The final week and a half of the 67th annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is here, and it appears the striped bass are going to make it an exciting finish.
The last few days of November and those of early December have produced some hectic action on the front beaches of Long Beach Island. Prior to November 29, a total of 13 striped bass had been weighed in for the tournament. With six arriving on the 30th and another five on the 30th, that total almost doubled to 25 fish! Check here for the live results page.
Nick DeGennaro still holds the lead with his 18.02-pound linesider he caught in Barnegat Light on a lure.
Lures of several types now seem to be catching the most bass as opposed to bunker which was the hot bait early in the Classic. Successful offerings have worked well on the fish including bucktails, Hopkins, Daiwa SP Minnows, rubber swim shads like those from Tsunami. Also topwater plugs are stand out producers. One of the best is the Tsunami Talking Poppers.
Bird play is marking schools of bait and feeding bass. The fish can be seen breaking the surface as they chase and feed on large schools of peanut bunker. At times these feeds have been full on blitz conditions.
Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom attributes the success of artificials to the presence of spiny dogfish in the wash. These scavengers feed ravenously on any bait they come across. They do not attack artificials with the same intensity. He recommends anglers try to “match the hatch” using artificials that fit the profile of peanut bunker.
Cudnik says he was pleased as the fish arrived and notes this arrival is in line with previous years. A goodly number of the fish being caught are in the keeper-size range making them eligible for the Classic. “There are still good numbers of fish to the north, and they should keep arriving on our beaches well into December.”
Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven reports the surf temperature on the beach recently has been slowly dropping with the most recent reading coming in at 52-degrees. They are especially encouraged for the upcoming actions as the heavy surf fishing action has reached Surf City and is moving south. Earlier in the week they heard of a ”peanut bunker frenzy” with particularly good action in Harvey Cedars.
They officially weighed in a striper weighing 8.72-pounds caught by Frankie Lenetti was weighed in on Tuesday. Frankie works at Surf City Bait and Tackle and Fisherman’s Headquarters. As per Classic rules, he brought the fish to a shop he is not associated with.
Aimee Welsh from Surf City Bait and Tackle calls the arrival of the striper schools “a breath of fresh air.” She is hoping for “neck and neck excitement” for the last week of the Classic especially since the fish are in the 8–12-pound range.”
Welsh expects the next couple of weeks to be just as good for bass and perhaps even better. She admits being pleased at the success recently of bass being taken on artificial presentations rather than bait. “I think that adds to the sport of it.”
The Classic will conclude on Sunday, December 12. It is 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.