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Articles

GIVE ME LIBERTY STATE PARK

By Philip Metz

Liberty State Park is one of the most scenic areas in the New Jersey Park System. Each year thousands on individuals flock to the park to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline. The park offers visitors an interpretive center, picnic areas, playground facilities, food concessions, hiking, biking and fitness trails as well as access to the productive waters of the Hudson River. Striped bass, bluefish and other saltwater species congregate around the area of the park and offer the shorebound and small boat angler some top-notch fishing opportunities. Armed with the proper tackle and techniques the angler can take advantage of all the park has to offer.

 

Liberty State Park is situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Jersey City. The park is comprised of 1212 acres and set up for various recreational activities. The park can be reached by taking the New Jersey Turnpike to exit 14B and then following the signs into the park. Once in the park the main fishing thoroughfares can be reached along the walking area that parallels Morris Pesin Drive and the walkway from the park's southern corner to the Ellis Island span. Concentrate your efforts on these areas for best results.

 

Depending on the season, the waters around Liberty State Park hold winter flounder, blackfish, tomcod, summer flounder, bluefish and striped bass with the latter two being the most sought after. The prime seasons for these two species are spring and fall. As soon as the waters start to warm around late April, early May, Striped bass start to roam the flats on the Hudson. Shortly thereafter the stripers are joined by hungry bluefish that will readily strike lures or bait rigs. During the summer the stripers and blues spend only a limited number of hours on the flats usually during the early morning or evening hours. Fishing picks up again after the first few cold fall days drop the water temperature and begin to push the baitfish up on the flats. Due to the shallow nature of the flats around Liberty State Park, incoming tide throughout peak high and early outgoing are the best tidal stages to fish the park. Combining these conditions with the early morning hours or evening hours put the angler in a perfect position to catch these fish.

 

The most popular tactics to utilize for this fishing is tossing swimming plugs, jigging bucktails and still fishing with bait. The majority of the striped bass and bluefish one will come in contact with while fishing these waters will range from 3-10lbs with occasionally larger fish being landed. Light spinning or baitcasting gear spooled with 10 to 12lb test are perfect for these fish. Floating swimming plugs from 4 to 6 inches are ideal for this type of fishing. Yellow/white, silver/black and silver/blue are the most productive colors. Slow stop and go retrieves and parallel casts to the bank produce the most strikes. As for jig fishing, white bucktail jigs in ¼ oz to ¾ oz are the best and be sure to add some type of pork or plastic trailer. The key here in not to bounce the jig on bottom as you will surely get hung up in the structure but rather swim the jig near the bottom and wait for the strike. Still fishing with bait is another option but due to the snags in the area the prior two described methods are preferred. If the angler opts to use bait, sandworms and cut bunker are productive and both can set up via fishfinder rigs. Liberty State Park stripers and bluefish are not shy and normally respond to one of the methods described above.

 

Liberty State Park has a lot to offer to the thousands of people who visit each year. The park provides a sense of history, magnificent scenery and many recreational options in which to partake. During the spring and fall of the year it provides non-stop, fast-hitting, exciting action for anglers. Therefore, the next time you set out in search of stripers and bluefish think of that now famous statement, "Give me Liberty…State Park". You won't be disappointed.

 


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