What We Fish For
Barnegat Bay and Barnegat Inlet offer some of the finest and most varied fishing opportunities along the New Jersey coast, with excellent fishing available from late March right through the end of the year. While the precise timing varies a little from year to year, the following describes the primary species we fish for and when they are typically available to us.
Striped Bass (May - December)
Easily our most majestic and sought after game fish, striped bass fishing in the bay gets underway as soon as the water temperatures climb back into the mid-40's in late April. The best fishing for stripers takes place in the Spring and Fall, but fish are taken from the Bay all Summer long. Every year, anglers' efforts are rewarded by fish that grow well over 30 pounds including a few "cows" that approach the magic 50 pound mark. May and June in the Spring, and late October into December in the Fall are recommended.
Fluke/Summer Flounder (June - September)
The Summer Flounder, or Fluke as it's known throughout much of the Northeast, is one of the mainstays of our Summer fishery. Arriving in May, the fluke is a fine tasting predator that remains in the bay and on inshore lumps until early Fall. At the start of the season, this is primarily a back bay fishery but ocean fishing picks up as the water temperatures increase going into Summer. By late in the season, this becomes primarily an ocean fishery as they begin to move out to their offshore wintering grounds.
Bluefish (May - October)
Pound for pound, the bluefish is arguably one of the strongest fighting fish in the sea. In fact, it's been said that if they ever attained the size proportions of larger predators like the striped bass, they would be almost uncatchable. While smaller bluefish will remain in the bay through most of the season, the best bay fishing for blues takes place in late Spring when schools of ravenous choppers flood through the inlet in search of something to eat. Come September and October, massive schools of large bluefish move along our shoreline ravaging schools of mullet, rainfish, and bunker migrating South for winter.
Weakfish (May - October)
Another hard fighter, the weakfish provides excellent light tackle sport through most of the Summer season, although the larger specimens are generally taken in the Spring when they enter the bay to spawn. July usually sees a major influx of weakfish into the bay, and can provide an incredible opportunity for ultra light tackle fishing until well into September. These tasty fish have extremely delicate tissues around the mouth, mandating use of light tackle and drags to avoid pulling the hook out.
Winter Flounder (April - May)
While not known as a particularly strong fighter, many folks find this to be the best tasting of all the fish we have available to us in the Bay. The flounder spends most of the year well offshore, but returns every Winter to spawn in the shallow waters of Barnegat Bay. As the water starts warming in the Spring, the flounder feed actively as they prepare to move back offshore. While the air temperatures can make this a cold fishery necessitating heavy clothing, our efforts are generally rewarded with some of the finest table fare available.
While those are the primary fish we go out for, the waters of Barnegat Bay and the surrounding coastal areas are rich with baitfish and other forage. While we usually don't target them directly, it is not uncommon to occasionally encounter black drum, false albacore, small bluefin tuna, mahi mahi, croakers, black sea bass, tautog (blackfish), spanish mackeral, blowfish, and herring during the various seasons of the year.
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