LBI Surf Fishing Tournament 5/11/22 Report

As I sit at my desk thinking about the surf fishing action on Long Beach Island, I wonder if these northeast winds will ever let up.

At least I see sunshine outside my window as the torrential rains are gone for now. But those darn winds gusting to 30-mph and more keep blowing their brains out. I knew this was going to be one heck of a week when I saw 10-foot waves in the forecast for Sunday and much of the week.

Now the big question is what the fishing will be like when this is all over. I just peeked at NOAA’s marine weather forecast, and it predicts lighter northeast winds on Friday, May 13, of just 10-mph with the wind shifting around to the SE after midnight and into Saturday when the wave heights are projected to drop down.

In my many years at the Jersey coast, I can recall our share of northeast storms, but few come to mind that were as strong and as lengthy in duration. But enough of that negative stuff, let’s see what positive things we might have in store for us.

Before looking at the surf action, take note of the pre-storm happenings in the bay waters. This year’s start to the summer founder season was earlier than it has been for a while. First results were very promising with many limits reported, especially in the Great Bay area. I heard of good catches inside Barnegat Inlet also. I didn’t hear much from mid-island waters, but that could very well be due to a lack of anglers trying there.

There were goodly numbers of smallish stripers in the bay waters, especially on the west side of the bay and around the LBI Causeway, with a few keepers in the mix. As is usual for this time of the year, drumfish are feeding near the sodbanks in the Tuckerton and Great Bays and assorted islands in that area.

Early season blue-claw crab action was an increase over recent years with recreational crabbers doing quite well on keepers.

The striped bass action in the surf of LBI was just really heating up when the storm arrived. In addition to keeper sized slot fish showing up, a surprising number of stripers over the 38-inch limit were being reeled in. A couple of bluefish even showed their faces.

A true barometer of what the action was like is to take a gander at the entries in the Long Beach Island Derby which began April 2 and runs until June 26. A total of 10 fish were weighed in prior to the storm with nine bass and one bluefish.

Courtland Foos leads the striper section with his 22.86-pounder caught on May 1 in Brant Beach on bunker. The fish measured 37.75-inches. Jay Shayne beached the second place linesider on May 3 in Surf city, a fish measuring just under37-inches and weighing 20.22-pounds.

Vince Orzel landed the only bluefish thus far on May 3 on a plug in Barnegat Light. The chopper weighed in at 5.52-pounds.

Of the nine stripers entered so far, 1 fell for fresh bunker, 3 for salted clam, and the rest for fresh clam. Holgate and Brant Beach produced the most fish with 3 each while Surf City provided 2 and Spray Beach 1.

There are cash prizes for the top fished entered in the contest with photo prizes which give anglers the opportunity to share their catches and still release them safely.

Registration for the Derby can be accomplished at any of the three official weigh-in stations. These are Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, and Surf City Bait and Tackle in Surf City.

The official website for the event is  www.lbisfc.com. Those of you on Facebook can check out the event on its Facebook site, LBI Surf Fishing Tournament.

Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that these winds finally start to shut down. Once the waters clear up, there is not reason for good action to return.

BHCFA Upcoming Seasons

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Update

It is not too early to start booking fishing trips with the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. Most of the 2022 New Jersey saltwater fishing regulations are now official, and the seasons are quickly approaching.

The summer flounder season will be opening on Monday, May 2, with a 3 fish per day bag limit. However, this year anglers may now keep two fish from 17 to 17.99-inches and one fish 18-inches or over. In recent years, all three fish in a bag limit had to be 18-inches or longer. The season will end on September 27.

The reduction in size should mean more fish fillets heading home for dinner.

The black sea bass regulations break the season into four segments with varying daily limits. It begins on May 17 until June 19 with a 10 fish per angler allowed daily. The second season goes from July 1 to August 31 with a 2 fish per day allowance. The next season is from October 12 to October 31 with a 10 fish per day limit. 

The final segment runs from November 1 to December 31 with 15 fish allowed per day. The size limit for all segments is 13-inches.

The daily bag limit for porgies is 50 with a 10-inch minimum size. Anglers once again are allowed one striped bass daily of 28 to 37.99-inches. The early season for blackfish will end on April 30.

Anglers interested in taking advantage of the numerous saltwater fishing opportunities are advised to make their reservations early with one of the experienced captains of the BHCFA. Most of the prime dates fill up fast. Those who want to try their luck big game fishing for species such as tuna, marlin, and mahi-mahi are advised to contact individual captains for complete details.

Detailed information on the boats and captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can visit the website www.BHCFA.net

Beach Haven CFA April Update

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Update

Spring has arrived in Beach Haven although low temperatures and gusty winds might suggest otherwise. The captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are putting the finishing touches on their boats and fishing gear for the upcoming fishing season.

Captain Dave Wittenborn has already splashed the “Benita J,” and additional BHCFA captains have their boats mere days away from the water.

There is much to be done for a charter captain in preparation for a busy season on the water. Besides readying the vessel, fishing gear must be examined and upgraded where needed. Licenses and inspections are always front and center chores. Safety equipment and accommodations for angler comfort are regular concerns.

Lining up mates for the year can be a daunting task at times, but the development of the BHCFA Junior Mates Program has been a tremendous help in producing competent mates.

Bookings have already been made although final regulations for species such as summer flounder and black sea bass are not set. The rules concerning season dates, minimum sizes, and daily bag limits will be finalized soon. 

The early fishing story has been a positive one as the first month of the inshore striped bass fishery has been a good one. More fish have been taken already than in previous recent years including a surprising number of keeper fish. As water temperatures continue to rise, this fishery will only get better.

April and May have been good months in recent years to fish for stripers and black drum in the bay waters near Long Beach Island. As summer nears, many of these fish will move into the ocean to join up with migrating striped bass for some strong late spring action.

Anglers looking to get in on some of this early action as well as preferred fishing dates later in the season are advised to reserve slots now. Many of the prime fishing opportunities fill up quickly as warm weather arrives.

Complete information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association and its member boats and captains can be found on the internet at www.BHCFA.org 

LBI Surf Fishing – Spring Derby Is Near!

Spring has arrived. You may not know that from current air temperatures, but the calendar says it is so, as do some early catches of striped bass.

The early arrival of stripers in the back bays and tributaries bodes well for the upcoming start of the 2022 version of the annual LBI Spring Derby. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the popular kickoff to the Long Beach Island surf fishing scene.

This year’s contest opens on Saturday, April 2, and concludes on Sunday, June 26, at 6:00 PM. Entry into the event is $20 with a unique prize structure. There is a 100% pay out of money taken in. The winning striped bass receives half of the entry fees while the second largest bass is good for 25%. The third bass rakes in 10%.

In addition to the striped bass prizes, there is a 15% payout to the largest bluefish weighed in.

Anglers are advised to have cell phones or cameras on hand while fishing. Adding spice to the tournament are weekly prizes for photos taken while fishing the event as well as a grand prize-winning photo.

Here’s a link for more information on the Spring Derby.

The spring fishing tournament was an outgrowth of the ever-popular Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic which has run in the fall months since 1955. Surf anglers have enjoyed that event so much, a parallel tournament in the spring was a natural. Thus, the spring contest sprung up.

So far this spring anglers have been reporting a high level of success in many of the customary early season “hot spots.” This includes sodbanks on the west side of the bay and various areas at the mouth and tributaries of waterways such as the Mullica River. While bloodworms traditionally produce the best results, some fish have been taken on plastic lures and even plugs.

Usually, the first catches in March of stripers are almost completely comprised of throwback fish too short to be legal. So far this year, there have been keeper sized fish reeled in practically every day. This early season success seems to suggest that more fish are spending their winters inshore than in past years.

It is difficult to say why this trend is so. One reason might be that there was an abundance of bait in the water back in the fall that kept the fish around. Also, water temperatures are already in the low 50’s, which has gotten the fish moving around much sooner than usual.

The LBI Spring Derby is the opening fishing tournament in the southern Ocean County area. It is set up for shore-based anglers only. 

Last year’s winning fish was a 22.44-pound striper caught by Garry Grippaldi. Charles Avila reeled in the largest bluefish weighing 10.42-pounds.

With a limited number of prizes, the rules are designed to make the event a “low kill” event. Unless a fish will be on the leaderboard or taken home for the dinner table, safe releases are recommended. 

Anglers are urged to do all they can to ensure fish are released safely. The regulation that only circle hooks be used while fishing with bait for striped bass is a large help. 

All fish releases should be done as quickly as possible with a minimum of handling. Anglers are urged not to hold fish by the gills or allowing them to flop around on the ground. Release the fish gently back into the water avoiding waves that might wash it back to the beach.

The photo prizes give anglers the opportunity to share their catches and still release them safely.

Registration for the Derby can be accomplished at any of the three official weigh-in stations. These are Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, and Surf City Bait and Tackle in Surf City.

The official website for the event is  www.lbisfc.com. Those of you on Facebook can check out the event on its Facebook site, LBI Surf Fishing Tournament.

LBI Surf Fishing Classic Update – December 1, 2021

The final week and a half of the 67th annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is here, and it appears the striped bass are going to make it an exciting finish. 

The last few days of November and those of early December have produced some hectic action on the front beaches of Long Beach Island. Prior to November 29, a total of 13 striped bass had been weighed in for the tournament. With six arriving on the 30th and another five on the 30th, that total almost doubled to 25 fish! Check here for the live results page.

Nick DeGennaro still holds the lead with his 18.02-pound linesider he caught in Barnegat Light on a lure.

Here’s Nick with his fish at weigh in at Fisherman’s Headquarters. He caught the striped bass in Barnegat Light on a lures.

Lures of several types now seem to be catching the most bass as opposed to bunker which was the hot bait early in the Classic. Successful offerings have worked well on the fish including bucktails, Hopkins, Daiwa SP Minnows, rubber swim shads like those from Tsunami. Also topwater plugs are stand out producers. One of the best is the Tsunami Talking Poppers.

Bird play is marking schools of bait and feeding bass. The fish can be seen breaking the surface as they chase and feed on large schools of peanut bunker. At times these feeds have been full on blitz conditions.

Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom attributes the success of artificials to the presence of spiny dogfish in the wash. These scavengers feed ravenously on any bait they come across. They do not attack artificials with the same intensity. He recommends anglers try to “match the hatch” using artificials that fit the profile of peanut bunker.

Cudnik says he was pleased as the fish arrived and notes this arrival is in line with previous years. A goodly number of the fish being caught are in the keeper-size range making them eligible for the Classic. “There are still good numbers of fish to the north, and they should keep arriving on our beaches well into December.”

Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven reports the surf temperature on the beach recently has been slowly dropping with the most recent reading coming in at 52-degrees. They are especially encouraged for the upcoming actions as the heavy surf fishing action has reached Surf City and is moving south. Earlier in the week they heard of a ”peanut bunker frenzy” with particularly good action in Harvey Cedars. 

They officially weighed in a striper weighing 8.72-pounds caught by Frankie Lenetti was weighed in on Tuesday. Frankie works at Surf City Bait and Tackle and Fisherman’s Headquarters. As per Classic rules, he brought the fish to a shop he is not associated with.

Aimee Welsh from Surf City Bait and Tackle calls the arrival of the striper schools “a breath of fresh air.” She is hoping for “neck and neck excitement” for the last week of the Classic especially since the fish are in the 8–12-pound range.”

Welsh expects the next couple of weeks to be just as good for bass and perhaps even better. She admits being pleased at the success recently of bass being taken on artificial presentations rather than bait. “I think that adds to the sport of it.”

The Classic will conclude on Sunday, December 12. It is not too late to register for the contest. Registration can be handled at any of the bait and tackle shops mentioned above. Complete information on the contest can be found at www.LBISFC.com

LBI Surf Fishing Classic 11/22/21 Update

With true fall-like temperatures finally showing up and water temperatures dropping into the mid and lower 50’s, the striped Bass action in the 67th annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is showing an uptick.

Although no bluefish have been entered in the contest yet, the number of striped bass entered continues to rise.

While the bite along with weigh-ins in the Classic has been spotty at times, there have been enough good catches scattered in to inspire optimism for the upcoming days. In addition, fish caught by anglers registered in the contest, other fish have shown up the length of Long Beach Island.

In fact, the three top fish on the leaderboard have been caught in the past week. Currently sitting on top is a bass weighing 18.02-pounds caught by Nick DeGennaro on November 20 in Barnegat Light. Taken on an artificial presentation, the fish measured out to 34.5-inches.

Richard Bergman rests in second place with an 18.0-pounder also caught in Barnegat Light on mullet. Merle Van Liew beached a fish weighing 17.06-pounds on bunker in Beach Haven good for third place at the moment. The fish measured out at 37 and seven-eighths inches.

With the four-day Thanksgiving weekend on the horizon and plenty of prizes left in the Classic, there seems to be optimism for action to pick up.

Aimee Welsh from Surf City Bait and Tackle says she is keeping her fingers crossed that the ocean water temperature continues to drop. “If the cooler weather continues, I think the action will get better and better.” She feels the action will be strong right into 2002.

Connor Smilon from Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven says he expects the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend to be a good one for catching bass on the beach. “I am looking forward to a push of bigger stripers and maybe even some bluefish.” He added that he has heard of some large blues appearing north of Long Beach Island.

Smilon also stated that he anticipates striper action in December to be much like last year when the fish were around throughout the month.

One problem that has been plaguing surf anglers this fall has been a surge of spiny dogfish that attack natural bait. Their aggressive presence makes it difficult at times keeping the bait around long enough for the stripers to get to it.

Although the stripers continue to prefer natural bait, artificial presentations have been catching fish. Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters endorses the use of artificials to avoid the pesky dogfish. One of his customers picked up one on a Kettle Creek soft bait paddle-tail on a lead-head. The same anglers also beached a linesider on a diamond jig.

The Classic will run until December 12. With lots of prizes still up for grabs, it’s not too late to register for the contest. Registration can be handled at any of the bait and tackle shops mentioned above. 

Complete information on the contest can be found at www.LBISFC.com.

Recent history has shown that the next two or three weeks ahead produce the most fish weighed in for the tournament.

LBI Surf Fishing Classic Mid-November Update

“The stripers are here! The stripers are here!” These words could be heard on the beaches of Long Beach Island the past few days as the contestants in the Long Beach Island’s Surf Fishing Classic found striped bass on the ends of their lines.

After the first few weeks of the tournament that began on October 9 were dominated by large numbers of big kingfish, bass making their way down the coastline are making some surf casters happy.

As of Friday afternoon, November 12, six striped bass have made it to the scales for the Classic. The first fish entered was a 31-inch bass caught by Paul Donnelly in Barnegat Light on October 30 on a clam bait. The fish weighed in at 11.12-pounds and is currently in second place in the entire tournament.

The top fish so far was caught by Randall Krieg on Friday, November 12, in Surf City on bunker. The fish weighed 12.32-pounds and measured just over 34-inches. A 12.32-pounder caught by Randall Krieg resides in third place.

Surf City Bait and Tackle reports that Tyler Leary weighed in a fish caught on an artificial lure weighing 8.88-pounds. Tyler, a high school student, leads the tournament in the juvenile division.

Of the six fish currently entered in the Classic, three were caught on bunker chunks, two on clam, and Leary’s on the lure. All stripers weighed in thus far have been caught on the beach at the northern end of Long Beach Island from Surf City to Barnegat Light. Fish have been active both in the day and at night.

ADDED / UPDATED on 11/18/21
11/16/21 – 9.46# caught by Carl Gramley on bunker
11/15/21 – 17.06# caught by Marle Van Liere on bunker CURRENTLY 2nd
11/14/21 – 7.06# caught by Robert Braack on bunker
11/14/21 – 18# caught by Richard Bergman on mullet CURRENTLY 1st

For more on the current standing go to www.lbisfc.com/live-results

In addition to the Classic entries, local bait and tackle shops report catches of oversized fish that had to be released. Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven heard of two lunkers that were landed on the beach and released.

Fisherman’s Headquarters reports Greg Sadowski and Ernie Ernst were fishing together this week and landed a pair of 43-inchfish just 15 minutes apart on bunker chunks.

A total of forty-three kingfish have been weighed in thus far with Jim Spiewak’s fish topping the field. With none entered since October 25, it appears the water may be too cold for any more entries.

No bluefish or red drum have been weighed in so far.

At this point there are seventeen teams entered in the Classic with a total of 495 anglers. 

It is not too late to sign up as there is just about a month left until it ends of December 12. The bulk of the striped bass are still to the north of Long Beach Island and heading south. Many prizes are still available on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and grand prize basis.

Registration can be accomplished at any of the official weigh-in stations including Surf City Bait and Tackle, Fisherman’s Headquarters, and Jingles Bait and Tackle.

Complete information on the tournament can be obtained at any of the official weigh-in sites or at www.LBISFC.com

The LBI Classic Surf Tournament End Of October Report

The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic was rolling right along when this week’s strong northeast storm arrived, complete with rain, high winds, and waves as high as 9-feet. The question now is what will fishing be like when the storm disappears over the horizon.

Prior to the stormy weather, kingfish ruled the roost for Classic entries. During the first 19 days of the contest no striped bass, bluefish, or red drum made it to tournament scales. Kingfish, however, cooperated with forty-three officially weighed in to be eligible for prizes.

Jim Spiewak landed the largest fish which weighed 1.28-pounds and measured out at 15.5-inches. John Skretowski both entered kings at 1.22-pounds while Michael Cucinotta’s 1.20-pound fish stands in fourth place.

The fish entered thus far have been caught from shore running the length of Long Beach Island. Bloodworms enticed twenty-four fish while sixteen others fell for hooks baited with Fishbites. Two others were caught on clam, and one on a sand flea.

There are three official weigh-in stations and registration sites on Long Beach Island.

Carole Ann Palmer, owner of Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, reports she is hoping for striped bass to arrive on the beach once the waves subside. “We had a real good spring run of stripers this year, and I am hopeful that our fall run is the same.” Palmer expressed her satisfaction over the recent strong run of kingfish noting they have provided a great target so far for anglers in the Classic.

Sue Castrati from Surf city Bait and Tackle also expressed her feelings for the influx of kingfish. “Even though this current weather is making it tough to fish the beach, I had hoped to see some stripers weighed in by now. Our water temperature is in the mid 60’s, and we have to get that down to have some bass show up.” She added that in previous years there had been striped bass weigh-ins by this time.

Mike Frezza works at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom and fishes practically every day. He has been catching small bass on the bayside on a regular basis. He has his ear to the ground on area fishing and notes, “I have heard of some small bass on the beach along with a rogue bass so large it had to be released. I guess the fishermen were not entered in the Classic.” Frezza added he weighed in a 5-pound bluefish recently but not in the Classic. He is hopeful the winds will bring more fish close to the beach and kick the action up a notch.

The LBI Classic began on October 9 and will run until December 12 with prizes available on a daily, weekly, two-week segment, and grand prizes. The first segment will be ending this weekend.

Complete information on the tournament can be obtained at any of the official weigh-in sites or at www.LBISFC.com

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 www.seashelllbi.com.

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 www.BHCFA.org.

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 www.LBISFC.com