Rains raised waters from Delaware River to trout streams and even lakes, so few fished, said Joe from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. Weather included the weekend’s tropical storm. A few catfish and striped bass were landed from the Delaware. The Big Flatbrook, where most customers trout fish, should lower to normal in a day or two, if no more rains raise it. The Delaware should take longer to calm, because high waters farther upstream from rains probably affected it. Anglers on lakes had begun to score good catches of largemouth bass, restricted to catch and release through Saturday. The fishing, moving into “summer patterns,” Joe said, was improving. The bass were hooked on usual things like Senko worms in blue, black or pumpkin. The fish weren’t so aggressive yet, but should start smacking top-water lures in a couple of weeks.
The season’s first three nighttime trips, through Saturday, totaled 30 walleyes from a lake with Live to Fish Guide Service, Capt. Dave Vollenweider said. So the fishing, with top-water lures, was very good. The first trip, landing 10, was covered in a previous report. The second, sailing last week on Tuesday, clobbered 12, and a musky to boot. The walleyes that night weighed up to 7 pounds. The musky, 36 or 38 inches, probably weighed 9 to 11, not large. But that was a wild, bonus catch on 8-pound walleye tackle. The third trip, a short one Saturday night, tackled seven walleyes to 7 pounds, and surely would’ve caught more, if the trip had fished longer. All different lures hooked the fish on the trips. “I have a huge tackle box,” Dave said. But Rapala Original Floating Lures in size F18, a 7-incher, “(was) tough to beat,” he said. The trips fish the shallows right against shore, sometimes in inches of water. Walleyes move there in the dark this time of year, to forage on spawning herring. Then the large walleyes can be nailed on top-waters. That can draw explosive attacks along the water surface. Sometimes the fish exploded right next to the boat. Dave couldn’t emphasize enough that anglers should leave the lure in the waters a moment after the cast is finished, because sometimes the fish follow, then attack at the end. The fishing lately lit up right after dark. The fish seemed to gather wherever rocky areas sloped off quickly to the deep. But sometimes Dave has fished two or three hours into the dark before catches began. Sometimes the angling doesn’t even take off until deep into the night, like 2 or 3 a.m. The angling is an experience, using equipment like head lamps. Anglers need to acclimate to the dark. They can get lures hung up in trees a lot before they do, when casting. The fishing is that close to shore: right against the banks. The darker the night, the better the fishing can be, sometimes. Saturday’s trip was during the new moon, and the fishing seemed good because of that. Not a lot of herring seemed around so far this season. But that didn’t matter, because the fishing was on. The spawn, and therefore the fishing, usually lasts into July. Dave also hopes to troll for muskies during daytime soon. He already made some attempts, and only one walleye was hooked. But the musky fishing was probably a matter of being there at the right time. One musky expert has written about muskies making a move in lakes a couple of times a day, and the need to intercept them during those times when trolling to catch. Saturday’s trip, arriving on the lake at 6 p.m., trolled a couple of hours, with no takers. But then the walleye fishing broke open after dark. Live to Fish Guide Service guides trips for trout, muskies, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleyes, crappies, chain pickerel, panfish, yellow perch, white perch, carp and more. Lakes fished include Greenwood Lake, Lake Hopatcong, Monksville Reservoir, Echo Lake, Mountain Lake and Furnace Lake. Rivers fished include the Flatbrook, Pequest, Paulinskill and Ramapo.
Not a lot fished, because rains muddied waters, said Brian from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. But previously trout fishing was super on streams. Trouters fished sulfurs, and began to cast light Cahills. If streams hadn’t become blown out, the Cahill fishing probably would’ve really taken off this week. Largemouth bass, required to be released through Saturday, had been coming off spawning beds, biting well. Soft-plastic lures like Keitechs or worms like Senkos drilled them. Walleyes and hybrid striped bass had been socked on Lake Hopatcong before the weather. The walleyes seemed to bite off Mount Arlington, and the hybrids seemed to chew off the state park.
Raised waters from the storm actually helped fishing for small striped bass on Passaic River, said Nick from Meltzer’s Sporting Goods in Garfield. The 1-1/2- or 2-pounders must follow bait upriver when the waters flood, and anglers caught and released them from below the falls at Garfield all the way downstream to East Rutherford, on 4-inch Storm rubber shads. Northern pike smashed livelined shiners in the river at Twin Bridges, upstream from the falls. A couple of customers rounded up largemouth bass, good catches, at Greenwood Lake, along docks and Storm Island, while flipping jigs. Largemouths must be released through Saturday, according to law. A buddy whaled largemouths 2 to 3 pounds at Pompton Lake in mornings and evenings on Senkos, mostly along the shoreline. Small largemouths were played at Barbour’s Pond on top-waters like Jitterbugs or Rebel Pop-R’s in early evenings, before the lake was closed for the day. Some found good largemouthing at the lake at Darlington Park, mostly on Senkos. One lake is for fishing, and the second is for swimming. Mark from the shop Senko’ed largemouths at Waywayanda Lake a couple of weeks ago. Boat wakes supposedly became prohibited at Lake Hopatcong, because of high water. A friend’s son at Hopatcong before then was into hybrid striped bass on live bait and walleyes on jigheads and worms at night off points with deeper waters. One angler at Hopatcong, drifting herring for other fish, came across a few smallmouth bass off Nolan’s Point. Not much was heard about trout. Fishing for them had been slowly tapering off for the season.
Angelo from Efinger Sporting Goods in Bound Brook trout fished on small creeks, because rivers ran high, he said. But trout fishing’s been great, and once rivers start dropping, that’s a best time to fish them. Waters then are a little murky, helping with trout that can be spooky in clear waters this time of year. Try bright-colored flies in the cloudy conditions. Trout fishing was becoming best in mornings and late in the day, especially if anglers released them. That’s because the fish can become stressed and die in mid-day warmth this time of season. Sulfurs and slate drakes are hatching. Pheasant-tail nymphs in size 12 will imitate the drake nymphs or isonychia. They’re larger flies. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, both restricted to catch and release through Saturday, were off the spawn, actively feeding. Good things were heard about fishing for them all around. Senkos, spinner baits and live bait seemed most popular to catch them. Along saltwater, anglers hoped for west winds, apparently after south winds cooled waters. Southerlies can slow fishing, because of that. Striped bass fishing might’ve been becoming tougher than before. Still, stripers swam everywhere, from the ocean to rivers. Whether anglers caught them or not on a trip was a different story, Angelo said.
Before all the rains, said Jeff from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River, he landed largemouth bass, chain pickerel and a couple of yellow perch at Lake Riviera on shiners. Be sure to release the bass through Saturday by law. His grandson on the rip hooked sunnies and bluegills on worms. At Lester’s Lake Jeff grabbed catfish on chicken livers and pickerel on killies. At Winding River he came up with largemouths and yellow perch on shiners. A few largemouths and chain pickerel were reported tugged from Manasquan Reservoir, and no hybrid striped bass were. Water temperatures fluctuated a lot at lakes, because of weather. “Fish don’t like that,” Jeff said. Ocean County College Pond tossed up fish including crappies, perch and pickerel. A few white perch nipped at Forge Pond, but not as many as before. Nothing was heard about trout fishing in a couple of weeks. Shiners, killies and the different worms are stocked.
Customers slammed the shop to buy shiners for crappies at the spillway at Gropp’s Lake, said Tom P. from Sportsmen’s Center in Bordentown. The fish, big ones 14 or 15 inches, apparently gather there when the lake becomes high because of rains. Carnegie Lake’s lower end, Tom said, was filled with large carp to 25 and 40 pounds. Anglers made paste with creamed corn, cornmeal and oatmeal to fish for them. Those were the two hot fisheries. But largemouth bass fishing, catch and release through Saturday in the state, was terrific at Assunpink Lake. At the back end, at the mats, Tom said, big bass to 5 and 6 pounds could be rubber-ratted or -frogged. Large chain pickerel also stalked there. Trout fishing was on a tear until the rains. Exemplary, Tom said, at places like South Branch of Raritan River, Paulinskill River and Big Flatbrook. A customer showed photos of 12- and 15-inch trout from Toms River.
Snakeheads were the big thing, said Joan from Creek Keepers Bait & Tackle in Blackwood. The invasive fish weren’t necessarily good news, and the government encourages people to kill them when caught. That’s because snakeheads can overtake the populations of native fish. But anglers caught them, including at Blackwood Lake and Big Timber Creek, along Crown Point Road in West Deptford. All kinds of baits including shiners and worms hooked them. One customer, who only fishes shiners, landed three snakeheads in a week, weighing-in a 7.7-pounder. But largemouth bass fishing, catch and release through this coming Saturday, went well at Blackwood, Grenloch and Harrisonville lakes. Five-inch Senkos did a job on them. Carp were heaved from Silver Lake.
For largemouth bass anglers, a decent rubber-frog bite had been happening, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. But now lakes were muddied since Friday’s tropical storm, so anything he reported was pre-storm, he said. But the frogs had caught including at Parvin Lake. Largemouths are required to be released through Saturday. South Vineland Park Pond was a place talked about for largemouths. Anglers there often drop-shotted or fished Senkos. Union Lake’s fishing was good for both largemouths and smallmouths, also required to be released through Saturday. Fishing for chain pickerel and panfish was fair at different lakes. Trout fishing was mostly finished for the season. Few tried for them anymore. In saltwater, lots of summer flounder were bagged from back bays. Nothing was mentioned about Delaware Bay’s flounder, and when waters warm, more will be heard, Steve figures. Delaware Bay’s drum fishing might’ve been winding down for the season. But maybe the moon phase or something affected them, and maybe the angling will pick back up. They were still caught. Actually, weakfish seemed to give up some of the best saltwater catches. Anglers were tight-lipped about where, but some of the back bays seemed to hold the fish. Weaks might’ve been tugged in from along Cape May’s jetties, too, Steve said, when asked whether they might’ve.