Happy New Years From Fish Heads

This past year was a good one with some great fishing throughout the year. We have a lot to celebrate and also look forward to in 2024. From the entire team at Fishermans Headquarters, Happy New Year! We wish you all the best in the new year.

In celebration of New Year’s Day the store will be closed, Monday January 1, 2024. On Tuesday we will be back at the helm on our winter hours; 7AM to 7PM for now but that might be cut back another hour or two so stay tuned or call to confirm.

Reminder with the new year come some changes…

  • Tog is now at a 4 fish bag limit, Jan 1- Feb 28th
  • Black Sea Bass season is closed, opens May 17th (pending regulation changes)
  • Striped bass fishing is closed in the back bays and rivers until March 1st. Until then only surf and ocean is open.
  • NJ Striped Bass Bonus Program is closed effective 1/1/2024, Logs are due by 1/12/2024
  • Remember to renew your recreational saltwater fishing registry! New for 2024 the process is done through the NJ Fish & Wildlife licenses and permits web portal. 

2023 ends but there’s more gas in the tank! Fish on!

Even on the last day of the year, there’s still some good fishing taking place by both beach and boat anglers.

Yesterday Nate Kirby and his uncle enjoyed some time fishing the surf and caught a couple stripers. Nate said the teaser was getting it done. Today Joe Handley caught a 26″ striped bass fishing the mid island surf on clam. He reported an active whale and some birds in the area so that means there’s bait present. One can assume bunker and or sandeels. Another LBI surf fishing report came in from Gary Grippaldi when he stopped by the shop to pick up his LBI Surf Fishing Classic Surf Master’s Award for catching the combine total three largest striped bass in the catch and release division. His combined 113 points (~inches) scored him a glass engraved plaque, a custom fishing lure lot and a $100 Fish Heads Gift Card. He shared, “Still a couple little guys around!”

Boat anglers have gotten after the bass too! In recent days great blitz fishing was reported by a number of customers fishing the near shore waters of LBI, IBSP and Seaside. Captain Steve aboard the Reel Fantasea has put his clients on fish all year and the last couple days of the year were icing on the cake. Capt Steve said the fishing was on fire!

December and January are prime time for tog!

Right now is the time to get after big tog. Fishing has not been as good as previous years, possibly due to a variety of reasons. The recent storm was the biggest swell the area has seen in many years and that surly spin up the bottom and shuffled things. Also the past couple years have put much more pressure on the stock now that compared to ten years ago. New anglers targerting the species, new tackle advancements as well as new technologies being adopted by the masses like trolling motors (GPS anchor) and high resolution chartography. These make anglers much more efficient. Ok so the tog fishing isn’t lights out epic, BUT there are limit catches and some double digit trophies hitting the deck. What more can you ask for? Whether fishing the rig or the jig get live white and/or green crabs and hit your favorite wreck or reef site.

LBI Fishing Report 12/21/23

Right now the area is still recovering from the bomb cyclone that generated the largest swell the region/area has seen in decades. Turbidity and residual swell is still here today and it looks to linger a few more days. Slowly the ocean is settling down and the water will soon clear up. Once eased, we look forward to some late year fishing for both tog, striped bass and tuna.

Three Options: Tog, Bass, Tuna

Before the blow all three of these species were good targets.

Tog – Late year and all winter offer good fishing opportunities for tautog fishing. Bait up with live crabs and pick a good weather day for your best shot at a double digit tog on the jig or the rig. Now’s the time! There’s no better baits than live white crabs and we have some beauties in stock right now. Give us a call to reserve a half or full bushell of the best white crabs you can find!

Striped Bass – Striped bass fishing in the boat will most likely be a trolling game but we have our fingers crossed for some more late year feeding flurries of action. This fall was awesome so whatever plays out it icing on the cake! On the surf if fishing bait, go with smaller bunker chunks or clam. On the lure side of things think sand eels; Diamond Jig with a sand eel teaser, Needlefish lures or slender swimming plugs like the Daiwa SP Minnow.

I expect fishing to be better in the afternoons when the sun has had all day to warm the surface/surf temps and also it provides time for lazy lethargic stripers to wake up and stretch out. That’s not to say a morning trip isn’t worth it but that’s my suggestion.

Tuna – The inshore bluefin fun action this entire year has been one to remember AND it’s not over. Alot of fish have moved through the areas but there’s still more time to get after them. Both the casting game and trolling has produced. When they aren’t foaming trolling is the more effective way and there’s no better choice than pulling ballyhoo way way back. We have PREMIUM Baitmaster Ballyhoo in stock as well as Joe Shute Trolling Lures and Magictail HooMagic Trolling Lures in stock both rigged and unrigged.

Gigantic feeding frenzy and not a boat present!

Great report from Captain Jeff Davis aboard Let It Fly Charters

Sunday December 10th, Party of 4, 6:00am departure from Van’s Marina in Barnegat Light. Threats of high winds, rain, pressure dropping, Gale Force Warnings issued by NOAA. Results = Inlet very normal, seas normal, wind normal, no rain. “Red sky in the morning; sailors take warning”?

Not another boat going out. Barely first light, we begin to search for birds working, although we can barely see, scanning the fish finder. Not one boat in any direction as far as the eye can see. We literally have the ocean to ourselves. So we begin to zig zag back and forth from beach at 25-30 feet deep to 50-60 feet heading north up as far as the Pavilion along Island Beach State Park. Very few birds looking along with the fish finder screen showing next to nothing.

We trolled a little bit and picked a 1/2 dozen fish. Then headed up the beach a little more. That was when all hell broke loose!

First we saw bird play and then the bait and stripers filled the fish finder screen solid. We took light spinning outfits with Ava 27 diamond jigs, one Atom popper and one Nordic Eel. It was clouds of birds down on the surface of the water feeding. Stripers hitting everything on the bottom, mid column and very wide spread on the surface flopping and smacking the bait. It was pandemonium! “Fish On” every drop or cast. Fish on the deck, measuring each fish, tagging the bonus size 24-28’s and ending up with everyone limiting out. We left them biting.

This was an event of magnanimous proportions. It was eerie and surrealistic with absolutely no other boats out or even within sight. It definitely was a fly fishers’ dream. Can’t depend on it again, although it’s that time of year. The ride back into the wind was very reasonable.

Temperature was mild. I guess everyone listened too closely to the weather forecast. Wednesday’s forecast looks good and we’ll be back out looking for more.

LBI Fishing Report 12/9/23

The first full week of December was good to us here on Long Beach Island as well as the great Central Jersey region. Striped bass activity continues and we have seen a few more striped bass on the Island’s beaches. This is the last weekend of the 69th Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic which ends on Sunday December 10th at 6pm. Here’s the Long Beach Island Fishing Report Update for Saturday December 9, 2023 as well as my latest fishing report update video from December 7th.

LBI Surf Fishing Report

The Long Beach Island surf fishing has not been epic blitz fishing; however there are anglers putting in time and picking fish. At times there have been highlights, we’ll call them flurries of good fishing but none sustained through numerous tides or days. That was until this weekend. Both Friday and Saturday were two good days for surf anglers on LBI.

Yesterday Friday December 8th offered good fishing for anglers fishing the afternoon incoming tide. As per our post on LBI Area Fishing Reports page on Facebook, “Heard a few good reports today (Friday) Loveladies, Cedars, North Beach… striped bass, adult bunker and whales.” We had a number of reports in the afternoon and more after sunset.

Joe Handley Jr (photo above) weighed in a 8.3# striped bass yesterday and shared a solid report with us. Turns out the 8.3# was his first keeper catch of the day at 29-1/8″ then a little later he got a really fat one just a hair under 31″… might have been the tournament winner but it went back in since he already harvested one. He shared, “It was good action for four of us. Bass were pushing adult bunker right up on the beach. Got a couple freshies for chunking tomorrow. In total, I had 8 total bass from 26-34”. Emmit from Top Notch Tackle was fishing and he had a bunch as well. Big metal lips produced best for me. I got one on a super strike popper and two on Super Strike Needlefish and rest on metal lips. Bunker, whales, striped bass and a couple big tunas busting.”

Again today’s afternoon flood tide had good action. A repeat, possibly better with reports coming in from a lot of anglers in many different towns. Today December 9th was the most active weigh in date for the Derby. Too bad tomorrow’s the last day.

Joe Handley was back out again and he reported 10-11 bass, “Five in the daylight and five or six in the dark. Bigger lures worked better today.”

Here’s a few more reports from today…

  • Tommy McCann got this one chunking today. (Saturday, photo above)
  • Chris Painter reported, “We had an insane fishing day. I caught seven and my daughter caught two. All released.”
  • Joel from Rustic Drift got into the afternoon action of the surf and managed not only striped bass but a cutlassfish! (photo below)
  • Todd Luyber, “Finally a solid evening session on the LBI surf, right up the street from the shop with a few fish over 30″ right in the wash. Let’s hope this blow doesn’t ruin everything.”

There’s sand eels and bunker present now. To match the forage fish diamond jigs (with or without a teaser – there’s no better Sand Eel Teaser than the Buz Fly Sand Eel with hackle and herl), slender soft plastics (Tsunami Sandeel, Red Gill), needlefish (Guides Secret Needle Stick, Super Strike Needlefish) for sand eel imitation or to present a bunker profile from 4-7″+; metal lip swimmers (many choices but a staple is the Gibbs Danny Surface Swimmer), paddle tail swimbait (Tsunami Swim Shads or No Live Bait Needed) or a top water (Popper, Pencil) to best match the hatch.

Boating Bass Fishing

Boat bassing really doesn’t need any more boasting as it’s a broken record. It has been as good as it gets for many weeks, but it is nice to share the near shore fishing off LBI has really turned up a level. And as the days pass there’s more and more boats pull out for the year leaving the feeds uncrowded. Something that is sort of new is a smaller class of of fish with a new showing of adult bunker which were absent for a week or two. It’s hilarious watching smaller stripers feed on adult bunkers. They look like drunken sailors trying to gulp them down.

Tyler Wilk of E-Fish-Ent custom rods put a beat on the stripers Friday off LBI and captured some great video. Be sure to check out the striper who tried to eat a go pro.

Inshore Bluefin Tuna Fishing

This fall has been one for the memory books with a phenomenal showing of bluefin tuna inshore. It has went on for two months now and they have been spread out over a lot of different areas.

Still today fishing is still going strong and there is no sign of them letting up. It could rock right into the new year. Anglers are catching both casting and trolling. Trolling does seem to be more productive with Hoo Magic, Joe Shute and Wolfpack trolling lures are what you’re gonna want in your spread. Dante from Magictail has been putting a hurting on them, he went 9/13 on Thursday with Captain Nick Perello. Select and Horse size Ballyhoo are what he’s been putting behind his trolling heads. We’ve got beautiful Baitmaster Ballyhoo in stock!

Blackfishing The Wrecks

Late fall and early winter is a great time to target blackfish!

The local wrecks and reef sites are heating up with great blackfishing. Recent reports have had talk of tog over 10lbs and loads of quality keeper fish. Store staffer Jared went out a few days ago with his buddy Torr and got into some great fishing. They boxed up their limit and played catch-and-release for the rest of the day. 1.5-2 oz Magictail Tog jigs tipped with white crab were the ticket. We’re loaded up on live crabs… both GEM White Leggers and Green crabs… Get ’em now and head out to your favorite snag when the weather allows!

LBI Fishing Report 12/3/23

What a November to remember! Striped bass and tuna like we’ve never seen. The great fishing has continued right into December and we expect it to roll on for the next week or two. There’s no telling when fishing will fall off but with the end of the calendar year near, now is go time to take advantage of what we have now.

The LBI surf is not boiling like some of the beaches to the north however there are fish spread out along the Island’s bars and striped bass are being caught. We have our fingers crossed for some December Blitz fishing. Recently fresh bunker has been very difficult to get. Two of our bunker guys who supply us all year have had trouble catching very few to none. Anglers fishing salted clam have picked some bass and also anglers fishing lures are catching too. There’s peanut bunker, sand eel and a few herring around too. Match the hatch accordingly.

Nine out of the 29 fish entered into the LBI Surf FIshing Classic’s Surf Master Segment were caught in the past week. There are more recent submissions which were not scored and posted yet too. Two most recent stand outs are Al Parente’s 43 point bass and John Ipri’s 41 point bass that they both caught and released on 11/30. John Ipri’s 48 point bass holds the lead for the largest and Gary Grippaldi currently holds the lead with a total of 110 points for combined three total. Just today fishing in the rain, Gary caught and submitted another fish that looks to better his smallest 24.5 point bass. The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic runs until December 10.

Here’s the latest fishing report video which I posted 12/1/23…