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.
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.
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.