Cape May Fall Fishing September 16 to December 15

By Paul Kerlinger
Outdoors Editor

The run of mullet out of the back bays and along the beaches signals the beginning of fall fishing in Cape May. As these fish move, surf and sod bank fishing picks up. Cut and live mullet, plugs, and mullet-like flies produce on striped bass, bluefish, and even flounder.

The mullet run lasts until the first week or two in October, after which other baitfish are moving and being chased by the striped bass and bluefish. Bottom fishing for kingfish and croakers close to shore can be excellent during September and into early October.

These fish, as well as flounder and weakfish wind down as mid-October approaches and they are replaced by migrating striped bass and bluefish. These runs include larger fish chasing bunker and herring. From mid-October into early December, blitzes of bass and blues occur up and down the shore, in the inlets, and even in the back bays.

The Cape May Rips heats up in October and that fishing can last well into December. Drifting in the rips with live eels, clams, and cut bunker as well as bucktails yield some of the biggest bass of the year, along with smaller numbers of bluefish. Trolling nearshore also pays off for striped bass and bluefish, with some boats simply following the birds to feeding schools.

A few speckled trout (sea trout) even show up in mid-October and stay through November. October also marks the beginning of good fall fishing for sea bass and tog. The former are caught on insure reefs and wrecks, whereas the latter are mixed with the sea bass or are found at bridges, jetties, and other structure right on the shore and in the back bays.

Offshore fishing for tuna, mahi, and others continues through September and even later, as water temperatures stay fairly warm into October.

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