Before I say what’s on my mind, let me backtrack for a moment and explain where I am coming from. I like to eat striped bass. My kids on the other hand don’t like it, they love it. If it was up to them, they would eat it every day. I have absolutely zero problem with anyone taking a bass home for a table. Ten pounder, fifty pounder, whatever floats your boat and is within legal limits, I am ok with it. Do I feel we are killing too many bass? Yes, but that is a discussion for another time. Even with that said, I still feel that if you take your legal limit for your consumption, more power to you. There is something awfully satisfying of eating a fish that you caught.


My question today has to do with weigh in. I am hoping that someone who is part of what I am about to ask can answer it. No , I am not looking for every Tom, Dick and Harry to give me their opinion on why is this taking place.


I speak with stores on regular basis. Some of them carry my books, some are my friends for many years. Last few weeks I spoke to some New Jersey stores and they would tell me” we had a crazy day with 90 plus fish weigh in today. Another fifty plus weighted in yesterday…and so on”.

This wasn’t just one store, few stores told me the same thing. I don’t ask questions. I don’t like to pry but this aroused my curiously. I know these fish are mostly teen fish with an occasional twenty plus thrown in. This is no secret, sand eel bites are pretty predicable once they get going.


My question is this. Is there some kind of tournament going in NJ this time of the year? For the life of me I can’t figure out why so many teen fish are weighted in the store on a single day? Now mind you, I am NOT questioning why that many fish are kept. That is up to each angler do decide. What I am looking for someone to explain to me why would you weigh in a teen size bass? I never seen that size fish weighted in NY unless its someone’s first keeper. So I am assuming there is some kind of a tournament going on ?

Please fill me in…I am confused

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56 comments on “Confused

  1. steve j

    hey z- i dont want to be every “tom dick and harry” but i have no idea why, but i have my opinions which i’ll keep to myself. if it is a tournament, why would they even weigh a teen class fish? seems alittle small to enter to me. i just hope those fish are being eaten and not just thrown in the dumpster after they get a weight

  2. George Cerny

    Hi Z, I’ve been watching the postings from New Jersey too. I’m confused too. I think that over and above the obvious self-promotion going on within those doing the posting we have a very young crowd having their picture taken with a fish(es), kind of like at Easter with the Bunny or at Christmas with St. Nick.
    I think when one has been around awhile, as I have, one gets a certain sense of proportion or scale (no pun intended). It’s one thing to be happy to have caught a fish and entirely another to be proud of the fish. One would think that the size of the fish would play a role but it seems it doesn’t. Our culture promotes self-everything and instant gratification, “look at me! see what i can do!” What these folks don’t seem to understand is that if diamonds were found in backyards no self-respecting woman would wear one on her finger. George C.

  3. Mike

    Must of the people I seen there liked and fished like it was there first I think some many people heard about where the fish are and just want to go give it a try. I have been fishing there the past few weekends and that’s what I see.

  4. Mark

    What’s happening is you have alot and I MEAN Alot of people doing the weigh-ins and videos so they can show there kids, grandkids, wives, friends etc. It’s the recreational angler that gets out a few times a month at best along with the weekend warrior crowd. Another major reason is they just don’t have a scale. Plan and simple. I know it sounds crazy but they just don’t and they want it weighed in with a photo and then the shop makes them log it in. The amount of fish being caught is off the charts and to be honest having 90 weigh-ins is not a lot. If you had everyone do it you would have 1000s.

  5. Chris

    I’m all for eating a couple of bass a season as well. Not to start a debate but what is old is recs continually pointing finger at commericial. Both sides are at fault. Do the math between party boats, charters, and surfcasting we are putting in a major dent.

  6. Pete F

    Look at NJ tackle shops, many put your pic on the internet. Weigh it in, get your pic taken, they probably fillet it for you.
    ” johnny you oughta see the fish I caught, here it is on my internet connected cellphone”

  7. Dooley

    I believe Mike (up above) hit it on the head.

    When looking back at the sand eel bite at Robert Moses last year, we saw the same behavior. A lot of fisherman experienced consistent supernatural fishing trips day after day throughout last fall. These fisherman told friends and family whom wanted to join them in the slaughter, whom then these lads came home with pictures and convinced even more friends and family to join them. Not to mention all of the ancillary newcomers resulting from posted reports.

    I think all newcomers to the sport, which increased exponentially during the sandeel bite, felt they “won” and got instant gratification when catching the “elusive” striped bass. Naturally, being men, they want to know how big it is and bring it to the local tackle shop for a weigh in; ask Saltwaters in Bay Shore about last year. Furthermore, I don’t think newcomers to the sport fully understand how how big a striper has to be to actually weigh 20+ lbs. If they knew that a fish had to be at least 36″ (ballpark) to weigh #20+, I can guarantee there would a lot less fish weighed in.

    I am never one to judge another angler on their gear, but rather on their fishing ability. Lets face it, anyone can go out an get gear to make them look like they know what they are doing – depending on how deep their pockets are. But, judging by the pictures of the Jersey bite that I have seen, it looks like a good mix of new and seasoned surfcasters (easily over 200 fisherman/weekend)…if even only half of them weigh in a fish…there’s your answer.

  8. Tom

    On LBI you have The Classic going on right now. It’s an 8 week tournament that ends this Sunday. My favorite 8 weeks of the year!

  9. kev

    All the teen bass being weighed in over here in Jersey is just about grownups playing show and tell. The bite has been so good that many anglers have never seen anything like it. It is good for the mom and pop shops and brings in a lot of newcomers. This of course all has a ripple effect and as a result there has been a lot of poor etiquette going on in some popular spots. It is up to more experienced guys to make an impact on the future of our sport by helping to educate newbs. Now I admit there is not much helping the Guy carrying a trout rod and wearing his deer hunting gear who throws the huge Walmart trolling plug at your backside while your out fishing the outer bar, but sometimes you have to grin and bear it if you want in on the day time bite.

  10. Steve Jr

    We couldnt believe it. The guy uses this video thing to attract people to his store becasue everyone wants to be on video. We came from NY and talked to the guy in the tackleshop before the bridge. Thats what he told us. When we were eating breakfast there it was like being in the twilight zone. Guys weighing in 7lb bass and donating the fish to someone that has just passed away. Weird…..

  11. woodwker99

    I think it’s because they haven’t seen a fall like this in a while and every fish looks like Mobie Striper to then…lol. wait till next big run here we will most like see some of the same.

  12. The Drifter

    Because there hacks from jersey its that simple.

    They don’t want to think to hard about taking an estimated guess as to how much the fish weights.So they take it to the nearest B&T.

    Ya can’t blame them its the way they where born & raised.

  13. Taylor

    Every 20 is always a 15, 30 is always a 20, every 40 is always a 30. These guys don’t know the joy of releasing a large healthy fish. Sad, my kids will likely enjoy what I have come to love so much. Instead of taking it to a shop, guess how much you think it weighs then subtract 10 pounds and you will be within 5 pounds of the actual weight.

  14. Jason

    I don’t think it is the weight in as much as it is the video or name on the webpage. Lots of people want their name to be published for whatever reason. Be it personal, to share with friends or justify to the significant other that they are actually fishing. Most of the people I know outside of fishing think I am crazy fishing at night, fishing 12 months a year, fishing on a rock, jetty, kayak…

    I also think that the majority of people who fish do not catch much and this is when they are cashing in. the saying that 10% of people catch 90% of the fish probably has some truth to it, especially when it comes to fishing from the beach. So if you think about it that way and you spend how many hours on the beach a year with nothing on the end of your line and now you’re catching ever cast…well that is exciting. Weighing in a fish is probably just part of the fun for this group.

    You also have a lot of people who depend on B&T info to get them on fish or at least in an area where people have been into fish. This group should be weighing in every fish that they keep. If you are going to take information you should be passing it along. I know that is how I work with friends that I talk to that have different days off and are on the beach as different days and times.

  15. Zeno Post author

    Some of you guys are mentioning videos and shop reports…that is not what I am asking and that is not a shop I am alluding . Every shop can do whatever promotion they wish..I am fine with that
    and I am fine with guys taking bass home for dinner. I am still failing to understand the weigh in part. Honestly, let’s not make this about something that i not relavant.
    is th8s maybe a regional thing? Cause that would make least to me

  16. John S

    Zeno, I fished IBSP a couple of times in the past two weeks. I never saw the crowds that were in the picture you posted. It was a slow pick two weeks ago, when I had only had short fish for 12 hours of effort. People down the beach had a better action.

    This past Monday was a different story. I saw many fish caught along the whole park. Most fish were released. Most of the people I saw fishing were very polite. I fished before sunrise to avoid the crowds, but stayed through the morning to spend time with fiends and because the bit was good and it was fun to catch and release.

    I saw many people leave without fish. That is the way it is for most people, most of the time. When my kids ask me why I fish so much, but come home without anything to show, I just tell them that is the reason the sport is called fishing not catching. Maybe some people weight their catch just want something that will persisit after the fish are cooked that will help them remember their proud moment and share with their friends. I don’t think it makes them bad, dumb, poor estimators or hacks. I don’t think it has anythng to do with the way people are raised. I think they are just having fun, which is the point.

    I live in South Jersey and I’m not taking up for this “weighing-in” activity because I was born and raised this way or because I have any particlar trouble estimating. Infact, I grew up in Queens, but have not lived there since 1983, when I left for college and to join the military. I record my fishing activities along with the weather, tides and structure in my personal fishing journal. I have a waterproof camera and a boga, so I don’t need to stop by the shop to weigh in my fish.

    But if a person wants to have the shop weight-in and take a picture or video of the biggest, or first or hundreth fish they’ve ever caught, I just think it does not hurt anything and I’m happy for them and the shops that are kind enough to offer this service(especially Betty and Nick’s in Seaside).

  17. PA Matt

    Z (and other New Englanders), if you fished 98% of the time in NJ I think you might have a better appreciation for the excitement surfcasters there have at catching a teen-size bass. You just don’t see larger fish (20+) on a regular basis. It’s exciting for those who catch a “keeper”. I have fished in destinations in NY, MA, CT etc. and you’re correct that catching a 28″ fish is not a lot to hoot about there – fishing for bass is heaven there.

    So, I think part of the excitement and fun can be weighing in the fish and putting your name in a book. I would guess most of those that do it are not in a club, or anything else, and maybe it feels like they’re part of the community by doing this. Does that help?!

  18. Jason

    I would think the weigh in and shop reporting go togeather for most shops.

    Why should it matter what size fish is weighed in?

    Like I mentioned earlier, I think many people who weigh in fish are doing so to keep the report going. They are the people who looked at a weigh in list, noticed a bunch of fish being caught and made the trip. they caught legal fish and weighed it/them in to keep the cycle going for the next guy who is looking at reports to decide if they go again or not.

    Others post online reports, call friends. within in your circle you may only weigh in the big momma’s. I don’t weigh fish in but if I did I would put a hundred fish under #15 on the scale before large fish. I choose to let the big mommas swim away.

  19. Frank

    From someone who fishes LBI and IBSP, all year. It really is just the weekend anglers doing the weigh ins. you guys that fish montauk or any place on LI really don’t get how tough the fishing can be down here. Less dudes get serously into it cause there are less fish. It seems we have a smaller contingent of hardcore guys not everyone here fishes with custom and van staals. Zeno don’t be hating on the strokers thats jersey for googan.

  20. Zeno Post author

    Please do not twist what I am saying..there is a reson I been writing how happy I am for nj surfcasters to have this bite.I. have a lot of respect (and a lot of friends there) for nj anglers and I know just how poor fishing has been over the years. I am trilled so many are having a ball…well deserved. I am only asking about a weigh in becouse i’ve never seen it before. I thought there might be a tournament of some kind and wanted to know the details of how the catches are counted…trust me, I wish I was on the bite myself

  21. MOOSE

    Some shops down in seaside offer wooden tokens that can be redeemed for lures, bait etc. The more you get you have a chance to get something essentially for free. KEEP ONE and release the rest. There should definitly not be a third bonus fish kept!

  22. Jeremy

    Confused is definitely the word, and I dont know either. I do think we should be looking to go in a different direction though and Kev said it best; “It is up to more experienced guys to make an impact on the future of our sport by helping to educate newbs.” If you see someone who needs help then help your fellow man. We all started out as newbs. I know its not always fun, but mostly it is when they see you wish to teach them how to be a better fisherman and that they can learn something from you. just my thoughts.-j

  23. rclapp

    Actually, the B&Ts encourage the practice….in a benign manner. Give aways, sign the book, etc. Remember it was silent here until this run started and last year was awful. Regardless, I see the gamut of fisher people on the beach…the good guys and the jerks. Those who follow the regs; those who do not. All in all, the weigh ins seem to be a good celebration of a turn of events.

  24. ScottS

    I am from NJ and think I have the answer. Actually, It is simple really. This people want to be you-tube hero’s and/or like seeing their name on the website. This happens every spring too when the bunker show up. If you look, you will see weigh ins during the peak hours of fishing. To each his own, but I am with you 100%. We crushed them again yesterday, and everyone went back to swim another day.

  25. mark m "Cow Harbor"

    It’s beyond fishing…it’s part of the society. Just look at what Walmart has done to tarnish the USA. Cheap picing that drives out local businesses (and locals support this), riots in the isles over bath towels, pepper spray who’s next to you for a Xbox and the list goes on. It’s another reason why mentoring the right individuals is so important to the future.

  26. Bill Dickinson

    This has nothing to do with u-tube or the internet. This has been going on for ever in the north Jersey area. I remember reading the sign in book When I started surf fishing with my father55 years ago. They sign in things like “10 bluefish at area 12” and “2 blues, 3short bass in IBSP”. Just a tradition in the area.

  27. Vito Orlando

    As “Wild Bill” always tells me and I agree, “Its Between Me And The Fish”. Who cares how big???
    On another note, I would not feed any children or for that matter anyone, more than 4 ounces of bass per month. Read The NYS DEC Reports on fish consumption.

  28. Jeremy

    Thank you very much for posting this link. I had not seen this film yet and I am very grateful to see it. Sorry for getting off track Z!!

    sioca says:
    December 1, 2011 at 10:50 pm
    Perhaps this may provide another point of view.
    I really hope so…

  29. JohnP

    I think weighing a fish in allows a surfcaster to feel his is “part of the club.” He has arrived. They get a pat on the back from the shop owner or a tip of the hat from any other surfcaster that might be in the shop at the time. If they are real lucky, their name appear in the fishing column of the local newspaper. Its usually the case that the thrill of weighing in a fish fades the more fish you catch, but we all know some guys continue to weigh fish in year after year. Some guys fish more to relax and enjoy the ocean, but we all want or need recognition, at one point or another.

  30. Big D

    Teen size? Most of the fish are under 10 lbs. being weighed in. That equates to about a pound per second of their claim to fame…

  31. chuckg

    I think even weighing in a 30 pound fish in any tournament is a waste of the resource, I think there should be a threshold weight for these tourneys that give weekly prizes which amounts to a big fish kill… Just MHO…

  32. Jerry

    On Nov. 3 2001 I caught my first keeper bass (low/mid 20’s) from the south side shore off MTK.. I was excited and proud and showed everyone who would look.. I swung past my mom’s house in queens later that day then showed it off to my friends and family, took pictures and hung it up for hours like I just took a grizzly with a bowie knife. Everyone seemed amazed to see it and I was the sharpie who’s skill and tenacity bested the beast … The twinge of guilt began a day or two later and to this day I wish I’d released that bass. I don’t know what the NJ rationale is but I suspect… If only there was a way to turn the marauding horde into the marauding advocates. Maybe this is a good thing. Get over the hump, get your bass then watch yourself on Youtube holding up a schoolie for all eternity and feel like a homonym of that third guy you mentioned (not Tom or Harry)

  33. mattm

    The serious number of weigh ins started on turkey day and after the one tackle shop offered free tshirts if u weighed in a bass. So from there after people probably thought the would get something for the weigh in. All in all its alot on beginners that wanna be part of something

  34. Jeff Cav.

    I saw plently of hacks with NY and PA plates on IBSP last weekend. Most of the guys weighing in fish are new to the sport or the casual fishermen. I would like to think that all the fish that are keep and enjoyed at the table.

  35. pistol pete

    A high percentage of weekend warriors NEVER catch a keeper ever. A blitz levels the playing field in terms of ability, and offers everyone a shot at a keeper regardless of skill. it’s likely the only time most will ever catch a keeper. For dedicated surfcasters, a teen size bass is a regular occurance… for joe-weekend with a 80$ setup, a teen bass is the biggest fish he has ever caught, and holds it in the same regard as we do a 50 pounder…. and that is my best guess… and it’s probably the best explanation you are going to get.

  36. fishinthedark

    I fished there, IBSP on Saturday, and if I were to offer an an opinion I would have to add that it appeared to me to be an internet fueled weekend warrior affair. There are a lot of great anglers who fish Jersey no doubt , but the majority of the guys who I saw didn’t appear to me to be as versed as some others groups who fish a little harder and a little more often.
    That is fine as well, its everyone’s beach and everyone has a right to fish where and how they want. I think that led to a lot of guys chest beating and weighing these small fish.
    I think it the first time I ever saw an 8 lb fish dragged off the beach on a stringer.
    I need to ask a question though, do the guys in jersey have something against dry tops? I saw so many guys with waders on and no tops, so when it came around to fishing the lower end of the tide at midday there were a lot of guys on that first bar jumping up and down to avoid that wave. 🙂 🙂

  37. Bob

    The annual fishing derby runs for 6 weeks (through 12/4) on Long Beach Island. Daily and weekly prizes are given away. If you don’t weigh in, you can’t win.

  38. woodwker99

    Z I said it before and after reading all this I think it is worth repeating. They (NJ surf casters) haven’t seen a bite like this in years so every fish is Mobie Bass!They need to re-calibrate their eye and thumb. Wait till the bite gets going here next year (I hope) you might see the same thing here.

  39. beret

    Z, I’m sure both of these points have been covered already but here is my take.
    1) The amount of fish(or percentage weighed in)is very small. WE just had a great past couple of weeks and even 100 fish weighed in a day was probably less than 10% of the fish that were caught during that span.
    2) You Montauk guys are spoiled……we don’t get your size fish. A high teen fish or especcially a 20# is hugh for us. The size of what people wish to weigh in is up to them…..but understand we do not get cows very often,especially in the fall……..Ciao

  40. Slimy Skate

    I recall back in earlier 2002-04 boat fishing in Sandy Hook area on a friend’s boat (RIP,Kevin), the Striper regulations was 2 fish but it was I think like only 24-26 inches. They are are use to the smaller fish as acceptable(legal).
    I hope all taken where not wasted. ~>

  41. Adam

    My understanding is it’s a tradition & it helps the local B & T’s.
    The videos only help a family business get more customers in their shop.
    As an eastender i was very impressed by the locals & how nice they were!
    How would you not want to help these small mom & pop shops?

    The locals have top notch surfcasters & wet suiters who are no different than us.

    After spending time with these guys i was very happy for their community & the revenues they’ll be rewarded with, especially at this time of year & in this economy.

  42. Chris

    someone above posted that they have never seen a run like this and that anything over a 20 is rare, so the “look at what I caught” masculinity comes out. Same with us northerners that would fish down in Florida, catch one 24″ barracuda and it’s a monster. Boys will be boys…

  43. Zeno Post author

    Adam..thanks for that explanantion
    I also think that the community down in nj is incredibly tight,generous and open minded..and in their ranks are some of the top anglers today
    I had no doubt that they would welcome you with open arms and give you a helping hand…that has always been my experience when I go there

  44. Capt'n Bob

    As a South Jersey surfcaster there are a few tourneys running, Atlantic city ended the last week of oct. The LBI classic runs until this Sunday and the Riptde in Brigantine runs until the 23rd of this month. All these tourneys have min. requirements of 32-36″. To put it very bluntly the yahoo weekenders are the ones who are weighing most of the teeners. The hard core few, guys who are out four days or more don’t bother or release to swim another day. I also have to agree with Adam it helps the local B&t’s. I have been surfishing since the age of 11 and in the past 8 or 10 yrs I have seen a big jump in folks down here fishing for the elusive one in south jersey. Their are also the foreigners who keep anything or any size, a big problem down here. I know a few guys who have Fish and Game on speed dial and have to threaten to call to have these folks release an illegal fish. In closing a high teen or low twenty lbs fish could be a weekly winner down here, the big slobs don’t make it into the surf around here. But i will keep trying! Keep up the great work Z, I look forward to an email after a long day at work or a fishless day on the beach

  45. whitey

    at least there taking them off the beach ,hopefully they take them home for table theirs or neighbors.What I see on “BLITZ” days is 20 PLUS size fish kicked ,left in rocks or on beach to be discarded for chance to get the (TROPHY!!!!)that’s a shame. Just my rant Z you have a great place here ,keep it comming.. Have a great holiday season …

  46. richtrox

    I agreee with Capt Bob, it’s the sand eel sharpies who are doing all the weighing. A lot of these guys rarely catch a teen, so when the pickin’s get easy, they all want to trot into a shop and pose for a picture. And most of them haven’t ponied up for a boga, so they have no clue how big their fish actually is.

    It’s their 15 minutes of fame LOL.

  47. Brian K

    MANY and I mean MANY of the anglers that come into the shops in New Jersey to weigh the fish that they catch are anglers who do not fish or do not have an opertunity to fish on a regular basis. A lot fo these anglers may only fish once or twice a year from the surf and are just so excited about catching a striper or any fish for that matter from the shore that they are take them into the shops and have them weighed and posted on the shops web site.
    Some of us are lucky enough to fish regularly from the beach and from boats and have landed many fish of all sizes. There is no difference in guys talking about joining (keeping) the 20lb, 30lb 40lb 50lb clubs. A lot of anglers will weigh these as a first fish of that size they are fotunate enough to catch.
    As for the teen or maybe 20lb weights that are being caught in NJ, these fish are a reflection of the size of a majority of the fish caught and available in these areas from the surf. Of course there are guys who are lucky enought to land a decent 30+lbr from the surf along the NJ coast but they are few and far between.
    Think of it like you taking a first time fisherman or woman or kid fishing and them wanting to keep and eat 9-10-11 lb fish and taking it to a tackle store to get it weighed in. I bet 70-80% of these anglers fall into this catagory.
    Of coarse there are local guys who are keeping and weighing in these school size fish to eat because they like them for the table

    AND/OR also maybe they like to see their names on the web site posts.

    Lets hope as anglers get more experience and opertunity to catch fish like this they will learn the importance or catch and release.

    Good luck to all the rest of the year!

  48. Ed, aka levelbest

    Except for a troll or two, I liked the responses you got to your question. I like to know what a fish that I’m going to keep weighs. I don’t carry the extra weight of a scale with me. I was in the LBISFC this season and would have weighed in my first, if there had been one that qualified. I don’t have a beach buggy permit that allows for unlimited gear at hand. Everything I use and keep has to be carried from/to the truck in one trip because I am fishing alone.
    A suggested topic; fellow aboard head boat was complaining about NC regs. Said they can keep their three largest. Said this lead to them keeping all on a stringer until the end when they would cull the shorts. Most of those culled would die. Is this true?


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