Yearly Fishing Calendar for Southern New Jersey
March: The back bays begin to awaken and stripers can be caught on outgoing tides around creek mouths. Anchor up and invest time at a likely spot. Fishing may be slow but several stripers can be caught from the same creek mouth on the ebb tide. Slow retrieves are key as the cold water temperatures make fish sluggish. Try 4"Fin-S fish on small leadhead jigs bounced along the bottom. For flies, clouser minnows in chartreuse and white are productive. Be alert as strikes are frequently subtle.
April: Things really begin to heat up in April. Flounder can be caught on bucktails with mackerel strips (If the season allows you to keep them.) Stripers become more active in the back bays and begin to become more aggressive but stick to subsurface presentations for the best action. Weakfish can be caught from mid-month on through November. Bucktails, Fin-S Fish, rubber worms, and shedder crabs are all productive. Falling tides are still the best time as the water temperatures are slightly higher and the fish become more active. Inlets and creek mouths are most productive.
May: Weakfishing peaks in the month of May. The biggest weakfish of the year are caught now. Fish up to 10 pounds can be caught. Bigger fish are going to be found around the inlets on both tides. Big Fin-S fish with an appropriately sized leadhead usually does the trick. Make sure your leadhead is heavy enough to reach the bottom considering the current. Faster currents require the use of a heavier jig, Flounder fishing is now in full swing. Minnows and shedder soaked squid take the place of mackerel strips as the bait of choice. Stripers are everywhere in the bays and poppers begin to work as well as jigs and swimming plugs. Focus casting right up to the banks as the majority of the bass will be there waiting to strike. Bluefish are everywhere in the bays and will chew up whatever you throw at them.
June: Stripers and weakfish are the main attractions this month. Stripers ferociously attack poppers cast at the sod banks during the day and night fishing with swimming plugs can be amazing. Weakfish are still biting and can be caught with plastics and bucktails. Nighttime fishing begins to heat up for weakfish now. Dead-drifting flies at night can produce tremendous action. Flounder are still being caught, but their numbers and size do not rival the spring fish. Surf fishing can be excellent with kingfish nibbling on bloodworms and stripers to 30 pounds rooting clams in the suds. Mako and blue shark fishing is great offshore.
July: Weakfishing is mostly a night game now. Bridges and lights produce best with small leadheads and Fin-S fish or flies such as the clouser minnow in white. Stripers can be found with the weakfish at night or in the early morning before the boat traffic puts them down. Kingfish and stripers are still being caught by bait fishing in the surf. Offshore fishing is great with chunking and trolling for bluefin tuna.
August: Stripers and weakfish are almost always caught at night now or very early in the morning. Flounder can still be caught by the persistent angler. Dolphin, white and blue marlin, and yellowfin tuna all can be caught in the canyons. Overnight chunking trips with butterfish are popular for tuna.
September: Ahh, fall is coming!!! Striper fishing begins to pick up again. Look for the first cold front to begin moving the mullet out of the estuaries. When this happens be ready because the fishing can be fast and furious both in the bay and on the beach. Poppers, swimming plugs, and large deceiver type flies produce and cast netting live mullet is always a great idea if you want to live line them. Keep an eye on the water for spraying bait and birds to indicate fish. Look for the nervous water that the mullet schools produce because the stripers and weakfish are not far behind. Canyon fishing remains hot.
October: Striper fishing is in full swing now. If the mullet are still around finding them means finding fish. If they are gone fishing returns to "normal" and keeps getting better right through until the end. Weakfish begin a second season and begin to feed again with reckless abandon and can be found both in the bay and just outside of the inlets. Speckled trout begin to show up and can be caught along with the weakfish in the bays just inside of the inlets. False albacore and bonita can show up and blitz just outside the inlets. Canyon fishing is still hot but changing weather patterns can make this tricky.
November: Striper fishing continues. The fish are less selective now and feed ferociously in anticipation of the winter fast. Artificials, flies, and eels are all productive. Surf fishing can be spectacular with poppers, swimming plugs, and flies. Look for bird plays to indicate fish both along the beach and just off shore. West or northeast winds bring best action.
December: Striper fishing is boom or bust in December. If the weather holds out schooling fish can be caught one after another off of the beach or by boat. Be on the lookout for birdplays to indicate the highest concentrations of fish. Metal, bucktails, and eels all will produce.