Cape May County, NJ has some excellent locations for saltwater fishing. Many are commonly known, but even more are close-held secrets shared by just a few successful fishermen. This article will detail five great locations that will maximize your chances of hooking into some fish. I have fished each of these locations over the last 30 years, and depending on the season, the following locations will yield striper, tog, weakfish, bluefish, and flounder with consistency.
The Stone Harbor free bridge between Stone Harbor and Wildwood is a great spot for every species. The current and depth make this a very productive location for striped bass, and bluefish. If you are able to get close enough, the pillars are home to some very nice sized tog as well. You can either fish directly from the bridge, or the sod banks along side. Just be sure you fish the Wildwood side, as the water depth on the Stone Harbor side can drop to just inches. On the Wildwood side the water can drop to depths exceeding 25ft within yards of the sod. Most of the fish I have pulled from this water have been caught right up near the bridge pillars or within feet of the sod banks. Storm Lures, Rattle-traps, poppers, Fin-ess, and Gulp Baits work very well in this area.
The Cape May inlet is another excellent location to target multiple species. The inlet is lined on both sides by massive rock jetties. The northern side is where you need to be. As with most jetties the key to a successful day lies in fishing close to the structure. Keep your eye on the water close to the rocks and work plastics actively. If you are a bait fisherman and enjoy tossing out a hook and waiting for a bite there are many depth changes within a couple dozen yards of the jetty. You will need to be aware of your surroundings, and pay close attention to the boat traffic in the inlet. There have been some massive striped bass taken from this jetty and at times the inlet comes alive with schools of bluefish and striper.
If you have a boat or would like to jump on a party boat, the Cape May Rips is the place to be. The Rips are commonly the home to some of the largest striped bass to be found in South Jersey. A note of caution is in order though. The Rips can be not only the most productive area for fishing, but also the most dangerous. The competing currents of the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay, combined with winds and radical depth changes can very quickly turn a seemingly calm day into a dangerous situation. I personally would never recommend venturing out alone or in a boat that is less than 23 feet (with a V or modified V hull). Keeping the engine on idle and wearing a life vest for the entire trip would be appropriate. Too many boats have fallen victim to the massive rips that can form in an instant. If you do make it out, I would suggest using bucktails. Tossing a bucktail over the lumps and using a slow retrieve will yield every species around. While stripers are the main target, you should expect bluefish, weakfish, flounder, and shark.
Townsend Inlet (between Avalon and Sea Isle City) can be a great location for the surf fisher, or boater. Surf casters can reach everything they need from either side of the bridge, with every species frequently running through. I do suggest standard surf gear for this area, as fast currents, deep water, and large fish will test the limits of your gear. If you are on a boat a quick run straight out the inlet will put you in an area that regularly produces. Anywhere up to 5 miles off-shore can be productive for flounder and bluefish. In the spring and fall it is common to find large schools of bunker on top with striped bass beneath moving through this area.
The final spot is near legendary in its ability to hold some of the largest flounder to be caught in South Jersey every year. It is known as Patty’s Hole, and is located in the north Channel behind Avalon. In fact, it isn’t just this one particular hole that is productive. Every year I fish the stretch of channel between 50th St., and Avalon Blvd Bridge, and can personally vouch for the incredible success you can have. You will need a boat to get there, however there are plenty of local boat rental shops in the area. Bring your flounder gear and be ready for a battle (both with fish and other boats). If you are in the inter-coastal waterway and drifting your flounder baits or lures you should have success.
These five spots are all tried and true over the years. When down in South Jersey these are five of the spots I would look to throughout the year to produce fish. The best part of fishing in these areas is that they aren’t tiny holes where you won’t be able to fish if someone else beats you to the location. Even on the most crowded of summer days you will have plenty of room to get your lines in the water and the fish in the cooler. Good luck and tight lines!