Looking Ahead: New Jersey’s November Bottom-Fishing Bonanza

As the weather cools down and the humidity of this summer is history, it’s time to look toward the late fall fishery, which is as good as it gets in New Jersey.

Jimmy Fee Tautog

If you like bottom fishing, New Jersey is the place to be in November. Sea bass fishing is very good, and when the blackfish limit jumps to five on November 16, there should be some quality fish just offshore.

By this time of the season, the back bays are getting chilly and most of the fish have either moved to the inlets or along the beachfronts. You may catch school stripers and an occasional keeper along the beaches.
 
Bill Bertsch
Every year, I hope that the fall striper fishing in Delaware Bay returns to its pre-Sandy form. There will be some small bass around the lighthouses and up in the northern section of the bay, though most of this fishing should be done using fresh bunker as the primary bait. All we can do is hope the chunk bite for the big fish returns.

colorful sea bass

Heading east in the boat, you will find excellent sea bass fishing on ledges in 100 to 120 feet of water. It’s usually lock-and-load fishing when you get anchored up on structure. This month, fishermen will be able to keep 15 fish at 13 inches, and the best way to catch them is with a high-low rig and salted clams as bait. However, using jigs is sometimes productive and may result in catching the bigger fish on the wreck. Sea bass might just be the best-eating fish that lives in the ocean.

• Experience: Black Sea Bass Fishing on Party Boats

 
Sean Jones 16-pound blackfish

Blackfish are another good target, and can be caught much closer to shore on local reefs and wrecks in 50 to 60 feet of water. The best action will move deeper as the water cools late in the month. The regulations for blackfish are one fish at 15 inches until November 15, when it goes to five fish at 15 inches for the rest of the year.

• How-To: New Jersey’s Tautog Fishing Playbook

 

Green crabs and asian crabs are the most effective tautog fishing baits.

Green crabs should work fine for bait until the water cools and you have to move to deeper structure. At this point, the first choice will be white-leggers. Blackfish are often picky, so changing the way you fish and cut your crabs can make all the difference. Some days, the fish prefer whole small crabs; other times, they bite better if you cut the legs off; and on other days, they want only half a crab. Sometimes, tautog even change what they want in the middle of a bite.

• Discover: Catching Tautog from Shore

 
 Mojo Blue Water Rockfish Candy Rig striper

Striped bass don’t seem to move into our area before Thanksgiving weekend any more. Trolling mojos is the choice of most fishermen, but a 4- to 6-ounce bucktail trailing behind the mojo sometimes results in a large fish double-header. I recommend tying these rigs with 100-pound-test line because stripers are not leader shy.

• Learn More: 3 Mojo Rigs to Get Started Trolling

 
Another option is to snag and drop bunker if you locate bigger schools of bait. Finding the schools of bunker always increases your odds of getting into good bass. If stripers are in the area, they will find the bait, and it’s a good idea not to give up on a school until you have fished bunker live, dead, and chunked. If these three tactics fail to produce, go look for another school of bunker.

• Learn More: Choosing the Correct Circle Hook Size for Stripers

 

golden tilefish
golden tilefish

Other than tilefish, reliable action in the canyons is tough to come by this time of year, and good weather windows can be few and far between.

Secret Weapons of the Deep Drop

 

Grundéns Gore-Tex
Grundéns Gore-Tex

Don’t Leave Home Without:

Foul Weather Gear. Bring plenty of warm clothes, raingear, and boots. Wet feet will ruin a good day when it’s cold.

• Discover the Best of Both Worlds: Fishing Raingear that’s Rugged and Breathable

 

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