Perch Passions Running High
While there is always the March Surprise (one of the reasons it’s referred to as “The Cruelest Month”) in the late winter air, the fact of the matter is that this is the winter that isn’t, and the white perch have certainly noticed.
Observes Capt. Dave Showell, owner of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, “This is the best white perch fishing I’ve seen in my 36 years in business. I mean, it’s crazy! I’ve been lucky to be able to get bloodworms from my supplier because the demand has been off the charts. The perch are biting just about everywhere, and with this week’s weather forecast, well, let’s just say I placed another order.”
He’s also been able to procure the equally hot live grass shrimp bait thanks to the efforts of local grassie-getters.
From this corner, the UltraPremium perch punisher is a small minnie (killie). With the unseasonably warm weather, these are around here and there and can be caught in the standard minnow trap by those with the time to find them.
The white perch, actually a member of the true bass family that includes the striper (freshwater largemouth and smallmouth are members of the sunfish family), is found in just about every brackish tidal creek along the Jersey coast, including the tributaries of the big ‘n bodacious Delaware Bay.
A schooling species, it travels in numbers, i.e. catch one and you’ll certainly catch others. Outgoing tide is prime time.
A simple hi-lo rig baited with bloods or grassies will have the rods bending. When it’s really busting out, we switch to a white, yellow or chartreuse 1/16 oz. jig head tipped with a piece of bloodworm or a 2-inch Mr. Twister grub (yellow, white, black) on a #0 silver spinnerbait clip, and have a cast ‘n retrieve catch-fest.
White perch venues are numerous, for sure. Our faves include the Mullica River, Toms River, Nacote Creek, Tuckerton Creek, lower Bass River, Tuckahoe River, Middle River, Egg Harbor River, Dividing Creek, and the Maurice River. And there are many, many more.
Be aware of the respective demarcations where a freshwater fishing license might be required. For example, at the perch-producing Mays Landing Bulkhead at Gaskill Park, a license is required. The Toms River at Mathis and Huddy parks are “license-free,” but a few hundred yards down Route 166 (Atlantic City Boulevard) where the Jakes Branch flows into the Toms, possession of a freshwater license is mandatory. Go figure.
Visit page 30 of the 2023 Freshwater Fishing Digest for the fishing license boundaries.
To be sure, this is a white perch “season” for the ages. They are among the best-tasting fish there are and provide fast ‘n fun fishing on light and ultra-light tackle.