There hasn’t been much to report from the New Jersey surf so far this spring, but all that changed dramatically on Sunday.

The annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament is normally handicapped by the fluke season not being open, but that wasn’t the case this year. Yet, all the fluke prizes went unclaimed along with those for late-arriving bluefish — while “only” striped bass were caught. To top it off, a lady angler had her name imprinted on the Governor’s Trophy.

The official release from the Division of Fish and Wildlife follows:

The 31st Annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament was held May 15, 2022 at Island Beach State Park. The day stared with fog, but ended with sunshine, and while it was a slow day of fishing, everyone seemed to enjoy spending their day on the beach trying their best to get a fish to bite.

This was the fifth year the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament was open to high school teams with their own team category. Sixty-five high schoolers from six school fishing teams fished this year’s tournament. One team leader said, “The kids didn’t catch anything, but they had a great day!”

Assistant Commissioner of NJ DEP Fish and Wildlife, Dave Golden, was there to congratulate tournament winners, while assisting with the awards ceremony. Sponsoring organization presidents Gary Conk, Sr, NJ Beach Buggy Association; Wade Stein, NJ State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs; and Mark Taylor, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, also assisted with handing out tournament prizes. While six striped bass were entered into the tournament, Pam McGee of Newton was the Governor’s Cup winner with a 37 ½” striped bass.

Ms. McGee received two rod and reel combinations, a plaque and will have her name engraved on the Governor’s Cup, which is permanently on display at Island Beach State Park. Unfortunately, no one in the high school team category entered any fish.

In addition to the grand prize, four anglers received rod and reel combinations for their prize-winning fish in the striped bass category. There are overall categories for children, teen, and adult anglers, including sub-categories for male and female anglers.

The event was sponsored by the NJDEP’s Fish and Wildlife and State Park Service, the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, and the NJ Beach Buggy Association.

More than $150,000 has been raised since the inception of the tournament for conservation and education projects and improved beach access.

Winners of the 2022 Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament are:

Striped Bass Category Teen (Male):

  • First Place: Logan Appello, Cliffside Park, NJ – 29 5/8”

Adult (Male):

  • First Place: Tim Moran, West Milford, NJ – 31 4/8”
  • Second Place: Vincent Percella, Lavallette, NJ – 31 1/8”
  • Third Place: Ron Butkiewicz, Warren Twp., NJ – 28 6/8”

Adult (Female):

  • First Place and Governor’s Cup Winner: Pam McGee, Newton, NJ – 37 4/8″

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Clam baits accounted for the IBSP stripers, but the best was yet to come as Nick Honachefsky fished the surf during the eclipse of the moon that night to release a striper probably over 40 pounds on a purple Bomber plug. He didn’t have official measurements, but used his fingers to come up with the 48-inch length and 28-29-inch girth that would put it over 40 pounds. See the photo below. Two others were lost due to the small hooks on the Bomber.

Nick was using an 8-foot Savage Gear rod with a Shimano Stradic 5000 spinning reel loaded with 30-pound Power Pro braid tied to a Tactical Anglers clip. He “forgot” to mention where he was fishing.

Chuck Many said many stripers were missed yesterday as surfcaster Chris Buchta joined Alex Katyan to fish eels from Tyman out of Highlands. However, those released ranged from 36 to 47 pounds.

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The marine forecast for Thursday predicts showers in the morning with northwest winds at 10-15 knots before changing to southwest 5-10 in the afternoon.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands reported very good sea bass fishing the last two days. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good day with sea bass as everyone went home with a catch that also included ling — and many limited

Capt. Lou Grazioso says he’s been enjoying fluke action from his small boat in the Navesink and Shark rivers. However, with the new regs he had to release 20-inchers Sunday in Shark River.

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