March Madness Is Right Around The Corner

March Madness is right around the corner and there’s big tuna present down off of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Last week some nice fish hit the dock. Find a weather window and head down to get in on the action. There’s lots of local OBX boats fishing as well as a number of Jersey boys who are in town for the bite each year. Don’t miss out!

In honor of Throwback Thursday we are tossing it back to March 2012… Here’s FishHead.Greg field testing a Penn Spinfisher V Series (aka SSv) in the early stages of development. After putting the 9500 and 10500 series to work we found they are one of the best affordable big game spinning reels available.  Stop in and check them out!

Super Strike Zig Zag Darter

While it wasn’t great news when word broke from Steve Musso at Super Strike, it could have been worse. The color selection for 2017 was cut. Many are bumming and scrambling for those now hard to find colors.

We are looking out as an optomist. Just look at the photo below for Super Strike’ 2017 line up of ZigZag Darters. We are stoked to see all of the Comanche’s MVP’s made the cut! The tribe leader Pete Utschig is happy with the colors. He commented, “KILLERS!!! All of them.”

The past couple seasons it’s been near improssible for us to keep the Super Strike ZigZag Darter (as well as all Super Strike Lures) in stock. The lengthy order lead time could not keep up with demand and the delays grew longer.  As soon as a delivery arrived the wall would be cleaned out. Hunger bass and angler demand SS Darter. Super Strike was forced to cut the color options to streamline production. There’s a possibility more colors will be re-released in the future. Super Strike’s Steve Musso said the 2017 line up was, “based strictly on sales history. We picked the 9 most popular colors.” The nine colors shown in the photo are from top to bottom, left to right… Parrot, White, Bone, Yellow, Black, Midnight Mas., Yellow/white, Amber, Black/purple. Most of which are in stock now!

I was introduced to the Super Strike Zig Zag Darter many years ago, but it wasn’t until an unforgettable trip to Massachusett’s famed Cape Cod Canal that I fell in love with the lure. Since then I never fish a night without atleast one in my bag. Many of nights have been all out rope sessions with the Zig Zag as the sole assassin.

For those in the know, the Super Strike Darter is an absolute must have lure that attracts consistent bites and is well documented for fooling classy fish. A large number of trophies have called to the Zig Zag. Darters excel in shallow waters, especially swift moving current found along boulder fields, beaches, inlets and jetties. It is one of the most deadly lures out there. If you don’t already make sure to have a couple in your quiver. 

Fluke Regulation Update

       At the ASMFC’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Board meeting on 2/2 there was a three hour discussion on which fluke option to choose from Addendum XXVIII. The meeting began with DEP Commissioner Bob Martin speaking on behalf of New Jersey’s fishermen. He made it clear that none to the options in the addendum were acceptable to our state and urged the board to maintain status quo. He made it clear that our state will fight any of the other options with whatever means is necessary. The Commissioner was followed by a representative from Congressman Frank Pallone’s office who also spoke passionately on our behalf. We need to thank both of them for making the trip to Alexandria, Virginia and doing this. New Jersey representative Tom Baum then made a motion for status quo which I believe was seconded by Delaware. In addition to Tom, our other representatives, Adam Nowalsky and Chris Zemen presented our case very well but unfortunately the motion failed with only Delaware supporting us.
     A lengthy discussion ensued but eventually it was option 5 that was approved by the board. This option was approved by the board despite the fact that it could be overruled by NOAA if it is determined that this option does not result in the mandated reduction. Option 5 seems to be the least restrictive of the five options in the addendum. Under this option, NJ would be faced with a 3 fluke bag limit with a 19″ size limit and a 128 day season. 

     Regardless, our state is rejecting this option and intends to leave our 2016 regulations in place for this year. Our State is working with the new Trump administration with hope that the cuts mandated by NOAA will be overruled. However, for now though, based on the ASMFC’s decision today, each state or region will now have approximately two months to develop regulations that would comply with option 5. Though NJ has already decided to go out of compliance, I don’t believe that we could actually be found out of compliance until the deadline to enact regulations has passed. Then, I believe at the ASMFC meeting in May, we could be found out of compliance and our state would probably be given a warning notice with 30 days to comply. If we fail to comply, it would then be sent to the Secretary of Commerce who would then have to find that our regulations were hurting the fishery and if so, the default measures would be enacted upon us. That would be 2 fish at 20″ with a season of 7/1 – 8/31. However, all this would take time and there is also a chance the Secretary of Commerce could give a favorable ruling. If it goes this route, a decision will probably not be made until mid-summer. This is a big risk we are taking but we have now drawn a line in the sand. As the Commissioner stated, “Enough is enough”. Please continue to contact your legislative representatives and ask for their support.

     Therefore as of right now, our season is slated to begin on 5/21 and continue through 9/25 with a 5 fish limit at 18″ for most of the State. The only exceptions are for Delaware Bay where there is a 4 fish limit at 17″ and at Island Beach State Park where there is a two fish limit at 16″.

~ Paul Haertel, JCAA Past President


While we didn’t win the day for status quo or postponement the fight will continue. See below for a statement from Commissioner Bob Martin on today’s vote by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in favor of Option 5 of the Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII for 2017 recreational measures for summer flounder:

We are outraged by the summer flounder quota reductions approved today by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and National Marine Fisheries Service. Today’s actions will disproportionately impact New Jersey more than any other state along the coast.

Combined with previous cuts to the commercial industry, today’s actions will result in extreme hardships to the thousands of small businesses up and down the coast – from party boat and bait-and-tackle shop operators, to hotel and restaurant owners – who have families to feed, bills to pay and employees who could lose their jobs with this option implemented.

We understand the long-term impacts of overfishing a species. But we also know for a fact that fluke are abundant and the population is stable off New Jersey.

We will use every legal and administrative tool available to stop these unfair cuts that will devastate our state’s fishing industry and have far-reaching impacts on the shore economy. We will work to ensure that sound science replaces the current outdated, whipsaw form of management that has harmed our fishing communities for far too long. 

The State of New Jersey will also work with our Congressional delegation to make sorely needed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs our marine fisheries to provide more flexibility and common sense in the decision-making process.

~NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife

We are in deep!

The flooding on Long Beach Island was a real problem this morning. We had one car swamped out and left in front of the shop. 

Mid Jan Fishing Report

This is the post excerpt.

While the calendar tells us we are in the thick of January it sure does not feel like it. What should be a big snow event looks to be a late fall like nor’easter.

On the fishing front, there are boats fishing out of the central Jersey coast targeting and catching blackfish. Paul Haertel was out recently and had a very slow day. However, he got a nice nine pounder to make the cold trip worth it.

While not local information it’s a point of interest for many anglers that travel south for big game. We got heads up from store alumni Sam, currently an OBX resident. “Some big are showing up! Some boats found them and hung a few big ones.” Let’s hope this is only the casting call for the prime time March Madness.

This is our very first post on the new blog platform. Hope you like it. We should have made the upgrade years ago… better late than never!