White Perch Behind the South Jersey Coast Scene
With the summer saltwater bites at almost a full mouthful, with more to come, a most delectable morsel remains pretty much ignored save for those who enjoy ultra-light tackle tussles and a platter of finger-lickin' good deep-fried fillets.
Re-enter the white perch.
Sure, this panfish, which is actually a member of the true bass family and close kin to the striper, is a springtime staple along the south Jersey coast. However, once flounder (fluke) season opens, thoughts of this brackish water bait buster pretty much disappear.
From this corner, where solitude is an important part of the fishing scene, this is a good thing. Chances are great you’re not going to encounter many if any, other anglers seeking this spine-festooned wad of white meat during the summer swelter.
Perch will be frequenting the same areas they did during the spring bite, and now they’ll be on the chew during both phases of the tide. We opt for the last hour of the incoming and the first two of the outgoing, and on rare occasions, have even picked off a few during the slack when probing the deeper holes.
A schooling species, multiple catches in one area, is the norm, but they’ll move from hole to hole hunting forage such as fiddler crabs, minnies (killies), grass shrimp, and marine worms. As such, be willing to lift anchor and move when the action slows. The same goes when fishing from the bank. When the fish move, you move. In all likelihood, you’ll hit on another school, and the catching starts all over again.
Grass shrimp, bloodworms, and small minnies, either on a hi-low ring, on a single hook under a float, or mated to a tiny (1/8- ¼ oz.) jig will all catch perch. When the water is a bit stained or when the fish are finicky, we’ll opt for a size#0 gold or silver spinnerbait clip with a 1/8-oz. chartreuse or white jig head tipped with a short strip of Fishbites Bloodworm or Gulp! Bloody Bloodworm. This setup is an action-starter 95% of the time.
Top summertime perch swims include the Tuckahoe River and its latticework of tribs, the Egg Harbor River, Mullica River, Bass River, and Absecon Creek. On occasion, the Mill Creek and the creeks pulsing through the Manahawkin wildlife management area will cough up decent counts of fish.