Panfish Not Lost in the Winter Sauce in South Jersey
Okay, early winter.
Hopefully, the Garden State’s southern tier counties will get a sustained blast of subfreezing temperatures (read: twenties and teens to maybe single digits) long enough to encase ponds, lakes, and river coves in ice thick enough for a rare, and albeit brief, ice fishing “season”.
But I digress.
The Christmas season is for wishing, but no wishing is needed right now as the fishing for the likes of white and yellow perch, sunfish, and crappies is in hot mode. Despite being considered a spring-through-autumn quarries, these bite well even during cold water times when you find them.
These schoolers will be concentrated in the deeper holes and channel edges, moving up into shallower reaches to chow. Should you locate a spot holding them, it’s a simple matter of dropping a small jig or baited hook down into the zone or slow reeling a downsized crankbait or spoon along the perimeter.
A spate of moderating temperatures will see them move up into skinnier areas. After tomorrow’s high thirties chill, it looks like the mid-fifties through next Wednesday. That could make for some fun opportunities.
South Jersey is packed with prime panfish waters, and when it comes to the brackish water-loving white perch, tidal flows such as the Tuckahoe, Egg Harbor, Bass, Toms, and Mullica rivers as well as more diminutive Nacote Creek, among others, are havens for this always hungry miniature member of the striped bass family.
For the whities, it’s all about blood worms or, if you have or can get any, frozen shedder crab. Small minnies (killies) are gold. They’ll also smack small plugs and spoons. Whites will also wax a 1/16 or 1/8 oz. jig head armed with a Mr. Twister grub or Sassy Shad.
The aforementioned hardware will also take crappies, yellow perch and the bigger sunnies. A fave for the latter is the Trout Magnet, with the Crappie Magnet the crush for its namesake as well as for yellow perch.
When fishing tidal waters, be aware of the demarcation line where a freshwater fishing license might be required. This is listed on page 32 in the 2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest.