White perch fishing is not the only game in town, but it sure seems to be the main event.
Dave Showell said Monday he “probably had more business” from Friday to Sunday than in any previous January weekend in his 33 years at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon.
The weather was very good, and the word was out that white perch are biting big time.
Showell said fishing was good everywhere in the Mullica River and connecting estuaries.
He said they are pan fish, have fins and move around a lot. Fishers with that knowledge would catch and then move when it slowed.
Showell said the fish are big. He related a story from Dave Roesch, of Galloway Township, who was out there Saturday and hooked into a white perch that fought like a striped bass.
Dave also reported that Roesch was in a fleet that included kayaks and canoes. Another well-known local, Josimar Domingues, of Galloway Township, was catching them up and invited Roesch into the sweet spot.
They were not the only fishers airing it out Saturday.
Boli Mam used to be an invader ... he would come down from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, clean up on fish and scoot back home.
He is still one of the top scorers but now has moved to Paulsboro and does not have as far to go to get his hauls home.
He is among the cadre of white perch fans enjoying what has been proclaimed as “the year of the white perch” by Showell. Mam said Monday he fished in the Mullica River on Saturday, launching his kayak from the end of Hay Road near Egg Harbor City. That is one of the more popular stretches of water upriver.
The weather was super, and the word is out about the super catches. He said he had plenty of company, with about 20 other kayaks and canoes nearby.
He characterized the fishing as excellent with a lot more “big, big” fish. The jumbos are running close to 2 pounds, he said.
He said white perch are in the main channels, not near the banks of the streams.
Mam said striped bass are around, too. We are not permitted to keep them in the rivers and streams nor inside the inlets in January and February. He said he caught one recently that was 32 inches, longer than the minimum of 28, that went back into the water.
Mam is known for fishing all over the East Coast but has lately mostly been fishing in New Jersey because of the move.
He made one other observation: Weakfish are making a comeback in these regions. That observation fits with what fishers believe is the cyclical nature of some species, including bluefish.
Mam and Showell both questioned the federal fishing regulators’ proposed drastic reduction in the daily bluefish possession allocation — from 15 to three for private fishers.
The daily bag limit would be five blues for the for-hire party boat and charter boat patrons.
Tautog are also going strong inshore and offshore.
A headliner is a 14- pounder caught by Blake Griffith recently while fishing with Dave Moore in his boat No Moores. Griffith was using a 1.5-ounce MagicTail tog jig.
Griffith is a staffer at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, where the catch was reported.
We can catch four tog with a 15-inch minimum length through Feb. 29.
The 2020 Assault on Patcong Creek crabbing event launches with a winter luncheon and silent auction from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point.
Proceeds go to the free contest, which is believed to be the largest crabbing contest in America. This year’s contest is set for June 26-27.
Go to assaultonpatcongcreek.com or call contest director Ron Meiscker at 609-517-2531.
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Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.