As July slides into August offshore big game fishing is front and center for Long Beach Island fishing fanatics.
There have been reports of tuna and even billfish catches up to now, but it is really the August days into fall when the offshore fishing really starts to rock. Some savvy captains have found schools of bluefin tuna and yellowfin cruising close to the shoreline, but the true big game fishing happens offshore around the canyons.
Big game fishing has a colorful history in the Long Beach Island community. This includes the 54th annual running of one of the eastern coast’s most notable fishing tournaments, the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s annual White Marlin Invitational Tournament. This year’s event will run from August 16-19 with over $500,000 thousands of dollars in prizes at stake.
At the 2022 53rd Annual BHMTC’s White Marlin Invitational Tournament, the big money winner was Crisdel. Their 194.3-pound heaviest tuna earned them $117,876.
Besides the sport and satisfaction of boating the fish of a lifetime, few fish meals top that of dining on just caught tuna sushi or fresh grilled mahi-mahi fillet.
Catching fish often pushing the 100-pound mark and larger is not for everyone. In addition to being physically challenging, it takes knowledgeable captains with capable boats to navigate the long distances into the Atlantic.
The question then arises, if an angler does not own a boat capable of traveling far off the coast or is not friends with someone who has one, how do you get out to catch one of these trophies?
On Long Beach Island there is more than one answer to this question. There are charter captains based on LBI who offer charters to places such as the Hudson and Baltimore Canyons seeking these big fish.
With the distance to reach the fishing grounds, these are not short trips. One version leaves the dock in the middle of the night to reach the fish grounds by daybreak. The boat trolls the area hoping to entice fish into the bait spread. These trips return to the dock late in the afternoon with tired but hopefully
Another popular trip can take as long as 24 hours. The boat leaves early in the afternoon to reach the fishing grounds before dark. After a couple of hours of trolling, it sets up for a night of fishing, usually chumming fish to the boat.
Once morning arrives, the group may do a little more trolling before leaving the fishing grounds and arriving back to Long Beach Island in the afternoon, one day after departing.
There are alternatives to chartering a boat for the trip that are less expensive. Some captains offer “open boat” trips. Anglers pay individually to fish with others they do not know.
There are also head boats which take a larger number of anglers out on overnight trips offshore. Anglers pay individually to fish with a large group.
This offshore tuna fishing will run into the fall until storms and a declining bite end the fishing for the year. But timing is the key here. Just as the offshore fishery concludes, a new one pops up on Long Beach Island, the annual arrival of striped bass.
In addition to a strong boat fishery for stripers in the fall, the striped bass arrival also means outstanding fishing for shore-based action. The eighteen miles of beach on Long Beach Island offer striped bass opportunities every fall.
Helping to make this striped bass action extra exciting, this fall marks the 69 th annual edition of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. The 2023 version will run from October 7 through December 10. There is a $30 registration fee for adults and one of $15 for youngsters for the opportunity to vie for a wide
variety of prizes. For more info, www.LBISFC.com