NJSALTFISH.com

1000's of NJ Saltwater Fishing Reports, Dozens of Sources, Maps, Wrecks, Historical Search

Barnegat Bay Winter Flounder Hot Spots and Techniques

I was introduced to saltwater fishing when I was 7 years old while ishing from my uncle's Boston Whaler for Winter Flounder in Barnegat Bay. Almost 50 years later and I sill remember a couple of things vividly from that first trip.

Winter Flounder

It was cold!

Unless your boat has a cabin or surround, it seems no matter how much clothing you wear it is never enough to keep yourself warm. Needless to say, my uncle's Whaler did not have any shelter. Generally speaking bay water temps (and Winter Flounder preferred temperatures) are in the 40's and 50's in March and April. If you are fishing for winter flounder, bundle up.

It was fun!

It took me all of one trip to realize I loved this. Quite honestly, it was not until I was over 40 could I sleep the night before fishing. Too much excitement and adrenaline pumping. I think winter flounder are underestimated in terms of their fighting ability and overall aggression.  The fishing is done with light tackle at most 8-10 ft of water and everyone of flounder comes up “green”. 

Since my introduction to winter flounder fishing, generations have passed.  And after dozens (if not hundreds) of fishing trips later certain things tend to become clearer as to how to catch more of these fine tasting fish.

 

When to Catch Winter Flounder


Winter Flounder become active in early spring as bay water temperatures begin to rise. My father always said that St. Patrick's Day was the day to mark on your calendar as the unofficial kick-off to the season. The preferred water temperature range for winter flounder is between 48-52 F.  Once the bluefish enter the bay in force, usually late April to early May you can pretty much count on the season being over until the fall.

 

Where to Catch Winter Flounder

Winter flounder prefer muddy bottom where sea worms are prevalent. In addition to providing habitat to the winter flounder's primary forage, the other thing the muddy bottom does is to soak up the warming rays of the sun. Sometimes, just a small difference in bottom temps can really ignite a bite. There are any number of areas in Barnegat Bay that could fit that bill. I am going to cover 3 of them that I have had my best luck at.

Disclaimer:  Maps and locations are approximate.  Not to be used for navigation:

 

Loveladies ICW

Early in the season the fish seem to lie more away from the inlet One early season spot is to the south of the bay toward Loveladies, NJ. The ICW between buoy 44 and buoy 47 marks the area. You can note on the map that shallow water is on the east side of the area so don't go outside the channel on the green side.  The red side is more forgiving as the water is deeper. Until you become comfortable in the area,  just stay inside the red markers and you will be fine. I like to anchor somewhere near the middle of the shaded area.  Thie area has a thick muddy bottom.  This area only seems to do well early in the season.  By early to mid April, the fish have moved on from here.

 

 

Oyster Creek Run Off

To the north, the mud flats direclty in front of the Oyster Creek outfolow is prime winter flounder area. This area really hits the trifecta when it comes to location. It has a mud bottom, the warm water outflow from the Oyster Creek generating station, and the area is adjacent to Oyster Creek Channel.   Oyster Creek Channel is one of only 2 main channels connecting the west side of the bay to the inlet.  The other channel, Double Creek Channel is not officially open since hurricane Sandy.  

You will want to anchor somewhere in the area shaded on the map.   As a reference you want to stay north of the 'BI' buoy and Oyster Creek Channel entrance.

As the season progresses the flounder migrate toward the inlet. Fish to the north migrate out of Oyster Creek Channel. Fish to the south migrate out of Double Creek channel. I prefer not to fish directly in Oyster Creek Channel because just too much boat traffic goes by for a comfortable day. Double Creek Channel can be good at times and is not nearly as busy with boat traffic but that channel is not open at the moment so unfortunately we miss the ability to 'follow the migration' . 

 

Meyers' Hole 

At the tail end of the season (early May) , Meyers' Hole can hold a large number of flounder. The hole lays right off the main channel toward the inlet and acts as a staging area for flounder before they make their final push offshore. 

 

 

How to Catch Winter Flounder

Not too much disagreement exists on advice on how to catch winter flounder. Commonly, everyone agrees what you need to do to be successful.

 

Anchor Up

Unlike it's summer cousin, the fluke, winter flounder are more sedintary and you can not successfully drift for them. So you need to anchor your boat in a prime winter flounder zone and sit tight. Some (most) would agree it is best to double anchor to reduce swing when possible.

 

Chum Heavily

You will not put together a nice catch of winter flounder unless you chum and heavily at that. Types of chum vary though your choice may be limited to what is available in your local bait shop. The 2 most popular types of chum are clam and mussel. These come in frozen quart size logs in plastic bags which are lowered to the bottom with a chum pot. You should make a couple of slits lengthwise in the plastic bag the chum log is in with your bait knife. This will facilitate the release of chum from the log into the current and start drawing the winter flounder to you. It is best to tie off your chum pot as much up current as possible onto your boat. Periodically, bounce the chum pot on the bottom to help stir things up and get the chum flowing. Using 2 (or more) chum pots is advisable.  The chum pots are weighted so they drop easily to the bottom. You should not have to spend more than $20 - $25 on a chum pot.

In addition to frozen clam and mussel chum, there are a number of other things you can chum with to supplement your chum pot. Any kind of fresh shells such as mussels, clam, oysters et can be cracked and dropped to the bottom. Many old timers mix toghether cat foot, rice, and other ingreditents into a home brew. Grass shrimp are an excellent chum as well.

 

Bait

I have always had the best results with bloodworms for bait. Sandworms would be second best and mussels third. It is important to keep the baits small. You should cut your worms into pieces no bigger than 2 - 2.5 inches. Winter flounder have a very small mouth.  You do not want your worm balled up on your hook but rather dangling freely.

Gulp! Bloodworms are an excellent to use in addition to live bloodworms. It is best to try both live and Gupl Bloodworms while fishing for winter flounder and determine on that day which one is working best.

 

 

Tackle

This is definitely a light tackle fishery. Fish rarely weigh more than 2.5 lbs and you will be fishing in shallow water so heavy sinkers are not required.  You will want to have a rig with 2 or 3 hooks. I like to rig my hooks with small yellow grubs or buy hook sets with corn beads. Yellow is winter flounder's favorite color so I try to give them as much of that color as I can.  I even spray paint my sinkers yellow.  You can get ths rigs you need for Winter Flounder for just a little over $2.

 

 

Technique

2 basic schools of thought here. Dead stick or don't dead stick. This is an easy answer to me. Don't dead stick. Rather I prefer to lift my sinker slowly off the bottom and back down in 3 bounce increments with each increment a couple of seconds apart. Then take a 30 second break and repeat. I believe this light jigging action will help you to put many more fish in the box than simple dead-sticklng.

The 'best' time to winter flounder fish is on a nice warm sunny late morning on the very last of the incoming tide through slack, through the first couple hours of the outgoing tide. Now, those conditions may not coincide with when you can fish but that would be my description of when is the best time. One thing I can tell you, winter flounder is one of the few fish that I don't really try to get an early start. You need the sun to be your friend with this fish. The outgoing tide is key because in the Spring the ocean temps are colder then the bay. The incoming waters therefore tend to shut down the fishing. Once the water starts flowing out, the warmer shallows start draining through the channels and the fish start to feed.

 

 

 

Comments   

-1 # july 4th 2017 events 2017-06-30 07:30
Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well
written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful
info. Thanks for the post. I'll definitely comeback.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Munna Michael 2017-07-19 17:50
There is definately a great deal to learn about this topic.
I really like all of the points you've made.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

NJ Boat Ramps Map

longitude latitude name description address city zip phone
-74.1341 39.9052 Rinderer's Marine
Concrete ramp
No fee
Sloop Creek Rd.; Bayville Bayville 08721 732-269-9494
-74.139 40.8112 Nutley Municipal Ramp
Concrete
Fee per launch
Park Avenue Nutley 07110 973-284-4966
-74.1594 40.7626 E.J. Vicent Waterfront Park
Concrete ramp
Permit required
Bergen Ave. Kearny 07032 201-955-7983
-73.9201 40.9548 Hazzard's Ramp
201-993-3253
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Palisades Interstate Park; Englewood Cl Englewood Cl 07632
-74.0604 40.6953 Liberty State Park
201-9150-3401
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Jersey City
-74.2026 40.6346 Elizabeth Municipal Ramp
Concrete Ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Front St. Elizabeth 908-820-4296
-74.2545 40.5454 Woodbridge Township Ramp
 
Cliff Rd. and Ferry St. Woodbridge
732-6340-4500
C
-74.4272 40.4907 Highland Park Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Yearly fee
Rest rooms
Foot of Second Ave. Highland Park 732-745-3900
-74.3832 40.4888 Edison Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Meadow Rd. Edison 732-248-7219
-74.3558 40.4745 Sayreville Muncipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fee
Rest rooms
River Road Sayreville 08871 732-257-3700
-74.2752 40.4833 South Amboy boat Club
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fee
Rest rooms
Foot of George St. South Amboy 732-727-0657
-74.2152 40.4357 Wagner's Twin Towers Marina
732-583-6930
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Amboy Rd.; Clifford Clifford
-74.2073 40.4357 Keyport MaineBasin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
West Front St. Keyport 07735 732-264-9421
-74.1997 40.4389 Olsen Boat works
Concret ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
East Front St. Keyport 07735 732-264-4198
-74.2026 40.4394 Keyport Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fees
Rest rooms
American Legion Dr. and Lower Broad St. Keyport 07735 732-739-3900
-74.0607 40.4224 Leonardo State Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
24 hrs. Rest rooms
Concord Ave. Leonardo 732-291-1333
-74.037 40.4171 Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Foot of First Ave Atlantic Highlands 732-291-1670
-74.043 40.3661 Fair Haven Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Seasonal fee
Batten Rd Fair Haven 732-747-0241
-74.0776 40.3509 Sea Land Marina
732-741-5753
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
West Front Street Red Bank
-74.0848 40.3489 Chris River Marina "
732-741-9676
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
"
West Front St. Red Bank
-73.9739 40.3351 Monmouth Beach Ocean Boat Launch
732-229-2204
Small boats only
No fee
Route 36 (Ocean Ave) Monmouth Beach
-74.0026 40.3121 Pleasure Bay
Asphalt ramp
No fee
River Lane Long Branch 732-222-7000
-73.977 40.3173 Long Beach Ocean Boat Launch
732-222-7000
Sand beach ocean launch site
Small boats only
No fee
Seven Presidents Park Ocean Ave Long Branch
-74.0287 40.189 Bry's Marine
732-775-7364
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fees
Rest rooms
Highway 35; Neptune Neptune 07753
-74.039 40.192 Shark River Hills Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Riverside Dr. Neptune 07753 732-775-7400
-74.043 40.1765 Belmar Marine Basin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Highway 35 Belmar 732-681-2266
-74.042 40.111 Manasquan Marine Center
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Brielle Road Manasquan 732-223-4277
-74.101 40.1245 Cove Haven Marina
Concret ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Ridge Rd. Brick 08723 732-458-2016
-74.0514 40.0659 Point Pleasant Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
No fee
Rest rooms
Foot of bay Ave. Pt. Pleasant 732-892-3434
-74.0939 40.026 Baywood Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Pilot Dr. Brick 08723 732-477-3322
-74.0772 40.058 Sherman's Boat Basin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Princeton Ave.; Brick Brick 08723 732-295-0103
-74.1284 40.0661 Green Cove Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee perlaunch
Rest rooms
Division St. Brick 08723 732-840-9090
-74.1317 40.0673 Johnson Boat Basin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
route 70 Brick 08723 732-840-9530
-74.0748 39.9692 Lavallette Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Seasonal permit
Bay Blvd. Lavallette 732-793-2111
-74.0795 39.9484 Bayside Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Bayside Terrace Seaside Heights 732-793-8554
-74.1905 39.9464 East Dover Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Fisher Blvd. Toms river 732-270-1104
-74.1448 39.9395 Island Heights Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Seasonal fee
Residents only
Lake Dr. Island Heights 732-270-6415
-74.1318 39.9435 Gilford Park Yacht Club
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fees
Rest rooms
Riverside Dr. Toms River 732-269-9838
-74.1198 39.9273 Ocean Gate Yacht Basin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Bayview Ave. Ocean Gate 08740 732-269-2565
-74.085 39.9144 Seaside Park Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Seasonal permits
Bayview Ave. and 13th St. S. Seaside Park 732-793-0234
-74.1129 39.923 Becker's Boat Basin
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Bayview Ave.; Ocean Gate Ocean Gate 08740 732-269-3723
-74.1364 39.8863 Whitney's landing
Asphalt ramp
Fee per launch
Butler Blvd.; Bayville Bayville 08721 732-269-1186
-74.1415 39.8736 Downe's Fishing Camp
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Brennan concourse; Bayville Bayville 08721 732-269-0137
-74.1409 39.8736 Trixie's Landing
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Brennan Concourse; Bayville Bayville 08721 732-269-5838
-74.1602 39.873 Up The Creek Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Harbor Inn Rd. Bayville 08721 732-269-6469
-74.1586 39.8608 Laurel Harbor Marina
Concrete ramp,
Fee per launch
Laurel Blvd. Lanoka Harbor 609-693-6111
-74.1886 39.8309 Rick's Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Marine Plaza; Forkd River Forkd River 08731 609-693-2134
-74.1852 39.8306 Townsend's Marina
Concret ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
East Lacey Rd. Forked River 609-693-6100
-74.1828 39.7919 Waretown Fishing Station
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Bryant Rd. Waretown 08758 609-693-2813
-74.1867 39.7882 Mac's Dock
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Oregon Ave.; Waretown Waretown 08758 609-693-3658
-74.1114 39.7575 Barnegat Light Municipal Ramp
Asphalt ramp
Daily or seasonal fees
Rest rooms
Bayview Ave. and 10th St. Barneget Light 08006 609-494-2343
-74.1799 39.6619 Surf City Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal permits
Rest rooms
Division St. and Bay Ave. Surf City 609-494-3064
-74.216 39.6682 Margo's Inn Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Route 72; Manahawkin Manahawkin 609- 597-4970
-74.2813 39.6232 West Creek Municipal Ramp
Concrete Ramp
No fee
Cedar Run and Dock Rd. West Creek 609-296-3040
-74.2702 39.6161 Mariners Landing
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Dock Rd. West Creek 609-296-3040
-74.2961 39.609 Little Egg Harbor
Asphalt ramp
No fee
Brook St. Parkertown 609-296-7241
-74.238 39.5706 Beach Haven Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Seasonal permit
Rest rooms
Foot of 9th St. Beach Haven 609-492-0111
-74.344 39.6018 Skinner's Marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Bartlett Ave.;Tuckerton Tuckerton 08087 609-296-3051
-74.332 39.5477 Captain Mike's
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Great Bay Blvd.; Tuckerton Tuckerton 08087 609-296-4406
-74.3349 39.5516 Rand's Boat
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Great Bay Blvd.; Tuckerton Tuckerton 08087 609-2964457
-74.3882 39.5395 Great Bay marina
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Radio Rd. tuckerton 08087 609-296-2392
-74.4698 39.5483 Chestnut Neck Boat Yard
Concrete ramp
Fee per launch
Rest rooms
Route 9 Port Republic 609-652-1119
-74.37 39.4086 Brigantine Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
Daily or seasonal fees
Rest rooms
6th St. and Bay shore Ave. Brigantine 609-266-7600
-74.4879 39.4265 Absecon Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
no fee
East Faunce Landing Rd. Absecon 609-641-0663
-74.463 39.3514 Atlantic City Municipal Ramp
Concrete ramp
No fee
Blvd. Ave. Atlantic city 609-347-5421
-74.4782 39.3412 Ventnor Municipal Ramp
Sand beach launch
Small boats only
No fee
ski Beach Dorsett Ave. Ventnor 609-823-7904

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Web Analytics