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New Jersey & Delaware Bay


Posted By Jim Hutchinson, Jr., January 13, 2020
David Roesch had a busy day of fishing followed by a little bit of work at the filet table afterwards after catching a mess of white perch somewhere along the Mullica River complex last week. Photo courtesy of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.

While party boaters are heading out in search of jumbo tautog and ling, surfcasters continue to hit a few stripers in the wash from Sandy Hook to Island Beach and several spots in between. It’s still a light tackle, catch and release deal with smaller fish taking smaller plugs, plastics and tins, but it’s worth a tug on the other end of the line when the weather’s not too cold (which it certainly hasn’t been of late.) But by far the best bite for folks who wish to stay close to home while bringing some fresh fish home for dinner is white perch. These tasty little striper cousins can be found in rivers and creeks from New Jersey to Delaware, and while the most participation seems to be in the southern region (think Great Egg and Mullica) these fish are well within reach for casters in Central and North Jersey waters as well. Dennis from Hook House Bait and Tackle reports this week that the Toms River has quite a few jumbo white perch taking bloodworms, nightcrawlers and grass shrimp, and reports a half-dozen “spineys” will produce a fine meal for two. While working up at the Garden State Outdoor Sports Show, one reader told us the docks in Edison will produce best around slack tide as the current often rips through there, while Steve at Up Front Bait and Tackle divulged a few of his favorite perch haunts up around Sayreville. In terms of rigging up, live bait guro Dave Showell from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center recommends a simple approach, what he calls his Professional Perch Rig. “Clear 15-pound test, two #4 Gamakatsu Bait Holder hooks on dropper loops about 12 inches apart, with a swivel attachment and a 1-ounce bank sinker.” Kayakers and tin boaters get the nod here, as launching and searching for fish stacked in holes and channels will lead to the best possible catches; but shops that are still open and providing shrimp or worms can help you find some of the best banks, docks and bulkheads from which to score right now. Just keep in mind that whatever striped bass you catch while fishing for perch must be released as quickly and safely as possible. It is against the law in New Jersey to actively target stripers in the back bays and rivers in January and February, and reports of Fish & Wildlife conservation officers at local hotspots are growing. If you catch a striper in the back, don’t hold up and out of the water for too long, even for a photo before release. The longer it’s out of the water and the farther from the shoreline, the more apt you are to get ticketed for possession during the closed season.


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