Beachcomber Fall Guide

64th Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic Begins Oct. 6

Sep 21, 2018

One of the nation’s oldest and most storied surfcasting tournaments – the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic – celebrates its 64th season this fall. Registration is open now for the nine-week striped bass and bluefish derby, which runs from Oct. 6 through Dec. 9 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.

Proceeds from the tournament, organized by the LBI Surf Fishing Classic Committee in partnership with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, go toward event prize distribution, with a portion benefiting local high school scholarships.

There are 66 $50 cash daily prizes for each species; as well as nine weekly $100 cash prizes, also for each species; and $500 cash for each of the three-week segments, both for bass and bluefish. The grand prize winner in the striped bass division will receive $2,000 in cash and a Penn reel. The top bluefish of the tournament earns $1,000 cash and a Penn reel.

A number of junior, ladies, senior citizen and bonus prizes are also up for grabs, as well as many special prizes, including awards for the biggest striper caught on particular days throughout the competition. These “Bonus Cash Days,” as the tournament website, lbift.com, notes, “are big money days. Save the dates.” All dates, and additional information on prizes and rules, are noted on the website.

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. Prior to the 2016 tournament, Pat Hoagland, a co-owner, with her husband, of Bruce and Pat’s Bait & Tackle in Surf City for 25 years, noted, “We always looked forward to the fall for the great striped bass and bluefish fishing. 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.”

Earlier this summer, Fisherman’s Headquarters’ Greg Cudnik and Ted Kamish Jr., a member of the Classic Committee, were excited to point out that the Classic banner has returned to the tourney. A few years after the inception of the competition – originally called the Striped Bass Derby – banners were introduced to help spread support for the tournament throughout the Island. “The earliest banner we can confirm is 1960,” said Kamish.

The banners were used on and off over the tournament’s history, with a longish off period as of late – until this year. “Since this year’s color is orange – the banners are orange – we are hoping to have a lot of orange around town,” said Cudnick.

As Kamish pointed out, “The main purpose of the banner remains the same: creating awareness and support surrounding a tradition that was, and is still, intended to extend the season on LBI and the surrounding area for the sponsors, merchants and community overall.”

Registration details are available at participating weigh stations – Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait & Tackle in Surf City, Captain’s Quarters Bait & Tackle in Brighton Beach and Jingles Bait & Tackle in North 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 Is time to fine-tune fish-catching skills. Register now for the free “Super Surf Casting Seminar” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Ship Bottom.

Meet at 9 a.m. for coffee, doughnuts and door prizes at the Ship Bottom Firehouse, 21st Street and Central Avenue, and listen in as area angling experts share their knowledge of equipment, bait and tackle, beach essentials and more.

Weather conditions permitting, the clinic continues on the beach in Ship Bottom for hands-on instruction. Topics include: reading the water; identifying beach structure and picking a spot; casting; lures; and “When and Where: Weather, Wind and Tide.” Organizers suggest bringing a folding chair for comfort on the beach. (If the weather is poor, the clinic will be held on the 14th Street bay beach.)

Pre-registration is required for the seminar. To register, call the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce at 609-494-7211 or 800-292-6372, or email tournamentlbi@comcast.net. —J.K.-H.

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