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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, March 27.

| New York | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
New York
Adirondack Mountains

Ice-fishing was mostly finished for the season, but weather was still cold, so ice was still fished, said Jeff from in Lake George. This weekend will probably be the final for ice-fishing on George. But this morning was 17 degrees, and anglers still headed to fish the lake on the ice. Many anglers fished ice farther north on lakes. This was one of the best ice-fishing seasons in 20 years. Conditions were excellent, and Jeff appreciates all the anglers who showed up for the fishing. Some ice-fishing baits are no longer available. But the store is still carrying the standard baits including fatheads, three sizes of shiners, grubs that were just re-stocked, and nightcrawlers. The shop’s got the baits to fish the ice. Much of the ice tackle and gear that was on clearance sale sold out. But some is still available, including Striker ice-fishing suits for 50 percent off. Telephone for them. A few sleds are left, but only at the physical store. The shop is being readied for spring, and that includes introducing some new lures. Sign up for the shop’s email list to be kept informed about sales regularly. is both an online store and a brick-and-mortar one, located near the south entrance to the Adirondacks.

Salmon River and Western New York Streams

It’s turning into spring fishing, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. The water was cold, but water levels were good for fishing on rivers and streams or creeks. Salmon River ran at 335 cubic feet per second during the weekend and since was raised to 750. That’s a good level for fishing for the river’s steelheads. Runoff from melting snow was yet to affect the water level, but it will. No steelheads anywhere were spawning in the region yet, really. Lots of the fish swam the upper Salmon. Whenever the river rises, steelheads will swim the lower. Those are fish entering the Salmon from Lake Ontario. Many steelheads are holding in the pools of the upper river. They’re crabby in the low water temperatures, but are grabbing flies fished well. Jay and his guides are catching the steelheads on a variety of stoneflies. On warmer, sunnier days, many stones are around. A size-10 stone with flash and black, rubber legs worked well for Jay and his guides. “Hot” stoneflies, a stone with a spot of bright color like chartreuse or pink, worked. On days when the water is up, egg flies will probably be fished. Two hours to the east in upstate New York, near Rochester, creeks and Oak Orchard River fished for brown and rainbow trout and steelheads. The creeks were sometimes slushy in mornings and gave up the trout on natural-colored egg flies and sometimes white Zonker streamers or wooly buggers. In the Oak, steelheads were scattered about, swiping egg flies or maybe a small, white Zonker. Anglers just needed to cover water, and plenty of the fish were around. When weather warms for the season, all of this fishing will change. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

Rumblings about striped bass catches trickled in from Delaware River. Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia’s Facebook page on Thursday said someone called in a report about catching several 24- to 26-inch stripers on the lower river. The river averaged 43 to 44 degrees. That was the only striper report from the New Jersey area since on the page. The shop is a source of news for the river’s spring striper run. An angler posted an article yesterday on the page about a 35-pound striper caught and released on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., apparently last week. Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon, N.J., reported that the year’s second striper was checked-in at the store Monday, and the fish, a 16-1/2-pound 33-incher, came from the “Delaware River side” of New Jersey. Plenty of small stripers seemed beached from Delaware Bay’s shore at places like Fortescue.

New Jersey
Customers mostly geared up for the opening of trout season, said Andy from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. Two Saturdays from now, April 6, is the opener, and Big Flatbook near the shop ran at a good level for the fishing. The stream ran a little high a few days. But the Flatbrook drops quickly and was a great level now. Many customers also fished Delaware River for walleyes. That angling was good, mostly on shiners on jigheads. Or rubber worms were fished on the jigs. No customers really fished lakes yet this season.

Yellow perch and crappies, big ones of both, were nailed at Lake Hopatcong in the shallows, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. That included off the state park and the southern end of the lake, but anywhere with shallows that were warm and attracted the fish this time of year. Jigs with baits like small Mister Twisters and small sassy shads hooked them. Kevin saw a couple of largemouth bass from the lake. Those were also clocked on small jigs, and Kevin sometimes finds that the bass bite small tackle like that in early spring. The bass aren’t aggressive in the chilly water. The store is loaded with supplies for the opening of trout season on April 6. Many waters are closed to fishing where trout are being stocked, until fishing for them is allowed starting on the opener. But some places are open to catch-and-release, including Trout Conservation Areas. At waters like that, trout were picked on early black stoneflies and nymphs.

A bunch of crappies were tugged from Delaware Lake during the weekend, mostly on fathead minnows, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. Was a good weekend for that. Northern pike began to be heard about from Spruce Run Reservoir. Large shiners whacked them. The shiners were probably fished with just split shot on the line or under a bobber. The pike roamed shallow water. One angler fought northerns from Budd Lake on Rat-L-Traps. Some largemouth bass began to be lit into at ponds on Rapala Husky Jerks. A couple of customers went to fish for lake trout at Merrill Creek Reservoir from shore on Sunday on shiners that they were apparently going to fish on jigheads or free-lined. Keith didn’t know how they fared. Blade baits are cast for that type of fishing, too. Surely Lake Hopatcong was fished, but no customers mentioned in past days.

Boats will begin to be available this weekend from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong for the fishing season, Laurie said. Yellow perch and crappies nibbled in the lake’s shallows. Fatheads and small shiners, both stocked, will catch them. So will small, size-6 Rapala Husky Jerks, hair jigs like Rufus Juniors and rubber jigs like Cubby Mini-Mites. The perch and crappies were mostly what bit in the lake. But a couple of chain pickerel did, too. No largemouth bass were heard about yet.

Everybody looked forward to the opening of trout season in two Saturdays, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Salmon eggs are in, and nightcrawlers, baby nights, meal worms and butter worms will be stocked. Few anglers fished for largemouth bass yet at lakes. No feedback rolled in about fishing Passaic River near the store. Not a lot happened with fishing yet, but that will pick up soon. Even saltwater news was scarce. Small striped bass that hit at places like the mouths of brackish rivers was about the only news from there.

More and more shiners were sold for fishing at Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River, Dennis said. People headed out for chain pickerel and crappies at lakes. A few who had just stopped in said they were going to a lake or pond in Jackson for pickerel fishing. Mostly pickerel chomped currently. A token trout was beaned from the Toms River’s Trout Conservation Area. Catch-and-release fishing is legal there, while other parts of the river are closed to fishing for trout stocking until opening day of trout season, April 6. In addition to shiners, baits stocked include killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Chain pickerel and yellow perch were whipped including at Wilson Lake, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Roostertails and actually Whopper Ploppers mugged the pickerel. Whopper Ploppers are more commonly fished for largemouth bass. Small jigs with nightcrawlers or trout worms dialed up the perch. Largemouth bass were sometimes reported from Franklinville Lake on Yamamoto worms and Whopper Ploppers. At Union Lake, smallmouth bass were socked on tubes or 3-inch Yamamoto worms in dark colors like black and dark brown. Anglers said they fished the worms slowly.

A little uptick in largemouth bass catches came from lakes, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Chatter baits were often fished for them. Jerk baits hit them, and Rat-L-Traps worked pretty well on the bass. Customers bought the shop’s minnows and picked away at crappies on them at most local ponds. On brackish rivers, white perch fishing was a little spotty. When they were caught, they were caught well. Sporadic. Bloodworms were dunked for them and are stocked. In saltwater to brackish, lots of small striped bass were now played along Delaware Bay and Delaware River. A few were talked about from along the state’s coast.

Last Week's Report

Adirondack Mountains

Ice-fishing might be lasting later than during some winters on the lake, said Renee from in Lake George. The crew at the shop is telling anglers to be careful about pressure cracks, bubblers and stuff like that. Participation is slowing. But customers are still heading to the lake for ice-fishing. Walleye and northern pike seasons closed this past week. Renee fished Paradox Lake on the ice on Sunday. A buddy nailed an 8-1/2-pound 32-1/2-inch lake trout during the trip. Renee jigged a couple of smaller lakers. The ice was 2 feet thick on Paradox. The top 4 or 5 inches was “garbage” ice, but the rest was crystal clear. Renee has ice-fished as late as early May, but far north. A lot of ice-fishing bait ran out of stock. More will arrive Thursday, but not the variety like in the middle of winter. is both an online store and a brick-and-mortar one, located near the south entrance to the Adirondacks. Click on the link for great clearance sales on ice tackle.

Anglers still fished the ice on Great Sacandaga Lake, said Amanda from Fuel-n-Food in Mayfield. That was mostly for yellow perch, because some fishing seasons closed, including walleye season that closed beginning Saturday. Walleyes were reeled from the lake’s ice previously. Ice-fishing was winding down for now, because of the closed seasons, and because this was the time of year for the fishing to begin to end. Still, ice was fished. Some anglers headed north to fish ice at other lakes where weather was colder. Fuel-n-Food is a gas station and café and includes a good selection of fishing bait and tackle. The crew can point you in the right direction for fishing.

Salmon River and Western New York Streams

Creeks in western New York, around Rochester, iced-out, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. They became free of ice, in other words, and began to settle after high water from melting. Waters remained high but were manageable for fishing. He ran a trip Tuesday that angled brown trout on the creeks on chartreuse wooly buggers. Those flies worked because the water was a little dirty. Zonker streamers and egg flies in Oregon cheese color will also work. The browns are huge because they summer in Lake Ontario. He fishes for them in the creeks in fall before the creeks freeze and in late winter and early spring, once the ice melts, before the trout head back to the lake. All creeks and rivers were fishing now. Ice was no longer a hindrance, and water levels were manageable. Two hours to the east, Salmon River fished for steelheads. The Salmon ran at 750 cubic feet per second, a good level for fishing, up from 335 previously. Jay expected the Salmon not to rise anytime soon, because no substantial precipitation was forecast in the near future. If anything, he expected the level to drop a little. The river could be raised if authorities decide to lower the reservoir. But Jay suspected the river would drop a little if anything. If anglers get sunshine and bug activity on the river, the steelheads will bite. Stoneflies are catching them. If bugs are inactive, fish hard and right, and you’ll catch. Lots of steelheads held from mid-river to upper. Jay would imagine that if you wanted to swing streamers on the lower river, you could run into steelheads migrating into the Salmon from Lake Ontario. In other news, ice on lakes and bays began to be sketchy at some places for ice-fishing. Jay heard little about ice-fishing, except that there was ice that was still fished, and ice anglers caught lots of yellow perch. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides. Watch a video of spring fishing with Jay Peck Guide Service.


Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale attempted to boat for pre-spawn muskies Sunday at Monksville Reservoir, he wrote in an email. But ice locked up the water surface, and boating was impossible.

Trout fishing was closed on streams that are being stocked, said Don from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. That happened beginning on Monday, and they’ll be reopened on opening day of trout season, April 6. But some waters, including Trout Conservation Areas, remain open. The TCA’s are open to catch-and-release. But some spring fishing began to happen, Kevin from the shop said. Yellow perch and crappies began to be plucked from Lake Hopatcong’s shallow water, like happens this time of year. Small hair jigs can be fished for them with a light presentation. So can Trout Magnets or, for the perch, a meal worm under a bobber. The water’s cold, so the fish can act delicately, and can be skittish after being in dark water under ice. One angler whacked a 5-pound largemouth bass at Hopatcong. At streams where trout fishing is open, Kevin said, early black stoneflies sometimes hatched. Look for them during the warmer part of the day, like around noon or 1 p.m. Someone on Facebook reported getting into a hatch an hour or two. Nothing was heard about landlocked salmon caught from shore at reservoirs that hold those fish. But this is about the time of year when the salmon can be clocked from land on lures like Binsky baits and Cleos. Years ago, fishing like that for lake trout was popular at Round Valley Reservoir. Maybe those fish can still be hooked.

A few anglers fished the lake’s shallow water, reeling in yellow perch and crappies, said Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong. So that fishing was starting, and not much ice remained on the lake. For the perch and crappies, anglers can fish small fathead minnows or tackle including Cubby Mini Mite Jigs, Rufus Jr. Jigs, hair jigs and Trout Magnets under a bobber.

A couple of customers fished Passaic River, picking up crappies and perch here and there, said Larry from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. But the river currently ran very high. Some fished for trout, including on Pequest River, before many waters became closed to fishing for trout stocking beginning Monday. When the anglers fished the Pequest, they caught nothing in high, fast water.

A few customers left to go chain pickerel fishing, said Dennis from Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River. Mostly pickerel and some crappies will be angled now. A token largemouth bass, not many, was hooked. Shiners, killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms are stocked. So are bloodworms for brackish and saltwater. In the brackish Toms River, plenty of striped bass bit, mostly at night and at daybreak. A few were keepers. The fishing was slow during daytime. White perch fishing slowed in the river, probably because the stripers beat the perch to the hook. Winter flounder fishing began to improve in the river. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Chain pickerel, yellow perch and a few largemouth bass were grabbed from lakes, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Wilson Lake was one place reported to give up the pickerel and perch. Fish a Roostertail for the picks and a jig with a grub for the perch. Some of the bass were reported from Franklinville Lake. They jumped on a Whopper Plopper in the black Loon color.

Pickerel and crappies were hammered away in better weather lately, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Malaga and Elmer lakes were some places where. Largemouth bass fishing was spotty at best in lakes. When a stretch of warmer days happened, a few began to be reported caught. When weather became cold again, the fishing dropped off. The bass were taken on jerk baits, spinner baits, drop-shots and Rat-L-Traps.