ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Mid Atlantic Saltwater Fishing

Updated on October 7, 2014

Saltwater Fishing of the Mid-Atlantic

This page has information on saltwater fishing along the mid Atlantic coast of the USA. This includes surf, bay, inshore and offshore fishing from New York to North Carolina.

Inshore anglers in the Mid Atlantic region catch species such as striped bass, seatrout, bluefish, tautog, sea bass, porgy, spot, croaker, kingfish, black drum, red drum and cobia.

Offshore fishing of the region features trips to catch tuna, marlin, swordfish, mahi mahi, sharks, grouper, tilefish and other fish.

Mid-Atlantic Inshore Saltwater Fish

Striped Bass

Striped bass have several regional names. Known as striped bass, stripers, linesides, rockfish and other names, this fish is highly sought after as a recreational fish, as a commercial species and is even grown in aquaculture operations. Striped bass are very hardy fish, and even take to life in freshwater where they are often stocked throughout the USA. Rigs and baits for striped bass vary with their location and what the fish are feeding on. In some areas cut baits are used, including clams, fish, crabs, shrimp, squid, bloodworms or other baits. Anglers also troll, jig, cast artificial lures and fly fish for striped bass.

Atlantic Croaker

Atlantic Croaker or "hardhead" are popular saltwater fish common along the Atlantic coast. The fish get their names because of the "croaking" noise the make when removed from the water. Croakers are hard fighters and prolific feeders. They are caught on a variety of baits and lures and even go after flies in shallow water areas. Croakers are easily accessible, being caught on piers, jetties, small boats, charter boats and head boats.

Bluefish

Bluefish are an exciting gamefish. They are found all along the USA east coast, sometimes in large schools. The fish are voracious feeders and are known for their sharp teeth and ability to demolish even the strongest tackle. In some areas cut baits are used, including squid, fish, bloodworms or other baits. Anglers also troll, jig, cast artificial lures and fly fish for bluefish. The fish have dark, oily meat but are excellent smoked.

Sea Bass

Sea Bass fishing is popular along the Atlantic coast. Anglers fish year round for this exceptionally delicious fish, although the fish migrate to deeper water in winter. Peak fishing is usually May and early June and again in the fall. In the spring, wrecks, reefs and rough bottom in depths of 50 - 80 feet usually hold the most fish. Bigger fish can sometimes be enticed by using larger baits. Favorite rigs for bigger fish include single hook rigs with a whole squid for bait, large bucktail jigs with squid strips and large metal jigs. The larger baits catch less total fish but with a much higher average weight. Black sea bass are excellent table fare. The meat is firm, white and delicious and is served fried, grilled, baked or broiled.

Spot

Spot occur along the Atlantic coast in estuarine and coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to Florida, although they are most abundant from Chesapeake Bay south to South Carolina. Spot are fun to catch and a great fish for anglers of all ages. Spot are caught along inlets, fishing piers and in inshore bays. Anglers use standard 2 hook rigs, using small hooks and small pieces of bait. Popular baits include bloodworms, shrimp, clam and synthetic bloodworm type baits.

Summer Flounder

Summer flounder are found around inlets, jetties and dropoffs. Flounder are not born with both eyes on one side. During growth, the "bottom" eye migrates to the upward-facing side of its body. This allows the flounder to lie on one side, burying in the sand where it can ambush its prey. Flounder feed on a variety of small fish and crustaceans

Tautog

Tautog live along the Atlantic coast of North America from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. Tautog live in structure such as rocky bottoms, wreckages and reefs. Tautog are a challenge to catch and thrilling to fish for. Tackle and techniques are simple and no prior experience is needed to catch these tasty fish. They vary in size from about 12 inches to perhaps 12 lbs or more. They are very tough fighters and excellent table fare.

Red Drum

Red drum or redfish can be caught in a myriad of ways. Probably the most widely utilized technique for catching red drum along the Atlantic coast is to anchor along a channel edge or shoal and bottom fish with cut peeler crab bait or other baits including, squid, cut spot, live spot and even chicken breast soaked in peeler crab oil. Surf fishing is a another way to catch red drum. Along the Atlantic beaches and barrier islands, anglers use a fish finder or other rig and fish with baits such as whole spot, spot fillets or heads, mullet, bluefish fillets, crabs, shrimp or other baits. Further South, anglers fish flats and grass beds with live baits such as shrimp or cast artificial lures or saltwater flies to red drum.

Weakfish

Weakfish are beautiful fish. The name "weakfish" comes from the fish's fragile mouth, which tears easily when hooked. Typically, weakfish have a dark olive back, iridescent blue and copper sides and a silvery white belly. Other identifying features are yellow fins, large canine teeth in the upper jaw and dark spots on the upper part of the body, sometimes forming diagonal lines. Most adult weakfish range from 12 to 18 inches but can grow up to to 3 feet long and weigh 4-18 pounds. Weakfish are members of the drum family, which includes spot, red drum, back drum and Atlantic croaker. This family of fish make a drumming or croaking sound by vibrating its swim bladder using special muscles.

Mid Atlantic Offshore Fishing

Offshore Fishing From New Jersey to the North Carolina Border

The waters off the mid-Atlantic coast offer a variety of opportunities for offshore fishermen. Spring weather is usually very windy and boats don't often get to fish in the ocean much in the early season. When a calm day presents itself, inshore anglers go to sea in search of cod, pollock, tautog or sea bass that orient to local shipwrecks and artificial reefs.

By June, monster bluefish arrive and are often present in enormous numbers along the 20 fathom line. This fishing varies and bluefish may appear from 10-30 nautical miles off the coast.

Days behind the bluefish are several species of sharks, the most sought after being the mako. Sandbar, tiger, thresher, blue, blacktip, bull, hammerhead and other sharks also begin to appear about this time. Local anglers attract sharks by chumming with ground fish, then using wire leaders baited with whatever bait can be attained. Fresh baits like bluefish, trout, mackerel, bonita, or false albacore are preferred.

By mid-June, tuna often appear off the coast. Bluefin tuna prefer cooler water and usually arrive first. In the early season, bluefin are caught among the vicious bluefish by trolling. By July, some anglers switch tactics and fish for tuna with cut butterfish or fish with metal jigs around inshore lumps.

About the same time, yellowfin and mahi mahi begin to appear and many anglers troll for them as far out as Baltimore, Washington, Poorman's and Norfolk Canyons. Some canyon fishing trips can exceed 70 nautical miles.

In the Mid-Atlantic, deep sea corals provide important habitat for saltwater fish and other sea life. Deep sea coral species help create complex communities that exist in areas where rocky outcrops or other hard substrates provide anchoring surfaces.

Most Popular Mid Atlantic Saltwater Fish

What is your favorite Mid Atlantic saltwater fish?

See results

Saltwater Fishing Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      We used to go fishing with my family in South Jersey. It's been a while, but the memories are "fresh".

    • bclinton75 profile image

      bclinton75 4 years ago

      Awesome. I have great florida fishing articles. Check them out!

    • profile image

      saltwaterfishtankguide 4 years ago

      Catch me one while your out there

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 4 years ago

      Fun and interesting lens - I love fishing, but am from MT, so am used to fresh water fishing, but always had interest in this type of fishing:) I recently wrote a lens about using fishing as a gift idea for Dad!

    • GuitarForLife LM profile image

      GuitarForLife LM 5 years ago

      still working on catching my first bill fish, hopefully this year.

    • iwellbc lm profile image

      iwellbc lm 5 years ago

      it is a great lens, very informative, for me as a beginner in this fishing world

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Yep, great topic ! Love to eat fresh fish at travels to mid-atlnatic beaches in NC and Virginia shores. Congrads on your Squidoo level. Conversations helps with new ideas new topics. Thanks.

    • profile image

      JamieHibbert 6 years ago

      A really well presented lens. Will have to show it to my readers on www.fishing-blog.co.uk and see what they think.

      I love the posters!!

    • profile image

      MudRider500 8 years ago

      Bravo.

      Wonderful lens.

      I've done some recreational fly/trout fishing, a little salmon and steely fishing, so I know a little about fish. I had never heard of the weak or spot fish till now. Thanks for the education. Cheers.

    • grayth lm profile image

      grayth lm 8 years ago

      great lens, nice job compiling and writing about it, I especially loved the posters