ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK, NJ (Ocean County) – A Hunterdon County man has been crowned the champion of the 30th annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament, held Sunday at Island Beach State Park.
Summer was the theme of this year’s tournament with July like beach weather, and summer flounder being the fish most entered into the tournament. World Jeep assisted again in transporting disabled veteran anglers to and from the beach at Bathing Beach Area 1, until the beach filled with sunbathers and the trucks could no longer access the beach. Despite a slow day of fishing, the beautiful weather and fun with family made up for it.
This was the fourth year the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament was open to high school teams with their own team category. Twenty-six high schoolers from four school fishing teams fished the tournament this year. One team leader said, “We didn’t have much luck at the tournament today, but the kids had a great time. This was our first fishing trip as a group in 19 months. It was good to be back out there and enjoying Island Beach State Park!”
DEP Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette and DEP Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources Ray Bukowski stopped by the tournament to visit with tournament participants on the beach. While there was no official awards ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions in parks, Assistant Commissioner Bukowski stayed to assist in presenting prizes to the winners along with Tom Fote from Jersey Coast Anglers Association.
While two fish measuring 21.5 inches were caught, Tyler Bender of Milford won the tournament grand prize by catching a 21.5-inch bluefish at 6:39 a.m. He received two rod and reel combinations, a plaque and will have his name engraved on the Governor’s Cup, which is permanently on display at Island Beach State Park.
In the High School Team category, Manasquan High School took first place with a 20⅝ inch summer flounder. and was presented with the high school team category cup for taking first place. Their name will be engraved on the cup and the team will receive a plaque.
In addition to the grand prize, five anglers received rod and reel combinations for their prize-winning fish in the summer flounder category. There were categories for children, teen and adult anglers, including sub-categories for male and female anglers.
The event was sponsored by the NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Parks and Forestry, the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, and the NJ Beach Buggy Association.
More than $145,000 has been raised since the inception of the tournament for conservation and education projects and improved beach access.
Winners of the 2021 Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament are:
Summer Flounder Category
- First Place: Liam Kelly, Manasquan, NJ – 18⅛”
- First Place: Bryan Medhaug, Beachwood, NJ – 21½” (caught 8:45 a.m.)
- Second Place: Liam Cosgrove, Spring Lake Heights, NJ – 20⅝”
- Third Place: Bryan Medhaug, Jr., Bridgewater, NJ – 18¼”
- First Place and Cup Winner: Tyler Bender, Milford, NJ – 21½”
High School Team Category:
- First Place: Manasquan High School – 20⅝” Summer Flounder