Youth Education Report

by Greg Kucharewski
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association April 2021 Newsletter)
Youth Fishing Challenge

The DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife NJ Fishing Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, 2021. NJ HOFNOD will support fishing teams at the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament. Visit their website at: NJ Fish & Wildlife. If you are interested in attending a NJ HOFNOD workshop, please contact Liz Jackson, NJ HOFNOD Coordinator. Email or phone 908-637-4125 x122.

Youth Fishing Challenge - The Hooked On Fishing - Not on Drugs Program's Youth Fishing Challenge is a statewide event to promote fishing among youths and their families. It is being held on the first of the state's two Free Fishing Days, Saturday, June 5, when no license is required to fish regardless of age. For more information and to register your group location visit: Youth Fishing Challenge.

30th Annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament

The 30th Annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament (GSFT) will be held at Island Beach State Park on Sunday, May 23, 2021. Get ready to enter the largest surf fishing tournament along the Jersey Shore. Don’t miss a day of family fishing fun! Pick up a brochure about the tournament at Island Beach State Park or at your favorite tackle dealer. Remember admission to the park is FREE for the tournament.

Tournament officials and sponsoring organizations are excited about the 30-year anniversary and are looking forward to another successful event. This year, Yamaha Motors has joined us to set up an outdoor booth to support the tournament and provide items for the high school and NJ HOFNOD fishing teams.

This is the time to start preparing your fish catching strategies so that you can catch a trophy fish that will win the 2021 Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament and win PRIZES. If you catch the largest fish, your name will be inscribed on the Governor’s Cup, with previous winners and displayed at the IBSP for all to see. High school fishing clubs, along with other school-based fishing teams will have a chance to win the high school team competition trophy and it will be on display.

If you are a novice angler and plan to fish the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament always prepare before the event and you will increase your chances of catching fish. Spend time looking over your equipment and making sure it is in workable condition. A week before the tournament visit a local tackle dealer and ask where fish are being caught and purchase items you might need. Tackle shops are usually extremely busy the day before and morning of the tournament. View online fishing reports to get an idea of what fish are biting on. Review NJ saltwater rules and regulations or pick up a copy at the tackle shop to know size limits.

The following equipment checklist will get you started: Check rods for loose guides. Be sure the reel seat tightens properly on the reel. Check for cracks in the rod by the guide feet. Look for grooves and cracks in ceramic guides and tip top guide. Reels, lubrication, is the roller guide clean and working smoothly, inspect the drag system, bail springs, check all movable parts, handle, and if needed replace and discard line properly.

Suggested list of what you might need to fish if you walk to your location on the beach. Surf bag with prepared assorted baits & soft cooler pack, terminal tackle for targeted fish, sinkers, hooks, snaps/swivels, etc.., Lure assortment, casting metal/jigs, small variety of swimming, diving, surface poppers that mimic local bait. Other gear, pliers w/line cutter, knife, measuring tape to record catch and release, dry bag for camera/phone, waders/boots, foul weather gear, extra small first aid kit, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, cap, sand spikes, stringer/plastic bag, and a towel. Packing your fishing equipment in advance will allow you to carry everything compactly. If you must walk to another fishing location, it is especially important to pack your fishing gear, so you can move easily through the sand.

We would like to remind our physically challenged anglers that there is an area at OBA 1 with beach wheelchairs available. Anglers that are not able to walk in the sand can now get to the water and try surf fishing. The JCAA Youth Education Committee is helping novice and physically challenged anglers at the Governor's Surf Fishing Tournament. World Jeep – Chrysler – Dodge - Ram, Shrewsbury, NJ will assist physically challenged anglers with a NEW 2021 4x4 VIP vehicle to transport anglers that will be fishing the reserved area in front of OBA 1. Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America (Chapter 12) and volunteer anglers from various fishing clubs will also assist physically challenged anglers. If you know a disabled veteran or angler that would like to fish the tournament, please phone Greg K at 732-785-9278 or email

Please visit the JCAA Website for updates and don’t forget to register for the Free NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program.

How a Circle Hook Works

New Jersey Striped Bass anglers need to know how to fish with circle hooks. New Hook regulations will be enforced this year and anglers must use non-offset circle hooks. The most effective way to hook a fish with a circle hook is not to raise the rod backwards in a quick motion. It is recommended anglers reel and lift the rod slowly at the same time. If you jerk the rod back as with a typical J hook set, you will pull the circle hook out of the fish’s mouth. Hooking sequence: The fish grabs the baited hook and starts to swim away. The line tightens slowly and usually pulls the hook out of the throat and to the corner of the mouth, where the point rotates and pierces the jaw hinge or cheek. Once the fish is hooked, it is difficult for the fish to escape. According to manufacturers, advantages of the circle hook design include increased catch rate, higher lip hook rate, which greatly reduces mortality; ease of use because the fish hooks itself; and less snagging in certain bottom fishing applications.

Remember; avoid the typical hook setting practice by jerking the rod back. I practice the circle hook setting technique when I plastic worm fish for largemouth bass. Practice makes perfect…You can feel the bass pick up the worm and this helps to wait until the line is taut, then I lift the rod and reel. It’s hard to resist the typical hook set motion but after learning the lift and reel method, I can reel in my catch, and quickly release fish unharmed. Read Paul Haertel’s recent report about circle hook regulations.

No Cost to Eligible Veterans Mobile Sport Fishing Permit

Time is running out to apply for a 2021 Island Beach State Park vehicle permit. Eligible disabled veterans are exempt from paying Annual Mobile Sport Fishing Vehicle Permit fees to ride on the beach. Please be advised that once the number of permits are issued for this year, permits will no longer be issued. This is another great way for our veterans to “Play HOOK-e from PTSD.”

Eligible veterans applying for an Annual Mobile Sport Fishing Vehicle Permit at Island Beach State Park must provide the following: Form DD 214 Honorable Discharge, Valid NJ Driver License and Registration, Veterans ID Card proof of service-connected disability. If you plan to fish on the beach you must register for a Free NJ Saltwater Recreational Registration Card. It is suggested new beach drivers take a beach safety driving course. NJBBA offers a beach driving course – info can be found at this link. For more information about permits and hours contact: Island Beach State Park, 732-793-0506.

Indoor Fishing Tackle Sale

Help support JCAA Youth and Veteran Programs. April 3rd, 8:00am - 2:00pm, Where: Jackson Crossing, 21 S. Hope Chapel Road, Jackson, NJ 08527,(next to All State Insurance). Saltwater and Freshwater gear, New/Used/Antique Rods & Reels, admission $2.00 Donation will get you in the door to support Jersey Coast Angler’s fishing programs for special needs children and disabled veterans. Call Al Marantz for Special Showings 732-859-0020.

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