June 23, 2024

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Jersey Shore fishing: the Complete Guide

Reading Time: 11 minutes

The Jersey Shore isn’t just a backdrop for reality TV, it’s also a haven for those passionate about fishing. From north to south, the expansive 141-mile coastline is teeming with angling potential. For a while now, fishing the Jersey Shore has been a must-do activity for both visitors and locals alike.

In short, this iconic stretch of the East Coast hardly needs an introduction. It’s a perfect mix of lively boardwalks, popular amusement spots, and, most interestingly, some of the region’s richest fishing grounds. Beyond the lively piers and the scent of saltwater, the Jersey Shore boasts seaside towns, tranquil bays, and roaring ocean fronts – with plenty of fish to boot!

This guide will dive deep into the heart of Jersey Shore fishing. You’ll explore the coveted species that lurk beneath its waves and identify the prime spots with a good reputation in angler circles. Plus, you’ll learn the techniques that guarantee a catch and pinpoint the best seasons to cast your line. Intrigued? Stick around.

Top Jersey Shore Fish Species

It’s no surprise that anglers from all corners come here season after season. The Jersey Shore fishing menu is full of different species. In fact, if we were to name even just a quarter of those, we’d need a several-part thriller. For now, let’s stick to the most distinctive species that call the Jersey Shore waters home.

Striped Bass

A group of male angler standing on a dock after their Jersey Shore fishing trip, each holding a large Striped Bass on a day with sunny intervals
Photo courtesy of Jordi Sport Fishing & Charters – 32’

Striped Bass, often referred to as “Rockfish” in this part of the world, are among the most highly esteemed catches at the Jersey Shore. And for good reason. Known for the dark stripes running along their silver body, these fish fight like there’s no tomorrow. Stripers can grow impressively large, with some monsters weighing over 50 pounds. However, the average catch tends to hover between 20 to 30 pounds.

Striped Bass fishing often reaches its peak in the spring and fall during their migration along the Jersey coast. Sandy Hook and Raritan Bay are popular hotspots for chasing these beauties. While various techniques work, live bait like eels, bunker, or bloodworms can be particularly effective. Locals also use topwater plugs around dawn or dusk when Stripers come closer to the surface to feed.

Fishing for Stripers requires a combination of patience and skill. Adapting to their feeding habits is crucial. For instance, when they’re feeding on smaller bait fish, matching your lure size to the bait can lead to more strikes.

With regulations in place to protect the Striped Bass population, it’s essential for anglers to stay updated with the latest size and bag limits. But more on that later.

Black Seabass

A young man wearing a baseball cap backwards holding up a Black Seabass by its mouth aboard a fishing charter out of the Jersey Shore on a bright day
Photo courtesy of Mighty Heron Charters – Let’s Go!

Black Seabass, with their dark hue and blue undertones, are striking fish and favorites for many in Jersey Shore’s waters. They’re not just sought after for their unique appearance, though. Black Seabass are very tasty, making them a double treat for catch and cook enthusiasts. These fish generally range from 1 to 5 pounds, with larger Seabass lurking around wrecks and reefs offshore.

So, reefs, wrecks, and rock piles off the coast, such as those off Cape May, are good spots to hook into good-sized Seabass. The season generally peaks in late spring and early summer, and again in the fall. These fish are notorious for stealing bait, so sharp reflexes and a keen sense for subtle bites are essential. Retrieve slowly and keep your bait close to the bottom for the best chance of reeling one in.

With an experienced Jersey Shore charter guide, a little preparation, and some know-how, you can enjoy both the thrill of the catch and a delicious meal afterward!


Two anglers aboard a fishing charter in New Jersey, smiling and holding a large Bluefish with the waters visible behind them on a day with sunny intervals
Photo courtesy of UnReel Sportfishing

Every Bluefish angler can easily recognize their favorite target through their aggressive behavior and razor-sharp teeth. Anyway, Blues are a mainstay at the Jersey Shore. Their explosive strikes and relentless fights make them one of the most exciting species to target. These torpedo-shaped predators can grow up to 20 pounds, though a common catch is usually in the 3–10 pound range.

Island Beach State Park and the Barnegat and Manasquan Inlets are some of the most popular locations to spot aggressive schools of Bluefish. When they’re in a feeding frenzy, almost any moving lure can trigger a bite. One of the joys of fishing for Bluefish is their versatility. You can catch them right from the surf, jetty, pier, or boat.

Blues are often active throughout the day, but early morning and late evening are particularly productive times. While their aggressive behavior makes them a favorite target for sport anglers, Bluefish are also prized for their rich, flavorful meat. However, it’s worth mentioning that their meat can spoil quickly, so a good cooler and proper post-catch storage are essential.

Mahi Mahi

A man sitting in front of the console on a center console fishing charter on the Jersey Shore and holding a large Mahi Mahi on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Retriever Fishing Charters

Mahi Mahi, also known as Dolphins, are enough to dazzle any angler. With gorgeous gold, blue, and green patterns, they’re arguably among the most beautiful fish in the ocean. Jersey Shore is no exception. Beyond their aesthetics, Mahi are celebrated for fights and delicious, flaky meat. Most Mahi caught off the Jersey Shore range from 10 to 30 pounds, although you’ll often come across larger fish.

Mahi Mahi hang out in warmer offshore waters, especially around floating debris or weed lines, where they hunt for smaller bait fish. The summer months – particularly July and August – are prime times to target them. Canyons off the Jersey coast, like the Hudson and Toms, are popular spots for a trolling trip.

Mahi are curious fish and are often drawn to the boat by tossing cut bait or live chum into the water. Techniques aside, when you land one, their culinary value is the cherry on top!


A man crouching and looking towards a small boy stood next to him, as he holds a Tautog aboard a Jersey Shore fishing charter, with the water and a jetty visible behing them on a cold day
Photo courtesy of Miss Atlantic City

Affectionately known as “Togs” or “Blackfish,” Tautog provide a true test of angling skills for anyone fishing the Jersey Shore. Their dark appearance camouflages them perfectly in their rocky habitats. However, it’s their sneaky bite and powerful fight that stand out to anglers.

Tautog usually range between 3 and 10 pounds and thrive around structure. Jetties, pilings, rock piles, and wrecks are their favored spots. Head out to Cape May Reef and other wrecks off the Jersey Shore with green or fiddler crabs, and a catch is almost guaranteed.

Fishing for Tautog requires patience and a sharp sense. Their bites can be incredibly subtle, often feeling like a light tap or the sensation of your bait being softly lifted. Once hooked, they’ll dive for cover, testing your skills and equipment. Heavy tackle and an abrasion-resistant line are a must.


Two men sitting on the edge of a sportfishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean and holding a large Tuna around their knees with the waters behind them on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Bug Sportfishing

Tuna fishing off the Jersey Shore is the stuff of legends. These powerful pelagics are the dream catch for every angler across the globe. Bluefin can reach staggering weights over 500 pounds, while Yellowfin, often ranging between 50 to 200 pounds, are known for their endurance. Bigeye are prized for their sashimi-grade meat, and the smaller Albacore, Skipjack, and rare Blackfin offer their own rewards.

The offshore canyons, such as the famed Hudson Canyon, are hotspots for Tuna fishing out of the Jersey Shore. The deep, nutrient-rich waters attract a myriad of bait fish, which, in turn, draw in these predators. Trolling is the most common technique, although some enthusiasts prefer chunking at night.

Heavy tackle is a must, and having a well-equipped boat with a seasoned crew can make a significant difference in landing these giants.

Bonus: Sharks

Three men in baseball caps standing on a fishing charter in New Jersey and holding a Shark with the water behind them and land visible in the distance on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Captain Pete’s Fish Tales

For those seeking a true adrenaline rush, Shark fishing from the Jersey Shore delivers in spades. Mako, known for their explosive jumps and aggressive behavior, can reach sizes over 800 pounds. Thresher, with their distinctive long tails, are equally formidable. Add Blue, Blacktip, and Tiger Sharks to the menu, along with the rarer Bull, Hammerhead, Lemon, Nurse, and Porbeagle varieties, and you have an enviable fishery.

The offshore waters, particularly around underwater structures and temperature breaks, are popular Shark territories. Many species are catch-and-release only, while others have strict size and bag limits.

Remember, every fight with a Shark is a marathon not a sprint. Their power and size demand respect, and the battle can often extend for hours. Every Shark has its own fighting style. Chumming, using a mix of fish parts and blood, is a common technique to get their attention. Then you’ll need heavy tackle, strong wire leaders, and circle hooks to stand a chance against these underwater monsters.

Types of Fishing on the Jersey Shore

Strategically positioned to access both the vast Atlantic Ocean and serene bays, “The Shore” offers arguably the best angling in New Jersey. Let’s talk about how you can go Jersey Shore fishing:

Jersey Shore Shore Fishing

A view across a beach towards a lone angler fishing from shore on the Jersey Shore, with a jetty visible behind him and another man in the distance fishing at sunset

Shore fishing from the Jersey Shore is a great option for those who don’t have time to hop on a boat. You can head out early in the morning or later in the evening and enjoy some quality time with just trusty rod. For families and newcomers, this provides the perfect introduction to the art of angling. Striped Bass, Fluke, and Bluefish come close to the shoreline, so these may be your main targets.

Popular techniques for shore fishing include surfcasting with bait or lures, aiming for the breaks in the surf where fish often congregate. The joy lies in its simplicity. With just a rod, reel, and some bait, you can enjoy the serene backdrop of the rising or setting sun while waiting for that exciting tug on your line.

Jersey Shore Inshore Fishing

A view from behind of a woman in a coat and faded orange hood fishing in the inshore waters of the Jersey Shore on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Logos Guide Service

Stretching from Perth Amboy down to Cape May, the inshore waters of New Jersey are full of fishing opportunities. The Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays, with their mix of salt and freshwater, create fertile grounds for Winter and Summer Fluke, Striped Bass, and Seabass.

Fishing here often involves drifting or anchoring and using a mix of live and cut baits. Popular choices include bunker, squid, and crabs. Techniques such as jigging around structures or using popping corks can be highly effective, especially when targeting predatory species like Rockfish. The Barnegat Bay, occupying a significant stretch of New Jersey’s coastline, is another inshore gem, along with the Delaware Bay.

Jersey Shore Deep Sea Fishing

An aerial view looking towards a lone large offshore sportfishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean on a hazy day
Photo courtesy of Common Sense Sportfishing

Deep sea fishing Jersey Shore-style is all about the reefs 30 miles offshore that house Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Sharks. For those with the patience and endurance to venture even further, the canyons around 70 miles out and the continental shelf at 100 miles are the realms of the ocean’s royalty – Swordfish, large Marlin, and bigger Tuna.

Depending on where you go, Jersey Shore deep sea fishing techniques vary from trolling to nighttime drifting and bottom fishing. Such adventures often last hours and demand the utmost skill and strength from anglers.

Jersey Shore Charter Fishing

A view across the water towards group of anglers hanging out and fishing off the deck of a large offshore sportfishing boat named "Teacher's Pet" on a clear day, with the boat fully equipped with a flybridge and outriggers
Photo courtesy of Teacher’s Pet Sport Fishing

Jersey Shore charter fishing provides a tailored angling experience, making the vast fishing grounds of the Jersey Shore accessible to both novices and experts alike. With seasoned captains at the helm, charter trips offer local knowledge, top-tier equipment, and the chance to land a real trophy.

Different charters cater to different fishing styles. From light tackle inshore trips targeting Fluke and Seabass to heavy-duty offshore adventures in pursuit of Tuna and Marlin, there’s a charter for every kind of angler. Many captains specialize in certain techniques, be it trolling, bottom fishing, or jigging. A key advantage of booking a Jersey Shore charter is the learning experience it offers, and it’s why we think it’s the best way opf discovering this rich fishery.

Where to Go Fishing on the Jersey Shore

An aerial view of Ocean City, NJ, near Egg Harbor Bay, with a beach and peninsula sticking out into the middle of the image, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left and the bay on the right on a clear day

Jersey Shore’s fishing spots are as varied as its history. From urban hubs that have embraced fishing as a part of their cultural identity to serene seaside towns where every tide is a new adventure, this stretch of coast offers more than just sun and sand. Here’s a quick list of spots to explore:

  • Atlantic City. Known for its casinos and nightlife, AC is also a hidden gem for fishing enthusiasts. The boardwalk offers easy access for shore fishing, the back bays are perfect for targeting Fluke, and the offshore grounds are home to Tuna.
  • Cape May. Located at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, Cape May is placed at the convergence of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Here, you can try anything from surf casting to deep sea charters fishing.
  • Brigantine. Just north of Atlantic City lies Brigantine. With less commercial hustle compared to its southern neighbor, it’s a serene barrier island boasting sandy shores and rich inshore fishing grounds.
  • Neptune City. Nestled along the banks of the Shark River, this is a perfect spot for freshwater and saltwater angling alike.
  • Belmar. With its famous marina and proximity to the Shark River Inlet, it offers anglers a gateway to both inshore and offshore fishing grounds. The town’s fishing fleet is one of the most active on the Jersey Shore.
  • Ocean City. Not to be confused with Maryland, Ocean City in New Jersey is a family-friendly destination with a rich angling culture. You can go crabbing in the bay or try surf fishing along the shoreline.
  • Point Pleasant Beach. This spot is known for its iconic boardwalk and lively atmosphere. However, it’s more than just a tourist attraction. It’s a hub for fishing, boasting one of the largest fishing fleets in Jersey Shore.
  • Highlands. Overlooking Sandy Hook Bay and perched near the Shrewsbury River, Highlands is a prime location for inshore fishing. Plus, it’s strategically located near the Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area.

Jersey Shore Fishing Seasons

Jersey Shore’s fishing seasons are connected to the migratory patterns of its resident fish. As such, as the seasons shift, so too do the angling opportunities.

A family standing on a small boat ramp next to a bridge in New Jersey, with a center console boat behind them on a sunny day, ready to go on an angling trip
Photo courtesy of Allyn’s Ocean City Wee Cat Charters

Springtime sees the coast come alive with Striped Bass, who make their northward migration. Stripers, along with Winter Flounder and Black Drum, thrive in the slightly cooler waters, so the inshore waters become particularly active during this period.

As summer rolls in, the warmer currents of the Atlantic usher in Bluefish, Fluke, and Seabass. They dominate the inshore and nearshore waters, while offshore anglers hunt for Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and even the occasional Marlin.

Fall is all about the return of Striped Bass making their journey southward, coinciding with the arrival of species like Tautog and Seatrout. The offshore waters continue to buzz with activity, as species like Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna feed aggressively. By winter, many species retreat to deeper waters.

Jersey Shore Fishing Rules and Regulations

If you’re planning to cast a line along the Jersey Shore, being well-informed about the rules and regulations is not just advisable, it’s essential. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Licenses and permits. A saltwater fishing license is typically not required for recreational anglers fishing in marine waters but the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife mandates free registration in the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program (NJSRRP). However, for freshwater fishing or specific species like Trout, you’ll need a valid license.
  • Bag limits and size restrictions. The rich fishing menu comes with its set of bag limits and size restrictions. These limits can vary based on the species and season. For instance, in 2023, anglers were only allowed to keep one Striped Bass between March and the end of the year, measuring between 28 and 31 inches.
  • Protected areas and closed seasons. Certain areas along the Jersey Shore may be designated as protected or restricted zones. Similarly, some species have closed seasons. Consult with the New Jersey DFW to make sure you’re fishing within the law.

Fishing the Jersey Shore: Brigantine Wonders and Belmar Surprises

A view across the beach towards a Ferris wheel and amusement park on a pier on the Jersey Shore not long after sunset, with the Atlantic Ocean's waters crashing into the beach from the right

From the boardwalks of Atlantic City to the shores of Cape May, fishing the Jersey Shore offers a blend of urban energy and raw natural power. Here, you’ll join a community that respects the sea and everything it has to offer. Ready to embark on your next adventure? The Jersey Shore awaits.

What do you like the most about Jersey Shore fishing? What’s your favorite spot? What about the most iconic catch you’ve had here? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Jersey Shore Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Jersey Shore Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/jersey-shore-fishing-the-complete-guide/
Published Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2023 10:19:45 +0000

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