Fabulous Great Bay New Jersey
— by Greg Zaczek
In the heart of the densest population in the nation lies a relatively calm, sports fisherman's light tackle paradise. Among the northeast favorites like striped bass, and bluefish, dwell the tasty critters like flounder, weakfish and sea bass. Whether you fish from shore or boat, or light or moderate tackle there is a species here to tempt all anglers.
Just 10 miles north of Atlantic City the waters of three rivers meet. The Mullica, Batsto and Bass Rivers converge at a point that brings together some of the finest skinny water fishing on the eastern seaboard. At this area, known to the locals as Graveling Point many early and late season stripers are coaxed from the brine. Many of the yearly take top 40 pounds. In addition by mid – spring, the large migration of 10 pound plus blues and weakfish make their appearance.
Although Great Bay is a saltwater bay, it's topography and prevailing sea conditions make it seem like you are fishing a small inland lake. The main body is barely three miles long by 2.5 miles wide. Except for three narrow points the estuary is nearly completely land locked to the sea. At these points some fabulous fishing takes place throughout the year.
Jacque Cousteau Estuarine Reserve was the name given the waterway in 1998 and although he never visited these waters his spirit of conservation lives on through the actions of the Rutgers University Research Center located on Great Bay Boulevard. The fishing action begins a few miles up stream in early March with the annual striper run. Here you will find 12-foot skiffs anchored next to 30-foot sport-fish in search of the elusive stripe back.
By April, the large bluefish have taken up residence and will keep the angler busy until the summer. In June, the summer flounder and weakfish action take over and many fish are boated just a stones throw from shore.
September brings the small but tasty kingfish, blowfish and sea bass. By October the stripers have returned to close out the year.
With all these species making a regular appearance there is still a chance for surprises. In 2000, the Gulf Stream moved extremely close to the New Jersey Coast. The affect in the bay was increased catches of black and red drum, sandbar shark, and above all the appearance of tarpon, what a year!
Great Bay has many attributes that mimic the Florida flats making fly-fishing a viable and productive alternative. With many marinas and tackle shops in the area information is as easy to come by as the fish.
For up to the minute info check out www.scottsbt.com for the latest reports.