Surf fishing nj

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Best Surf Fishing Locations in New Jersey

What is Surf Fishing

This is the sport of catching fish while wading in the surf or standing on the shoreline. You want to cast a lure or bait as far out in the water so you can reach the big fish out there.

When to Surf Fish

No matter where you go surf fishing, always make sure that you follow the local regulations. Most beaches here will allow surf fishing in locations that are non-guarded but some will only allow it during the non-guarded hours. You may also have to have a beach badge or seasonal parking permit.

Surf Fishing Equipment

When you are fishing from the shore you need to have a rod that is longer than the standard size so you can cast as far as possible so you can catch the bigger fish. Most surf casting rods are between 7-18 feet in length. Some will use a braided line or monofilament; it is up to the angler which they prefer using. Artificial lures are popular but the best seems to be live bait like shrimp. Wear shoes of some sort if you are going to be standing in the water to prevent injuries from jellyfish or rocks.

Be sure to check out our Best Surf Fishing Rod & Reel Combos article.

Surf Fishing Techniques and Tips

  • Surf Fishing for Striped Bass: Hooking a good-sized striped bass in the surf is one of the most exciting experiences you can have. You just need to make sure that you are choosing the right bait and right rig. The best rig to use is the fish-finder and works well for catching bass because the live bait on there will move more naturally in the current. You can also use the high-low rig. It seems as that this is the one that will catch smaller bass. The rig works by letting the fish hook themselves so use circle hooks.
  • Surf Fishing for Red Drum: Be sure that if you are trying to catch this fish that you beef up your end tackle and use live baits like shrimp, chunks of crab, or menhaden
  • Surf Fishing for Bluefin: This is a fish that has very sharp teeth so you have to make sure when unhooking it that you do not get bitten. There is no particular rig to use but it is recommended that you use a fish finder. You should use a wire leader about 18 inches between the swivel and hook. Bluefish have very good vision so the bait needs to look as natural as possible. They are also ferocious feeders and travel in a large school. To catch Bluefin you should stick with artificial lures like jigs, spoons, and surface plugs. Their average school is two to five pounds so make sure that you use a light spinning tackle. 

Best Surf Fishing Locations in New Jersey

  • Cape May: When surfcasting here the best time to go is during the evening at night time. In the summer, the beaches are usually packed with families so there is little room for fishing. Regardless of the season, evenings and nights are the best time to go surf fishing. Fishing for stripers in the fall is also popular here. To find the best night fishing, look in the jetties as there is usually plenty of striped bass swimming around. You can fish the beach or bayside year-round.
  • Long Island Beach: This is the classic place to go surf fishing in New Jersey. There are almost 18 miles of beaches with ever-changing sandbars. Anywhere along these 18 miles, you are sure to find some trophy fish. You will also find plenty of bait shops in the area so you can restock as needed. The locals here will also help you find the best place to surf fish. Some of the local towns have built public access piers. One of the most successful places to go here is the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park at the northern tip of the island. Here you can fish bayside and the beach.
  • Island Beach State Park: The Atlantic coast is about ten miles long here with perfect barrier islands that are undeveloped along with a lot of sand bars. The drawback to surf fishing here is that it was hard to find a trophy fish.In the waters, you will find a lot of weakfish, striped bass, and bluefish. When fishing here, you do not need a fishing license so anyone can come and surf fish here even if they do not have a license.
  • Belmar: Here there are a lot of walkable coastlines and jetties for sport fishing. You can find Snake River Inlet at the north end. This is the perfect spot for surf fishing. There are many trophy fish just waiting to be caught. When fishing at Belmar, most will start at the inlet and work their way back south toward Sea Girt. Here night fishing is also a great time to go surf fishing. When the sun goes down the area seems to become populated with the larger fish.
  • Sandy Hook: This area is loaded with opportunities for great surf fishing. Here you do need a permit to fish. During the busy seasons, they offer day paces but you can get a year permit for $50. A population location on the northern part of the beach is The Rip and it is filled with striped bass and bluefish. This here is where the bay and ocean meet. Surf fishing for striper fish begins in April/May. Also, like many with crowded beaches and lots of noise, night time is the best time to catch a large fish.


  • There are two main reasons to go surf fishing in New Jersey; 141miles of coastline and an abundance of species to fish for.
  • It is rare to need more than four ounces of bait to fish in the surf of New Jersey.
  • Generally, all you need to do is tie on a three-ounce pyramid sinker.
  • Squid is a great bait to use for surf fishing, fresh or frozen.
Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.

New Jersey & Delaware Bay - New Jersey & Delaware Bay Surf Fishing Reports

What a week for New Jersey surfcasters! First off, the 3rd Annual Barrier Island Beach Brawl was a time for the ages! The tournament checked in over 100 fish to be weighed for the tournament including scores of 1.5- to 4-pound bluefish, a smattering of kingfish, some albies caught on the North Jetty at Barney Inlet, fun times with hickory shad, and even some blackfish and triggerfish off the rocks. A total of 16 striped bass were released with a photo as well. Reports confirmed over 250 fish hooked, mainly the chopper blues that weren’t weighed in but gave plenty of action for surfcasters. All the fish donated to the tournament were filleted by Jonah Doujikijian and Sean Reilly which were donated to St. Gregory’s Pantry to feed the homeless and hungry. As evidenced by the Beach Brawl, all the 1- to 4-pound bluefish you could ask for hit the shores in the central cost on mullet rigs and metal. Stripers are moving in with the snotty weather as keeper class bass were taken on poppers as well as clam baits. Little tunny schools made their move from Barnegat Inlet and northward coming in close enough to hook from the suds on metals. Blackfish and triggerfish are hot and heavy off the inlet rocks up and down the coast. The fall run is in full effect!

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Best New Jersey Surf Fishing Locations

Taking a trip to New Jersey and interested in some possible beach fishing opportunities? You have to try out the surf fishing scene that this state has to offer!

With miles of beaches all along the coast, nearly every city and town has some really great surf fishing spots. Lucky for you, we compiled a list of some of the best places that New Jersey surf fishing has to offer!

Updated February 24th, 2021

Best Places for Surf Fishing in NJ:

  1. Long Beach Island
  2. Cape May
  3. Belmar
  4. Island Beach State Park 
  5. Sandy Hook 


Long Beach Island 

Sunrise greets a single surf fisherman next to the entrance to Barnegat Inlet

LBI in New Jersey is a classic place for surf fishing. With nearly 18 miles of beach and ever changing sandbars, there is always going to be a spot to find some real trophy fish. There are plenty of bait shops for restocking gear, as well as local experts to help find your best location and offer surf fishing tips on navigating the beaches. Some local towns on the island have even built public access piers for fishing and crabbing on the bayside if you aren’t having any luck with the ocean. 

One of the most popular and successful spots for fishing on the island is a place called Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. At the most northern tip of the island, you have the option to fish both the beach and the bayside, providing you the opportunity to look for all types of fish. 


Cape May

Cape May Beach rock jetty

The best time to go surf fishing in Cape May is evening and night time. During the summer months, the beaches are generally packed with families and sun tanners, which gives little room for fishing. Generally speaking, the evenings and nights tend to be better for fishing regardless of the season so it’s best to spend your days relaxing before gearing up for an evening of fishing. Fall surf fishing for stripers is also popular in Cape May.

At night, the beaches are generally empty. To find the best fish at night, you need to start looking around the jetties. There are usually plenty of striped bass swimming through. With both bayside and beachside fishing all year round, Cape May is a really great place to start for people just looking to enjoy their time by the waters!




Fishing Pier, Belmar New Jersey

With plenty of walkable jetties and coastlines, Belmar, New Jersey is a hotbed for sport fishing. On the north end of Belmar is snake river inlet. This inlet is the perfect spot for surf fishing! It seems like there always are plenty of trophy fish just waiting to be plucked out of the water!

Most people tend to start up North at the Shark River Inlet and work their way south towards Sea Grit. Night time is also a really great time for fishing as well. There tend to be fewer people out on the waters and the big fish are known to be more populated in the area when the sun goes down. 


Island Beach State Park 

Jersey Shore's Island Beach State Park E

Arguably the best place in not just New Jersey, but the entire Atlantic coast for surf fishing! Island Beach State Park is roughly 10 miles long with perfect undeveloped barrier islands and sand bars galore. Finding trophy fish don’t seem to be a problem here. There’s a long history of people pulling out massive fish like a 55-pound bass back in 2009. 

 The waters are filled with bluefish, striped bass, and weakfish. With most of the park open to the public year round, this is a classic place to begin an epic adventure of looking for huge fish! You are not required to have a license to fish here so anybody with any skill level can dip their lines in the water!


Sandy Hook 

Two men fishing on the bay at sunset on Sandy Hook along the Jersey shore

Sandy Hook, NJ is filled with opportunity for great fishing. You do need a permit to fish there, but the prices are reasonable. They offer day passes during the busy seasons like Labor Day weekend, but also offer a year long permit for $50. The Rip is a popular location on the northern part of the beach. Filled with bluefish and striped bass, this is the point where the ocean and the bay meet. 

Striper season all along the beaches usually begin in April/May. Night time seems to be a good place to start if you want to catch a big fish. Less crowded beaches and bigger fish swimming by means plenty of opportunities to find something great!

Final Thoughts on New Jersey Surf Fishing

Surf fishing in New Jersey is somewhat of a pastime in this state. There are miles of coastline and plenty of hotspots to try out. Whether you are fishing from the beach or on one of the many piers, making sure you have the proper surf fishing equipment is always essential.


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