A few inches of snow dropped on the area but failed to cool off steelhead fishing, said Suzanne from <b>All Seasons Sports</b> in Pulaski. Eight- to 12-pounders pounced on pink, white or blue egg sacks and fat wooly bugger flies, and sunny mornings produced well. Two to four fish per angler was an average catch, and the Altmar area, the Ballpark stretch and the Staircase section were places to be. The river ran at 750 CFS after a flow of 1,150 CFS until Sunday.
Mostly steelhead were fought on the river with <b>High Hook Guide Service</b>, but a few brown trout were landed, Bill Ferman said. A trip Monday produced two browns, and another was lost. Fishing will mostly be about steelhead straight through winter, and the only difference will be that the fish can become sluggish in especially cold waters. But they’ll be caught nonetheless, and fewer crowds can be an advantage in the colder months. Rainbow trout, closely related to steelheads, also move into the Salmon and other Lake Ontario tributaries through winter, and were already around here and there. But rainbows are less prominent than steelheads, because fewer are stocked. Brown trout move up the rivers only a short time in fall to spawn, but some stick around all winter. Real salmon eggs are the bait of choice for steelheads and rainbows. That’s unlike the area’s salmon migration that takes place earlier in the season. Artificial salmon eggs work fine for salmon, but steelheads and rainbows first move up the rivers specifically to feed on the eggs that salmon lay, so they get keyed in on the bait. Fly anglers will club the steelhead on a large variety of patterns, including egg imitations, glow bugs, bright-colored patterns and black or brown stoneflies. Snow fell, including 3 or 4 inches at Altmar on Monday and up to 28 inches inland, and a couple of days brought rains earlier this past week. The creeks ran high, putting the focus on the river for fishing. High Hook both wades and drift-boats for salmon, steelheads and trophy brown and rainbow trout with both spinning gear and fly rods.
Fishing was great through the weekend, despite lousy weather, said Paul Auguscinski from <b>SAS Guide Service</b>. On both Saturday and Sunday his anglers fished the middle section of the Salmon, landing more than a dozen fish—steelheads and brown trout—each day, also scoring multiple hook-ups. Beads fished under floats drew strikes, and blue egg sacks were sometimes fished and were successful. The Salmon River was being raised to 1,100 CFS until 9 p.m. Sunday, and run-off will increase the flow. “Be careful wading,” Paul said. The Oswego River put anglers into lots of brown trout with steelheads mixed in. SAS Guide Service spin fishes for salmon, steelheads and trophy trout on wade and drift-boat trips, and enjoys teaching anglers the techniques that will help them learn how to hook up themselves, in hopes that they can return on their own and catch if they want.
Honking winds mostly ruled out fishing on the Delaware River, and its cold temps pretty much shut down largemouth bass fishing, so most anglers tried for trout, said Bruce from <b>Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle</b> in Philadelphia. Pennypack Creek, Core Creek, Ridley Creek and Yardley Creek all gave up catches, and Power Baits or nightcrawlers scored most.
The Musconetcong and Pequest rivers consistently produced trout on bead-headed nymphs for fly rodders and on meal worms for bait fishers, said Bill from <b>Bill’s Bait & Tackle</b> in Phillipsburg. Lake fishing dropped off in the winds and cold.
Rainbow trout on the Musconetcong and Rockaway rivers eagerly chased down an array of salmon eggs, spinners and meal worms, said Adrian from <b>Fairfield Fishing Tackle</b> in Montville. Some anglers bought up large, white spinners, because they heard about northern pike hitting the lures in the Passaic River.
Lake Hopatcong was extremely low, said Dom from <b>Ramsey Outdoor</b> in Paramus. Still, if anglers could launch a car topper, they’d find action with walleyes off the points. The Pequest River turned up plenty of trout on nymphs, and the Boonton stretch of the Rockaway River was another place for excellent trout fishing, especially on the white-watery sections.
Four rental boats will be kept in the waters for now, said Laurie from <b>Dow’s Boat Rentals</b> in Lake Hopatcong, and the big lake was worth fishing. Roman Pera rented a boat to hit Chestnut Point and Nolan’s Point with Rapala ice jigs, pulling out two 6-1/4- and 4-pound walleyes and two 20-inch hybrid striped bass. Another angler fished the points to grab five walleyes to 4 pounds. Blue-with-silver and firetiger were best colors for the Rapalas.
If anglers could get out between the winds, walleyes remained on the prowl at Lake Hopatcong off the points, said Mark at <b>Meltzer’s Sporting Goods</b> in Garfield. For trout anglers the Paulinskill and Pequest rivers were the go-to haunts, and Power Baits and fathead minnows nabbed the bulk of the action. For a little something different, customers also fished the Hackensack River, reeling in small striped bass that were released.
The Musconetcong River was in the best shape to fish, holding the most water among all local streams, said Chris from <b>Lebanon Bait & Sport Shop</b>. Winter trout stocking was coming up, so trouters will have plenty of the fish to play in coming weeks. The trout party along the shoreline of Round Valley Reservoir continued, with rainbows to 18 inches eating up Power Baits sent out on float rigs around the boat launch.
The Hacklebarney stretch of the Black River was a decent trout locale, said Ron from <b>Ray’s Sport Shop</b> in North Plainfield. Fly-casters threw blue-winged olives, Zug Bugs and bead-headed nymphs to hook rainbows in the 12- to 15-inch class. The Round Valley Reservoir shoreline was another spot to mug rainbows, especially in the mornings.
The Pequest River fished well for trout casters, said Bert from <b>Efinger Sporting Goods</b> in Bound Brook. Purple and black wooly buggers claimed rainbows from 12 to 15 inches on a regular basis.
Steady pickerel and crappie action went down at Lake Riviera, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b> in Toms River. Forge Pond also offered plenty of pickerel that hammered shiners, and Manasquan Reservoir really turned on for crappie fishing. The feisty panfish gobbled up killies fished under slip bobbers. Trout chasers got on the action in the conservation stretch of the Toms River and on the Manasquan River where Route 195 crosses over. Small Rapalas and Mister Twister grubs scored.
Carnegie Lake and Gropp’s Lake served up a sustained crappie chew, said Sean from <b>Harry’s Army and Navy</b> in Robbinsville. The key was to toss out small hair jigs tipped with fatheads, working them very slowly. Largemouth bass anglers found a slow pick of the bucketmouths at Stone Tavern Lake. Jigs tipped with fatheads worked when fished right on the bottom in the deeper waters.
A pickerel circus was under way at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area lakes, said Tony from the <b>Sportsmen’s Center</b> in Bordentown, and shiners and nightcrawlers were on the menu. Lake Assunpink, Rising Sun Lake and Lake Mercer were also hot spots for the water wolves. A few largemouth bass smacked shiners at Rising Sun Lake, but anglers had to be patient and fish late afternoons, when the waters warmed a bit. At Carnegie Lake crappies ambushed small shiners floated near the brush piles.
Fishing on the Delaware River came to a standstill in the windy weather, preventing boaters from giving the waters a go, so anglers instead hunted down largemouth bass with shiners at places like Blackwood Lake, Stewart Lake and the mouth of Mantua Creek, said Rick at <b>Big Timber Bait & Tackle</b> in Brooklawn. With the cold weather chain pickerel fishing was hot and heavy at Wilson Lake, and crappie also seemed to turn on in the chill at Haddon Lake and Newton Lake. Small, marabou hair jigs did a number on the slabs.
Chain pickerel were now the mainstay as fall wears on, and Wilson Lake or Iona Lake were both good for a fight, said Lou from <b>Sportsman’s Outpost</b> in Williamstown. Some customers said crappies started to turn on at Lake Lenape, and 1/16-ounce jigs tipped with shiners fooled the better-sized scrappers.
Even during the cold front, largemouth bass were on a mild feed, said Steve from <b>Blackwater Sports Center</b> in Vineland. Sunset Lake and Parvin Lake held 1- to 3-pounders that punched Rat-L-Traps, jerk baits and even swim shads. Big numbers of pickerel could be caught at the Cumberland Ponds, but for a shot at a larger, 3-pound pick, head to Sunset Lake or Mary Elmer Lake. Fall, stocker-sized trout could be had at Giampetro Park and Iona Lake, and the breeders were keen on yellow Power Baits. The Maurice River dished out a few resident striped bass and white perch for anglers dropping in grass shrimp and bloodworms.
Anglers determined to get out despite the weather could hang bloodworms under floats in the Maurice River to reel up schoolie striped bass and white perch, said Ki from <b>Huck’s Place</b> in Millville.