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New Jersey Striped Bass Fishing

Looking for world-class striped bass fishing? Look no further than the small state of New Jersey.

June 24, 2021
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Angler with a large striper
From March through May, trophy fish are encountered daily. Nick Honachefsky

Two of the planet’s three most productive striped bass spawning grounds lie in New Jersey waters, where migrating schools pass through Delaware Bay, up the Delaware River and through Raritan Bay into the Hudson River. With that pool of fish, it’s no wonder Jersey’s 130 miles of coastline harbors world-class striped bass fishing.

From March through May, anglers encounter trophy fish from 40 to 60 pounds on a daily basis.

Top spots to intercept these bruisers include the big bays at the tip of the state, with Delaware Bay to the south and Raritan Bay to the north.

Holding up a nice striped bass at the city waterfront
Striped bass fishing in New Jersey. SaltWater Sportsman Staff

Live-lined bunker or eels on 8/0 circle hooks account for many trophy bass, but cows—the largest females—also eagerly attack topwater poppers or giant lipped swimming plugs.

Along the jetty-lined northern coast from Manasquan Inlet up to the Atlantic Highlands, bass follow bunker (menhaden) schools in 40 to 70 feet of water. Trolled white Mojo Ball rigs, shad bars, Mann’s Stretch plugs and No. 4 Maja bunker spoons fished during morning hours produce consistently.

From June through August, the striped bass bite shifts to low-light hours in the shallow bays as resident fish feed under the security of darkness to pre-dawn, and sunset into nighttime in the inshore waters around bridge pilings, off sod banks and around inlets.

Holding up multiple stripers boatside
New Jersey’s coastline serves up world-class striper fishing. Nick Honachefsky

Backwater sedge banks in the Manasquan River, Barnegat Bay and Sea Isle City draw stripers in the 20- to 36-inch range, which are primed to pounce on small topwater poppers and light ½-ounce leadheads tipped with soft baits such as 5- to 6-inch Zoom Split Tails, Fin-S fish or Bass Assassins.

The September-through-November fall run finds stripers moving southward, terrorizing schools of sand eels, peanut bunker and mullet. Blitzing conditions, when thousands of bass crash bait on the surface, occur on a daily basis from one end of New Jersey to the other.

October through December promises prime surf-casting with Bomber and SP Minnow plugs, paddle-tail shads and metal Ava jigs. Hotspots include Island Beach State Park, Corson’s Inlet and Sandy Hook. With the plethora of sand eels and herring hanging around in late fall, jigging metals such as Kroc spoons, 3-ounce Crippled Herrings and No. 4 Deadly Dick lures produce off the Shark River, Barnegat and Cape May Inlet areas.

November, pushing into December, offers peak striper action as the last of the larger fish make their way south, leaving schoolies of 18 to 27 inches behind for the bulk of the action to round out the year.

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