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

Penn Reel Warranty, Service and Parts Center

This Penn Reel is built like a tank! Here at Fisherman’s Headquarters we are a long time factory authorized Penn Reel Warranty, Service & Parts Center. Now’s the time to check out your reels and get them ready for the spring run! Need service or parts? Give us a call. 

More on the fluke saga…

On Friday January 27, 2017 Commissioner Robert Martin of the NJ DEC held a press conference on the docks in Point Pleasant to announce that New Jersey will not endorse OR comply with the proposed 2017 fluke quota cuts! NJ wants a new benchmark assessment done which will include the most recent studies funded by Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Fund Before accepting any changes in regulations. Here’s the press release from the state (NJDEP) dated January 27, 2017 about this monumental firm stance by our state government. Thank You Director Martin!



TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today joined federal and state lawmakers, leaders of the state’s recreational and commercial fishing industries, anglers, and people whose livelihoods rely on fishing to rally in opposition to proposed drastic recreational harvest reductions for summer flounder, saying the changes would devastate the state’s fishing industry and have far-reaching economic impacts on shore tourism.

The rally follows votes last month by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) that would likely result in an increase in the size of individual summer flounder anglers can keep, as well as a decrease in number of fish that may be kept each day, and a reduction in season length.

One of the options under consideration could reduce New Jersey’s recreational harvest limit for summer flounder by as much as nearly 50 percent. Summer flounder is one of the most popular game fish in the state among recreational anglers and is very important to commercial fishing operations.

“Such a draconian reduction in the recreational harvest limit would be tantamount to a moratorium on one of the most popular fish sought after by recreational anglers in New Jersey, making it nearly impossible for them to keep any of the flounder they catch,” Commissioner Martin said during the rally in Point Pleasant Beach. “This will cripple marinas, charter boat operators, and owners of bait-and-tackle shops, and would have severe consequences on the hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related businesses that support anglers and their families.”

Commissioner Martin insists that sound science must drive decisions to balance protection of the summer flounder resource and the needs of the recreational and commercial fishing industries, which generate about $2.5 billion annually in economic benefits for the state. He wants 2016 size limits, catch limits and season lengths be kept in effect for 2017 pending a more thorough review of scientific data.

Other options the ASFMC is considering range from reductions of 28 percent to 41 percent. Any reduction for 2017 would be on top of a 27 percent reduction New Jersey has had to implement after successfully fighting off a proposed 59 percent reduction in 2015.

“For too long summer flounder fishery management has been driven by knee-jerk reactions that lack scientific foundation and have profound impacts on the lives of many people,” Commissioner Martin said. “Many families plan their summer vacations around the summer flounder season,” said Commissioner Martin. “Coming to the Jersey shore to fish for fluke is a time-honored tradition that would be placed at great risk if anglers and their families felt that there would be no point in making the trip.”

Among the federal and state lawmakers joining Commissioner Martin were U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, whose district includes the northern coastal portion of the state, and Monmouth County Assemblyman Dave Rible. These lawmakers have also taken strong actions to oppose the measure.

Fishing advocacy groups that have been actively opposing the measure include the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the New Jersey Coast Anglers Association, the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, United Boatmen and the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund.

Commissioner Martin plans to testify against the proposed quota changes during the ASMFC meetings scheduled Jan 30 through Feb. 2. ASMFC is poised to formally adopt one of five general management approach options that could range from coast-wide harvest reductions to more localized regional reductions. After these meetings, the Commission will instruct the states on how to achieve the reduction targets.

Fishery managers use a combination of individual fish length, daily catch limits, and season length adjustments to achieve harvest reduction targets, or quotas. Commissioner Martin said that past management of quotas for recreational and commercial fishing industries have been much too capricious, varying widely from year to year and leading to great uncertainty in both industries, as well as competitive disadvantages to New Jersey. Commissioner Martin recently submitted comments to the ASMFC formally opposing the changes.

In the long term, New Jersey strongly recommends that members of ASMFC work in coordination with the federal government to create a new paradigm regarding the management of this species,” Commissioner Martin wrote in his comments. “If the purpose of ASMFC is to protect the flounder stock while also providing equitable harvest limits for the recreational and commercial fishing industry, then annual quota shifts that are not based on the most recent science and modeling are of questionable value.

Recreational fishing in New Jersey alone directly creates some 20,000 jobs and contributes $1.5 billion to the state’s economy, with commercial fishing generating another billion dollars in economic benefits. The ASMFC was formed in 1942 by an interstate compact ratified by Congress to manage key nearshore fish species from Maine to Florida. Each state is represented by three commissioners – the director of each state’s fisheries management agency, an individual appointed by the governor to represent stakeholder interests, and a state legislator.

Commissioner Martin stressed that a more thorough scientific analysis of summer flounder, also known as fluke, should include a peer-reviewed assessment of data gathered by a variety of sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Recreational Information Program, a detailed survey of anglers. Commissioner Martin offered the state’s resources to help develop a new benchmark assessment.

The summer flounder season in New Jersey typically runs from May through September, concurrent with the peak tourism season. Current New Jersey regulations allow recreational anglers fishing in most parts of the state to keep summer flounder that are at least 18 inches long, at a maximum of five fish per day. In Delaware Bay, anglers may take up to four summer flounder per day that meet a minimum 17-inch length requirement.

The DEP is particularly concerned about any regulatory changes that would increase the minimum length of fish caught in New Jersey because few fish would meet the larger size limit. Summer flounder in New Jersey tend to be smaller than in states to the north due to the species’ biological needs and migration patterns. Moreover, coast-wide more than 90 percent of summer flounder that are greater than 18 inches in length are females, meaning an increase in size limits would encourage higher harvests of reproductive fish, which is counterproductive to sound fishery management.

Summer flounder fishing is especially popular in New Jersey, attracting many thousands of anglers each summer season because of the abundance of these fish close to beaches and in bays and creeks. They are considered a delicacy due to their delicate flavor.

~ NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife

Picinic at the Point

It’s Thursday and since we don’t have fishing information to share… Let’s throw it back to the early days on LBI with a picinic at the Point. Here is a photo of a family enjoying the beaches of Long Beach Island taking a lunch break while fishing Holgate. Check out that vintage Ford Model A Roadster (’28/’29) with the ballon tires and all. It must have owned the beach! LBI offers offordable family so come on down and live the SaltLife” surf fishing.  

c1952 Photo: Lindy Clements

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.