The Beachcomber Fall Festival Guide

63rd Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic Begins Oct. 7

Sep 22, 2017

Registration is underway for one of the nation’s oldest surfcasting tournaments, right here on Long Beach Island. The 63rd annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic runs from Oct. 7 to Dec. 10, with thousands of dollars of prizes on the line for anglers registered to take part in this nine-week striped bass and bluefish derby.

Adult entry is $30, or $15 for ages 17 and younger. The first 300 sign-ups by Oct. 6 will receive a free tournament T-shirt and hat. After the event begins, the shirts will be for sale for $20, while supplies last.

Tournament proceeds go toward event prize distribution, with a portion benefiting local high school scholarships.

Register at the participating tackle shops, which also serve as weigh stations: Fisherman’s Headquarters, at 280 West Ninth St. in Ship Bottom; Surf City Bait & Tackle, at 317 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City; Captain’s Quarters Bait & Tackle, at 8201 Long Beach Blvd. in Brighton Beach; and Jingles Bait & Tackle, at 1214 Long Beach Blvd. in North Beach Haven.

There are a total of nine weekly $100 cash prizes available for each species, along with $500 in prizes for each of the three-week tournament segments.

The grand prize winner in the striped bass division will receive $2,000 in cash, while the angler recording the biggest bluefish will win $1,000. Both will also receive a Penn reel, a $200 gift certificate from Fisherman’s Headquarters and a plaque.

Sixty-six daily first prizes are also obtainable in each division, as well as daily second prizes courtesy of Surf City Bait & Tackle. There are also junior prizes, ladies’ prizes, senior citizen prizes and special bonus prizes, including: $500 cash for the largest striped bass caught Oct. 8, courtesy of Surf City Bait & Tackle; $250 cash for the largest striped bass weighed in Oct. 12, in honor of Robert “Jingles” O’Brien from Jingles Bait & Tackle; $250 cash for the biggest striper on Oct. 19, in honor of Ric O’Brien from Jingles Bait and Tackle; $500 cash for the largest bass on Oct. 31, courtesy of Surf City Bait & Tackle; $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; and $250 cash for the largest striper on Nov. 23, in honor of Bruce Hoagland.

The first legal red drum wins $100 cash; there will be a $100 Fisherman’s Headquarters gift certificate up for grabs for the heaviest striped bass each Saturday and Sunday; and John Parzych, a longtime friend of and participant in the classic, offers two custom rods – one for the largest bluefish and one to the largest striped bass – caught on a lure (no bait).

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 last September 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” for the shops, for camaraderie, and for “good ol’ competition,” said Hoagland, who is now the treasurer for the LBI Surf Fishing Classic, and an employee at Jingles.

As Greg Cudnik from Fisherman’s Headquarters said recently, “I’m looking forward to a great fall fishing season on Long Beach Island. With numerous changes, the 63rd LBI Surf Fishing Classic is better than ever.”

He advised, “All anglers must read the rules (available online at thoroughly to acclimate and become comfortable with the new nine-week, three-segment format. Some small rule changes were put in place and prize values have increased, including in the striped bass division, as mentioned above.

“Anyone looking to get involved and fish a great, fun and competitive surf fishing tournament should sign up now,” Cudnik remarked.

For more information, visit a participating shop or the tournament website,

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As the classic begins, it’s time to fine-tune fish-catching skills. Register now for the free Opening Day Surfcasting Seminar from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, in Ship Bottom.

Meet at 10 a.m. for refreshments and door prizes at the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 Station Firehouse, on 21st Street and Central Avenue, and listen in as members of the Team Mullet fishing club share their knowledge of equipment and tackle, 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 win.

Weather and beach conditions permitting, the clinic continues on the beach for hands-on instruction. The exact location will be provided during the fire hall session. Consider bringing a folding chair for comfort on the beach.

As the organizers note, “This is a great time to learn valuable surf fishing knowledge and network to meet new fishing friends.”

Pre-registration is recommended for the seminar. To register, email —J.K.-H.

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