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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, March 20.

| New York | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY WEDNESDAY
New York
Adirondack Mountains

Ice-fishing might be lasting later than during some winters on the lake, said Renee from FISH307.com 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. FISH307.com 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.

New Jersey
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.

Last Week's Report
NEW YORK

Adirondack Mountains

The lake held more than 14 inches of ice at some places and more than 7 at some, said Renee from FISH307.com in Lake George. Mostly yellow perch and lake trout were angled from the ice. Weather was no warmer than before, but is supposed to be warmer this weekend. She doubted any snow covered the ice. Any was probably either packed down or blown away. All baits are stocked except mousies that are scarce this year and icicles that can no longer be obtained from suppliers this season. FISH307.com is both an online store and a brick-and-mortar one, located near the south entrance to the Adirondacks. Click on the link for clearance sales on ice tackle, including certain tip ups and ice-fishing line and MarCum fish-finders and underwater cameras.

Ice-fishing was slower than before, but Great Sacandaga Lake still held 18 inches, the same thickness as previously, said Amanda from Fuel-n-Food in Mayfield. Walleye season will close beginning Saturday, but walleyes 17 and 18 inches bit in the lake. She knew about northern pike from the lake, too. Most were 25 inches or smaller, but a few were 38 inches or larger. Pike that large were few and far between. Mayfield Lake was the place to fish for yellow perch. The perch could be tugged in all day. Baits stocked include spikes and medium and large shiners. Fuel-n-Food is a gas station and café and includes ice-fishing bait and tackle. The crew can point you in the right direction for fishing.

Salmon River and Western New York Streams

Weather began to warm, and fishing began to pop, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. The angling might’ve only begun to pick up, but there was a feeling of “here we go.” Spring was potentially in the air. Creeks or streams began to thaw that Jay fishes for brown trout and steelheads in western New York near Rochester this time of year. He expects the creeks to fish this week. Oak Orchard River in that area held open water and gave up steelheads. Two hours to the east, nothing changed with Salmon River’s steelheading, he said. The flow remained the same, he said, and any report could be copied and pasted from the last report. In the last report, he said the Salmon flowed at 750 cubic feet per second, a good flow for fishing. Plenty of steelheads bit in the upper river on stoneflies. Sometimes the lower river gave up steelheads on wet flies and wooly buggers. That depended on whether a slug of the fish was migrating in from Lake Ontario, heading upstream. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

NEW JERSEY

Fishing was tough on Round Valley Reservoir on a trip Saturday for Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale, he said. He trolled one rainbow trout. The water was 33 degrees and flat as a sheet of glass.

Ice-fishing is probably finished for the season, said Don from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Some anglers fished ice last week, including on Budd Lake. But edges were soft, and anglers almost wondered how anybody got onto the ice in the middle. Currently, thin ice remained at some places, and other places were clear of ice, and not much fishing happened on lakes during these conditions. However, Kevin from the store knew about anglers fishing Lake Musconetcong for crappies on the end that was free of ice. A few anglers fly-rodded trout on rivers. Mop Flies were popular for that in the past month or so. Water levels were up in streams from rain and snow. Don lives near Rockaway River, and the river was high in the Denville area, he saw. Although not a lot of fishing happened this time of year, the shop was busy with customers gearing up. Some customers also fished saltwater for cod. One was going to fish on a party boat trip from Highlands for cod and ling this week.

A buddy fished the ice at Monksville Reservoir last weekend, nailing huge crappies, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. That was on fathead minnows on tip-ups, and Keith saw photos of the fish. The buddy expected to fish the ice there within the next day, and thought no fishable ice would remain afterward. It might not even be fishable currently. Be safe. A customer bought shiners to head to Merrill Creek Reservoir to try for lake trout and rainbow trout from shore. Trout can be hooked from shore from lakes like that just after ice-out or in late winter and early spring. They can be landed on baitfish, nightcrawlers, worms inflated with a blower or PowerBait. A bunch of anglers will probably try that this weekend. Another customer headed to Ghost Lake off Shades of Death Road to try for crappies and bass on jerk baits. Keith was yet to hear results. Customers fished for trout on streams, and most waters that will be stocked with trout will be closed to fishing beginning Monday until opening day of trout season, April 6, for the stocking. Some places including Trout Conservation Areas will remain open to catch-and-release. Places they fished included Pequest River, where they caught on shrimp salmon eggs. A kid who fished Ken Lockwood Gorge lost a big trout and a small one in a trip. He fished a small, size-20 pheasant-tail nymph. It hooked the fish, but keeping them hooked was difficult on the small fly. The kid said many anglers fished the stream during the trip, and most reported not so great fishing. Maybe that was going to improve in warmer weather now. Another kid banked a trout at Pohatcong Creek on a midge.

The lake was fished on the ice last week and this morning, but the ice-fishing was probably finished now, said Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong. Freezing temperatures stiffened ice and enabled anglers to fish atop this morning. But temperatures aren’t supposed to dip below freezing the next three days. Last week’s cold snap actually made some of the lake’s ice thicker than all season on Saturday. Some was 10 or 11 inches. The lake’s anglers will now wait for the water to open up enough for boating. They’ll probably fish in a couple of weeks for crappies that get active in the shallows in early spring.

Anglers fished Passaic River a week ago, said Joe from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. They reeled in northern pike and carp, and the river currently ran a little high. Little was heard about fishing recently, because weather had been cold and then rainy. A few fished for trout. Anglers had the itch to fish, though. Business was picking up. Catch the shop’s exhibit at the Saltwater Fishing Expo on Friday through Sunday at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison.

Shiners were sold to customers in the first days of this week who went to catch chain pickerel and token largemouth bass, said Dennis from Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River. In brackish water, fishing for white perch, striped bass and winter flounder slowed in the Toms River in last week’s cold. Maybe that was picking back up now in warmer weather. Bloodworms, shiners, killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms are stocked. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard.

A couple of better days of weather happened after wintry weather last week, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Chain pickerel were wrestled-in on minnows that are now re-stocked at the store. Nothing was heard about crappies yet that should become active soon. A few hit-and-miss reports rolled in about white perch fishing on the brackish Mullica and Tuckahoe rivers. Not a lot of news rolled in, but a little did. A sign of life, he said.