We hope everyone enjoyed their holidays with family and friends. With the year coming to a close we hope everyone had a great 2018. Here is the report update for December 30, 2018.
LBI Surf Fishing Report
Surf fishing continues with a couple solid reports from the Long Beach Island surf came in. We gave our shop “test/prototype” Tsunami Salt X Spinning reel to Dan for a day and he put to the test.
First it was a sand test. Dig a hole drop it in and burry it. Pack it down and then pull it out. No problems. Next it went in the wash. Surf fishing reels live in the wash with saltwater and sand. Again no problems. Then it was time to fish it. Although not big ones, Dan found fish. The reel performed flawless. While the long term durability/longevity of this reel will not be determined until after seasons on seasons and year upon years of use. Our preliminary thoughts are very good. Considering the design, quality and VALUE! It’s a great price point that fits the saltwater market.
Here’s a fishing report from Dan, “The bass fishing on the beach was great the last couple of days. Finally we’ve seen a couple things absent all fall; adult bunker on the beach and massive bird plays with gannets dive bombing all day long. Curious what this storm will do! Friends a little north of me had tons of peanuts at their feet. We snagged about 5 adults with pods scattered along beach. The largest fish we caught over the last two days was around the thirty inch mark.”
John Del Sordo reports, “What a fun post Xmas session. There’s still lots of life out front. With school striped bass.”
Other reports came in from the surf about birds working along the beach.
Tog Fishing Report
The awesome blackfish action continues and Magictail Tog Jigs remain the most valuable player. Take advantage of this great fishery that is firing on all cylinders. Get out there!
The Magictail boys Dante and Zach got out fishing with Paul Haertel aboard the Angler.
Zach Michot reported, “With four double digit fish it was a great trip. My largest was over 12 pounds, a new personal best!”
This Just Happened!
Here’s a report from Greg O’Connell, “This just happened! Prolly a once in a lifetime fish for my son Dylan. Self cast, 8′ rod with a 4000 reel, 1/2oz jig with a plastic… Citation Red Drum 52″ 27″ girth comes out to about 48 pounds by IFGA formula. When it hit and started dumping line we thought it was a brown shark. After fighting twenty minutes I got a glimpse and my heart skipped a beat. My other son Ryan and I let him think it was a shark right up until I tackled it!”
From the crew at Fish Heads… Merry Christmas! Hope all of our readers have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Just a heads up we are closed today but will be back open on normal hours Wednesday December 26th at 7am.
On the fishing front… Kelley and Matt got out on Christmas Eve morning with Captain Tony Pacitti. They got into good fishing putting together a quick boat limit with quality fish in the mix. This year’s striped bass action faded out much earlier than previous years; however, tog fishing is off the charts.With some of the best black fishing our local waters has produced in a number of years, this December is one to remember!
December 26th Update 3pm
Fresh LBI Surf Fishing Report just in from Todd Luyber live from the beach… “Fishing for an hour, I got two bass. The guy next to me is using a real tiny bucktail 3/8 oz. He caught over 20 bass today. His biggest was 31 inches.”
LBI Surf Fishing Report Update – December 21, 2018
Some of the Fish Head crew got out on the water aboard the Osprey yesterday. The guys reported it was a slow day compared to the past few weeks. But there was a pick of quality fish. Matt S (@swagmattic) said, “I struggled as did most of the boat. There was not a ton of life or bites.” Patience and perseverance paid off… Some five and six pound tog were caught.
Kelley got a nice fish about 7 pounds that was good enough to take the calcutta cash, photo above. A 10lb 1oz pool fish was caught by Torr Cohen of Beach Haven. This was his first trip aboard the Osprey and he made the jump from jetty jockey to party boat pool winner like a champ, photo below.
Another double digit tog was caught on a Magictail Tog Jig. Yesterday Greg Sonday fished aboard Paul Heartel’s The Angler. The crew was one fish short of a four man limit. The photo below is Greg with a good tog that ate a green Magictail Tog Jig. It weighed in at 10 pounds even.
Store staffer Nick DeGennaro is home from college for the holidays. He stopped in and gear up for tog and then got out on the water yesterday. He reported, “Went out on the First Lady out of Belmar. We had fun fishing with 22 fish between 8 guys. The jigs out fished rigs.” Photo below.
Surf Fishing Report
It’s been awhile but finally were heard some news off the beach. Remember all of those peanut bunker that were stacked up all summer long. Where did they go? From what we gathered, one day they just disappeared. Could they have all moved out one night? Possibly slid out deep in the water column and then offshore? If you know please fill us in.
We haven’t talked to one angler who saw peanuts flowing on the beach this fall until now. Well flowing would be an exaggeration but seeing peanuts and catching striped bass on them is good enough! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to Shell E. Caris about his time fishing the Tsunami Salt X Spinning Reel this fall. While chatting he shared the info about a few peanut bunker and a few striped bass. Maybe they will head down to our beaches. Maybe they will not. Time will tell.
Recent mild weather has allowed those with fishing on the brain to get out and enjoy.
The surf fishing reports are becoming few and far between. Today we got word from two anglers. One, Rick mentioned a dead beach. He tried but didn’t find anything. Two, Dan found some fishing this afternoon. He reported at 2:15PM, “Check my story, I’m smoking them on bucktails on the north end surf! There’s tons of whitewater and I’m getting them good.”
The tog fishing continues with solid fishing on the inshore grounds. Today the morning’s conditions were sloppy. Most boats cancelled. Reports from mid and early week were strong.
Dante at Magictail Lures was out and reported the tog bite is on fire! He said, “Now’s the time for that hog we are all looking for. Tog Jigs have become a staple of the fishery over the past couple of years. They’ve helped me land ten double digit tog in the past two fall seasons. If you are heading out stop by Fish Heads and gear up. You will be happy!”
Paul Haertel reported, “None off my friends could go today so I went solo. I had my best day black fishing of the fall. The two biggest were 7.2 and 9.67 pound.”
There’s no doubt, it takes a special breed to be eager for fishing in the cold. However, for those that are dedicated to fishing the rewards are often bountiful. Striped bass, Blackfish, Jumbo Sea Bass, Cod and plenty of other species are waiting for courageous anglers in the winter.
Keeping warm is easy…Layer up folks!
Your parents were right! Although your dad still looks goofy in those old white long johns, the old adage remains true… Layer Up! Be sure to lean heavily on that wisdom in the colder months.
These two layers are worthless without an outer shell that is waterproof and windproof because staying dry is the real challenge. Frigid winds and sea spray can easily turn an epic day of fishing into a horrid nightmare. Your shell is something that you do not want to cheap out on.
More than once, I found myself fishing in wind, rain and snow! It was cold, but because I prepared and dressed appropriately I was warm enough to stay at the rail and keep on fishing.
Here’s what I use to keep dry and warm winter fishing in New Jersey.
We’ll start from the feet and work our way up.
My feet are warm and dry thanks to my Xtratuf Tall Insulated Boots. Designed for commercial fishing in Alaska, they’re flexible, warm and comfortable for an all day, everyday wear.
Grundens… Seriously… You do not own a pair of Grundens Bibs?Eat fish, Wear Grundens.It’s an actual rule.There are plenty of bibs options and anyone will make your day much better. Bib pants (sometimes called waterproof overalls or slicker plants) block the wind, they are waterproof so stay dry. When you take them off at the end of the day, you are clean and don’t smell. The Grundens Hercules Bib Pants are a classic choice but I wear the Grundens Neptune Bib Pant. They are durable, lightweight, have a little bit of stretch for comfort and they are only $69.99. The cargo pocket and interior chest pocket are also very helpful.
I finish my top layer with a Stormr Strykr Series Jacket.They are heavy but nothing offers the warmth of a Stormr neoprene jacket. It’s a fantastic choice that you’ll appreciate in the early spring and late fall/winter. The company might not be the best at spelling, but they’re experts in keeping you warm and dry! Knowing some are allergic to neoprene another great choice is the Grundens Balder Jacket or the fleece lined Grundens Neptune Thermo Pullover.
When it comes to gloves, it’s more of a different strokes for different folks kind of thing.There are plenty of gloves that will keep you warm. Some like ultimate warmth and the easy on and easy off of waterproof Atlas Freezer Gloves. These are great when you need to keep your hands dry but they are difficult to fish with. When fishing, I can’t lose “touch” with the line. Maintaining that “feel” is key for me.So I go with a flip-mitt glove like the Glacier Glove Cold River Flip Mitts. I also like the Glacier Stripper/Fighting Glove fingerless glove but a whole you’ll need a lot of hand warmers in your pockets.
Don’t forget the sunscreen either folks.. that sun can still do some damage in December! I hope this helps you stay warm! Good luck fishing.
All anglers in the shop report catching on the surf. Small striped bass are tight to the beach offering light tackle fun. Here’s a number of reports from today and yesterday.
Dan D. was on the beach today for an sunset session. He reported, “Light tackle fun… It was on consistent with a number of guys. Everyone was catching. I had a bunch of shorts and one keeper size fish. Super Strike Needlefish, bucktails and AVA Metals were working great but you gotta have a teaser!
A customer in the shop this evening was fresh off the beach and had a good stick of striped bass. He stopped in to get his rod tip repaired. He reported, “No keepers but a bunch of shorts throwing little light stuff.”
These small bass are also feeding on bait but you have to scale down! One customer reported, “My long rod didn’t get touched but the small chunks in close to the beach were bit. I released three fish. One was 30″ and would have been a good one for the table. I should of harvested and taken advantage cause no fish were checked in that day for the tournament.”
Todd Luyber stopped in the shop and picked up some lures yesterday afternoon. He was on the surf and shared this report, “Another good session with Brendan tonight. Steady pick with each of us catching about 6-8. Needles with teaser and the old school Vision Sand Eel got it done.”
Striped Bass Boat Fishing Report
With both fewer fish and much less participation, the striped bass reports from boat anglers have slowed. In the past day we’ve hear about some skunked out trips but did hear some boats found some fish.
Chris O’neil caught one 30″ fish today trolling on a white mojo.
Captain Billy on the Reel Trouble reported, “Good end to a good season with a good crew. Threw back some shorts in 45′ of water. Then moved out to 60′ and picked at a few more fish fish. Managed a few keeper size fish just over 30″. Quit at noon.”
Fish Head Charters
As this fall season creeps to a close I can’t help take a look back on my phone’s fall run photo album. What a ride it’s been!!! While this day was not the best numbers wise, nor size wise… it was special. I had the honor to introduce Matt a young avid angler to his first striped bass. Thanks Mr. Lutz (Chris) for giving me the opportunity to take you guys fishing!
Whether you’re new to the game or an old salty dog with decades of experience dropping rigs on wrecks, there’s a lot to learn if you want to catch blackfish with jigs.
Have you tried to catch blackfish with jigs? You should! Why? At times they out fish rigs and produce really big catches. I must ask… How did anglers target summer flounder 10, 15, 20+ years ago? The majority now target them with jigs because it’s more effective. The migration to the jig occurred in the fluke, sea bass and tuna game years ago. Guess what… The tog game too!
Tog Jigs Offer The Most Natural Presentation Of Bait
Light tackle jigging for tautog is still a relatively new technique. The concept is simple. Lighter line, small reels and lighter rods all directly contrast conventional tog fishing wisdom. But! Lighter tackle allows small jigs to get to the bottom faster and entice more bites. Also the jig’s stealth approach gives the fish a sense of security so they take the bait. Unlike heavy blackfish rig fishing (typically use 6+ ounce sinkers) the tog can pick up the jigs and swim away without feeling the tug of the line and weight as they crunch and munch the bait. Light tackle jigging for tog allows anglers the most natural presentation of baits. This directly results in more bites and more opportunities to catch.
Tog Jig Options
The obvious first step to catching blackfish with jigs is to pick out the jig. There are a variety of tog jigs options on the market. With all of the brand names, at some point you’ll ask, “What type of tog jig should I use?” Or “What is the best blackfish jig?” In my book, the answer is simple. It’s in the name of the jig…The Magictail “Game Changer” Tog Jig is the best jig. Whether targeting blackfish from the boat on reefs and wrecks or land based fishing. Magictail Tog Jigs outproduce!
The 3 Classic Types of Jigs For Blackfishing
In order to make a lead head jig it all starts with a mold and a hook. The lead is the easy part. In the early days, there were really only a few styles of tog jigs due to the lack of molds. The three styles that made the most sense for making blackfish jigs were…
The Bean Jig – Resembles an oversized lima bean with flat sides. When sitting, it lies on its side with the hook facing sideways.
The Football Jig– Resembles a football shaped lead head that is perpendicular to the hook. When sitting, the hook points upright.
The Banana Jig – Features a snag resistant design; eye tie forward, slender width, curved like lead head belly (hence the name). Similar to the football jig, the hook points upright when sitting.
It has been said that some shapes fall faster than others. This can be the case when dropping a naked jig; however, tog jigs are always fished baited with crab. All three shapes listed above will get down and stay down about the same. There’s more important characteristics to focus on.
The Magictail Game Changer Tog Jig Series was developed after years of fishing experience catching black fish on jigs. Building on the features top tog anglers demand and evolving from its predecessors, Magictail made a custom mold to offer the most innovative tog jig to date!
So what sets the MagicTail Game Changer Tog Jig apart from the Football and the Banana Jig?
It’s all in the intricate design, the Magictail Game Changer Tog Jigs have a unique shape which offers benefits. Like the football and banana style tog jigs the hook point always faces up. The flat curved bottom (banana jig trait) ensures the jig is always on the bottom correctly. It lays flat and doesn’t roll. The jig is center weighted and its shape is very snag resistant.
The Magictail Tog Jig Secrets That Sets Them Apart From The Rest
The most important characteristic however, is how the lead belly sits with the hook standing tall. This keeps the bait slightly raised off the bottom with open space between the hook and the bottom structure. This allows the fish to swim in and take a clean swipe at the whole hook. It makes the elaborately timed hook set process a whole lot easier and increase your hookup percentage.
Choosing The Right Jig With The Right Hook
Just like selecting an all purpose hook, the same rules apply. Match the hook to the bait or the bait to the hook. The hook choice in a tog jig is important. It must be strong and sharp. Moreover, the shank length matters! Short shank vs long shark is personal preference and it changes depending on the size of bait. A tog jig with a long shank hook (such as the Magic Tail Game Changer Tog Jig) allows for hooking of bigger bait, a must when fishing large pieces of crab, half crabs and whole crabs. Tog jigs with short shank hooks (such as the Magictail Back Bay Tog Jig) are best when fishing smaller baits. These are best when using Asian Crabs and Fiddler Crabs. It’s also common for anglers to bury these short shank tog jigs inside of a medium crab section.
Does Color Matter?
In my experiences I have not found one color to outperform another in every circumstance. Everyday can be different so it’s best to have a spread of colors to cover your bases.
You can’t go wrong matching the jig color to the bait. For example when fishing green crabs, pair the bait with the green/orange “Green Crab” jig color. When fishing white crabs go for the white “White Crab” jig. Magictail does a really good job offering these natural color patterns.
I’ve also done good using the high visibility colors like the chart/orange and the metallic green coined “First Drop” as well as the glow on cloudy days and when the water is dirty. Just a heads up… glow always catches!
How do Blackfish feed?
Tautog pick at their food.They’re typically chewing on mussels, barnacles and other crustaceans clinging to rocks and structure. When feeding off the bottom they come at the bait from above and pluck at it.That is why you get those small taps when you first feel the fish.Setting the hook on a tog is a process that gets refined only with practice and experience.But as common sense would point out, if the fish’s point of attack is from above the jig, you would ideally want the hook pointing in that direction.When you swing that hook is more likely to land and set in the fish mouth then with a side facing jig.