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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, September 12.

| New York | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
New York
Salmon River

The year’s first two substantial runs of salmon shot up the river the past two days, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. He’d see how the migration unfolds the rest of the week. The river, running at 335 cubic feet per second, became cooler, and was 63 degrees Tuesday morning. That’s probably why the fish, mostly Chinooks or kings, a few, not many, Cohos, came in. That day was warm, so the water warmed to the high 60s later in the day. That ended the migration for the day, and this was all normal. Jags of salmon will probably swim up in mornings in the cooler water for now, and the migration will probably build steadily. Jay’s trips caught salmon on black-and-olive wooly buggers in size 4 the first day and black-and-silver buggers in size 6 the second. The different colors and sizes probably had to do with the places fished. The flies were allowed to sink deep, and the salmon bit when the flies just began to swing. A little rain fell in the past week, and that helped the river’s level okay. If 3 or 4 inches of rain falls in remnants of the coming hurricane, that could be a game-changer, a positive one. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

New Jersey
Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale, the New Jersey freshwater fishing guide, was telling clients to wait a moment to fish until water cools, he said. This week’s stormy weather might do the job. In the meantime, he spent a few days fishing for striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal on his first-ever trip there. The angling was slow for everybody on those days, and that happens. The fishing lit up the previous two mornings, anglers said. It was one of those, you should have been here yesterday, he said. He caught one small striper, and saw photos of 50- and 60-pounders from the canal. Big stripers can be angled from shore there. Dave saw a few small bonito caught, and saw peanut bunker leap onto shore that bonito apparently chased. The canal reportedly fished well in July for stripers. August through now can also fish well for them, and the bass migrate away by late October. Many anglers fished Polaris poppers. They were trying to imitate mackerel that the stripers forage on. Some anglers fished Al Gag’s Whip-It Fish. The canal, a 4-hour drive from Jersey for Dave, is as deep as 32 feet, and the current cranks. Dave saw big ships sail passed. He had 150 yards of braid on his reel, but a tackle shop got him to put 300 yards on, saying he’d need that if a big striper bites and peels off line in the current. Walking down the rocks to the canal was slippery and took care.

One customer banked a landlocked salmon from Lake Aeroflex from shore this week on a spoon, said Don from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. The angler seemed thrilled because reaching deep-enough water usually made catching one difficult from shore. Customers seemed to be gearing up for largemouth bass fishing at lakes, expecting the fishing to improve in cooling water. Kids who stop at the shop seemed to begin catching largemouths better than before at local lakes and ponds. The water seemed somewhat cooler already. They bought nightcrawlers, garden worms and Rapala plugs. Another angler showed a photo of a huge, 10-pound rainbow trout that the customer nailed from Musconetcong River on a spinner. Not a lot of news rolled in, because of the long stretch of stormy weather. Saltwater anglers complained that the storm prevented fishing.

Finally, the lake became cooler because of rain, and lots of good catches began to be made, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Hybrid striped bass 4 to 6 pounds began to bite chicken livers off Chestnut Point. But livelined herring also hooked them. Jim Welsh weighed-in a 9-pound 4-ounce hybrid and also caught several walleyes 3 to 4 pounds and many crappies, catfish and white perch. Lou Marcucci reeled in a 6-pound 2-ounce walleye and also tugged up a mix of species. Jack Dziduch hung a 4-pound 8-ounce smallmouth bass from shallow water on a Rapala Rippin’ Rap. The lake will begin to be lowered late this month for dock repairs, but the store’s rental boats will be available until November sometime.

Weather was rough, and anglers were also concerned about the impending weather, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. The weather until now was from remnants of the tropical storm, and the impending weather is from the hurricane forecast to slam the East Coast farther south. Not a lot of fishing happened during all of this. But Passaic River near the store currently ran at a normal level, after high water previously. Anglers on the river last week tied into smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and catfish. One lit into a small northern pike on the river, and anglers are anticipating the pike fishing picking up soon.

News was scarce from South Jersey. One store was apparently closed in the rough weather. Phone calls for reports were unanswered. Another shop gave no reply to an email asking for a report, and that seemed because of weather. And so on. Another was jammed with business from bow hunters. Still, not a lot of anglers probably fished because of thunderstorms and wind. This stretch of weather could cool the season and improve fishing after sometimes oppressive heat previously.

Last Week's Report

Salmon River

“It’s hot,” said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service about the weather. Salmon River was raised Friday and Saturday and then dropped back down to 335 cubic feet per second, the fall mean level. That happens every Labor Day weekend so that the river is raised from summertime’s low water to a better level for salmon to migrate in from Lake Ontario. Sometimes that causes a surge of salmon to swim into the river a moment. But that didn’t happen this time, and the fish continued to trickle in. The migration is just beginning. Once in a while an angler ran into salmon that wanted to bite. The water Monday was probably 73 to 75 degrees upstream and 76 or 77 downstream because of the hot weather. Jay likes the water to be in the mid-60s for salmon fishing. So the river has 10 degrees to drop, but that can happen quickly. His trips landed a couple of salmon on black wooly buggers in past days. He wasn’t experimenting much with different flies yet and used an old standard like the wooly bugger instead. Finding the right location to fish seemed more important. Persistence was key. Boaters on Lake Ontario still caught salmon fine. Those fish will shove into the river to spawn before long. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.


Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale tried fishing for hybrid striped bass at Lake Hopatcong with bait on Friday, he said. He heard about some biting, but none hit the bait. Instead, a bunch of white perch, two brown bullheads and some sunfish did. That was deep down, and then he trolled. That walloped a 6-pound hybrid on a Jointed Rapala. The fight from hybrids is unreal, he said. Hopatcong fished well for bass recently. Dave’s friend Paul Schmidt’s club the Northeast Bassmasters held a tournament Saturday on Hopatcong. About 15-pounds was the winning weight. That was for three smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass, and competitors entered one other smallmouth, according to the club’s website. Largemouths made up the rest of the catches. Paul didn’t fare well at the fishing that day, Dave said, but 15 pounds wasn’t a bad winning weight. A largemouth heavier than 5 pounds was the lunker. Dave on Saturday fished Paulinskill River while wading, drilling 13 smallmouths, one largemouth and a sunfish on a Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug. Smallmouths really fight. They only weighed up to 2 pounds, but fought hard in the current. The river ran high. Dave mostly catches trout on the Paulinskill in spring. Trout surely swam the river currently in late summer. But warm-water fish like smallmouths and sunnies bite in the river this time of year. Those species surely swim the river in spring, too. They just seem reluctant to bite when the water’s cold during cooler seasons, just like the trout seem reluctant in warm water. He saw no other anglers during the trip, and had blow-ups or misses at almost every spot he fished on the river.

One customer fished Delaware River for smallmouth bass but landed a big striped bass, a surprise, near the Milford Bridge, said Don from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Kids stopped in all the time to buy nightcrawlers and garden worms, saying they caught sunnies, largemouth bass and lots of pickerel at ponds. Anybody catching big fish is usually fishing deep, cool water in the heat, Kevin from the shop told Don. Another one of the crew from the store fly-fished for trout last week, and the water was cloudy because of rain. Water levels at trout streams had been dropping in dryer weather. More rain is forecast for this week. If customers trout fish, they mostly fish flies during this hot, buggy time of year. Streams often run low this time of year, another reason the fly-fishing is popular. Many anglers avoid trout fishing in summer, because warm water can kill the fish during the fight.

Lots of crappies bit at Spruce Run Reservoir, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. A customer bought live herring from the store to fish for hybrid striped bass at Spruce on Monday, but only angled big crappies on the livelined baitfish. The reservoir’s hybrid fishing became slower, anglers said. Delaware River’s water level dropped, and good catfishing and smallmouth bass fishing were hung from the river. The Delaware had been flooded. Largemouth bass fishing was great at Oxford Lake this week. Anglers clocked them from shore, mostly buying 5-inch Yamamoto worms in any green-pumpkin pattern for the fishing. Northern pike, big and lots, were smashed at Budd Lake, though that usually never happens until fall. Mostly top-water lures like Zara Spooks were fished for them. But so were buzz baits and swim baits. Weather became hot again this week, keeping anglers to a minimum. But cool weather is forecast for the weekend, and that will get anglers out.

Not much fishing was happening on the lake the past couple of weeks, said Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong in a phone call today. Heat and rain seemed to cause fewer anglers to fish. But she just got word about a few walleyes and crappies tugged in yesterday, and she was possibly going to send an emailed report with details soon. The lake’s water level was above normal and good for fishing. The water will begin to be lowered at the end of the month for dock repairs. But good fishing should continue for a time afterward.

Passaic River near the shop’s water level dropped, and the river’s anglers reeled in largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. The river was flooded previously. One angler reported catching a small northern pike and a catfish from the river, and said he looked forward to fishing for big pike this month on the Passaic. September should fish well for the pike, if rain doesn’t flood the river too much. Not a lot of anglers fished, but those who did, caught. In saltwater, fluke anglers seemed either to get into keepers or catch a mess of just undersized. More keepers seemed around than earlier this summer. Saltwater anglers anticipate fall’s migrations of striped bass and large bluefish. Snapper bluefish were in currently. Crabbing was good last week.

For largemouth bass, spinner baits and buzz baits seemed to catch best, said Virginia from Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River. Senko worms also connected, but the commotion from the spinners and buzz baits seemed better. Largemouths were tied into well at Manasquan Reservoir and Spring Lake. The reservoir fished well for just about all species. Many customers fished Pine Lake Park in Manchester for yellow perch and crappies with nightcrawlers or killies. Catfish chomped in evenings at Lake Riviera, Lester’s Lake across from the mall, and Ocean County College Pond. A big pickerel was reported from the Toms River at Trilco. Tons of sunfish bit at lakes. Most species, except largemouth bass, seemed hooked on bait, mostly nightcrawlers or killies, in the heat of this season. Water levels were good. Trout anglers hope the levels stay up for fall trout stocking in October. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Fishing was good in freshwater, except it slowed during periods of oppressive heat, a report said on Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown’s Facebook page. Early mornings fished best. A 4-pound pickerel was yanked from Iona Lake on a green Yamasenko. An angler totaled five largemouth bass to 3 pounds at Lake Lenape from shore on minnows. Someone fished Cooper River at night, beating catfish to 6 pounds on nightcrawlers and more than a dozen carp on Magic Carp Bait.

Many anglers seemed to wait out the heat instead of fishing, and lakes were just hot, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. But Union Lake holds some deeper, cooler water and gave up quite a few largemouth bass, actually. Union’s been fishing well for them for some time, Steve reported in past weeks. In saltwater, plenty of summer flounder continued to be boated on the ocean and also Delaware Bay. A bunch of white perch nibbled in brackish rivers and creeks along the bay. On the offshore ocean, tuna were caught, and white marlin fishing was lit up. Closer to shore, lots of mahi mahi were in.