• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On June 7, 2017
  • Comments
  •  2

Anglers operating under the guise of darkness are intercepting the silent ghosts of the Jersey area waters – weakfish. Its pot luck whether you can find one to tangle with, but when you do, they are large formidable battlers in the 5 to 10-pound range. To try for the treasure, here are some tips:

Go light. Affectionately known as “papermouths”, weakfish are notorious for spitting hooks and shedding hooksets if your tackle is too heavy. I use a moderate action, 6-1/2 foot Shimano Terramar rod fixed with a Shimano Sustain 4000 reel spooled with 20-pound Power Pro braided line, and the drag is set a few steps above loose. To the braided line, tie a uni to uni knot to a 28-inch section of 15-pound Seaguar or Yo-Zuri TopKnot fluorocarbon line, to which any number of lures can be tied onto.

When choosing lure selection, go pink, or any combination of pink and another color. For some reason, weakfish dig that color pattern. 4 to 5-3/4 inch Fin-S in Bubble Gum or Bubble Gum Ice are my go-to lure, but Zoom Super Flukes and Bass Assassins are comparable offerings. Small 3-inch Storm or Tsunami shads also fit the bill, as do ½-ounce white or white/yellow combo bucktails tipped with pink Berkley Gulp! Swimmin Minnows. Many times a bare 1/4 to ½-ounce leadhead tipped with a 3-inch grub tail will also work. The key is to match the hatch of bait around whether it be spearing, peanut bunker or bay anchovies.

I recall being so frustrated a few summers back when the cinder worms were hatching and there were hundreds of weakfish slurping them down, but I couldn’t get even one strike as I did not have anything resembling a 2–inch cinder worm in my arsenal. I was subjected to watching 3 to 5 pounders sip down worms in front of me all night long, but the next time I went out, I was sure to have a Berkley Gulp sandworm imitation rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead awaiting them.

The key to any success is in the retrieve. Weakfish like the rubber baits to be presented with a slow to moderate, steady reeling pace, most times without twitching or bouncing it. Simply cast out and reel in slow and steady so the lure is a couple feet above the bay bottom. Weakies will sink their teeth into the bait and hang on, initially feeling like dead weight, but then with some head shaking antics to dislodge the hook. Remember, weakfish are truly hard to find nowadays, so be sure to release any you may catch.

Suggested Gear

Lunker City

Fin-S Lures

If any artificial lure can mimic a baitfish better than the original Slug-Go, it’s got to be the Fin-S Fish, with its thinner, deeper-bodied profile and forked tail. The Fin-S Fish has been part of the Lunker City line up since the mid-eighties.



WildEye Swim Shad

These hand-poured PVC soft-plastic WildEye Swim Bait bodies are impregnated with Biosalt for added flavor that fish really love. The buried lead head won’t give fish an odd, hard feel and cause them to spit the bait prematurely.



Soft Bait Swim Shad Lure

All of these lures are tank tested to assure proper performance and strike triggering action. Precise weight balancing designs in all models ensure a tumble free casting performance. The field testing is also apparent in a better-balanced swimming or jigging action.


Berkley Gulp!

Saltwater Sandworm

Swims and looks like it’s alive! Extremely durable and long-lasting bait that releases scent, attracting fish from long ranges.



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