62nd Annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic Kicks Off Oct. 8
One of the nation’s oldest surfcasting tournaments – the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic – celebrates its 62nd season this fall. Registration is open now for the eight-week striped bass and bluefish derby, which runs from Oct. 8 through Dec. 4 on LBI, and offers thousands of dollars in prizes.
Adult entry is $30, and just $15 for kids 17 and younger. Early registration includes a commemorative tournament hat and decal, as well as a coupon for a free slice of Panzone’s cheese pizza, while supplies last.
Tournament proceeds go toward event prize distribution, with a portion benefiting local high school scholarships.
There are eight weekly $125 cash prizes available for each species, along with $400 in prizes for each of the three tournament segments. The grand prize winner in the striped bass division and the bluefish division will each receive $1,000 in cash, a CTS surf rod, a Penn reel and a plaque.
A Fisherman’s Headquarters $100 gift certificate goes to the contestant with the heaviest bass each Saturday and Sunday, while the angler entering the largest bluefish every tourney weekend gets $50 cash.
Various daily rewards are also obtainable in each division, courtesy of Surf City Bait & Tackle, as are juvenile awards for those 14 and younger; ladies’ prizes; seniors’ prizes; and special bonus prizes, including: $500 cash for the largest striped bass caught Oct. 8; $500 cash for the biggest bass Oct. 31; $500 cash for the top bass on Nov. 5; $500 cash for the largest striper weighed in Nov. 16, in honor of the late Frank Panzone; $100 cash for the first legal red drum; and a CTS rod for a fisherman drawn at random from all registered competitors.
Beyond the many prizes, the Classic has been, since its inception in 1954, a showcase for the spirit and fellowship of the local surf fishing community.
“We always looked forward to the fall for the great striped bass and bluefish fishing,” said Pat Hoagland, who spoke of her 25 years as a co-owner, with her husband, of Bruce and Pat’s Bait & Tackle in Surf City. “Rain or shine, nor’easter or whatever Mother Nature gave us, it was a great time of year. It was great for the shops, income, camaraderie of the fishermen/women/children, and good ol’ competition.
“Bruce and I really enjoyed being part of the tournament and helping others.”
Hoagland recalled back when anglers could keep 10 18-inch or longer stripers per day, and when weakfish were a part of the tournament, until the fishery declined. “Sometimes we had fishermen coming in with as many as five or more bluefish, and with the help of the fishermen we would take some of them, clean and flash freeze them for some churches in Philadelphia that had people that were in need of nourishment,” she explained. “We did that for several years. Every once in a while someone would also donate a striper or two for this cause. It was heartwarming for all.
“There was one day in Barnegat Light when Joe Hendricks was fishing and could not do anything wrong; he had his bag limit of 10 for the day,” Hoagland noted.
“Also another day Ed Krzanowski – an avid plugger – came into the store and decided that he wanted to try some live eels. Not too sure just what to do, we helped him out with the right rigs and the know-how to fish them. In a couple of hours he came back with two nice stripers around 20, 25 pounds. He weighed them in at the time at the (Southern Ocean County) Chamber of Commerce office. He decided to try about six more eels for the afternoon and came back in with five more; he could do nothing wrong. He weighed them in and went back out later with two more eels and got another fish. He had a total of eight stripers in all that day, all very nice size. Even with all that, today he is still an avid plugger.”
Hoagland, now the treasurer for the LBI Surf Fishing Classic, is again entrenched in the fishing scene, and is glad to be back, “seeing people I have not seen for several years and working with them. The members of the board are a great group of friends to work with, and just since I have been involved we have accomplished a lot to make the tournament bigger and better.”
“A lot of work goes into the planning and preparation of this event, with many hands making it the success it’s been,” said Jim Hutchinson, managing editor of The Fisherman Magazine. “It’s worth it as we see the names and weigh-ins, the sons and daughters, of so many anglers who’ve participated in the derby for all these years. Now that we’re set to kick off, I can’t wait until we see those schools of stripers arrive en masse.”
Registration details are available at participating weigh stations – Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait & Tackle in Surf City, Bill’s Surf and Tackle in Harvey Cedars, Captain’s Quarters Bait & Tackle in Brighton Beach, and Jingles Bait & Tackle in Beach Haven.
For more information, visit a participating tackle shop or go online at lbift.com.
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With the arrival of fall and the start of the Classic, it’s time to fine-tune fish-catching skills. Register now for the free “Super Surf Casting Seminar” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, in Ship Bottom.
Meet at 10 a.m. for refreshments and door prizes at the Ship Bottom Firehouse, on 21st Street and Central Avenue, and listen in as members of the Team Mullet fishing club share their knowledge of equipment, casting, bait, driving a 4-by-4 vehicle on the beach and more.
A prize drawing will be held at the end of this segment of the seminar. Winners must be present to collect their prize.
Weather and beach conditions permitting, the clinic continues on the Ninth Street beach in Ship Bottom for hands-on instruction. Organizers suggest bringing a folding chair for comfort on the beach.
Pre-registration is required for this free seminar. To register, call the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce at 609-494-7211 or 800-292-6372, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. —J.K.-H.