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Posted By Jim Hutchinson, Jr., January 27, 2020
Blackfishing is far from over for Kevin Dragert who came in to Gabriel Tackle in Brick last Thursday, January 23 with an 18-pound, 6-ounce monster tautog caught on his own homemade jig topped with a white legger. According to Frank at Gabriel Tackle, Kevin tried to revive the big fish but unfortunately he couldn’t. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Tackle.
It’s a leap year, meaning one extra day of February to anxiously await the start of the 2020 spring striper season on the back bays and rivers as of March 1. Sometime during the month of February expect an “emergency meeting” of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council to officially set the new striped bass regulations which are to take effect as of April 1. Until that time, most of the local boats out of ports from the Highlands in North Jersey to Indian River Inlet in Delaware are focused on tautog, with some captains out of Jersey ports at Manasquan and Shark River adding some cod to the mix. “A mild January treated anglers to some decent winter fishing along the northern coast, with blackfish and striped bass in particularly starting the year off on a good note,” noted JB Kasper in his North Jersey report in the February edition of The Fisherman out this week. JB reports that tog action was decent through January when conditions were good with some days producing very nice fish, other days just a pick. “On the upside some nice catches of cod began showing up towards the middle and end of January along the inshore waters and this could be a good bet for February,” he added. Along the Central Jersey coast, field editor Ashley Viola said it appeared that most saltwater anglers seem to have packed it in for the winter. “Those who combated the cold got rewarded with limits of tog and a mixed bag of pollock, ling, hake, and cod on head boats and charters,” Ashley wrote in her report, adding that small stripers can still be caught off the surf with small metals. “There is also word of white perch in the Mullica River and Toms River as well,” said Ashley, adding “Grass shrimp and bloodworms should do the trick.” For much of coastal Atlantic and Cape May counties, it’s been pretty darn quiet for the past few weeks. According to South Jersey field editor Anthony Califano, perch fishing has been phenomenal in just about every river, creek and tributary from Tuckerton to Tuckahoe. “Shops that are usually shuttered this time of year are open and stocking live grass shrimp and bloodworms to accommodate the influx of perch anglers,” Anthony noted of the local action, while also advising those adventurous anglers to consider the winter togging wherever party and charter boats can be found. “Party boats are running based on good weather windows and finding fish on the 110-plus foot wrecks,” Anthony noted. Things have been mostly quiet along the Delaware Bayshore in January as well, where Eric Burnley reports that a few options should open up in the coming month for Delaware anglers. “February should see better fishing in the tidal creeks for yellow and white perch,” Eric said, advising minnows or jigs by boat or by bank. “Local spillways are easy to reach and some are even out of the wind,” Eric added.
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