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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, October 18.

| New York | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
New York
The river’s salmon fishing was winding down, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. But its steelhead fishing was beginning, and he hopes for a good steelhead run. The salmon run was especially good this year for the first time in a while. So maybe the steelheading will be. The biggest news was that weather became cold, cooling the river. The river was 64 degrees, and 57 in the morning. The temperature went from stressfully warm, during the recent heat spell, to comfortable for salmon and steelheads, during this colder weather. Steelheads were crabby or reluctant to bite in the warm water last week. By Monday, they seemed to become aggressive. Weather was warm until becoming cold Monday, and steelheading with Jay that day locked into a rally of catches in the afternoon. A few were netted. He hoped the cool water would keep them aggressive now. Jay has scored well on steelheads when the water was in the low 60 degrees, but the angling’s better in the 50s. More and more steelheads migrated to the river from Lake Ontario, and a fair number swam the lower river. But anglers had to work for them in the heat last week. Seventy-five percent of salmon were spawned out in the upper river. That stretch was like a “zombie apocalypse,” he said, because salmon die after spawning. Steelheads remain in the river through winter, spawn there in spring, and return to the lake for summer. They don’t die after spawning. Jay’s trips hooked steelheads on egg-sucking leach flies in orange or pink, egg flies in orange and, on Monday, Oregon Cheese, and, on one day, black wooly buggers. In other words, the trips mixed it up, trying different flies until one worked. But egg flies were important, because of the salmon eggs in the river. The river ran at 335 cubic feet per second, no different than recently. Rain sometimes fell, but not enough to raise the reservoir. The rain was more like “maintenance.” Salmon fishing began to heat up in rivers farther west in New York around Rochester. Those salmon migrate later than in Salmon River, probably because Salmon River is at a higher elevation that makes the water cooler. A few brown trout arrived in the western New York rivers, but mostly salmon swam those waters. Later this season, Jay fishes for the browns, and they’re huge, because they come from Lake Ontario. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

Rain raised upper Delaware River a little last week, and the water ran clear, but lots of leaves and grass flowed , Bill Brinkman from Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia wrote in a report on the shop’s website. Still, smallmouth bass fishing was great from Yardley upstream to Delaware Water Gap. Lots of small striped bass, plenty of catfish and sometimes walleyes also bit there. Farther downstream, closer to the store, Bill fished the river Thursday, boating 20 catfish, mostly 1 to 3 pounds, but also a 6-pounder, and missed at least 20. Stripers also swam the local river. Anglers fishing off Linden Avenue bloodwormed five to 10 of the stripers apiece, per afternoon. The fish were small or 12 to 14 inches. An angler who fished the river downstream from Tacony-Palmyra Bridge bloodwormed and shrimped 25 stripers about the same size and a bunch of catfish. The local river held mostly catfish, stripers and white perch. Bill heard not one thing about largemouth bass fishing on the local river. Schuylkill River shoveled up good fishing for smallmouth bass, walleyes, catfish carp and stripers. Plenty of other details and locations were covered in the report.

New Jersey
Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service released this musky Saturday on a trip on a lake with friend and outdoor writer Lou Martinez, Dave wrote in an email. The fish bit while Dave worked a lure, a 9-inch jerk bait from the company Sledge, in a figure-eight at boatside at the end of a cast. Sometimes a figure-eight triggers a musky to strike. He also lost a smaller musky on the trip that hit a Pounder Bulldawg lure from Musky Innovations. “Very fun day …,” Dave wrote. The water was 67 degrees, warm for the time of year, and the sky was overcast. Dave will keep fishing for muskies, and as weather becomes colder, begin fishing for hybrid striped bass. When weather really becomes cold, he’ll fish for trout on Round Valley Reservoir in winter. Fishing now should only become better, he thinks.

Trout fishing was pretty good, including on Rockaway and Musconetcong rivers, said Don from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Fall trout stocking began last week on Tuesday and lasts through today, and the Rockaway and Musky were included last week. See the trout stocking schedule. A couple of customers yesterday morning talked about landing big breeders on the Rockaway at Dover that were stocked. Anglers are happy when catching big fish, Don said! He lives near the Rockaway at Denville, and the river seemed to flow at an average level there, about perfect for fishing, not high, not low. Also, a tributary runs through his back yard and was high, and when it is, the Rockaway flows average. Customers during the weekend often fished the Musky at Stephens State Park. Customers fished for trout with PowerBait and garden worms. Those who fly-fished cast midges or other small flies and caddis. Locals reported reeling in largemouth bass from lakes or ponds in afternoons, probably until leaving when the day became too chilly. Don heard nothing about salmon fishing in upstate New York the past couple of days, but could only assume the fishing went well, he said. The fishing was good previously.

Fishing for trout went well at Pequest and Musconetcong rivers and the South Branch of the Raritan River, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. New Jersey seemed to do a good job at the fall stocking. When the trout were first stocked, they were reluctant to bite. But now they chewed. Some big, beautiful trout were caught. Rivers ran a little low. Customers mostly fished Mike’s shrimp eggs for trout. But nearly any usual bait worked, including meal worms and baby nightcrawlers. Smallmouth bass were hammered from Delaware River at Belvidere. A customer was buying shiners for the angling and coming right back for more. Keith fished Lake Hopatcong for largemouth bass, and boated plenty every day, but not many sizable. He fished small, shallow-swimming crank baits, blue-and-silver jigs in black-and-blue and spinner baits in white with a little chartreuse. An angler reported scoring well on largemouths at Merrill Creek Reservoir on shiners. Largemouths will go into a fall pattern because of cool weather that just began. These trips fished in warm weather. Nothing was heard about Spruce Run Reservoir.

Shoreline anglers banked rainbow trout at Round Valley Reservoir, said James from Behre Bait & Tackle in Lebanon. The fish finally moved into shallows, and some days fished better than others. Mornings will probably fish best for them, he imagined, and anglers fished for the trout with M&M combos or marshmallows with meal worms, shiners under slip-bobbers and Carolina-rigged PowerBait. Don’t fish braided line, he said. The trout shy away from that. Use a light leader. Boaters even trolled rainbow and brown trout along the shore in 20 to 50 feet of water at Round Valley, mostly on Challenger lures and small Warrior spoons. At Spruce Run Reservoir, crappies and still some hybrid striped bass were angled, mostly from boats. A few hybrids were cranked-in from shore. The crappies swam 8 to 15 feet down in 20 feet of water.

Northern pike and catfish were sacked from Passaic River, said Joe from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Big Flatbrook supposedly fished well for trout. Ramapo River sounded good for trout, too, and Joe assumed that was at Mahwah. Not much was heard about largemouth bass fishing. Someone headed to Greenwood Lake for largemouths, but reported no results. In saltwater, a few striped bass, not big, began to be beached from the surf. So that was good, because anglers are waiting for the fall migration of stripers.

The Toms River’s trout fishing went well this week, said Virginia from Murphy’s Hook House in the town of Toms River. That included near the tree farm and at Riverwood Park and the Trout Conservation Area. A bunch of breeders were taken. The water was low but held good holes. If anglers are serious about the fishing, wear waders to tramp through bushes to locate the holes. Tackle that hooked the fish included mostly PowerBait in yellow, pink or garlic but sometimes spinners near the tree farm, and Trout Magnets but sometimes No. 1 or 2 spinners at the conservation area. Virginia saw big breeders chasing sunnies, so she’s going to try for them with large killies. The Toms at Trilco off Route 9 gave up good chain pickerel fishing. Pickerel were also rustled-up from Winding River. Ocean County College Pond turned up good angling for yellow perch, lots of sunnies and some largemouth bass in the back. The front of the pond near the road failed to fish well. Good fishing for largemouths was whipped at Forge Pond on rubber frogs, spinner baits and Senko rubber worms. Shiners and killies will also clock the bass there but attract pickerel. Lake Shenandoah will be included in the winter trout stocking in November, but currently offered-up yellow perch and crappies. Fish nightcrawlers or killies. Nobody mentioned Lake Riviera recently, but if anglers put in effort, nearly all species could bite there. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Fishing was excellent at lakes and ponds in weather that kept anglers fishing, a report said on Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown’s Facebook page Sunday. Weather was warm last week. Catches included a youngster’s 4-1/4-pound largemouth bass from Wilson Lake “on live bait.” Another angler reported good largemouthing at Wilson on minnows. At Iona Lake, an angler pulled in three largemouths to 3 pounds on 4-inch, black Senko rubber worms. At Elmer Lake, someone totaled four largemouths to 2 pounds on minnows. A kayaker smoked excellent largemouthing at Lake Audrey, landing six of the fish to 3 pounds on a Live Target mouse. Two anglers fished Union Lake, combining for five largemouths to 4 pounds on KVD Sexy Shads. Someone from Alloway fished Alloway Lake, doing-in 3 largemouths to 5 pounds on minnows. Local lakes were going to be included in the fall trout stocking this week.

Grenloch Lake was stocked with trout at 12 noon yesterday, and the fish were angled, said Ed from Creek Keepers Bait & Tackle in Blackwood. The catches included a couple of 2-pounders about 14 inches, good-sized. PowerBait and spinners nabbed trout from the lake. Ed thought someone said meal worms worked for that angler. Iona Lake was supposed to be stocked today. Ed fished with his wife at Stewart Lake in Woodbury yesterday. She put up 11 largemouth bass on minnows, and he managed none. A customer beat a couple of chain pickerel at New Brooklyn Lake. The lake is known for pickerel. No reports were heard about saltwater fishing, but customers bought bloodworms and frozen finger mullet to head for the angling. Baits stocked also include minnows and frozen bunker.

Fishing began to improve in cooler weather, said Andrew from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Lots more largemouth bass were hit than before. The previous warm weather seemed to toughen fishing for them. The bass began to move to shallow water, like in the back of lakes toward creeks. They also gathered off secondary points. Throw buzz baits or top-water lures including Zara Spooks or any walk-the-dog type of lure. Or in the shallows fish Senko rubber worms or jigs. No particular lakes seemed hot spots, but all that held the bass seemed to produce better than previously. Fishing was good for crappies and panfish at lakes. Chain pickerel fishing was good at lakes, like it usually is. Lakes including Giampetro Park Pond, Iona Lake and Swedesboro Lake were scheduled to be included in the fall trout stocking this week. So was Maurice River. Saltwater fishing was fairly quiet. The striped bass migration held far north, yet to slide south to the local coast. Sea bass season will open beginning Sunday.

Last Week's Report

Salmon River

Salmon were spawning throughout the river, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. Some days fished better than others for them, but the angling generally was still very good. This has been a great run of the fish this year. The salmon migration currently slowed in the river. Some of the fish still trickled in, and that will probably last another week or two. But most salmon already arrived. Fishing for them will last a moment longer in the river. Salmon, mostly Chinooks or kings, and a few Cohos, migrate to the river from Lake Ontario to spawn, and then die in the river. That ends fishing for them in the river, obviously. This current peak of the spawning was on schedule. It usually begins in the first week of October, and the run usually lasts six weeks, like it looks like it’ll last this year. Rain, 1 ¾ inches, fell in the past week, after weather was dry for some weeks. The rain was welcomed. If rain continues, water will be released from the dam, raising the river. The river currently flowed at 335 cubic feet per second, autumn’s minimum level. That flow fished well for salmon, but a higher level could be good. Steelheads will migrate to the river next from the lake, and if the river rises, that will probably encourage steelheads to migrate in. A few steelheads and brown trout already arrived in the river, and the season was a little early for the migrations of those fish. Jay’s cautiously optimistic that the steelhead migration will be good, because the salmon migration was. A wet, cool summer seemed to cause the healthy salmon run. Currently, the river was a little warm for salmon, at 59 to 62 degrees. Jay would like to see the mid-50 degrees. His trips hooked the salmon on flies including black, olive or occasionally brown wooly buggers, crystal wooly buggers in pink or purple, size-8 egg flies in orange or chartreuse, and egg-sucking leaches in orange or chartreuse. Egg patterns become important during spawning. A few salmon began to migrate to the Genesee and Oak Orchard rivers farther east in New York, around Rochester. But Jay will keep fishing Salmon River until Thanksgiving, including because his steelhead clients will want to fish the river. After Thanksgiving, Jay fishes for a moment for huge brown trout that migrate to the rivers and creeks around Rochester. Afterward, he resumes steelheading on Salmon River throughout winter. Steelheads remain in the river throughout winter, offering a world-class fishery. They swim the river during that season because forage is more abundant there than in the lake during colder weather. Steelheads migrate to the river in fall, spend winter there, spawn in the river in spring, and return to the lake for summer. They don’t die after spawning like salmon do. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.


On Delaware River, upstream fished best, Bill Brinkman from Philadelphia’s Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle wrote in a report on the shop’s website. Still, fishing for small striped bass seemed to be improving on the lower river. More on that in a moment. First, on the upper river, smallmouth bass, small stripers and catfish were drilled. Anglers who fished the upper from Stockton to Lambertville totaled 25 to 40 fish apiece in a day. Just downstream, at the New Hope wing dam, fishing for all three species was great. Farther upstream, an angler at Delaware Water Gap on the river was pulling in 20 to 35 smallmouths per trip. The report also mentioned other locations giving up the fish between all these areas on the river. On the lower Delaware, near the shop, small stripers swiped Rat-L-Traps and deep-diving crank baits in early mornings. Once the day became sunny, the fish retreated deeper and got hooked on bait. In evenings, the stripers hit lures again: Rat-L-Traps, shallow-running crank baits, popper lures and Zara Spooks. This was at bridge abutments and sandbars. The lower river’s largemouth bass fishing was slow. Several anglers reported managing one to three per trip, and the fish were mostly small. Also on the lower river, catfish 1 to 4 pounds nibbled nearly any bait along bottom, like chicken liver, shrimp, chunked eels, nightcrawlers, bloodworms and bunker. Sometimes 4- to 8-pounders were taken on live eels or bunker heads. A few anglers talked about cranking in 3 to 8-pound cats and 15- to 24-inch stripers around Commodore Barry Bridge on the river. A 37-inch striper was eeled in Raccoon Creek, a tributary of the river. Fall trout stocking was underway in Pennsylvania, including at Pennypack Creek yesterday. More locations and details about different fishing were included in the report.


Fall trout stocking began yesterday, and Paulinskill River was included that day, said Dean from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. Big Flatbrook is scheduled for stocking tomorrow. On the Paulinskill, trout were banked that day, but the fish seemed not to bite well. Sometimes they seem to bite better after becoming acclimated. Most customers fish the Flatbrook when trying for trout. The Flatbrook is nearer to the shop, and flowed at about a normal level, better than low water previously. Rain helped. For bait, fish salmon eggs, butter worms or PowerBait. If fly-fishing, throw bead-headed Prince or hare’s-ear nymphs or egg flies. Nothing was heard about Delaware River, but smallmouth bass could be tied into from the river this time of season, guaranteed. Anglers fish many different things for them, from different lures like soft-plastics and Rapalas to live bait, but in the rapids. The smallmouths are in the rapids.

Fall trout stocking kicked off yesterday, and trout streams ran at okay levels, not great, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Rain fell, and that helped. More rain could be used. Cooler weather to cool the water could help, too. Still, water levels were better than during some years, and anglers could fish for the trout with meal worms, salmon eggs, egg flies, San Juan worms and terrestrials. See the trout stocking schedule online. Kevin fished Lake Hopatcong on a trip this past week, tackling plenty of chain pickerel and largemouth bass on white-and-blue chatter baits over weeds in open water. The water was 70 degrees or warm. Cooler weather is forecast for Thursday and Friday, but warm weather is supposed to return afterward. A friend fished Delaware River, reeling in lots of smallmouth bass on Keitechs and Senkos. Customers headed to upstate New York to fish for salmon on rivers like Salmon River. That angling was outstanding, the best in some years.

Pete Cusick won the Knee Deep Club’s walleye tournament this weekend on the lake with a 5-pound 8-ouncer, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Kirra Gilfillan took second place with a 5-pound 1-ouncer, and Hunter Good claimed third with a 4-pound 11-ouncer. They won $388, $235 and $156, respectively, and each was “in the bonus plan,” Laurie said. Anglers who won fourth through sixth places were, respectively, Alex Stockton for a 3-pound 13-ouncer, Alex Stockton for a 3-pound 13-ouncer and Tom Facciola for a 3-pound 5-ouncer. Those three won a $20 gift certificate to Dow’s apiece. Lots of crappies, yellow perch and white perch bit in the lake. Catches from the lake also included Cusick’s 2-pound 4-ounce smallmouth bass and Bob Smith’s 4-pound 3-ounce chain pickerel. Take advantage: Saturday, Oct. 21, will be a free New Jersey fishing day, when no fishing license is required.

Good fishing for northern pike, yellow perch and a few largemouth bass was socked from Passaic River, said Joe from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. He heard about a couple of smallmouth bass from the river. For the pike, “moving” baits were fished, like spinners and swim baits. An angler and grandson also fought a large carp from the river, running up and down the banks to land the fish on light tackle. Lake Hopatcong’s largemouth bass fishing was good. Joe assumed that was on soft-plastic baits, like flipping and pitching them to weeds. He and Cheryl from the store hooked the bass well on chatter baits last week on the lake. Not much was heard about Greenwood Lake, except that a 15-pound, five-fish bag won a tournament there recently. So the fishing sounded productive.

The Toms River was included yesterday in the fall trout stocking that began that day, said Virginia from Murphy’s Hook House in the town of Toms River. She and daughter actually fished the river before the stocking that day, banking four in the conservation area. The water ran low, but the fishing seemed good for the river’s trout. The fish were stocked near the tree farm at 11:45 a.m. that day. She knew a couple of anglers who limited out on the fish after stocking on the river there. One landed a couple of big hook-jaws. That was on Trout Magnets and spinners. Dough balls were popular to fish on the river, and PowerBait seemed to fail to catch as much. Some fished the river at Riverwood Park, scoring okay. Virginia and two anglers fished Lester’s Lake this week, and the lake was super-low. But they yanked in chain pickerel, sunnies and a couple of small largemouth bass on killies and nightcrawlers. Anglers picked away at chain pickerel on the Toms River at Trilco. Some big swim there. Trilco’s a closed building supply, and no sign identifies the building. But locals know the stretch by the name, located near Garden State Parkway. Largemouth fishing went alright at Forge Pond on shiners, surface lures and Senko rubber worms for boaters with electric motors. Crappie fishing was pretty good on Manasquan Reservoir on small jigs with rubber grubs or killies. Fishing for sunnies was solid at nearly every lake that held them. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Snakeheads seemed to start becoming aggressive, said Bryan from STC Sports in Gibbstown. One customer landed four of the invasive species off High Hill Road in Logan Township at the spillway on the feeder creek off Raccoon Creek on a crank bait while he targeted largemouth bass. Peanut bunker still schooled Delaware River and tributaries, attracting schoolie striped bass that were angled. Catfishing was steady, nothing great, but steady on the river. If anglers fish cut bait like bunker, they should turn up decent catches. Reports sounded like crappies bit at lakes. Customer Tom D.’s trip with more than one angler – Bryan wasn’t asked how many – bloodwormed 40 white perch to 14 inches at Mannington Meadow. No details were heard about largemouth bass fishing. But customers bought minnows who headed for largemouths.

From Creek Keepers Bait & Tackle in Blackwood, Ed and wife smashed 19 largemouth bass at Stewart Lake in Woodbury on shiners last week, he said. That was during sunset for 1 ½ hours. A customer whipped chain pickerel at New Brooklyn Lake on minnows. Another was worming yellow perch at Grenloch Lake near the dam. Grenloch will be included in the fall trout stocking on Tuesday. Fewer anglers fish the fall stocking than fish the spring stocking, but some get after the fall fish. In saltwater, snapper blues ran the surf, like at Brigantine and Sea Isle City. No kingfish were heard about from the surf. Maybe some remained, but that angling might’ve slowed for the year.

Largemouth bass were in a summer pattern still, not a fall pattern at all, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. The water was warm, because of warm weather, and the fish still jumped on rubber frogs and drop-shots. Senko rubber worms sold well for the angling. Decent fishing for largemouths was reported from Malaga Lake, actually. South Vineland Park produced the bass fairly consistently. Good catches of the bass were made at Rainbow Lake, like happens often. The fishing there will probably hold up for some time. Crappie fishing was good at lakes, not great, but lots of rubber twister tails, tubes and minnows were sold for them. Plenty of white perch were hung from tidal rivers and creeks. In the fall trout stocking, local waters will be included next week. Those will include Giampetro Park Pond, Maurice River, Iona Lake, Swedesboro Lake and Mary Elmer Lake.