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New Jersey Scuba Diving


New Jersey Scuba Diving


Most folks catch fish with hook and line. A successful fisherman combines skill, knowledge, and experience with a good deal of luck to essentially trick a fish into catching itself. If the fish won't bite, you go home empty. However, scuba divers have a much more dynamic method available to them - spearfishing. Spearfishing is more akin to hunting than to hook and line fishing: rather than relying on a convincingly-presented bait or lure, the spearfisherman enters the environment of his quarry and pursues it on its own terms.

It is a pursuit where the hunter has many disadvantages. A fish can sense your approach in ways we can only imagine, flee at speeds no diver will ever match, shelter in inaccessible holes and crevices, and sometimes even dodge your best shot. Compared to a fish, a diver is incredibly slow, clumsy, and noisy. And a fish can hide with eternal patience, while a diver typically has only 30-40 minutes of air to catch something or not. It hardly seems like a fair fight, but with the proper techniques and equipment, success can be just a dive away.

Readers with delicate sensibilities should stop here. You might prefer Photography.

Choose Your Weapon

There are essentially two choices of weapon for spearfishing: pole spears and spearguns. The speargun is probably the first thing that comes to mind for most readers - conjuring up images of Seahunt, James Bond, and countless other TV shows and movies. Everyone knows what a speargun looks like - a roughly pistol-shaped device that fires a two-foot steel dart. Everyone probably also has a pretty good idea what a pole spear looks like, but an underwater pole spear is a different in form and use from a terrestrial javelin. Rather than throwing it ( which would be difficult to impossible underwater ) a pole spear ( or "Hawaiian sling" ) has a loop of rubber tubing at the butt end that is used to launch it directly from the hand, the shaft sliding through the loosened hand without ever leaving it.


Spearguns are useful for hunting large fishes, such as Blackfish, which require greater hitting power for a good penetration. However, complicated multi-step loading procedure, and consequent low rate of fire make spearguns far less effective on smaller quarry, such as Sea Bass and ling. Spearguns have a longer range thanpole spears ( which is not always useful in poor visibility ) but there is always the possibility that you may lose your spear if a struck fish drags it out of reach into a hole and it wedges there. Just such a situation led to my first ever decompression dive ( but I got my spear back, and a 10 lb tog. ) Finally, with a speargun, if you miss, forget about it - by the time you reassemble the whole thing, the fish will be gone.

Compact, short-range "rock-style" guns are more useful than the long blue-water guns that are used in the tropics. The best point for a speargun is the twin-barbed point . Don't worry about keeping it razor sharp - your misses will dull it up pretty quickly. You can return it to some degree of pointiness with a hand file from time to time. Spearguns have higher maintenance costs than pole spears, as the bands wear out surprisingly fast, and are not cheap. Carry extras - you can even wrap one around the buttstock of the gun for underwater replacement. The "high-power" amber bands ( JBL 216 ) wear our particularly fast - replace them with the thinner black ones ( JBL 614 or 618. ) When replacing speargun slings, remember that the quoted length does not include the metal band, only the rubber tubing.

Pneumatic ( air-powered ) guns are also available. I don't like them, and I don't even like being around them, although in truth I have never seen an accident. JBL makes good aluminum or wood band-style guns, although over time the trigger mechanisms tend to bind up. AB Biller guns are more expensive, but have much smoother longer-lasting releases. Another big name in spearguns is Riffe, which makes beautiful but terribly expensive spearguns.

Pole Spears

A pole spear has much less hitting power than even a small speargun, but a much faster reload time. This makes them good for Sea Bass and many smaller fishes, and even medium sized Blackfishes. Some fish are even dumb enough to hang around after a miss, and give you a second and sometimes a third shot with a fast-loading pole spear.

Pole spears are also less prone to entanglement than spearguns - making them useful for shooting into holes and crevices. Low initial cost and low maintenance ( just a new piece of surgical tubing now and then ) make this a very cost-effective weapon. Although most spears come with a cheap single-pronged point, a three-pronged barbed "paralyzer" tip is far more effective, and well worth the extra cost.

Over time, the tines on a paralyzer will spread out, and also become dulled. I have found that sharpness is not critical, and a quick cleanup with a file several times a season is all that is necessary for the points. However, the spreading of the tines greatly reduces the effectiveness of the tool, both in accuracy and penetration. The points on the tines should form a triangle 1/2 inch on a side. The best way to straighten them is to place the spear on a hard surface ( like a garage floor or sidewalk ) and pound the tines down with a hammer at their bases.

Most of the local shops seem to stock only near-useless unbarbed paralyzers. Order a good one from Leisure Pro if you can't get one locally. JBL part # 846, not 845. If you want to build your own spear, most points are threaded for a 6mm bolt.


My preferred spearfishing rig is a long hollow aluminum pole spear with a barbed paralyzer tip, which makes the whole thing almost 7 ft long ( it breaks down for transport. ) the spear floods with water in use, which gives it greater inertia and hitting power, easily enough to take down even a large Blackfish with the right technique. The only thing this rig gives up to a speargun is range - it's useful range is about half that of a speargun.

The two advantages of the pole spear over the speargun are control and rate-of-fire. When a speargun is fired, the spear flies away on its tether, and until you can swim to it and actually place your hands on your prey, you have very little control over the situation. In these few critical seconds, many a fish with thrash itself free and escape. Since a pole spear never actually leaves your hand, you never lose control. This will become apparent in the techniques described below.


Spearfishing is really a solo activity. The presence of other divers in the water certainly does not preclude spearfishing, but the last thing you need is a buddy following you around in close proximity while you hunt, especially if he is spearfishing as well. This is in direct opposition to the conventionally accepted "buddy system" of diving, and therefore makes spearfishing an activity only for more experienced divers who are capable of self-sufficiency in the water.

For every shot, assume you are going to miss. The resulting overshoot must never be a danger to other divers. This means either having visibility well in excess of the range of your weapon ( seldom ) or having a good backstop ( often the bottom is the best backstop. )

Pointed spears are a danger to other divers even when you are not actively hunting. With several people crowding a safety stop, someone could easily be impaled on a dangling spear. When not hunting, unload the bands on a speargun or pole spear. Cap your spear point with a hose protector or other suitable device, and keep it pointed away from people. Barring this, hold the spear by the point in your own hand to ensure that no one else can get stuck, or hold the spear sideways, so it does not threaten those on the line above and below you.

Spearguns especially are not toys, and should be treated in the same manner as firearms. Don't load one ( pull the bands onto the shaft, ) or even play with the bands unless you are actively hunting. Never load one out of the water. I have fired mine through pine boards in backyard tests, and have no doubt that it could kill a man as easily as a 9mm bullet.

As with firearms, never trust the safety on a loaded speargun. This is why I do not like pneumatic guns. With a rubber-band gun, you can visually ascertain that the weapon cannot fire if the bands are not pulled onto the shaft. With a pneumatic gun ... who knows?

In the tropics, sharks are often a concern to spear-fishermen. A bleeding fish is an invitation to a shark. Blue-water fishermen often buoy their catch with a lift bag, or sling it below them to avoid being too close-by if a shark should come around. I have never heard of this being a problem around here, but if it ever was, those methods would work just as well here.



Most underwater hunting in New Jersey waters is done around some sort of structure. Surprise is often the key element to a successful hunt. "Get the drop" on a fish by rounding a corner or popping up over a wall while holding your breath. Don't use a light - this just spooks the fish. Instead, let your eyes adjust to the dark. This way you can see as well as they can, although they can still hear and feel you coming a mile away. Use your light only to peek into black holes, and keep one eye closed when you do, to avoid losing all dark adaptation.

Try to be the first person in the water. The fish will be in a relaxed and unworried state, and you will likely get the first one "for free". This is especially true if you are after trophy-sized Blackfish. Whether or not you score on your first shot, after that all the fish in the area will be spooked. This is because they produce "fear scents" - chemical excretions that warn other fish that there is danger. If you make a kill, you will put blood in the water, which is even worse. So make that first shot count. On the other hand, sometimes the scent of blood will bring in more fish, such as greedy Sea Bass, although more often just Cunners.

If you can't be the first one in the water, try to be the last. Sometimes, you can use the other divers as "beaters" to drive the fish to some distant part of the wreck. This technique works well on large broken-up wrecks such as the Mohawk, but you must take extra care not to get lost. On smaller intact wrecks, previous divers will have driven the fish either inside the wreck, or off to something else nearby, such as an APC in the reef. Start looking in holes.

Another hunting technique is to use bait. Smash a pile of mussels, and then back away to the limit of visibility. Small fish will come in immediately for the free meal, and the commotion may draw in the big ones. Do this in several locations, and move between them.

Different fish react differently to being speared. Sea Bass will often just stiffen up, as will Bluefish. Monkfish are fairly placid if hit correctly, but flounders usually put up some fight. Blackfish almost always go into a violent frenzy of thrashing and spinning. Ling also tend to thrash. If you don't act quickly, these fishes will tear themselves apart, get off the spear, and dart away to die. I always feel bad when this happens, although the dead fish will serve as food for others to grow on, and so is not a total loss. You must expect a certain percentage of your hits to get away like this, but there are ways ( see below ) to minimize the losses.

Get your catch on ice as soon you get back to the boat, and then clean it as soon as possible after getting back to port.

Pole Spear

With a pole spear you must be pretty close to your target to hit it accurately and with enough power to make a kill. Four to five feet is the outside limit. You may score an occasional long-range hit, but these often simply glance off harmlessly, especially if you are after Blackfish. Aiming a pole spear is simply a matter of practice. At first you may not be able to hit anything, as you are basically shooting from the hip, and parallax in the water is different from parallax in the air. Fortunately, since a pole spear never leaves your hand, it is often possible to reload and try again on the same fish !

Once you've scored a hit, immediately pin the fish up against something solid, driving the points of the spear through it so that there is no way it can escape, no matter how it thrashes. Slip your thumb out of the bungee loop, and slide your hand up the shaft of the spear, keeping the fish pinned until you can get your hands on it. Don't try to pull the fish to you. Get your catch bag out, and bring it down to where you are keeping the fish pinned. Get a good grip on the fish, and shove it head-first, spear and all, into your bag. Close the bag around the spear, and pull it out. The barbs of a paralyzer are small enough to pull right out.

It is tiring to carry a fully-cocked pole spear for any period of time, and also difficult to aim one quickly with just one hand. The length of the spear behind you makes it swing very slowly onto target. Sometimes you can guide the back end of the spear with your foot, but this is effective only for a limited firing arc.

A better way is to carry your spear cross-wise in front of you with both hands: your right hand with your thumb in the bungee loop, perhaps slightly tensioned, and your left hand near the spear point ( reverse for lefties. ) You can swim around looking for fish this way with virtually no effort. When a target is found, push the spear to the cocked position with your left hand, while simultaneously swinging the spear onto the target with both hands. With a little practice you can aim and fire very quickly. Another advantage of this method is safety, since the spear is carried in an uncocked state most of the time, with the dangerous end pointed in a relatively harmless direction. Carry your catch bag in your left hand as you hunt, so it is ready for immediate use.

Pole spears are great for shooting fish in enclosed spaces. Many fish like to hide in holes and crevices, such as the gap beneath the hull of a shipwreck or hull plate. You can often get these fish simply by jabbing at them without the elastic band. The difficult part is pulling them out of the hole without having them get off. This is why a barbed spear point is essential. Also, try for a solid head shot, and be sure to plant the points very firmly in the fish. If there is room enough, try swinging the fish out sideways rather than pulling it straight out.


If you can be the first and/or only person in the water, load your gun on the way down the anchor line, so you will be completely ready when you reach the wreck. Do not load a speargun while descending the anchor line if there is a possibility of other divers ascending it at the same time. Pulling the bands onto a speargun is probably the most dangerous time of all, when a slip of the hand might accidentally fire the gun. You can often get a big Blackfish within seconds of hitting the bottom if you are prepared.

I have found that there are two reliable ways to aim a speargun. Either hold it up to eye level and sight carefully down the shaft for a long shot, or put it up point blank to your target and fire. Most fishes, especially large ones, are not cooperative with the second method.

After scoring a hit, drop the gun immediately, swim to the fish and pin it down. If you try to pull a struggling fish to you with the shock line, 99% of the time it will work itself free and you will lose it. Get a solid grip on the fish, and shove it into your bag. Removing a barbed spear point is more complicated than a paralyzer: you have to push it through the fish and then fold the barbs down and pull it back out. If the fish is already in the bag, there is much less chance of losing it while you fuss with the mechanicals.

Many spearguns are nose-heavy, and can be tiring to carry in firing position. You can prop it up on your free hand, but take care not to get entangled in the shock cord when your fire. The light in the picture above makes a handy grip as well. Carry your catch bag in your free hand, or clip it to the gun, so it will be readily accessible. Since spearguns have such a low rate of fire, you really must look for trophy-sized fish to shoot if you expect the endeavor to be worthwhile. In fact, with a powerful gun, some smaller fishes like ling may simply burst when you hit them.

Your Quarry

Here are some pointers for hunting the most common food fishes in our waters. Always make sure a fish that you are targeting is of legal size and in-season - the same rules that apply to hook-and-line fishing apply to spearfishing. Unless you are sure, don't shoot it. See Catch Restrictions & Regulations for catch limits. See also Marine Biology for more detail on all of these and many others.

Black Sea Bass, Porgies,
& small Blackfishes

These relatively small fishes are best pursued with a pole spear - you will need the high rate of fire to catch enough to be worthwhile. Sea Basses like to hide under and around structure, and can often be approached closely if they think they are safe in their den. For firing into enclosed spaces, the pole spear is again the weapon of choice. Try to hit the fish at the back of the head, or in the shoulder. Shots into the soft belly often tear out.

Even small Blackfishes are quite tough, and the initial penetration may not be enough to hold them, so push down quick and hard. All of these, but especially Sea Bass, have needle-sharp spines along the back and belly, which can easily penetrate a glove if handled carelessly. With bare hands, the edges of the gill covers can also give a nasty cut. Don't forget - a big bag of Sea Bass will become your all-day whittling project later. Sea Bass disappear when the water temperature drops below 50°F, and return again when it warms up. There's not a lot of meat on a Porgy, so only the biggest ones are worth taking.

Large Blackfishes

Large Blackfishes have hides like leather and massive bony skulls. Even at close range, a pole spear may just glance off - a speargun is best. Again, shoot for the back of the head or the shoulder, where the fish is most solid. A shot directly to the head may just bounce off. Sometimes the fish will be briefly stunned, and you can recover it by hand. At very close range, shoot at the eye for a very quick and easy kill. As said above, Blackfishes usually thrash and spin when hit, and must be pinned down quickly. Like their tropical cousins, Blackfish fall asleep at night, making them sitting ducks at that time.

Blackfish are most plentiful on the inshore wrecks and reefs from May through June. In July the big adults disappear from the wrecks to their spawning grounds near the beaches, returning in August. As the temperature drops in the Fall, they begin to migrate out to their deep water overwintering areas until Spring. When the water temperature drops below 50°F, Blackfish become rare. The few that stay inshore become quite sluggish, remaining in holes and nooks in a torpid, trancelike state. If you can find them, they are easy prey.


For many years prior, there was essentially no flounder of legal size to be found, but finally increased minimum sizes have paid-off, and 2002 brought a bumper crop of doormat-sized Fluke, and some nice-sized Winter Flounder as well.

Flounders have extraordinary reflexes - much faster than our own. They can easily evade most hand captures, and simply stabbing at them with a knife will usually only result in awounded fish that gets away, if you manage to touch it at all. They are not fast enough to evade a pole spear, though. Shoot at the head if possible, so that even if the fish takes off, you will hit it somewhere. Flounders often travel in schools which disperse after you hit the first fish, but if you are careful and quiet you can sometimes get several. Like the fishes above, flounders vanish into deep water when it gets cold.

Winter Flounder and Summer Flounder ( or Fluke ) have distinctly different seasons, minimum sizes and bag limits, so you should be certain what you are shooting at before you do. Rather than try to remember all the details while you are in the water, a good rule of thumb for the summer months is: if there is at least 3/4 of an inch between the eyes, you can take it. Less than 3/4 of an inch, and you have an out-of-season Winter Flounder, or a too-small Fluke.

Ling, Whiting, Codfishes

These fish are quite soft in the body. A pole spear with a paralyzer tip works best; anything else is likely to tear them apart so badly that they get off and get away. Even with a paralyzer, a belly shot will not hold the fish, instead a good head shot works best, followed by a quick pinion. Oblique shots also work well, although they tend to mess up the fillets. I recommend a canvas bag rather than a mesh bag for hunting these fishes - they are very slimy and smelly, although they yield excellent flaky white boneless flesh if prepared properly.


Goosefish, or Monkfish, as they are known commercially, have powerful jaws and long sharp teeth that can lacerate a hand and destroy a glove or suit, so they should be treated with caution. However, they are not very active, nor are they usually interested in anything that does not come within snapping range. One exception to this is females that are guarding eggs - these can be very aggressive, and will attack and even pursue an incautious diver.

One technique that works with this fish is to shove a pole spear straight down between the eyes, pinning the fish to the bottom, and hopefully disconnecting its brain. Stab it in the head with your dive knife if necessary to complete the job, but don't try to handle this fish until it shows no further sign of resistance. If you don't have a spear, you can try attacking directly with a pointed knife.

Now the fun part: a large Goosefish may be up to four feet and fifty pounds, and is unlikely to fit in your bag. It is better to use a steel fish stringer, as shown at right. Open the stringer, and push it down through both jaws of the fish. You can sharpen the end of the stringer with a file to make this easier. Now, when the stringer is clipped shut, so is the fish's mouth, just in case it wakes up.

Goosefish are one of the slimiest fish in the sea ( although not particularly smelly, ) and will make a disgusting mess of you, your gear, and your boat, so try to handle the fish as little as possible. If you use a stringer as described, you can suspend it below you with a piece of line, clip it to the anchor, or send it up on a lift bag. When bringing the fish aboard the boat, either put it directly into a cooler, or haul it up on the swim step and clean it right then and there. Scrub anything that it has touched with soap and water as soon as possible - don't let the slime dry.

All this is more trouble than most people are willing to go through for a fish. However, if you do take one of these, the meat is boneless, and has a consistency and flavor much like lobster, perhaps even better than lobster.

Striped Bass, Bluefish, Jacks, etc

Fast-moving mid-water fishes are only going to present long shots for a speargun. I've never shot a Striper, or shot at a Striper, but I imagine that these large fast fish would require a gun to take down successfully. Someone feel free to fill in the blanks here.

But Should You Eat It ?

See Health Advisories for information on mercury and other pollutants in seafood.

Cleaning Your Catch

Well that's all just great, but what do I do with it now? Many people have no idea how to clean a fish. Here are some basic instructions:

It is helpful first to understand what you are trying to do when cleaning a fish. The object is to cleanly separate the edible meat from the inedible bones, skin, and guts. Most of the undesirable fishy taste of fish resides in the skin and guts, so it is important to clean fish as soon as possible, before that strong fishy taste soaks into the meat. This is especially important with Blackfish, less so for Sea Bass and other types.

Fish are vertebrates like ourselves, with an internal skeleton, spine, and skull, but that is where the resemblance ends. A fish's skeleton is designed to support the fins and tail, and is quite unlike our own. The spine runs nearly down the center of the body, with most of the ribs extending vertically up and down from it. A few lateral ribs support the paired fins in the shoulder area. All the guts are in a sac in the belly.

Filleting is the best way to prepare larger fish for cooking or freezing because it neatly separates the edible parts from the remainder of the fish. The most important thing that you must have to fillet a fish is a fillet knife. A good fillet knife has a long thin flexible blade, and a sharp tip, but most of all, it has a literally razor-sharp edge. You will also want a sharpening stone and some lubricant to keep that edge in top shape. Honing oil is messy and unnecessary - spit works just as well, sometimes I even use fish slime. You can get all of this for not too much at Sports Authority.

A cutting board is also useful. Wood is the best material, as the fish will tend to stick to it rather than slide, as it will on metal. A piece of plywood scrap works well; you don't have to buy anything. A sharp nail sticking out of the board an inch or two from one end can be used to spike the fish's head or tail for easier handling. A couple of scraps of wood screwed to the bottom of my cleaning board make it fit securely into the top of my cooler, which is very convenient - you work on top, and the fish stay cold inside.

Exercise caution even when handling dead fish - the spines along the back and belly are still needle sharp, and the gill covers on many species can give you a nasty cut. Also, some fish turn out not to be as dead as you thought.

Step 0

The best way to learn how to fillet fish is to get someone to show you. There are usually lots of old hands hanging around docks and boats who will be happy to show you how if you ask.

Step 1

Give your fillet knife a few swipes along your sharpening stone to hone the edge. A sharp knife is essential - don't be afraid give it a quick honing even between fishes.

Hold the head of the fish with one hand ( or spike it ) and make a slit from the top to the gut sac, following the line of the meat behind the head and gills. Don't cut into the belly and spill the guts out.

Step 2

Using the tip of your fillet knife, make a horizontal slit through the skin along the dorsal fin to the tail. Avoid cutting through the bone. See note below for flounders.

Step 3

Work the blade into the fish using progressively deeper slices from head to tail along the bones. If the fish is really fresh, the muscle may still twitch as you cut through it, even though the fish itself is dead. Again, avoid cutting into the belly sac.

Alternately, insert the knife tip into the long slit near the head and gently slice down the back, keeping knife flat over the ribs and spine. This method is faster than above, but much more wasteful.

Step 4

Once past the belly area, push the blade tip completely through from top to bottom, and slice back along the spine to the tail fin, peeling the flesh back as you are cutting. Finally, separate the fillet from the rest of the fish.

Step 5

Turn the fish over on the other side and repeat the process. A fillet like this will still contain a few shoulder bones in the head-end, which can be whittled out or ignored. Dispose of the now-empty carcass ( known as a "rack". ) If you're near the water, just throw it in and the crabs and seagulls will take care of it.

Step 6

Remove the skin by laying the fillet flat against the board with the skin side down and trimming the fillet loose. Start at the tail end, with the blade angled down toward the board, using a sawing motion. With a little practice you can learn to take the skin off with just the thinnest layer of attached meat wasted.

Alternately, you may scale the fish before filleting, and leave the skin on. Don't scale a fish with your fillet knife - you'll ruin the edge. Use something else, like a spoon. Blackfish have such tough hides that you can actually grab the skin with a pliers and rip it off the meat. This is more difficult with other, thinner-skinned types. Incredibly, seagulls will catch and eat this stuff if you throw it up to them.

Step 7

Your fillets are now ready for cooking or freezing to be enjoyed at a future date. Rinse off any blood, but try to minimize exposure of fish fillets to fresh water, as they will soak it up like a sponge. This does not affect the taste, but it will affect the texture and consistency of the meat. Store fish in a Ziploc bag with all the air squeezed out. They can be frozen like this also.

Cod fillets

Be sure to wash your knife with fresh water and wipe it dry before inserting it back into the sheath. To remove fishy odor from your fingers wash with a little lemon juice. Rinse off the cutting board, and leave it out in the sun for a few days along with your bag to get rid of the smell. Don't leave a wooden board on the ground for too long - the termites will have a party ( personal experience. )

Non-Standard Fishes

Flounders are filleted slightly differently than above: Starting on the top side, make a long cut down the center of the fish from head to tail, directly over the spine. Then work outwards to each edge, making two smaller fillets. Discard the thin "fin meat" along the outer edges. For a large flounder, turn it over and repeat, for a total of four fillets. The fillets from the bottom are much thinner, and didn't used to be worth the trouble on small fish, but nowadays you can't take small fish anyway. Flounder are the easiest fish of all to clean, and the fillets are completely boneless.

Cleaning a Goosefish is different from any other kind of fish. Lay it on its belly on the cutting board, and make a sideways cut in behind the skull to the spine, with the knife more or less vertical, then cut back along the spine to the tail. Repeat for the other side. Be sure to clean the fillets thoroughly, removing all trace of skin, body cavity lining, and slime. Two more small plugs of excellent scallop-like meat may be cut from the cheeks. Wash everything completely when you are done, as the slime is copious and pervasive, although not to smelly.

Captain Steve Nagiewicz demonstrates how to clean a Goosefish.

The best way to handle a Goosefish without messing up the boat is to hang it over the side in the water until there is a lull in activity. Then pull it up onto the swim step or gunnel, and quickly clean it there, without actually bringing it into the boat. Throw the meat on ice, kick the carcass overboard, and scrub the slime away immediately before it dries.

Goosefish requires special considerations for cooking. If prepared like typical fish, for example breaded and pan-fried, the result is inedible ( in my opinion. ) Instead, Goosefish should be prepared more like lobster - baked, stuffed, or stewed. There are many excellent Goosefish recipes which can be found with a quick internet search. ( Remember that in culinary circles, Goosefish is almost always referred to as Monkfish. )


Blackfish and Sea Bass yield about 30% fillets by weight. Ling and flounder are somewhat higher, around 50%; Porgy is lower - around 25%. Goosefish is quite low - less than 20%, but that is made up for by the size.

Remember - it is not legal to clean any regulated fish or lobster at sea - you must bring it back to the dock intact. Note that this does not include Goosefish, which is not regulated.

Here's one technique that all great fishermen use:
Hold the fish really close to the camera.

Think You've got a Record-size Fish ?


  1. Fish must be caught in New Jersey waters.
  2. Saltwater species taken from a boat must have been caught from a boat which left from and returned to a New Jersey port during the same trip.
  3. Fish must have been caught on sporting tackle, hooked and landed by entrant.
  4. New Jersey state records are determined by weight alone. There are no line classes.
  5. Fish must be weighed on a certified scale.
  6. A clear photograph of the fish must be furnished for identification purposes. In the case of freshwater species, a yardstick must be placed next to fish to clearly show length.
  7. Fish should be refrigerated to permit inspection by a biologist in cases of uncertain identification.

Catch a fish which may not be of record size but is of sufficient size and weight to have tested your skill and/or be of "bragging" size? Then enter your catch in the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Skillful Angler Awards Program.

Here are some selected state records:

Species Size Year
Amberjack, Greater 85 lbs 1993
Black Sea Bass 8 lbs 2oz. 1994
Bluefish 27 lbs 1 oz 1991
Cod 81 lbs 1967
Fluke ( Summer Flounder ) 19 lbs 12 oz 1953
Winter Flounder 5 lbs 11 oz 1992
Ling ( Red Hake ) 11 lbs 1 oz 2002
Pollock ** 46 lbs 7 oz 1975
Porgy 5 lbs 14 oz 1976
Sheepshead 14 lbs 1 oz 1995
Spadefish 11 lbs 6 oz 1998
Striped Bass ** 78 lbs 8 oz 1982
Tautog ( Blackfish ) ** 25 lbs 1998

** World Record



I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted



since 2016-09-11