Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Please read at: http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/5499c682SFlounderDraftAddendumXXVI_PublicComment_Dec2014.pdf

Comments may be submitted to:
Mail: Kirby Rootes-Murdy,
FMP Coordinator
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
1050 North Highland Street
Suite 200A-N
Arlington, VA 22201
(Subject: Draft Addendum XXVI)
Phone: (703) 842-0740 
Option 1 is to keep the same plan as 2014
Option 3 (A and B) splits the state of NJ with "north" getting a 19" limit of 4 or 5, "south" getting a year round 17" limit of 4.
Obviously down south we'd either like to leave it as it was in 2014 OR choose option 3.

Today seemed just like Yesterday

It is now January of the year 2015, about one third of the way through our winter season.

Christmas is past, New Year's is past, College football is over, the NFL championships have been decided and the "world" is waiting for the Superbowl. While most of the nation remembered Martin Luther King, there is no other real "Holiday" on the schedule until Valentine's day.

The shore towns are empty, few around South Jersey are fishing for anything. A few hardy blackfish anglers get out. The northern head boats are hitting mackerel and whiting. There is no ice to speak of down in dixie so no ice fishing opportunities are there. Some freshwater pickerel and yellow perch are around.

Fishing shows have started on tv, and the flea markets and winter seminars are in full swing. Fly fishermen are busy tying, others are cleaning and sorting gear.

Meanwhile, I took advantage of the day off to drive around with a friend and try a new fishery for me: White Perch.

OK, full disclosure is that my 2015 fishing season kicked off just where last year left off: a solid skunking. (we had a few "bites" but no real tugs on the lines).

However, it was a new approach for me.

First: Make Bait
Second: Go Fish!

Making Bait

This is a term used down south for getting your live bait supply at the start of a fishing trip. Of course, down south there are so many fish available, this is usually a trivial task. Nonetheless at this time of year up here, few bait shops are open so it's a necessity, given that fish are sluggish enough to generally resist chasing a lure or jig.

Fred Uhlman from No Bones Bait and Tackle wrote up a nice treatise on Grass Shrimp (stolen here, thanks Fred)

99.9 percent of my fishing is in our back bays. Since before I can remember me and dad were fishing the back bays of Wildwood and Tuckerton. Caught just about every species of fish that ventures into our back waters plus a few rare ones. In those 60 plus years of fishing one thing has remained constant for me with every species of fish caught. That constant is the often forgotten GRASS SHRIMP as the food source pump that keeps this fishery thriving. Check your cooler when your trip is over. GRASS SHRIMP stuck to the sides and all over the bottom from your catch regurgitating. If there is a number like gazillion then that's how many GRASS SHRIMP that inhabit any body of water behind any barrier island in New Jersey, or easier to just say that they are countless.

Our back bays are the nursery for just about all migrating species that arrive each spring. Timing is perfect as their eggs hatch to coincide with the hatching GRASS SHRIMP eggs. Here is a pic of two GRASS SHRIMP. One could be a male but the larger is a female loaded with eggs attached to her underbelly.

Every female carries hundreds of fertile eggs like this so countless X hundreds of eggs will give you some idea as to what happens when they hatch. The back bays become saturated with pepper flake size baby GRASS SHRIMP just when spawning fish eggs hatch providing everything the baby fish need to survive. From watching my aquariums over the years I became totally impressed with the GRASS SHRIMP. They seem to be able to sense or smell food faster than most fish. They have two long front leg's with claws at the ends and they aren't afraid to use them. I watched one time as a decent size blue claw crab sat on the bottom eating a piece of food. A GRASS SHRIMP slowly positioned itself in front of the crab then slowly reached under the crab and pulled out the food the crab was protecting. Crab never saw what happened.

One evening I was lucky enough to witness the GRASS SHRIMP eggs hatching and it wasn't what I was expecting. I figured they just dropped the eggs and moved on leaving the eggs to hatch on their own. One evening while looking at the aquarium I noticed one female SHRIMP constantly swimming back and forth well above the bottom. Pulled up a chair and began watching. Shrimp are like crabs and grow by shedding their outer shell. While watching the GRASS SHRIMP swam to the top of the aquarium and arched her back then snapped open again. She did this numerous time till the back of her outer shell started to split. Then one last massive snap and she popped right out of her old skin. At the same time all the eggs releases and slowly drifted down towards the bottom. Then like fireworks they all popped open and hundreds of perfectly little baby GRASS SHRIMP took off all over the aquarium. One of the coolest things I have ever seen. Over the years I have witnessed this event about a dozen times and it never gets old.

Everything eats them but it's not as easy as you would think. In the aquarium I have seen many many misses as even potent predators like flounder miss a so called easy meal. GRASS SHRIMP can feel the change in water pressure as a predator moves in. Amazing to watch them snap their body to jet away from an open mouth. Their only problem is that there are so many that even a slow fish can eventually get a meal. Even now as I type this the numbers of GRASS SHRIMP are impressive. Middle of winter yet here is a pic from my drop net yesterday.

They are thriving in our frigid waters feeding on just about anything and waiting. Waiting for the warmer waters of spring when they will once again become the food source that maintains our back bay nursery.


We found a nice spot to pick up some shrimp and minnies... enough for our fishing. Had we expected it to be a real hot bite, like if we had evidence of many fish being caught, we might have had to work harder. As such, I had enough to throw in the freezer for another time.

After "making bait" we ventured to what was a new spot for me, the Patcong, and while we got skunked, I will definitely try this and some other hot spots later in the winter.

Here is a NJ F&W page on White Perch:

Early Spring White Perch - A Treat Sweet to Eat!

By Hugh Carberry
Supervising Biologist
March, 2005 Without a doubt, white perch are one of the finest eating fishes found in New Jersey's waters. The fillets when cooked are succulent, sweet and firm in texture. Easily caught in fresh or brackish water, white perch can be caught by the basketful.
Eating-size white perch range from 10 to 12 inches and the fillets when fried are similar in size to commercially bought "Fish Sticks". However, "Perch Sticks" taste ten times better and don't have the processed fishmeal taste characteristic of store bought brands.
White perch are caught in the deeper pools of lakes, rivers and streams. In tidal areas, good locations to focus in on are small feeder creeks that dump into the main part of a river. The ebbing tide is the time to go. Don't be afraid to move if no fish are caught in ten minutes.
If you start catching numerous slab white perch at a location such as this, be tight lipped, as you have a silver mine. If you take a friend, blind fold them to and from the location.
In the spring, rising water temperatures and increased daylight length trigger schooling / spawning behavior. Schools can be located by trial and error by shoreline anglers or with an electronic fish finder by boat anglers.
Once a school is located the fun borders on work because the action is non-stop. Be careful during the fishing frenzy grasping and removing white perch from the hook. White perch flare out their dorsal spines in a defense mechanism when they know they're slated for supper.
Angler with catch of white perch
Angler with catch of white perch
Your basic terminal tackle for bait fishing is simple: a weight, dropper loop and a gold-colored #1 baitkeeper hook. Baits such as bloodworms, small minnows or grass shrimp are proven favorites. Any light fishing outfit with eight to twelve pound test line is a good choice for equipment. Depending on the depth of a white perch school in the water column, a small bobber can be added to keep baits at the appropriate level. Casting small artificial baits such as spinners or small Rapalas is also another effective method to catch white perch and can break up the monotony when bait fishing. Casting artificials is also a fast means of finding schooled fish as more area is covered. 

An old 70s group, BREAD...

Just like yesterday
You come upon my mind and take it away...
Just like at the time
The things we did made our hearts skip away
Down on my knees I prayed
Kind woman don't go astray
When it seems at times
I've got my mind and heart all straight away...
Just when you've become
A mem'ry of the past and fade away
I see your face and think of all
Of all that we had
With of the things that you brought me
Now was it so bad
... Makes me wonder...
Just like yesterday
You come upon my mind and take it away.