Catch Your First Fish of the Year

With the new fishing season beginning on January 1, there’s no time to waste when it comes to getting on the board. Here are our top picks for getting your first fish of the year in the first week of the year. Just be sure to pick up your new fishing license first.


Adam Eldridge with a wintertime trout that fell to a small tube jig.

Trout love cold water, and will feed well all winter long in streams, lakes, and under the ice. Small jigs like the trout magnet are tough to beat for winter trout, no matter where you fish.

Article: The Trout Magnet
Article: Winter Trout Trolling
VIDEO: Chumming with Grass Shrimp for Winter Trout

White Perch

Anthony DeiCicchi with a winter white perch from a brackish pond in Massachusetts.

This small cousin of the striper isn’t migratory, and therefore hangs around the brackish rivers and estuaries all winter long. They’ll readily attack spoons, spinners, and jigs, and grass shrimp or bloodworms are a sure thing. The biggest white perch of the year are caught between December and March, and any perch over 10 inches will put a major bend in an ultralight rod.

Article: Ice Fishing for White Perch
Article: How To Catch White Perch

First Ice

Ice fishing cleats are highly recommended to prevent slipping.
Chris Megan checks a flag on some early ice.

While fishable ice is difficult to find throughout most of the Northeast, in Northern New England, fishermen have already been setting tip-ups on small ponds for pike, bass, and pickerel, while waiting for the larger waters to ice up.

Video: First Ice Pike in Maine
Article: Be Safe on First Ice
Article: Ice Fishing Tips for the First Freeze of the Season

Holdover Stripers

Stripers can be found in tidal rivers throughout the Northeast all winter long.

Tidal rivers from New York to Massachusetts hold resident populations of stripers through the winter. You’ll find the fish holding in deeper holes, especially during lower tides that will concentrate the fish. Catch them with small soft plastic jigs worked very slowly. New Jersey has resident stripers as well, but targeting striped bass in the backwaters is prohibited in January and February. Luckily, a few schoolies will hang in the surf into January, giving Garden State anglers a good shot at a January striper.

Article: Striper Season

And be sure to check our Weekly Fishing Reports – we’ll be freshening them up all winter long to help you get your fishing fix 12 months a year.

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