White perch inside and tautog outside create an interesting and rewarding combination for local fishers as we head into mid-January.
Bruce Gehringer was on his way to pick up some bloodworm for bait from Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon on Friday afternoon.
The Egg Harbor Township veteran fisher was pumped to make another run at white perch in the inside waters of Atlantic County on Saturday morning.
Gehringer and some of his pals have been picking white perch with real success recently. Gehringer said his last trip on a beautiful Tuesday this week resulted in 35 white perch in the 10- to 12-inch class. He said it was cold in the morning but warmed up into the mid 40s in light wind with “real nice” water temps.
He said he has been out five times moving around in different stretches of water. On one of the trips launched on a side creek three weeks ago, he had to break through a quarter-inch sheet of ice with his kayak. He said they had some white perch jumbos that were bigger than his recent catch.
He promised his buds he would not divulge exact locations. And, oh, by the way, he said last time out, he hooked up with 25 short striped bass that measured from 15 to 26 inches.
A check with Showell confirmed he received a recent delivery of bloodworms. Grass shrimp is a traditional bait for white perch and those small striped bass.
A report from Buck Tails Outfitter in Mays Landing indicated white perch were more downriver in the Great Egg Harbor watershed than up off the bulkhead in Mays Landing.
Tautog in the ocean can still be described as quality and quantity.
The Starfish party boat out of Sea Isle City had excellent catches last weekend and Monday, according to fleet DJ and dockmaster John Nigro. He said Friday they were scheduled to sail again Saturday. Nigro said they just got a delivery of crab as bait for tog.
Persistent windy conditions on the ocean curtailed the fishing this week.
Dedicated winter fishers have been rewarded with fish that went 18 to 20 pounds. Nigro said they had 11- and 12-pound tog on one Starfish trip last weekend.
Other reports describe a load of tog in the 5- to 7-pound range ruling the catches.
Striped bass are out of season in January and February in the inlets, back bays and rivers and streams but legal from in the ocean from 0 to 3 miles out in New Jersey. They are always out of bounds in federal waters (3 miles and beyond).
Meeting in Virginia
The winter meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is set for Feb. 5-7 in Arlington, Virginia.
The schedule is packed with boards and committees and issues. An important date is Feb. 5, when summer flounder, scup and black sea bass take over the agenda from 12:45 to 2:15 p.m.
Public comment can be made in person or by written comment. To be included in the material to be distributed to commissioners, comments must be received prior to Jan. 29. It is important for stakeholders, fishers and the general public to participate.
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Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays in print and Mondays and Fridays online.