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THE COVE AT BRIGANTINE

On the south end of Brigantine lies a stretch of beach that is referred to by locals simply as “the Cove.” It can be a tale of two scenes as dawn and early morning provide lots of unfettered fishing opportunities before giving way to bikinis and pleasure boats as the sun gets high in the sky. It is a truly popular spot for a variety of user groups during the summer months while spring and fall allow anglers access without as much anxiety from the crowds.
By Scott Newhall
THE COVE AT BRIGANTINE
The Cove at Brigantine is popular with families year-round, especially when summer flounder are in tight to the beach; but get there before the sun arrives and your chances of an inlet bass improve significantly.

The western side of the Cove is bordered by a channel that averages 12 feet of water connecting Absecon Inlet to Saint George’s Bay. Surf anglers walk the edge in order to lob lines laced with Gulp! Alive swimming mullets or freshly-caught live bait for the fluke that transverse this area. Boaters can also be seen drifting here directly in front of casters.

In fact, sometimes when the inlet drift is too fast around the full moon, or when wind and tide are aligned, the Cove drift can be surprisingly perfect in speed. July, August and September are peak for fluke here before the transition to striped bass at the Cove takes place.

Pluggers like to launch their offerings to the sod banks directly across the channel in order to target bass in October and November when far less boat traffic is cruising. What’s more, fishermen that walk or drive around the corner have full access to the inlet depths ranging from flats to waters 30 feet. Bass masters fishing the inlet typically do well with clam, bunker or eels.

The city of Brigantine sells yearly permits that allow vehicle access to certain areas of the island, the Cove being one of them. Thus, anglers can walk out to the fishing turf by foot or purchase a 4x4 pass from the town.

The other way to access the Cove is to nudge a vessel on the sand along the western channel. It’s important for anglers to understand that the standard etiquette here is that the boat parking takes precedence over sand spikes and lines; so once again, dawn patrol and weekdays are best for actual fishing.

Rays and sharks have certainly made their presence felt at the Cove as of late, with cownose rays providing line-ripping entertainment while spiny butterfly rays topping 100 pounds brutally digging for the bottom once hooked. And while smooth dogfish irritate anglers here from time to time, big brown sharks have been a surprise to surfcasters not expecting such a tussle inside the inlet.

Big time opportunities for making bait are available at the Cove. Mullet race down the edges and on the flats during late summer and fall while peanut bunker flip along the waters adjacent to St. George’s Lagoon. Anglers can cast-net baits on the inlet contours or on the flats regions interspersed throughout the entire area. To round out the forage fun, bait-sized bluefish, croakers and spot can be taken on Sabiki rigs with bloodworm bites tossed into the channel.

Andy Grossman of Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine notes that there exists a neat and unique offering at the Cove beyond some of the big summer flounder caught there. “The Marine Mammal Stranding Center runs a program and they bring a group of kids down there twice a week and run a seine net along the edge of the Cove and get all different types of fish, crabs and shells,” Capt. Andy said, adding “then they explain everything they just caught and return it all back into the water. It’s a very informative program.”

Keep in mind that as the seagull flies, the Vermont Jetty in Atlantic City isn’t that far away; its claim to fame, of course, was the former all-tackle record striped bass!

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