Here on the final days of August it’s safe to say it was a great month of fishing on Long Beach Island. From a consistent fluke bite in the bay, inlet and surf to good sea bass fishing inshore and off the charts yellowfin and bluefin tuna fishing mid-shore. A quick look back and one must be thankful for good fishing inshore, offshore and from shore. What a great month of summer fishing we had!
Here’s the fishing report update for the Long Beach Island area on Sunday, August 30, 2020.
Fishing Barnegat Bay
From drifting for fluke in the main thoroughfares to anchoring up at a hole and catching a smorgasbord, the bay has a good spread with a variety of fun.
On Friday I had a great morning trip on the bay fly fishing with Danny Vilardi aboard Fish Head Charters. He started with the long rod and didn’t put it down all day. He caught his first weakfish, fluke and jack (Almaco) all on his own DYI clouser minnow. All together we had a dozen weakfish, all were nice healthy ones except two spike. Two fluke ate the fly but both were just short. We also has too many small bluefish to mention.
Stew Hitchner was on the bay this weekend with the family today. They caught a pile of blowfish.
Reports from the Ship Bottom bayside tell of blowfish, kingfish, snappers and spot as well as crabs at the Ship Bottom docks. It seems the past week or two the snappers really made a strong showing. They are a ton of fun for the kids!
Just A Reminder: NJ Bluefish Regulations – All Private Anglers 3 fish, For Hire 5 fish (if on a charter or head boat). Yes this includes snapper blues!
Fishing The LBI Surf
The surf has was churred up from the weekend’s stormy weather. The pass remnants of Laura were wet and windy. Things settled down Sunday and it was a beautiful day on the beach. As the short video report shows it was a great beach day. No great reports but a couple reports none the less… kingfish and fluke in the surf. We recommend fishing live bloods for the best results right now. When the bite is on, artificials work great BUT when it’s a slow pick live bait always outproduced!
Fishing Barnegat Inlet
The Barnegat Inlet has a variety of species to target; fluke, resident striped bass at low light hours, small bluefish, tog, triggerfish and sheepshead.
Ocean Fluke Fishing
Late August and September is prime time fluke fishing in the ocean. The popular reef sites as well as the wrecks and open bottom areas turn out. Gear up and get on the grounds to enjoy one of the best parts of the season NOW!
Today a good report came in from Dale Hawk who fished the Barnegat Light reef (about three miles outside of BI). “Another awesome day. Pink Shine and Nuclear Chicken were catching best. The drift sock came in clutch because without it the drift would have been too fast.
There is just one more week left before Labor Day and the fishing action for the captains of the Beach Haven Charter fishing Association continues to be hot and heavy. As is typical with late summer action, a wider variety of fish are showing up.
According to mate Max Goldman, the last week on the boat “Starfish” with Captains Carl Sheppard and Vic Bertotti “has been extremely action packed.” Many times, the boat is booked for two trips a day with catches of 70-90 fish a trip not uncommon. Making up the bulk of the catch have been black sea bass, fluke, weakfish, and the ever-present sea robins. One interesting trip caught a goodly amount of kingfish and weakfish which was a bit of a surprise to all.
On one trip Captain Carl had a group out who caught over 40 fish including sea bass, robins, blowfish, and a triggerfish. The sea bass ran up to 18-inches. Another trip produced all of the above plus some bluefish and a blacktip shark.
Captain Gary Dugan has been making regular trips on the “Irish Jig” fishing inshore reefs and structure. He reports he is averaging 4-5 keepers on each trip.
Captain Brett Taylor of Real Reaction Sportfishing reports that before the remnants of Laura came up, he had Joe Tocyloski, his son Steve, and friends Scott Boyer and Eric Boyer on a 5-hour ocean trip. They worked a bunch of different spots, but the fish were very tough on the bite. Despite that they eked out 4 keepers to 7-pounds as Eric landed a solid 27-inch fluke on a bucktail.
Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter fishing Association can be found at www.bhcfa.net
Fishing the Barnegat Ridge, the inshore offshore spot… For those who want to jump out from the inshore fishery, this is a primer to help introduce offshore fishing for pelagic species such as bonito, albacore, mahi, king mackerel and BLUEFIN TUNA! If you want to branch out from summer time fluke and sea bass near shore, this is the next step.
July through September brings some hot fishing to Barnegat Ridge and the surrounding waters. Bluewaters with structure, bait and pelagic predators make for fun fishing not too far from port. This year (2020) the mid-shore game (10-60 mile range) has been very good. Get out there and have some fun!
First question, of course, is your boat capable?
Barnegat Ridge is about 15 miles from Barnegat Inlet. A boat of at least 20 feet should be adequate on a nice calm summer day. Personally, I only like to run offshore when the conditions are flat calm. This way, if the weather services blow the forecast, you have time to run in before the seas build to an uncomfortable ride. Make sure your VHF radio is in good working order because you will be out of cell range. An EPIRB and a life raft are two things to give you more peace of mind. Having a buddy boat is an extra step in safety and can also be very helpful finding fish.
Next up… Rods & Reels
The good news is that you probably have an arsenal that will work. You need at least four outfits to get started but five is common. More than likly if you troll mojos for striped bass inshore these same outfits will do the job. Any of your inshore outfits that have at least 20-30 pound monofilament line (50-80# braid) on them will work here. I would suggest spooling up with fresh line and putting on maximum capacity. Conventional reels are preferred but spinning can work. It’s not that critical. As long as the line is fresh and the drags are smooth, you are good to go.
Tie on a 75-100# ball bearing snap swivel to each rod. This snap swivel is used to attach any of your rigged lures. The only time you don’t use it is when you are using a feather. In this case, you pass your running line from the reel through the feather and tie on the feather hook, a Mustad 34007 stainless steel 4/0 hook.
You will need to get some 5 inch cedar plugs in natural, red/white or hot pink. You will be trolling two at a time of any lure, so buy at least three or four so you have backup. There are some toothy critters that inhabit Barnegat Ridge so be prepared for an occasional bite off.
One of the most universal trolling rigs is a planner with a spoon. Both Clarkspoon and Huntington Drone Spoon are great in the 3-5″ size. These spoons are unweighed and should be trolled behind a lead trolling weight “drail” or better yet a diving planer. The #2 or #3 planers are best for this type of fishing. Be sure to use two arm lengths ~10′ of 40-60# leader from the planer to the spoon.
A planer is more effective at getting down deeper and faster than a drail so the line isn’t stretched out into the spread. This allows for other rods to be fished in those positions. Planers and spoons fished deep are well know for getting the attention of game fish and raising them into a spread. Once a fish bites the planer trips and it’s much nicer fighting it than with a heavy drail.
Is you want to make your spread come alive and standout from the pack spreaderbars will help you BIG TIME! Designed to be trolled and look like a school of bait fish, spreader bars raise fish. They come in all sorts of sizes, colors and styles. The most popular are the Chatter Splash Bars and Chatter Side Trackers. The Splash Bars have birds that chatter and splash to cause a commotion which attract game fish. Side Tracker Bars have a rudder which makes the spreader bar track off and away from the boat. For this reason Chatter Side Trader Bars are a huge advantage to small boats who don’t have outriggers. They helps widen a spread and also allows for more rods to be fished.
My other “go to” lure has to be built because I don’t know where you could buy one.
Start with 4-5″ squid skirts. The same ones used to dress up fluke rigs. They usually come in a five pack. Snip off just the tip of each squid to allow line to pass through. Each one will get a ¼ ounce egg sinker inside the head.
Next thread onto the leader a crimp and squeeze (swage) on to the line about 20″ above the first squid. This acts as a stopper that will hold the squid in position. Add a bead and then an egg weighed squid skirt. Repeat working up the leader until there are five squids in a chain, all of them about 15″ apart. Note: The one with the hook is slightly further apart at 20″.
To finish off, thread on a crimp and then do a loose double over hand knot. Pull down (but not tight) to form an “offshore loop”. Then put the tag end into the crimp and swage to complete the rig. This loop is where you’ll attach a snap swivel from one of your rods when it’s time to fish. Note: There will be extra leader line in front of the leading squid in the chain.
I know the Hoochie Chain is complicated and we would all prefer to buy off the rack BUT! The success I have had with it is unbelievable. In fact, I would tell you that in all of the Ridge fishing I do… I almost always have just four lines in the water, two small cedar plugs and two of those squid chains. If you don’t want to go through the hassle or are intimidated at the idea of rigging, pick out some small 4 to 5 inch little jet lures or feathers. Black/white or red/white are ideal feather colors. Blue/white or green/yellow are good jet lure colors.
If you don’t have the time to make your own Hoochie Chain… here is a great alternative… The Feather Chain. Feather Chains will catch anything from mahi, albies and bonita to bluefin tuna.
Time To Hit The Ridge!
There are actually two Barnegat Ridges, North and South. They both hold fish and are about 3.5 miles apart. The water in between them is productive, as well. On your ride out you will notice the depth dropping from 40, 50, 70, 80, sometimes flirting with 100 feet and then, as you arrive, it comes all the way up to 55 to 60 feet of water. I like to stop a mile and a half shy to allow time to get all the rods set and to fish that transition from deep to shallow.
Setting The Spread
Get the boat up to 6-7 knots and set up a simple spread. Start letting out the first cedar plug. Drop it way back, maybe 150 feet and put it in the forward starboard outrodder. On the port side, do the same thing with one of the squid chains or a jet lure. In your starboard stern most rodholder put out a squid chain or feather and keep it about 25 or 30 feet behind the boat right in the prop wash. If you have a release clip or a clothespin, tie it to the stern cleat and put the line in that. This will change it to a very low trajectory and improve the presentation. This is called a flatline. Repeat this with a cedar plug in the port stern most rod holder and… You are fishing!
On The Hunt
Offshore trolling is very much a visual game. You want to constantly be scanning for anything to steer towards, like a piece of wood or debris that might have mahi mahi on it. What you are always looking for are chick birds. Technically they are Storm Petrels, but we call them chicks, chick birds, tuna chicks. They are a great indicator of where the gamefish are feeding. You’re not looking for a big flock like we encounter inshore. Just one or a few is all you need. These birds are too small to feed on the same baitfish the predators are feeding on. They are diving at the surface picking up tiny particles from the maceration that is going on below the surface of the water. The best scenario is when you find these birds diving at a slick piece of water, it has a sheen like an oil slick. This is known as “chicks and slicks” and in the world of offshore trolling, it doesn’t get any better than that. That means you stumbled on a feed that is going on right now and your rods should be singing any minute.
You won’t always find this condition, but keep your eyes open for even a single or just a few of these birds. So many times we hook up just from turning the boat towards a single chick bird. Shearwaters, gulls and other birds might present too but none are as relevant as tuna chicks.
You are most likely to encounter bonita, false albacore, spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and occasionally mahi and school size bluefin tuna. The bonita are always our target and are delicious. They average two to four pounds but last year we had them up to six pounds. The false albacore are inedible, they average 5 to 10 pounds and will smoke the reel on their initial first run. Both the spanish and king mackerel have populated this area for 10 years or so but the last few years are the greatest numbers I have ever seen.
As always care for your catch properly! Once caught, bleed ’em out (cut the throat, poke/slice the main artery and slice/cut the tail artery) and ice ’em up. Puttiung fish in a saltwater ice slurry is
The spanish are delicious and I get mixed reviews on the kings. They are both toothy and the kings especially will bite you off even on the 80 pound leader. Mahi and bluefin are always a pleasant surprise and can take up residence there any time there is baitfish and blue water to hold them. Sandeels, small mackerel, and flying fish are some of the bait found here.
That should get you started. Call me if you have any questions or need some guidance. See you out there!
If you plan on fishing the bay, it’s best to cast net live baits and hit the inlet area. The fluke or summer flounder fishing in the area has been absolutely exceptional for us this year. In our last 3 trips, we boxed 35 fluke and all within the 5hr time limits. When time permits, we have been adding some blackfish action with quick 1-fish limits.
Currently, we have some weekday trips available in September for fluke and we will start running our 3 hour twilight skiff trips for Striped Bass, Weakfish, and Bluefish along some of backbay areas. These trips will focus on light-tackle artificial action with the potential for the NJ Striped Bass Bonus Permits.
October & November will be here before you know it for Striped Bass and Tautog!!
Currently, we are booking for September, October, November, and December. If interested in booking a charter, book through our site (reelreactioncharters.com) or call/text 609-290-7709. As always, we use the highest quality gear and everything is included: gear, bait, tackle, fish-cleaning, and ICE! It’s “no worries” fishing. Just come aboard and FISH. Capt. Brett Taylor ~ www.reelreactioncharters.com ~ Call or Text: 609-290-7709
Here in the third week of August, a lot of awesome summertime fishing is going down right now. From light tackle inshore fishing to big game offshore fishing, now is a great time to get out and catch fish on the waters of Long Beach Island!
The past few days fair weather perfectly suitable for fishing allowed anglers to get out and enjoy the outdoors. The next few days look great with good winds and near Lake Atlantic conditions. BUT… Come early to mid next week expect an uptick in south east swell from Tropical Storm Laura. Nothing crazy at this time, but 2-3′ swell which with some wind on it will limit the possibilities of most small boat anglers.
Here’s the Long Beach Island Fishing Report Update For Friday August 21, 2020.
Fishing LBI’s Bay & Back Waters
Summer on Barnegat Bay is a special time where a plethora of species take up reside. By far summer flounder take the spot light but there’s A LOT more opportunities on the bay from crabbing and clamming to all sorts of fishing. Fluke, weakfish, blowfish and kingfish are plentiful.
It seems the fluke are making their move out of the bay. Some big doormats have been caught the past few days. Common theme amongst the catches; slower moving tide, larger bait, close proximity to the inlet.
Recent report from shop regular Jay Simmons spoke of kingfish. While Jay was in loading up on live bloodworms, he shared. “I caught four on the beach and then went to the bayside. I was surprised to find more and better size ones bayside.”
Swagmattic was out today (Friday) with his friend Chris and his cousin Adam aboard the Lazy Daze. They started off fluke fishing in the morning one of the local reefs and caught a few keepers. The pre fishing session for Saturday’s tournament didn’t yield anything special. Swag said, “The wind picked up early so we shifted gears and moved inshore to look at some near shore structure. We caught blackfish and triggerfish.
Store Staffer Jared fishing today’s Fluke Tournament hosted by the South Jersey Saltwater Anglers in collaboration with Fish Heads. He was aboard the Just N’ Tyme with Capt Justin Swanson. The crew took the cheese with a solid cooler full of big fluke! A 5.86 was the smallest of their four fish bag! Their biggest was a 8.96, followed by two 7 pound fish.
Justin reported, “Have had the tuna bug so I haven’t fluke fished much. Today was just one of those days where everything went right for me and the team. So proud of how hard we all fished! My brother who hasn’t fished much at all in the last couple of years came through HUGE for us with a 8.9 pounder to take the Big Fish Calcutta.”
Swagmattic fished with Captain Tony on the Flounder Wet Spot and scored Second Place with their largest being 7.5-lb. Congrats to all of the anglers who who fished. Thanks for participating. Keep an eye out for the next one in mid-August 2021.
Fish Head Charters
I had a great week of morning dawn patrol trips this week. Monday awesome surf on the south end. Tuesday bluefish, fluke and blowfish. Wednesday Matt P. put a nice 24.5″ fluke on the deck. Thursday Tony caught some blues and weakfish on the fly rod. Friday Joey Utchig and family shrimped up a slam (weakfish, bluefish, fluke).
The mid-shore yellowfin mayhem continues cranking! Just about everyone agrees… It has been exceptionally good. It has been awesome… some of the best we’ve had in many years with regards to consistency, abundance, size/quality. The past two days seem to been the best of it. Anglers catching trolling, jigging, popping, and chunking. Recently the chunk bite has really turned on. Nomad Streaker Jigs are lighting it up. Also Tsunami Surface Blaster Poppers are producing top water strikes.
While most of the action is happening 50-70 mile out, some tuna are being found more closer to port… Tony Kratowicz post on Facebook some great local fishing news after his last trip… “Solo, anchored, chummed, 8 miles off IBSP, 80′ of water. Using a 1/2oz diamond jig, 15# fluoro… catching mackerel for bait… a freight train grabs the jig! About an hour light and I sunk the gaff in on a fat 41” bluefin tuna.
Big congrats to the team aboard the MJ’s! Over the years they have got the job done on tournament days. This year was no different. They took 1st and 2nd place heaviest tuna in the 2020 Mid Atlantic 500.
*Striped Bass Tagging Update #2 for this year > Again during the great Striper Schoolie 2019 Fall Run – I Caught a 21” Striper on the beach that I tagged & released at LBI NJ on November 18th 2019 and it was just re-caught recently down South this time around Annapolis Maryland also at 21” / I will be offering tagging trips come mid – late November into December on LBI > it’s a great opportunity to see first hand how to tag a striped bass and I’ll share my data and stories of over a decade of tagging results for the Berkeley Striper Club and you will get to name some of these fish with hopes that they will one day get reported back to us. Book your dates now – call 609-276-6983 / Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC
A serious change came this weekend to our weather pattern. The hot and humid dog days of summer got pushed out from a dip in the jet stream. This dip has let in some comfortable cooler temps with a “fall like” feel but some unsettled weather. The tropics have been active. Rightfully so with the peak park of the season coming just a few weeks away.
Current LBI Fishing Weather Situation
Currently north east winds and building easterly swell from Tropical Storm Kyle makes for poor ocean conditions. It’s a bit unruly for surf anglers hunting fluke and kingfish. It would be a totally different story if it was October/November and the big striped bass and blues were around. Monday another area of low pressure will push out over behind Kyle keeping the local winds northerly making the conditions a bit dicey for the region. These conditions will close off the ocean access to most and make drift fishing in the bay difficult except for those leeward areas. There’s a possibility of some lighter winds late morning to mid day but don’t bank on it. Things will be churned up from the blow so it’s a good day to catch up on the To-Do List and make sure your tackle is in good shape for the week ahead. Tuesday on looks like dry weather with fair winds making for great fishable days!
So what’s up on the Long Beach Island fishing front? Here’s the Long Beach Island Fishing Report Update for Sunday August 16, 2020.
From beach or boat there’s a lot on offer…
Land based anglers are catching fish on the surf, bayside and inlet. Barnagat Inlet possibly offers the best land based fishing right now with a strong variety of species… fluke, tog, bluefish, striped bass as well as triggerfish and sheepshead.
The LBI surf has fluke, kingfish and bluefish. The bayside offers good crabbing and some areas have blowfish, weakfish and fluke.
Here’s some recent fishing reports from Team Fish Heads…
Jared – “What a great birthday out on the water fishing with by Dad. We had non stop action from the first drop. We had 4-6 pounders flying over the rail with just about every drop. Had an easy limit before the blow came. As always Magictail were the key! The fish can’t get enough of them.”
Grey – “Both tog and triggerfish are chewing up at the Barnegat Inlet. I tried a couple of times and struck out but got them good last trip. Gotta use a small strong hook! Lotts black fish up there and fluke too. The fluke fishing has been wide open all summer.”
Frezza – “Had beautiful flat Lake Atlantic conditions on my trip out to the mid-shore tuna grounds. We found life and got into them light line chunking. Also hooked up on the jig and popper. Unfortunately lost the one boat side that ate the popper.”
Greg – Recent trips aboard Fish Head Charters were full of fog but great fishing with Barnegat Bay Slams all around… striped bass, blues and fluke.
Fish Heads Alumni Dad – Dan D aboard the Reel Innovation has been putting some serious weight on the deck. They’ve also released a some big fish!
Once the weather breaks anglers will be able to get back off to the bluewater tuna grounds. Before the wind machine got going the action was smoking! Numerous boats reporting very good catches of both bluefin and yellowfin tuna.
Jacob Bowles and Zach Michot reported having a good trip aboard their friend Tim’s new ride. They reported, “Started off nasty with fog but we made it out safely and found the fish. Got jiggy with it and put meat in the box
Brian Williams reported catching too, “Another unbelievable day with unbelievable fishing!”
Fluke Fishing Tournament! Save The Date!
The South Jersey Saltwater Anglers Fluke Fishing Tournament is coming up!
Sorry for the lack of reports, but we have been busy on the fluke grounds!
Saturday 8/8, We had new clients Eric, Matt, and Aaron out for a 5hr ocean fluke trip. With the water still churned up and very dirty from the hurricane this past week, we took a shot in the dark and started working a few areas. The crew did awesome jigging up over 40 fluke, catching 3 quality keepers for the box. They each were able to jig up solid keepers at 22”, 23”, and 24” all ranging from 4-5+lbs. It was also Aaron’s first time ever fluke fishing and he did a great job catching the biggest fish of the trip! Great job today guys we look forward to striper fishing with you in November!
Sunday 8/9, We had long time fishing friends Jeff and Jeff Jr. along with Brian and Mike out for a 6hr ocean fluke trip. We started the morning in pea soup fog, working a new area where the water quality was much better than yesterday. Mike wasted no time putting his limit in the box on the first couple of drifts. The crew ended the trip catching over 50 fluke with 8 keepers up to 23” as well as 5 nice sea bass to add to the box. Great job today guys, we will see you in the fall for tog!
We have some dates available in October for sea bass and limited dates available in November for striped bass, but they are booking quick! If you are interested in getting out please contact us to book your trip. Call or text Captain Mike to get out on the water or send us a message through our website! (609)-709-7264
This past weekend was a good one! Both Saturday and Sunday allowed anglers to get out and fish. We received some good feedback from inshore offshore and from shore. Here’s a short fishing report update for Monday August 10, 2020.
Fishing LBI From Shore
Store staffer Jared fished the Barengat Inlet Sunday afternoon. He reported, “Got two keeper size tog fishing live green crabs. I also got six shorts. All fishing off the concrete walkway.” Also present at the Barnegat Inlet… sheepshead, trigger fish and a surprising positive showing of striped bass.
The Long Beach Island surf offers fun fishing for one or the entire family. Kingfish and fluke are the best species to target. There’s also some small blues around.
Fishing LBI’s Inshore – Near Shore Waters
Store staffer Frezza was out on the reef Sunday. He reported, “It was a slow day but some nice fish were caught. Got a 22″ and a 25″ as well as two other keeper size fish. Not too many shorts. Got 10 fish all together.”
Dan Harley was out on the reef Sunday and got into some good fluke. He reported, “Quality to 25″ on the slow pitch.”
Store staffer Willie Davis was out in the boat Sunday fishing the North End inside. He caught some fluke. This morning he caught some striped bass.
Fish Heads Ambassador Swagmattic Strikes Again!
This past weekend there was a a couple of the area’s and season’s biggest fluke fishing tournaments. Once again Swagmattic puts meat on the deck when it matters most! Here’s his report…
Jersey Jumbos! What a day to have a day. Ocean fluke fishing hasn’t been as epic as we would have liked. We haven’t seen any real big fish hit the deck at all. Today (Sunday) was the JCAA heavy hitters tournament and we were out hoping to get lucky and defend our win from last year. Boy did the stars align for us.
Absolutely tough fishing with zero visibility in the monring and no wind and drift in the morning. Then a stiff south wind the rest of the day. Shout out to Capt. Tony for putting in work staying on the motor all day.
We didn’t have many bites (with only 9 keepers) but we made them count. I was fortunate enough to land the two biggest fish of the day with a new personal best. Official JCAA Tournament weight was 9.92. It was 9.96 in Forked River weigh in and 10.06 in LBI. [Impossible to have all the scales in the state calibrated together.] Regardless I’m welcoming myself into the double digit club.
As always Magictail Bucktails are the go to. The Jigging World Shogun medium light made easy work of this monster. I’m super happy I made the switch this season. Big shoutout to Mike Kim, of course Fishermans Headquarters and Fish Head Greg for stocking the best of the best always. If you want to fish the best and learn from the best drop on in, they’re located on the causeway in LBI. Thanks Cortland Line Co for the best line in the game (made in the USA) and even though it blew up later in the day the Quantum Accurist got the job done when I needed it (if you guys wanted to send me a new one I’d be cool with that). We worked hard for it, we got lucky, we took it down. Back to back full fluke sweeps!
Fishing LBI’s Offshore Waters
Offshore the tuna are jumping in the boat. Just about everyone making the trek out to bluewater are killing it! Dan Rosetto left the trolling stuff at home and got ’em on jigging and popping gear. He reported, “Sunday was good. Got out and made it happened and was back to the dock in time for Sunday church.” Ryan Degraw went 4-6. Jeff Haly had five jig and pop. Rick Bragg reported a great day, “3 nice yellowfin two small bluefin and a bonita.” got one them too. Lots of other reports too all with the similar theme… it’s Sea World Out There!