Weakfish have been far more plentiful in New Jersey bays this year than has been the case for several years. Let’s look at the best weakfish lures and strategies for catching these popular gamefish.
One speckled saltwater jewel captures the hearts of New Jersey anglers during the summer – weakfish. Remember them? Seems like it’s been way too long that we’ve said the word weakfish much in fishing reports around New Jersey or had reason to discuss how to catch weakfish. Reasons for their lack of presence in recent years has been hotly debated with varying theories, though none scientifically proven.
In the late 1990s I recall heading out for a morning in Barnegat Bay and having no problem tangling with a half dozen 5- to 10-pound tide-runners before sunup on soft baits, then grass shrimping hundreds of weakfish in the 2-to-4-pound range all day long. The mid- to late 2000s saw a marked decline in the fishery. Some springs since, they’ve sort of shown up, with a dozen here and there. Other years, you wouldn’t hear of one being caught.
So far in 2022, a wild rebound has been happening in the backwaters and surf from one tip of the state to the other, with fish from 2 to 12 pounds seemingly haunting the backwaters in solid numbers. So, let’s look at how to catch weakfish and where to find them.