The Ultimate Guide For Spearfishing New Jersey
Updated: Aug 29
New Jersey has a growing community of spearfishers harvesting their food beneath the depths. One of the largest Fluke ever was speared in New Jersey in 2014. If you're interested in learning more about spearfishing, you've come to the right place, keep reading!
Is spearfishing Legal
Spearfishing may be conducted by means of a spear, harpoon or other missile while completely submerged in the marine waters of the state for any species (except lobster) of legal size and during open seasons. In 2014 New Jersey included spearfishing into their state record program. You do not need to purchase a saltwater fishing license to spearfish in New Jersey, but you do need to register for the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program, which is free, and you can do that here.
fish to spear
Striped Bass are open year-round, they must be between 28 and 31 inches to keep as of 2023. Because of this small slot, we do not recommend spearfishing them unless you are an advanced spearfisherman. They are fast, and can be found swimming in the water column, and their white flaky filets are a favorite among seafood eaters.
Blackfish / Tautog must be 15 inches to keep. Blackfish are usually found around rocks near the bottom and can be very shallow. Keeper-sized males will have a white chin. Blackfish are white, flaky, and delicious with a firmer and fattier meat that is prized among chefs.
January 1 to February 28 you may keep 4 fish.
April 1 to April 30 you may keep 4 fish.
August 1 - November 15th you may keep 1 fish.
November 16th to December 31 you may keep 5 fish.
Fluke (Summer Flounder)
Delaware Bay and Tributaries: 3 fish at 17 inches. Island Beach State Park: 2 fish at 16 inches. All Other Marine Waters: 2 fish at 17 inches to less than 18 inches, and 1 fish at 18 inches or greater. Open Season: May 2 – Sept. 27
Fluke is known for it's iconic look and its delicious sweet meat. They lay flat on the bottom camouflaged, and can be a great species to learn to spearfish with a polespear.
2 fish at 12 inches Open Season: Mar. 1 – Dec. 31
Winder flounder is a favorite on the east cost, their meat is sweet, flaky, white, and delicious. Like fluke, they can be easily speared with a pole spear, if you can find them.
10 fish at 13 inches May 17 – June 19.
2 fish at 13 inches July 1 – August 31.
10 fish at 13 inches Oct. 7—Oct. 26 1.
5 fish at 13 inches Nov. 1—Dec. 31. Black Sea Bass are a delicacy. They have a very small bloodline, thus their meat contains zero traces of "fishy" flavor.
3 per person per day. No season, no size limits.
Bluefish have received a reputation over the years as being "fishy", but as long as you bleed them right away, and eat them fresh, they taste great, and are even becoming a popular fish for sushi and poké.
Where to go spearfishing in New Jersey
New Jersey has many spots for spearfishing both from a boat and shore diving. Many shore diving spots are around jetties and inlets, which can be dangerous if you are not aware of the hazards, a diver's flag is a must, which we often rig to our weight belt or speargun. Use websites like US Harbors to observe tides and currents, diving at high tide is typically safest and clearest. Windfinder is the tool we use to find swell and wind information, offshore winds are best for spearfishing because the water is usually flat, unless there is swell.
Barnegat Jetty is a popular spot for spearfishing. The state record Fluke was caught here. You're allowed to dive on the South Jetty and not in the inlet itself. Be mindful of tides because the current can move quickly here, other hazards are boats and other fishermen. It's best to dive this spot during high tide. You can park at the lighthouse parking lot.
Shark River is a known spot for Scuba diving and spearfishing. You can find tautog, fluke, winter flounder, black seabass, and cunner. Visibility ranges from 3 feet to 15 feet. The maximum depth here is about 23 feet. There is free parking near 1st Avenue and A street on the south side of the inlet.
Manasquan Inlet is a spot where you can spearfish blackfish, striped bass, fluke, and bluefish. Look at the tide before going and dive slack tides, as the current can move quickly here. There is free on-street parking near the beach and lots that require a fee or seasonal parking pass.
Support local dive shops by purchasing spearfishing gear from them when you can. Here is what you will need.
Spearfishing Gun, Pole Spear, or Hawaiian Sling.
Floatation device and dive flag
Wetsuits are an important piece of gear for spearfishing in NJ. The best suits are between 1.5mm and 5mm two-piece open-cell wetsuits. You can use a surfing wetsuit if you have one, but they are less comfortable and warm and, are constructed differently. Choosing the right wetsuit will depend on what time of year you are planning on going. If the water is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, most spearfishermen will opt for a 5mm wetsuit. When the water is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a 3mm wetsuit will keep you comfortable, and anything above 70.
New Jersey Monthly Water Temperatures
September 72 °
Smaller spearguns work well in New Jersey for targeting fish like Striper, Blackfish, Fluke, etc because the visibility is typically no more than 15 feet. Call your local dive shop, if they have a speargun, it will likely be a good one for the area. If you want to purchase one online, go with a Rob Allen 70cm - 100cm. Other affordable options include the Cressi Comanche or the Hammerhead Proteus. A polespear can be a less intimidating way to start spearfishing and can be excellent for spearing Fluke and Flounder.
Freediving fins are longer than snorkel or scuba diving fins, they help divers achieve greater depths and conserve more energy. New Jersey shore diving is often shallow, so if you already have a pair of snorkel fins, they will likely work to introduce you to spearfishing. If you are interested in buying a pair of freediving fins, there are 3 main materials you can choose from, each with a different price point; plastic, composite or fiberglass, and carbon fiber.
Freediving masks are smaller than scuba or snorkeling masks. The reason for this is to decrease the volume in the mask so that it takes less pressure to equalize, which leaves you with more air in your lungs for your dive. If you are new to freediving and spearfishing, a regular snorkel mask will work fine. If you do wish to purchase a freediving mask and you can't get one at a local store, we recommend buying the Omer Alien. We also wrote an entire gear guide for getting started spearfishing, which you can read here if you're interested.
Spearfishing takes time, it's a lifelong pursuit. Start with small steps, snorkeling and practicing diving, and observing the animal life with a buddy. Get great at identifying animals and estimating their size. Once you begin to feel more comfortable, then you can start diving with a pole spear or speargun. Remember to never dive alone, always know where you are aiming, and never have the speargun loaded out of the water.
Spearfishing in New Jersey can be a great way to connect with nature and get closer to your food. If you're interested in learning more about spearfishing, check out www.spearfishingRI.com, where we do 1 on 1 spearfishing lessons, or sign up for our Newsletter, where we talk about sustainable forms of harvesting and epic experiences in nature. Thanks for reading!