Hot Spot: Mantoloking Pier - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: Mantoloking Pier

chart
Chart images courtesy of Google Earth.

The Mantoloking Pier came into being in 2005, consisting of a 160-foot section left over from the destruction of the second Mantoloking Bridge, which made way for the newly designed contemporary drawbridge. The pier exists on the west side of the bridge in Brick Township and was originally just a pretty dilapidated concrete structure to cast a line from.

The Mantoloking Fishing Pier County Park with its bait stations, restrooms, parking areas and gazebo was opened in the summer of 2012 until Superstorm Sandy damaged the park area in October 2012, which subsequently closed until its reopening again on July 25, 2013.

The pier gives anglers access to cast and fish into the deeper waters of the ICW channel that runs under the drawbridge, as well as many surrounding shallower flats. Debris from Superstorm Sandy is prevalent in the area as an inlet formed during Sandy in the exact spot of the Mantoloking Bridge, acting as a conduit for all the houses, cars, debris and detritus to suck in and out during the storm. Many new snags have shown up along the seafloor there that missed being plucked out when the Army Corp did its dragging of the bay post-Sandy cleanup. Though nasty, those snag structures have promoted marine growth to attract species including blackfish, striped bass, fluke, winter flounder, weakfish, spot, bluefish and blowfish.

I remember my first experience at the pier in 2006 casting bloodworm baits to angle for winter flounder with much success. A chum log and pot can be sent down on a tethered rope to bring in flounder, especially during the months of March through May. Make your casts downtide of the chum pot as flounder limits can be scored on sunny days.

chart
Chart images courtesy of Google Earth.

Bluefish come rumbling through the area in late April and really peak throughout May. Usually, it’s 3- to 8-pound class choppers that ravage through but in the past 10 years or so, some true gators of 10 to 18 pounds have also rampaged through during the spring months. You can chunk bunker baits if you so dare, but also cast poppers and metals from the bridge, though any large blues have to be walked down to the base of the pier to land effectively.

Striped bass fishing is a ton of fun along the pier pilings after the season reopens again on March 1. From May through November, light tackle action on schoolie bass is lights out fun. A half-ounce leadhead with a 5-3/4-inch Fin-S fish, Kettle Creek paddletail or Storm shad will get hits nonstop during the morning tides and nighttime hours under the streetlights of the bridge.

An unusual occurrence is the noted presence of fluke in the area during the summer months. As more forage seems to be around since Sandy, the draw of food may be bringing fluke to stick around in the back there in numbers they hadn’t been. You can fancast with bucktail/Gulp combos to pick at fluke up to 20 inches on a good day. Summer months also bring a ton of action on both blue claw crabs as well as snapper blues on snapper zappers and spearing baits on slip bobber rigs. A full day of fun can be had along the pier during the summertime as a large gazebo on the end of the pier provides shade while bait and fish cleaning boards are stationed along the pier to make fishing cleaner and easier.

The Mantoloking Pier holds a special place for me as Superstorm Sandy sucked my house into the bay in the immediate area; sometimes, I like to romanticize that a part of my home lies underwater near there, drawing in fish for anglers to enjoy the day. Whatever time of year you fish the pier, it always offers solace and an inspiring view of upper Barnegat Bay.

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