Folks younger than 40-years-old probably will not remember the days of weakfish, caught here on LBI that would push 18 pounds. Gone are the days when you would see a dozen boats tied together using a small hook with a live grass shrimp on it and using shrimp for chum catching hundreds of weakfish using light tackle with 2-pound test trying to set all kinds of records landing this fish. At times you would have to come off anchor to chase one down to land them.
Old timers that used to do this kind of fishing and get the next generation interested in doing it, too. Now that next generation is well into their mid-life.
Catching large weakfish on metals or bombers was common-place. One of my favorites was to use live lined mullet, spots, and snappers to catch these large weakfish from the surf in the fall. At that time if you live lined anything with yellow in it – it was a guaranteed weakfish catch and boy did those big weakfish fight. These fish were so abundant that they were added to the fall derby to help when we had few stripers around.
It is really nice over the past 10 days or so to see a return of some larger weakfish. They are not a fish of the size that we used to have and there are not hundreds of them, but they are averaging 4 to 6 pounds per fish.
Fin-s came on the market in this area in the late 1970s and you would think they made them just for catching weakfish. When they originally came out there were only six colors and they all worked. Thru the years with the lack of weakfish Fin-s have lost their popularity, but now with the return of the weakfish they are working again.
It is really nice to see a return of these nice size fish being caught right now by anglers that caught them when they were younger. Maybe the restrictions that have been put on them the last few years have help to return this fishery.