With 18 artificial reef sites deployed and maintained by the State of New Jersey, the Division of Fish and Wildlife decided on taking a calculated chance by constructing a new reef, not offshore like the rest of the Garden State’s artificial reefs, but number 19, the Delaware Bay Reef.
Located inside the relative shallows of Delaware Bay, construction began in 2017 at a particular spot on the Jersey side of the Delaware Bay, roughly 6.6 miles from the Cape May Canal, 9.8 miles from Maurice River and 12.5 miles out of Fortescue Creek. Water depth in the area spans from a minimum depth of 19 feet down to a maximum of 35 feet and covers an area of 1.3 square miles.
Major components of the reef structure include low profile objects such as reef balls, bridge rubble and concrete culverts with a base consisting of rock dynamited from a dredge site near the Commodore Barry Bridge. Most structure on the Delaware Bay Reef will vary from the size of a basketball to the dimensions of a car as the waters are too shallow to jettison any shipwreck or larger type structure. The new rubble pile will no doubt attract life and there’s plenty to look forward to.
As mussels and clams begin to colonize the rocks, this could be a solid spot to find black drum in the springtime as they hang in the area to feed. Spring months could also bring a boom to striped bass fishing once again in the bay as the rock rubble may just have enough life growing on it after a few years to keep the linesiders stuck to the area as they migrate up the Delaware River to spawn out. Summer months will truly hold the glory here as fluke will enjoy the new digs to sit in wait as currents funnel baitfish by and through the low profile debris.
There’s always a chance the area will hold croakers and weakfish, but that’s hopeful wishing for now until we see results. Come fall into wintertime, no doubt blackfish will inhabit the area as they do in areas such as Brandywine Light inside the bay and don’t forget that those tog will also be pushing into the backwaters on their spring migration as well.
As the debris attracts finfish, any anglers looking to play catch and release with sand tiger sharks, blacktips and brown sharks can set up on slicks during hot summer nights.
Delaware Bay will benefit greatly from the new addition and the rewards should start to become realized this year as nearly two years of marine growth should have taken hold onto the pieces. Plug in the numbers and hit the new kid on the block!
NW 39 03.309′ x 075 04.595′
NE 39 03.295′ x 075 03.506′
SE 39 02.288′ x 075 03.520′
SW 39 02.297′ x 075 04.606′