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Charter Boat Fishing in Cape May

Posted 07/18/05
By Paul Kerlinger
Outdoors Editor

Just because you don’t have your own boat, doesn’t mean you can’t fish in the ocean off Cape May.

Every day throughout much of the year, dozens of charter and party boats sail out of Cape May and Wildwood, taking you to some of the best fishing on the East Coast.

They'll even provide bait, fish cleaning, equipment, and instructions.

Charter boats, unlike party boats which are open to the public on a daily basis, must be booked or reserved in advance. Charter boats are also usually limited to a smaller number of people, usually a family or a group of friends.

Help for both newbies and veterans

Down Deep

One of the best reasons to choose a charter boat is that it is one of the most personalized of fishing adventures available. Captains and mates will provide assistance to seasoned anglers as well as rank novices. They provide excellent tackle and bait, and they will give you personal lessons on how to hook and land your fish. All are experienced at catch and release, which has become very popular in recent times.

6 Packs

Adam Bomb

There are several types of charters, including the most popular “6-pack”, which is limited to a maximum of 6 people.

There are also larger charters, which take on 20-30+ people, usually on boats that are 50 feet long and larger. Both these types of charters must have captains who are licensed by the Coast Guard.

In Cape May, the most popular charters are for 6 or fewer passengers. These boats, with excellent captains and colorful names like Stalker, Adam Bomb, Down Deep, and Story Teller, range in length from 28 to 42 feet and are all Coast Guard inspected. They have onboard bathrooms and other amenities for comfort.

Seasonal Fish
The Stalker

The fish targeted by these boats changes seasonally. For example in spring captains focus on striped bass and in late spring, drum to 80+ pounds are caught, mostly on night trips. In summer, these captains switch over to bluefish, flounder/fluke, sea bass, croaker, weakfish, shark, and a few other species.

When the blue water fish arrive, some of the captains will even take you offshore to fish for tuna, mahi mahi, false albacore, and even marlin.

In autumn, the focus changes back to striped bass for the autumn runs along with slammer bluefish. Also in autumn and into winter (as well as early spring), captains will fish the wrecks for big tautog (also called blackfish), seabass, and even cod and pollock at times.

Length of Trip

The Storyteller

The length of daily or nightly trips varies depending on the quarry being sought. Normal one-half day trips are 4+ hours and full day trips are about 8 hours.

Long-distance offshore trips and night trips are tailored to suit the fishing. Most importantly, the captains are flexible and switch fish or places to take advantage of what’s available and where the fish are. They know their job is to make anglers and their friends and families happy.

A few of the charter boats offer split charters, in which one or two individuals can call to see if there others seeking to split a charter on a specific date.

There are also a few boats that act similar to party boats to fill in a 6 passenger charter that only has 4 or 5 people booked.

Call any of the captains on the charter boat page to ask whether this arrangement is possible.

Smaller Charters

The Tiderunner

In addition to the 6 pack charters, there are also a few charter boats that take only 1 to 3 people. The captains of these boats are also licensed in the same manner as the 6-pack boats, but they are often called guides.

They literally use their boats for guiding individuals or pairs of people on very personalized fishing expeditions. A perfect example of this is the Tiderunner, an 18 1/2 foot flats boat. Captain Ray specializes in back bay fly and light spin fishing.

Whether you choose a half-day or full day trip, inshore or offshore, back-bay or Delaware Bay charter, you will undoubtedly have a great time.

Have a fishing question??
Go to the Cape May Fishing Forum.

 

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