LBI Classic Fishing Report 3/26/23

Spring has sprung, and the 2023 striped bass fishery in the Long Beach Island area has gotten off to a good start. A prime factor for this is the water temperature being several degrees warmer than usual. 

There seems to be an abundance of fish in local bay waters as well as the creeks feeding into the bay along with the Mullica River. Most of these fish are under the legal keeper size of 28-inches, but some over that have been reported. 

Heather Goldner is having fun enjoying time on the water striped bass fishing.

Typically, the prime bait for these stripers has been live bloodworms. Artificial worms such as Fish Bites and Dynabait work too. Linesiders are also being caught on artificials, especially at night. This includes offerings such as plugs and poppers as well as soft plastics.

Surprisingly, there have already been some reports of bunker already in bay waters which is a good sign for the fish. 

Typical spring fishing is done in shallow waters where the water warms up sooner. In addition, sunny days coupled with outgoing tides seem to work best. 

Most of the fishing is done from shore due to the fact that most boats are still in dry dock. In early spring the bass tend to hang around the sod banks, bridges, river mouths and bays. As mentioned earlier, bloodworms are the top choice, but clams can be used too.

LBI Spring Derby – Starts Soon

With action happening from docks and sodbanks on Long Beach Island, the attention of many anglers is turning to the 21st Annual Spring Derby which runs from April 1 to June 25. This is a competition for registered anglers fishing from shore anywhere on Long Beach Island.

The cost of registration is $20 with all registration money going to cash prizes. There are three cash prizes for striped bass and one for bluefish. In the striped bass division 50% of registration fees go to the largest fish, 25% to second  place, and third place earns 10%. The angler catching the largest bluefish receives 15% of the pot. 

A unique aspect of this spring event is that it is conducted with an eye on conservation. With only grand prizes, an angler can quickly take note if a catch is worthy of a prize. Those falling short can be released if the angler wishes. 

As with the Fall Classic, this contest is for shoreline fishing only. There are not many rules other than the angler must be registered before catching the fish and be the sole person handling the rod.

Naturally, New Jersey state fishing regulations apply, and anglers should be registered with the NJ saltwater registry. There are three official weigh-in stations where contestants can pre-register for the contest.  These are Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait and Tackle, and Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven.

LBI Fall Classic History – The Early Days

Continuing a previous article regarding the background of striped bass fishing on Long Beach Island, in 1960 the fall Classic was called the LBI Striped Bass Derby and was a 41-day event. Anglers from far and wide including Canada, Indiana, and Washington participated. 

The grand prize, a 4-wheel drive jeep, was won by Ernie Lewis of Bristol, Pa., for his 45-pound, 15-ounce fish. Arnold Bloom of Pennsauken took second with a 44-pound, 11-ounce linesider good for a Simca station wagon. 

Jumping ahead to 1963 2,644 anglers paid a $3 registration fee. Top prizes were a pair of $1,000 E-bonds and a console television. James Warner of Hatboro, Pa, took first place honors with a 48-pound, 3-ounce fish. 

1963 was also the year that the  95-foot scalloper, “Sea King” struck the jetty off Barnegat Light while towing the “Prescott,” a decommissioned Navy minesweeper. Both vessels went aground. The “Prescott” was refloated but the “Sea King” remained.  Its mast is still on the beach and part of the history of Barnegat Light and Long Beach Island.

1963 – The 95’ scalloper, Sea King struck the jetty off Barnegat Light while towing the Prescott (USS PCS-1423, decommissioned Navy mine-sweeper). They both went aground on Barnegat Light beach.

Let’s Go Fishing!

It has been a long winter, and there are fish here. It is now time to break out the fishing gear and get some lines in the water. 

Fishing Report 3/22/23

Great weather here on LBI this week but things are turning. Tomorrow (Thursday) a southerly wind and wind swell blows in a 2-3′ swell on the beaches which will stick around all weekend with the support of a coastal low pushing through Saturday night.

The cold blast last week has curbed the spring progression but didn’t stop it. Recent days have offered fun fishing for anglers fishing live bloodworms. There’s no better bait at this stage of the game. Early spring striped bass and winter flounder LOVE BLOODS! Right now we are loaded up with premium live bloodworms!

Dave Moores caught a couple winter founder recently fishing the Barnegat Bay.

Mike Nunziato had some fun fishing Great Bay a few days back.

Some sharpies are catching with artificial; however, most are finding slower fishing with lures. Store staffer Frezza has been getting out and catching. Store staffer Paul has been putting in his fair share of time and catching too. Store staffer Eric is catching a lot of bass this spring. Just the other day he caught a released 27″ tagged striped bass. He called it in and is waiting for the details. Each and everyone had a great story.

I went for a walk on the beach this morning and had gannet dive bombing all over! See this video!

Most Recent Fishing LBI Report Video

NJ Saltwater Expo

This past weekend’s NJ Saltwater Expo was another awesome show. It once again blew out our expectations. Thanks to all who attended and patronized the booth. We greatly appreciate everyone’s support.

LBI Fishing Report 3/12/23

Some years start off cold and slow but not this year. So far early spring striped bass fishing the bayside of Long Beach Island has been nothing short of exceptional. The bass are and have been ravenous, chewing baits and lures. The team is getting into good fun fishing. Reports from customers fishing the greater local area are also positive. The local river action continues and spots in the adjacent river mouths/bays are turning on.

Bloodworms are the bait of choice! We suggest fishing bloods on a high-low rig (2/0-4/0 circle baitholder by Eagle Claw) with a 2-3 ounce bank sinker. Fish Heads Tip: DyanBait freeze dried bloodworms or Fishbites BagO’Worms are two great options to get more milage out of your live bloods. Also juice it up with Fin-Essence

In the evenings and nights cast small swimming plugs like a Daiwa SP Minnow, Yo-Zuri Inshore Fingerling in both sizes, Nomad Shikari 95 size and Rapala SXR 10. Swim shads are a go too option and must have in the bag. NLBN 3 inch with a ⅜- ¾  oz head or a 5” Kettle Creek paddle tail has always been a staple.

During the early months of the season the bass tend to hang around the sod banks, bridges, rivers, river mouths and bays. A seven or eight foot rod (Option 1: Tsunami Airwave Elite Light – TSAWESS-762LT $169.99, Option 2: Magictail Inshore Light – MT-701SL $219.99) paired up with a 3-4k sized reel (Option 1: Penn Battle DX 3/4k $149.99, Option 2: Shimano Stradic 3/4k $219.99) make the perfect combo to have fun with some of the local early season schoolies!

Other Fishing Opportunities

White perch are highly sought after during the winter and spring. These delicious panfish can be caught on bait and artificial. Grass shrimp, bloodworms and earthworms are the baits of choice. Small grubs and minnow style soft plastics 1-2″, 3″ at absolute most, work on a small jig or can be fished on a float.

Winter flounder are another tasty species to catch during the spring months. These are best targeted using bloodworms as well as clam and/or a kernel of corn. Chumming is suggested. Winter flounder have much smaller mouths than summer flounder so be sure to use a small hook or use a classic winter flounder rig.

Tide Chasers Podcast

Over the winter I was asked to join in on the podcast and share a little bit about myself, business, fishing, the LBI area, offshore wind and much more. The Tide Chaser Podcast is live now!

LBI Fishing Report Week 1

March 1 – March 5th

Striped Bass season kicked off with a bang on Wednesday, March 01.  As expected with the moderately warm winter the fish are here and active in LBI’s bay and tributary rivers.  On opening day, the bite was strong with bass chewing both live bloodworms and lures. On the lure side; 3 inch No Live Bait Needed, Tsunami Swim Shads, Kettle Creeks, Rapala Xraps, Nomad Design Max Vibes and Shikaris were the ticket to get tight.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday the lure bite slowed somewhat with the water dropping a few degrees, but the blood worm bite remained.

There’s good numbers of bass here locally and some have been caught to 34 inches. With the days getting longer and hopefully warmer and sunny, the water should jump back up a few degrees to turn the lure bite back on.

Stop in the shop to get geared up for all your back bay fishing needs. If not in the local area we can get a tackle package of essential sent quickly to you. Reach out or shop online, FishermansHeadquarters.com.

P.S. No reports on winter flounder but now is a good time to try for them.

Booking Now 2023 Summer Fluke Surf Fishing Trips on LBI

The 2023 Regulations have been set and they are the same as last year.
Opening Day on Tuesday May 2nd and until Wednesday 9/27.
*5 Month Season
Size & Bag Limits:
3 fish possession limit with a slot. Two fish at 17 to 17.99 inches and one fish at 18 inches or greater.
*Message Me for more information if you are interested in booking a trip to enjoy / learn such a great fishery we have here during the entire Summer on beautiful Long Beach Island NJ
Prime Time Days go fast especially weekends so it pays to set your day/dates early before the season starts.

**Can’t wait to see what adventures wait in 2023 as I celebrate 40yrs fishing the Jersey Shore 👍 and I hope you can join me.

call 609-276-6983 or Email me at Nightstrikes@comcast.net and you can also find me on FaceBook & Instagram

Book Now for Summer 2023 on LBI NJ
Some nice Summer Fluke from last year all caught off the beaches of LBI NJ

Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC / Steve George

How The Sharpies Fish The Early Spring

The early spring can offer some of the year’s best fishing. With regards to our local area, south central NJ coast, Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin Bay and the areas in close proximity to the north and south anglers have great fishing opportunities. It’s usually special because compared to the fall there is a lot less anglers fishing. But don’t expect great fishing off the LBI surf or at the inlets. In the early spring look around back!

What to catch in the early spring

Striped Bass, Winter Flounder, White Perch

Baits: Baits like live bloods are always best and effective on all three species. No fish can turn down an east to digest worm in the early spring! If the price of live bloods or the necessary care that comes along with live baits is a hassle for you, check out DynaBait’s Freeze Dried Bloodworms. Other natural soft baits like squid and clam are options. Grass shrimp is a prime bait for perch. Also striped bass love them. Last September I was grass shrimping for weakfish and caught a winter flounder so I know they eat shrimp too. For worming bass early season these TNT rigs are perfect. Here’s the classic winter flounder rig options from Tide Rite.

Lures: Soft plastics are great in the spring when fishing shallow water with a slow approach. The Kettle Creeks and Tsunami Swim Shads have worked very well for me over the years. More recently I have fallen in love with the No Live Bait Needed. Skinny minnow pattern plugs are good too as they match the jumbo spearing that are commonly around in the early spring. I like the Yo-zuri Fingerling , Yo-zuri Mag Minnow or Daiwa DSPM13 SP Minnow. Anglers can never go wrong with a small jig like a bucktail or a lead head rigged with a plastic. Also popper draw attention to trigger strikes and are easy to fish in shallow areas. My best catching back bay popper is the Stillwater Smack-It Jr and the Storm Chug Bug.

When to fish the early spring

Fish the warmest water you can find, which is commonly mid to later in the day, shallow areas on the outgoing time.

Where to fish the early spring

Sorry I can’t publish exact spots but stop in and patronize the shop, get to know the team and we’ll help point you in the right direction. It’s best to start out searching for public access on Google Maps or Google Earth. Lots of valuable information can be gathered scouting satellite images as well as the old school method of nautical charts (we have them in the shop) or the new school method of Navionics. Some local fish producing general areas over the years… the Mullica River and the river mouth, Great Bay area, Toms River and the many west side of the bay creeks. All are fishy area to scout. The early spring is all about fishing the rivers, creeks, sod banks and bay!

How to fish the early spring

Generally speaking in the early spring, approach with a slower retrieve, smaller lure profiles. As the spring progresses larger profiles will prevail. On the bait side of the game, nothing beat live blood worm for striped bass and winter flounder. Other details were previously provided in the sections above under baits and lures.

Another Major Considerations…

Current Water Temperatures

The water temperature is one of the most important factors to consider in the spring. Much more so now than in the fall. Why? Because the waters are cold and the fish are on the lethargic side. As the days get longer (March 17th will be the first time we have 12 hours of sunlight 7:06am – 7:06PM) the sun warms the rivers and shallow areas of the bay first, especially darker mud bottoms. As we get into spring the average daily temperatures help turn up the dial too. As these shallow waters warm the bottom water temperatures especially in deeper areas stay cold. This stratified water column can make or break an outing. Tide plays a huge role is spring time fishing success too. It’s even more important when fishing closer to the ocean or ares that have ocean water tidal flow/influence.

Here’s current water temperature data for the Barnegat Bay from USGS. The top chart details the west side of the bay near Waretown. The bottom chart details the east side of the bay, near the inlet in Barnegat Light. The Barnegat Light location gets both bay (outgoing) and ocean (incoming) waters temperature readings depending on the tide. The Waretown location gets much less influence of ocean water.

Looking at the past 30 day chart… The Barnegat Bay water temperature at Waretown is currently (3/1/23 2:30PM) at 45º. It had a low of 30º on Feb 4th at 2:49am and a high of 48º on Feb 17th at 3:45pm and then again on Feb 21st at 3:54pm. Barnegat Light is currently at 42º (3/1/23 2:30PM). It had a low of 32º on Feb 5th at 3:30am and a high of 45º on Feb 17th at 2:49pm and then again on Feb 24th at 5:30pm.

The ocean temperature yesterday record by IBSP Park ranger 44º.