for bait ask Grey today!

Here’s a short video from the north end of LBI on Tuesday March 9, 2021