For a striped bass season that got off to such a late start, a luck first-day catch secured the top spot in the annual Long Beach Island Fishing Classic this year.
Gary Naylor's 41.56-pound striped bass, landed in Barnegat Light on Oct. 8 – the first day of the tournament – ended up being the winning fish this year. Naylor, a Mount Holly resident, caught this fish on bunker at 8 a.m. that morning. Congratulations to Gary, wherever you may be!
As for the striper bite, it's been off-and-on, but there are still plenty of fish around – and when the bite has been "on," it's really been "on." Between fog and rain, this has been a tough week for boaters, but I did hear about catches on the troll off Manasquan, Barnegat and Little Egg inlets all week, so if your boat is still in the water, give it a go and see what hits.
Surf fishing has been decently steady, however. Oceanside Bait and Tackle owner Valerie Zak posted a photo of a beautiful bass caught from the beach in LBI by her niece, Alyse, this week (the photo is attached to this story). There was also a major blitz near the southern portions of Island Beach State Park, and the action has remained relatively steady through Thursday, so this might be a good spot to hit this weekend. The stripers can still show anywhere, but reports are getting fewer this time of the year, as many anglers are taking their four wheel drives to the mall parking lot instead of the sand, catching up on Christmas shopping.
Tog (or for Monmouth and Northern Ocean readers... blackfish) have been hitting all around. A report from Gary at Grizz's Bait & Tackle said they were biting at Barnegat Inlet's south jetty, so for those who want to drop a line in the water and see what bites, this might be a good little trip this weekend. Getting some fresh air and fishing in the shadow of Barnegat Lighthouse is one of the best, most relaxing activities around here this time of year!
The party boats have also been on the tog. I heard great reports from the Big Mohawk out of Belmar, and steady-but-mixed reports from the Point Pleasant headboats, which have mostly mixed their blackfish catches with landings of cod, ling and even some sea bass for good measure.
That's about all there is to report this time around. Stay warm!