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.