In 1984 NJ’s Division of Fish & Wildlife officially began the NJ Artificial Reef Program. Currently today there are 17 reef sites where one quarter of all fishing trips in NJ occur.
All would agree that fluke, black sea bass, tautog as well as many other species benefit from the structure and the habitat artificial reefs create. As these sites age they evolve. Some materials collapse, shifting sand covers pieces and some sink into the sand. To keep the state’s network of reef vibrant and prospering new deployments are vital.
Due to funding and staffing, the Reef Program was dormant for a number of years. Then the program started up again. Between 2015-2019 there were 209 deployment with the majority (182) focused on the souther sites (Cape May, Ocean City, Townsends, Wildwood). But the sites local to Long Beach Island have had little to no enhancements in 15 years.
“Teenagers in the Association’s Junior Mates Program learned of the situation and asked what could they do. This humble beginning sparked a grass roots campaign which snowballed into an intensive campaign by the BHCFA. These efforts attracted the attention of concerned individuals and groups on the local and even national levels.” Jim Hutchinson Sr shared and continued.
“The group’s original reef replenishment goal of $100,000 was reached thanks to the efforts of the mates, local community involvement, and matching funds from the Ann E. Clark Foundation and the Sport Fishing Fund. The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club’s Striped Bass Derby generously donated $50,000.”
Three New Vessels Added To Little Egg Reef
Finally! After two years of hard work from the captains and mates of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association (BHCFA), there’s new materials on the Little Egg Reef.
On Thursday January 14, 2020 Captain Pete Clark (NJDEP Fisheries Biologist & Reef Coordinator) and Captain John Lewis (BHCFA President) oversaw the sinking of three vessels; a 140-foot barge, a tugboat and a push boat.
The tug boat and push boat were towed up from Norfolk, Virginia on the barge. All of which were cleaned twice and cleared by the US Coast Guard prior to sinking.
Now with the new substrate on the Little Egg Reef native species of epifauna and flora will grow. Soon they will be home to crustaceans, mollusks and bait fish. Once established predatory/game species will move in and support recreation anglers for many years to come.
Lewis gave special words of praise to the Junior Mates for the efforts and participation. “Kids today take a beating for various reasons. Our kids have adopted a ‘can-do’ approach and worked their tails off to implement their ideas and dreams.”
This article contains content provided by Jim Hutchinson Sr & Jr, the Fisherman Magazine and the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife.
This will be the last fishing report of 2020. Thanks to our fishing community for following along all year and sharing reports.
We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Great Holiday stretch. From the entire team at Fish Heads Happy New Year!
Off The Surf
Some anglers are still trying and a few are catching. No spectacular report but we have heard of some surf side linesiders on tin and teaser as well as bait.
Gary Thorp caught and released a 26″ bass Monday at the beginning of the incoming tide with his five year old son. Gary and son were using bunker on a hi-lo CIRCLE HOOK rig Gary reported, “I think he’s hooked on surf fishing for life!”
Ben Morris reported on Sunday, “No better way to spend a cold late December morning. The surf was calm and clean. I pulled one about 21″ at sunrise. Had a few bumps after that catch but wasn’t able to hook up.” Joe Grey got one off the surf on Sunday too.
A number of skunked out reports came in from anglers fishing all over the LBI beach from Barnegat Light to Holgate.
Dead Whale Washes Up On LBI Surf
If you didn’t hear the news yet… there was a 32′ humpback whale that washed up on the beach in Loveladies on Christmas Eve. The southerly wind and waves moved it up to its final resting place in Barnegat Light on Christmas Day.
Word from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is that a definitive cause of death could not be determined. Due to the size removal would have been difficult so it was buried on the beach, back away from the water’s edge and covered over with a large mound of sand.
The hardcore bottom anglers are catching fish from tog to sea bass, porgies, ling and cod. Most of the action is taking place at the deep water offshore spots.
The tog fishing has been hit or miss. Some anglers are having a banner day followed up by a dead day. Those putting in the time are finding catches and some are putting quality fish on the deck.
Not sure if you heard yet… Angler Chris Sullivan from Waretown caught a 25.8 pound tog recently, potentially a new New Jersey State Record Black Fish. Chris was fishing out of Cape May with Captain Tom Daffin on the Fishin’ Fever. The story we got was he fished the day before out of Barnegat Light on the Mary M. They had left over live white crabs from Fishermans Headquarters so they brought them down for the next day’s trip. Baited up on a Centruy Pro Togger the bite came and Chris put the screw to ’em. Epic Catch Sully! Congrats!!!
Here at the end of the year it’s time to clean things up and responsibly put them to rest for the winter hibernation. Now’s the time to clean and lube reels, wipe down rods (clean blank guides, grips and seats), warm water wash lures and organize things. I give a quick light spray of CRC656 to my terminal tackle boxes to prevent corrosion. A little maintenance now saves a much larger project in the spring!
We are open daily all winter long with all of the essentials for reel service and repair whether dropping off or DIY. We have parts and lubricants in stock.
Fishermans Headquarters is a Factory Authorize Penn Reels & Van Staal Service Center
Things have settled down from the recent blow. The ocean water today was still a little churned up and dirty but improving. There’s bass on the beach if you are looking to go. We did not hear many reports but we did get a couple. There’s also anglers catching fish in the boats.
Paul Karner caught his first striped bass off of the surf today, three in total. All were caught on his DIY teaser fished with a diamond jig. There’s no better way to target the schoolies off the surf right now that fishing a teaser!
Another report came in from Paul Lindsey. “Finally back on the bass! Bunker was washing up on the beaches down on the south end of the island this morning. There’s still plenty of life here!”
Here’s a photo from Sloane on the LBI surf a few days back.
UPDATED SUNDAY 12/20/20
Paul Michael reported, “Today was a very weak day for me. I worked from Holgate all the way up to Cedars. Only caught tone fish. My buddy Dave got two fishing the mid island surf. Only heard of a couple fish. I’m hoping Monday is better.”
Captain Steve Purul from Reel Fantasea Fishing Charters was out today for the his last trip of the 2020. “Wrapped up the 2020 fishing season with my favorite salty bunch of pirates! It was a slow start but gave way to a busy dec and action packed end to the 2020 season with doubles, triples and quadruples on every drift!”
Paul Haertel reported another great day on the tog grounds with a boat limit plus to 10.39#. Store staffer Grey was aboard and reported having a fund day. Paul shared he is loving his new Rhodan Trolling Motor. He said it’s so good it’s cheating, “They should be illegal!” The Rhodan GPS Anchor/Trolling Motor is a total game changer for so many different fisheries. They really shine for locking up (virtual anchoring) over wrecks.
Black Sea Bass
Sloane stopped in the shop a geared up on Friday for a black sea bass trip. Today she was out fishing the deep water grounds with Capt Nick Perello. They murdered ’em!
Here’s our most recent video report from Wednesday Dec ember 16th…
Let It Fly Fishing Charters is staying warm with hot fishing recently.
Saturday repeat client Drew Fialko was aboard for a fun day of fly fishing. We fished the near shore waters of Long Beach Island. At daybreak the birds and bass were active and fishing was strong for the early morning.
Drew caught ten striped bass on the fly. Three were slots and seven shorts. Also missed a few bites and caught two big herring. We tagged and released seven of the ten fish
Warm temps, no traffic, calm seas & willing fish.
Others are hanging it up but we are still fishing. With unseasonably warm temperatures so far this month and much less traffic in recent trips we will be fishing it out… calm seas and fish willing.
Are you looking to get into late fall light tackle fishing? Give Let It Fly Charters a call 16093771299
By: Steve George / Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Svc LLC
Boat’s out of the Water? Go Fish The Beach!
It’s December and the weather outside is delightful here on Long Beach Island NJ. Even though you may have pulled the boat already there’s still plenty of striped bass to be caught.
In late fall we usually see abundant waves of striped bass as they make their way down the New Jersey coastline. When the time is right and the weather cooperates they cross over Barnegat Inlet and into the waters of Long Beach Island. If the conditions are right and bait is present, striped bass stage up on the beaches of LBI. Most years anglers have consistent light tackle fishing on just about any beach right into the New Year.
Well this year is no different. The fish are here right now! We are fortunate to have the sand-eels in the surf zone attracting the interest from striped bass in the 20”-30” range. Just about every morning (the hour or two round sunrise) has been productive for surfcasters.
Go Light For A Better Bite
This time of the year it’s best to bring out lighter surf fishing tackle to have even more fun. Catching late fall striped bass is a lot more fun on light tackle. For me personally I like throwing a 9’ surf rod that’s rated up to 2oz. The rod is matched up with a 4000/5000 spinning reel to balance it out. Filled with a 20-30# braid and the outfit is ready for lots of light tackle surf fishing fun.
Match the Hatch
Sand-eels are long, slender and usually run around 4”-5” in length. It’s important to use a lure presentations that mimics them in order to have the best success. Here’s a couple of my favorites sand eel lures, all of which are proven stand outs over the years.
The Super Strike “Super ‘N Fish” Needlefish has a slender profile, it casts great and catches fish of all sizes in both the day and night. So many anglers are intimidated by needlefish because they don’t know how to fish them. They are simple and effective… The hardest part is choosing the right size/weight for the conditions. [More On This At End] Cast out, catch up your slack and let the lure settle, sink. Slowly retrieve adding a twitch. Sometimes add a double twitch and/or a quick crank or two. As with most lures on the surf, fish them all the way to your feet. Needlefish are very effective in low light and at night with a simple cast and straight slow retrieve. Bumps, pickups, bites on needles are a no-doubt-about-it hits and ones you will remember!
Sand Eel Soft Baits
The rubber weighted Tsunami Sand Eel is a great lure to use when the fish are in tight to the beach. It’s especially productive during calm conditions. While rubber soft baits offer the absolute best realistic imitation look and action they are the least durable. But Tsunami Sand eels hold up good compared to other soft baits possibly due to their inner holographic foil.
No one can fish a sandeel bite without some sort of metal lures! If you do you are missing out. Metals/tins offer the ultimate casting distance to reach out where fish are running and feeding. They are my go to lures because they cast a mile and with either a fast or slow retrieve can be worked off the bottom or just off the sand to drawl strikes. It pays to mix up retrieval speed to dial in how the fish are reacting and feeding on that particular day.
Two of my favorite metals for surfcasting when sandeels are around are…
Deadly Dick Lures – These (nickel plated solid brass) slender metals have a slender thin profile with a unique tweak on the ends. This character gives the lures their action both on the retrieve, jig and fall. The added prism flash tape helps catch the eye of fish too.
AVA Diamond Jigs – These (chrome plated lead) jigs are thin and long just like a sandeels. Their distinctive two-piece construction is made up of a metal body section and a latex tube dressed limerick hook. Fished slow in the sand the body puffs and makes a disturbance while the tubed hook swims with an erratic spin. One of the only lures that resembles a sand eel’s natural borrowing action.
Slender Minnow Swimming Plug
You can never forget a Daiwa SP Minnow! SP’s are a must have in every surf bag. These slender minnow profile lures cast great and have a special knack for triggering strikes in just about any conditions. Especially when sand eels are around, SP’s outproduce most other plugs due to their cast-ability and action. I’ve yet to meet a striped bass who could resist taking a bite when crossing paths with an SP Minnow.
Tease ‘Em To Increase Strikes
Add a teaser/fly above your lure to add extra attraction. I feel you will catch only half as many fish unless you use one. A teaser rig is easy to tie… With some leader material (mono or fluoro) tie a dropper loop. Then loop on the teaser/fly of your choice. Next add a swivel on the top terminal end and a Tactical Angler Clip on the bottom. Just clip on your lure and cast it out.
My favorite teasers are made by BuzFly Custom Flies. When you first see one you will know why. They beautiful and made right on quality hooks. Fish BuzFly teasers to up your success rate with life-like teasers.
So the fish are here! Get out early and watch for birds picking on the water. These birds are feeding on sand eels. Start casting because as the sun comes up the bass will be feeding shortly. Now is the time to get in some late season fishing before winter sets in.
Good Luck Out There!
[More On Needlefish Lures]
Needlefish come in many different sizes and weights made out of many different materials from plastic, wood and epoxy. Super Strike lures are plastic so they are durable and consistent. Currently Super Strike Needles come in three sizes (NF5 5″, NF6 6″, NF7 7″ ) and two weights (W Weighed “Black Eye”, HW Heavy Weighed “Red Eye”). There’s a size/weight combo for every situation. The most common option is the NF6W (6″ standard weighed 2.5oz). Choose the red eye heavy weight versions when fishing rough conditions or when there’s a stiff side wind or sweep.
247 Lures (in stock at Fish Heads but not listed online) offers a great wooden needlefish lure that shines in calm to moderate conditions.
Friday Dec 11, Sat Dec 12, Sun Dec 13, and Mon Dec 14. This might be the last dates we offer for 2020. It will be a wait and see for next weekend.
Tomorrow, Friday Dec 11, we are on a 10AM to 3PM schedule fishing live bait in the inlet. This is a mix of stripers from 23 to 30 inches. We have bonus tags to keep the 24 to 28 inch slot fish. A lot of action right now. We were out Tuesday and had constant action. Multiple hookups on every drift. We could do a few hours of that and if the ocean looks nice we could sneak outside to try and troll some bigger fish for the cooler….or not!
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday we will be sailing 7AM to 3PM if we are ocean bound or inlet/ocean combo.If we are going to just fish live bait in the inlet, we can customize our trip hours around the tide and weather.
5 hour Inlet Trip $700 for Private Charter, includes live bait. 8 hour Ocean or Inlet/Ocean Trip $900 for Private Charter or Open Boat $225 person, 4 people max, all fish are shared.
Pic: Capt Nick DeGennaro with one of our livelined bass in the inlet Tuesday.
The surf was churned up yesterday with strong winds and powerful surf. The Barnegat Light Buoy 44091 peaked at 6′ at noon. Then the westerlies took over and then it jacked up to 11′ that the night. It has settled today with lingering 1-2′ swell on the beaches today. We are entering a good stretch of westerlies this work week. With reasonably chilly temps there’s good fishing opportunities here on Long Beach Island.
West is best! Monday is the third day of the west winds. Will it play out again like last week? Gotta go to know! We’ve got good expectations for the week ahead. If you want to get in on the action before the season is over, now is the time to get out and go fishing!
Here’s the Fishing LBI Fishing Report Update For Sunday December 6, 2020.
LBI Surf Fishing Reports
Last few days anglers caught fish off of the surf. Mornings have been best but some after finding fish in the afternoons, and evenings. At times things have come together.
Today (Sunday) Randall Swartley caught a 29″ striped bass on a AVA jig fishing the mid-island surf. Bob Dever of the American Anglers Fishing Club caught a 30″ bass on bunker mid island surf. JP from Beach Haven caught some morning stripes today too.
A number of other reports came in from anglers in the shop. Josh Rosk got a 28″ bass on a Daiwa SP Minnow fishing the mid island surf. Eli Haegele got two bass on the beach fishing an AVA metal.
Declan Wahlers caught a bass and a fluke fishing off the surf. As the photos below show, both species went for the teaser!
Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic
There’s one week left in the 66th Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic. So far December has been good with a fish entered every day this month. For more details on the leader board… Live Results
The standout is Rich Bergman’s 36″ 17.09# striped bass that he caught and weighed in on 12/3/20. Photo below…
Still some nice striped bass on the bayside too. The sod banks, docks, and bridges all have produced good fishing. Some anglers took advantage of the backside’s protection and found bass.
Here’s a hungry bass that Ryan Mollicone caught fishing a popper on the bayside.
Forget what’s going on outside your window Friday and Saturday. It’s going to be very wet and windy. Southerly, then northeast. Then, Saturday afternoon, it swings to NW……..the best wind for fishing and sea conditions. And it’s staying NW forever! Ok, maybe not forever but it’s forecasted through Wednesday at least. Striper fishing is excellent right now. We have been connecting with 10 to 30 lb fish on the troll and most recently casting soft plastics. Sandeel imitations are doing the best. You do have to endure quite a few dogfish but there is just as many bass. Also, a few very fat, gorged bluefish in the mix.
We are going to be sailing Open Boat and Charter Sunday, December 6 through Wednesday, December 9.
6AM to 2PM each day. $225 person, 4 people max, all fish are shared.
It’s also possible to run for the near shore bluefin, 15 to 20 mile range. Three man charters at $1,200 for the boat. 6AM to 4PM. It is possible to combine striper fishing with this trip, as well. If you haven’t tried this fall tuna fishing before, it’s a lot of work. A lot of casting for maybe only a few or no hook ups. I’m not trying to tell you not to try it, hooking a tuna on a surface lure is one of the coolest things you will ever see. Throw in some whales, porpoise, and 50 to 100 pound bluefin crashing bait right in front of you and that alone is worth the price of admission. I just want to be candid about your chances of hooking up.
See you on board!
All of these pics were taken last Sat and Sun of Thanksgiving weekend and all were caught casting soft plastics with light spinning gear. Jake and Zach Milone of Wall, NJ (Zach in orange with black knees, Jake with black/white striped hat)Dave Flood of Mantua, NJ (Grey jacket, Carhart hat)Mike Viviano of Galloway, NJ (Green jacket)Herman Diaz of Waretown, NJ (Brown pants, grey jacket)
Dave DeGennaro Hi Flier Sportfishing 732.330.5674 cell hi flier.com