With a prediction of west winds at 5-10 knots, Monday looks like a winner in N/NJ Bight- and the week also looks generally good.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reports their seasonal blackfish pool is up to almost $5,000. They had a slow start yesterday with wind, swell and cold water, However, all that changed later and a shared his latest column as follows: decent bite developed as they ended up with some keepers including a few of 5-7-pounds. ((Photo below)

Jim Hutchinson Sr. shared his latest column as follows:

The 2022 LBI Surf Fishing Classic is now a memory for Long Beach Island anglers, but their thoughts of many are on its spring cousin, the 21st annual LBI Spring Derby.

The Spring Derby runs from early April to the last week in June. Anglers cast lines from shore in hopes of catching that big striped bass or bluefish that will earn them a cash prize.

The problem now in mid-winter is surviving until the beach action begins. While the choices below may not be as exciting as a rod with a big striper on the end of the line, these activities may supply that needed fishing fix, and perhaps improve your angling skills.

This is a great time to examine your fishing gear. Did you just throw everything in a pile or jam into a tackle box last fall? If so, take everything out and make sure you are ready for that Spring Derby.

Everything, including waders, rods and reels, terminal tackle, and anything that might have come in contact with salt water last year, should be rinsed in salt water. Next, check your gear and inventory what you will need in the coming months.

Check your rod guides and reels. Replace line as needed. If anything needs professional attention, this is the time to do it. The experts at our local bait and tackle shops are not as busy as in the summer. They can tend to your needs in a timely fashion. Have them take those reels apart and get everything working properly.

In baseball lingo, winter months are termed the “hot stove league.” This refers to fans hashing previous seasons while they wait for the upcoming season. While the term is not used to describe fishing activities, it could. There are events where anglers can join like-minded folks and swap fish stories. They might even pick up some new fishing tips.

There are a plethora of fishing and boating shows in winter within an easy drive of southern Ocean County. If you have never made it to one of these shows, you are in for a treat. Once you pay a nominal fee, you enter an area filled with like-minded people. There are booths where various businesses are available to answer your fishing questions as they try to sell you a variety of items ranging from magazine subscriptions to guided fishing trips to sunglasses.

See what you can learn from these onsite representatives as well as other anglers on site. Who knows, a surf fisherman from Long Island, New York, make give one from Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the tip to land a winning fish in the spring derby.

Most shows also have seminars conducted by fishing and boating experts. Often you can pick and choose the topics that most interest you.

Then, there are local fishing flea markets. These are smaller versions of fishing shows with booths set up selling a wide variety of fishing gear, both new and used. Once again, with a room filled with fishing fanatics, how can you not get enthused about the upcoming fishing season?

As a bonus, most of these shows are run for some type of benefit. Local high school fishing clubs conduct theirs to raise funds for club member activities. As a matter of fact, the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club will be holding its annual market on Saturday, February 11, at the Middle School in Manahawkin.

One other way to calm your winter jitters is to stop in at a local bait and tackle shops. Although their days and hours are limited compared to in-season, there is usually someone there willing to swap fishing stories.

You are welcome to continue counting the days until the LBI Spring Derby opens up, but you now have a couple  of ideas to make the time pass by a little faster.”

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