South Jersey and the Ocean City NJ area has great backwater fishing through its network of bays, creeks and lagoons. The boat fishing in the region is excellent as well. Offshore humps serve as staging areas for migrating stripers and the water exchange at the large inlets form areas where bass stop to feed in the spring and fall. The surf fishing, on the other hand, isn’t so great. The flat, slowly sloping beaches and shallow water would make most surfcasters to opt for LBI and parts north. Despite those factors, large striped bass still move through in the spring and fall, and anglers may be able to intercept them. Today we will talk about the necessary supplies you will need from a local bait and tackle store.
Ocean City Surf Fishing Tips | Cape May County Bait and Tackle Store
Baiting up: Successfully fishing the South Jersey beachfront requires a “bait and wait” approach. Clams are the most used bait. Fresh bunker also works, and will help keep from hooking some of the less desirable fish like dogfish and skates. Fresh or even live mullet is another great choice.
At a bait and tackle store, you will need to pick up more than a 4oz weights to go surf fishing in South Jersey. In fact, if 4 ounces isn’t holding bottom, it’s probably too churned up to hook something. A 3oz pyramid sinker usually can do the perfect job.
The best rig depends on the bait. Mullet and bunker are best fished on a fish-finder rig because the sliding sinker will allow the fish to eat these larger baits without feeling any resistance. Clams will work on either a fish-finder or a high-low rig as stripers inhale these soft baits immediately, allowing an angler to set the hook as soon as he feels a bump.
While few anglers try it, live eels fished off the jetties can be very productive. I’ve landed stripers in excess of 40 pounds on live eels off the tips of the jetties at the north end of Ocean City. The jetties at Great Egg Harbor and Townsend inlets are also great places to fish live eels.
Rods should be 10 or 11 feet long and rated for 2 to 6 ounces. Reels with a bait-feeder feature like the Shimano Baitrunner are always useful. For line, 20-pound-test monofilament or 50-pound-test braided line is just fine. For any supplies that you are lacking, you can easily pick them up from any local bait and tackle store.
Plug Option: While most of the stripers caught in the South Jersey surf fall to bait, there are a number of places where lures work quite well. The best plugging beaches tend to have well-defined structure. Jetties, groynes, and outflow pipes that stretch out from a beach all are good areas to use lures. Close to inlets, the moving water creates rips and current seams that provide ambush points for stripers and great places for fishermen to fish a jig or lure. For lures, leave the big plugs and pencil poppers for your trips up north. Instead, try buying minnow-style swimming plugs, small metal lip plugs, small to medium-sized poppers, 4 to 6-inch swim shads, and 6 to 8-inch soft plastic baits from a local bait and tackle store.
When plugging the surf, casting next to the jetty has usually resulted in more success than casting from the jetty. Bass will often be tight to the rocks waiting to ambush any baitfish or crabs that come out into the open. Walking from jetty to jetty at sunrise, casting a popper on each side is one of the best ways to hook up.
On the tips of the jetties, cast a minnow-style plug up-current and retrieve it slowly so the current swings it around the front of the jetty. There is often a striper or two on the down-current side of the jetty tip waiting to pounce on any baitfish swept past in the current. Some of my biggest stripers were hooked using this technique with a black Bomber after dark. Away from the jetties, sandy areas can be productive for plugging in the fall when mullet and peanut bunker move along the shore, bringing feeding stripers with them.
Lure fishing these beaches and jetties is best accomplished with an 8- to 9-foot rod rated for ½ to 2-ounce lures. Long casts are rarely needed, and longer rods can sometimes be a hindrance when fishing around jetties. Braided line of 30-pound-test with a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader is highly recommended.
Fin-atics is a Ocean City NJ based bait and tackle store that offers a huge variety of fishing gear and kayaks both in store and online. They serve the Jersey Shore area in towns such as Ocean City, Lower, Middle, Cape May, Wildwood, Woodbine, Avalon, Upper, Dennis Township, Stone Harbor, West Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood, Cape May Point, West Cape May, Sea Isle City, and many more. Contact them today at 1-866-224-2248 or visit their website.