Hi Flier Open Boat Stripers/Blues/Fluke

FINALLY! The wind subsides enough to have a good go at it in Barnegat Bay this weekend. I will be loaded up with a flat of sandworms and a bucket of fresh salted clams. The target will be stripers, blues, and fluke. Casting lures along the sod banks and channel edges, drift jigging with shad darts tipped with sandworms usually does well for me this time of year for the schoolie bass. Anchoring up and chumming with the fresh clams can produce bigger stripers. Poppers on the west side for blues if we can find them. We can mix in some fluke fishing, it’s all up to you guys. We will be bringing the “kitchen sink”…something has to work…right? 

Sat, Sun, and Mon, May 14, 15, and 16. 6AM to Noon each day. $165 person, 4 people max. All fish are shared. Also available to charter these dates.

See you on board!

Dave DeGennaro

Hi Flier Sportfishing

732.330.5674 cell

hiflier.com

LBI Surf Fishing Tournament 5/11/22 Report

As I sit at my desk thinking about the surf fishing action on Long Beach Island, I wonder if these northeast winds will ever let up.

At least I see sunshine outside my window as the torrential rains are gone for now. But those darn winds gusting to 30-mph and more keep blowing their brains out. I knew this was going to be one heck of a week when I saw 10-foot waves in the forecast for Sunday and much of the week.

Now the big question is what the fishing will be like when this is all over. I just peeked at NOAA’s marine weather forecast, and it predicts lighter northeast winds on Friday, May 13, of just 10-mph with the wind shifting around to the SE after midnight and into Saturday when the wave heights are projected to drop down.

In my many years at the Jersey coast, I can recall our share of northeast storms, but few come to mind that were as strong and as lengthy in duration. But enough of that negative stuff, let’s see what positive things we might have in store for us.

Before looking at the surf action, take note of the pre-storm happenings in the bay waters. This year’s start to the summer founder season was earlier than it has been for a while. First results were very promising with many limits reported, especially in the Great Bay area. I heard of good catches inside Barnegat Inlet also. I didn’t hear much from mid-island waters, but that could very well be due to a lack of anglers trying there.

There were goodly numbers of smallish stripers in the bay waters, especially on the west side of the bay and around the LBI Causeway, with a few keepers in the mix. As is usual for this time of the year, drumfish are feeding near the sodbanks in the Tuckerton and Great Bays and assorted islands in that area.

Early season blue-claw crab action was an increase over recent years with recreational crabbers doing quite well on keepers.

The striped bass action in the surf of LBI was just really heating up when the storm arrived. In addition to keeper sized slot fish showing up, a surprising number of stripers over the 38-inch limit were being reeled in. A couple of bluefish even showed their faces.

A true barometer of what the action was like is to take a gander at the entries in the Long Beach Island Derby which began April 2 and runs until June 26. A total of 10 fish were weighed in prior to the storm with nine bass and one bluefish.

Courtland Foos leads the striper section with his 22.86-pounder caught on May 1 in Brant Beach on bunker. The fish measured 37.75-inches. Jay Shayne beached the second place linesider on May 3 in Surf city, a fish measuring just under37-inches and weighing 20.22-pounds.

Vince Orzel landed the only bluefish thus far on May 3 on a plug in Barnegat Light. The chopper weighed in at 5.52-pounds.

Of the nine stripers entered so far, 1 fell for fresh bunker, 3 for salted clam, and the rest for fresh clam. Holgate and Brant Beach produced the most fish with 3 each while Surf City provided 2 and Spray Beach 1.

There are cash prizes for the top fished entered in the contest with photo prizes which give anglers the opportunity to share their catches and still release them safely.

Registration for the Derby can be accomplished at any of the three official weigh-in stations. These are Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, and Surf City Bait and Tackle in Surf City.

The official website for the event is  www.lbisfc.com. Those of you on Facebook can check out the event on its Facebook site, LBI Surf Fishing Tournament.

Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that these winds finally start to shut down. Once the waters clear up, there is not reason for good action to return.

Fishing For Striped Bass With Circle Hooks

Like it or not, state and federal circle hook gear restrictions will eventually become law with more species. It’s time to learn about circle hooks and perfect your technique fishing with them. While this is mainly focused around circle hooks and striped bass fishing, a lot of the ideas can be used for others.

Because circle hooks require a different approach, a lot of anglers need time to get comfortable. But like anything else, practice and learning from others is the best way to fast track your way to success. This article is for anglers who have never fished a circle hook before. And hopefully it also helps anglers who have some circle hook fishing experience too. Let’s start with the basics and go from there.

What Is A Circle Hook?

A circle hook is a style of fishing hook which is very round with a hook point perpendicular to the hook shank. An inline hook is not offset, meaning the hook’s point, barb and shank are all on the same plane.

Styles of hooks showing a j-hook, circle hook, inline and offset.
Photo: Maryland DNR

How to confirm if a circle hook is inline? Lay the hook on the edge of flat table. An inline hook will lay flat. An offset hook will show its offset bent hook point and not lay flat. Offsetting a circle hook (bending the point to one side of the shank) reduces the conservation benefit of circle hooks.

The benefit of inline circle hooks is they set/catch fish in the jaw and radically reduce deep/gut hooking events. From a conservation perspective inline circle hooks reduce injury to fish and cause far less catch and release mortality.

The benefit of inline circle hooks is they set/catch fish in the jaw and radically reduce deep/gut hooking events. From a conservation perspective inline circle hooks reduce injury to fish and cause far less catch and release mortality.

Choosing The Right Circle Hook

Circle hooks are effective and dependable. But like all hooks, the anglers must choose the right one for the job. Unfortunately the fishing industry lacks a hook sizing standard so it can be confusing to compare hooks. This is especially challenging when looking at different manufacturers’ offerings. It’s always best to have the hooks in hand.

Fishing Hook Terminology & Characteristics:

The various styles of fishing hooks have distinct features which set them apart. Both a hooks profile/shape and the gauge/thickness wire stock used is very important. A hook can be broken down to these parts; eye/ring, shank, bend, gap/gape, throat/bite, point/spear and barb.

Fishing Hook Terminology & Characteristics: How well do you know hooks?
Fishing Hook Terminology & Characteristics: How well do you know hooks?

Circle Hook Size & Gap

When choosing a circle hook be mindful of the bait being used. Due to the relationship of a circle hook’s shank and hook point, the size and its gap must be considered. Always match the hook to the bait. A hook that is too large or too small is no good. Never ever choke the hook’s gap. Blocking the gap prevents the circle hook’s working ability. Both the hook size and hook’s wire gauge are very important.

Circle Hook Gauge Choice

Generally speaking nothing more than a light to medium wire hook is needed for targeting striped bass. A lighter wire hook is used for the easiest hook sets. But lighter wire means lighter line, lighter drag, lighter tackle approach. Using a big reel and a broom stick rod is not the recipe for success when fishing circle hooks. Thicker gauge hooks means more strength but these hooks do not set and penetrate past the barb as easily as medium or light wire hooks. For this reason it’s best to leave thick gauge circle hooks for big game fishing with heavy tackle for sharks, tuna and marlin fishing. Even in some of these cases a medium wire hooks will work better.

This cocktail bluefish ate a light/medium wire circle hook that was rigged up with a live bait for striped bass. Take note that when fishing circle hooks the use of wire leader isn't really necessary due to the lip/jaw hooking.
This cocktail bluefish ate a medium wire circle hook that was rigged up with a live bait for striped bass. Take note that when fishing circle hooks the use of wire leader isn’t really necessary due to the lip/jaw hooking.

The Best Circle Hooks For Striped Bass

All of the top hooks brands make quality circle hooks options. Each one has slightly different variations in design, features and price points. The following are great options for striped bass fishing with bait.

Gamakatsu 2214 Octopus Inline Circle Hook

This mid-wire octopus inline circle hook is forged for strength. The bent is some what flat allowing for a little more are for a chunk bait to sit. It’s turned up eye is great for snelling and offers the best presentation. This is one of the best hooks for chunking and live bait fishing for striped bass! Gamakatsu Octopus Inline Circle Hooks

This is one of the best all around inline circle hooks for saltwater fishing

Owner 5179 Octopus Inline Circle Hook

This mid-wire hook has a straight eye, round octopus like bend and a large gap. It’s a great hook for both striped bass, redfish and billfish. There is also the 5114T which features Owner’s elongated “Mutu” style shape. It’s said that this elongated more oval like than circle helps increase the jaw hook ratio and has more strength once the hook is seated. Owner Octopus Inline Circle Hooks & Owner Mutu Inline Circle Hooks

Here’s two great hooks from Owner. On the left the all purpose “octopus style” 5179. On the right the “mutu style” 5114T.

Mustad 39951NP Med/Hvy Inline Circle Hook

The Mustad 39951NP is a medium/heavy wire hook (shown in the photo below) that is good for anglers looking to chunk bunker or any extra large baits with heavy tackle. For bunker chunking use the 9/0 or 10/0 size. Mustad also have some other great inline hook options. The Mustad 39928 is an Ultra Point mid-wire forged in-line circle hook has an octopus style shape which features a very round profile and a turned up eye. The Mustad 39944 is also a great hook which has a better price point, slightly shorter shank length, straight eye and is not forged.

Photo: Mustad 39951NP Circle Hook

BKK Inline Circle Hook

The BKK Hybrid Heavy Inline Circle Hooks feature a medium gauge wire inline circle hook that has a turned back eye, great for snelling. The hook shape has a very round curve, similar to the Owner 5179. BUT the BKK Hybrid Heavy Circle has a shorter shank and also taller rise from bend to barb giving the hook more throat. This offers two key advantages. One, more throat allows the hook’s bend to better accept bait without choking the gap. Two, once a fish is tight and hooked up it is much harder for fish to shake off these hooks, delivering a great hook-to-landed ration. BKK also has a proprietary “Super Slide” finish and coating that enhances hook penetration performance.

BKK (Black King Kong) is a fairly underground hook maker, really only know within the jig and pop crowds until recently. With the rise of Nomad Design Lures (all outfitted with BKK hooks) the brand has grown in popularity. One thing is for sure… they make some of the world’s best hooks!

Eagle Claw L2196PG Baitholder In-line Circle Hook

This is the Baitholder In-Line Circle Hook that is perfect for fishing clams and worms. The barbs are on the shank so it is very important that the angler does not bait up and choke the gap. Do not use this hook with large chunk baits! The L2004 is a very popular hook for the billfish and guys. It too is good for striped bass in the 6/0 – 10/0 sizes.

Eagle Claw Baitholder Circle Hook

VMC 7385 In-Line Circle Hook

This mid gauge wire forged non-offset circle hook is great for all purpose saltwater use. Featuring a unique elongated bend (similar to the Owner Mutu) with an extra large gap, straight eye and a small barb.

Also check out the VMC 7385LKCB. It’s a new idea, sort of specialty hook with a “B-Lok” (bait lock) stopper. The stopper, keeps the bait properly in place at the bottom of the hook bend and prevents the bait from creeping up the hook shank. This ensures the bait doesn’t choke the hook gap. In essence reduced the chances of missing a fish due to the impeding the hook up.

The VMC 7385BL B-Lok features VMS’s patented bait lock stopper to keep baits in the right place all the time. This extra wide gap, forged inline circle hook is great for chunking baits for striped bass.

Better Fish Circle Hooks – Blog Coming Soon

LBI Fishing Report May 2, 2022

It was a great weekend here on LBI, fishing out the month of April and kicking off the new month of May with phenomenal weather and really good fishing. Here’s the Long Beach Island fishing report for May 2, 2022.

Anglers in recent days have caught striped bass as well as a few black drum and bluefish. We also heard of a couple fluke, which as of today May 2 is open season here in NJ. Let’s Go Fishing!!!

Bluefish At LBI

Bluefish are slowly showing up. A few reports from the LBI surf and the bay. David Gerard reported catching a 14″ in his lagoon on Friday afternoon, “At sunset they were jumping like crazy. But I cooled off.” His catch was on a SP Minnow lure.

Landon Moore caught this yellow eye off the mid-Island surf on a teaser. He also caught a bunch of herring on Kettle Creek paddle tails.

Black Drum Fishing At LBI

Black Drum are still being caught in the bay and a couple on the surf too (see Emmit’s catch on the last report update). Gio DeMarco (below) reported, “Took awhile but finally landed one.”

Fluke Fishing On LBI

Fluke – It’s that time again!!! Fluke season is open and anglers are finding fish. On Saturday Steve George from Night Strikes Guide Service posted a photo after a guide and shared, “What a beautiful day on the Island. I got out with Ryan and Andrew and we caught a 20″ fluke.” The day before Steve reported, “They are here!” And had a photo of a small bluefish he caught off the surf. He also caught some herring and small bass.

Striped Bass Fishing On LBI

Striped Bass activity on the surf and in the bay is and has been great. Here’s some recent catch photos that were sent in.

Chunking fresh bunker off the LBI surf Courtland Foos first caught a dog fish. Then this 37.75″ striped bass which earned him the current top spot in the current LBI Spring Surf FIshing Tournament. www.lbisfc.com/lbi-spring-surf-fishing-tournament
Jim Radvany caught this 37.5″ striped bass off the LBI surf on clam.
Tom Schnitzler caught and released this 41″ on clam fishing the mid-Island surf on Friday evening just before dusk.
Korey Renart caught this 42″ bass off the LBI surf on clam this weekend while fishing the American Angler surf fishing tournament.
James Walsh caught and released this 40″ striped bass on clam.
Brett Blake caught this striped bass on salted clam off the Beach Haven surf. He reported, “I appreciate the salted clam. It did the trick!”
Scott Jerden caught this striped bass off the mid-Island surf on Saturday.
Here’s Dan Cells with one of two striped bass he caught and released off the LBI surf this weekend.