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Would you like to catch more weakfish? Are you searching for weakfish fishing tips to take more home? Weakfish are known to be lazy feeders. They linger in holes and wait for their prey. This behavior makes weakfish a prime target for anglers. In this article, we share weakfish fishing tips from years of fishing this gamefish to help you learn how to catch more.
Table of Contents
How To Catch Weakfish
1. Bait Casting
Bait casting is a popular fishing method to cash much fish including weakfish. When baitcasting, you cast your line with the bait and reel it in.
2. Drift Fishing
Drift fishing is another fishing method used to catch weakfish. You can drift ish and cover many different habitats for fish. When drift fishing, you slowly move the boat over the water as your bait moves in the water. Drift fishing usually results in you catching a variety of fish.
3. Still Fishing
Still fishing is another fishing method used to catch weakfish. When still fishing, you drop the bait into the water and just wait for a strike. With still fishing, you don’t move the bait. Just sit and wait for the fish to smell the bait and bite. Still fishing is a good way to introduce beginners to fishing.
4. Surf Casting
You can also fish for weakfish from the shore by surf casting. When surf casting, you fish from the shore and wade in the surf for fish. You can use bait or lures to surf fish from the shore, a pier, or the beach.
5. Fly Fishing
Fly fishing can be used to catch not only weakfish but other fish as well. Fly fishing is not the easiest fishing method but can prove to be very rewarding. It is always best to have improved your skill level before fly fishing. However, you will only hone your skills by fly fishing.
6. Bottom Fishing
When bottom fishing, you drop your bait to the bottom and slowly bring it up just above the bottom to entice a strike from fish.
7. Night Fishing
Night fishing has become popular with anglers as it is very productive and you can fish for weakfish by fishing at night. Night fishing is rewarding for many anglers as fish are not as cautious as they are during the daytime because their predators are usually not around at night. This allows them to be active at night and look for food to feed.
Weakfish Fishing Tackle
A 6 to 7-foot light to medium spinning rod with a 12-pound braided line paired with an 8 to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader will work for catching weakfish.
How To Catch Weakfish In The Surf
When fishing for weakfish in the surf, look for jetties, drop-offs, ledges, deep holes, and inlets, that weakfish may be around, waiting in ambush for baitfish. Study the wind, the tides, and the current. You want the wind working together with the tide or current. If the wind is working against the tide, that is not the best condition for weakfish fishing.
Additionally, look for moving water. Very large weakfish sit in holes and wait for baitfish to come their way. When the water movement changes direction, weakfish face the current, waiting for baitfish to swim by.
The time of the day you fish for weakfish is also important. Fishing early in the morning is the best time to catch weakfish. At this time, there will be less boat traffic and minimum winds which makes it ideal for targeting weakfish.
When fishing for weakfish in the surf, the tide is important. There is a reason why weakfish are called “tide runners”. Fish near the inlets when the tide is strong. By studying the tide, you can expand your search for weakfish to deep holes and large contour changes in bays that can be seen by your fish finder or sonar device.
You will find weakfish in deep holes and along edges where they can ambush baitfish as a strong tide delivers baitfish to it as it waits. Look for significant changes in the bottom contour. Depth changes of ledges are ambush spots for weakfish. They will be in that area waiting to ambush baitfish.
How To Catch Weakfish In New Jersey
In late spring, weakfish can be found in deep channels of back bays around confluence points. Also, look for weakfish in overhangs and sedge points.
During the summer, look for weakfish around structures like bridge pilings and docks. They will be in the tides preying on baitfish, grass shrimp, and crustaceans. Weakfish can also be found in backwaters, bays, and river and canal systems. In the fall, weakfish will leave the surf and travel along the coast feeding on sand eels.
Casting using lures like soft plastics or bucktails works well when fishing for weakfish in New Jersey. They tend to be attracted to pink or purple color patterns. Additionally, they like long and lean baits.
When fishing for weakfish with lures, slowly reel the lure so that it moves steadily through the water column without jigging it. This is very effective on flats and the edges of channel bays as they like steady bait. When fishing for weakfish around deeper holes and cuts, small bucktails can be used at the bottom and then jigged slowly off the bottom.
How To Catch Weakfish On Long Island
Weakfish will hang around different structures as they wait in ambush for prey. Bridge pilings, docks, and other structures are some of the structures to target. Additionally, they can also be found around significant depth changes like drop-offs, jetties, deep holes, inlets, and ledges.
Use baits and lures when fishing for them on Long Island. They are attracted to the color pink. Therefore use pink or white lures to catch more weakfish. Casting, bottom fishing, trolling, drift fishing, jigging, and night fishing are some of the fishing methods used when fishing for weakfish.
How To Catch Weakfish In Rhode Island
When fishing for weakfish in Rhode Island, look for them around structures, drop-offs, ledges, and jetties. Use lures like soft plastics and jigs when fishing for weakfish. Weakfish are attracted to pink. Using pink lures will increase your chances of catching more weakfish. Casting, bottom fishing, trolling, drifting, and night fishing can be used to catch weakfish in Rhode Island.
Weakfish Fishing Tips
1. If you are fishing for weakfish in fast-moving water, use a lure that will get into the holes where weakfish are situated in.
2. Weakfish like to gather in deep holes and along the edges where ambushing their prey is possible. When there is a strong tide, they are rewarded with their prey.
3. Tip your jig with a squid strip if you want to use natural bait. You can also use sandworms on a high-low rig.
4. Weakfish are called the “tide runner” as they hang around areas where the tide runs the strongest like inlets. Study the tide tables to expand your search for areas where they may be lurking.
5. Be on the lookout for areas where there is a major change in the bottom contour that features a ledge dropping from 5 to 25 feet. Weakfish use areas with such a depth change as an ambush area for their prey.
6. Be very observant of the surroundings. Lookout for areas where there are birds diving into the water near jetties. Watch out for activities close to inlets. If the birds are feeding on shrimp in that area, it can possibly be an area of interest for weakfish.
7. Look for many spots where weakfish might be lingering in waiting to ambush their prey. It may not be possible to fish in some areas due to wind, tide, weather, etc. on some days. This will allow you to fish in other areas that you are aware of that weakfish linger in.
8. It is often stated that where there is a tide, weakfish will be there. Though that is true, what is more, important is moving water. Weakfish feed on both sides of the tides. Due to the currents, there is moving water. Find the moving water as weakfish face the current waiting for an easy meal to come their way.
9. The time of day is very important when it comes to catching big spring weakfish. Leave early at pre-dawn when there is little boat traffic and minimum winds. Weakfish want to avoid the heavy boat traffic and strong winds will be out there feeding. Target channels and coves inside inlets at this time.
10. When you are fishing for weakfish, you want to find fishing conditions with the wind working with the current or tide. If they are working against each other, that will not help in targeting weakfish.
11. The rod you use to catch weakfish is very important. The rod you choose needs to have enough flexibility during the initial hookup.
12. When no other lure or bait works for weakfish, shrimps will do the trick.
13. When hooking shrimp baits, thread the first shrimp on the hook. Then take two to three more and hook them through the body to fill the hook. Weakfish can’t ignore a ball of shrimp. There will be hits, be prepared.
14. If you want to target tide runners, use soft plastics.
15. Weakfish simply just hang on to the plastic. They don’t commit to it as a bass or bluefish will do. Therefore, you want to slowly reel in the bait. Don’t jerk or jig it. You will lose the weakfish.
16. When fishing for weakfish at night, replace the plastic baits with noisemakers.
17. If you fish for weakfish during low tide instead of high tide, then focus on the holes where weakfish go during low tide.
18. The temperature of the water is important when fishing weakfish. Monitor the temperature. When the temperature is at or above 59 degrees, weakfish will bite the best. You can use natural baits at 55 degrees, but to catch weakfish with artificial lures, the water has to be warmer than 57 degrees.
If the temperature rises above 74 degrees for three days, it will feed at night. Take along an inexpensive water thermometer to help with targeting weakfish.
19. Using the right lure colors, you can fish for weakfish in murky waters. However, if the water is too dirty, fishing for weakfish will be poor.
20. If there are extended periods of heavy rainfall, weakfish will move out of the back bay areas. It can take up to 7 days of dry weather for their return. However, fishing can be back on after three days.
21. Weakfish bite the best when there are larger tides brought on by full and new moons. Two hours before and two hours after low or high tide is the best time to get bites from weakfish, especially when the tide phase is close to dawn or dusk.
22. Water temperature will determine the most productive tide early and late in the season. During the early spring, the end of the outgoing tide is best, and late in fall, the end of the incoming tide is best.
23. Weakfish will not bite while spawning late in spring. After spawning, the biting will ramp up. Remember this to avoid frustration.
24. Rock jetties, bridges, mussel beds, edges, pilings, marsh banks, and temperature breaks are all places where weakfish reside. However, how well the structure produces weakfish will be determined by where it is located.
Factors that affect how well the structure produces are the current in that area, the salt level, the type of bottom, water clarity, and depth. Weakfish usually will reside in a good structure for the entire season. So if you find a hot spot, be ready for the reward in weakfish.
25. Weakfish are also attracted by lighted docks and bridges. Watch out for feeding weakfish as you may discover these docks and lights where the weakfish are feeding. Quietly approach this area to avoid spooking them.
26. If your presentation is not natural, regardless of the bait or lure you are using, you will not catch weakfish. Do not retrieve against the current as it makes for a poor presentation. To have a natural presentation and get bites, fish the lure or bait with the current.
27. Always use a slow, steady retrieve that allows your lure to move through the strike zone and avoid getting stuck on the structure. You will get strikes by lifting and dropping a lure along the bottom when there is a school of weakfish holding tight to the bottom during slack tide.
28. Always cast up-tide. Change your location if you can’t hit the strike zone with an up-tide cast.
29. Quickly and aggressively set the hook when you feel the hit. Keep the line tight when the hook is set. Make sure to set the drag a little lighter than what you would do for bluefish to avoid pulling the hook from the weakfish.
30. Missing the beginning of the tide doesn’t mean you won’t get fish. You will experience a “pick” until the next tide rolls in.
Weakfish Lures & Bait
Shrimps are one of the best baits for weakfish. Anglers use live and cut baits of shrimps when fishing for weakfish.
2. Soft Plastics
Soft plastics are one of the best lures to attract and catch weakfish.
Jigs work well as lures for weakfish fishing as they can be jigged vertically, cast, and retrieved in the shallows.
Squid is often used by anglers to catch weakfish and other fish. it is usually cut into parts and used as bait.
5. Live Bait
Live bait is one of the best baits used to attract and catch most species of fish including weakfish.
Spoons are some of the best lures for weakfish.
Topwater plugs work well as lures for weakfish as they are not picky eaters.
8. Cut Bait
Cut bait works well when fish and anglers often use them successfully.
Crabbs, mullet, clams, squid, crawfish, and mollusks are crustaceans that work well as bait.
Mollusks work well when fishing for weakfish,
Oily fish like herring is one of the best baits for weakfish,
Menhaden is a good bait to attract and catch weakfish.
Smaller fish like silversides work well as bait for weakfish as they eat almost anything.
Killifish, like eels, shrimps, and squid, work well as bait for weakfish.
Schook fish like butterfish work well to attract weakfish.
Swimbaits work well as bait for weakfish.
The Bottom Line
The weakfish is referred to as the “tide runner” as it likes to linger in holes and wait to ambush its prey. They eat just about anything and are a prime target for anglers. In this article, we share weakfish fishing tips to help you become a better angler and catch more weakfish whether you are a beginner or an experienced angler.
You can read how to catch spotted seatrout, how to catch sand seatrout and redfish fishing tips. If you also fly fish with nymphs, this article about fly fishing with nymphs will help you catch more fly fish.