New Jersey Fishing Forecast- February 2, 2023

Keeper tautog bite in deep water and white perch feed in the back bays, while largemouth bass and crappie entertain anglers in the ponds.

Just hang in there.

In less than four weeks, on March 1, striper season in rivers and bays will open. That same day is also the start of winter flounder.We just have to be patient, the admirable trait all anglers share.
In the meantime, there are fish to be caught, especially in freshwater, shows and flea markets to attend and tackle to repair and replace. 

Tackle World in Rochelle Park shared this photo of store employee, Mike Sensetta, and the 16.75-pound tog he caught aboard the Starfish out of Atlantic City last weekend.

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the blackfishing reports have been scarce but he has heard of some big fish caught in deeper water. Among them was the 16¾-pound tog caught by shop employee, Mike Sansetta, fishing aboard the Starfish out of Atlantic City last weekend. There weren’t many fish caught during the trip but most were keepers. Hebert said the shop is fully stocked ahead of the spring openings. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet hasn’t heard much in the way of fishing but is very excited about the shop’s Super Sale taking place this Saturday. There will be 30 to 50 percent off on everything in the store, plus 100 Back Bay Plugs for sale. Doors open at 7 a.m. and he’s expecting a crowd.  

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said freshwater holds the most promise for folks looking to catch some fish. Largemouth and crappie remain the best targets in local ponds and lakes. Gleason said they will be at Surf Day in at Brookdale Community College on Feb. 18 with a bunch of custom plugs from Cranky Lures and Swagger Plugs. 

The Big Mohawk out of Belmar wrapped up its blackfish season last Sunday with a solid mix of keepers and shorts with the pool fish running about 7 pounds. The Big Mohawk will be sailing again in April.  

Pedro Kepti with his limit of tog last Sunday, the final day of blackfishing aboard the Big Mohawk out of Belmar.

Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker out of Belmar had a good last day of togging on Monday with a number of keepers, a few cod and some sea bass that had to go back. He’ll be sailing in April as well. 

Matt Heager at The Reel Seat in Brielle said it’s still quiet there with most of the store traffic picking up freshwater tackle. The largemouth and crappie bite has been pretty good, he said, and there have been a few trout caught as well. The blackfishing has been a pick, he said, but the fish have been on the larger side. He added that a lot of their customers have been traveling to warmer climates, like Costa Rica, to get some fishing in. The Reel Seat will be at the Asbury Park Fishing Show on March 19 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park. 

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said freshwater fishing is getting the most attention these days with local ponds and lakes giving up largemouth bass, crappie and pickerel. There are trout in the rivers and streams but they’re proving a bit more elusive, he said. White perch are biting in the Toms and Mullica rivers on bloodworms and Tanger said stripers are in there with them. The bass are off limits until March 1 and fish and game wardens are on the lookout for those jumping the gun. Fishermen’s Supply will be at Surf Day on Feb 18 with a variety of plugs, lures and other tackle. Tanger said they will also be at the Saltwater Expo, March 17 to 19 with a full line of kayaks. 

Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said last weekend’s big winter sale was a huge success with about 100 people waiting in line before the store opened on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. There was a big crowd on Sunday as well. He said the blowout tables from the sale will remain stocked in the shop through this weekend. As for the fishing, Kerico said that a few guys are still pulling short bass from the surf and white perch are back in the rivers and creeks. He expects to have blood worms in stock in the next few weeks. 

Dennis Palmatier at Hook House Bait and Tackle in Toms River said the white perch bite in the Toms River has been pretty good. Blood worms on a hi-low rig fished at night have been the way to go. The perch have been up to a pound and a half and he’s expecting another delivery of blood worms by the weekend. 

Mike Taylor at Creekside Outfitters in Waretown said white perch in the local rivers and creeks are the best thing going on now with anglers catching them on bloodworms and sandworms. Grass shrimp are working as well if they can be found. 

Greg Cudnik at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom said it’s the same there with perch in the back creeks. He said there’s still a pick of tog and some cod to go along with them for the few boats that are still fishing offshore. Fisherman’s Headquarters will be participating in Surf Day in February and the Saltwater Expo in March. 

Chris at Tight Lines Bait and Tackle in Somers Point said white perch in the backwaters are keeping anglers interested but it’s been quiet around there for the most part. For the time being, the shop only opens on decent weather days so call ahead to confirm someone is there. 

Best Bets for the Weekend

Between the frigid weather on the way and limited fishing opportunities, this may be a good weekend to go through your tackle and make a list of what’s needed before spring arrives. The shops are fully stocked right now with many offering spring specials.  

Temperatures are expected to climb back up on Sunday for those who want to try some freshwater fishing but there may be residual ice from Saturday’s deep freeze.  

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