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.
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
BAIT IN THE SURF
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.
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.
FIGHTING A STRIPER
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.
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.
A NICE ALBIE
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.
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
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