Hot Spot: South Amboy Flats - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: South Amboy Flats

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One look at the nautical charts – or by pulling up the Navionics software on your machine or phone app – and you’ll see some of the prime staging areas for pre-spawn stripers in the back end of Raritan Bay in early spring.

The initial COVID shutdowns in March of 2020 prompted some real exploratory fishing junkets for me to find new shore-based spots and one area I really dug was figuring out the South Amboy flats.

The Raritan River spills out past the Driscoll Bridge of the Parkway then wraps around into the Perth Amboy and South Amboy area shoreline, aka the South Amboy Flats. Springtime stripers rush into Raritan Bay and stack up inside the Raritan River, where March starts to see them getting active on the feed in and around the South Amboy area. Shallow waters warm up on the flats fast under the initial sunny days in mid to late March, pushing bass to become more aggressive in their feeding patterns.

Boaters can get on the first artificial bite here as waters should be around 50 degrees or so by mid-March. Slow rolling wooden swimmers waggling on the surface will get strikes in the pre-dawn to just at sunrise hours. White storms shads, Savage Gear sand eels and even wide profile metal jigs like Kroc spoons will find their mark with bass that can range anywhere from 25 inches to 40 pounds at this time of year.

The areas to fish off of South Amboy and Morgan Creek generally span between 10 and 18 feet, with a sweet spot between 12 and 15 feet if you can find the submarine ledges. Many times, stripers will move in super close to the shoreline off the Raritan bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy and the north jetty area inside the Great Beds reach. Last March, surfslingers were winging out large white wooden poppers off those jetty rocks to score huge with bass up to 30 pounds.

Full moon high tides push the bass into the real flat areas that can range from 1 to 5 feet 300 yards out from the shoreline, meaning you can wade out far to work plugs or cast bloodworm baits for bass. General bloodworm rigs off the Amboy shores are a fishfinder slide, 24 inches of 30-pound leader and a size 4/0 Circle hook where you lance on one bloodworm, then hook on two more, balling them up and tying them with elastic thread. Spray a spritz of FinEssence worm oil on the ball.

Not to be overlooked, this area used to be quite a hot spot for winter flounder back in the day and I believe the fish are still there. It’s just that nobody has been out and about to try for them with consistency in 10 or 15 years. It’s definitely worth a shot to set up a clam and mussel chum pot with bloodworm baits if not to find flounder, then to definitely tangle with some schoolie stripers.

The South Amboy flats are generally productive for stripers from March through early June. Then the bass push outward to exit Raritan Bay. Bluefish will come back into the area in June and July and anglers will try for fluke there in the summertime, but the area is mainly known as an early season striper hotbed.

You can also bump around to the areas of the Keyport Flats, Morgan Creek, Great Kills Harbor and off Staten Island with a quick push of the throttle to explore other areas where stripers are congregating without wasting a lot of time. Troll the area with Mojo balls, stretch plugs and shad bar rigs.

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