SALTWATER FLYFISHING SANDY HOOK IN NEW JERSEY

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A tremendous number of fly fishing opportunities are available in the Sandy Hook area of NJ, for both the shorebound longrodder and recreational boater. This seven mile long, 1,665 acre, barrier spit is surrounded by water on three sides and marks the northern most part of the 128 miles of New Jersey coastline. The area offers excellent oceanfront, back bay, and river access.

Sandy Hook and its surrounding Bay waters are fed by four river systems that converge and comprise what is known as part of the New York Bight. These river systems are the Hudson, Raritan, Shrewsbury, and the Navesink. Today Sandy Hook is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area that is maintained by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. It is one of the more than 360 parks that comprise the system. It is also a site on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail.
BAIT IN THE SURF
A very prominent and historic landmark is situated adjacent to the entrance to Sandy Hook that is easily identifiable. This is the Twin Lights of the Highlands that overlooks the Shrewsbury River and the Highlands Bridge. Crossing over this Bridge will give one access to the Hook. A nominal fee is charged from Memorial Day through Labor Day to enter Sandy Hook. Fishing is permitted at any unguarded beach during daylight hours during this time period. In the off-season all ocean beaches are open to fishing. A permit however is required to fish at night during anytime of the year. These permits can be purchased at the Ranger Station.

The entrance to the Hook is the first area that should be explored as it offers excellent opportunities for striped bass, weakfish, and bluefish. The parking area at the Toll Plaza will give one access to both the beaches along the Shrewsbury River and the oceanfront. At this point the Shrewsbury River parallels the Hook and empties into Sandy Hook Bay. Swift currents are present along the Bay side and will necessitate the need for quick sinking lines during periods of tidal change. During slack tides intermediate lines will work fine. On the Oceanside one will find a moderately sloping beach with only one small rock jetty that is present at this point. There are however numerous holes and drop-offs in the surf zone that traditionally hold fish throughout the season.
FIGHTING A STRIPER
As you move north along the main road or by boat through the Bay you will encounter Plum Island that is the next location that is worth investigating. This area is mostly fished from shore and is frequently bypassed by boaters. Here you will find the old boat channel that runs relatively close to the Island's beach. It is known for its steep drop-off that provides excellent structure to attract large weakfish throughout the spring. Parking is available adjacent to the Island at Area B . A short distance north of Plum Island in the Bay is Skeleton Island and the surrounding waters of Spermaceti Cove. This entire area offers an excellent combination of channels, flats, cuts, and drop-offs. It is a favorite area for the longrodder to seek shelter from the wind when it is blowing hard out of the northeast along the oceanfront. Working the cuts around Skeleton Island that separate it from Sandy Hook are particularly productive during the outgoing tides as baits are flushed through these narrow passageways. The boater should exercise caution however in this area as the flats come up quickly as you move close to the shoreline. Small blues will frequently blitz the surface in this area providing excellent action when casting surface poppers or Bob's Bangers on floating lines. Access to this area on foot is adjacent to Parking Areas C, D, and the Visitor Center.

Just north of Spermaceti Cove you will find the Ranger Station, Area E, and Area F or better known as the Fishing Beach. Good beachfront access is available along this section and many longrodders will get a shot at false albacore in the fall as they move in and out harassing small baits such as rainfish, spearing, and peanut bunker.

North of this location on the Bay side is Horseshoe Cove, another sheltered location with plenty of fly fishing opportunities. At the northern most point of the Cove is an old artillery bunker that has dispersed rubble around the water's edge. One can stand at this location and cast without entering into the water.
A NICE ALBIE
As one heads further north by boat out into the main part of Sandy Hook Bay you will come to the area known as the Bug Light. This area of Sandy Hook is part of historic Fort Hancock and home to one of the U.S. Coast Guard bases that are found along the Coast. This location forms what is known as the true tip of Sandy Hook. This is an excellent location to fish as water refracting around the tip of the Hook creates fast currents and rip lines.

As you proceed around the tip of the Hook heading east you will come to a location that is well known throughout the state as "The Rip". The Sandy Hook Rip has been highly publicized and is well known for the trophy fish that can be taken from her waters. Currents move through here very quickly and make it a difficult area to fly fish but targeting these waters as the tide slackens can result in pretzeling your rod with a trophy linesider. Fishing larger bunker patterns or wide-bodied deceivers particularly in the fall can be rather productive.

The area of "The Rip" can also be accessed by foot. You will need to park in the Nine Gun Battery lot that is located at the end of the main road adjacent to the Coast Guard Station. From here you will walk the Fisherman's Trail out to the beach. You can wade out into the water and fish the drop-offs that run parallel to the beach at this point.
BIG STRIPERS
Heading two miles east of "The Rip" will bring you to the area known as the False Hook and the False Hook Channel. This is the northern most point of the New Jersey Coastline before the topography of the land refracts around to form its tip. Here you will fine some high dunes where the fly fisher can tuck behind when the wind is howling from the southeast. Excellent rip lines along with water depths reaching twenty feet are available close to shore.

If you head south at this location along the oceanfront beach you will come to North Beach. In the fall this is one of the first outer beaches in New Jersey that sees a large concentration of mullet and peanut bunker congregate along the shoreline as they migrate to more southerly waters. Here we will see some of the first New Jersey blitzes that are so typical as baits are pinned right against the shoreline by stripers, blues, and false albacore.

Lastly, the waters that lie adjacent to the tip of Sandy Hook consist of three locations that make up some of the finest fishing grounds along our Coast. These areas are Romer Shoal, Flynns Knoll, and the Raritan Reach. All three of these locations are best fished by anchoring up and creating a chum slick to bring the fish up towards the boat. Here the fly fisher will need to utilize quick sinking lines like the Airflo DF500 or heads fabricated from Cortland's LC13 to get down to the level of the fish. The hour on either side of slack high or low tide is the best time.

Sandy Hook is a Carry In/Carry Out Park so please take your trash with you when leaving. Trash bags are provided throughout the Park. To get to Sandy Hook take Exit 117 on the Garden Sate Parkway to Route 36 East to its end. Or head north along Ocean Avenue through the towns of Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright. Either route will take you directly to the Park entrance.

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