The central New Jersey coast is the backdrop for this vacation. Although the tourists were gone by the time we arrived, we didn't find the shoreline deserted. It was bustling with 4x4's cruising the beaches in search of striped bass and big bluefish. Whether fishing from shore or a boat just outside the breakers you'll love the excitement of saltwater fly fishing. Contrast that excitement with a peaceful stroll through Allaire Village, an historic park that chronicles 19th century life. Then end your day at a beautiful Victorian bed & breakfast.
Fishing for bluefish in the open ocean was something new for Robin and I. Our guide, Gene Quigley, suggested we use 9 foot, 9 weight rods with a progressive fast action. The wind on the open water, combined with the large flies and heavy line made the 9 weight rods a logical choice.
Another factor was the size and power of the bluefish we were catching!
We used large arbor quick retrieve size 10 reels.
For line, we used a combination of floating weight-forward 9 weights with poppers, for fish on the surface, and running lines with shooting heads for the fish that were feeding a little deeper.
Bluefish have extremely sharp teeth that can bite through the heaviest monofilament-type line. Therefore, Gene set us up with stainless steel wire tippets connected to our 15-pound test 6-foot leaders. Bluefish aren't bashful when they are on the feed, so the wire tippet doesn't spook them.
For flies, we used a few different things, including Half & Half's, Popovic's Surf Candy, and floating poppers, all in a variety of colors. They each imitate baitfish that the blues feed on.
The New Jersey shore is most popular from June 1st through mid October. The pleasant weather brings people to the boardwalks and sandy beaches in large numbers. We chose to visit in later October. The weather was still enjoyable, and the beaches were quiet except for the excitement of successful fishermen casting from shore.
For those specifically interested in fishing, the season extends into December. Be ready to brave some cold temperatures out on the water. However, the excitement of catching migrating fall-run fish is likely to help you forget the cold!
Our vacation took us from Sea Girt to Barnegat Inlet, about a 30-mile span. The general area is about one hour from Newark Int'l. Airport, and about an hour north of Atlantic City. Access to the shore is well marked and not difficult. Parking can be tricky in the height of the summer season, so be sure to pass up any private or restricted zones to avoid getting a parking ticket.
There are many bed & breakfasts and hotels within walking distance of the ocean. If you're planning a trip during the peak season you will have to reserve a room well in advance. However, the views and sea breezes are worth experiencing.
Seafood houses, wonderful ethnic cuisine, and deli's are everywhere. You'll need some long walks on the beach to keep up with the great dining options.
For things to do, you can skip the beach umbrellas and bathing suits, opting for a lighthouse tour instead. Or maybe you would enjoy a visit to an outdoor, living history museum, Historic Allaire Village, just a few miles inland from Sea Girt. Victorian home tours, shopping for antiques, bicycle paths, and aquariums are also in the area.
Don't forget your sunscreen, and not just on sunny days. The haze and clouds don't do much to protect you from sun damage. Bring or rent an umbrella for getting out of the sun while enjoying the beach.