By Trent Jonas
Whether you’re surfcasting the Jersey shore, setting out in a skiff, or flicking flies on freshwater, fishing requires tackle. And you typically need bait, whether artificial or natural, as well. Of course, you can get these things at any bait and tackle shop. The best shops also offer up character and advice on what’s biting and where the action is. That’s what makes these our favorite bait and tackle shops in the Garden State.
If you find yourself fishing on Long Beach Island, you’re going to want to gear up at Surf City Bait & Tackle first. Not only do they sell plenty of live bait and a solid selection of tackle and gear, they also offer rentals, daily fishing reports, and weekly fishing talks from experienced locals.
Anglers planning to fish in the South Amboy area should stop into Fred’s Bait & Tackle to get an update on what’s currently running the shore and what they’re hitting. They’ll tell you what you should be targeting, what to use for bait, and then, of course, happily sell it to you.
24 HR Bait & Tackle is open 24 hours during the high season, but all three of their South Jersey locations (Egg Harbor Township, Marmora, and Somers Point) are open seven days a week year-round. They sell and deliver bait, offer a full range of saltwater tackle and gear, and will even repair your rod or reel.
Anglers in the Sandy Hook area hit up Atlantic Bait & Tackle not only for bait and the staff’s extensive local knowledge but also for their wide selection of offshore tackle and gear. Atlantic Bait is the only shop in the area that can get offshore anglers the gear they need.
Offshore anglers fishing out of Cape May will appreciate the huge array of tackle and gear at Jim’s Bait & Tackle. They carry everything from reels and soft plastics to leader material and pre-tied rigs. But you don’t have to be in Cape May to take advantage of their selection—just order online.
No matter what you’re fishing for or where you’re doing it—inshore, offshore, on the back bays—Creekside Outfitters probably has what you need to put you on the fish. In addition to bait and tackle, they also issue regular fishing reports, so that you’ll know what’s running before you leave the house.
For more than three decades, anglers on Mystic Island have been relying on Scott’s Bait & Tackle for everything from live bait and fishing reports to parts for Penn Reels. If you buy a surfcasting rod from Scott’s, they’ll even take you outside and show you how to use it.
Folks fishing the Arthur Kill or the Lower Bay can look to FishTales Bait & Tackle for all the gear and bait they need, along with timely information on what’s running and what they’re eating. They’re renowned for their service and advice. Plus, you can pick up some ice and snacks, while you’re there.
Point Pleasant anglers will be pleased that Castaways of Point Bait and Tackle keeps long hours every day, from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. Castaways is known not only for their awesome selection, but also for their deep local knowledge and friendly advice. They also offer reel service, as well as daily wind, weather, and tide reports.
Girls Place Bait & Tackle has been a Port Elizabeth institution for years. Local anglers rely on “the Girls” for their fresh live bait—which can be reserved in advance with a phone call—and local knowledge. They also carry rods, reels, nets, and crabbing gear.