Fishing in Atlantic City: The Complete Guide

Nov 16, 2022 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

You’ve probably heard many many stories about near-legendary Atlantic City. The nickname “America’s Playground” is not an exaggeration – the bright casino lights are enough to make you lose yourself in this small city with a big character. Add to the mix stunning beaches and exciting sights, sprinkle it with some saltwater taffy, and you’ve got a winning combo. But we’re here to talk about fishing in Atlantic City – an often-overlooked aspect of this bustling town that’s both fun and productive.

An aerial view of downtown Atlantic City on a sunny day, with the pier and pleasure park on the left-hand side of the image

The Atlantic Ocean is never far away no matter where you are in its namesake city, and you better believe that fishing opportunities abound. If you’ve never cast a line in these rich waters but you’d like to give it a go, we’ll help you figure it all out, just keep reading.

What kind of fish can you catch in Atlantic City?

Where do we start? In the mood for some light surf fishing? Go right ahead, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Flounder, Tautog, and many others are out there. Prefer a wild Tuna hunt with some Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Sharks thrown in? This is the place for you. Let’s see what the favorite Atlantic City catches are.

Summer Flounder – aka Fluke

There are few fish that are loved in New Jersey as much as Summer Flounder – more commonly known as Fluke. That’s hardly a surprise. They’re fun to catch, there are plenty of them, and they’re delicious. Fishing in Atlantic City is almost synonymous with Fluke fishing, with most catches weighing 2–5 pounds.

Three men standing on a dock, holding their daily catch of Flounder on a sunny day

Fluke like move around a lot, so you need to know where they are at different parts of the year. The best months to target them are from July–September. In spring, they gather their strength in back bays and feed aggressively, preparing for their journey into the ocean. The action is hottest when they pass through the narrow passes, neae the beaches and jetties in the summer and early fall. After that, they’ll find reefs and wrecks (both inshore and offshore) where they’ll settle for the winter.

Another plus of fishing for Fluke in Atlantic City is that it’s fun for the whole family. Little ones love catching ’em and you don’t have to hire a guide to do it, as surf fishing will do. Spearing are the best live bait if you can find some, but manhaden will do the trick, too, especially in the open waters. When it comes to artificials, you want to keep things small early in the year (3/4 jigs do wonders) and then become more ambitious as the summer progresses (Berkley Gulp is the way to go).

Striped Bass

If you’re wondering how good Striper fishing is in Atlantic City, it suffices to say that the world-record Striped Bass came right from here before it was outdone in 2011. These days, an average Striped Bass can weigh anywhere from 10–20 pounds, but there are some huge fish roaming the deep waters. The high season to go after them is in spring and fall.

A fisherman in full winter equipment holding a Striped Bass, standing on a charter boat

Stripers move from the inlets and jetties to open waters depending on the time of year. In early spring, they dominate the Absecon Inlet, and you can easily reel in a lunker from shore. In the fall, your best bet is to go further out and look them around nearshore and offshore reefs. Some charters offer dedicated Striped Bass trips during this time, and good catches are always in the cards.

The key to targeting Stripers is structure. They hang out around anything that can provide shelter and food at the same time – mostly reefs, jetties, and ledges. Bass also stalk their food religiously, so wherever you spot baitfish, Stripers aren’t far behind. Live bait is the way to get their attention, be it herring, clams, worms, or eels. Remember to bring heavier tackle if you’re fishing offshore but, from land, medium tackle will do the trick.

Bluefish

Going fishing in Atlantic City almost always means you’ll hook into a Bluefish or two. This feisty species is the city’s staple and there’s quite a bit of them swimming around. They come in all sizes, from 2–20 pounds, and are as aggressive as it gets. You can fish for Blues from late April until late October and be successful.

A smiling angler in a cap and sunglasses holding a big Bluefish

Bluefish are worthy opponents and they’ll fight for every inch of the line. You don’t want to be anywhere near their teeth even after you’ve got them in the boat, as it can be painful. Surf fishing is a great way to get yourself a Bluefish because they like to hunt close to beaches, jetties, and bays. There are party boats that take anglers out to open waters for the chance to land a trophy, usually later in the season. Another reason Bluefish are local favorites is that they’re absolutely delicious, so after you’re done with your battle, you’ll get to enjoy a fabulous dinner.

These spirited fellas are most active during the low-light hours, so the time around sunrise and sunset will be most productive. Diving birds are almost a sure sign that there are Blues nearby, and that’s where you should cast your offering. Speaking of bait, fresh bunker are irresistible to Bluefish, which you can use for chumming or jigging. Trolling is also effective, especially if you’re using plugs, jigs, or tubes. Don’t forget to use a strong wire leader so that your catch doesn’t bite straight through your line.

Mahi Mahi

Let’s move to the offshore realm and talk about Mahi Mahi fishing in Atlantic City and how different it is compared to other parts of the country. These colorful beauties show up in summer. During these few months, you can find them very close to the shore, as well as up to 50 miles offshore. This is quite a perk, seeing that Mahi Mahi are usually caught almost exclusively in deep waters.

A smiling boy in a cap standing on a fishing boat, holding a Mahi Mahi on a sunny day

Smaller Mahis are usually the ones feeding in the surf, but you’ll need a boat to look for bigger fish, and this is where things get interesting. One of the most popular ways to fish for Mahi Mahi is pot hopping. Let us explain. Commercial lobster harvesting is big in the area, so there are many lobster pots littering the bluewater, with buoys and ropes that mark their location. These pots are an epicenter of activity, and Mahi Mahi congregate and feed around them. 

This is where charter guides go to find their share of this delectable fish. You can entice them with different types of strip bait including Bonito, Squid, and False Albacore. On the artificial side of things, soft baits and poppers work the best. When you get your fighter Mahi Mahi into the boat, it’s time for the best ceviche of your life!

Tuna

Maybe you feel like joining the big leagues and going after the biggest, baddest fish around. Well, you’ve come to the right place – Tuna fishing in Atlantic City is excellent. The warmest months of the year are reserved for Tuna hunts, be they Yellowfin, Bluefin, Bigeye, or Longfin. Bluefins are most sought after due to their size, but other species are an equally welcome sight.

Three smiling anglers sitting on a boat, holding a large Tuna on a sunny day

If you’re going after Tuna, you’ll have to head to the deep sea canyons. This means a long boat ride, but one that will pay off. Hudson, Wilmington, and Carteret Canyons are the most popular Tuna destinations. Here, nutrients and high water temperatures are brought in by the Gulf Stream, which makes the canyons a veritable fishing paradise. All the offshore A-listers hang out here, most notably Tuna, Marlin, Swordfish, and big Sharks. Battling giants is the name of the game and you better be ready.

To get your Tuna to bite, you’ll be trolling at speeds of around to seven knots and you’ll need fluorocarbon lines so that the Tuna don’t spot them. Drifting and chunking is also a good way to go, especially if using squid, butterfish, or sardines. Nighttime chunking can be very productive in late July and August. For that extra oomph, get some lights in the water and let your prey come to you. 

And So Much More!

A smiling young man holding a Tautog while standing on a boat, with the water and cloudy skies in the background

We’ve only mentioned the best of the best species you can catch when fishing in Atlantic City. The list of potential catches is very long, and there are some others you shouldn’t miss out on. There’s the elusive Tautog and surprisingly loved Black Drum, followed by Sheepshead, Black Seabass, and Weakfish. Then you’ve got your Sharks (Mako, Thrasher, Blue, and Bull, to name a few), Wahoo, and Mackerel offshore, with Marlin, Swordfish, and Tilefish in the bluewater. I guess the only question is: what would you like to target first?

How to fish in Atlantic City?

We’ve already mentioned that both surf and boat fishing can be prolific from the Jersey Shore. It all depends on how much time you’ve got and what you’d like to target. Here are the most popular ways to get that next trophy.

Surf Fishing

Two fishermen casting their fishing lines from a beach into the surf

Seeing that Atlantic City has fantastic long beaches, it only makes sense that surf fishing here is on fire. If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer and you prefer doing things your way, then grab your gear and head to the nearest jetty, beach, or pier. 

Jetties are always a good spot for Tautog, Bluefish, and Flounder, and for that, it doesn’t get better than Absecon Inlet and its jetty system. You can find some good Bluefish, Stripers, Seabass, and more when casting from piers. The Ventnor Fishing Pier is the most common choice to get on some reel-screaming action. 

Charter Fishing

A view from above of five anglers standing on a charter boat and fishing on a sunny day

Maybe you’re fishing in Atlantic City for the first time and you’re with a group of friends or your family. If so, you could do with a professional to show you the ropes. That’s easily organized here because there are dozens of charter captains in the area who can take you out on the water and show you a good time. 

Morning half day excursions are popular because they’re affordable, they last about five hours, and you can catch a lot of fish in that time. There are also full day trips on offer, as well as specialized ones, in case you’d like to focus on Striped Bass, Flounder, or Bluefish. Extended day and multiday expeditions can also be arranged for passionate fishermen ready to get that Tuna. The trips usually include all the necessary equipment, an experienced crew, and a guide who knows these waters like the back of their hand.

Party Boat Fishing

A dark red and white party fishing boat on the water with anglers on it on a cloudy day

Anglers who’d like to get a taste of local fishing but want to save some money can join in on a party boat fishing trip. There are several party boat companies in Atlantic City that take anywhere from 20–50 people fishing twice a day.

The upper side of party boat fishing is that you can meet a lot of people and catch some fish along the way. The downside is that it can get crowded on a party boat, so reeling in your catch can be more difficult. The trips can last anywhere from 6–9 hours, and you can explore the ocean waters for a variety of species, or head to back bays – it’s up to you.

Best Fishing Spots in Atlantic City

An aerial view of Atlantic City, New Jersey with the ocean on the left-hand side of the image

We’ve already touched upon this topic, but there’s so much more to cover. Let us walk you through some of the productive fishing spots in and around Atlantic City.

  • Absecon Inlet: Shore anglers shouldn’t miss out on fishing the rich Absecon Bay. In this easy-to-navigate jetty system, you can catch Sheepshead, Tautog, Fluke, and even Triggerfish in deeper sections.
  • Duck Thorofare: This productive channel is another go-to for local anglers for all the right reasons. From here, you can target anything from smaller Sharks to Black Seabass and Bluefish.
  • Ventnor Fishing Pier: If you’d like to give pier fishing a go, your best bet is to come here. Not only could you land a variety of species like Stripers, Ling, Bluefish, Dogfish, Flounder, and more, but you could also meet and chat with the locals.
  • 28-Mile Wreck: In the mood for some first-class offshore action? This sunken tanker from 1942 is a favorite hanging spot of trophy-sized Mahi Mahi, Bluefish, and Sharks. In late summer, you might even stumble into Tuna in this area.
  • Canyons: There’s no better place to chase after the most sought-after fish in the ocean than the deep sea canyons. Wilmington, Carteret, Hudson, and Baltimore Canyons can all hold Marlin, Tuna, Swordfish, Wahoo, and Sharks.

Atlantic City Fishing Licenses and Regulations

An infographic featuring New Jersey state flag and text that says "Atlantic City Fishing Regulations" and "What you need to know" against a blue background with a charter boat

One of the many good things about fishing in Atlantic City, and New Jersey in general, is that the process is pretty straightforward. If you’re coming as a recreational fisherman, you don’t need to buy a fishing license, but you do need to familiarize yourself with latest regulations and limits.

The only obligation that shore and pier anglers have is to register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program. Fishing with a charter? You don’t need to worry about registering then, because it’s your guide’s responsibility to do it. For all additional information you might need, check out our blog about New Jersey fishing licenses.

Fishing in Atlantic City – The Fun Never Stops!

An aerial view of a boat marina in Atlantic City on a sunny day with the cityscaape in the background

As you can see, the fun in the “America’s Playground” isn’t limited to casinos and the city’s vibrant downtown. When it comes to fishing in Atlantic City, you don’t need to gamble with your odds – you can be all but certain you’ll create unforgettable memories on these prolific waters.

And now over to you – have you ever been fishing in Atlantic City? How was your experience? Do you have a word of advice for your fellow anglers? Share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.

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