Fishing is a prime New Jersey activity. And according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), there are more than 400 open lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that permit public fishing in the state. This is perfect for the dauntless angler who wants to make the most of their bait and tackle. With that said, we’ve gathered nine notable fishing spots in New Jersey whose waters you should test.
1. Ramapo River
A tributary of the Pompton River, the Ramapo River is a popular destination for anglers looking to cast their lines. In particular, it’s considered a great spot for fly fishing, which involves using a lightweight lure to catch fish.
A variety of species inhabit the river. New Jersey’s many trout species, including brown, rainbow and brook, can be caught here. Other common species include largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappies.
Additionally, because the river stretches 30 miles, there are plenty of locations perfect for setting-up your fishing rod. Mahwah has two of them in the forms of Ramapo Valley County Reservation and Midvale Mountain Road Bridge. Oakland also has three: Roosevelt Boulevard, River Road and Oak Street.
2. Delaware River
Western New Jersey’s access to the Delaware River allows fresh opportunities for freshwater fishing. There are 300 miles of waterway that wind past several Jersey towns.
Depending on what fish you want to catch, you may have to choose from several of these riverside locations. In general, if you want fish that primarily live in the sea but return to freshwater bodies to lay their eggs, you should fish closer to the Delaware Bay. If you fish upriver, you’re more likely to catch muskellunge and channel catfish.
If you’re looking for rainbow trout, Lambertville is a good place to set up. Amico Island Park in Delran, New Jersey hosts catfish and largemouth bass. Meanwhile, the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area is home to smallmouth and striped bass.
One final note: the Delaware River is the only New Jersey body of freshwater that allows fishing for American shad. That species has experienced declines in population from overfishing in other areas.
3. Round Valley Reservoir
Found in Lebanon, New Jersey, the massive Round Valley Reservoir covers 2,350 acres and sinks down to depths of 180 feet, making it the second deepest lake in the state. The cold water habitat makes it the perfect place to find cold-water fish.
Between the months of November and May, all kinds of lake trout are available for catching. These include not only rainbow and brown trout but big lake trout, too. Bass can be caught during the summer, and the reservoir contains its share of largemouth and smallmouth bass. At other times during the year, anglers can try their luck against bluegill, channel catfish, redbreast sunfish and yellow perch.
4. Lake Hopatcong
The largest lake in New Jersey and shared between Morris and Sussex counties, Lake Hopatcong has an incredible diversity of fish species. Boaters and shoreline anglers alike can access the many freshwater hotspots around the lake.
During the warmer seasons, plenty of warm water species populate the lake. Along with the typical largemouth and smallmouth bass, others include sunfish, walleye, and pickerel. The colder seasons also come with their own select variety. New Jersey’s many trout species come to the cold water, ready to be hooked. Fall is especially a good time to fish for muskellunge and channel catfish.
5. Raritan River
The Raritan River runs for nearly 70 miles through six of New Jersey’s counties. It flows from fresh water sources in the north to the Atlantic Ocean’s salt water basin. As such, it enjoys a combination of fresh and saltwater fish species, which determined anglers can try and catch. The many hatcheries and estuaries available along its length also contribute to its wide pool.
Among its most common species of fish, the Raritan River includes largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass. New Jersey’s famous trout species also congregate in its waters. Panfish, carp and catfish can be found intermittently throughout the year as well. The river’s conditions are perfect for each species’ reproductive requirements, meaning that the ecosystem and population are self-sustainable and don’t need to be artificially restocked.
6. Island Beach State Park
Located in Seaside Park, New Jersey, Island Beach State Park is the preferred locale for saltwater anglers looking to fish in the ocean. It’s most notable for hosting the annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament, which has been held since 1992. In the tournament, competitors attempt to catch the largest fish overall, regardless of species.
Saltwater fishing is allowed everywhere except the designated swimming areas. Otherwise, anglers are free to catch what they want, where they want. Potential hauls include striped bass and bluefish, which can be caught through surf fishing, as well as weakfish, tautog, and flounder during the summer.
7. Point Pleasant
Ocean County’s Point Pleasant is yet another example of a vestige for saltwater fishermen. Along with the beach and boardwalk, it also has several locations for anglers to set up their rods and start catching.
These locations are great for whatever fishing experience you want to have. For instance, if you want to fish along the shore or by boat, you could try heading towards the Manasquan Inlet Wall. For surf fishing, you might try Maxson Avenue along the beachfront. The Point Pleasant Canal Access is also a good locale to experiment with bait and bobbers.
Either way, expect a healthy abundance of ocean fish to catch. Bluefish, striped bass and tautog are commonplace. One may also find fluke, sea bass and cod.
8. Union Lake
Millville’s Union Lake is considered South Jersey’s largest freshwater lake. It’s easy to see why, given its 898 acres of water. Anglers who want to fish on the lake itself can involve the services of the Union Lake Wildlife Management area, which offers boat launching for canoes, kayaks, and small boats. Those who instead want to fish from the shore or bank can do so, as well.
Many consider the lake as a prime spot for bass fishing. As such, largemouth and smallmouth bass are extremely common. Other fish include the black crappie, the pumpkinseed sunfish and the chain pickerel.
9. Ocean City
If you’re looking to fish along the pier, Ocean City is perhaps one of the best places to take your fishing rod and equipment. 9th Street, the Ocean City Fishing Club, and J. Edward Klingener Fishing Pier are three of the prominent piers for this activity. The Longport Bridge to the north also offers its own place.
If you’re looking for regular surf fishing, Ocean City certainly allows that. Bluefish, tautog, shark and kingfish populations are widely available. The beach offers its share of stripers when thousands of them pass through during the fall. Other species include flounder, rockfish, croakers, shad, sheephead and sea trout.
Been to any of these New Jersey fishing spots? Let us know in the comments!
Feature image courtesy of Khalid Mehmood