waterfront

Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association Reflects on Causes, Goals

Dozen Captains Promoting Sportfishing Since 2004
Mar 22, 2019

The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association is a group of 12 charter boat captains who have been providing excellent fishing opportunities for 15 years. The New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven is the home base for its many activities.

The town of Beach Haven has a rich and detailed history when it comes to fishing. Its miles of waterfront located close to Little Egg Inlet, which provides access to the Atlantic Ocean, make it a prime area for saltwater anglers.

The best fishing in the Beach Haven area is from boats rather than land. Since the late 1800s there has been an active charter boat fleet in and around Beach Haven. The boats provide the means to get to the good fishing grounds, and their captains provide the expertise to catch the fish.

In 2004, a group of these captains came together to form an association of licensed fishing captains to help promote their sport. It was their belief that shared knowledge would be a benefit to all involved. A unified voice could better spread the word of the excellent fishing opportunities in the Beach Haven area.

Also, speaking as one, they realized they could have more of an impact on issues facing the sport, such as fishing regulations, conservation and the environment. They also recognized the importance of giving back to the local community.

The BHCFA has boats available for charter fishing on Long Beach Island from the Causeway in Ship Bottom south to Holgate and on the mainland from Forked River in the north down to Tuckerton.

What makes the boats of the BHCFA unique is the variety of the options. Varying in size from 19 feet up to 44 feet, there is a boat for every type of fishing, whether it be shallow bay fishing or canyon fishing in the ocean. Most of the boats also offer cruising trips both in calm bay waters and to specific locations, such as Atlantic City.

There is even a “pirate” boat in the fleet. The Black Pearl offers interactive cruises on a replica pirate ship sailing regularly in the summer. Youngsters of all ages enjoy sailing with cutthroat buccaneers.

All captains in the BHCFA are licensed, and the boats are inspected regularly. Boats are fully equipped with safety gear along with every type of fishing tackle an angler could want.

The port of Beach Haven offers a wide variety of sport fishing species depending on the time of the year. Inshore targets include summer flounder, black sea bass, bluefish, striped bass, blackfish, shark and others. Offshore species include marlin, tuna, mahi-mahi and swordfish.

The captains of the BHCFA have been available for many duties over the years, including dinner cruises, moonlight trips and even burials at sea.

One of the association’s main projects has been its Junior Mates Program. Every summer a group of 15 to 25 teenagers participates in an eight-week educational program preparing them to become mates on a fishing boat. Most of the work is hands-on, and many of the youngsters, both male and female, have gone on to become successful mates. Some have even earned their captain’s license.

Over the years the BHCFA has donated money to various groups supporting recreational fishing and conservation, and has provided scholarship aid to high school graduates.

The most recent challenge being undertaken by the BHCFA is an effort to refresh the artificial reefs located off the coast of Beach Haven. These reefs were established many years ago from a variety of construction debris and other materials to attract fish and make for good fishing spots. Over the passage of time, the materials on these reefs have slowly sunk into the sand as a result of underwater tides and currents. The two main reefs that support Beach Haven fishermen are the Little Egg Harbor Reef and the Garden State South Reef. The captains and other members of the BHCFA have begun efforts to refresh these reefs, and they welcome assistance in their efforts.

The BHCFA has enlisted the aid of William Figley to serve as chairman of its organizational committee. Figley is a retired marine biologist with the state who was responsible for getting the reef effort started in the beginning. Figley has already met with representatives of the Department of Natural Resources and Fishery Management, who were receptive to the project. Currently the BHCFA is investigating suitable materials for the reef replenishment, to be followed by transporting the materials to the reefs and proper placement there.

It is also enlisting the aid of local key business and political leaders for this worthy project. Partners and financial backers are welcome.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association and its projects can be obtained at BHCFA.net.

— Jim Hutchinson Sr.

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