Asbury Park Press
Newark Star Ledger
The Raritan Bay
By John Haughey
Raritan Bay is part of New York Bight, which includes New York Harbor's Lower Bay, Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook Bay and coastal waters to the continental shelf. The bay itself is between Staten Island and New Jersey's Bay Shore, which stretches 20 miles from the Amboys to Sandy Hook.
With coastal borders in New York and New Jersey, regulations from both states apply. Generally, the middle of the main shipping channel — Raritan Reach — is the accepted boundary, although this has been debated for 200 years.
Raritan Reach stretches from Tottenville on Staten Island to Sandy Hook, where it intersects with Chapel Hill and Sandy Hook channels at Sandy Hook Rip. Sandy Hook and Raritan are defined as different bays on most maps, with the Naval Ammunition Pier at Earle as the dividing line.
Raritan is not a huge bay; it's just a few miles wide with opposite shorelines visible from either side. But it is on the doorstep of the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River estuary, and provides a ripe environment for predators and prey on its extensive flats and deep shipping channels.
October through December, troll lime green bucktails on wire, shad on umbrella rigs, bunker-imitating spoons and, of course, bunker — when purse seiners leave enough bunker in the bay to draw big bass.
If bunker are available, there should be good action drifting or trolling live bunker or spoons into early December. If bunker are decimated by netters, live eels drifted in Sandy Hook Bay, Ambrose Channel, Old Orchard Light, and on Flynn's Knoll are good bets.
Anchored up, anglers also do well casting Sassy shads, Krocodile jigs, and Rebel plugs.
On the bay's New York side, good areas include Princess Bay on Staten Island and Romer Shoals north to Coney Island Flats and Breezy Point. On the Jersey side, fish the Tip's ocean side to Mud Buoy to the rockpiles off Long Branch, Sandy Hook Rip, and the Shrewsbury-Navesink rivers.
From shore: Shorecasters have many options. To fish the south shoreline, simply follow routes 35 and 36. If fish aren't cooperating on one beach, move to another.
Among areas to shorecast are Great Kills Harbor on Staten Island; under the GSP and Rt. 9 in Perth Amboy; from transit bridges in South Amboy; the beachfront along Morgan Creek, where the old Robert E. Lee was off Rt. 35, in Morgan Beach; from Laurence Harbor to Cliffwood Beach; to get onto the surf in Cliffwood Beach, take Exit 117 off the GSP to Route 36, go four lights to Poole Ave., make a left at the "jughandle," and go until you see the water; Keyport to Union Beach, where there are stretches of sod banks up to Conaskonk Point; Keansburg, including the Keansburg Pier; Green Acres property in Port Monmouth and the Port Monmouth Pier; Belford and Leonardo Beach on both sides of the marina to Pebble Beach; Sandy Hook, North Beach to the Rip; the bay side of Sandy Hook, including the Bug Light area, and up to the Tip of the Hook. There is a shallow flat here especially lucrative in fall. There is also a rocky area nearby popular with surfcasters.
Shorecasting options are as varied as hot spots. Under wheeling birds working the surface, go with baits — bottom rigs, bunker chunks. In rocky areas where baitfishing may difficult, target outgoing drains with popping plugs like Super Strike Little Necks, Gibb's Polaris, Creek Chubs, 1- to 3-ounce tins, blue Storms, Gag's Mr. Bunkers. At night, go with bottle plugs, needlefish, live eel, and bucktails. Bucktails tipped with pork rind will produce day and night on the last of incoming currents.
At a glance:
What: Raritan Bay is part of New York Bight, on the doorstep of the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River estuary. Its southern and western portions are in New Jersey, northern and eastern parts are in New York. The middle of its main shipping channel, Raritan Reach, is the accepted boundary. Know where you are fishing to ensure you are not violating New York or New Jersey fishing regulations.
State agencies: For information on New York regulations, species, fishing access, contact DEC Region 2 at (718) 482-4875. For information on New Jersey regulations, species, fishing access, contact New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Marine Fisheries office in Trenton at (609) 292-2083.
Scag's Bait & Tackle (718-727-7373);
Great Kills Bait & Tackle (718-365-0055)
Michael's Bait & Tackle (718-646-9264)
Biggies Bait and tackle
65 Page Avenue
Staten Island New York 10309
718 966 9206
Brooklyn: Bernie's Bait & Tackle (718-646-7600); Smitty's Fishing Station (718-945-2642); Stella Maris Fishing Station (718-646-9754)
New Jersey: Jeros Tackle Co., Inc. (732-541-7800), Carteret; Ray's Sporting Goods (908-561-4400), North Plainfield; Sayreville Sportsman (908-238-2060), Sayreville; Fish Tales Bait & Tackle (732-324-7722), Perth Amboy; Fred's Bait and Tackle (732-721-4747), South Amboy; Duke's Bait & Tackle (732-787-0508), North Middletown; T&A Tackle & Bait (732-787-3853), Middletown; Crabby's Bait & Tackle (732-335-9311), Keyport; Captain Charlie's Bait & Tackle (732-787-6363), Port Monmouth; Houlie Bait Service (732-495-1629), Belford; Tackle Box (732-264-7711), Hazlet; Jack's Landing (732-872-1114), Highlands; Atlantic Highlands Bait, Tackle & Boats (732-291-4500), Atlantic Highlands; Julian's Sport Shop (732-291-0050), Atlantic Highlands; Bahrs Landing Bait & Tackle (732-291-9554), Atlantic Highlands; The Skippers' Shop (732-872-0367), Atlantic Highlands; Arjay Sportsmen Shop (732-291-1618), Atlantic Highlands; Little Fish (732-872-2601), Atlantic Highlands.
Material from Fishing & Hunting News
published 22 times a year.
Visit them at www.fishingandhuntingnews.com
Picture and additional text. Jim Hannan