Despite rough surf conditions caused by a nasty northeaster, the 67th annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic opened up on Saturday, October 9, and already has three entries on the board.
The Classic offers cash prizes for striped bass, bluefish, kingfish, and red drum. The first entries of 2021 were all kingfish, taken on fresh bloodworms. Topping the chart at this point is the 1.06-pound kingfish
caught by Austin Campbell, entered in the juvenile division.
Campbell caught his fish on Tuesday, October 12, on the beach in Surf City and weighed it in at Surf City Bait and Tackle. He is fishing as a member of the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club.
The first two entries were caught on opening day, Saturday, October 9. Derek Mason Jr. landed his 1.04-pound king in the Holgate area and weighed the fish in at Jingles Bait and Tackle. Ted Schmid II weighed
catch weighing just under one pound. He caught his fish in Barnegat Light and also checking it at Surf City Bait and Tackle.
Now that the rough seas are calming down, registered anglers are looking forward to this weekend and the upcoming days on the beach. Water temperatures are dropping indicating the arrival of migrating bass is getting closer.
The main question at this point is what should anglers be targeting right now? Connor Smilon from Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven recommends targeting kingfish with either fresh bloodworms or Fish Bites. He adds other options might be looking for a bluefish with fresh mullet or stripers with lures.
Emmet Fitzgerald at Surf City Bait and Tackle also suggests aiming for kingfish. “Most definitely,” He replied when asked. In addition to using bloodworms, Fitzgerald lauded the use of chartreuse Fish Bites. “I have been using chartreuse, and they are really working for me,” noted Fitzgerald. He acknowledged the presence of some stripers toward Barnegat Inlet in the 24-26-inch range.
Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom made it three votes for kingfish. Cudnik does suggest fishing with two rods. He likes the idea of fishing one lighter rod with small hooks and bait for kings while fishing another larger rod baited either with clams or mullet on the chance a striper is in the area.
Helping to kick off the contest Saturday was the annual surf fishing seminar conducted by the Long Beach Island Fishing Club. Weather conditions reduced the turnout this year, but the presentations were accompanied by some very productive questions and answer sessions. Cudnik went so far as to say, “This might have been the best we have ever had.”
The seminar is held each year for registrants of the Classic and is geared to provide information for beginners and veteran anglers alike. Besides the information refreshments were provided in the form of doughnuts from the Crust and Crumb Bakery in Beach Haven and coffee from How You Brewin in Surf City.
The Classic will run until December 12. Registration can be handled at any of the bait and tackle shops mentioned above. Complete information on the contest can be found at www.LBISFC.com