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New Jersey

Saltwater Fishing

Using Circle Hooks

When Fishing with Bait for Striped Bass

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for striped bass now requires using inline (non-offset) circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait. (See striped bass regulations, Finfish Regulations.) Using non-offset circle hooks significantly increases survival of released fish. In 2019, more striped bass were estimated to have died from catch and release than were harvested — 2.59 million fish and 2.15 million fish, respectively. New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife is finalizing regulations and will release additional information as it becomes available.

What is a Circle Hook?

A circle hook is defined as a non-offset hook where the point curves back perpendicularly towards the shank. The term non-offset means the point and barb are in the same plane as the shank. When the hook is laying on a flat surface, the entire hook and barb should lay flat.

How Do Circle Hooks Increase Survival of Released Striped Bass?

Using circle hooks reduce occurrences of gut-hooking which can cause injuries to internal organs of the fish. If a striped bass swallows the bait, the circle hook is designed to slide out from its throat and catch on the corner of its jaw. When a fish is hooked in the corner of its jaw, this also leads to shorter de-hooking times and less overall stress on the fish.

Tips for Using Circle Hooks

When a fish takes your bait, do not sweep the rod upward to set the hook. The circle hook sets itself when the fish tries to swim away. Simply let the line come tight, then fight the fish.

Added Tips for the Survival of Released Fish

  • Use barbless hooks or bend barbs down.
  • Use non-stainless steel hooks. If gut-hooked, leave the hook in the fish and cut the line as close to the hook as possible. The hook will rust away.
  • Replace treble hooks on artificial lures with single hooks.
  • Use appropriate tackle suited to the size of the fish; don’t fight the fish to exhaustion.
  • Keep the fish in the water when de-hooking.
  • If you must take the fish out of the water, use a rubber or soft-mesh landing net.
  • Avoid handling fish with dry hands.
  • Avoid dragging fish across dry sand or rocks.
  • Hold fish horizontal with support.
  • Avoid touching the fish’s gills or eyes.

Non-offset (inline) circle hooks must be used when fishing for striped bass with bait.

Courtesy of Maryland DNR

New Jersey: Stock Status & Management Updates

Species Status Recent/Next Action
American Lobster

Depleted; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2020

American Shad

Depleted; Overfishing status unknown

Re-evaluation of regulations for 2022

Atlantic Sea Herring

Overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2020

Atlantic Striped Bass

Overfished; Overfishing

Potential update stock assessment 2022

Black Sea Bass

Not overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2021


Overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2021

Coastal Sharks

Varies by species

Research stock assessment: Blacktip shark 2020


Not overfished; Not overfishing

Peer review stock assessment in 2020

Horseshoe Crab

Status unknown; Moratorium since 2008

Adaptive Resource Management assessment 2021


Not overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2021

Spanish Mackerel

Not overfished; Not overfishing

Operational stock assessment 2022

Summer Flounder

Not overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2021


Overfished; Overfishing

Update stock assessment 2021

Winter Flounder

Overfished; Not overfishing

Management stock assessment 2020

Striped bass caught on the F/V Queen Mary of Point Pleasant, NJ.

Marine Fisheries: Recreational Surveys

Be Counted

You may see New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife interviewers at marine public access fishing sites conducting the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS). The survey targets marine recreational anglers to obtain information about their fishing effort, catch and participation. The more data collected, the more successful the survey becomes for estimating overall catch, which is an integral factor for managing fisheries. To strengthen our estimates by collecting even more data, we have increased our total individual assignments by more than 20% for 2021. Marine Fisheries staff are eager to speak with fishing clubs/groups about the importance of the APAIS. We rely heavily on our valued anglers, creating a joint effort to preserve the state’s natural resources. Invite us to a group meeting or event. Contact Maryellen Gordon at (609) 748-2020. We look forward to meeting you! New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife staff began conducting the For-Hire Telephone Survey in March 2020. Weekly calls are made to vessel operators regarding the previous week’s trips. This data is used to estimate fishing effort in the for-hire sector and is combined with APAIS data. In 2020, 2353 vessels were contacted averaging approximately 53 vessels per week with a 62% response rate. If you’re not contacted directly, you can submit an easy, online fishing report after each saltwater trip to the New Jersey Volunteer Angler Survey at Your reports have a real impact on how our oceans are managed.