With true fall-like temperatures finally showing up and water temperatures dropping into the mid and lower 50’s, the striped Bass action in the 67th annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is showing an uptick.
Although no bluefish have been entered in the contest yet, the number of striped bass entered continues to rise.
While the bite along with weigh-ins in the Classic has been spotty at times, there have been enough good catches scattered in to inspire optimism for the upcoming days. In addition, fish caught by anglers registered in the contest, other fish have shown up the length of Long Beach Island.
In fact, the three top fish on the leaderboard have been caught in the past week. Currently sitting on top is a bass weighing 18.02-pounds caught by Nick DeGennaro on November 20 in Barnegat Light. Taken on an artificial presentation, the fish measured out to 34.5-inches.
Richard Bergman rests in second place with an 18.0-pounder also caught in Barnegat Light on mullet. Merle Van Liew beached a fish weighing 17.06-pounds on bunker in Beach Haven good for third place at the moment. The fish measured out at 37 and seven-eighths inches.
With the four-day Thanksgiving weekend on the horizon and plenty of prizes left in the Classic, there seems to be optimism for action to pick up.
Aimee Welsh from Surf City Bait and Tackle says she is keeping her fingers crossed that the ocean water temperature continues to drop. “If the cooler weather continues, I think the action will get better and better.” She feels the action will be strong right into 2002.
Connor Smilon from Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven says he expects the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend to be a good one for catching bass on the beach. “I am looking forward to a push of bigger stripers and maybe even some bluefish.” He added that he has heard of some large blues appearing north of Long Beach Island.
Smilon also stated that he anticipates striper action in December to be much like last year when the fish were around throughout the month.
One problem that has been plaguing surf anglers this fall has been a surge of spiny dogfish that attack natural bait. Their aggressive presence makes it difficult at times keeping the bait around long enough for the stripers to get to it.
Although the stripers continue to prefer natural bait, artificial presentations have been catching fish. Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters endorses the use of artificials to avoid the pesky dogfish. One of his customers picked up one on a Kettle Creek soft bait paddle-tail on a lead-head. The same anglers also beached a linesider on a diamond jig.
The Classic will run until December 12. With lots of prizes still up for grabs, it’s not too late to register for the contest. 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.
Recent history has shown that the next two or three weeks ahead produce the most fish weighed in for the tournament.