LBI Classic Update – 11/30/23

by Jim Hutchinson Sr.

The 69th edition of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is coming around the final turn and heading for its finish line on Sunday, December 10. At this point the fishing action shows no signs of lessening.

We have had a few days of colder temperatures making it feel like true striped bass weather. Judging by the number of striped bass weighed in the past two weeks, the chances of winning one of the cash prizes in the Classic are improving. The key is to put a line in the water.
Although there have been no reports of all-out bass blitzes on the beach, there have been several accounts of steady action with fish opting for a variety of offerings.

Just to the north of LBI, most recently from the beaches of Island Beach State Park, there have been numerous stories of blitzes as bass gorge themselves on both bunker and sand eels. Surf casters in the Classic have their fingers crossed that these bait pods stick close to the beach as they move southward in our direction.
A quick look at the striped bass weighed in the past two weeks for the Classic shows an increasing number of fish caught on artificial offerings. Notable is the number being beached on Avas and diamond jigs. This is not to say that bait is out as fish have also been chewing on bunker and clam baits. It appears that sand eels are showing up, and offerings that match the appearance and movement of the bait are catching fish.

What has been especially notable recently is how the striped bass action is now much more widespread on Long Beach Island than it had been. Previously, most catches were on the north end, especially around Barnegat Light.
In the past two weeks only five of the 16 linesiders checked in were caught in Barnegat Light. The remaining 11 fish were caught from beaches in Surf City and south to Holgate. Ship Bottom and Beach Haven gave up three fish each. This would seem to indicate the bait is spread out on the island, and the chances of locating fish are evening out regardless of what beach you fish.

As mentioned, there have been 16 bass weighed in during the past week along with 8 tautog. All the tautog were caught in Barnegat Light on green crab. This blackfish action has been hot for quite some time now. Fish are being caught from the South Jetty right on around to the public bulkhead south of Andy’s Restaurant.
No bluefish, kingfish, or redfish have shown up in the past two weeks. Since the water has dropped in temperature, it appears that William Roth has the top kingfish prize in the Classic sewn up at this point. No redfish were weighed in so far this year, and it appears that prize will go unclaimed.

The lack of bluefish around is a bit of a mystery. In years gone by, some big bluefish would show up in late November to keep things interesting. Jeffrey Crabtree still holds the top spot in the bluefish division with the 6.38-pound fish he reeled in back on October 24.

In the LBI Surf Master competition, John Ipri continues to hold the lead with his 48-inch bass. Chris Masino is tops in the three-fish total with 102.5-inches. This specific competition is a catch and release category. Anglers must submit a photograph of the fish showing its length via a tape measure next to the fish along with the angler’s registration badge.

Registration can be accomplished at one of the three official weigh-in stations. They are Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, Surf City Bait and Tackle, and Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven.
Complete information and live results on the Classic can be found at