Ocean City, New Jersey, is one of the best spots for fishing on the east coast of the United States. Ocean City boasts plenty of beach-side fishing spots, bay options, offshore charters, and pier locations to provide you with the perfect fishing location.
Before you start your next great fishing adventure in Ocean City, learning more about what you might expect to find could pay well.
In this complete guide to fishing in Ocean City, NJ, we will talk about the types of fish you’ll encounter, the best locations for fishing, and what techniques local fishers use to snag the fish.
What Fish Can You Catch in Ocean City?
One of the biggest deciding factors for most fishermen looking for an excellent location is the type of fish present. Being located in a rather temperate climate in the Atlantic, New Jersey waters are subject to seasonal change. So the specific species you can catch can vary depending on the time of year, water conditions, and the fishing location.
Beach and open-water fishing can net you larger fish like bluefish, flounder, or sea bass. You will also find blackfish, kingfish, and some species of sharks. Beach anglers have also reported some rockfish. Striped bass/stripers tend to come through in the thousands during certain periods.
Catfish, sea trout, sea bass, and drumfish are all commonly spotted in the bay and in the creeks of Ocean City. If the beaches are crowded, and the charters are full, you can always turn around and head to the bay for some reliable fishing opportunities. Sheepshead, croakers, flounder, and snapper blues are also common features of the local bays and creeks.
No matter where you end up fishing – bay, beach, pier, offshore – you’re bound to encounter a vast array of fish. Ocean City, New Jersey, has one of the best ecosystems on the east coast.
Where Can You Go Fishing in Ocean City?
If the weather is too poor for an offshore charter, you won’t be limited to the number of fish you catch. Anglers flock to the beaches whenever the weather turns poor, and many reach their daily limit pretty quickly.
The beaches offer opportunities to catch species like striped bass, bluefish, flounder, kingfish, weakfish, and sharks. Look for areas with deeper troughs or sandbars that may attract fish.
The number of kingfish caught skyrockets whenever charters are canceled for the day, as they tend to swim closer to shore.
Many beaches have allocated spots for fishing. You’ll have to be careful, however, as some public beaches have restrictions on fishing and only allow swimming or reserve fishing for specific hours.
Ocean City is home to two fishing piers where you can fish in deeper waters and potentially access a wider range of species. The Ocean City Fishing Pier and the Ninth Street Fishing Pier are popular spots for anglers. These piers provide elevated platforms and space to cast your lines. They are equipped with lights for night fishing and have bait and tackle shops nearby for your convenience.
Parts of the old Longport Bridge have been converted into a fishing pier and are a fantastic spot for fishing.
Other popular bridges and piers include the J. Edward Klingener Fishing Pier and the Dolores Cooper Bridge. Parks in the same area are great for taking a break from fishing or bringing your family along for the fun.
Back Bays and Inlets
Ocean City is surrounded by back bays and inlets, which provide excellent fishing grounds. These calmer waters are often home to species like striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, and tautog.
The common consensus seems to be that one of the best locations for bay fishing is Corson’s Inlet in the south part of Ocean City. The popularity of this spot has been growing in recent years as more and more anglers are reporting major success in the surrounding waters.
If you’re looking for larger game fish, plenty of offshore charters are available to take you to the best locations.
Charter fishing and boat rentals allow you to access offshore fishing grounds for species like tuna, marlin, mahi-mahi, and sharks. Charter boats provide the necessary equipment, expertise, and local knowledge to enhance your fishing trip.
Check out the Ocean City Fishing Center website for more information on OCNJ fishing charters.
When Is the Best Time to Fish in Ocean City?
The best time to fish in Ocean City depends on the target species and fishing preferences. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
Seasonal Variations: Fishing opportunities in Ocean City change throughout the year due to seasonal migrations and the behavior of different fish species. Here’s a breakdown of some popular species and their typical seasons:
- Spring: Springtime brings the arrival of striped bass, weakfish, and flounder to the area. As the waters warm up, these species become more active and can be targeted from late spring through early summer.
- Summer: Species like bluefish, kingfish, croaker, and summer flounder (fluke) are commonly caught during this season. It’s a great time for beach and surf fishing, as well as fishing from piers and jetties.
- Fall: Fall is known for the fall run of striped bass, as well as increased activity for bluefish and weakfish. This season can provide excellent fishing opportunities, particularly in the later months leading up to winter.
- Winter: Winter fishing in Ocean City can be productive for striped bass, particularly around the inlets and back bays. However, it’s important to note that fishing conditions can be more challenging due to colder water temperatures.
Tides and Currents: Some fish species are more active during certain tidal phases, such as high tide or incoming tide. Checking tide charts and fishing during favorable tidal movements can increase your chances of success.
Weather Conditions: Many anglers find that early morning or evening fishing during calm weather conditions can be productive. However, it’s always worth exploring different times of the day and adjusting your fishing strategy based on the current weather conditions.
Keep in mind that fishing can be unpredictable, and factors such as water temperature, bait availability, and fishing pressure can influence the success of your fishing trip. Flexibility, adaptability, and patience are key attributes for a successful fishing experience in Ocean City.
Do You Need a Fishing License in Ocean City?
A license is not required to fish marine waters, but anglers must register each year with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry.
You will need a fishing license to fish the fresh waters of New Jersey, including privately owned waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents who are 16 years of age or older.
The license can be obtained online through the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife website, or you can purchase them from authorized license agents, such as tackle shops.
There are different types of fishing licenses available, including annual licenses, 7-day licenses, and 1-day licenses, depending on your needs and duration of stay.
Check out our Complete Guide to Fishing in Cape May, NJ