Long Beach Island Fishing
Long Beach Island is an 18-mile long barrier island situated about four to six miles off the New Jersey mainland. It has been rated among the top ten places to live in the United States, by Forbes and Money Magazines, and its beaches have been ranked among the top 20 in the fifty states. Long Beach Township consists of approximately 12 miles of non-contiguous area on Long Beach Island, including five independent boroughs and over 20 different communities; yet there are only about 20,000 year-round residents. Ship Bottom, Surf City, and Beach Haven are the most commercially developed areas on the island, with the majority of shopping and retail activity. Barnegat Light is home to Barnegat Lighthouse, the island’s major historical landmark. Old Barney was constructed in 1855 to replace the original lighthouse which had slipped into the ocean after severe erosion. Necessary and historic, Old Barney keeps modern day ships from adding to the pile of wrecks off the coast. These wrecks, however, further enhance one of LBI’s most popular and exciting pastimes: fishing.
The island is only a quarter-mile wide, so you are at all times close to both the sea and the bay. This makes finding a good fishing boat and guide extremely convenient; and there are many around LBI. Charter fishing trips may last as short as a few hours during the morning, afternoon, or evening; while some night-fishing trips are offered, making a fun event even more exciting. Beach Haven hosts a number of these fishing charters to inshore locations as well as offshore and canyon adventures. Longer, full-day and overnight excursions take you farther offshore in search of some bigger, more heralded Atlantic deep-water species. One in particular is the Offshore Sea Safari, which offers some of everything in a full-day trip for all Tuna, Marlin, Wahoo, Shark, and Mahi Mahi. There are even Shark Mania excursions and two-day overnight trips, which assure rewards from trolling and constant overnight chunking.
Sea Bass may be the most popular inshore species along the East Coast, and they are certainly not lacking in LBI’s local waters. These tasty fish move into shallower water in May and remain until the end of October. Also available during this time are Weakfish, with most consistent catches occurring in the Bay. Other good locations outside the surfline and around shallow structure include some of the many shipwrecks and the previous lighthouse. Bluefish are abundant inshore from May through November, and are generally caught trolling, chumming, or jigging through the bays and river areas. During the summer, some Bluefish “Slammers” will exceed 15 pounds in weight. Summer Flounder have a rapidly increasing population, and their numbers have rebounded in these waters over recent years. These Fluke are especially popular for groups and families with children. They are abundant from June through November, with catches up to 10 pounds not uncommon. The most popular offshore species may be Yellowfin Tuna, available year-round, but with better numbers between June and November. Bluefin action begins in May and continues through early October in certain areas, with many giants reaching over 300 pounds in weight. Mahi Mahi show up as early as June and continue to fill out fishing reports through October, with the Middle Season (July and August) producing outstanding “Gaffers” weighing up to 20 pounds around floating debris, weedlines, and current edges. The fastest fish in the sea may be the Wahoo, which shows up off the coast in late July, and is generally found in small pods until October. The warmest summer months on LBI provide some of the hottest action in the water, with the addition of speedy Atlantic Bonita. Billfish are some of the most exciting species taken in LBI’s offshore waters, especially from June until October. Though Sailfish are frequently landed, White and Blue Marlin are the favorites; and Blue Marlin “Granders” are always a possibility around late July and the August full moon.
The southern beaches of Long Beach Island are wider and smoother than the narrower northern beaches, proving the happy dichotomy of this beautiful place. With many of its communities developed into virtual resort towns, LBI still holds other prime areas as solitary places of respite. This remains the premier spot in New Jersey for quiet relaxation by the ocean. Some of the most naturally beautiful beaches on the east coast, hundreds of boutiques, and fine restaurants serve as amenities to a fishing getaway that can already be extremely fulfilling.