Mike Shepherd

Longtime fishing columnist Mike Shepherd tells you what's biting, where to find them and how to catch them. His column appears Saturdays in The Press.

It looks like the only game in town is fishing for white perch, and the few reports describe few catches.

Frank Hannum of Galloway Township tried ice fishing a couple of times recently at Collins Cove on the Mullica River. He is a regular in The Press Fishing Contest, so he knows what he's doing. He said he did not have a keeper and saw only a few white perch being caught by a few anglers who went out on the ice.

Earlier this week, he said the ice was 4-5 inches thick. That does not sound sturdy enough. And the weather is expected to stay relatively warm, which will melt the ice. Thin ice and no fish is a combination both dangerous and unproductive, and therefore not worth the risk.

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Hannum said it seems like it has been years since there has been good fishing through the ice at Collins Cove. Ice fishing there was once a real winter tradition with lot of anglers enjoying the challenge and camaraderie. But that has not happened recently.

Hannum was eager to get back out on the water, so Friday he tried a whole different tactic on a nice weather day.

He first tried the warm water around the B.L. England Generating Station at Beesleys Point. Nothing there. So he went with a fishing buddy to a spot on the other side of the Mullica River from Collins Cove in the New Gretna area. While Hannum was out there, he got two phone calls, and the guy he was fishing with caught a fish both times the phone rang.

Hannum was threatened with more phone calls.

That lack of white perch is typical of what's not happening.

The next best thing

The offseason can have its moments. Right in the middle of winter every year here in South Jersey, the Atlantic City Boat Show hauls into the Atlantic City Convention Center. So far this winter we've had some unusually cold weather. Fishing has been taking a hit, so maybe more anglers than usual might be itching for something to do. The show runs from Wednesday to next Sunday.

Greg Myerson of Westbrook, Conn. holds the world striped bass record at 81.88 pounds, and he is scheduled to make an appearance next Saturday (3-4 p.m.) and Sunday. Myerson has developed his own patented way of fishing for striper.

He heads a list of strong experts who will lead seminars. Others from the area include Steve Bent, captain of the charter boat Free Spirit that splits the season between Margate and Cape May (11 a.m.-1 p.m. next Saturday); Jim Hutchinson Jr., managing director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (3-4 p.m. Thursday); Adam Nowalsky, captain of the Atlantic City-based charter boat Karen Ann II (4-5 p.m. next Saturday); Fran Verdi, of Francesca Marie Sportfishing (3-4 p.m. Friday); and Scott Newhall of Time Out Charters and the Press Fishing Contest flounder champ a few years back (5-6 p.m. Wednesday).

The A.C. Boat Show has many local exhibitors in the hall. South Jersey Yacht Sales of Cape May is among them. Bob Glover and his crew from South Jersey Marina and the Canyon Club run several fishing tournaments, including the major Mid-Atlantic $500,000 set this year for Aug. 17-22.

Waterfront Marine in Somers Point will have a fleet of 28, including fishing boats; Sheltered Cove Marina in Tuckerton had 23 on the way to the boat show when contacted Friday morning. Pier 47 Marina in Wildwood and C-Jam Yacht Sales in Somers Point are there, along with powerhouse local manufacturers Viking Yachts and Ocean Yachts.

Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor Township is a local tackle shop with a booth at the show. The Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament and the Greater Atlantic Bluefish also will be there.

The list of exhibitors is way too long to list here, but it is safe to say there is lots to see and do.

Nowalsky will be a busy guy in the next couple of weeks. He also is scheduled to appear next Saturday at the Southern Ocean County Chapter of The Sunshine Foundation. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tuckerton Red Men Lodge at 145 W. Main St. The cost is $20 by reservation or $25 at the door. Another highlight will be a seminar by Rutgers professor Olaf Jensen concerning sea bass tagging study. Call Skip Deckman at 609-709-8038. Deckman said the money raised at the seminar is seed money for a fishing tournament in the summer. The money from the tournament is used to send a local resident to Disney World.

And Nowalsky will be a representative for the Recreational Fishing Alliance at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council meeting next week. Nowalsky said Friday that he will know better by Thursday what might develop concerning the summer flounder season.

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