When it comes to fishing in the ‘Garden State’ of New Jersey, anglers are spoiled for choice, thanks to its rich and diverse range of fish species and angling opportunities. From large bays through to streams, ponds, and rivers, there’s plenty of fishing action to have on the East Coast if you love getting outdoors and mixing it up with a rod and reel or fly rod.

Although the winter months can be a little cooler in New Jersey, it doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on any fishing activity with year-round fishing opportunities for any angler brave enough to mix it up in the cold winter months. In the following guide to New Jersey fishing seasons, we’ll cover everything you need to know to successfully catch fish across the state.

When it comes to fishing in New Jersey, you’re spoiled for opportunities with various target species on offer. In the following New Jersey Fishing Season guide, we’ll cover:

If you love fishing, you’ll love this article, Fishing in Cold Weather: Tips and Techniques for Winter Anglers, which covers tips and valuable information on successfully catching fish during those cold winter months!

Finding the best fishing spots in New Jersey is never easy. Without intricate local knowledge, you’re up against the odds. Every angler needs a little help finding those local hot spots. If you want to catch some monster fish on your next New Jersey fishing trip, you’ll need the premium fishing forecast app. Thanks to the Fishbox App, you’ll know the perfect season to plan your fishing trip in New Jersey and when you’re better off staying home with a good book!

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Expert Opinion on New Jersey Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“Though a good bit of my own family lives in New Jersey, I’ve never actually gotten the opportunity to fish the state’s pristine waters. Before reading this article, I had no clue just how good the fishery is. This might make me look super dumb, but when I thought of New Jersey, my view was almost always restricted to freshwater or nearshore saltwater, I had no clue that New Jersey also had a booming offshore and shark fishery as well. The first thing the article starts with is a discussion of some of the Jersey rules and regulations for fishing. I love that this is the first as it highlights the importance of keeping our fisheries healthy. It highlights three crucial points: bag limits, seasons, and size limits—three things crucial to the survival of a fishery in the long run. We then get an awesome, in-depth breakdown of the seasons in New Jersey. This doesn’t only apply to regulations, but it also applies to the different points in the year where certain species are biting. Both the fresh and saltwater charts given to us with a variety of species should not be treated lightly at all. These provide a ton of information, especially for anglers new to the area or anglers who are relatively inexperienced. This is a great way to get started and get your knowledge of the area off the ground a bit. One of the most notable things about New Jersey is its amazing biodiversity in terms of species and where you can catch these fish. You have unlimited options because there is a great fishery for freshwater, nearshore saltwater, and even offshore saltwater. You could do a different thing every day and never run out of options that you could pursue. The article continues by giving the readers a month-by-month breakdown of the fishery which is huge. Say, I’m going to New Jersey this August. You better believe I’m going to this article and looking at both the charts in combination with the August month description to decide what gear I need to bring and how I will plan out my days. As if this wasn’t enough great information already, the article continues and even gives the readers a sneak peek into some of the more productive and popular spots in the area. And like I always say, these spots are most certainly a great place to start, but you are going to have to do your research to maximize your time. A great place to start is just getting out on the water and testing some of your own tried and true methods or asking locals about some strategies that have been produced lately. Please take this article to heart and use it as a resource if you live in New Jersey or if you will be there at some point in the future. As always, good luck and tight lines!”

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Understanding New Jersey Fishing Regulations

New Jersey Saltwater Size Regulations, Fishing Seasons, and Bag Limits

Below are some examples of New Jersey Fishing Regulations you’ll need to be aware of if you plan on fishing anywhere in New Jersey.

  • Daily Bag Limits – These are the maximum number of fish species that you are legally able to keep in one day. Possession limits are the number of fish you are allowed to have in your possession, at home, or in transit. It’s essential to understand the difference between the two.
  • Saltwater Fishing Seasons – Some fish species in New Jersey have year-round seasons, but others are opened and closed to give fish the best opportunity to reproduce. It’s crucial to understand fishing seasons to ensure you’re not fishing during closed seasons.
  • Size Limits – Except for Black Sea Bass and Sharks, fish species in New Jersey are measured from the tip of the nose/snout to the tip of the tail. You can get a full breakdown of New Jersey fishing size and bag limits by visiting the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife website here.

In addition, there can also be regulations governing the cleaning or fileting of fish, which have a minimum size limit while you’re still out on the water. So, before you clean any fish, make sure that you understand the regulations.

Freshwater Fishing Seasons in New Jersey

The opening day of Trout season in New Jersey is Saturday, April 6th, 2024, and opens at 8am, so be sure to be up early and ready to fish if you want to take full advantage of the opening day fun.

If you’re planning on fishing for Trout or Salmon in New Jersey, you are required to have a valid New Jersey fishing license with a Trout Stamp. Residents aged 16-70 years, plus all non-residents over 16, must have a fishing license.

If you’re fishing in the Brook Trout Conservation Zone and catch a Brook Trout, it must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. The Brook Trout Conservation Zone consists of all waters in the northwest region of New Jersey, where the largest population of wild Brook Trout are found. 

In the three weeks prior to opening day, all lakes, ponds, and streams listed here are stocked with Trout, except for Trophy Trout Lakes. From March 18th to April 6th, all these waters are closed for fishing except for Lake Hopatcong, Mountain Lake, Lake Shenandoah, Lawrence, Prospertown Lake, and Swartswood Lake, which are open year-round to fishing. 

After opening day, all waters that are stocked with Trout are open to fishing unless specifically listed as closed for fishing. There are also in-season closures for designated Seasonal Trout Conservation Areas.

Anglers fishing in freshwater in New Jersey are allowed one daily creel limit of Trout in their possession. Once the creel limit has been reached, anglers are allowed to continue fishing. However, any Trout caught must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.

If you’re fishing from the shore, you are allowed no more than three rods, hand lines, or a combination of each. Each angler must have a bucket or stringer to hold their catch.

Saltwater Fishing Seasons in New Jersey

In the first section, we’ll cover New Jersey saltwater fishing regulations before checking out the freshwater regulations. Fishing regulations, both fresh and saltwater, are put in place to maintain a healthy and robust population of fish so that future generations of anglers can enjoy the same great fishing opportunities that we do.

In New Jersey, bag and size limits are put in place by an experienced team of biologists. A percentage of fees collected from licenses goes directly back into ensuring the health of the fishery and maintaining boat ramps, access, and other fishing locations throughout New Jersey.

New Jersey Saltwater Fishing License Information

Unlike many other US states, New Jersey doesn’t require a specific saltwater fishing license. However, you will need to have a New Jersey recreational fishing license if you’re above the age of 16. While you don’t need a specific saltwater fishing license, it is a requirement that most anglers register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program.

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of all saltwater fishing regulations before catching any fish in the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Fishing Calendar

Below, we have a comprehensive New Jersey freshwater fishing calendar that highlights the best and worst times to go fishing for freshwater species. While there are optimal times to target particular freshwater species, you still have an opportunity to catch many of them year-round.

Freshwater SpeciesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Largemouth BassFairFairFairGoodGreatGreatFairFairGoodGreatGreatFair
Smallmouth BassFairFairFairFairFairGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGood
Yellow PerchGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatFairFairFairFairFairGoodGreat

Below, we have a comprehensive New Jersey saltwater fishing calendar that highlights the best and worst times to go fishing for saltwater fish in New Jersey. While there are optimal times to target particular saltwater species, you still have an opportunity to catch many of them year-round.

Black DrumPoorPoorPoorPoorGreatGreatGoodGoodFairPoorPoorPoor
Black SeabassClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatClosedGreatGreatGreat
Flounder / FlukeFairFairGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodFairFair
Mahi MahiPoorPoorPoorPoorPoorFairGoodGreatGreatGoodFairPoor

Month By Month Guide to New Jersey Fishing Seasons

January Fishing in New Jersey

While winter isn’t the most popular fishing month in New Jersey, there’s still some fishing action to be had for enthusiastic anglers. If the weather plays ball, there could even be ice fishing on the cards in the northernmost lakes, with Pickeral, Perch, Pike, Walleye, and Musky on offer.

Winter saltwater fishing is excellent, with fishing in the many bays producing Cod, Porgy, Rockfish, and many more fish species.

February Fishing in New Jersey

Ice fishing is dubious in February, so be sure to check the thickness of ice before venturing far out onto it. Even warm-water fish like Crappie and Black Bass are on the cards if you’re lucky. The saltwater bays offer Black Seabass, Flounder, Cod, and Porgy, sticking pretty close to the shore. Be sure to check season and size limits before keeping any fish.

March Fishing in New Jersey

The fishing in New Jersey is beginning to show more signs of life in March. As the weather starts to warm up, both the saltwater and freshwater fishing action kicks it up a notch, with the Flounder, Rockfish, and Cod starting to fire up.

You’ll begin to see more signs of life on the water, with Perch, Walleye, and Trout activity increasing on the lakes and streams. 

April Fishing in New Jersey

The freshwater fishing action in New Jersey is really firing up now, with the spawning season well underway. Along with some fantastic Trout action, you also have Yellow Perch and walleye. And Largemouth Bass biting.

Rockfish action is red hot, with the East Coast crowd favorite on the menu for many saltwater anglers.

May Fishing in New Jersey

Spring really takes the New Jersey fishing action to the next level, with inshore fishing for Rockfish and Black Seabass high on the list of those looking for a delicious fish dinner. In the shallows, you’ll also find Flounder, Black Drum, and Weakfish.

The Trout action is firing on all cylinders, but the Muskies are the real stars of the show thanks to their aggressive feeding.

June Fishing in June

Summer fishing is where it’s at, with the fishing action firing for both freshwater and saltwater. The warmer water brings in saltwater species, such as Kingfish and Cobia, along with offshore species, such as Mahi Mahi and Marlin. 

Camping in one of the many parks is a great way to see and experience all the excellent freshwater fishing opportunities. Bass are letting their presence be known, along with Trout and Muskies. 

July Fishing in New Jersey

Offshore fishing for big game fish, such as Blue Marlin, is on the menu in July. But the great saltwater fishing doesn’t stop there, with Cobia, Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Bluefish, Weakfish, and Seabass all just waiting for you to throw a line in. If freshwater fishing is more your style, then the Smallmouth Bass action is excellent.

August Fishing in New Jersey

The deep sea fishing action is still going strong, with Billfish, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi all prowling the offshore areas. If you don’t have a boat, a charter is a great way to get out into the action. Closer to sure, Rockfish, Weakfish, Seabass, Redfish, and Flounder are all on the menu, and trolling for Cobia can produce some good results.

September Fishing in New Jersey

While the summer action is hot, fall fishing in New Jersey is just as great! You have both offshore and inshore fishing opportunities in the saltwater. For shore-based anglers, Rockfish, Kingfish, Cobia, Porgy, and Sheepshead are just some of the delicious fish you might encounter.

October Fishing in New Jersey

The Cobia season might be over, but the Kingfish, Porgy, and Sharks are still on the menu offshore. If you’re lucky and willing to put in some long hours, there’s an opportunity for Tuna and Marlin. Inland, the freshwater fishing action includes fall Trout, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, and even Musky.

Read also: Land-Based Shark Fishing: Tips and Tricks to Catch Bigger Sharks from the Beach

November Fishing in New Jersey

The offshore action is finally starting to slow down in November, with lousy weather more common, it’s safer for smaller boats to stick closer to shore. Rockfish, Bluefish, Redfish, and Weakfish, along with Cod and Porgy, still make it worth getting a rod in the water.

The freshwater action for Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout is strong, along with Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass.

December Fishing in New Jersey

The fishing never stops in New Jersey, even in December, with inshore saltwater action for table fish still going strong. Try targeting the reefs for Seabass, Porgy, and Cod. Before the ice closes in, there’s a final chance to try the streams, lakes, and rivers across the state. Smallmouth Bass are still present, but it’s Yellow Perch that most freshwater anglers are targeting.

Prime Fishing Spots Across New Jersey

New Jersey is fortunate enough to have over 130 miles of beautiful coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean. No wonder it offers such a wealth of fantastic saltwater fishing opportunities. Not only that, but it’s also home to some brilliant freshwater fishing activity as well. 

Putting a list together of the top fishing spots in New Jersey was not easy. Not because there’s not enough, but because there are so many great fishing locations, both fresh and saltwater, across the state.

1. Merrill Creek Reservoir

If you love freshwater fishing, Merrill Creek Reservoir is a 650-acre lake that’s connected to the Delaware River. The reservoir holds a healthy population of Bass, Crappie, Pike, Trout, and Perch. There are over seven miles of coastline, so finding a secluded fishing spot shouldn’t be a problem. If you have access to a boat, there are also public boat ramps that offer fast and easy access to the lake. For anyone chasing Lake Trout, Merrill Creek Reservoir is one of the only places to catch them.

2. Lake Hopatcong

Lake Hopatcong is the largest body of freshwater in New Jersey and is home to a variety of fantastic freshwater fish, including Pike, Musky, Catfish, Walleye, Trout, and much more. If you consider yourself a freshwater fishing enthusiast, it’s definitely worth checking out. There are over 45 miles of shoreline and almost 2,700 acres of water.

3. Brigantine

Located on the East Coast, Brigantine is often overlooked, but this sleepy town comes to life as people flock to it for fantastic saltwater fishing. All year round, Striped Bass are on the menu, along with Kingfish, Bluefish, Tautog, Black Seabass, and Flounder. If you have access to a boat or organize a charter, Tuna and Shark are on the cards.

4. Barnegat Light

You’ll find some of New Jersey’s most diverse fishing opportunities in New Jersey in the small town of Barnegat Light. On the bay side, there are some great family fishing opportunities with Fluke and Bluefish in abundance. There is plenty of coastline which offers great surf fishing, with Stripers in the fall and spring, and the big Kingfish arriving in Summer. However, the best place to fish, without a doubt, is Barnegat Inlet. This deep water inlet is home to Striped Bass, Bluefish, Tautog, and Fluke.

5. Lake Como and Belmar

Everywhere around Lake Como and Belmar, there are some fantastic jetties where you can walk up and fish. It’s a great opportunity for shore-based anglers to enjoy the excellent fishing on offer in New Jersey. Shark Inlet is known as one of the most consistent fishing locations on the Jersey Shore, and people flock to the area over the warm summer months. Among the fish on offer are Bluefish, Kingfish, Stripers, Fluke, and Black Seabass.

New Jersey Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you live in New Jersey or you’re just doing some fishing during a holiday. There are a ton of fishing opportunities to be had in this beautiful state. Hopefully, by utilizing the information above in our comprehensive guide to New Jersey fishing seasons, you’ll learn everything you need to know, including New Jersey fishing regulations, seasons, size limits, and the best places to fish in New Jersey.

By utilizing the technology in the Fishbox App, you’ll be able to track weather conditions accurately and predict the best times to hit the water when planning your fishing excursions in New Jersey. It combines predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to deliver optimal fishing opportunities in New Jersey, regardless of whether you’re going fresh or saltwater fishing.

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The Fishbox App was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis. These advanced forecasts will significantly increase your catch rate while reducing your time on the water. Take your fishing to the next level thanks to the expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

If you’re a local New Jersey angler and have any hot tips you’d like to share with other anglers, drop a comment below!

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