In the Northeast, there are towns where striped bass fishing is a way of life. In these towns, mounts of giant stripers can be found not only in the local tackle shops, but in the local pubs. The latest fishing reports are traded as currency on the docks, on the beaches and at the breakfast joints, and when the bass are running, every third car will be racked with surf rods or towing a boat.
Every striper fishermen needs to experience the madness of the Montauk Fall Run. The frenzy of the bass, bluefish and false albacore blitzes spills over into the town itself, with the very mood of the locals rising and falling with the latest fishing report.
Montauk offers something for every type of striper fisherman. Fly and light-tackle anglers chase blitzes in small boats off the point, while trophy hunters drift eels in the rips. Surfcasters can work the day shift to cash in on the wild blitzes under the lighthouse or they can burn the midnight oil to target a cow.
Montauk Point State Park
2000 Montauk Highway, Montauk, NY
Every bit of shoreline in Montauk has the potential to produce great fishing, but visiting anglers need not look further than “The Surfcasting Capital of the World,” Montauk Point State Park. Ample parking, easy access, and outstanding fishing make this the most popular surf-fishing spot on Long Island. The lower lot has a festival atmosphere during the fall run as fishermen tailgate between tides. During sunrise and sunset, crowds of surfcasters gather under the lighthouse and in nearby Turtle Cove to get their shot at the schools of blitzing stripers moving along the shoreline. A number of lures will work at Montauk, but whatever you do, don’t forget the bucktails and darters.
774 Montauk Highway, Montauk, NY
While you’ll find better food at a cheaper price at any number of Montauk restaurants, it’s worth visiting the Shagwong for a bowl of chowder and a cold beer after the sun sets. It’s at this time that many of Montauk’s visiting fishermen descend on this pub to do the very same. Outside of the tackle shops, Shagwong is the best place to hear the latest gossip surrounding Montauk’s striper scene. After finishing your soup, swing by Pizza Village for some takeout on your way back to the room so you can get an early jump on the morning bite.
Wok ‘N Roll
716 Main Street, Montauk, NY
While the Chinese food here is okay, the true appeal of this place lies in its “You Hook’em, We Cook’em” slogan. Take your freshly caught striper to Wok ‘N Roll, and they will prepare it in one of ten ways, all of which are delicious.
Gone Fishing Marina
67 East Lake Drive, Montauk, NY
While there are a few boat ramps in Montauk, this is the only option for non-residents. There is parking at the marina for your truck and trailer.
Harborside Resort Motel
371 West Lake Drive, Montauk, NY
Fishermen trailering their own boats to Montauk will appreciate the close proximity to the launch, the ample parking for trailers and the boat washdown area at Harborside Resort.
131 Edgemere Street, Montauk, NY
Stopping by Paulie’s is a must for visiting surf-fishermen. Buy a couple bucktails, get the latest scoop from Paul, and linger just long enough to hear some fish stories and lies from Montauk’s colorful cast of local surfcasters.
Montauk Marine Basin
426 W. Lake Drive, Montauk, NY
You’ll find the latest news on the East End’s boat-fishing scene at this well-stocked marina.
Newport is known for mansions and sailboat races, but a surfcasting subculture exists in this seaside town. Boat fishermen, too, find themselves right in the heart of the action when leaving from Newport, with bunker-filled Narragansett Bay, countless rocky points and coves, and Block Island all within striking distance.
Fort Adams State Park
This concrete slab boat ramp has nearby parking and good access to Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.
Flo’s Clam Shack
4 Wave Ave, Middletown, RI
Home to the finest fried whole belly clams in Rhode Island, Flo’s is always worth a visit when fishing in Newport. While waiting for your order, skim through the assorted memorabilia tacked to the walls, and you’ll find black-and-white pictures of some truly impressive stripers taken from Newport waters.
The Saltwater Edge
1037 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown, RI
The Saltwater Edge is one of the best-stocked tackle shops in New England. With walls full of striper plugs, surfcasters can always count on the Edge to have the latest hot lure in multiple colors.
Brenton Point State Park
Ocean Ave., Newport, RI
The surf fishing here is not for the faint of heart. Slick rocks, big waves and swift current make it hard on the fishermen, but paradise for the fish. Hit Brenton when warm summer temperatures force stripers from Narragansett Bay into the cool waters of the ocean, and you’ll have a fish story worth telling to the crew at The Saltwater Edge.
The preferred form of transportation for fishermen in Buzzards Bay is the bicycle, preferably outfitted with rodholders and pedaled along the service road of the Cape Cod Canal. This man-made waterway has been serving as a shortcut for vessels, and fish, since 1914, and a devoted group of striper fishermen descend on the town, and the Canal, every year starting in May.
While the Canal cuts through several towns, Buzzards Bay, with its iconic Railroad Bridge, may be the most recognizable. It’s also home to Red Top, a shop that has been serving Canal fishermen since 1949.
The Cape Cod Canal has easy access and some of the best shore-fishing for stripers in the entire Northeast. Fishermen will find ample parking on both sides of the Canal, and finding stripers can be as easy as looking for birds and breaking fish.
The early morning tides in the days following the new or full moon have the potential to produce great fishing from May through November. Fishermen line the shores of the Canal and cast pencil poppers, swimming plugs and soft-plastic jigs to intercept the stripers riding the currents of the “Big Ditch.”
Red Top Sporting Goods
265 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, MA
MACO’S Bait & Tackle
3253 Cranberry Hwy, Buzzards Bay, MA
Leo’s Breakfast Restaurant
249 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, MA
After the morning bite in the Canal dies down, many fishermen move to Leo’s for a morning bite of their own. The parking lot fills up with trucks sporting rod racks and Canal cruisers, and the details of the morning’s fishing are shared in hushed tones over hot coffee, bacon and eggs.
From restaurant signs to weathervanes to the bumper sticker on the car in front of you, you can’t drive a block in this small Cape Cod town without seeing a representation of the striped bass.
The surf fishing in Chatham waters has been poor in recent years thanks to the burgeoning grey seal population, but the boat fishing is better than ever. Huge schools of stripers move between the cool waters off Nauset Beach and the turbulent waters of the Monomoy Rips, feasting on sand eels, herring, squid and mackerel. The fishing heats up in late June and carries on through September. Diamond jigs are the lure of choice off Nauset, but in the Monomoy Rips, live eels, fresh squid and soft-plastic stickbaits bring the most bass to the boat.
Ryder’s Cove Boat Launch
46 Ryder’s Cove Rd, N. Chatham, MA
During the commercial striped bass season (approximately late June through late September), visiting fishermen must obtain a Ramp Use Permit online or at the Harbormaster’s office no more than 24 hours in advance. The permits cost $20 per day, and no more than 40 are issued on a daily basis. Parking is limited, and purchase of the Ramp Use Permit does not allow use of the residents-only parking areas.
Plum Island, the Merrimack River, Joppa Flats and access to some of the fishiest shoreline structure in the Northeast make Newburyport the place to be if you just can’t wait for the fall run to start. Big stripers feed heavily on hot August nights, and boat and shore fishermen hook up by using live eels, live and cut mackerel, and big plugs.
Surfland Bait and Tackle
30 Plum Island Boulevard, Plum Island, Newbury, MA
At the heart of Plum Island’s fishing community lies the more than 50-year-old shop, Surfland Bait and Tackle. Surfland stocks everything from live eels to lobster pots and is one of the premier rod-and-reel repair stores in the region. It is worth stopping in the shop just to look through the photos of 50-plus-pound stripers—proof of how productive the waters around Plum Island can be.
Cashman Park Boat Ramp
This state-of-the-art boat-launching facility has parking for 136 trailers. It is open 24 hours a day throughout the striper season, with the exception of the first Saturday in August, when it is closed for fireworks. There is a small fee for parking and launching.
Located less than five miles south of the New Hampshire border, Plum Island offers boundless shore-fishing opportunities. Unlike most fishing points along Boston’s North Shore, access around Plum Island is very angler-friendly. The Merrimack River gives this area life, producing forage, current, structure and tidal flow as it courses from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Atlantic Ocean. The combination of these factors attracts both stripers and surfcasters in big numbers every season.
Cape May is known for its Victorian homes, antique shops and Sunset Beach where tourists comb the sands for “Cape May Diamonds.” The real gem in this quiet town is the fishing. With one of the busiest fishing ports in New Jersey, Cape May is a hub for offshore fishing, with many big-money tournaments based out of the South Jersey Marina in the summer months.
During the spring and fall, however, striped bass are the talk of the dock.
The spring belongs to the surfcaster, as stripers leaving Delaware Bay swim near the beaches as they round Cape May Point. Fresh surf clams and chunks of bunker on fish-finder rigs will get the job done. In the fall, boat fishermen have their chance, as monster stripers follow schools of bunker into the sloughs and channels of Delaware Bay. Anchoring up and chunking with fresh bunker provides one of the best shots at catching a 50-pounder in New Jersey.
Hands Too Bait and Tackle
970 Route 109
Cape May, NJ
Spicer’s Creek Boat Access
3rd Avenue, Cape May, NJ
Cape May’s public boat launch provides easy access to both Delaware Bay (through the canal) and the ocean (through Cape May Inlet). This concrete ramp has ample parking and enough water for launching at low tide. There is a fee to launch at Spicer Creek.
This 2½ mile sand spit on the south side of Cape May is a popular spot for surfcasters to dunk bait for big stripers during the spring migration.
Fishing is so engrained in the Seaside Park community that there is an annual kids’ “Fish Hat Parade” to raise awareness about the health of our oceans. This town is a major tourist destination in the summer, but striper fishing runs deep among its residents and visitors.
When the tourists leave and the stripers return in the fall, Seaside Park does a quick transition from summer vacation spot to surfcasting paradise. The most popular spot in Seaside is Island Beach State Park, where fishermen can drive or walk to access some of the best surf fishing in the state.
906 NE Central Ave, Seaside Park, NJ
Don’t let the name fool you. Grumpy’s is a great spot for fresh clams, the latest hot lures and useful, friendly fishing advice.
Island Beach Motor Lodge
Central Avenue, Seaside Park, NJ
Located just outside the entrance to IBSP, the Island Beach Motor Lodge offers reasonable rates during the fall run.
Betty and Nick’s Luncheonette
807 SW Central Ave, Seaside Park, NJ
Attached to Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle, and located just outside Island Beach State Park, you can stop here for a breakfast sandwich and a dozen clams before hitting the beach.
The sandbars of Island Beach State Park fill up with stripers in the spring and again in the fall. Clams are the most popular bait in the park, but during the fall when schools of stripers and baitfish move along the beach, diamond jigs, needlefish plugs and soft-plastic stickbaits will take fish.
Visiting fishermen can buy a three-day permit to drive on the beach ($75 for New Jersey residents, $90 for non-residents), provided they have a four-wheel drive vehicle and the proper equipment.
This small fishing village has been a destination for fishermen since the turn of the 20th century, due to its location at the mouth of the Navesink River and close proximity to Sandy Hook. Fishermen, whether shore or boat, have great access to some of New Jersey’s best striper waters while staying in Highlands.
Boat fishermen are within striking distance of the Shrewsbury Rocks, a large natural rock formation that extends eastward from Monmouth Beach. These rocks serve as a staging ground for migrating stripers in the spring and fall, and fishermen target bass in this area by drifting live bunker or trolling. Raritan Bay spots like Sandy Hook and Ambrose channels are good areas for targeting migrating stripers, especially with live eels after dark.
Giglio’s Bait and Tackle
1123 Ocean Ave. Sea Bright, NJ
Before heading out to Sandy Hook, surfcasters should swing by Giglio’s for the latest report and a few custom plugs.
The Tackle Box
1134 State Route 36, Hazlet, NJ
Whether you’re trolling the oceanfront or casting clams from the Raritan bayshore, you’ll find what you need at The Tackle Box.
Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina
Atlantic Highlands, NJ
This large concrete boat ramp has trailer parking available, but getting there early is recommended. Launching at the marina requires a small fee.
Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, NJ
Fishermen staying in Highlands are a short drive from the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Stripers and baitfish moving in and out of Raritan Bay pass close to the beach at Sandy Hook, making it a top spot for surfcasting. Anglers planning to fish after dark must purchase a nighttime fishing pass at the Entrance Station or Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters.
This old whaling town still has a maritime feel, especially when the bass are running.
The fishing lights up in the early spring as stripers move into the warming waters of Oyster Bay to feed. Light-tackle and fly-fishermen will enjoy fast action with schoolie bass and the occasional keeper, but don’t be surprised if schools of adult bunker bring in some larger bass. The striper fishing out of Cold Harbor can be good right through the summer, especially for boat fishermen chunking with bunker out in the Sound. In the fall, the stripers move back in and stay as late as Thanksgiving some years.
Cold Spring Harbor Ramp
Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Non-residents are required to pay a $20 launching fee, but this ramp provides easy access to Oyster Bay and a straight shot to Long Island Sound.