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; 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, – 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 Protect Our Coast 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, viewshed, 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 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

NJ Marine Fisheries Meeting March 4th

Here’s some details on the March 4th NJ Marine Fisheries State Council meeting. It was another long call which started at 5pm and ending at 8:35pm. The main topics which I will detail below are; New Enforcement, NJ’s Striped Bass Bonus Program, NJ’s New Cobia Regulations, NJ’s New Summer Flounder Regulations and Offshore Wind.

New Marine Enforcement In Ocean County

It started off with the enforcement report. I was very happy to hear news about two new officers being added to the Marine Unit roster. One officer, Colby Capri will focus enforcement in the central New Jersey area. I’m happy to say that Colby is a great local angler who knows and respects the area. He will be a great resource to the Ocean Ocean County Marine Region. This past fall I saw him field training on LBI in a variety of areas. This addition was needed years ago.

Here's Colby Capri and Sabina Sullivan with four handfuls of fluke caught fishing in Barnegat Bay.
Here’s Colby Capri and Sabina Sullivan with four handfuls of fluke.

2021 NJ Striped Bass Bonus Program

Everything is basically the same with regards to the NJ SBBP. It is status quo for 2021. But now they are stepping in modern day technology and doing the entire process online. Both the application and submission will be online. Information is expected to be released soon, March/April timeframe. Keep an eye out for it!

Here are some bonus tag striped bass that were caught aboard Reel Fantasea with Captain Steve Purul during the later portion of the fall.
Here are some bonus tag striped bass that were caught aboard Reel Fantasea with Captain Steve Purul during the later portion of the fall run.

2021 NJ Cobia Regulations

Over the years NJ has always followed Virginia’s regulations on cobia. Recently Virginia changed regulations to reduce harvest by about 40% over the next three years. With the options that were on the table, few comments from the public came in. All that did were in favor of the option for no closed season. The board’s vote went that way.

The NJ Cobia Regulations for 2021 are: One fish bag/vessel limit with a 37″ total length minimum size with no closed season.

Here is Bob Misak with a beautiful cobia that was caught off the LBI surf on June 5, 2019. If the state chose to keep in line with Virginia this somewhat rare catch would have been out of season. The new 2021 regulations have no closed season.

2021 NJ Summer Flounder Regulations

For the 2021 New Jersey Fluke Season only the dates changed. It is still a 3 fish possession limit bag limit with an 18″ minimum size. The official dates are May 22nd to September 19th.

How did we get here? I digress…

Potential Creative Options In Future

This part of the meeting started off with a quick mention of some creative regulation ideas that might come about next year. Ideas like possibly splitting the state since there is a clear difference in desire between North Jersey and South Jersey. Ideas like having a separate back bay and ocean season, using zones to best satisfy anglers in different areas. Ideas like changing the bag limit and sizes to take the pressure off the females. Possibly one regulation for the first half of the season and a different regulation at second half. Possibly a slot and a trophy. We’ve heard this kinda talk before. So will 2022 be the year with new creative regulations that help the summer flounder? I’m hoping to hear more details after the fluke advisory meeting which will be taking place once in May/June and then a second in September.

Fluke Facts

Did you know that 70% of fluke 18″ are female and nearly 100% of fluke 21″ and larger are female? Did you know that a 12″ flounder is about 1 year old, 18″ about three years old and a 24″ fluke is about 6-8 years old?

Team Fish Heads Mike Frezza is holding up a nice fluke he caught bucktailing the bayside waters behind Long Beach Island.
Team Fish Heads Mike Frezza is holding up a nice fluke he caught bucktailing the bayside waters behind Long Beach Island.

Now onto the NJ Fluke Options…

These were the two options on the table:

  • Option 1) Status Quo: May 22nd – September 19th, 121 total days
  • Option 2) Shift Back: May 28th – September 28th, 124 days

Both options included the historical opening day before Memorial Day (5/31) and being open past Labor Day (9/6). So they really boiled down to THREE days. Options one an earlier season and option two a later season.

Not the biggest deal right? WRONG!

A public comment survey was done by the state to ask saltwater anglers which option they preferred. 725 responses were received…

And They Survey Says!

Option 1 – 27%
Option 2 – 73%

Here's a breakdown by angler type. It's clear that the NJ saltwater anglers who took the time to participate in the survey wanted option 2.
Here’s a breakdown by angler type. It’s clear that the NJ saltwater anglers who took the time to participate in the survey wanted option 2.

Now public comment opened and there was large/overwhelming support of Option 2. Most all mentioned the key benefits like:

  • Closing the gap between fluke and sea bass (reduces the gap from 25 days to 16)
  • The additional three days offers more opportunity as we all know days are lost due to weather
  • In May there’s lots of species to target; striped bass, bluefish, black sea bass, black drum, weakfish, BUT in September there is few especially for land based anglers
  • In late September the mullet run offers one of the the best times for land based anglers to fish for fluke
  • Late September is a great time to fish the state’s artificial reef sites

My public comment, “I would like to see Option 2 which supports both the survey and the overwhelming support of the benefits it offers (listed above).”  I also commented which was off topic but I had to express a concern that has been eating at me for a while.

“I need to mention the special Island Beach State Park regulation (2 fluke greater than 16″ total length) gives an unfair and preferential treatment to that IBSP area. Anglers that used to fish the Long Beach Island area going to IBSP for the more lax regulations.”

The Fluke Fiasco

Public comments end and then things got crazy. Some of the public (on the call via phone) could not make comments during the live meeting because they were in listen only mode and could not get an opportunity to speak. Concerns with the meeting’s platform (GoToWebinar) were raised. Zoom, Webex, Teams… but GoToWebinar is the same platform that the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission uses successfully. There was actually a motion to push off the decision to the next meeting!

It turns out that failure to pre-register for the event was the root of the problem. I’ll agree the inability to publicly comment does raise a representation concern. HOWEVER, there was more than adequate time given for written and online comment. Why the delay? 

Unfortunately during this fiasco, the overwhelming public interest in favor of Options 2 was blown off. The attention went to the potential tech issues and that debate rather than fluke. It really distracted from the situation at stake. What a coincidence, in the end failure to listen to public comment turned out to actually occur!

NJ Summer Flounder – Option One Status Quo

Offshore Wind

A new Offshore Wind Committee was previously created and the state’s advisory application period had received 32 applications. It’s great to see the interest. It was said that the Ocean Wind project was much further ahead of the Atlantic Shores project and the The Ocean Wind COP is expected to be released (possibly) this spring. But the council was not 100% sure of the dates.

What is a COP? Construction & Operations Plan – It is the document which outlines the purpose and scope of the activities as well as the intended construction onshore and offshore. It will comprehensively describe the project and include maintenance and decommissioning procedures among many other topics. The COP will provide a basis for the analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic effects and operational integrity of the developments proposed activities. More Info On A COP by BOEM.

Right now there is not an upcoming meeting with opportunity scheduled for public comment. However it was said that BOEM (Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management – US Dept Of The Interior) accepts public comments at any time. Take the time to commit NOW!

It was noted that in recent town hall meetings that numerous shore towns opposed the developments. More recently, towns are waking up to the issue.

There is a lot of things coming down the pike with regards to wind turbine developments in New Jersey. Staying in the loop right now is very difficult but there is hope that will change. There’s rumor the state will have a site where the public can go to source all of the information/documents from all of the different developers. This way everyone gets to see everything at one place.

The million dollar question…Will it be bias and share all of the concerns or just what the state want to share?

The Next NJ Marine Fisheries State Council Meeting is May 13th 5pm. 

Start Your Engines! March 1st Is Here.

It’s finally here, opening of Back Bay Bassin’! The somewhat mild and short winter should set up awesome back bay fishing along Long Beach Island and the surrounding areas to its north and south. A few recent reports from “Winter White Perchers” tell us our favorite seven striped fish are in the mix with perch. They are eating worms and grass shrimp, two great early season bait choices.

Early Season Backwater Striped Bass

South / Central Jersey is very fortunate to have a population of resident bass. They winter over in the deep holes and when hungry eat the simple stuff. What’s easiest to find, eat and digest? Soft baits like worms, clams, mussel, crabs and shrimp are their preference.

March 1, 2021 - Gary Adair caught this striped bass fishing today. He reported, "I got one but missed many more. Still getting dialed in with the new circle hook law. I missed more then I hooked."
Opening day striped bass caught today March 1, 2021 by Gary Adair. He reported, “I got one but missed many more. Still getting dialed in with the new circle hook law. I missed more then I hooked.”

The first place to hunt striped bass that are looking to eat is river side beaches and along the shallow dark bottom mud flats in the backwaters. Here, the water warms first. But sure to target these areas on the outgoing tide to ensure the warmest water possible. Time of day can make a huge difference. Fish midday and afternoons as opposed to mornings. Let the sun get out and warm up the shallow mud flats.

Don’t be afraid to look as far back as possible. You’ll be surprised what you find. As the days get longer, more hours of sunshine warm the waters and soon other areas will begin to produce. Then work towards the point, mouths and adjacent/outer banks.

Winter Flounder Fishing

We are all excited to have fun catching Striped Bass but don’t forget Barnegat Bay offers good winter flounder fishing which also opens March 1st. With a regulation of two flounder at 12″ some overlook the fishery but it is a great way to enjoy early season fishing on the bayside on LBI. I had a ton of fun growing up catching flounder on the Island’s bayside nooks and these same areas still produce. Ship Bottom and Surf City’s bayside dock and street ends offer a multitude of areas to fish. You just need to poke around. There were a few slow years, but last year was one of the better showings in some time. We hope that it’s the beginning of a new cycle and this year keeps the trend rolling.

Both bloodworms and sandworms are favorite early season baits. Winter flounder and striped bass love them.
This fat winter flounder as well as many more were caught by Dave Moores last year during the first week of the season. Worm and a cord bead is the classic approach to catching.

Fish Head Team member Steve-o shares, “If looking for winter flounder you need to pick your days right. I look for the water to break the 42 degree mark (45 is best) and then go on the first sunny day. I like fishing high sun midday. Rig up with a classic winter flounder set up and then soak some bloodworms or sandworm on the bayside. Add a corn kernel for extra bling! I’ve found my ticket to success to be finding and fishing the mussel beds. They are common along some sod banks and they hold fish. There are some areas that can be accessed land based if you know where to look. Another tip, when in the boat chum heavy!”

Current Bait Status

Just a heads up on the bait… We decided to not get live bloodworms for the last weekend of February since opening day the weather looked poor (on the long range when we had to place our bait order). We do our best to have the best bait, so we felt like selling five day old worms on Tuesday and then each day getting progressively older wasn’t the best idea. We expect to have a batch of beautiful bloods this week. We are hoping at latest Wednesday. We will be sure to post on our social media pages when they are in as well as our “Bait Board” on here. In the meantime Dyna Bait offers a great solution. Dynabait Freeze Dried Bloodworms work great, they are convenient and affordable. 

What’s Our Go To?

As many of our blog readers are looking to put a bend in a rod, so is the crew here at Fisherman’s Headquarters! The crew is stoked to get out and go fishing. We get questioned every day what do you guys fish. A quick poll from the crew has these as the top three approaches for early season striped bass fishing.

 Here’s Our Back Bay Favorites

  1. For bait fishing, bloodworms and clam are phenomenal baits that hungry striped bass love
  2. Kettle Creek Shads with Kalins 1⁄2oz jig heads
  3. Yo Zuri Mag Darters (4″ & 5″) & In Shore Minnow (3-1/2″), a top producers every spring for getting those lethargic schoolies to bite.

Here at Fisherman’s Headquarters, we have all your back bay needs in stock and more on the way.

Striped Bass

Opens March 1 – Resident striped bass that call our waters home year round will be hungry. A few days back in the bitter cold store staffer Grey shook the snow dust off with a couple cast and caught two striped bass fishing the bayside.  He tried the same spot this weekend but struck out. “They are definitely around but I wasn’t about to connect the right time and tide.”

This back bay striped bass could not resist a white Kettle Creek Shad fished on a 1/2oz lead head jig/ Such a super simple yet deadly combination!

NJ Striped Bass Regulations: The same limits as 2020 are still in place… One fish 28″ to less than 38″. The 2021 change is inline circle hooks must be used when fishing for striped bass with natural bait. As most know there’s lots of discussion and debate over situational specifics as well as possible exemptions (for bucktail tipped with pork rind, rigged eels, tune and worm rig) but NOTHING was approved in NJ. For right now there are no exemptions!

Here’s two great circle hook options:

Tog Fishing

NJ Tautog Regulations Reminder: New Jersey’s Blackfish “Tog” Tautog season closed on Sunday Feb 28. Team Fish Heads angler Rob Vallone went out aboard the Jamaica this past weekend to try his luck before the end of the tog season. Unfortunately he reported a bad trip. “It as a gorgeous late February day to scratch the itch but the fishing was dead. 14 anglers with only one tog. Ocean pout and big dogfish.”

New Jersey Blackfish Season will re-open April 1, 2021 with a 15″ minimum size and a 4 fish bag limit. There will be a lot of anglers ready to hit it hard after a long winter. A great spot to look on opening day will be the Barnegat Inlet Jetty. Every year April is very productive for land based anglers fishing the rocks with live crabs.

Here’s a photo of Anthony Gagliardi from opening day April 2020, where he limited out with four fish at 15 or better.

Summer Flounder “Fluke” Fishing

NJ Summer Flounder Regulations: For the 2021 New Jersey Fluke Season there were no size limit changes. It is still a 3 fish bag limit with an 18″ minimum size. However the exact season dates are still up in the air. Expect them to be finalized at the NJ Marine Fisheries Meeting this Thursday March 4th 5pm. Link will be posted on this page if you are looking to join in.

There’s two options on the table. NJ Fluke Options:

  • Option 1) May 22nd – September 19th, 121 days (the same as last year)
  • Option 2) May 28th – September 28th, 124 days

The two options really boil down to three days and a slightly earlier or slightly later season? Option 1’s earlier season is preferred by most anglers in South Jersey who want to target fluke in the bays before the Memorial Day rush (May 31, 2021). Option 2’s later season and three extra days is preferred by most anglers in North, Central and some in South Jersey who want the slightly later season to take advantage of fall fluke fishing along the beaches and the ocean waters and reef sites. Obviously the extra three days are a plus. 

After reviewing the options I wrote in that I prefer Option 2. Why? In late May there’s a lot more going on in the local LBI fishery with striped bass, black sea bass, black drum, bluefish and weakfish. The three additional days in September helps anglers fishing the LBI surf and inshore waters. September is a great month for fluke fishing NJ artificial reefs during a time when all other fisheries are slow or close. Option 2 helps close the gap between fluke and sea bass season giving saltwater anglers opportunity to fish.