Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament
New Jersey Saltwater Fishing
By Karen Byrne, Senior Biologist
Hundreds of anglers from New Jersey and neighboring states will descend upon the beaches at Island Beach State Park on May 15, 2016 to celebrate the 25th year of the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament! Participants can expect a great day of fishing, fun, prizes and quality time with friends and family as they try to catch the longest fish of the day and win the coveted Governor’s Cup.
This family-friendly tournament aims to encourage youth and adults to learn more about surf fishing while taking advantage of a great activity. Since its inception in 1991 the tournament has generated more than $135,000 for various marine education and restoration efforts, including construction of access ramps for disabled saltwater anglers, surf fishing instruction programs and equipment at Island Beach State Park, and a mobile automatic heart defibrillator for use at Island Beach State Park. Most recently fifteen specialized surf wheelchairs that provide beach access for the disabled and elderly were purchased by the Tournament Committee and from donations from Jersey Shore Surfcaster, Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association, John Mangiante Foundation, Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club and Jersey Coast Shark Anglers. These chairs are available for use the day of the tournament.
The 24th annual tournament saw an increase in registered participants over the previous year, and everyone enjoyed beautiful weather all day. Expectations were high as there had been a bluefish blitz the week before the tournament, but fishing on tournament day ended up being slow. Despite that, participants had a great time, and two striped bass and 11 bluefish were entered.
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin took part in the awards ceremony and presented tournament winners with their prizes in a variety of categories. Rich Bergman of Atco, NJ took the grand prize and the New Jersey Governor’s Cup by catching a 32-inch striped bass. Bergman received one rod and reel combination—which he generously donated to the Island Beach State Park surf fishing education program—a Coastline Surf System, a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, a plaque and had his name was engraved on the Governor’s Cup, which is permanently on display at Island Beach State Park.
In addition to the grand prize, five anglers received rod and reel combinations for their prize-winning fish in the striped bass and bluefish categories. There were categories for children, teen and adult anglers, including sub-categories for male and female anglers. Early tournament registrants were also entered into an early entry raffle for a Coastline Surf System.