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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

  • 2017-06-23 Ristori Bay Head

      Capt. Dave De Gennaro had good news about weakfish as mostly 15-to-17-inchers have shown up on the west side of Barnegat Bay. There were also a couple of 23 and 20 inches that hit killies while Hi-Flier from Barnegat was drifting for fluke. Bluefish of all sizes are abundant in the inlet, and are hitting poppers and soft plastics along with a few short stripers.
  • 2017-06-08 Captain Ron Atlantic Highlands

    Found some better action today with nice keeper Fluke.  Capt. Ron Sr. did his thing and I even managed to wet a line and land a nice 4 pound fish. Had two Weakfish in the mix with a couple blues also. 
  • 2017-02-16 Ristori Bay Head

    NOAA Fisheries issued a warning to New Jersey fishermen a few years ago warning them that they'd better learn how to fish for red drum as climate change would be sending southern species further to the north. There was no indication in the NOAA Fisheries prediction that the fisheries scientists there are aware that the Central Jersey Shore was the place to be for red drum anglers a century ago -- and that their reappearance would only be a return to the norm of a hundred years ago.
  • 2017-02-02 Ristori Bay Head

    The ASMFC meeting in Virginia finally came up with a summer flounder regulation for 2017, but NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin is standing fast in insisting on status quo regulations pending completion of a new baseline summer flounder stock assessment which many expect will show that species is in much better condition than outdated statistics presently indicate. com shore blogs fishing or updates on the fluke situation as well as other species involved at the ASMFC meeting.
  • 2017-02-01 Ristori Bay Head

    Commissioner Martin will be testifying at 8 tomorrow morning before the ASMFC meeting in Virginia -- and seems prepared to go out of compliance if necessary. I'll have more about this tomorrow.
  • 2017-01-30 Ristori Bay Head

    There were a few legal blackfish and some shorts, but the Ocean Explorer is expecting better results offshore in lighter winds on Tuesday. Sunday's porgy fishing on the Jamaica from Brielle was slower than expected due to strong currents, but there were catches of up to 25 to 30 scup along with a few ling -- and several weakfish.
  • 2017-01-07 Ristori Bay Head

    The redfish were around the docks both N and S of the Ft. Pierce Inlet most were undersized, but we did catch a couple of slot fish as we fought our way through the sheepshead to get to them. I was able to get out the inlet and fish along the inshore reefs and had 2 days of great fishing.
  • 2016-12-09 Ristori Bay Head

    Following are preliminary results of the Beach N Boat Tournament 2016 Top Anglers CONGRATULATIONS to All Beach N Boat Anglers!2 BLACK DRUM Place Angler Weight First Place Luke Dombrowski 74 Second Place Denise Theiler 52.
  • 2016-11-03 Ristori Bay Head

    The Hi-Mar Striper Club's Fall 40-hour Bob Kamienski Striped Bass Tournament ended up with good weather last weekend after being postponed the previous weekend due to gale warnings. The striper tournament season concludes this weekend with the Staten Island Tuna Club's Big Bass Shootout from Saturday night through Sunday.
  • 2016-10-27 Ristori Bay Head

    That's especially the case in Raritan Bay where the sky is often full of birds working on peanut bunkers being pushed to the surface by stripers of various sizes, When I was out there Wednesday with Capt. Irwin Heinrich on his Scales N Tales out of Twin Lights Marina in Highlands, there was lots of small boat traffic in a gusty and very cold north wind -- and then that fleet was joined by the Golden Eagle from Belmar, Miss Belmar Princess, and the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant. In November 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) petitioned the Mid-Atlantic Council to designate 13 artificial reef sites as SMZs under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan.

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