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NJ Fishing Regulations Overview 2017

name Season Bag Limit Size Limit Note
Weakfish OPEN 1 13.00 No Closed Season

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Weakfish

(Cynoscion Regalis)

Other Names: Sparklers, Weakies, Yellow Fins, Tiderunners

General Information

Also known as, Sea Trout, Sparklers, Common Sea Trout. Weakfish are one of the prettier fish in the sea. With a blue-green back, and sides covered in tones of blue, purple, gold, and copper, and yellow fins. It may halso have small dark spots on the upper part of the body that sometimes form diagonal lines. Two large canine teeth usually present at tip of the upper jaw.

It gets its name from it's fragile mouth which tears easily when hooked . Weakfish are a member of the drum family, which includes spot, red drum, black drum and Atlantic croaker. Each of these fish is able to make a croaking sound by vibrating its swim bladder using special muscles. It's use is associated with spawning or in repsonse to fear. 

NJ Fishing Season

No closed season. 1 Fish at 13 inches minimum per person.

Weakfish stocks are in poor shape. Most years you can catch Weakfish in the bay from Mid-April until the end of May and then again in August and September. From September onward, most fish are caught in the Ocean close to the beach.

Weakfish Sizes

Weakfish caught by fisherman in NJ range anywhere from 10-11 inches (year of hatch) up to some giant "tiderunners" weighing 15lbs.(and up to 9 years old) and up. Most fish are in the 12 - 18 inch range.

 
Current Records
 
Weight
Catch Place
Catch Date
Angler
IGFA World Record
  19 lbs. 12 oz. Staten Island New York May 7, 2008 Dave Alu
NJ State Record
  18 lbs. 8 oz. Delaware Bay 1986 Karl Jones
 

Food (Bait)

The Weakfish feed primarily on schooling fish, such as anchovies and menhaden. They will also prey upon crabs, shrimps, mollusks.

Angling Tips

Weakfish can be some challenging fish to catch on occasion. They are particularly boat shy. To have success it is suggested to fish at early/late light with minimal boat traffic in the area. Drifting and casting Pink Finesse is one way to catch them. Others anchor and chum heavily with grass shrimp.

Reproduction

Weakfish spawn from April through August. Chesapeke Bay is known as a main breeding ground for Weakfish as it so a lesser extent Barneget Bay. In most years, the first weakfish begin to show up in Barnegat bay around April 15. The early arrivers are large fish coming in to spawn. The Larvae then spend the summer drifting through the waters of the bay, gradually finding their nursery areas in low-salinity rivers. Once they have grown to about 5 inches long, weakfish begin to swim towards saltier waters, leaving the Bay by late Autumn.

Habitat

Adults weakfish move inshore and north during warm months inhabiting the surf, inlets, bays, channels, and rivers. Adults move offshore and south during the cold months. Weakfish are found throughout the the Bay during spring and summer. In autumn, weakfish leave the Bay to migrate southward. Weakfish are found in the western North Atlantic, from Canada to northern Florida. The IGFA record weakfish was caught in Raritan Bay. A whopping 19lbs, 2oz. Read about it here.
New IGFA All-Tackle World Record Weakfish!

Handling

Like all fish, getting a weakfish on ice is key. It can be bled by running a knife along the edge of it's gill plate. It does Not freeze well as the meat will beome mushy.

Cooking

A prized eating fish. It can be broiled, fried, used in soups, etc. It is versatile enough to use in a variety of ways.

 

Latest NJ Weakfish Reports

No Weakfish Reports Found