Gone Fishin’ Ocean County has a well-deserved reputation for its wealth
of natural resources and outdoor activities. One top activity
is its outstanding saltwater fishing.
Beginner and expert anglers alike find topnotch fishing
through a variety of fishing species and techniques. Whether
boat fishing in protected bay waters, experiencing the thrill of
ocean fishing or angling with feet firmly on dry earth, fishing is
outstanding in Ocean County.
There are three inlets in Ocean County that provide boating
access to the Atlantic Ocean. Farthest north is Manasquan
Inlet with Barnegat Inlet in mid-county and Little Egg Inlet to
As a rule, the season of the year dictates the species of fish
available. Spring opens with the arrival of large migrating
striped bass and bluefish. As these fish move north, they are
replaced by smaller bluefish, summer flounder and weakfish.
Artificial reefs and shipwrecks close to shore in the ocean come
alive with black sea bass, tautog and other bottom species.
In summer, boats head offshore for sport fishing opportunities,
including mahi-mahi, tuna, sharks and billfish. Closer to shore,
there is a variety of small fish for anglers fishing on the beach
as well as flounder, small panfish and blue claw crabs in the
Once fall arrives, fishing excitement grows with the return of
striped bass and bluefish from the north. Boaters and surf
casters alike wet their lines hoping to catch that trophy striped
bass of a lifetime. A variety of fishing tournaments add to the
excitement of fall fishing.
Anglers without boats have several choices. There are boat
liveries from Barnegat Bay south to Great Bay renting out boats
of various sizes for serious fishing or a family day on the bay.
The ports of Point Pleasant, Barnegat Light and Beach Haven
all have extensive fleets of boats for hire. In addition, some
small marinas also offer rentals.
For anglers wishing to fish from shore, many municipalities
maintain public fishing areas. Most beaches in Ocean County
are public and offer great scenic opportunities in addition to
Prospective anglers should visit one of Ocean County’s many
bait and tackle shops. In addition to gear and fresh bait, these
shops are the best source of local fishing information.
An angler can also hire a fishing guide for a day of fishing. Fully
licensed and closely monitored by the Coast Guard, these
guides provide a boat, fishing gear and expertise for a day of
The most reasonable way to spend a day fishing is a head
boat. These boats charge anglers individually and take a large
number out for several hours of fishing. They are a great way to
introduce children and other beginner anglers to fishing.
The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association operates out
of Beach Haven with a stable of boats offering a variety of trip
types suited to different angler budgets. This organization is not
only a group of fishing guides, it also functions in other ways
benefitting the community.
Photo by D. Stockdale