New Jersey Fishing Report- February 16, 2023

Tautog and white perch are biting well through warm and calm conditions, while freshwater ponds are giving up bass, crappie, perch and pickerel.

(Above) Anglers on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant have had a pleasant week of blackfishing under sunny skies.

Just hang on, folks. Striper season is right around the corner.

For the most part, it was another week of relatively slow fishing with the exception of white perch and some big blackfish being caught through warm weather and calm seas.

The white perch are keeping anglers busy in the rivers at night, and anyone not able to get out for tautog during the week has taken their efforts to freshwater ponds where largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie have been biting well. Further south, chain pickerel are fired up in the freshwater ponds, and anglers fishing with live kills under a bobber have been bringing in some hefty slime darts.

If this warm weather is any indication of what’s in store for early March, it’s going to be a fantastic start to striper season in the back bays. Anglers are prepping their gear, making last minute repairs, and spending any winter savings at fishing shows like Surf Day this weekend. There will be tons of great shops and vendors, as well as seminars from fishing gurus like John Skinner.

TAK Waterman in Long Branch reports that there isn’t much going on besides a few guys catching some largemouth, crappie and perch in the local ponds. The fishing is slow now, but in a couple weeks time it will pick up steam again with backwater striped bass. Service your reels now and prepare for spring before the action begins. TAK will be at Surf Day, hosted by the Jersey Shore Surfcasters, this Saturday at Brookdale Community College.

Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reports: “The best fishing other than blackfishing at this time, is freshwater. We are blessed with many lakes, ponds and streams in our state. The fish and wildlife commission has done a great job stocking these waters with panfish, trout and catfish to get us through the winters when fishing is slow. The waters have been clear of ice this winter, giving anglers a chance to pass time and bend a rod before the spring stripers and winter flounder opens in March.” The shop is open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for your winter and spring fishing needs.

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters reports that he is now booking trips for the 2023 spring striper season, so map out those dates and get to bookin’ before it’s too late! Side Job Charters will sail out of Lockwood Marina in Raritan Bay for striped bass this spring.

The Reel Seat in Brielle is closed for renovations this week but will re-open on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. for all your weekend fishing needs. However, they are still accepting reel repair and servicing via drop-off and pick-up this week.

Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach is packing up gear for Surf Day right now, but freshwater fishing is good for largemouth bass, crappie and perch with all this warm weather. Trout are biting well in the rivers up north as well, so if you’re willing to make a drive, there’s some great fly rod action to be had before the start of striper season. Swing by the booth at Surf Day this weekend!

Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reports some goo tautog fishing under bluebird skies this week. Despite the slow-bite trend, their crew has been putting customers on the meat this week. With warm weather and calm seas the fish have been biting well, and some bruiser blackfish came over the rail, including the one shown below. The Mimi VI is sailing daily from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. when conditions permit, but there is a 15-man limit, so book your spots while the getting is good!

The Mimi VI continues to find big tautog through the “winter doldrums”.

Gabriel Tackle in Brick reports that they’re gearing up for white perch fishing and the striper season opener. They’ll be bringing in worms next week so they’re fresh for the start of the season. With this nicer weather, there have also been a few anglers targeting schoolies in the surf and having some success, but most are preparing for the good fishing to kick off in a couple of weeks in the backwaters.

Hook House Bait and Tackle in Toms River reports that freshwater fishing has been great this week due to warm weather and sunshine. They’ve been selling lots of live killies for chain pickerel in the ponds. On the saltwater scene, Toms River has been giving up some perch for angler fishing with blood worms. It’s been a decent bite, with good fishing one night and slow fishing the next. That on and off action is typical of this time of year. However, the perch they are catching have all been fat, chewing well on bait and full of eggs. The Mullica River has been giving up some good perch as well.

Jenni Ackerman at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park reports: “It’s been quiet in the bays, there haven’t ben too many recent reports of perch being caught. A lot of people are waiting for opening day of striper season on March 1 at this point, so they’ve been spending their winter fishing savings at the shows and expos. The shop is currently prepping for Surf Day and our special event at the end of March. We’re all anticipating that this warmer weather will result in a stellar start to the striper season behind Island Beach once it opens up to fishing. We are counting down the days!”

Creekside Outfitters in Waretown reports that they are open for winter hours on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They recently received a shipment of sand worms and will have bait ready for the striped bass season opener in a couple weeks. A few customers are going out for tautog, but things are quiet as fishermen prepare (and rest) for the striped bass season opener in 2 weeks.

Fishermen’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom reports that they will be attending the 4th Annual Philadelphia Fishing Show this weekend, from Friday, February 17 to Sunday the 19th at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. Stop by this weekend and check out the Hawg Trough, a 5,000 gallon gamefish aquarium. Or, scratch the itch to hit the water by catching a fish at the show in their fully stocked trout pond. The shop currently has green crabs for any weekend tautog anglers, as well as worms for those interested in white perch, so stop in for bait if you plan to go out fishing!

Best Bets for the Weekend

This weekend is a great time to take care of any last minute tweaks to your saltwater gear before the shops get slammed with panicked anglers who need reels repaired or serviced over the next two weeks. Additionally, Surf Day will be a great event to get the juices flowing for the season ahead!

If you plan to wet a line this weekend, consider picking up some sand worms at a local shop to soak in the Mullica or Toms River for white perch. They’ve been fat and plentiful for the most part. Other bait fishing opportunities present themselves in the way of live kills and chain pickerel, which are biting well in South Jersey ponds after all this early spring weather.

Lastly, if you can swing a tautog trip, it may be worth your while. Big blackfish were caught with some regularity on the Mimi VI over the course of the past week, and there’s no better way to go into striper season in 2 weeks than with a hog of a tog under your belt before the buzzer on February 28!

1 thought on “New Jersey Fishing Report- February 16, 2023

  1. Jim waters

    Love all the reports of the local fishing reports & the how when & where,thanks J.W.

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