Southern Regional Fishing Show Reels In 800 Guests

Proceeds Aid High School Fishing Club
By JULIET KASZAS-HOCH | Feb 21, 2018
Photo by: Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

More than 100 tables of new and used fishing gear, angling services and information, and even nautical artwork awaited the many guests who visited the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club Fishing Show last Saturday in Manahawkin. About 800 people passed through the doors of the district’s middle school to check out the annual event, which also featured informational seminars from local experts, door prizes and refreshments.

Zach Michot, 17, was at the show selling MagicTail Bucktails, founded by Dante Soriente, along with Svetlana Messick and Josh McGilly. The business is run from a shop in Little Egg Harbor, where, said Michot, “Everything is done by hand, from pouring to painting.”

As the company Facebook page notes, “We build buck tails from ¼ oz. to 6 oz., for fluke, striped bass, snook, tarpon and anything else you might need.” According to Michot, the products are sold in dozens of shops from Maine to Florida, and in California. Most of the bait and tackle shops on Long Beach Island carry MagicTail.

A few years ago, he explained, “We made a couple jigs and posted them online. And people really loved them, so we thought we’d make a business out of it.”

Members of the Jersey Shore Chapter of Trout Unlimited was also among the vendors at Saturday’s event, including president Paul Osborne, vice president Ron Ryder and Dale Penwell. Trout Unlimited, online at, is a national organization whose mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.

At the fishing shows the group visits, the members speak to attendees about everything from conservation and restoration projects, to fly-tying, and TU’s various programs. “The New Jersey Women’s Initiative is really big right now, and well as TU Teens,” said Osborne.

The Jersey Shore Chapter has instigated Trout in the Classroom – which gives students the opportunity to help raise trout from eggs, and then transfer them from a fish tank to a designated state stream – in 44 schools in Ocean and Monmouth counties, including Southern Regional. According to Ryder, their chapter has the largest number of schools in the state participating in the program.

Situated next to TU at the show were students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences, along with instructor Dave Werner, who teaches biology, marine biology and aquatic ecology at the MATES division of the Ocean County Vocational Technical School. Werner, Osborne, Ryder and Southern Fishing Club advisor Jason Hoch spent time Saturday discussing stewardship of local waters.

In addition to the many tables of items and information in the middle school gym – including a table run by Southern’s Fishing Club, the members of which also helped out by selling tickets and announcing door prizes – Bob Massa and Alex Majewski offered seminars titled “Spring Run Early Season Striped Bass” and “Targeting Doormat Fluke in the Bay and Inlet.”

Massa, who works at Surf City Bait and Tackle – and every Sunday at 6 p.m. hosts “Sundays with Bob” at the shop – said of his bass seminar, “There was full participation; every desk was full. And we had a great Q+A session.”

The Barnegat Light Heavers, of which Massa is a member, often help with events like the Battle on the Beach, an annual surf fishing contest among fishing teams from Southern, Barnegat High School, Lacey High School and MATES. In addition, they sponsor an annual scholarship for a member of the Rams club.

Massa was enjoying a cup of coffee from the refreshment stand, run by teacher Kerry Beetel, along with his wife Karen and their four kids. He said he’s happy to help the club out in any way, and is looking forward to this spring’s Battle on the Beach.

“This is a terrific fishing club,” he remarked. “It’s a great group of kids, and the high school should really be thanked for having this club.”

As Hoch explained, all proceeds from the Fishing Show benefit Southern’s Fishing Club, which is comprised of ninth- through 12th-graders. “This is the fishing club’s sole fundraiser each year. Some of money raised offsets the cost of trips for the students on the Carolyn Ann III, which sails out of Viking Village in Barnegat Light, and is the perfect charter boat for our club members to start out and get a good first impression of fishing.

“Proceeds also go toward scholarships for four-year members of the club. And during the fall we enter the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic, and treat the students to Panzone’s pizza after putting time in on the beach after school.”

Hoch added, “Thank you to all those who attended, and especially the students who worked extremely hard to help run this year’s event. We’re looking forward to next year. We hope to continue to have such a good turnout, and a strong interest in the local fishing seminars.”

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