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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, April 18.

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

Steelheads were crabby in cold water but less than before, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. Whether that was because he figured out the fish better or the steelheads bit more than before, he didn’t know. Trips with him netted an average of five to eight in a day, not bad, considering the conditions. The water was cold because the weather was. Thirty-five degrees was yesterday’s high temperature, and snow showers fell that day. The cold water was delaying spawning. Salmon River was 33 to 35 degrees and ran high at 1,500 cubic feet per second. Jay fished for steelheads on the upper river at water including inside curves, soft seams and some of the pocket water. That was almost like a winter pattern, and the fish seemed to sit in places like that, waiting for warm water. Stoneflies and butter-rum-colored, size-10 egg flies picked the fish. Steelheads barely began to spawn in the Salmon, and will probably be in post-spawn late next week. Conditions seemed to be setting up for good angling for drop-back steelheads in May. Those are steelheads that spawned in the river and are headed back to Lake Ontario to spend summer. They return to rivers in autumn. Two hours to the west, rivers and streams that Jay fishes near Rochester for steelheads were warmer. Oak Orchard River in that area was 42 to 44 degrees. Steelheads were probably in the peak of spawning in those temperatures. Jay and a buddy totaled seven steelheads in a trip on the Oak. The water was medium-high to high and was stained. Steelheads couldn’t really be seen, but if spawning habitat was fished, the fish were hooked. However, after that trip, probably two inches of rain fell Monday in this area, in the huge storm that covered a large part of the U.S. The Oak now was a muddy brown. Smaller streams in this area will probably become fishable today, and rivers there will probably become fishable by the end of the week. After steelheads migrate to the lake, Jay and his guides fish for trout on streams through summer. Trout streams ran high and muddy. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.

The number of striped bass caught from Delaware River kept increasing through last week, a report said Thursday on Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia’s website. A photo of a 31-incher was seen from near Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Throwback-sized gave up lots of action near Commodore Barry Bridge. Some anglers eased in 40 in a trip. Stripers were still angled farther downstream at Salem that week. Striper fishing is closed on the river from Salem River to the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton from New Jersey this time of year. Anglers release them, and certain circle hooks are required by law to fish for stripers on the river from Jersey. Pennsylvania’s laws are different. Shad began to be fought from the river at Trenton. Photos of 3- to 7-pounders were seen. Reports were sporadic from farther upriver. Plenty were hooked on some days, and other days were a bust. Shad began to show up at Easton that week. Additional details and fishing was included in the report.

New Jersey
Big Flatbrook ran high but not blown-out, said Andy from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. The stream’s been fishing great for trout, including big. Most customers fished for them with butter worms, PowerBait, salmon eggs and meal worms. Metal could also cast for the fish, too. Delaware River ran high because of the storm early in the week. Not a lot was heard about shad caught this far upstream. One customer tackled a couple, and Andy thought shad would really begin biting because of the warmth at the end of last week. Then Sunday became cold, the storm came, and colder weather continued. A few walleyes were reeled from the Delaware, but no longer many. A couple of smallmouth bass were picked up from the river. Fishing for them and largemouth bass is limited to catch-and-release from April 14 through June 9 on the river for spawning. The dates are April 15 through June 15 for most of the rest of New Jersey. Not a lot of lake fishing happened yet this season. Customers fished lakes a little in the warmth late in the week, but not since the cold returned.

Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale hunted muskies for the first time this season on a trip with friend Lou Martinez, Dave wrote in an email. Lou’s an outdoor writer, and they scored five follows, including from a real tanker that measured in the high 40 inches to 50 inches. “All the fish appeared a bit beat up from spawning,” Dave wrote. They bite each other, he explained, and that creates sores and fungus, and that heals after a few weeks. All the follows were on a variety of small crank baits including from Alleycat Lures and Crane Baits, and including the Llungen Lures .22 Short. Dave and Lou also tried for largemouth bass on the trip, but none bit in cold water that was 51 degrees and reached 57 in mid-afternoon. Dave’s friend Paul Schmidt’s club the Northeast Bassmasters held a bass tournament on Lake Hopatcong on Saturday, and Paul told Dave the fishing was horrible. The club’s website said 12.7 pounds, 9.16 pounds and 5.16 pounds were the heaviest total weights. The 12.7 pounds was for four largemouths including a 4.12-pounder that was the tournament’s biggest. Many of the two-angler teams entered no fish. None entered smallmouth bass. Dave knew about other tournaments including two with winning weights of 19 and 17 pounds. Most teams in the tournaments were skunked or failed to limit out because of cold water. Fishing for largemouths and smallmouths became limited to catch-and-release on Sunday through June 15.

Fishing seemed to be amping up because of warming weather late last week, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. But weather took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon in building wind and dropping air temperature, and the storm that lasted into Monday. Weather was chilly afterward. Trout streams had been fishing well but became blown out from the rain. The streams were exceptionally crowded Saturday, customers said. Weather was beautiful that day at first. A few Hendricksons were seen hatching recently. Delaware River rose because of the rain, and was probably going to take days to subside. No customers mentioned catching shad from the Delaware yet. They bought tackle for the fishing, especially at the end of the week. At Lake Hopatcong, yellow perch and crappies were picked, but slowly in low water temperature. The water was 48 degrees Thursday. A friend fished a bass tournament on Hopatcong, and 13 pounds was the winning weight. Bass fishing was catching but was tough in cold water. The friend’s buddy landed an 8-pound walleye at Hopatcong on a crank bait during the tournament. Largemouth fishing became limited to catch-and-release beginning Sunday through June 15.

Trout fishing was off the hook, was great, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. Rivers that produced included Musconetcong, Pequest and Paulinskill. Four or five trout heavier than 5 pounds were weighed-in. Most trout were nabbed on baby nightcrawlers, meal worms or salmon eggs. But a customer checked-in a 5-1/2-pound rainbow that smacked a silver Phoebe. Shad fishing just began to go ballistic on Delaware River for customers. They mostly fish at Belvidere. But shad reportedly hit all the way upstream through Delaware Water Gap, too. All different colors of shad darts and spoons are stocked. But customers said color didn’t matter, because so many shad swam the water. Not much was reported about lake fishing because of rough weather. Saturday was the only day with better weather. A couple of northern pike were managed from Spruce Run Reservoir on shiners. Nobody reported trying for muskies in the weather. Merrill Creek Reservoir’s fishing was a little slow in the conditions.

Plenty of trout swam the lake because of stocking, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Knee Deep Club stocked more than a thousand last weekend, and the state stocked twice so far and was supposed to stock again this week. Trolling Phoebes or Rapalas in shallows is the way to catch trout this time of year on the lake. Trolling Rapalas or Mepps spinners should produce chain pickerel, and Knee Deep Club will hold a trout tournament and a pickerel tournament Sunday, April 22, on the lake. Those are two separate contests with an entry fee for each, and cash will be awarded. The shop will open early for the tournaments, and anglers can register up till 8 a.m. Speaking of pickerel, Pete Rathjens weighed-in a 4-pound 4-ouncer. Yellow perch and crappies pounced on Rufus metal jigs or small rubber jigs under bobbers in shallows. Dylan Cole checked-in a 1-pound 11-ounce crappie. Walleyes began to hit, also in shallows. They attacked large Rapala Husky Jerks. Walleye fishing is limited to catch-and-release in March and April for spawning.

Anglers are excited to fish, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Springtime weather affected angling, though. Passaic River near the store was rushing pretty badly. Trout streams also flowed high. A couple of customers fished a couple of times when conditions were better, catching trout. The fish were “holed up,” escaping strong current. Lakes and ponds fished better when rivers and streams were high. Shad were active in Delaware River. In saltwater, throwback striped bass were played, and keepers were picked, on Raritan Bay.

Many customers switched to freshwater fishing instead of saltwater fishing late last week because of great weather, said Dennis from Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River. They sat at lakes and ponds to fish in the weather. But a few fished for trout on the Toms and Metedeconk rivers, and bait like PowerBait seemed to catch best because of cold water. Spring Lake kept giving up trout, and PowerBait and spinners seemed to connect best there. The spinners seemed to work because the lake is shallow and warmer. Lake Riviera and Ocean County College Pound gave up chain pickerel, crappies and token largemouth bass. Release the bass through June 15 by law. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Someone had just reported landing two big striped bass from Delaware River near Tacony-Palmyra Bridge when Jason from STC Sports in Gibbstown gave this report in a phone call yesterday, Jason said. That was notable because that was farther upstream than customers reported big stripers previously. Most talked about catching locally, like at River Winds, mostly on bloodworms. At areas like that, probably 1 in 20 was keeper-sized. But when an angler pulled in a big striper among 20 small, the angler was pleased. After the big storm ended Monday, a few stripers were reported cranked-in at River Winds. Saturday was the only day with better weather lately, though today might’ve been shaping up to be relatively calm, with sunny skies and 13 m.p.h. wind, but temperature only reaching the mid-50 degrees. Striper fishing is closed on the river from Salem to Trenton in April and May for spawning. But anglers release them. Certain circle hooks are required for the angling, so check the regs. Not a ton was heard about trout fishing, and most customers switched to striper fishing. But a couple fished for trout at Harrisonville Lake. One limited out, and watched two anglers launch a canoe, limit on trout and land the canoe to end the trip, before the angler who watched even limited. Jason wondered whether that meant trout fishing was that good at Harrisonville.

Plenty of largemouth bass were angled at lakes, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Most were tied into on small Senko rubber worms like 3 and 4 inches, mostly in black. Largemouth fishing became limited to catch-and-release beginning Sunday through June 15 for spawning. Most customers seem to keep quiet about trout fishing to keep productive angling for them from being known. But a 7-pounder from Oak Pond and a couple of 6-pounders from Iona Lake were known about.

Trout season seemed off to a decent start, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Iona Lake and South Vineland Park Pond were hot spots. Berkeley Mice Tails and other PowerBait from the company were baits to dunk. A couple of days fished decent for largemouth bass at lakes, but the angling was sporadic in inconsistent weather. Some good catches of the bass were talked about from Union Lake and a little from Rainbow Lake. Largemouths must be released by law through June 15. Customers fished for white perch on brackish rivers including the Mullica, Great Egg, Tuckahoe and Maurice. On Delaware River, anglers picked away at striped bass, mostly small, a few keeper-sized. Fishing for the river’s stripers is closed this time of year from Salem River to Trenton, but anglers release them. They fish certain circle hooks required by law.

Last Week's Report

Salmon River and Western N.Y. Rivers and Streams

A stable, cold weather pattern continued, so water was cold, and that made steelheads crabby or grumpy, said Jay Peck from Jay Peck Guide Service. Cold water made them sluggish, and trips worked to get three to six steelheads to bite in a day. Twelve or fifteen usually chase a hook in a day this time of year. But weather is supposed to become warmer this week, and that might help. When the water warms to the 40 degrees, from temperatures currently in the 30s, the fishing will take off. The best fishing will happen quickly. Water in the 40s will also trigger steelheads to spawn. Spawning usually would be peaking currently in western, upstate New York rivers and streams that Jay fishes around Rochester. So spawning was a little late there. Water levels were probably dropping and becoming clearer on those rivers and streams. Two hours to the east in upstate New York, Salmon River ran high, at 1,500 cubic feet per second, and cold, and that’s typical for this time of season. The Salmon was in the mid to upper 30 degrees, kind of that crabby, grumpy temperature, he said. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.


Fishing for smaller striped bass picked up on Delaware River, a report said Friday on Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia’s website. Ten- to 20-inchers, many, were bloodwormed from the river from the Philly airport to Delaware Bay that week. A few small were heard about that bit farther upstream at Trenton that week. Striper fishing is closed on the Delaware in New Jersey from Salem River to Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton in April and May for spawning. Anglers release them, and certain circle hooks are required by law. Pennsylvania’s regs are different, and be familiar with the laws if doing this fishing. Shad fishing was great last week on the river from Trenton to Lambertville. Fishing the right spot was key. Someone reported tying into the year’s first shad at Milford two weeks ago on the river. Good walleye fishing for 14- to 21-inchers came from the river at Lambertville and Lumberville last week. Walleye fishing was also good on Schuylkill River near the art museum then. Plenty of other details and locations were included in the report.


Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service socked 19 rainbow trout and lost two big ones on a river Sunday, he wrote in an email. That was the second day of trout season, and all were hooked on Rapala Countdown lures in size 3. He fished the lures in both blue-and-silver, and rainbow trout color. Dave usually fishes for trout on streams with Countdowns. On this trip, he also tried a Rebel Tracdown Minnow but didn’t prefer how that lure fished. It spun in swift current, and wouldn’t “get down” like a Countdown. One of the trout he lost leapt from the water, and Dave saw the size. Then it got off. The other was hooked and just spit the hook. The trip’s trout were an intensely reddish color because of cold water. Dave’s now open for business, and began receiving calls. He expects to keep plugging for trout on streams. He also expects to fish lakes for crappies, bass and whatever else bites once lakes warm and boat ramps begin opening on lakes. Dave fishes for trout with lures every spring on streams. The angling’s fun, effective and can attract big trout. In spring, streams are usually high enough to fish lures, helping to keep them from fouling on debris like logs. The water level usually becomes too low for lures in summer and fall.

“It’s cold,” said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna yesterday. But weather is supposed to warm this week. Trout season opened Saturday, and conditions were alright, not great, on trout streams. They ran high and cold, but a few trout were nabbed, including on butter worms and Phoebes. Weather was supposed to become warmer and warmer today through Saturday, so Kevin’s thinking that should be good for fishing by Saturday. A few perch and crappies were plucked from Lake Hopatcong, but again, the water was cold. When more of the fish begin biting when water warms, the angling will probably become good quickly. The fishing could be lit up next week. A few largemouth bass had been winged from lakes during the couple of warm days in February. Not much seemed doing with the bass since. Currently, all fishing was almost in late-winter mode. Customers bought darts to fish for shad on Delaware River, and the shad migration seemed to swim the river, but the water seemed too cold for them to bite much. The river last week also ran high. The warm front beginning today was probably going to generally amp up fishing by the weekend and next week, it seemed.

Was a good opening weekend of trout season, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. Reports were typical of the opener: Some anglers complained about catching none, and some said they bailed the trout. Some good-sized were seen that were landed. Customers fished for trout including on Pequest, Musconetcong and South Branch of the Raritan rivers and Pohatcong Creek. Trout were hooked on butter worms, baby nightcrawlers and super meal worms. But some were angled on lures like Rapala Countdowns and Panther Martin spinners. Someone who volunteered for trout stocking said that if anglers don’t’ catch trout, that’s not because not enough of the fish were stocked. He helped stock the Musconetcong and said loads of the fish were stocked. Weather was rough during the opening weekend and the next days, but at least snow didn’t fall on Saturday that was forecast. Not a lot of people fished because of the weather, but Keith expects business and fishing to be hopping in the next days, because of warm weather that’s coming. This week was all about trout, and not much other fishing. Someone bought shiners from the store to try for pike and muskies at Spruce Run Reservoir. Delaware River’s shad fishing will blow open this weekend if a couple of days reach the 70 degrees this week, Keith thinks. Shad are in the river, and the water is 45 degrees. If the river reaches 50, they’ll bite. Largemouth bass were picked up here and there at ponds, mostly on swim baits. Ponds only need one sunny, warm day to raise the water temperature 2 or 3 degrees and get the bass chewing. Fishing for crappies, a cold-water fish, should be good everywhere that holds them.

When is spring coming? asked Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Water was cold in cool weather, but fish were somewhat active. A bunch of customers trout fished, mostly at Verona Park Lake, and caught. But weather kept more from fishing. At Verona, trout were mostly taken on bait like salmon eggs. The fish might’ve been too sluggish in cold water to chase lures like spinners. But bait caught. Trout streams ran high. Passaic River near the shop ran high but not into the parking lot. A couple of customers kayaked smallmouth bass on the Passaic, taking their time, looking for holes. Largemouth bass anglers often bought 2- and 4-inch Keitech swim baits. The baits worked on the bass at lakes. Cheryl woke up to snow about three times in the past week. A dusting fell yesterday, and that was April 10. But fish were active, began to be. They weren’t “dead.”

Trout fishing was on fire at Spring Lake, said Dennis from Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River. Trout season opened Saturday, and trout at the lake included big monsters. Shark River Surf Anglers stock trout, including big, at the lake each year for a contest on opening day of trout season. That’s in addition to New Jersey stocking the lake. Trout fishing might’ve been a little slow in mornings at the lake, but it was pretty terrific by mid-day. On the Toms River, some anglers banked trout, and some didn’t. Trout Magnets probably fished best there. Trout fishing was slow on Metedeconk River, and is always tough there. Other freshwater fishing was mostly slow in cold water. Crappies, pickerel and a few yellow perch were yanked in. Trout supplies are stocked including baby nightcrawlers and meal worms. Baits stocked for other fishing include shiners and killies. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Some throwback striped bass and a few bigger mixed in were slid from Delaware River, said Jason from STC Sports in Gibbstown. The bigger ones – several caught here and there – seemed to show up beginning last week on Tuesday. Reports about the fish came from Elsinboro to National Park at Beach Hill Road, and not really from farther upstream. Jason saw a photo of a 38-incher that was landed Monday. A customer, when Jason was giving this report in a phone call yesterday, reported reeling in a 44-incher from the river near the DOD ponds on Friday. Striper fishing is closed on the river from Salem River to Trenton this time of year for spawning, but anglers release them. Certain circle hooks are required for the fishing by law. Be familiar with regulations. Mostly bloodworms caught, and bloods and lugworms, similar to bloodworms, are stocked. Harrisonville Lake and Iona Lake seemed the places to fish for trout since trout season opened Saturday. Someone said only about 15 were managed at Greenwich Lake on the opener, though lots of anglers fished for trout at the lake that day. A 2-1/2-pound 16-incher from Schadler’s Pond won the store’s trout tournament. Customers concentrated on stripers and trout, and little was heard about other fishing.

Angelo Teti from Elk Township picked off four largemouth bass at Malaga Lake on a Mepps Comet Mino, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Rex Davis subdued four at Union Lake on a Senko rubber worm. Jody and Beth Crenshaw from Pitman also racked up largemouths, three of them to 3 pounds at Parvin Lake on a Swim Senko. Also reporting largemouths, Eric Fordyce from Mantua copped two to 2 pounds at Elmer Lake on a KVD crank bait. Jason Ottavio from Franklinville reported catching a big pickerel, a 4-pound 9-ouncer, at Collins Lakes on a Storm Wildeye Swim Shad in Baby Bass color. Another angler hung four trout at Harrisonville Lake.