Teaching a man to fish may feed him for a lifetime, but in Long Beach Island, it may also mean some cash prizes.
The LBI Surf Fishing Classic – an autumn-long striped bass and bluefish fishing tournament – officially began Saturday. But before anglers hit the suds in search of a prize winning trophy fish, they sat down to get schooled in all things surf fishing courtesy of some local anglers willing to lend a helping hand.
Saturday morning's annual, free Surf Fishing Clinic catered to anglers both novice and advanced who wanted to brush up before the tournament took off. The event is sponsored and organized by the South Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.
Anglers gathered at 9 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce building on Route 72 for coffee, donuts and door prizes, then headed to the Ship Bottom fire house for a two-hour long crash course that included everything from which lures to throw, which rods to select and even how to properly handle a four wheel drive vehicle on the beach.
The program has been running for 12 years, chamber officials said.
Members of the Surf City Fishing Club (known locally as "Team Mullet") as well as local tackle shop employees and outdoor writers each presented areas of interest to more than 100 anglers gathered at the fire house before hitting the beach at 17th Street for some hands-on demonstrations.
A few tips, in a nutshell: fishing near jetties is an angler's best bet to catch a striper; when sand eels are swimming, use pencil poppers for your lure; the rear piece of a bunker fish bait stays one one's hook the longest; and airing your vehicle's tires down to 15psi could save you the hassle of getting stuck, plus a $300 tow bill.
While Sunday looks like a washout, the weather in the early part of the coming week look perfect for an early fall attempt at nabbing one's first bass of the season.
Saturday's local fishing reports were encouraging.
"Cold front coming through will hopefully bring our water temps down and we will start seeing bass pics," reported the staff at Oceanside Bait and Tackle in the Brighton Beach section of Long Beach Township.
The shop got reports of abundant bluefish at local beaches, and bass being caught just off Barnegat Inlet. A day earlier, some anglers caught bass on poppers at local jetties.