New Jersey Fishing Report- February 9, 2023

White perch, blackfish and the usual freshwater suspects provide the most consistent fishing opportunities this week.

I wish there was better news but nothing much has changed since last week. The only difference is that the level of anticipation among saltwater anglers has gone up several notches. 

Everybody is anxious to get out there and pick up where we left off. This spate of warm weather only makes matters more urgent. For the time being, however, freshwater fishing offers the best shot at some fish while the white perch bite has been decent in the Toms and Mullica rivers. 

And there are still a few folks having luck with blackfish. But that’s about it. 

Mark at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said it’s quiet there with the only report he received was of some lake trout being caught on the troll at Round Valley. There are stripers in the Hackensack River, he added, but it will be March 1 before they can be targeted. 

Billy at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the most excitement they’ve seen was last Saturday’s Super Sale that had customers lined up at the shop at 4:30 a.m.  The 100 Back Bay Plugs that they had in-store for the sale sold out in 30 minutes. The whole event was a huge success, he added, with bargains heading out the door all day. Beyond that, fishing has been very quiet. 

This Saturday, another northern Monmouth County institution, the Hi-Mar Striper Club, will be having its annual Fishing Flea Market and Seminar Series starting at 8 a.m. at VFW Post 2179, 1 Veterans Lane in Port Monmouth.  

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said freshwater continues to be the best bet for catching something. Crappie and bass are biting local in ponds and lakes. All this warm weather has Gleason thinking spring and, if this year is anything like the past couple, he expects stripers in Raritan Bay by the second or third week of March. He added that he spotted herring in the ocean while out surfing earlier this week. TAK Waterman will be at Surf Day on Feb. 18 at Brookdale Community College with a wide variety of plugs, spoons and lures along with clothing and hat specials. 

Fisherman’s Den in Belmar shared this photo of Roberto Robaina and the 9-pound, 2-ounce blackfish he caught aboard the Ocean Explorer this week.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said it’s been very quiet there with freshwater tackle the best seller. That fishery has been a savior for anglers desperate to wet a line. His customers have been doing well with crappie, bass, pickerel and catfish. Lake Como and Spring Lake have been popular spots. Matthews said the Ocean Explorer is the only party boat still sailing out of the marina and it’s been doing fairly well with blackfish in deep water. The Den weighed in three tog over 9 pounds caught on the Explorer this week, including a 9-pound, 2-ounce tog caught by Roberto Robaina from Belleville. With the mild winter, Matthews predicts the early striper season should be pretty good.   

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar is currently booking spring bass trips and will be sailing out of Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy to be closer to the Raritan Bay action. 

Matt Heager at The Reel Seat in Brielle said this week saw more folks get into freshwater fishing with a good panfish bite going on. Reports have also been good on the white perch fishing in the Toms River. There’s a lot of bass in there as well and he expects the fishing will be good once the season opens. Fish and game wardens have been around just to make sure folks are following the rules.

Vinny at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the freshwater bite is good right now with folks catching crappie, pickerel and trout. There are stripers on the beach, he said, hanging close to the jetties for those willing to put the time in.  There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of folks giving it a try, he added. Fishermen’s Supply will be at Surf Day on the 18th. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported some good blackfishing this week with several limits caught and even a keeper double header. There were also cod and ling in the mix. Capt. Kenny said they hope to sail at least through next week and maybe longer if the weather holds out. 

Double-header blackfish caught earlier this week aboard the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach.

Frank Giacalone of the Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said they will be at the Southern Regional Fishing Flea Market this Saturday at the Southern Regional Middle School Cafeteria, 75 Cedar Bridge Ave., in Manahawkin from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $4 with all proceeds benefitting the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club. 

Dennis Palmatier at Hook House Bait and Tackle in Toms River said not much has changed since last week with the white perch in the Toms River the best thing going on now. It’s a night bite with bloodworms on a high-low rig. The action doesn’t seem to start until 6 or 7 p.m. The shop has been getting weekly deliveries of bloodworms and he’s expecting to get killies in stock very soon.

Scott Thomas at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said they’ve been busy rearranging the shop with all the new inventory coming in. There’s very little going on fishing-wise with the exception of white perch in the back waters. It should be a good opening for stripers, he said, with the rivers already holding large numbers of fish. 

Mike Taylor at Creekside Outfitters in Waretown said it’s gone pretty quiet there with white perch the main target and even that has slowed to a pick.  

Paul Lindsey at Fishermen’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom said white perch is all he’s hearing about in the Toms and Mullica rivers. He, too, said there are a lot of stripers around and it should be a good opening come March 1. Fishermen’s Headquarters will be at the Southern Regional Fishing Flea Market this Saturday in Manahawkin. 

Best Bets for the Weekend

It looks like the mild weather will continue, giving anglers a chance to hit their favorite freshwater spots. That, white perch, and blackfishing for diehards are about the only opportunities available right now.

There are also a couple of fishing flea markets this weekend with the Hi-Mar Striper Club event in Port Monmouth and Southern Regional High School flea market in Manahawkin. 

Two big shows are coming up in March with the Saltwater Expo in Edison, March 17 to 19, and the Asbury Park Fishing Show on March 19 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park. 

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