History Of Surf Fishing On Long Beach Island
Published in 1914 by The Long Beach Island Board Of Trade, Author George B. Sommerville’s “The Lure of Long Beach” is some of the earliest writings which describes fishing on LBI. Here’s an except from page 60…
Long Beach is the sportsman's paradise, but to some anglers the thrilling delights of surf fishing are the peak-points of seashore happiness. Surf fishing was introduced to Beach Haven in 1907 by Mr. Charles E. Gerhard and his wife.
Beach Haven stood aghast one summer morning in 1907 to see Mr. and Mrs. Gerhard, attired in bathing suits and armed with rods and reels, wade out into the surf and cast. But when, after a hard thirty-minute fight, a huge twenty-pound channel bass was brought ashore by Mrs. Gerhard, Beach Haven awoke to the possibilities of its surf fishing.
The surf anglers have increased in numbers every summer since 1907, and in 1913 the rod and reel offered as a prize for the largest channel bass caught in the surf was won by Mr. Holt, who landed a monster weighing fifty-six pounds.
This prize won by Mr. Holt was not part of the LBI Surf Fishing Classic but it is the earliest reference to a surf fishing tournament on LBI.
The Early Days
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Tournament began in 1955 as the “Striped Bass Derby”. Back then the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce was the LBI Board of Trade. Building lots in Loveladies could be had for $2250 and Long Beach Township was home to 1000 year round residents. In 1956, the registration fee for the Derby was $3.
In 1958, the Derby ran for 57 days (October 18th to December 13th). A total of $13,000 in prizes were awarded. The first grand prize was a Ford Skyliner with retractable hardtop. The second place winner received a Willy’s 4-Wheel drive beach buggy. One of the leaders for the ‘58 Derby was Robert Patrick of Maplewood, NJ who entered a 43 pound 15 ounce striped bass. (More on Robert Patrick later)
John Hoyer of Philadelphia won the ‘59 Derby’s grand prize, a 4 wheel drive Jeep station wagon. John’s bass weighed 28-3. Hilton Gourjian of Pleasantville won a 17’ skiff and trailer for his 26-2. Other prizes included Polaroid Land Cameras, surf spinning rods, Timex watches and for the leading lady angler a matching set of Samsonite luggage.
Past Tournament Results
1960 - Willys Jeep
The 41 day 1960 Derby attracted anglers from as far away as Canada, Indiana and Washington. The Grand Prize, a 4 wheel drive Jeep was won by Ernue Lewis of Bristol PA for a 45-15. Arnold Bloon of Pennsauken won a Simca station wagon for his 44-11.
The photo here shows Ernie all smiles with his new Jeep!
1963 - James A. Warner 48lb 3oz
In the 1963 the registration fee was $3. Two $1000 savings bonds and a console television were the top prizes. A 48 pound 3 ounce striped bass caught by James A. Warner from Hatboro, PA took first prize.
James caught it fishing off the Loveladies surf at 2:15pm on October 18. The weigh in photo took place at the Board of Trade (now Southern Ocean County Chamber Of Commerce) Weigh Station. It looks like this day the fish were active! In the photo there’s a couple bass on the table and floor waiting to be checked in next. Note the long list of names posted on the back wall… all 2644 of them! Wonder what the “Beach Buggy Notice” behind the lamp said?
This year (‘63) the first transatlantic telephone cable from the United States to England was pulled ashore in Beach Haven. This was also the year that the 95’ scalloper, Sea King struck the jetty off Barnegat Light while towing the Prescott (decommissioned Navy mine-sweeper). They both went aground on beach (see photo below). The Prescott was refloated but all efforts to move the Sea King failed. Its mast is still visible today in the dunes of Barnegat Light.
1964 - John B Kelly 55lbs
Records show John Reaf from Quakertown, PA won first prize with a 45-6 bass. George Damon of Ship Bottom placed second with a 47-4 bass. That’s no typo! In the early years of the tournament, local residence were not eligible to win first prize. Imagine that!
We are not sure exactly how it does or does not fit in but it’s listed here anyways because it was a remarkable LBI surf caught striped bass catch by John B Kelly. It very well could have very well been part of the tournament, but we guess that Jeff did not sign up prior to fishing.
Here’s the story from Jeff Kelly (John’s Son), “After the 1962 storm we were told by the guys at the Bonds Coast Guard Station in Holgate that if we could dig out a Jeep and haul it away we could have it. So my two brothers and I went at it with our army surplus folding shovels and dug one out. Our father John got it running and used it as a beach buggy. One night we all went fishing on the Holgate beach in the Jeep. After some time the rod went down and our father battled a really big striped bass. Got it in and the monster measured 56” long.
The photo here from September of 1964 shows father John B. Kelly and son 8 year old Steve Kelly at Fishermans Headquarters just after weigh in. The striped bass was 55 pounds. There’s documenting showing John won the ‘64 Asbury Park Press Fishing Tournament however no records show this fish in the LBI Derby. Photo and story curtesy of Jeff Kelly from Gloucester, MA.
1979 - The Silver Anniversary of The Derby
To celebrate the Long Beach Island’s Fishing Derby 25th Anniversary, Commemorative Patches were given to each registrant. Also 220 silver dollars were given away, one each for the five largest bass entered daily. The photo of the patch was provided by long time LBI Surf Fishing Classic participant George Green. During Hurricane Sandy cleanup he found the patch and shared it with us. His legacy in the surf fishing tournament runs deep and his stories even deeper!
1983 29th Annual - David Dodd 59lb 7oz
“In the 80's there was a small group of guys that fished hard; 4-6 hour sessions, 4-5 nights a week. Fishing was nothing like the 70’s because the striped bass stocks were declining but there were good fish to be had. At times some really big bass hit the beach. (Al’s 78-8 was caught in 1982).”
“In the early 80’s I fished a lot with David Dodd, son of Bob Dodd who owned Fishermans Headquarters at that time. We caught a lot of fish together and tons of fun. Every night was worth it! Most will never know what we saw and what we did on the beaches of LBI at night. One night was long and I was dead tired after working all day. With a long drive home to Philly I call it quits, but David kept at it. I should of stayed! I heard about it in the morning… Shortly after I left David hooked into a monster. It weighed in a 59lb 7oz, missing the 60 pound mark by just a little bit. There were other big fish caught that Fall (Michael Cucinotta 43-13, Robert Hawk 49-15) but David’s was the biggest.”
David was a very good fisherman who put his time in and it showed. He not only won in 1983 but also the year before too. In 1982 David Dodd caught a 30lb 11oz striped bass which took top honors. It’s not confirmed due to lack of complete records but it is quit possible he is the only angler to win back to back.
Over the years the question about who caught the largest striped bass on Long Beach Island comes up a lot. At the time, David was it! There were rumors of one, possibly two bigger one caught, however, to date David’s 59-7 stands as the biggest Striped Bass of the LBI Surf Fishing Tournament. It’s a monster that might never get beat!
~ Dave Grimes, LBI Tournament Committee Alumni, LBI Fishing Club Member
LONG BEACH ISLAND STRIPED BASS DERBY, A REVIEW FROM 1955 TO 1988
The Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Tournament began in 1955 as the Striped Bass Derby. Back then, the Chamber of Commerce was the Board of Trade, building lots in Loveladies could be had for $2,250, and Long Beach Township was horse to 1,000 year-round residents.
In 1956, the Long Beach Island Guidebook and Business Directory sported an artist's sketch of the new Long Beach island Causeway to be built at a cost of $13,500,800. (The registration fee for the Derby was $3.00.)
By fall of 1958, the Causeway Bridge was nearly completed, and, for $1,750 you could have a shell house erected on your Long Beach Island lot.
The Derby ran for 57 days--from October 18th to December 13th. A total of $13,000 in prizes was awarded. The first grand prize was a Ford Skyliner with retractable hard-top; the second place winner received a Willy's 4-wheel drive beach buggy. One of the leaders for the '58 Derby was Robert Patrick of Maplewood, New Jersey, who entered a 43 pound 15 ounce bass.
In May of 1959, the new Causeway Bridge was dedicated. By June, the bridge was declared a nightmare! Homeward bound weekend visitors were caught in a four hour traffic jam--the cars were bumper to bumper for a seven mile stretch!
John Hoyer of Philadelphia won the '59 Derby's grand prize--a 4-wheel drive Jeep station wagon. John's bass weighed 28 pounds 3 ounces. Hilton Gourjian of Pleasantville won a 17 foot skiff and trailer, his bass weighed 26 pounds 2 ounces. Other prizes included Polaroid Land
Cameras, surf spinning rods, Timex watches, and for the leading lady angler, a matching set of Samsonite luggage.
On September 26, 1960, the 160-room Hotel Baldwin was destroyed by fire--witnesses said that at the height of the blaze they could hear bottles of champagne exploding in the bar! The hotel, one of the oldest and largest on the Island, was built in 1875 by the founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.
The 41 day 1960 Derby attracted anglers from as far away as Canada, Indiana, and Washington.
The Grand Prize, a 4-wheel drive Jeep, was won by Ernie Lewis of Bristol PA for a 45 pound 15 ounce striper. Arnold Bloom of Pennsauken won a Sinca station wagon for his 44 pound 11 ouncer.
In 1961 motel rooms were going for an average of $7.00 a night and cottages were available for $80.00 a week. Southern Regional High School had an enrollment of 1,150 students.
The 7th Annual Striped Bass Derby ran from October 21st to December 3rd. Although 2,131 fish were entered, the largest was a 27 pound 11 ouncer caught by Walter B. Higgins of Burlington NJ. Walt won the top prize--two $1000 Savings Bonds. Mike Wenal of Beach Haven won the
2nd grand prize--a color TV with stereo record player and AM/FM radio. Mike's fish weighed 25 pounds. John “Buster” King of Manahawkin NJ was the resident high-hook with 32 bass.
The March storm of ‘62! Ten percent of the properties usually available for summer rentals were destroyed, but by summer the Island was cleaned up and ready for a successful season.
Weekly prizes in the 1962 Derby were Bell & Howell movie outfits and 19" portable TVs; binoculars were awarded daily. The Grand Prize structure remained the same as in 1961; first and second prize winners were: Delbert Davis of Baltimore MD for a 22 pound 13 ounce bass and Maynard Ari of Trenton NJ for a 22 pound 5 ounce bass. The Long Beach Island Fishing Club won the club competition with a total of 255 bass.
1963--The first transatlantic telephone cable from the US to England was pulled ashore in Beach Haven... A 385 pound swordfish was taken in the waters 40 miles off Beach Haven... In the early morning fog of February 12th, two boats ran aground on the 11th Street beach in Barnegat Light. The decommissioned Navy wine-sweeper Prescott was being towed by the 95 foot scalloper, Sea King, The Prescott was refloated, but all efforts to move the Sea King failed. The mast is still visible today.
The registration fee for the Derby was still $3.00; two $1000 Savings Bonds and a console TV were the top prizes. A 48 pound 3 ounce bass, weighed in by James A. Varner of Hatboro PA, took first prize. Second prize was won by Alex F. Alexander of Philadelphia PA with a 47 pound 4 ounce fish. Of the more than 2,600 sportsman entered in the Derby, only 359 were year round Ocean County residents.
January 1964--15 tractor-trailers from the Ballantine Brewery arrived on LBI with 15,000 Christmas Trees. The trucks were driven by volunteers of Beer Drivers Local 153 of the Teamsters Union. Operation Christmas Tree began in 1963; the trees were placed on the beach to trap sand in an effort to build up the dunes... Construction on the Vacation Inn (later known as the Quarter Deck Inn and then in 2019 Hotel LBI), was started in February.
A new rule in the 1964 Derby limited fishermen to one rod. John Reaf, Quakertown PA, won first prize with a 45 pound 6 ounce bass; George Damon, Ship Bottom, placed second with a 47 pound 4 ounce bass. (In the early years of the Derby, local residents were not eligible to win first prize.)
1965--the year of the 8th Annual Miss Magic Long Beach Island Beauty Pageant... Imogene Coca was seen at the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park burying the Liberty Bell! The occasion was the filming of a TV special called "The Incredible Incident At Independence Hall"; it was the first color broadcast on Philadelphia's TV Channel 10.
A big change for the -11th Annual Striped Bass Derby! The 44 day tournament was divided into three segments, each with a $750 Savings Bond First Grand Prize, and a 21" table color TV
Second Grand Prize. There were four daily prizes--clock and barometer desk sets, electric carvers, aluminum fisherman's stools, and 41 piece glassware sets. The biggest fish were 45 pounds 5 ounces (Henry Hopf, Manahawkin NJ) and 39 pounds 12 ounces (Daniel Fedele, Philadelphia PA).
The Soroptomist Club began selling the Long Beach Island flag in 1966. The Art Department of Southern Regional High School conducted a contest for the flag's design; Jeff Huber created the winning entry... You could buy a one pound can of coffee for 69 cents, a 3 pound box of FAB
laundry soap for 59 cents and eight cans of pork 'n beans for $1.00.
Entries in the 1966 Derby were fewer and smaller than in past years--only 283 stripers were weighed-in. The largest catches were 24 pounds 9 ounces (Henry J. Banfield, South Amboy NJ) and 24 pounds 1 ounce (Alex Buomasorte, Philadelphia PA).
AND THE DERBY GOES ON...
The big stripers for 1967 were landed by Ray Specht, North Hills PA (31 lbs 2 oz), Constance Foos, Malvern PA (24 lbs 10 oz) and Constance's husband, Courtney (23 lbs 14 oz).
The big bass of the 1968 Derby, 36 pounds 6 ounces, was caught by the winner of the 1958 Ford convertible hard-top--Robert Patrick of Barnegat Light NJ. In 1958 Mr. Patrick was living in
Maplewood NJ, so he was eligible to win the top prize. But 10 years later, as an Ocean County resident, he was out of the competition for the big money.
The 1969 Derby had the 3rd largest total catch since 1957. The total weight added up to more than three tons of fish. The segment grand prizes were won by Jack Francis, Palmyra (40 lbs 13 oz), Morrell "Bo" Clark, Pleasantville (22 lbs 1 oz) and Albert Speier, Philadelphia (15 lbs 12 oz).
An Island resident, Richard C. Walker, weighed-in a 32 pound 9 ounce bass (the second largest of the contest). George Damon, Hanahawkin NJ, entered the most stripers--a total of 54.
The registration fee for the 1970 Derby was $4.00. Top prizes were won by Peter Avrami, Brigantine NJ (31 lbs 1 oz), Walton Bartholomew , Philadelphia PA (24 lbs) and Vincent Boscelli, Absecon NJ (12 lbs 3 oz).
In 1971, the segment grand prizes were won by Norman Wilkins, Camden NJ (39 lbs 3 oz), Joseph Wade, Burlington NJ (39 lbs 11 oz) and Edward Sabatie, Hackensack NJ (20 lbs 3 oz).
Major changes were made in 1972. The South Jetty in Barneqat Light was declared out of bounds; contestants could now use two rods--one bait rod and one plugging rod. Anyone fishing with two bait rods would be disqualified; and, residents became eligible for all prizes.
There were changes in the prize structure, too. Merchandise was out, savings bonds and gift certificates were in. The first weekly prizes were: $100 bonds for first, $50 bonds for second, and $25 bonds for third. Daily gift certificates were awarded for the top three fish each day: $50 for first, $25 for second, and $10 for third. Scores of $10 Gift Certificates from sponsoring merchants were awarded on various bass sizes. The big fish of 1972 were; 38 pounds 11 ounces (John Savage, Alexandria VA), and 38 pounds (Patrick Mc Cline, Ventnor NJ). Duane Eggie, Cherry Hull, won the Juvenile Award, a $25 Savings Bond.
The First Prize segment winners ($750 bond) for 1973 were Carl B. Schulz, Tuckerton NJ (37 lbs 4 oz), James Daisey, Ocean City NJ (43 lbs 3 oz) and Richard Noch, of Barnegat Light NJ (18 lbs 4 oz). Because of the prize distribution structure, the biggest fish didn't always win the biggest prizes; Allen Brock weighed-in a 38 pound 2 ounce bass and Karl Buhles had a 38 pound 9 ounce bass. Both men were from Philadelphia PA.
In 1974, celebrating 60 years of operation, the Board of Trade became the Chamber of Commerce. The Derby was held from October 12th to November 24th. The segment winners were Howard Parker, Surf City NJ (32 lbs 1 oz), Edward Koeck, Columbia NJ (33 lbs 7 oz) and Frank Bettendorf, Philadelphia PA (22 lbs). Fourteen year old Troy Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ, age 14, won the $25 bond juvenile award.
In February 1975, the Derby Committee and presidents of the four major fishing clubs (800 Club, Surf Anglers Association, the Long Beach Island Fishing Club, and the Beach Haven Fishing Club) met to discuss changes in the Derby structure. One of the changes unanimously agreed upon was to hold the tournament earlier-October 4th to November 16th. The 21st Derby winners were: Earl F. Cook, Moorestown NJ (23 lbs 3 oz), William J. Heller, Brigantine NJ (28 lbs 2 oz) and Bo" Clark, Pleasantville NJ, who landed the largest bass of the Derby, 37 pounds. Brian Eggie, 14, of Cherry Hill, won the $25 bond juvenile award.
The bass fishing season in 1976 was dismal. Only 90 bass were entered in the Derby. Some said the water temperature dropped to fast, others said there was too much bait in the water.
Whatever the reason, it was a disappointing year. Segment winners were Wes Frazier, Beverly NJ (28 lbs 14 oz), Charles Aaron, Cherry Hill NJ (27 lbs 12 oz) and Charles J. Hohing, West Creek NJ (17 lbs).
Bluefish were added to the competition in 1977; a $100 bond was awarded for the largest blue in each segment. Registration cost $6.00 plus $1.00 to compete in the bluefish contest.
Contestants were still limited to two rods, but now both rods could be the same type. Youngsters could win one of three shining new bikes, one for the largest bass in each segment.
The bikes were donated by the 800 Club, Surf Anglers Assoc., the Long Beach Island Fishing
Club, and the Beach Haven Fishing Club. 1977 turned out to be dud for fishing. Only 105 fish were weighed-in--73 bass and 32 blues. The leading blues were entered by Arthur Ouellette, Fort Dix NJ (17 lbs 6 oz), Frank Giordano, Pine Hill NJ (15 lbs 15 oz) and Raymond Hill, Havertown PA (12 lbs 5 oz). Winning bass were entered by Edward Siebert, Cherry Hill NJ (23 lbs 12 oz), Charles Sedivi, Sicklerville NJ (30 lbs 8 oz) and James Brandt, Lansdale PA (28 lbs).
Courtney Foos III was the only winner of a bicycle.
In 1978, daily bluefish prizes were added; a $10 gift certificate for first and a $5 gift certificate for second. Bluefish buttons were pinned on ol' fishing hats alongside the bass buttons.
Because the fish were migrating earlier each year, the Derby starting date was moved up to September 23rd. Segment winners for bluefish were: Warren Waters, Philadelphia PA (15 lbs 10 oz), Elaine Ballai, Harvey Cedars NJ (17 lbs), and Sniffin K. Bellows, Elmira NY (16 lbs 13 oz).
Segment winners for bass were: Peter Wallace, Manahawkin NJ (27 lbs 12 oz), Richard Zalot, Beach Haven Crest (22 lbs 13 oz) and Patrick McCline, Ventnor NJ (29 lbs 14 oz). The high club trophy, awarded for total fish entered (bass and blues), was won by the Long Beach Island Fishing Club--37 fish.
The Silver Anniversary of the Derby--1979... Commemorative patches were given to each registrant and 220 silver dollars were given away--one each for the five largest bass entered daily. Savings bonds for $500 were now the segment second grand prize in the bass category.
Two club trophies were given, one for bass and one for blues. Segment winners for bluefish were Brian Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (17 lbs 12 oz), Lance Bacchia, Brighton Beach NJ (16 lbs 2 oz) and Bert Harper, Beverly NJ (17 lbs 2 oz). Winners for bass: Steven Thiel, Manahawkin NJ (49 lbs 6 oz), Robert Hawk, Surf City NJ, (53 lbs 4 oz) and Jay Walker, Beach Haven Gardens NJ (25 lbs 8 oz). Tuesday night, October 16th, Robert Hawk and his friend, Don Ingling (Surf City NJ) had one of those nights fishermen dream about. Bob not only landed the big winner, he also brought in bass that weighed 31 pounds 12 ounces and 51 pounds 2 ounces. Don, who really didn’t want to go fishing that night, caught a 34 pound 1 ounce bass. Kim Smith, an 11 year old from Surf City NJ, won the top prizes in the female division and a new bicycle in the juvenile division.
In 1980 the registration fee of $10 consolidated the bass and blue categories. In the bass category, the segment first grand prize was a $1,125 savings bond; second grand prize was a $750 savings bond. The value of all other grand and weekly prizes was also raised. The largest bass (also the winner of the first segment) was entered by Leon Iwasko, Ship Bottom (43 lbs. 3 oz. Other winners for bass were William Roehl, Harvey Cedars NJ (32 lbs. 12 oz.), and Joseph Walker, Beach Haven Gardens NJ (29 lbs. 9 oz.). Winners in the bluefish category were John Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (18 lbs 11 oz), Ricky 0' Brien, age 13, Beach Haven NJ (19 lbs 9 oz) and David Unley, Riverside NJ (16 lbs 3 oz). Robert Hawk, Jr., age 11, Surf City NJ, won the juvenile division with a 24 pound 6 ounce bass.
Weakfish were added to Striped Bass Derby in 1981. There were grand prizes and daily prizes in all categories, and weekly prizes in the bass and blue fish categories. The big winners for stripers were Vincent Calarco, Princeton NJ (33 lbs), Scott Kipple, Manahawkin (37 lbs 4 oz) and
John Dragonetti, Mystic Island NJ (34 lbs 9 oz). Winners in the bluefish category were Joe Greene, New York City NY (18 lbs 8 oz), Troy Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (19 lbs) and Raymond Hill, Havertown PA (17 lbs 4 oz). Grand prizes for weakfish were won by Chris T. Braun, Beach Haven Gardens NJ (11 lbs 8 oz), and Robert E. Ingold, Lansdale PA (10 lbs 3 oz). Two youngsters won bikes--Joseph Martin, Jr., age 10, and Tim Tantillo, age 14.
In 1982, the awards were presented at a picnic at Derby Headquarters! Hot dogs and beer were the hot items on the menu. Big winners in the striper category were David A. Dodd, Manahawin NJ (30 lbs 11 oz), Richard Flynn, Linden NJ (30 lbs 2 oz) and Jay Walker, Beach Haven Gardens NJ (24 lbs 2 oz). Bluefish category winners were Brian Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (20 lbs 1 oz), Charles
Zanes, Wenonah NJ (18 lbs 8 oz) and John Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (18 lbs 1 oz). Weakfish category winners were James B. Gatto, Marlton NJ (10 lbs 9 oz), Richard Tomlinson, Long Beach Twp NJ (11 lbs 4 oz) and Tony Caruso, Manahawkin (8 lbs 9 oz).
The 1983 Derby was the best for weakfish entries; 100 weakies were weighed-in. Striper category winners were Michael Cucinotta, Burlington NJ (43 lbs 13 oz), David Dodd, Manahawkin NJ (59 lbs 1 oz) and Robert Hawk, Surf City NJ (49 lbs 15 oz). High-hook non-club member was Mark Jordan, Beach Haven NJ, with eight bass. Florence Pancoast, North Wales PA, won the womens' prize with her 29 pound 12 ounce bass.
Segment bluefish prizes were won by Noel Huelsenback, Ship Bottom NJ (19 lbs 2 oz), Duane Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ (20 lbs) and Ronald Powell, Philadelphia PA (18 lbs 15 oz). Bluefish Express won the high club trophy with 85 bluefish--19 of which were landed by Duane Eggie. This was also the year Margaret O’Brien won the woman’s category with her 16 pound bluefish.
Weakfish grand prizes were won by John Heller, Cherry Hill NJ (11 lbs 14 oz), James Barks, Yeadon PA (12 lbs 13 oz) and Robert O’Brien, Beach Haven NJ (13 lbs 2 oz). “Cappy” Crosta, Beach Haven NJ, won the women's competition with her 10 pound weakfish; Jack Adana, Ship Bottom NJ, weighed in a total of 11 weakfish.
1984-- the 30th year for the Derby. The largest bass was entered by Troy Eggie, Cherry Hill NJ; his fish weighed 40 pound 13 ounces. Troy also won two high-hook club member trophies one for his catch of eight stripers, and the other for the 19 blues that put his club, Bluefish Express, over the top (62 blues) for the high club trophy. High club trophies were also won by Team Mullet for 26 stripers and Happy Hookers for 13 weakfish.
Segment grand prize winners for stripers were Troy Eggie (36 lbs 9 oz) John Mark Jordan, Beach Haven (28 lbs 4 oz) and Mark Simmons, Ship Bottom (35 lbs 2 oz). Winners in the bluefish category were Mark Simmons (18 lbs 4 oz), James R. Gatto, Mt. Laurel NJ (17 lbs 1 oz.) and Ray Benoit III, Mt. Holly NJ (17 lbs). The big weakfish prize winners were Robert O'Brien, Beach
Haven NJ (11 lbs 9 oz), Michael Cucinotta, Burlington NJ (11 lbs 8 oz) and Bert Harper, Beverly NJ (13 lbs 9 oz).
A year of change... 1985. In an effort to aid conservation efforts, striped bass were eliminated from the fishing contest and the tournament name was changed to Long Beach Island Fishing
Tournament. Savings Bonds are out and cash was in! The $225 grand prizes in the bluefish category were won by Albie Jordan, Ship Bottom NJ (22 lbs 6 oz), John Lincoln, Burlington NJ
(19 lbs 1 oz) and Greg Crossland, Glen Hills PA (17 lbs 12 oz). Albie Jordan also won the high-hook non-club member trophy with 10 blues. Bluefish Express won the club trophy with 79 blues.
The $150 grand prizes in the weakfish category were won by Jack Adana, Ship Bottom NJ (12 lbs 13 oz), Michael Cucinutta, Burlington NJ (12 lbs 3 oz) and Frank Susco, Manahawkin NJ (13 lbs 12 oz). Tean Mullet won the weakfish trophy with 15 weakfish.
In 1986, 2,066 bluefish were weighed-in at Tournament Headquarters! The largest, 19 pounds, won the second segment for Duane Eggie of Ocean City. The high club trophy went to Happy Hookers--club members entered 591 bluefish. The high-hook club member was Karl H. Rubles,
Wenonah NJ, who brought in 77 blues for the Bluefish Express. High-hook non-club member was Albie Jordan with 73 blues to his credit. Lewis R. Olt, age 10, Vincentown NJ swept most of the juvenile prizes--Lewie weighed-in 13 blues, the largest was 13 pounds 8 ounces. Other
juvenile prize winners were Matt Kuntzi of Mt. Holly NJ, age 9 (13 lbs 5 oz) and Devin Reilly of MilIville NJ, age 12 (13 lbs 7 oz) Grand prizes were won by Connie Mc Ginnis, Medford NJ (17 lbs 9 oz), Duane Eggie for his 19 pounder, and Karl H. Burbles, Sr., Wenonah NJ (18 lbs).
Not a such a good year for weak fishing--only seven were weighed in. The grand prizes were won by Michele Little, Burlington NJ (12 lbs 8 oz -- the largest) and Ray Benoit III, Mt. Holly NJ (7 lbs 3 oz). The club trophy went to Happy Hookers.
No surprises in 1987... Grand prize winners in the bluefish category were Robert F. Ackerman, Tuckerton NJ (16 lbs 9 oz), Amadeo Ribiero, Philadelphia PA (17 lbs 13 oz) and Richard Zanes, Wenonah NJ (14 lbs 5 oz). Bluefish Express was the leading club with 310 blues. Grand prize winners in the weakfish category were Albie Jordan, Ship Bottom (12 lbs 2 oz) and Richard 0' Brien, Beach Haven NJ (12 lbs 3 oz).
In 1988, Striped Bass were included in the competition in cooperation with the NJ State Division of Fish and Game; however, no money prizes were awarded for striped bass. Fish could be weighed at three stations, and daily prizes for weakfish were introduced.
Trophies for the largest bass in each segment were won by David L. Bonanni, Mercerville NJ (22 lbs 2 oz), Jerry Barks, Yeadon PA (18 lbs 15 oz) and Ed Hughes, 34 lbs. 4 oz.). Ed also won the trophy for the largest striper of the Tournament.
Winners of the $400 cash prizes in the bluefish category were Edgar S. Masson, Springfield PA (17 lbs 6 oz), Jay Mann, Ship Bottom NJ (19 lbs 1 oz) and Anthony Cucinotta, Groveville NJ (20 lbs 10 oz-- the largest). The high club trophy was won by Bluefish Express with a total of 299
blues. Jime White, Waretown NJ, won the high club member trophy with his 64 bluefish. The high non-club member trophy was won by Barry White, Mystic Island NJ--32 blues.
The bass and the blues provided all the excitwent in 1988--the weakfish never showed up!
THE END OF A 34-YEAR REVIEW...
IN THE WORKS…..
Here’s 13 year olf Ric O’Brien with a big bluefish!
This was the 25th year of the derby that he won with his 19-9 bluefish.... Jingles and I had fished the night before and had a great night with bluefish, weakfish and bass. It was so good that we had said to Ric go to bed early and you can go with us that next night. We went fishing around 2 am and when we got there it was nothing but grass. We would keep trying but you know how it is when your plug is loaded with grass every cast. We went from the front rip to the back ( Holgate) and finally 1st cast Jingles hooked up. Ric was tired by this time and was sitting on the bank with an eel in the water. His father said to him get that god dam eel out of the water and put a black plug on.. It did not take long for Ric to hook his fish. Black red fin no wire leader. I walked over near Ric and Jingles said to me get over there and fish. There were still other people on the other point and we started flashing lights to get their attention to get a witness for Rics fish. Jake Adena was the first one to us. It took Ric about 45 minutes as he could not get the fish out of the rip. When the fish hit the beach Jack said look at the size of it it looks like a tuna fish... Meanwhile the sun is starting to come up time to go. We came home Ric got on the bus and went to school. Everyday coming home from school he would look at the derby sign to see if his fish was still there plus he would call Michele to check on it.
~ Margaret O’Brien Jingles Bait & Tackle
Stories shared by Margaret O’Brien of Jingles Bait & Tackle about her memories of the tournament over the years…
One year we were near the end of the tournament and it was a nasty northeast day with lots of bluefish and people all fishing bait in Holgate. Some were out on the bar and others bait fishing from the beach. Jingles did not bait fish so he took a nap in the truck. Lots of locals there that day and I was fishing near Frank Panzone and Bruce Hoagland.. Well that day I caught my largest bluefish 17-12. Also that night the largest juvenile bluefish was caught. (Louie Ott) plus the largest derby bluefish 20 plus by Tony Cuccinnota (1988 20-10 Bluefish). Tony and I were going back and forth on whos was the biggest.. That night we came back to the store and Frank Panzone was the weigh master on my fish. ***Margaret O’Brien won the woman’s category with her 16 pound blue, 1982.
My parents moved here full time before I was born and I was raised on LBI. My parents fished in the boat and on the beach but my mom told me she did not remember my dad ever catching striped bass in the 30s and 40s. The first one she saw was in the 50s. When I met Jingles he was strictly a boat fisherman fishing every night catching his limit of bass at the sod bank. Small fish but a lot of them... One lousy night it was too wind to go in the boat so he walked down Holgate and he was then hooked on the beach too. Catching his limit. That night Roy Stone gave him a ride off the beach and the next day we went and bought a 57 Willies. Roy Stone was one of the winners of a Jeep in the derby.
Jingles summered in Holgate in Liddy’s trailer park and hung out at Bill McNeil Luncheonette ( now Lorry’s) which was all about the 800 Fishing Club, Even though he did not surf fish as a kid he joined the derby for 3 dollars.. His parents bought their home during the 62 storm. When his father passed away his mom and him moved here full time. 1965. He had worked at Kosseffs in the summers since he had been 14 so when he moved here full time he worked there after school and summers.
Working at Kosseffs (fishing and marine dept) he got to know more about the derby as they were sponsors of it. Back then business knew how important the fisherman were to the community in the off season and they got involved. All the gas stations, restaurants and banks had derby banners.
As you can see by the statistics not all years were great with fish. Yes there was a moratorium striped bass for those years and that is when the weakfish were added.
We saw it happening by what were catching. Along with giving away a Jeep or car they gave away a boat to the 2nd place fish. If you lived here you could not win the Grand prize but you could win the 2nd. They felt locals had more time to fish. Also the club completion was a big deal with clubs going against each other. The 800 club had a lot of member's with a lot of them being boaters. The Beach Haven Club was very popular. Holgate had the Happy Hookers and the north end had the Bluefish Express. Bluefish Express was a small club but boy could those Eggie boys fish. Local club of LBI Surf Anglers was started by locals only.
Like I said we could see the stripers declining cause you also had locals and non locals competing for most fish. The year Jingles won it he had 50 some fish and the next year he caught 1.. One year when he was having a great year he was neck and neck with George Damon ( the one that blew the whale up 1957) George signed a complaint against Jingles for possession. When the game warden came to serve Jingles he was out crabbing that day so he went to the boat and served him. He had to go to court in Ship Bottom because that is where weigh in was. The 800 club hired a lawyer for Jingles. When we went to court even Andy's (Tonys Bait and Tackle) grandfather was there. His grandfather always netted mullet in Holgate so he knew Jingles. We went to court and the judge asked him if he was guilty or not guilty. He said I guess I am guilty and the judge said what do you mean... He told him I went to the beach at 8 pm and caught 6 stripers. Came home at 11 put them in the garage and went out the next morning and caught 5 more. He weighed them in that morning... That night he did not catch anything. The warden was waiting for him and weigh in. He had 2 different sets of witnesses that fished with him on the days in question. The judge asked him again and then told him that possession was in a 24hours day which ends at midnight and then told him his fish were caught in 2 days and he was not guilty.. They disqualified Damon's fish from the Beach Haven Club making 800 Club the winner that year. After that Jingles never fished for most fish.
I can only hope that more anglers are making memories.
I know that Sam Adams and his grand father Don have. I am sure Ray Sullivan will also.
As far as I know Dave bass was the largest bass even.
Find Missing Information!!! We have write up detailing early days to 1988. However 1989 to 1997 are missing. There are records on 1998 to present day.
Established in 1954, the Long Beach Island Fishing Classic has stood the test of time.
The prizes were over the top with winners taking home automobiles, electronics (cameras, tvs, radios) and one year a 17’ skiff. 1962 Storm…. Back on up and running…
As time went on, things changed. In the late 70’s and 80’s the striped bass stocks declined (due to over fishing and environmental factors) and so too did the tournament participation. The three year period of 1985,86,87 no striped bass were entered into the tournament. The striped bass stocks were in dire straights and a moratorium was put in place as an emergency measure to help protect the stock. Bluefish took over and stole the spotlight those years. Fast forward to 2012, Superstorm Sandy smashed the Jersey Coast and hit right in the heart of the Fall Run. The 58th Annual was cut short and ended on October 28. Major turmoil followed but the Tournament regrouped and is stronger and better than ever.
the one time striped bass record holder at 78lb 8oz (Caught in Atlantic city off the surf/jetty ON a Plug), Al Mcreynolds visited the LBI surf for a press event. Here in the phot Al is holding the photo of his weighin at Campbell’s Bait & Tackle… Sept 21, 1982