Cape May and the Wildwoods are two great jump-off points for NJ fishermen due to their close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware bay. This gives anglers many choices during all times of the year, various weather conditions and for many different species. The area plays host to a number of charter and party boats and Cape May is perhaps best known for hosting one of the worlds richest fishing tournaments, the Mid Atlantic 500. One of the most popular areas in the state to fish is the famed “Cape May Rips". They are formed by a long shallow stretch of sandbars that jut out from Cape May Point.
The area is also noted for their Tuna fishery, since they are located close to the southern canyons that Tuna frequent in the early summer. During the winter Blackfishing is very popular since there are a lot of wrecks, reefs and snags in the area and there is a lot less fishing pressure the further south you go in our state.
If you want to catch Drum fish and Weakfish, Delaware Bay provides you the best opportunity in the state. In fact, both the world record Weakfish and Drum fish were caught in Delaware Bay. The Weakfish weighed in at just over 19 pounds and the Drum at 113 pounds.
Depending on the time of year most Party Boats will fish for the following species:
December - April: Blackfish, Ling, Cod
April - May: Winter Flounder, Striped Bass and Drum
June - September: Fluke, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Weakfish, Drum, Shark and Tuna
Surf Fishing is good along all the local beaches with Poverty Beach and the Jetties in and around Cape May Point being the most popular spots. The sod banks are also good and can be found amongst tidal creeks and marshes.
Striped Bass care usually targeted in the Bay and Ocean but the Cape May rips is probably the most popular spot.
Bluefish are caught in great numbers in the ocean and Delaware Bay. Diving birds are a sure sign there are Bluefish in the area
Blackfish is best done by a charter or party boat since you need knowledge and experience to locate and fish wrecks and rock piles. If you’re not in the rocks or on a wreck you’re not going to catch.
Drum fishing is very exciting if you like to tangle with an inshore fish that can weigh in excess of 70. Best months are generally May and June.
Tuna are usually fished for in the canyons and the areas close proximity to the southern canyons makes it a great jump off point for early in the season.
Shark fishing is typically done in the ocean with June being the best month· Weakfish is best in the Delaware bay in the summer months.
Please be responsible and only keep what you intend to eat and practice catch and release!
Party Boating - Make sure to arrive early and get a good spot on the boat. You want to stay near the bow or the stern this way you can fish comfortably regardless of the direction the boat is drifting.
Charter Boats - Book trips early and make sure you have a species in mind and have a back up spices in case the fish don't cooperate. Make sure and discuss it with the captain so they are prepared and are in agreement. In the case of fishing for Tuna, make sure you are aware of the captains rules as far as keeping fish. Some boats, especially when giant Tuna fishing, will keep most of what their charters catch.
Offshore Canyon Fishing - is not for the faint of heart and is best done on a 30+ foot boat with an experienced crew. Depending on what part of the canyon is producing you are likely make a 70 mile run off shore. This can prove to be very trying in a small boat unless conditions are near perfect. Leave canyon fishing to the experts and book a charter boat... It’s safer, more enjoyable and you are more likely to catch fish since these boats frequent the canyon and know where the fish are.
Canyon Fishing For First Timers
If you’re fishing for Tuna on a private boat, make sure the boat has a permit.
Make sure you have sufficient fuel range. Plan for a trip of 200 miles or so to play it safe.
If your forced to carry spare tanks of fuel , make sure you keep them strapped down and you have an easy way to transfer fuel since it can get rough out on the open ocean.
File a float plan before departing to let people know where your going and when you plan to return.
A Loran or GPS and a EPIRB are musts.
Try and team up with other boats going out.
Try to avoid running back in the middle of the afternoon since this tends to be the time when the wind kicks up.
A minimum of 3 people is advisable to split up the driving.
Get plenty of rest before you leave. The trip is very tiring.
Check water temp charts to identify general areas where the water is warmer.
When you arrive in the general area be careful to pay close attention to temperature breaks and or bottom structures like drop offs as these are likely areas for fish.
If you plan to anchor and chunk make sure you have at least 1000 feet of anchor line since you are likely to be anchoring in 200+ feet of water. An anchor ball or windless will make it much easier to bring in the anchor.