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New Jersey Freshwater Fishing Report 4-18-18

<b>NEW YORK</b>

<b>Salmon River and Western N.Y. Rivers and Streams</b>

Steelheads were crabby in cold water but less than before, said Jay Peck from <b>Jay Peck Guide Service</b>. Whether that was because he figured out the fish better or the steelheads bit more than before, he didn’t know. Trips with him netted an average of five to eight in a day, not bad, considering the conditions. The water was cold because the weather was. Thirty-five degrees was yesterday’s high temperature, and snow showers fell that day. The cold water was delaying spawning. Salmon River was 33 to 35 degrees and ran high at 1,500 cubic feet per second. Jay fished for steelheads on the upper river at water including inside curves, soft seams and some of the pocket water. That was almost like a winter pattern, and the fish seemed to sit in places like that, waiting for warm water. Stoneflies and butter-rum-colored, size-10 egg flies picked the fish. Steelheads barely began to spawn in the Salmon, and will probably be in post-spawn late next week. Conditions seemed to be setting up for good angling for drop-back steelheads in May. Those are steelheads that spawned in the river and are headed back to Lake Ontario to spend summer. They return to rivers in autumn. Two hours to the west, rivers and streams that Jay fishes near Rochester for steelheads were warmer. Oak Orchard River in that area was 42 to 44 degrees. Steelheads were probably in the peak of spawning in those temperatures. Jay and a buddy totaled seven steelheads in a trip on the Oak. The water was medium-high to high and was stained. Steelheads couldn't really be seen, but if spawning habitat was fished, the fish were hooked. However, after that trip, probably two inches of rain fell Monday in this area, in the huge storm that covered a large part of the U.S. The Oak now was a muddy brown. Smaller streams in this area will probably become fishable today, and rivers there will probably become fishable by the end of the week. After steelheads migrate to the lake, Jay and his guides fish for trout on streams through summer. Trout streams ran high and muddy. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.   


The number of striped bass caught from Delaware River kept increasing through last week, a report said Thursday on <b>Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle</b> in Philadelphia’s website. A photo of a 31-incher was seen from near Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Throwback-sized gave up lots of action near Commodore Barry Bridge. Some anglers eased in 40 in a trip. Stripers were still angled farther downstream at Salem that week. Striper fishing is closed on the river from Salem River to the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton from New Jersey this time of year. Anglers release them, and certain circle hooks are required by law to fish for stripers on the river from Jersey. Pennsylvania’s laws are different.  Shad began to be fought from the river at Trenton. Photos of 3- to 7-pounders were seen. Reports were sporadic from farther upriver. Plenty were hooked on some days, and other days were a bust. Shad began to show up at Easton that week. Additional details and fishing was included in the report.


Big Flatbrook ran high but not blown-out, said Andy from <b>Stokes Forest Sport Shop</b> in Sandyston. The stream’s been fishing great for trout, including big. Most customers fished for them with butter worms, PowerBait, salmon eggs and meal worms. Metal could also cast for the fish, too. Delaware River ran high because of the storm early in the week. Not a lot was heard about shad caught this far upstream. One customer tackled a couple, and Andy thought shad would really begin biting because of the warmth at the end of last week. Then Sunday became cold, the storm came, and colder weather continued. A few walleyes were reeled from the Delaware, but no longer many. A couple of smallmouth bass were picked up from the river. Fishing for them and largemouth bass is limited to catch-and-release from April 14 through June 9 on the river for spawning. The dates are April 15 through June 15 for most of the rest of New Jersey. Not a lot of lake fishing happened yet this season. Customers fished lakes a little in the warmth late in the week, but not since the cold returned.

Capt. Dave Vollenweider from <b>Live to Fish Guide Service</b> from Montvale hunted muskies for the first time this season on a trip with friend Lou Martinez, Dave wrote in an email. Lou’s an outdoor writer, and they scored five follows, including from a real tanker that measured in the high 40 inches to 50 inches. “All the fish appeared a bit beat up from spawning,” Dave wrote. They bite each other, he explained, and that creates sores and fungus, and that heals after a few weeks.  All the follows were on a variety of small crank baits including from Alleycat Lures and Crane Baits, and including the Llungen Lures .22 Short. Dave and Lou also tried for largemouth bass on the trip, but none bit in cold water that was 51 degrees and reached 57 in mid-afternoon. Dave’s friend Paul Schmidt’s club the Northeast Bassmasters held a bass tournament on Lake Hopatcong on Saturday, and Paul told Dave the fishing was horrible. The club’s website said 12.7 pounds, 9.16 pounds and 5.16 pounds were the heaviest total weights. The 12.7 pounds was for four largemouths including a 4.12-pounder that was the tournament’s biggest. Many of the two-angler teams entered no fish. None entered smallmouth bass. Dave knew about other tournaments including two with winning weights of 19 and 17 pounds. Most teams in the tournaments were skunked or failed to limit out because of cold water. Fishing for largemouths and smallmouths became limited to catch-and-release on Sunday through June 15.

Fishing seemed to be amping up because of warming weather late last week, said Kevin from <b>Ramsey Outdoor</b> in Succasunna. But weather took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon in building wind and dropping air temperature, and the storm that lasted into Monday. Weather was chilly afterward. Trout streams had been fishing well but became blown out from the rain. The streams were exceptionally crowded Saturday, customers said. Weather was beautiful that day at first. A few Hendricksons were seen hatching recently. Delaware River rose because of the rain, and was probably going to take days to subside. No customers mentioned catching shad from the Delaware yet. They bought tackle for the fishing, especially at the end of the week. At Lake Hopatcong, yellow perch and crappies were picked, but slowly in low water temperature. The water was 48 degrees Thursday. A friend fished a bass tournament on Hopatcong, and 13 pounds was the winning weight. Bass fishing was catching but was tough in cold water. The friend’s buddy landed an 8-pound walleye at Hopatcong on a crank bait during the tournament. Largemouth fishing became limited to catch-and-release beginning Sunday through June 15.

Trout fishing was off the hook, was great, said Keith from <b>Hi-Way Sports Shop</b> in Washington. Rivers that produced included Musconetcong, Pequest and Paulinskill. Four or five trout heavier than 5 pounds were weighed-in. Most trout were nabbed on baby nightcrawlers, meal worms or salmon eggs. But a customer checked-in a 5-1/2-pound rainbow that smacked a silver Phoebe. Shad fishing just began to go ballistic on Delaware River for customers. They mostly fish at Belvidere. But shad reportedly hit all the way upstream through Delaware Water Gap, too. All different colors of shad darts and spoons are stocked. But customers said color didn’t matter, because so many shad swam the water. Not much was reported about lake fishing because of rough weather. Saturday was the only day with better weather. A couple of northern pike were managed from Spruce Run Reservoir on shiners. Nobody reported trying for muskies in the weather. Merrill Creek Reservoir’s fishing was a little slow in the conditions.

Plenty of trout swam the lake because of stocking, Laurie from <b>Dow’s Boat Rentals</b> in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Knee Deep Club stocked more than a thousand last weekend, and the state stocked twice so far and was supposed to stock again this week. Trolling Phoebes or Rapalas in shallows is the way to catch trout this time of year on the lake. Trolling Rapalas or Mepps spinners should produce chain pickerel, and Knee Deep Club will hold a trout tournament and a pickerel tournament Sunday, April 22, on the lake. Those are two separate contests with an entry fee for each, and cash will be awarded. The shop will open early for the tournaments, and anglers can register up till 8 a.m. Speaking of pickerel, Pete Rathjens weighed-in a 4-pound 4-ouncer. Yellow perch and crappies pounced on Rufus metal jigs or small rubber jigs under bobbers in shallows. Dylan Cole checked-in a 1-pound 11-ounce crappie. Walleyes began to hit, also in shallows. They attacked large Rapala Husky Jerks. Walleye fishing is limited to catch-and-release in March and April for spawning.

Anglers are excited to fish, said Cheryl from <b>Fairfield Fishing Tackle</b> in Pine Brook. Springtime weather affected angling, though. Passaic River near the store was rushing pretty badly. Trout streams also flowed high. A couple of customers fished a couple of times when conditions were better, catching trout. The fish were “holed up,” escaping strong current. Lakes and ponds fished better when rivers and streams were high. Shad were active in Delaware River. In saltwater, throwback striped bass were played, and keepers were picked, on Raritan Bay.  

Many customers switched to freshwater fishing instead of saltwater fishing late last week because of great weather, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b> in Toms River. They sat at lakes and ponds to fish in the weather. But a few fished for trout on the Toms and Metedeconk rivers, and bait like PowerBait seemed to catch best because of cold water. Spring Lake kept giving up trout, and PowerBait and spinners seemed to connect best there. The spinners seemed to work because the lake is shallow and warmer. Lake Riviera and Ocean County College Pound gave up chain pickerel, crappies and token largemouth bass. Release the bass through June 15 by law. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Someone had just reported landing two big striped bass from Delaware River near Tacony-Palmyra Bridge when Jason from <b>STC Sports</b> in Gibbstown gave this report in a phone call yesterday, Jason said. That was notable because that was farther upstream than customers reported big stripers previously. Most talked about catching locally, like at River Winds, mostly on bloodworms. At areas like that, probably 1 in 20 was keeper-sized. But when an angler pulled in a big striper among 20 small, the angler was pleased. After the big storm ended Monday, a few stripers were reported cranked-in at River Winds. Saturday was the only day with better weather lately, though today might’ve been shaping up to be relatively calm, with sunny skies and 13 m.p.h. wind, but temperature only reaching the mid-50 degrees. Striper fishing is closed on the river from Salem to Trenton in April and May for spawning. But anglers release them. Certain circle hooks are required for the angling, so check the regs. Not a ton was heard about trout fishing, and most customers switched to striper fishing. But a couple fished for trout at Harrisonville Lake. One limited out, and watched two anglers launch a canoe, limit on trout and land the canoe to end the trip, before the angler who watched even limited. Jason wondered whether that meant trout fishing was that good at Harrisonville.

Plenty of largemouth bass were angled at lakes, said Mike from <b>Sportsman’s Outpost</b> in Williamstown. Most were tied into on small Senko rubber worms like 3 and 4 inches, mostly in black. Largemouth fishing became limited to catch-and-release beginning Sunday through June 15 for spawning. Most customers seem to keep quiet about trout fishing to keep productive angling for them from being known. But a 7-pounder from Oak Pond and a couple of 6-pounders from Iona Lake were known about.

Trout season seemed off to a decent start, said Steve from <b>Blackwater Sports Center</b> in Vineland. Iona Lake and South Vineland Park Pond were hot spots. Berkeley Mice Tails and other PowerBait from the company were baits to dunk. A couple of days fished decent for largemouth bass at lakes, but the angling was sporadic in inconsistent weather. Some good catches of the bass were talked about from Union Lake and a little from Rainbow Lake. Largemouths must be released by law through June 15. Customers fished for white perch on brackish rivers including the Mullica, Great Egg, Tuckahoe and Maurice. On Delaware River, anglers picked away at striped bass, mostly small, a few keeper-sized. Fishing for the river’s stripers is closed this time of year from Salem River to Trenton, but anglers release them. They fish certain circle hooks required by law.

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