STAFFORD - We still have a long way to go before spring arrives and we can get into some decent
fishing. However, there are a couple of fishing options coming up soon that have local anglers getting anxious.

First, March 1 marks the official opening of the New Jersey striped bass season for inshore waters. This means that anglers may then target striped bass in the waters inside the inlets. Traditionally, stripers have wintered up our local rivers and begin to make their way toward the ocean as the waters start to warm.

One of the very first areas in New Jersey to pick off some of these bass is Graveling Point down in Little Egg Township at the very end of Radio Road. Initially, the fish are small and throwback sized, but the keepers eventually arrive with the date depending pretty much on the water temperature. The overwhelming bait of choice here is live bloodworm with fresh clam coming in second. These fish are too sluggish to go after artificials.

Sign Up for E-News

The best place to get information on the happenings at Graveling Point is Scott’s Bait and Tackle on Radio Road on the way to the Point. It is no coincidence that Scott and Mo will be opening for the season on March 1 after their winter vacation. They will have the bait, gear, and advice to get you on the fish. In addition, they award a $100 gift certificate to the angler catching the first keeper bass of the year from the Point. Stop by for all the details and tell them I said hi.

Another possible source of action right now is white perch. I have been hearing of a few catches made in some of the lagoons and creeks of Southern Ocean County such as Beach Haven West. The Mullica River has also been producing some of these tasty little fish. I have found the best bait for perch is live grass shrimp followed by live minnows and bloodworm pieces. Use small baits and small hooks.



At one time in the past, I would also be suggesting trying for some winter flounder. However, that fishery has fallen off dramatically in our area, and I am not sure if it is worth the effort. I will let you know in future columns if I hear anything positive.

In my last column I gave an update on the tentative status of the fishing regulations for black sea bass. I have been hearing pretty much the same for summer flounder as that of sea bass. It does not look like our yearly quota will be reduced this year, and our allowed take will be pretty much the same as last year. It will be up to our state regulators if our rules will remain exactly the same. I am sure there can be some tweaks in the dates of the season, but the minimum size and daily catch quotas will probably remain the same.

Finally, striped bass. It appears that we have been overfishing striped bass over the past couple of years, and the stocks have gone down. It looks like this year the regulations will remain the same as last year, but you can expect some drastic changes for the year 2020. I expect the keeper size to change and probably a drop in the daily bag limit to one fish. I guess the news could be worse such as a complete shutdown in
the entire fishery.



Don’t forget the Atlantic City Boat Show is coming up this weekend. This is a national type event taking place in our own backyard. If you are like me, the new boats are just to look at. But it is fun to window shop, and there are quite a few great fishing seminars and presentations on various aspects of boating including electronics. The show takes place at the Convention Center in Atlantic City from February 27 through March 3. For complete information on the show go to www.acboatshow.com.

If you should have any questions on local fishing or have fishing reports of your own to share, I would love to hear from you at jamesghutch1@aol.com.