The poor weather we have been experiencing in the Long Beach Island area has put a damper on fishing
and prevented me from knowing just how many fish there are in our area. However, I do have some
firsthand reports that sound promising.
 
The folks at Scott’s Bait and Tackle tell me the action for stripers and black drum from land in the back of
Great Bay is just about finished. They did award the prize for the first keeper bluefish of 2019 caught
from Graveling Point to Yong Xu for his fish caught on fresh bunker.

They are recommending that anglers get the boats in the water to find the drum in the deeper parts of the
bay like Grassy Channel. Stripers will be heading that way also and probably even to the ocean.
 
In the Manahawkin area Andy Tonnesen at Tony’s reports bluefish up to10-pounds along with keeper
bass to 40-inches showing up in the surf on LBI. In the bay waters there are bass ranging in size from 15-
35 inches along with a few 2-3-pound blues. There are even some small blowfish being chummed up
locally.

I got an e-mail from Captain Steve Purul of Reel Fantasea Sportfishing telling me he had a great striped
bass day on Wednesday with both quality and quantity. Steve has most of his anglers on artificials as he
feels they enjoy catching them more that way than on bait.


Steve’s quote was that it was “epic” action as they found themselves “deep into thick schools of stripers
throughout many locations in the safe confines of Barnegat Bay.” He added the best catches were made
with close attention to technique with bass ranging in size from 22-34 inches with most in the middle.
Steve also noted schools of floating, live, inflated blowfish on the surface. He believes they puff up to get
away from predator fish and end up on the surface where they are easy prey for sea gulls.

Greg at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom has issued his expectations for the next few weeks. He
anticipates some weakfish to show and is optimistic for some invading bluefish. He notes the striped bass
action has been decent on small fish and feels the average size will gradually increase with the largest
showing up toward the end of May.


Greg is already looking forward to the start of fluke season on May 24, and as summer nears the offshore
action for tuna and shark will open.

As far as the current situation, Greg is hearing of more bass keepers on the beach along with some big
bluefish. Two of their customers, Paul and Hak picked up a pair of 10-pound bluefish on bunker in the
mid-island surf. That same day Kevin Cook stopped by with a 39-inch, 19.74-pound striped bass. It was
the store’s first weigh in for the LBI Spring Surf Fishing Derby.

I stopped by Tip’s Hardware located on Route 9 in downtown West Creek. The store is now owned and
operated by longtime friend Jack Kelly. This combination hardware and sporting goods store is run by
Jack and his kids, actually, adults now.
 
I enjoyed talking about old times with Jack and was impressed with the amount of fishing and hunting
supplies they have. Those of you doing some fishing and crabbing in the West Creek area can stop by and
see where the critters are biting and what bait to use.
Questions on local fishing and fishing reports for future articles can be directed to jamesghutch1@aol.com.