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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, December 6.

| New York | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
New York
Salmon River and Western N.Y. Rivers and Streams

Winter conditions began for fishing for steelheads and brown trout in upstate New York’s rivers and streams, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. The high temperature reached about freezing yesterday and was supposed to reach only 20 degrees today. Weather is supposed to be warmer next week. The year’s first lake-effect snow was forecast to slam the area last week, and snow fell, but less than predicted. In western, upstate New York around Rochester, where Jay is fishing for the browns, snow on the ground ranged from a dusting to 16 inches. A bunch of the trout, huge fish because they summer in Lake Ontario, swam the area’s creeks, and fishing for them will be day-to-day, creek-to-creek, he said, in the wintry weather. That’s typical for December, and Oak Orchard River, a larger river in the area, is always good for a few catches of the trout. Streamers including Zonkers and wooly buggers caught them well, but egg flies also hooked up. A mix of both worked. Jay fished eggs in natural color because the water was clear. A scattering of steelheads swam these western New York waters. About two hours east in upstate New York, Salmon River was raised to 1,500 cubic feet per second Monday, and officials were saying that would last to Friday. That’s high water, but was good, because it’ll pull more steelheads into the river from Lake Ontario, and will also “freshen up” the river. Anglers had been pressuring the fish pretty well. Six inches of snow covered ground along the river at Pulaski, and 24 inches did on the upper Salmon. No real slush held in the river. Egg flies will probably catch steelheads in the Salmon more than nymphs will, because of the high water. Eggs in Oregon Cheese color and pink should work. Fishing with streamers will be tough for the steelheads in the high water. The high water will prevent the streamers from being fished low in the water column and slow like is necessary this time of year in lower temperatures. So winter conditions were definitely here for all of this fishing. But these are winter fisheries and world-class. Fishable ice was yet to form on lakes and ponds. Some of the ponds held skim ice and maybe would be fishable by the end of the week. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

Walleye fishing picked up on upper Delaware River from Point Pleasant to New Hope, Bill Brinkman from Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia wrote in a report on the shop’s website. Minnows or shiners on jigs pasted them. One angler totaled 11, including three larger than 20 inches apiece, in a trip. Another at the New Hope wing dam pulled in two walleyes and a smallmouth bass at slack water. An angler scored good fishing for flathead catfish on the river this summer from the Water Gap to Trenton, the person told Bill recently. The angler caught more than 150. Closer to the store, the angler’s buddy smashed flatheads to 40 pounds well this summer near Philadelphia airport on the river. Currently, the lower river near the store gave up 1- to 4-pound channel catfish, a bunch. Largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappies nibbled at Dredge Harbor off the river at rocks and pilings. Plenty of other details and locations were included in the report.

New Jersey
If any fishing was getting the most attention, trout fishing on streams probably was, said Brian from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Not a lot of customers did the fishing, but if you’re going to try for the trout, small flies including midges and emergers are probably best. If a warm, sunny day happens, maybe small blue-winged olive dry flies will hatch. But no sizable flies will come off until late February or March, when early black stoneflies will appear. Brian was unsure whether trout streams ran somewhat low like previously. He only saw Musconetcong River, and that wasn’t low, because Lake Hopatcong was being drained into the river. The lake is being lowered for dock repairs. South Branch of Raritan River might be running a little low, he said. A customer two weeks ago reeled a couple of rainbow trout from Pequest River near the hatchery, saying small flies like midges were the patterns to fish there. One customer was going to fish for landlocked salmon at Tilcon Lake. Tilcon and a couple of other lakes were recently stocked with them. News from saltwater was beginning to dry up. The last news about striped bass that Brian heard from saltwater was that a pod of the fish was migrating south from Fire Island, N.Y. But that was a week ago, and those fish could be gone now. Saltwater anglers boated for blackfish, and that angling didn’t sound great.

Trout fishing was great on streams, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. Customers mostly fished salmon eggs and meal worms for them. Some good catches of trout were yanked from shore at Round Valley Reservoir. Those were rainbow trout taken on PowerBait or suspending minnow-like lures like jerk baits, and lake trout whipped on blade baits that were cast. Sometimes blade baits are more known for jigging from boats. Both species of trout push into shallows when weather becomes cold at the reservoir. Some other fishing from lakes, including for largemouth bass, will be probably be slow until ice-fishing begins. Largemouths become sluggish in colder water but willing to bite when ice forms atop lakes, for whatever reason. A few customers headed to Delaware River to fish for walleyes, but Keith heard about none caught. Whether those anglers did something wrong, like fishing at the wrong place, was unknown. But walleyes should bite in the river this time of year.

Northern pike should be able to be fought from Passaic River this time of season, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook, when she was asked for this report. Not much was heard about fishing for them at all this year. Maybe just nobody talked about them. The river, located near the shop, currently ran a little slow and is one of a few places stocked with pike in New Jersey. In saltwater, surf anglers were still hopeful about landing striped bass. A few blackfish were around that boaters could angle in saltwater.

Anglers had been tugging trout from Spring Lake from New Jersey’s winter trout stocking, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River. The fish were hooked on PowerBait, and Dennis was unsure about what kind. But Virginia from the shop in last week’s report said that was the dough type of Power Bait that anglers can form into a small ball to fish on a hook. The PowerBait in garlic, yellow or the pinkish color named sherbet caught. Jeff from the store was supposed to fish at Spring Lake on Monday, Dennis knew. Dennis was yet to hear results. Something can always be hooked from the Toms River at Trilco. That water never freezes, and chain pickerel should be able to be clocked, and anglers should have a chance at crappies there. Minnows or spinners will fish best for the picks. Worms were the only live bait stocked currently, and Dennis was trying to stock minnows. Minnows don’t always pot this time of year. Striped bass no longer swam the river at Trilco that did earlier this year. Trilco is a closed building supply, and no sign identifies the building. But locals know the stretch by the name, located near Garden State Parkway. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Chain pickerel never stop biting in lakes, no matter the cold, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Lots of anglers target them once other fishing slows because of low temperatures. Nothing was reported about largemouth bass that become sluggish in the cold. A few trout were tackled from the winter trout stocking, including at South Vineland Park Pond. In saltwater, striped bass were boated on the ocean on trolled Mojos and Stretch 30 lures. He heard a couple of reports about the fishing Sunday. He also heard about a few striped bass from the surf, including keepers, from Sea Isle City, Ocean City and Long Beach Island, and saw photos of the fish. Bunker and clam caught in the surf, but lures often did. Lures that were reported to catch included Heddon One Knocker Spooks, Daiwa SP Minnows and Rapala Skitter Pops.

Chain pickerel were super cooperative, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Swim minnows for them at lakes. Largemouth bass fishing was pretty good at usual places including Davis Mill Pond and Parvin Lake. Union Lake fished fairly steady for them. Most largemouths were whacked on suspending jerk baits and drop-shots. Pretty good crappie fishing was happening at lakes on minnows and small jigs. Some were reported from Union and Alloway lakes. Malaga Lake is always a place for steady crappie catches when the fish are biting. In saltwater, striped bass fishing was terrific in the ocean from Cape May to considerably farther north in New Jersey. Lots of customers sailed for tautog and sea bass on the ocean. Those catches were fairly solid.

Last Week's Report

Salmon River and Western N.Y. Rivers and Streams

The season’s first lake-effect snow is supposed to slam the area in the next couple of days, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. That will drop water temperatures into the mid 30 degrees, probably making fishing for steelheads and trout tough a moment. But the fish should acclimate after a few days. The upper Salmon River’s steelhead fishing’s been good to excellent. Most of the fish held in the upper stretches, and the migration kept trickling into the river from Lake Ontario. The angling was off Sunday and Monday, for unknown reasons. That was probably just one of those periods. The river ran at 450 cubic feet per second, a good, normal flow for fishing. Egg flies caught well, and sometimes trips fished streamer flies on the lower river to connect. Fewer steelheads held in the lower river, and the streamers covered ground. About two hours west, in rivers and streams or creeks around Rochester, fishing for huge brown trout was okay. The browns, growing large because they spend summer in Lake Ontario, just finished spawning. So they were a little crabby but were beginning to feed. They remain in the rivers and creeks throughout winter, because forage is more abundant there than in the lake during the cold months. Jay is concentrating on the browns before ice covers the waters, preventing fishing. Afterward, he fishes for steelheads on Salmon River throughout winter. The Salmon is a large river that never completely freezes. Because the browns finished spawning, they began to chase streamers. But egg flies also hooked them. Only larger waters provide room to fish streamers. The trout waters were a little low, could use precipitation. So the snow will cool waters, making all these fish somewhat more sluggish. Fly presentations will have to become slower or more deliberate, and that’s typical as winter approaches. In other news, no lakes or ponds were frozen yet for ice fishing. That usually happens at Christmas at the earliest. Monday was 50 degrees, and that night was supposed to be in the 40s. Rain was supposed to fall the next day. Weather was going to become colder afterward, when the snow was forecast. 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 boated two rainbow trout, two lake trout and a brown trout on Round Valley Reservoir on Saturday, he wrote in an email. The water was 47 degrees, and the brown had a tag from the Round Valley Trout Association.

Anglers did a little trout fishing on streams, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Water was low, but they picked the fish, like at Ken Lockwood Gorge, where they caught on flies like disco midges, small bead-heads and, in deeper holes, wooly buggers. Trout hit at lakes like Spruce Run Reservoir and Round Valley Reservoir. Cool water was conducive to that, and the fish foraged near the water surface including on herring. One customer consistently hooked trout at Spruce on shiners. He couldn’t find herring to buy. Landlocked salmon bit at lakes including Aeroflex on Cleo and Krocodile spoons and blade baits. The state recently stocked the salmon at Aeroflex, Waywayanda Lake and Tilcon Lake. Another customer reported landing smallmouth bass, nothing crazy but consistently, on Delaware River at Trenton. Lots of catfish swarmed around the Delaware. A few anglers were dialed into large flathead cats 20 pounds in the river. That’s been a thing lately, and is expected to give up good fishing next year. Largemouth bass catches seemed to drop off at lakes, or few tried for them. News about the angling quieted. Any that were reeled in seemed to be while anglers fished for crappies or perch.

A few trout were banked from shore at Round Valley Reservoir on shiners and PowerBait, said James from Behre Bait & Tackle in Lebanon. The fishing had up and down days, but the trout swam the shallows, now that water cooled. The reservoir’s lake trout could be kept beginning Friday, so boaters tried for them. The lakers were scattered top to bottom or held in no established depth. Particularly cold weather is forecast for next week, so maybe ice-fishing will happen before long.

Passaic River ran pretty high, said Larry from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Few fished the river, or nothing was heard about angling there. But northern pike and maybe yellow perch and chain pickerel could likely be hooked from the water. A customer had thought Verona Park Pond was supposed to be included in the recent winter trout stocking, but apparently the pond wasn’t. The pond was included in the fall stocking. No waters in Essex County and adjacent Morris County were included in the winter stocking, but some were included in the fall stocking. In saltwater, water temperatures were kind of “in between.” The water was becoming cool enough for some of the striped bass migration to have departed the Sandy Hook area. Lots of small, throwback stripers swam the water, and that happens at the end of the run. But the water was warm for the best blackfishing. Some were hooked, and often they were throwbacks. But fishing for the tautog typically improves when water becomes colder.

Freshwater fishing was actually good this past week, said Virginia from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River. Especially at Spring Lake for trout from the winter stocking. Good-sized were hung there on trout magnets under floats, switched along. Or they were pasted on dough balls or moldable PowerBait in garlic, yellow or the pinkish color named sherbet. Cold water kept the fish from chasing spinners. She tugged in a 22-inch female trout from the lake, and her son caught a male that was stockier. The female was longer or more slender looking. Trout from the winter stocking also hit at Lake Shenandoah. A friend nabbed them from the dock on nightcrawlers and PowerBait, and also picked up yellow perch at the lake. Largemouth bass were still eased from lakes, but on nightcrawlers. Again, cold water had them less willing to chase a lure. Chain pickerel were on the bite at lakes. Lester’s Lake gave up largemouths and the picks. Pickerel fishing was good on the Toms River. Crappies chewed in the tributary to Lake Riviera off Old Hooper Avenue. Again, nightcrawlers drew them to pounce, because of cold water. Bait and wait, she said. Waters in the shop’s area weren’t as low as earlier this season. Not a lot of rain fell, but some did, replenishing them. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Largemouth bass could be angled at lakes but with a slow presentation and small lures, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. A couple of customers fished 3-inch Senko worms slowly for them. They talked about rounding up yellow perch, too. Trout fishing had been going well at lakes included in the winter stocking in November. Good-sized, 18-inchers were nailed. Mostly trout worms and PowerBait caught. The big trout love those worms.

Lakes were cooling, but largemouth bass fishing was pretty good in them, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Very much a jerk-bait bite, he said. Fishing for crappies was decent at lakes including Union, Malaga and Alloway on minnows and jigs. Chain pickerel were more than willing to bite at lakes. Minnows, jerk baits and spinners could catch them. Striped bass fishing in saltwater was the big word. The migration arrived in the ocean off South Jersey, turning out the fish, good catches, on trolled Mojos and on bunker snagged for bait and livelined. Nothing was really heard about stripers from Delaware Bay. Fishing for blackfish and sea bass sounded productive at ocean reefs and wrecks. Sizable blackfish and limits of sea bass were reported caught.