BHCFA Fishing Report 10/24/21

As the water temperatures continue to drop in the waters of southern Ocean County, the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association look eagerly forward to the arrival of the striped bass migration. In the meantime, the inshore wreck fishing and offshore tuna fishing have really turned on.

Mate Max Goldman reports the boat “Starfish,” captained by Carl Sheppard, had a couple of outstanding wreck trips recently with nonstop action and limit catches of big black sea bass for its anglers. Another trip in calmer bay waters resulted in a good haul of blowfish and small bluefish.

Captain Jimmy Zavacky had a great trip recently to the Hudson Canyon on the “Reel Determined.” Accompanied by his son Patrick and Steve Palmer, along with Sam and Randy, they came home with a 152-pound big eye tuna, 15 yellowfin tuna to 65-pounds, and a large mahi. Most fish were caught chunking.

Coming up this weekend is the annual Sea Shell Beach Club Striped Bass Derby. BHCFA captain John Lewis reports his captains will be well represented this year and urges all local anglers to participate in this worthy event. Last year’s proceeds were donated by the Sea Shell to the
BHCFA for its artificial reef program. Complete information on the event can be found at

Captain Lewis also said the BHCFA will have an information booth set up at the Derby providing information on the reef program.

Additional information on the BHCFA and its reef program can be found at

LBI Surf Fishing Classic – The Kick Off & Early Day Recap

Despite rough surf conditions caused by a nasty northeaster, the 67th annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic opened up on Saturday, October 9, and already has three entries on the board.

The Classic offers cash prizes for striped bass, bluefish, kingfish, and red drum. The first entries of 2021 were all kingfish, taken on fresh bloodworms. Topping the chart at this point is the 1.06-pound kingfish
caught by Austin Campbell, entered in the juvenile division.

Campbell caught his fish on Tuesday, October 12, on the beach in Surf City and weighed it in at Surf City Bait and Tackle. He is fishing as a member of the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club.

The first two entries were caught on opening day, Saturday, October 9. Derek Mason Jr. landed his 1.04-pound king in the Holgate area and weighed the fish in at Jingles Bait and Tackle. Ted Schmid II weighed
catch weighing just under one pound. He caught his fish in Barnegat Light and also checking it at Surf City Bait and Tackle.

Now that the rough seas are calming down, registered anglers are looking forward to this weekend and the upcoming days on the beach. Water temperatures are dropping indicating the arrival of migrating bass is getting closer.

The main question at this point is what should anglers be targeting right now? Connor Smilon from Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven recommends targeting kingfish with either fresh bloodworms or Fish Bites. He adds other options might be looking for a bluefish with fresh mullet or stripers with lures.

Here’s Emmet from Top Notch Tackle hand tied fishing rigs with a recent surf side catch. Recently small blues and kingfish are active on the beaches of LBI. Soon we’ll see bigger bluefish and striped bass move in. Are you ready?

Emmet Fitzgerald at Surf City Bait and Tackle also suggests aiming for kingfish. “Most definitely,” He replied when asked. In addition to using bloodworms, Fitzgerald lauded the use of chartreuse Fish Bites. “I have been using chartreuse, and they are really working for me,” noted Fitzgerald. He acknowledged the presence of some stripers toward Barnegat Inlet in the 24-26-inch range.

Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom made it three votes for kingfish. Cudnik does suggest fishing with two rods. He likes the idea of fishing one lighter rod with small hooks and bait for kings while fishing another larger rod baited either with clams or mullet on the chance a striper is in the area.

Instagrammer Saltyreelsfishing caught this kingfish off the LBI surf on live bloodworms.

Helping to kick off the contest Saturday was the annual surf fishing seminar conducted by the Long Beach Island Fishing Club. Weather conditions reduced the turnout this year, but the presentations were accompanied by some very productive questions and answer sessions. Cudnik went so far as to say, “This might have been the best we have ever had.”

The seminar is held each year for registrants of the Classic and is geared to provide information for beginners and veteran anglers alike. Besides the information refreshments were provided in the form of doughnuts from the Crust and Crumb Bakery in Beach Haven and coffee from How You Brewin in Surf City.

The Classic will run until December 12. Registration can be handled at any of the bait and tackle shops mentioned above. Complete information on the contest can be found at

67th LBI Surf Fishing Classic

Night temperatures are cooling, leaves are turning color, and football games are filling stadiums. Fall is on its way, On Long Beach Island that means the LBI Surf Fishing Classic is fast approaching.

The 2021 version of this historic fishing tournament promises to be an exciting one with cash and other prizes awarded for four varieties of fish. Striped bass lead the way with prizes also available for bluefish, kingfish, and red drum.

This year is the 67th annual running of the contest with a starting date of Saturday, October 9, and ending up Sunday, December 12. Entry fee is $30 for adults with those seventeen and younger paying just $15.

Anglers can sign up at any of the three official weigh-in stations on LBI including Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, and Surf City Bait and Tackle. Official Classic 2021 hats and decals are available to those who register early.

John Donnelly caught this quality striped bass off the LBI surf in last year’s Classic.

Once again there are daily, weekly, and grand prizes available along with special “Bonus Prizes.” There are also special prize categories for junior anglers seventeen and younger, “Senior Citizen” prizes for those 62 and older, and “Ladies Prizes.” Prizes range from $50 daily awards to $100 and $250 weekly prizes, $500 and $1,000 for 3-week segment winners, and $1,000 for the grand prize for bluefish.

Frankie Lenetti battling rough conditions to hunt fall run striped bass on the beaches of LBI. Photo by Aimee Higman

Local fishing experts are optimistic about this year’s fall fishing run on Long Beach Island and its impact on the Classic.

Steve Palmer, owner of Jingles Bait and Tackle, is looking forward to the upcoming action. “I have a gut feeling this will be an exciting tournament. We have had a good spring and summer on other fish, and I expect it to continue.” Palmer advises anglers to be ready to “put the time in.” He likes the prospects of action at Holgate to lead the way for surf fishing. He notes strong showings of mullet and other baitfish in that area already.

Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters also expects good surf fishing this fall. He points to a strong run of striped bass in the spring and feels the new striper regulations seem to have resulted in more fish already. Cudnik is expecting a good number of new entrants this year. He has seen an increase this year in anglers new to the area and looks for many of them to enter the contest. He too is encouraged by the amount of bait in area waters and is keeping his fingers crossed for good weather conditions. “We have had good, clean water all summer. We now have plenty of anchovies and
mullet around and as long as they are here, we should have fish feeding on them.”

Sue Castrati of Surf City Bait and Tackle points to striper action already happening around Barnegat Inlet and the LBI Causeway with good numbers of schoolie stripers showing up. “We are having a good start
already on bass, and the amount of bait in the water is encouraging.” Her shop has already had a goodly number of anglers signing up for the Classic and attributes the interest to “a great annual tradition.” She saw an increase in new registrations in 2020 and is hoping for more again this year.

Joe Czapkowski and his dog fishing sunrise on the LBI surf. Do you know of a better way to enjoy a fall morning on Long Beach Island?

Last year was the first to offer prizes for kingfish which will once again be included. “Adding kingfish was an attempt to get an early start to the Classic,” observes Jim Hutchinson Jr., chairperson of the Classic committee. “This move stirred up interest and developed winners right from the opening bell.” Hutchinson points to outstanding support from not just local bait and tackle shops but also, “the entire business community.” Some businesses supply bonus prizes. “All money raised goes to prizes and tournament expenses. There are no salaries, and we award scholarships to members of local high school fishing clubs.”

Kick Off Surf Fishing Seminar

Each year (with the exception cancellations due to covid) the tournament kicks off with a surf fishing seminar. This year it starts at 10am on Saturday October 9th. The location is the Ship Bottom Fire House, 2006 Central Ave, Ship Bottom, NJ 08008. It is between 20th and 21st street. Save The Date Today and be sure to join. There will be lots of information as well as door prizes.

Registrations and information for the Classic are available at any of the three official weigh-in stations. Information can also be located on the tournament website and Facebook page, LBI Surf Fishing Classic.

BHCFA Fishing Report 9/4/21

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association

Long Beach Island has escaped the wrath of recent tropical storms, and now the captains of the Beach Haven Charter fishing Association can turn their attention to some outstanding late summer fishing. As they say locally, “everything is better in September.”

The summer flounder action is at its peak of the season which ends on September 19. The fish are plentiful, and the ratio of keepers to throwbacks is as high as it has been all year. Although most captains are targeting summer flounder there are other fish to be taken including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, blackfish, false albacore, and others.

Captain Brett Taylor of Real Reaction Sportfishing had Paige Agnello and her family on an ocean fluke trip. They hit a local snag for a quick limit of black sea bass to 17-inches and ended the trip in the bay where they managed a 22-inch keeper.

Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” has also been doing well on fluke in the reefs outside Beach Haven Inlet including the Little Egg and Garden State South Reefs.

Captain Alex Majewski of Light House Sportfishing says his trips are “dialed in,” meaning most days he knows what fish to target and what tide to fish when he leaves the dock. He notes there is a great assortment of fish around including loads of blowfish in the bay. When he tries trolling Clark spoons in the ocean, he never knows what might be attacking the metals next.

Congratulations go out to BHCFA member and former president, Captain Jimmy Zavacky, for his recognition by the Beach Haven Borough Council on his heroic actions earlier this summer. Captain Jimmy and son Patrick along with the crew of the “Reel Determined” assisted in the rescue of the crew of a sinking 28-foot fishing vessels.

The Council cited Zavacky for “bravery, expertise and selflessness in the face of harrowing sea conditions.” While fishing in a tournament sponsored by the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna club, a boat he was fishing with began to develop problems and was in danger of sinking.

Zavacky had been fishing in concert with the stricken vessel and quickly sped to its aid.

Ultimately a US Coast Guard helicopter arrived on the scene and with the “Reel Determined” was able to affect the safe rescue of all the men aboard the stricken boat. If not for Captain Jimmy’s quick response and tireless efforts, the situation could have been much worse.

Additional information on the BHCFA can be found at

BHCFA Fishing Report 8/15/21

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Fishing Report
By Jim Hutchinson Sr.

The New Jersey summer flounder action does not get much better than it is right now. The boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are right in the middle of the action.

Captain Dave Kreines has been running his boat “ByteMe” down to the inlet areas for great August fishing. Jeff, Beth, and their two kids were out, and everyone caught fish, with over 30 fluke landed, including 2 keepers over 20-inches. Patrick and Jennifer booked a 4-hour trip without the kids for their first taste of saltwater fishing. They happily took home 21 and 22-inch fluke and were excited to catch a variety of other species, including black sea bass, bluefish, sea robins, and small sharks.

Captain Brett Taylor of Real Reaction Sportfish had Tom Clark and his daughter on a 5-hour ocean charters. The pair caught a full boat limit to 7-pounds. They released close to 25 short fish along with several keepers to 20-inches. The S&S Bigeyes tipped with natural baits were the ticket. Another trip with Captain Brett had Bob Reim and crew on a 5-hour fluke charter with mate Luke. They fished a few spots ending with 10 keepers to 24.5 inches.

Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” has been consistently finding keeper fluke for his parties fishing the waters off the southern tip of Long Beach Island including artificial reefs and other areas.

Several of the BHCFA captains participated in the recent Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s annual white marlin tournament. Noticeable were the stalwart efforts of the Association’s junior mates as they were active serving as volunteer helpers for the event.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at

BHCFA Fishing Report 8/8/21

By Jim Hutchinson Sr.

Captain John Lewis of the “Insatiable” reports he has been catching more and bigger fish on every trip. Catching 30-40 fish per a 4-hour trip is not uncommon. He terms August as usually the best fishing of the summer and is looking forward to the Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational Tournament this week. BHCFA Junior Mates will once again be on hand volunteering their services to help things rolling smoothly.

Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” has been finding top-notch fluke action fishing his usual locations. Everyday has been producing good action topped by the “Earley Boys” who limited out on a total of 12-fluke.

Captain Brett Taylor of Real Reaction Sportfishing has been busy on trips, often two in one day. He had Jesse Blake, wife Melissa, 6-year-old daughter Brianna, and father-in-law Walter on a quick 4-hour bay fluke trip. The family caught close to thirty fluke with two nice keepers at 20 and 22 inches. Brianna ended up catching the biggest of the day.

Captain Alex Majewski announced he has officially retired from working his jobs in science and education and is now “living my childhood dream of being a fulltime professional saltwater fishing guide.” In addition to his bay and ocean fishing trips, he conducts environmental and sightseeing trips in both his boat and kayaks.

BHCFA’s NJ Reef Building Updates

The BHCFA captains and Junior Mates are continuing their efforts to build up the area artificial reefs. Captain John Lewis has announced the state boat that deploys reef balls is available in August and September as well as January and February. Captain John says it might be advisable to buy 30 existing reef balls which could be shipped to NJ in about two weeks and deploy them from the State boat at no cost. The pre-made balls will cost about $11,000 including delivery to the boat in Forked River.

The BHCFA also has plans to make a number of reef balls with volunteer help to greatly reduce the cost. It is estimated that more than 100 balls per year could be added to the four reefs off LBI, the most underdeveloped reefs in New Jersey. Once again, donations of financial help are gratefully accepted for the reef replenishment. Contributions are tax deductible.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at .

BHFCA 7/10/21 Fishing Report

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Weekly Fishing Report
By Jim Hutchinson Sr.

The captains and anglers of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association breathed a deep sigh of relief this weekend when Hurricane Elsa skipped by while packing only a small portion of what might have been.

The current emphasis by the captains continues to be bottom fishing in the ocean on inshore structure and drifting for summer flounder in local bays and inlets.

Captain Carl Sheppard had multiple bottom trips out recently on the StarFish. Each trip worked hard to secure dinner, including the Kovalick family which caught their limit of sea bass up to 19-inches, a 20-inch fluke, and a ling.

Captain Gary Dugan and the “Irish Jig” have also been finding success bottom fishing. In addition to much action from just short throwbacks, one group hauled in 3 respectable fluke and a nice sea bass for dinner.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing had Bob Dodds, his two grand-daughters including recent Southern Regional graduate Ashley on a 4-hour fishing charter. It started off slow, but the crew had close to 60 fluke with 7 nice keepers to 23.5-inches. All fish were caught on the S&S bigeye tipped with live bait.

Associate member Jim Hutchinson Sr., who handles publicity for the BHCFA, listened to the captains’ reports and got in on the fluke action recently at the Little Egg Reef. Fishing with pal Dave Rinear and Joe Hummel on the “Angler,” the group put three keepers to 20-inches in the fish box while releasing over a dozen short fish.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at

BHFCA 7/3/21 Fishing Report

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Fishing Report

Although the long awaited Fourth of July weekend arrived with dicey weather, it appears the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are now facing some decent fishing conditions in the days ahead.

The re-opening of the black sea bass season is good news as anglers now have an additional opportunity to take home a fish dinner.

The ”Miss Beach Haven,” a head boat captained by Frank Camarda, has been running a series of trips both in calm bay waters along with ocean trips to inshore artificial reefs. Fluke catches have been steady, along with some big black sea bass coming over the rails. Captain Frank runs a set daily schedule for his four-hour bay trips and longer ocean ventures.

Captains Carl Sheppard and Vic Bertotti have been running many trips on the “Star Fish.” All the trips caught fish and including Jeff Ventura whose party of four anglers caught 83 sea bass.

Captain Gary Dugan on the “Irish Jig” has been finding good numbers of summer flounder. A trip on Saturday produced steady action with three keepers to 20-inches.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing has been out of action the last few days as he is in South Carolina supporting son Luke in a big baseball tournament. Recent results indicate the team is doing well. Captain Tom Duralek of “NorthEnd Charters” has taken over some of Captain Brett’s charters including Bill Dabney and his son on a fluke trip. The duo jigged a few areas hard catching close to 20 throwbacks and two keeper fluke to 21 inches.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at  

BHCFA Report 6/26/21

By Jim Hutchinson Sr.

The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association held its first Junior Mates Program since 2019 this past week to an eager group of over 20 would-be mates. The open-air meeting took place at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club. Prior to the actual instruction, some special presentations took place highlighting certain special achievements of the Association and the Junior Mates.

Beach Haven Mayor Colleen presented a proclamation to Association President Captain John Lewis honoring the Junior Mates for their reef replenishment project. In addition, framed newspaper articles about the deployment on the reef were presented to Tom Hughes of the Sea Shell Club who raised the lion’s share of the money for the reef work.

Although she was unable to be in attendance, Lewis also announced an award for Deb Whitcraft, head of the New Jersey Maritime Museum. She has been a fervent supporter of the Junior Mates for many years, donating use of her museum for Association classes and meetings.

In fishing news, Captain Dave Kreines had a couple of bay fishing parties out on the “Byte Me.” He had Tony and his grandson Anthony out for a half-day trip. Stiff winds and cool temperatures made for less-than-ideal conditions, but Captain Dave reports the pair enjoyed the day. Another trip with Paul and his son Dylan resulted in a few throwbacks along with a nice 20-inch keeper fluke. The pair caught their first ever sea robin and were enthused about it.

Captain Carl Sheppard of the “StarFish” reports fishing has been improving on almost a daily basis. He has been busy fishing wrecks and catching summer flounder along with sea bass and blackfish which are now out of season. Most trips have produced multiple keepers along with an abundance of action from shorts.

In between successful fluke trips, Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” announced that he has taken over the Cape Horn Bait and Tackle Shop on Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton. He is now keeping his boat at the marina while making “some pretty cool changes” there and offering some topnotch services.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing reports he had a busy week with double and triple charters each day when the weather cooperates. With the fishing dependent on the temperature and water clarity, most trips are seeing 25 to 45 fish with 2 to 7 keepers The largest fish of the week have been in the 5–6-pound range.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at

BHCFA Fishing Report 6/12/21

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Fishing Report
by Jim Hutchinson Sr.

Summer-like weather has arrived in the Beach Haven area, and along with some strong fishing usually associated.

Besides pockets of striped bass in the area, the inshore reefs are holding large numbers of black sea bass and other bottom fish. The summer flounder bite is hot in the bay waters, and there are early signs of tuna fish offshore.

Captain Gary Dugan had a group out fishing on the “Irish Jig” that he termed a “great bunch of guys.” They experienced drop and reel action with a lot of nice fish for the cooler working inshore structure. Captain Gary gave special recognition to one of the anglers who leaves shortly for basic training in the Air Force. The future serviceman took top honors with a beautiful blackfish which had to be released as it was out of season. 

Captain Dave Kreines reports he finally got the “Byte Me” into the water, making his first trip of the season. He had Rick K. out for a few hours of fluke fishing in Great Bay. They reeled in several short fish and a nice keeper before they were chased in by thunderstorms. 

Captain Carl Sheppard and First Mate Max Goldman had the Pickup family out bottom fishing on the “Star Fish.”. The crew fished multiple wrecks catching black sea bass and tog. Several nice sea bass made it into the cooler for a fish dinner. Also getting into the action with Captain Carl was the Nobles family who caught countless sea bass keeping several up to 15-inches.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing reports averaging 2-8 keeper fluke per trip along with 25-50 throwbacks. He attributes the differences to water temperature and clarity. He had two half-day charters recently with three keepers to 22-inches in the morning for Jesse Sipe and his son Ryan. In the afternoon he had Dan Dwyer fishing the incoming tide, and “the guys did a great job catching close to 40 with 7 keepers to 21-inches.”

BHCFA President Captain John Lewis is reminding all local youngsters who would like to become members of the Association’s Junior Mate program that the initial meeting will be held Thursday, June 24, at the lower level of the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club. Start Time is 7pm.

The Junior Mates Program is open to youngster who will reach the age of 12 by August 1, 2021. Information on the program can be found at the online link below or calling Lewis at 609-670-5980 or Captain Jimmy Zavacky at 609-915-2498.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at .