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Top Fishing Charters in New Jersey

Fishing in New Jersey

Every summer, visitors flock to the New Jersey coast to enjoy a few days of sun, sand, and seafood. There’s a lot more to the area than bars and beaches, though. Step aboard one of the endless fishing charters NJ has waiting for you, and you’ll discover a whole new side to the Garden State. New Jersey has one of the largest charter fleets in the Northeast, and you can find anything from 16-foot bay boats to 60-person party boats ready and willing to take you out. Why such a varied fleet, you ask? Because there are just so many fish to target! 

 
From the Delaware Bay to the mouth of the Hudson River, anglers comb the shallows for Striped Bass, Bluefish, Weakfish, and more. Try your luck at bottom fishing, and you can also pull in some tasty Tautog, Flounder, and Seabass. And that’s just the inshore scene. New Jersey’s bluewater bite really puts the “big” in big game. We’re talking five species of Tuna, two species of Marlin, and more Sharks than you can shake a chum block at. No matter what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed by fishing trips in NJ.

Fishing Spots in NJ

With 130 miles of productive coastline, NJ saltwater fishing can vary greatly depending on where you go. Different areas do have their own specialties, but there’s great angling all over the state. Here’s a rundown of what to expect and a few top places to visit.
 

Sandy Hook 

The Sandy Hook and Raritan Bays offer miles of brown, murky shallows full of all the state’s favorite inshore species. Launch out of Highlands or Keyport, and you can catch Striped Bass, Bluefish, Weakfish, and both Summer and Winter Flounder. If you somehow still have room in the freezer after all that, you can also find “Blackfish” (Tautog) around rocky piles here. It really is one of the most underrated fisheries around.
 

North Shore

The Point Pleasant area has a lot going on both inshore and offshore. Mussel-covered rocks line this part of the coast, making it a hotspot for Tautog and Seabass. NJ party boats focus on these tasty food fish, but you can also catch Stripers and Blues if you’re more of a sporting type. The area also has some of the best deep sea fishing NJ can offer, 70 miles out at the Hudson Canyon. Bluefin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, and Albacore Tuna are caught on these trips, as well as Blue and Mako Sharks, and Blue and White Marlin.
 

South Shore

This is one of the top tourist spots in the state. Brigantine and Atlantic City draw crowds all summer thanks to their iconic beaches and boardwalks. It may get hectic on land, but you won’t have to share fishing grounds with the whole of New York like you would further north. That means monster Marlin and tasty Tuna without having to fight for elbow room. Sure, the run to the canyons is longer down here (80+ miles, depending on where you launch from) but it’s well worth the journey. You’ve also got trophy Stripers, Blues, and Weakfish if you don’t want to travel.
 

Delaware Bay

If you’re visiting in the winter, you’ll find that many of New Jersey’s prize catches are out of town. Not so in the Delaware Bay. You can find Striped Bass and Flounder wintering in these sheltered shallows. During the summer, Black Drum and Weakfish move into the bay, along with a ton of Flounder. Striped Bass spawn here in spring, and you can’t keep them during January, February, April, or May. You can still enjoy incredible catch and release action, though.

Fishing Techniques

The Striper fishing NJ is best known for is usually done by drifting live Eels. Many guides prefer to throw topwater lures on light spinning gear, though, and there are more than a few die-hard fly fishers. One of the most effective techniques, known as live-lining, involves slow-trolling live Bunker or Spot. It may be pretty basic, but nothing will bring in Blues and Rockfish faster.
 
Trolling is also popular offshore, especially for Marlin and Mahi Mahi. Many guides troll for Tuna early in the season, but start chunking as the waters warm up. Most of the Shark fishing in NJ  focuses on chunking, too. The technique is more or less the same for both species: send out an oily chum slick then pelt the water with bait after bait to stir up a feeding frenzy. Heavy, stand-up rods and level-drag reels are the norm for this style of fishing. Couple them with wire leaders for Shark fishing, but switch to fluorocarbon for keen-eyed Tuna.

Need to Know

There’s no general NJ fishing license for saltwater angling. If you are fishing on your own, you will need to register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Program. Registration is free and not necessary when fishing aboard NJ charter boats. A few things you should always bring are sunscreen, shades, a hat, and any food and drink you want for the day. If you’re heading offshore, you may also want to consider taking Dramamine or other seasickness medications.
 
New Jersey fishing seasons may be short, but they pack a heck of a lot in. The action usually starts in March and April and begins to die down by October. Luckily, this is also when the vast majority of people visit. If you’re one of them, don’t miss the chance to try fishing here. It’s sure to be the highlight of your trip!
 
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New Jersey Fishing Seasons

The summer season is still a long way away, and most gamefish are out of town. You can catch a few Cod offshore, or head to Delaware Bay to target the Stripers wintering here.

The first few Flounder start to emerge in the Raritan Bay towards the end of the month. You can still find Stripers wintering in the Delaware Bay, too. The offshore action hasn’t started yet.

Most charter boats get back in the water in March, as the first few Striped Bass show up along the coast. By the end of the month, you’ll have decent catches of Bluefish, Flounder, and Crab, too.

Things really start to heat up inshore. Stripers are biting hard and Bluefish are fighting them for every bait. Flounder and Tautog are on fire in April, and big Mako Sharks are showing up offshore.

Seabass are open for harvest in May, just as Tautog season closes. You can also catch and keep Fluke, making for even better food fishing. There are some huge Stripers around by now.

Cape May holds two awesome tournaments in June. The South Jersey Shark Tournament and South Jersey Overnight Tuna Tournament are exactly what they sound like. Great fun battling huge fish!

The offshore bite is going crazy, with Tuna, Marlin, and Sharks tearing up the deep water around the canyons. They’re not alone. Every major species is out in force this time of year. Take your pick!

One event draws anglers from across the country and beyond each August. The MidAtlantic pays out over $3,000,000 in prizes each year for winning catches of Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo.

The summer may be over, but the fishing shows no sign of stopping! Head offshore in search of Billfish and Tuna or stick to the shallows for Weakfish, Flounder, Striped Bass, and more.

This is your last chance to enjoy the Tuna fishing NJ is famous for! Tautog, Striped Bass, Scup, and other food fish will be around for a while still, but the big game species are getting ready to leave.

The weather has cooled a lot by now, and the big crowds of high season are long gone. In the water, you can still find plenty of Tautog, Striped Bass, and Flounder, if you can find a charter to take you.

The incredible Striper fishing NJ enjoys in summer has dropped off by now. You can find fish hiding in the bays all over the state, though. Tautog don’t mind the cold, and are around well into the month.

New Jersey Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About New Jersey

"Fishing with Barry"

Austin Scherrer fished with Hit the Surf Charters on August 16, 2018

Captain BJ was terrific We all had a good time and all of us caught fish Smooth sailing

"Good day of fishing"

Stephen Wallace fished with Queen Mary Open Boat & Charters on August 9, 2018

There was a mix up on fishingbokker. We thought we were going out for fluke but that wasn’t the case. We didn’t realize until we were at the marina. Not a huge deal but was more of a mixup on the website than a negative review on the ship or captain.

"Half Day Trip "

Jonpaul Pizza fished with Northeast Guide Service. on August 6, 2018

Call Harry Bardroff to take for your a guided tour.

"Half day with Fich Junkie"

Christopher Howell fished with Fish Junkie Charters on August 1, 2018

Definitely use Fish Junkie. You will not be disappointed.

Top Fishing Techniques in New Jersey

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in New Jersey

Bass (Striped)

Flounder

Seabass (Black)

Bluefish

Top New Jersey Destinations