Wahoo & Tuna Fishing Seminar 4/6/24

For the most part targeting wahoo in the region has been an underground thing. In the past couple years wahoo have become a more popular target species and the demand for info and specific tackle has increased significantly. Captain Dave Adams (from Tormenter Tackle, base out of West Palm Beach Florida) shared his plan for a couple fishing seminars in the north east and asked me to help.

Save The Date! This Saturday April 6th we are having a Wahoo & Tuna Fishing Seminar at the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club House. Bring a friend, enjoy the seminar, ask questions, network with other anglers and talk fishing with an ice cold beverage.

This event is free and open to the public. Cash Bar. There will be door prizes, tackle raffle, giveaways and special sales. Also Tormenter is offering an opportunity to participate in a chance to Win A Trip To Cabo.

When: Saturday, April 6th from 5:30PM to 7:30PM
Where: BHMTC – 420 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Beach Haven, NJ 08008

LBI Fishing Report – March 25, 2024

Even with the recent chill, heavy rain and windy conditions, striped bass fishing continues to be good in the back bays and rivers. Today, Monday March 25th is the full moon of March which was named by the Native Americans, the Worm Moon. So far the early spring fishing has been good and things look promising as we approach Easter. We are looking forward to more fun striped bass fishing as well as perch, winter flounder, black drum and in the not too distant future… weakfish and blues! {Fingers Crossed}

Right now we have a beautiful batch of live bloodworms available at the shop, both regulars and jumbos. These are the best baits option to catch both striped bass and perch. We also have small jars of preserved grass shrimp which are fantastic for white perch too.

If you are looking to fish artificials… 3 and 5″ NLBN and Kettle Creeks are my go to producers. Also minnow swimming plugs such as the Guides Secret Slim Twitchy (formerly called the Skinny Minnie), Daiwa SP Minnows (size 13/15), Yozuri Mag Darters (in the smaller sizes) and Rapala X-Rap Jerk Baits (in the smaller sizes) are great option.

Spring Tog Fishing!

The one month long spring tog fishing season is almost here! On April 1, the nj recreational blackfish – tautog – tog season opens. For more info on the NJ Fishing Limits, Seasons & Regulations check out this detailed post.

We have all the tog jigs and tog rigs ready to pick up.

Also if you are looking for a new rod or reel for this season we are stocked up with great options in a variety of price points all at competitive prices. Stop in at Fisherman’s Headquarters to get geared up.

LBI Fishing Report 3/14/24

Beautiful weather has really turned on the early spring fishing here in the Long Beach Island area. Recent days have offered good fishing for striped bass in the bay with bloodworms. Some days bait was hard to get but, this afternoon we got a nice delivery of bloods and we expect more tomorrow so we should be stocked up for the weekend.

Be sure to check out the Saltwater Fishing Expo this weekend… Friday, Saturday, Sunday! We will be at booth 401. Stop by and say hi. Click here for more info on the show.

By now we hope you have seen either the gannets in person or the videos we have been sharing on social. For a number of days, we have had a lot of gannets hammering on bait. This afternoon we got our first striped bass report from the LBI surf… here is a link to a short video.

Long Beach Island Fishing Spots

Here’s a list of Long Beach Island fishing spots to enjoy fishing and crabbing on the Island. The spots are listed from north to south. Please have fun, be safe, treat these areas as if they were your precious secret spot and always be respectful to the area and others. Carry out what your carry in! Leave the place cleaner than you found it!

North End Fishing

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Old Barny Light House, Barnegat Light (N39.764352, W74.106227)

Located at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, Barnegat Light offers a variety of fishing opportunities. The bayside, the Inlet and the surf (front beach) are all fishy areas for many different species during the year. 

Barnegat Light’s Inlet Jetty (aka South Jetty)

Barnegat Inlet’s Jetty (aka South Jetty) is a very productive area to fish any time of year for a variety of species. The most popular species are striped bass and bluefish as well as tog and fluke. Anglers fish the rips near the lighthouse and along the concrete walk way. Some explore and creep the jetty further out. Depending on the day, conditions and tide fishing can be great anywhere along the Jetty. Please use extreme caution when fishing the rocks especially when wet. Be safe and wear the appropriate footwear like Korkers jetty cleats to ensure footing.

Barnegat Light’s Town Beaches

Barnegat Light’s Town Beaches (surf) are known for holding big trophy striped bass in the prime time season. These beaches are also great for fluke. Keep in mind some areas have very long dune paths to reach the water’s edge.

Barnegat Light’s Bayside

Barnegat Light’s Bayside has a large length of public bulkhead. This begins behind the Condos (4th and 5th Street) and continues to the area at the “end of the road” that is right outside the entrance to the park. This entire area can be very good and a great place with protection when the wind and swell have the Inlet churned up. In season tog fishing as well as fluke fishing here is very good. There are some snags in areas. This area can be great at night when the street lights draw in bait and feeding predators. Another area to fish the North End’s bayside is the open area south of the Barnegat Light Bay Beach (light tackle fluke or top water bass) and High Bar Harbor Dike.

The Dike – High Bar Harbor

The Dike at High Bar Harbor, Barnegat Light (N39.758111, W74.119707)

The Dike is a peninsula of land that extends out into the bay offering anglers a variety of options. Fly fisherman love the diversity of the water from shallow rolling flats to deep fast moving water. Barnegat Bay’s main thoroughfares Double Creek Channel and Oyster Creek Channel merge at its tip producing beautiful rippy water that is great for targeting striped bass as well as fluke, bluefish and weakfish. The Dike’s close proximity to Barnegat Inlet is one of its key features. Any fish that moves in or out of Barnegat Bay by way of Barnegat Inlet has to move past the Dike. Fishing can be great on both the east and west side. Do not hike through the over grown trees. It is infested with poison ivy and ticks. CAUTION!!!

Directions to the Dike at High Bar Harbor:
Once on LBI, take Long Beach Blvd north to Barnegat Light. Turn left on 20th street and continue straight through the next intersection. Then as the road bends (to the left) make your first right and then another quick right onto Sunset Blvd. At the end of the road, the sandy trail is the entrance.

Harvey Cedars Bayside Pier

Sunset Park, Harvey Cedars (N39.693943, W74.143886)

Harvey Cedars Sunset Park has a pier for crabbing and fishing. It is located near the Harvey Cedars Water tower. The entrance to the park is at West Salem Ave.

Harvey Cedars has a few public street ends that are great to explore for fishing and crabbing. The surf fishing here can be very productive just like the town to the north Loveladies and to the south North Beach. Harvey Cedars used to have many large jetties however numerous rounds of beach replenishment have buried them. When there is swell in the water, Cedars is well know for having the largest surf on LBI as well as a break that is closer to shore. It is also know for beach erosion too so the beaches can be short and steep.

Mid-Island Fishing

Surf City Bayside

Surf City has many public street end bulkheads that can be fished and crabbed. Some are better and have more space than others; 24th, 13th, 3rd, North 1st and Shore Ave, South 2nd.

The Surf City Public Boat Ramp on the bayside of Division Ave has a small area on both sides of the ramp that can be utilized for fishing and crabbing.

Surf City Surf Fishing

The beaches of Surf City are great for surf fishing spring, summer and fall. However in the summer months they have been historically closed to fishing during the daytime lifeguard hours. For more specifics consult with the Surf City Beach Patrol. During this peak summer season, fish early or fish late in the day.

Ship Bottom Bayside

Our home town at the heart of Long Beach Island, Ship Bottom offers opportunity for vacationers and day trippers to fish and crab without traveling too far. The Rt 72 Causeway Bridges offers some of Long Beach Island’s best and easiest fishing and crabbing access. There are numerous areas around and under all four bridges. Between 3rd and 4th street on the bay there is small yet spacious “Remembrance Park” with public parking with a  dock/bulkhead. It is an area dedicated to the victims of 9/11. The 6th street bay area used to be an awesome fishing spot with a large and open sand lot. But LBI has experiences a lot of development over the decades. However there is a little spot that remains at the west end of 6th street. There is also an area on 5th with a Gazebo and benches but here is for sunset than fishing.

Robert Nissen Park (Ship Bottom Boat Ramp, Bayside)

Robert Nissen Park (Ship Bottom Boat Ramp) is located on the bayside in Ship Bottom (10th – 12th Street) on the south side of the Causeway entering Long Beach Island. There is a large gravel lot for parking and there is a four plus block water front that can be fished. The Ship Bottom Fishing & Crabbing Pier is located net to the boat ramp. Depending on the season a variety of species are on tap. Anglers can fish with light tackle in the summer and target snapper bluefish, weakfish, fluke, blowfish, kingfish and spot. Also in the warmer month it is a great place to night fishing for sharks and rays. In the fall and spring striped bass, bluefish and drum are frequently caught. The area is also a good winter flounder spot in season.

Beach Arlington Park (aka Sunset Park, Ship Bottom Bay Beach)

Beach Arlington Park (aka Sunset Park, Ship Bottom Bay Beach) is located between 13th-16th on the bay in Ship Bottom. It is a summer time bathing “bay beach” area that is very popular among families, but in the offseason it can be a very good area to fish the bayside. It is best fished wading because it is shallow in close. There is a channel within casting distance. Certain times of year striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, fluke, blowfish and black drum are cruising the channel. It is a great place to launch a kayak to fish the eastern bridges and Ship Bottom’s bayside islands.

Ship Bottom Crab Cove Pier

Ship Bottom Crab Cove Pier is located on the on Central Ave between 25th and 26th Street in Ship Bottom. It is a great place to crab in the summer time. It usually isn’t much of a fishing spot but at times in the summer it can have a few snappers. Get there early because it can be crazy mid day and especially on the weekends.

Ship Bottom Surf Fishing

The beaches of Ship Bottom offer easy access with great opportunities for surf fishing. Usually Ship Bottom is know for having an outer bar which is out of casting range. Here angler focus their attention on the long shore sloughs and the “cuts” flowing through the bar. In the various season, these areas hold striped bass, bluefish, fluke, kingfish among other species.

Long Beach Township

Long Beach Township makes up a long stretch of the Island between Ship Bottom and Beach Haven. This open stretch of beach is great for surf fishing but like all of LBI, there’s shifting sandbars so the cuts and hole change frequently. Scout around and you’ll find some great water for surf fishing. This section of Long Beach Township also has many public street ends that can be good for fishing an crabbing; 53rd, 59th Kimberly, 67th Pier at Bayview Park, Harrington, Jeanette, Bayberry, Jerome, Alabama, California, Hideaway Bay/Cove bulkhead and kayak launch, Colorado, Utah, Mac Evoy, Ramapo,  Ohio, Indiana, 32-29, 15-13.

From Brant Beach’s 31st street (bordering Ship Bottom’s south side) to 13th Street in North Beach Haven (bordering Beach Haven’s north side) the mid-Island stretch of Long Beach Township is 5.3 miles of open public beaches. Here surf anglers will find similar beach set ups to Ship Bottom and Surf City with variety. Some areas are wide while and other areas short. Some have sandbars in close and others are further out. Like all of LBI the beaches change often.

South End Fishing

Beach Haven

Home to one of LBI’s largest surf side rock jetties, Holyoak Avenue, Beach Haven has great surf fishing for a variety of species in the spring, summer and fall. In the summer, fishing is allowed outside of the lifeguard flag designated bathing and surfing area of the beach.

Beach Haven Public Docks

The Queen City of LBI, Beach Haven has a large Public Dock area with phenomenal fishing. It is located at the west end of 2nd Street Dock Road. The bulkhead/boardwalk area has plenty of parking. The area offers some of the Island’s best bayside fishing. Depending on the season, a variety of species are on tap. In the summertime it is a great place to target weakfish, striped bass, fluke as well as sharks at night. In the spring and fall stripers love to cruise the lights at night looking for small bait.

There is also a public bay front area at west end of 9th and also Taylor ave however it isn’t great for fishing or crabbing. If trying here, it is better to use the northern end of the property just don’t restrict access to the boat launch. Other spots to explore include Center, Engleside, Amber, Coral as well as numerous street ends along West Ave. Technically it’s the town of Holgate, Rosemma Ave has a skinny access trail to the marshland – sod bank which is a historic fishing spot adjacent to the Clam Cove Reserve. Do not trespass on private property.

Holgate – Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Edwin B. Forsythe Holgate Unit, Long Beach Township (N39.531009, W74.263405)

Located at the southern tip of Long Beach Island, the Holgate Unit of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is part of Forsythe’s designated Wilderness Area. It consists of more than 400 acres of barrier beaches, dunes and tidal salt marsh. One of New Jersey’s last remaining undeveloped barrier islands.

Holgate is a beautiful stretch of beach to fish during the day or night. It offers phenomenal fishing in the early fall during the mullet run (September) when bass, blues and fluke go crazy over mullet that are pouring out of the bay. The back side offers great clamming. Take note of daily tides and wind/swell forecast. Sometime around the moons the extreme tides can steal beach fast, cutting off the driving path at certain spots. Some times anglers are trapped and have to stay until the next tide. Use extreme caution and always make sure you have enough gas.

Holgate is best fished via 4×4 (need Long Beach Township permit) but there are opportunities for anglers with out a beach buggy too. Take Long Beach Blvd south all the way to the parking lot at the end of the road. This lot is a good place to park for those without 4×4, looking to fish the front beach via walk on access. HOWEVER!!!! This area, better known as Beach One and the Wooden Jetty, is one of the most popular surfing beaches on the Island, state and even region. If looking to fish this area do so at night or when when flat clam. We do not advise fishing here during sunlight hours as it is ruled with surfers.

Beach One Jetty is straight off of Washington Ave and the Wooden Jetty is the groin to the south. In Feb 2019 a metal “terminal groin” was sistered along side of the Wooden Jetty to help hold sand on Beach One and arguably protect the dunes and parking lot. It arguably created significantly more erosion to its south which in time very well may cut off access to the Refuge and become Beach Haven Inlet again.

**Access to Holgate is subject to special regulations. Pedestrians are allowed only on the beach and must stay out of the dunes to protect this fragile habitat. Vehicles are not permitted above the high tide line and a permit must be obtained from Long Beach Township for access to the site. The Holgate Unit is usually open to beach buggies September 1 through March 31 or as posted. Information on current status of vehicle access and beach buggy permits can be obtained from Long Beach Township at (609) 361-1000 or the Long Beach Township Police department at (609) 494-3322.

Fishing Spots on the Mainland

The following are fishing spots on the mainland not far from Long Beach Island. The spots are listed from north around Cedar Creek in Bayville down to south areas of the Mullica River.

John C Bartlett County Park

Bayville, NJ (N39.8229550, W74.1607102)

The Berkeley Island Park is a great to enjoy the Barnegat Bay with lots of area for both fishing and crabbing. There’s ample parking, a lot of dock space and a T-pier.

Laurel Boulevard Bay Front

Lanoka Harbor, NJ (N39.8229550, W74.1607102)

Along Laurel Blvd there are a couple public areas to fish. One, at the sand beach by the Gazebo. Two, to the south of there by the bend in the road.

Forked River Bay Front Park

Forked River, NJ (N39.8229550, W74.1607102)

This open area with public parking and some area to fish. It is the area just to the south side of the Forked River. It has a playground so it’s good for kids.

Oyster Creek Outflow

Oyster Creek Rt. 9 Bridge – Lacey Township, NJ (N39.811231, W74.199641)

The Oyster Creek Power Generating Station’s warm water discharge offered decades of awesome fishing as the hot spot held great year round fishing. It was shut down in 2018 Oyster Creek and subsequently the warm water outflow slowed and is nearly the same temperature as the bay. It was loved by stripers, weakfish, bluefish, winter flounder and anglers. Even in the cold of winter Oyster Creek would hungry striped bass. The hot bait was on bloodworm and the hot lures were small bucktails and soft plastics as well as small swimming plugs. Today fishing can be done at the Creek but it is not nearly as productive as it once was. Areas to fish are from the top of the east side of the Rt9 bridge. Do not fish the west side! And do not wonder around on the west side of Rt.9! The power plant has extra high security. It is best to cross the bridge and walk the Creek’s north side bank. Fish anywhere along the bank. Fishing can be good at the mouth of the creek however, access is difficult. Do not trespass on private property!

Directions to Oyster Creek: From LBI Take Rt.9 north past Waretown towards Forked River. You’re getting close once the Power Plants smoke stacks are visible. Park on the south side of the bridge and on the east side of the street. Park on the side of the street or in the small dirt lot. 

Waretown Public Docks

Waretown, NJ (N39.7914992, W74.1826289)

At the end of Bryant Road, this location has a nice long dock or T-pier for fishing and crabbing.

Barnegat Public Docks

Barnegat, NJ (N39.749315, W74.192656)

The Barnegat Township Public Docks and Municipal Boat Ramp has a large gravel public parking lot with a long stretch of boardwalk bulkheaded bay front dock. The area is well know for crabbing but it is also a great area to catch snapper during the day and weakfish at night when in season. When the bluefish invade Barnegat Bay another spot which is right around the corner is the Barnegat Public Bay Beach. It offers great fishing but you must wade out and use a longer rod like a 8 or 9′ light action plugging rod for more distance. Spring time bluefish action can be phenomenal where on poppers.

Directions to the Barnegat Public Docks: From the LBI area, take Rt.9 North. Once in Barnegat make right onto East Bay Ave. Continue over a small bridge and finally to the big gravel parking lot on the right side of the road with two story gazebo.

Bridge to No Where

Bridge to No Where, Stafford Township, NJ (N39.683927, W74.207613)

The Bridge to No Where is a very popular crabbing location that is located at the end of Stafford Ave. The Bridge was constructed in the 60-70’s by NJ Bell Telephone to run telephone poles and lines across the marshes. Since then it has been rundown and vandalized. Great crabbing! Look out for green heads!

Directions to the Bridge to No Where: From LBI take 72 west over all of the Causeway Bridges. Make right at first light, Marsha Drive then Left onto East Bay Ave. You will pass a gas station and marina on the right side. Then make a right on to Hilliard Blvd. Continue past the Manahawkin Elks Lodge Make a right onto Stafford Ave. The pot hole filled paved road will turn into gravel. Continue to the end of the road.

Cedar Run Dock Road

Dock Road Boat Ramp, Cedar Run, Stafford Township, NJ (N39.6437157, W74.2457654)

At the end of Dock Road there is a small boat ramp and bulkhead area which offers easy access for fishing and crabbing.

West Creek Dock Road

West Creek, NJ (N39.6142205, W74.2628564)

At the end of Dock Road there is a bulkheaded area which offers easy access for fishing and crabbing.

South Green Street Park

Tuckerton, NJ (N39.5766676, W74.3308008)

At the end of Green Street there is park, bulkheaded area and a T-Dock which is a great family spot with kids to fish and crab.

Graveling Point

Graveling Point, Osborn Island, Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ (N39.538612, W74.393345)

Graveling Point is a public fishing area that is part of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Brigantine Division. It is a great early season hot spot for striped bass. Graveling Point is located near the mouth of the Mullica River where the sun warms the river’s outflow over the shallow water flats of Great Bay. Every year the seasons first striped bass are caught here. Fishing is best on the outgoing tide when the warmest water turns on the bite. It is very productive in March and April. Best bait is bloodworms. Graveling Point is mostly sod bank with some small sections of sand. We suggest wearing waders because in order to get out to the Point, one must cross a small creek.

Directions to Graveling Point: In the town of Tuckerton near the lake make a left on to Great Bay Blvd. Then in about a half mile make a right on Radio Rd. Continue over the small bridge to the end approximately 4 miles. Graveling Point is a few hundred yards to the right. Walk the sand beach heading west. Cross the small creek and then continue on along the sod bank. Fishing is great anywhere along the sod bank.

Seven Bridges Road

Great Bay Blvd., Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ (N39.509196, W74.320043)

Great Bay Blvd also known as Seven Bridges Road is a great area to fish and crab with a great view of the Atlantic City skyline! Although there are not seven bridges, the five offer great opportunities with the first and last two being the most popular. Fish the bridges and their surrounding areas or if they are busy with people drive all the way to the end and walk the trail to fish the bank. The first bridge crosses Big Thorofare, the second crosses Little Thorofare, the third crosses Jimmies Creek, the fourth crosses Big Sheepshead Creek and the fifth crosses Little Sheepshead Creek. At the end of the road is the Old Coast Guard Station which is now RUMFS, Rutgers University Marine Field Station. It’s a working lab with ongoing research year round.

Collins Cove

Collins Cove, Port Republic, NJ (N39.548247, W74.473983) 

Collins Cove is located on the Mullica River just west of the Parkway Bridge, about 2 miles west of Port Republic. Collins Cove was created when fill was removed to construct the Parkway Bridge over the Mullica River. Hence it’s massive hole which has some what filled in over time but still present. Collins Cove is know for its excellent white perch fishing in the winter and early spring. Depending on the year it can have great ice fishing in the dead of winter, January and February

Directions to Collins Cove: Take Parkway exit 48 which places you on route 9 South, about a half mile make a right-turn onto Rt 575 Chestnut Neck Road.
About two miles, make a right-turn onto Rt 624 Clark’s Landing Road. Right after you pass underneath the Parkway make the first right-hand turn onto the dirt road and drive parallel to the Parkway going North as far as possible into the Port Republic Wildlife Management Area. There is a small parking area at the end. At this point you will need to park and hike (yes, walk) less than 1 mile along a path NNE to Collin’s Cove.

There are many fishing spots along the banks of the Mullica River. Here are two of the more well known and easy access spots.

Hay Road Beach

Egg Harbor City, NJ (N39.5733920, W74.5395095) 

Hay Road is a great fishing access point to the Mullica River at Hog Island about 4 miles west of the Parkway Bridge. This an area that can be fished from the bank or a perfect areas to launch a kayak. It’s a prime early season spot for white perch and striped bass.

Lower Bank

Egg Harbor City, NJ (N39.5945439, W74.5497723) 

There are a couple areas to fish the Mullica River off of River Road; near the small River Road Boat Ramp and the Lower Bank Bridge.

Summer Flounder Minimum Size Debate

A NJ Marine Fisheries Council Meeting is tomorrow March 7th at 5pm where the Fluke regulations for BOTH 2024 and 2025 will be set. The written comment period is over but anglers can attend in person at the Atlantic County Library – 306 E Jimmie Leeds Rd, Galloway, NJ or online via webinar.

As I shared in my 2/23/24 blog post, the front runner is Option 32 which will give us 3 fish at 18″ and the longest season at 145 days offering early spring and later fall fishing. But there are six other options. Over the past couple weeks I’ve seen a lot of comments and a large number mentioning the commercial minimum size at 14″ being a problem. So in regards to the summer flounder minimum size debate, I must share the follow info so others better understand.

The smaller minimum size at 14″ for the commercial sector is in place for a reason. The idea is to let commercial boats fish, catch their limit and then get off the water. The quicker they catch and finish up, the better for the stock. If they were forced to cull and toss back shorts (under lets say 18″ range) there would be a significantly more dead discard. So rather than throw back dead, why not allow harvest so it goes to their quota and best utilize the resource? As recreational anglers we have a much better ability because of our fishing methods to catch and cull. But we too have a release mortality issue. It is a major issue in the management of striped bass right now. It is a significant issue with fluke too. We have to be careful with structuring regulations so we don’t box ourselves out of a fishery by having our dead discard exceed our harvest. Also remember that the summer flounder fishery is about a 55% commercial and 45% recreational fishery with regards to quota. With an 80% commercial discard mortality rate, it would be a MAJOR needle mover if the commercial minimum size was increased from. So we (recreational anglers) must be careful what we wish for or complain about.

Spring Updates At Fish Heads

This week with the opening of back bay striped bass (on 3/1/24) we expanded our hours a little bit. In a few more weeks we will extend some more.

Right now we are Open 7 Days A Week At 7am. Monday thru Thursday we close at 6PM, Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 5PM. Stop in and gear up for the season.

Live Bloods & Grass Shrimp

The two best early season baits for striped bass and white perch are live bloodworms and grass shrimp. Right now we have both and will do our best to have both all spring.

Stay tuned for a bloodworm blog that will be published soon. On the grass shrimp side of thing… We are now carrying preserved grass shrimp. They come in a small dish like container at $8.99. See photo below.

Grass shrimp are a killer white perch bait and work great for many other species like weakfish, fluke, winter flounder, striped bass, snappers and blowfish. Everything eats grass shrimp! They are small baits so scale down with a small hook and light leader.

NJ Saltwater Fishing Expo

Reminder: Saltwater Fishing Expo is next week, March 15,16,17th! Be sure to stop by and See Us At Booth 401. Show Hours: Friday 12PM-8PM, Saturday 10AM-6PM, Sunday 10AM-5PM. It’s the best show of the year by a landslide so don’t miss out on the great event packed with informative seminars and demos. Explore fishing tackle hands on from A to Z.

Also, Sunday is family Day! Children 11 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult and the first 100 kids 11 and younger will receive a Daiwa rod/reel combo!

Q&A: Super Strike Darter Vs Bottle

Here’s a little throwback to something we did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. At that time, when customers would email a question we would share it and the answer on our blog. While we might not post a bunch of these we’ll see where it goes!

Question: Andrew from Phoenixville, PA asks, “Would you recommend an either…a Super Strike Darter or Super Strike Swimmer for New Jersey surf fishing on LBI/ IBSP? Any suggested color? I have a Tsunami 10’6” Airwave 1-3.5 oz rod. Thanks!”

Answer: Hi Andrew – Both the Super Strike Darter and the Super Strike Bottle (aka little neck swimmer, casting swimmer, rattling swimmer) are two great lures that are a similar in size and profile. But they are very different lures from Super Strike.

The Super Strike Zig Zag Darter as its name implies has a lazy zig and zag swimming pattern. It is a slower and more shallow swimming lure that is most commonly a night time stand out. It likes an easy flowing current or rip but in a heavy side wind or very fast sweeping current the darter can struggle. However on a calm night, open beach with rolling sand bars with pockets of water and small swell pushing, a Zig Zag darter can really produce.

Darters are easy to fish too. Cast out (if there is a sweep be sure to cast up current a smidgen) and then catch up the slack to feel the lure’s swimming tension. At this point you need to retrieve slowly, just slightly more line than the conditions (wind, waves, current) call for to slow crawl the lure. It needs to move slowly through the water to work its magic. Every so often add a twitch. Some times a specific pattern or rhythm works better than others. Also don’t overlook omitting the twitch and going with a super simple straight consistent retrieve.

The Super Strike Bottle Plug (casting swimmer) has a more aggressive face/lip which digs into current and makes the lure swim with a tight wiggle and thumping pattern. This can drive fish nuts! The Super Strike Bottles also have a rattle and many believe the sound is an aid in attracting.

Bottles cast a little better than the ZZ darters, especially in a wind. Bottles also dig in more but they really don’t swim that deep, maybe ~2-3’deep. They are a great choice when there is swell and rolling white water. Also when there is a side wind and sweep. Bottles can be fished slow or at a moderate speed with or without imparted action.

As far as color goes, if I could only pick one color day or night it would be yellow over white. It is a classic color that has done me well for many years; day, night, clear water, dirty water, full moon, new moon. My #2 choice would be bone which is also a very versatile, followed by black and purple. The blurple color way has performed for me on cloudy, grey over cast days but I primarily fish it at night and in low light situations (early morning before sunrise and late in the day right after sunset).

Tight lines! ~Greg

PS the 10’6 Airwave is a great rod for casting a variety of lures on the surf. It will cast both the darter and bottle from Super Strike a mile.

Opening Weekend Fishing Report 3/2/24

The New Jersey back bays opened for striped bass at on March 1st. There were chilly westerly winds but some anglers got out and fished. We received catch reports from locally here in the early season spots of Barnegat Bay as well as others in the state. We had one weigh in from Carl Hartman who checked in a keeper striped bass which was caught out of town.

UPDATE: Added March 3 fishing report video…

The water clarity is murky and in the 40-43º range in the bay mid island. We got heads up from a friend who was moving his boat yesterday. “Down in Tuckerton Creek the water was 47º. But it dropped fast once I was in the bay. Most of the bay running up to Beach Haven West was 43º.”

For the next month or more with the cold water temperature live bloodworm will be the best bait.

At times the right lures will get the job done too. Great spring time bass lures are soft plastics such as 3-5″ NLBN’s, Kettle Creeks Paddle Tails, Z-man and Tsunami shads. Hard baits like the smaller size Rapala X-rap jerk baits, as well as the Guides Secret Slim Twitchy and Mucho Minnow are awesome small profile lures that stand out in the back bay spring fishery. All of these and much more are available in store or online at Fish Heads.

Reports of white perch continue at the local lagoons as well as rivers and tributaries. One customer reported that the perch have been in his lagoon since the last warm stretch before the snow. Others are catching in the Mullica.

Stop into see us at Fisherman’s Headquarters and get geared up with early season essentials. ~ Tight Lines!

2024 NJ Fishing Regulation Updates

What are the 2024 NJ fishing regulations for recreational anglers? Here are a few of the most popular target species…

Black Sea Bass:
May 17 – Jun 19, 12.5″ Minimum Size, 10 per person bag
Jul 1 – Aug 31, 12.5″ Minimum Size, 1 per person bag
Oct 1 – Oct 31, 12.5″ Minimum Size, 10 per person bag
Nov 1 – Dec 31, 12.5″ Minimum Size, 15 per person bag

No Closed Season, No Minimum Size,
*Private/Shore Angler: 3 per person bag
*Anglers Aboard For-Hire: 5 per person bag

Drum, Black:
No Closed Season, 16″ Minimum Size, 3 per person bag

Flounder, Summer (Fluke):
May 4 – Sep 25, 18″ Minimum Size, 3 per person bag
*See NJFW for special exceptions

Flounder, Winter:
Mar 1 – Dec 31, 12″ Minimum Size, 2 per person bag

Porgy (Scup):
Jan 1 – Jan 30, 10″ Minimum Size, 30 per person bag
Sep 1 – Dec 31, 10″ Minimum Size, 30 per person bag

Striped Bass:
Ocean (State Waters 0-3NM): No Closed Season, 28-31″ Slot, 1 per person bag
Ocean (Federal Waters (>3MN): Closed Season, Prohibited
Bays/Rivers: Mar 1 – Dec 31, 28-31″ Slot, 1 per person bag
*See NJFW for special exceptions & NJ SBBP

Tautog (Tog / Blackfish):
Jan 1 – Feb 28 & Apr 1 – Apr 30, 15″ Minimum Size, 4 per person bag
Aug 1 – Nov 15, 15″ Minimum Size, 1 per person bag
Nov 16 – Dec 31, 15″ Minimum Size, 5 per person bag

No Closed Season, 13″ Minimum Size, 1 per person bag

For the entire list of NJ saltwater fishing regulations see below and be sure to save the pdf link or print it out for future reference.

2024 NJ Fishing Regs, Seasons, Size & Bag Limit Laws

Click To Here To Download Printable PDF Version

All attempts made to ensure accuracy; however, fishery rules are subject to change. The data conveniently complied above was derived from the NJ Fish & Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries.

Original Post: Feb 23, 2024

With the spring fishing season approaching, everyone is asking us… What are the 2024 fishing regulations?

One would think these decisions would be made well in advance of the season however thats not the case. Due to the levels complexity with so many different regulatory bodies each one’s decision basically works down the line in a chain reaction. This year expect the NJ recreation fishing regulations to be finalized at the NJMFC meeting on 3/7 in Galloway 5pm.

Here’s Anthony Butch with more than his handful after a fun wreck fishing trip.

For the most part everything is the same except for the following 2024 changes…

  • Summer Flounder: 28% Reduction – See the list of 6 options in the chart below which are currently on the table. These all passed technical committee review confirming they meet the reduction mandate. *Update: The Summer Flounder Advisory Board meeting 2/28/24, all advisors were in favor of option 32. Since these advisors talk to a lot of the public and many different stake holder groups, it’s safe to say the majority is in favor of 32. For what it is worth, based on the social media posts that we made 80% were in favor of option 32. Option 57 had 9% and Option 23 has 7%.
  • Porgy/Scup: 10% Reduction – Expect a 30 fish bag at a 10″ minimum size with a with first half of the year season running 1/1/24 to 6/30/24 and then a second half season 9/1 to 12/31.

Yes we couldn’t believe the ASMFC news either but lets be honest going from last years reg to potentially 3 fish at 18″ looks like a win and liberalization and not a cut in most anglers eyes.

The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council is seeking public comment on the 2024 NJ Recreational Summer Flounder options. The 6 are listed above, but note status quo is not an option and only there for reference. Written comments will be accepted through March 4, 2024 (11:59 p.m.) to njmarinefishpubliccomment@dep.nj.gov.

Submitted comments will become part of the public record for the NJ MFC public meeting 3/7/24 5pm at the Atlantic County Library, Galloway Township Branch, 306 East Jimmie Leeds Rd, Galloway, NJ.

Offshore Wind In The NJ/NY Bight – Looking into the recreational side of things.

The deadline has been extended to March 13 (from Feb 26, 2024) to comment on the Draft New York Bight Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS). Please don’t be afraid to dive in and formulate your own public comment. Here’s another link for more info on the NY Bight from BOEM.

Basically the document assess the potential impacts that could result from the development of six “new” lease areas (488,000 acres) offshore of the NJ and NY coastline offshore wind in the NY Bight. I’ve attend most of BOEM’s in person meetings (in NJ) and virtual meetings/calls for a number of years now. However BOEM has not held a classic public hearing. So when I heard about the public hearing on 2/20/24 in Long Branch hosted by Clean Ocean Action, a champion ocean advocate, I couldn’t miss it.

The meeting was recorded so if you would like to tune in, my comments are at the 28 minutes mark and I’m followed up by Jim Hutchinson at the 38 minute mark. The timer on the podium was broken so my five minute slot ended up being 10 minutes and I still didn’t get through much of what I had prepared. So I’ll include the entire write up below. An Asbury Park Press reported attended and included me in their recent article, but really didn’t share much meat. So I’m including my entire public comment below, most of which I did not get time to share. I encourage any and all anglers whether pro or against offshore wind to formulate your thoughts and submit public comment to BOEM before the deadline.

First and foremost, the deadline must be extended or better yet canceled altogether. The speed of development is outpacing the speed of science and the needs of the sea. Top scientists are working in these topics and acknowledge vital data gaps with regards to potential impacts.

There’s so many massive topics; however, I will stay in my lane with regards to fishing… 

The offshore waters of the NY Bight (NYB) have long supported populations of coastal fishery resources (CFR), highly migratory fish species (HMS; e.g., tunas, billfish, mahi mahi, sharks) and many fisheries that target them. Serving as a migratory corridor for numerous CFR and  HMS (Galuardi and Lutcavage, 2012; Vaudo et al., 2016; Kohler and Turner, 2019), NYB is ecologically-important and contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH; i.e., the waters and substrate necessary for spawning, feeding, and growth to maturity) for many economically important species as well as a handful of endangered and critically endangered species.

1) Recreational Fishing Contributions 

NYB also contains historical fishing grounds for iconic species and supports an extensive HMS recreational fishery in which thousands (NJ/NY Private Boat 6927, including charter/head boat the total is 7779; 2022 NOAA Fisheries HMS SAFE Report) of vessels participate each year. In 2021 recreational anglers in New Jersey and New York contributed $4.2Billion in economic output and supported 28,290 jobs. (Southwick, 2021) Imagine the updated numbers due to inflation. 

A large portion of this recreational fishing effort occurs within popular fishing areas that have been leased for offshore wind development. The diversity of the rich fisheries and the threat from offshore wind development’s impacts are not bound by lease area borders. The Socio-Economic Impact of OCS Wind Energy Development on Fisheries in the US Atlantic predates the NYB Leases. Therefore the economic impacts as well as a cumulative analysis of impacts to the fisheries must be completed for the entire region. There must be a comprehensive assessment of baseline recreational fishing effort for both coastal CFR & HMS in NYB and the associated Wind Energy Areas.

At the recent NYB Draft PEIS BOEM public meeting (Feb 8th in Toms River) I reviewed the recreational fishing hand out and poster (3.6.1-22). I questioned subject matter expert Brandon Jensen (Fisheries Biologist at BOEM), Why is the recreational fishing industry which I am part of largely left out in Section 3.6.1?

3.6.1-38: “Based on NMFS data, there is no substantial for-hire recreational fishing activity in any of the six lease areas.” This is far from true. And due to this oversight Table 3.6.1-16 misrepresents the small business revenue from inside the NYB lease areas. The fishing hot spots known as the Resor, Atlantic Princess, Chicken Canyon, Triple Wrecks and the Corvallis, The Star, 20/30 Fm Curve, among others are all in the same area. Large fleets of 50-100+ recreational private vessels commonly congregate in small areas when tuna fishing. These same areas are popular sharking, mahi, cod and sea bass fishing areas. I can somewhat agree with “the most impacted species includes cod in OCS-A 0544 (NMFS 2023h) and bluefin tuna, red hake, and black sea bass in OCS-A 0538 (NMFS 2023j).” However the chart (3.6.1-22) poorly represents the recreational fishing effort with a long fishing history in the NYB and more specifically in the lease areas. There’s more effort at the hot spots mentioned (in and around the NYB lease areas) than the Barnegat Ridge (also a fishing hot spot) which is painted with significantly more fishing effort.

In blue OCS-A 0538 is better known as owned by Attentive Energy. This 131.7 square mile lease area is located 42 miles east of Barnegat Inlet and 54 miles south of Fire Island Inlet, NY. It is the summertime tuna fishing mid-shore grounds in addition to home of a number of prominent wreck sites.

There are major data gaps that the PEIS must consider. Recreation catch and effort data is severely lacking and there is little to no spatial data collected for recreational private boat anglers. MRIP through APAIS (Access Point Angler Intercept Surveys) collect catch per trip data do not record specific fishing spot/location data, only the location of the intercept and the general area of fishing such as shore, private, for-hire. NOAA’s own study finds their estimates are way off and their program needs an overhaul. The lack of information on recreational fishing does not constitute a free pass for evaluating PRIVATE RECREATIONAL fishing impacts occurring in the leases. 

The state and feds largely do not know exactly where private anglers fish and do not know where these same boats transit unless monitoring AIS which the majority of private boats do not have. To learn more about this I believe that there must be work done now similar to what URI/CRMC/RISA did to determine where anglers are fishing and where anglers are from, but must look at the broader area to obtain private recreation fishing effort in federal waters.

BOEM must formulate recreational fishing surveys (not MRIP)  that directly obtain recreational fishing information (even if qualitative) to help characterize the fishing activity within the lease areas.  To do this, developers should be required to collect data (survey and engage with the recreational fishing community). This engagement must come with significant oversight so that developers can’t just check a box by doing nothing, like they do now by relying on MRIP.

Extrapolating private recreational fishing spatial data utilizing a fishing app like Fish Rules such as in Scott Steinback’s (Economist with NOAA Fisheries) work is suspect. Many saltwater anglers know the rules before they go fishing. Some anglers may check the rules via app, but the location when checking is not necessarily where they fished. It would be a different story if it was a fish catch logging app (like Fish Brain) that tracks the gps and needs a photo’s metadata locations to acquire position. But still there are not enough anglers participating so the sample size is far too small.

It is unfathomable that this amount of time and progress has passed without baseline data.

2) The Negative Reef Effect  Production vs Aggregation

Despite what Anglers For Offshore Wind promotes, the majority of the recreational fishing community does not support offshore wind. Many of the anglers I talk to have major concerns. Not all marine life flourishes in a hard bottom ecosystem and it does not necessarily help NJ and NY anglers. It brings a lot of uncertainties to the table, many of which management has no handle on. OSW is not a magical solution to help the fisheries, fix climate change, fix ocean acidification and the changing currents. It adds a lot of uncertainty and jeopardizes the ecosystem.

Turbines are offshore fish attracting/aggregating devices which greatly increase fish catchability. This is stated in 3.6.1 as a benefit to for-hire recreational fisheries however this is a very large issue that fisheries managers must understand and manage properly. The fish will come from other fishing grounds and these concentrations will be easier and quicker to catch leading to localized and regional depletion. Overfishing can happen fast resulting in a closure of the fishery and then economic hardship follows. Or effort is turned to another species which stresses another fishery. “Some fisheries could experience substantial disruptions indefinitely, even with the implementation of the AMMM (avoidance, minimization, mitigations, monitoring) measures.”

OCS Study BOEM 2015-037 – 3.2.3 Artificial Reef Aggregation:  Many aspects of the fisheries resources communities within the wind energy areas are expected to be affected through habitat changes and the introduction of new structures; species abundance, density, composition, diversity, dominance, size classes, and productivity (McCann, 2012; Rodmell and Johnson, 2005). The introduction of new structure is expected to provide new habitat for species to colonize and aggregate around, and the local communities are expected to change from non-structure based to structure based (BOEM DOE/EIS-0470, 2012).  Species compositions of artificial reefs have been found to differ from natural reefs and their presence can also affect the surrounding biodiversity, thus areas outside the footprints of these wind energy areas may be impacted (Inger et al., 2009). 

At one offshore wind energy facility the species diversity was lower on turbines compared to nearby natural boulders, indicating the artificial reef effect of the turbines was not as beneficial as having natural rocky habitat (Wilhelmsson and Malm, 2008). Background research did indicate there may be potential positive impacts, if these areas have exclusion zones the areas may act as marine protected areas (MPA) for fisheries resources (Inger et al., 2009). 

Access can not be restricted!

Another negative reef effect is the altering and possibly stopping of the seasonal movement of fish to the inshore waters. This could impact availability to the non-boat-owning or only small boat owning inshore fishing segment of the public. 

Inshore/nearshore anglers (private rec, for-hire, party/charter) will lose opportunity if fish are aggregating around OFW structures. They will need to run further offshore which adds time and fuel costs. I classify this impact as an environmental justice issue since non-boat owners are most impacted and the mitigation solution is being focused on anglers who have the means to access the OFW structures in a private or for hire boat. Some can and will fish these areas on head boats and for-hire boats BUT that represents less that 9% of total trips.  Land based trips represent the vast majority of fishing effort in the state of NJ in any given year and that mode (as well as the fishing tackle retail, bait & tackle, tackle manufacturers, boat builders and ancillary businesses) is expected to the bear the brunt of the negative reefing impacts.  These potential losses and the environmental justice must be reviewed and included.  

3) EFH – Essential Fish Habitat

The NYB leases are in the middle of the 20/30/40 fm midshore offshore fishing grounds which is some of the most productive fishing grounds and also home to a number of prominent/historic  wreck sites. The area’s sand ridges are home to abundant colonies of sand lance aka sandeels which are a quintessential link in the food web. They are not only forage to ground fish and pelagic species but also whales and sea birds. Anyone who has fished these waters in the summertime knows the show is better than Sea World! Based on documents which detail the strong association of sand eels to sandy sediment, sand eels will most likely be negatively affected by the radical change in habitats when hundreds of turbines and thousands of tons of rock scour protection are added around the turbine and substation bases. If and when sand eels leave, so too do all of the other species.

How can it be that no HAPC (habitat areas of particular concern) are designated within the NYB yet summer flounder spawn in the winters on the OCS and use the areas during all four stages of their life cycle (egg, larvae, juveniles and adults)? Many other coastal species rely on the Chicken Canyon and Hudson Canyon during one or more life stages and use the NYB’s lease areas. Also mako sharks should be of concern as they spend a lot of time in this area. As of 7/5/2022, U.S. fishermen may not land or retain Atlantic short fin mako sharks; however these water used to be prime shark fishing grounds.  It seems many of these are conveniently overlooked. A lot of these ecologically sensitive area (what I would call HAPC) and fishing hot spots were detailed in the very basic early work of Buchanan at the NJDEP in 2010, NJ’s Area of Interest – Wind Power On The OCS. Was any of this really basic stuff even considered?

4) Safety At Sea – Navigational Safety

NOAA Fisheries 2022 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report Atlantic HMS – Section 7 Safety Data must include updated information to include and evaluate the safety issues within the recreation fishery, safety at sea, fishing vessel risk assessment navigation through WEAs. From all documents I can gather this is totally overlooked.

While this is outside the scope of the DPEIS: In March 23, 2022, the NJ Marine Resources Administration was involved in dialogue with several other state/federal agencies regarding the need and appropriate size of a buffer between offshore wind turbines and artificial reefs and fish havens. Some of these reef sites have material right along the edge and commonly outside of the actual boundaries. There was discussion with the NJ MFC Offshore Wind Advisors which suggested 1-2NM buffer area to minimize damage to the reef habitat during construction from sound, vibration, sediment plums as well as safe drifting and transiting. With regards to NJ saltwater fishing, 25% of all fishing trips occur on a NJ reef site and 65% of bottom fishing occurs on the reefs. There is significant effort and traffic in these areas. To the best of my knowledge this was largely ignored.

5) EMF – Electro-Magnetic Field Cable Emissions

With regards to EMF there MUST be a threshold level of EMF emissions that are identified as acceptable or unacceptable for the marine environment and this should change in consideration to the water depth. The same emf emissions in deep open water that fish may feel, react and get up over very well may have a much more powerful effect in shallow estuaries and bays. 

6) Discharges/Intakes 

With regards to discharges/intakes (3.5.2-24) routine vessel discharges even within USCG regulations brings a hot topic of invasive species to the forefront. OSSs with open loop cooling systems must be prohibited due to thermal plume, warming waters and loss of fish larvae. This could hurt recruitment and jeopardize the sustainability of some fisheries. The NYB, the waters and substrate necessary for spawning, feeding, and growth to maturity.

In New Jersey, PSEG continues to pay compensatory mitigation for the fish eggs/larvae entrained/impinged through the open loop cooling system at the Salem nuke plant.  That money goes towards a host of programs that seek to offset the impact of that mortality.   Given the fact that we know many important species, fluke and BFT being just two, spawn in those waters or where their larvae are present in waters where AC/DC substations would be needed, BOEM must calculate mortality and execute an agreement to outline a plan to mitigate the impact.   A mitigation fund must be set up prior to construction with payments into the fund based on the economic cost associated with their entrainment/impingement.  

7) Cold Pool Disruption 

The NYB’s unique cold bottom waters support our diverse fisheries and must be protected. The use of “few studies” and “fewer studies” in Section 3.4.2-13 screams, stop and get the scientific work done before proceeding. “The new presence of structures and their impact on regional scale oceanographic processes and potential secondary changes to primary production and ecosystems is extremely important. Structures may reduce wind-forced mixing of surface waters, whereas water flowing around the foundations may increase vertical mixing.” “There has been extensive research into characterizing and modeling atmospheric wakes created by wind turbines in order to design the layout of wind facilities.” Obviously their investment depends on it. Why isn’t this same attention and resources dedicated to hydrodynamics?

8) Mitigation – Financial Compensation

Last but certainly not least

I attended a meeting in July 12, 2022 BOEM Draft Fisheries Mitigation Guidance Document Meeting and have tried to stay up to date on the process of this document. At the time the Fishing Tackle Retail, Bait & Tackle, Tackle Manufacturers, Boat Builders and ancillary businesses were completely left out of consideration for financial compensation in the event of lost income as a result of offshore wind development. Still today I believe this is completely absurd. Congress must give BOEM more direct authority to fund mitigation. The Economic Contributions of Recreational Fishing by the American Sportfishing Association in partnership with the Southwicks Associates (for over 30 years, the leading market research and economics firm specializing in hunting, sportfishing and the outdoor recreation markets) must be included in the DPEIS. The recreational fishing industry is an economic engine that is very much overlooked by BOEM and the entire offshore wind development processes.

DPEIS 3.6.1, 2-32: “Fishing could experience substantial disruptions indefinitely, even with implementation of the AMMM measures. The AMMM measures would compensate commercial and for-hire recreational fishermen for loss of income due to unrecovered economic activity and to shoreside businesses for losses indirectly related to the expected development; provide monetary compensation for lost gear or income. Other AMMM measures propose the development of monitoring plans or adaptive management plans that would increase data and knowledge that might facilitate the development of future mitigation.” 

Impacts very well take years to manifest and the fishing industry as a whole must be included in this mitigation package. FURTHERMORE, mitigation payments must come from top line revenue ONLY! They should not be passed along to ratepayers!

For the record I showed my writing/comment to Captain Tony DiLernia a recreational fishing liaison from NYSERDA (NY State Energy Research & Development Authority) at the AC Boat Show on 3/1/23. I asked him to review and asked, “What’s your take on this? Am I off base with anything? ” His reply, “No. This is a great write up. You have done your homework.”

Are you looking to read some more?

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-291 – Fisheries and Offshore Wind Interactions: Synthesis of Science

OCS Study BOEM 2017-012: Socio-Economic Impact of Outer Continental Shelf Wind Energy Development on Fisheries in the U.S. Atlantic