Paulinskill River on a trout trip on Saturday flowed high, “borderline dangerous,” said Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale. So he moved to Pequest River, and that also ran high. Rains on Tuesday apparently caused the high waters, though that was long before Saturday. Something seemed to keep rivers from dropping as quickly as expected. The high rivers made difficult conditions for fishing, but Dave still cranked in six trout, on Rapala Countdown lures in size CD3. He bailed 18 on a previous trip, covered in a previous report, on the lures. Dave likes to fish lures for trout in spring for good sport. Streams are usually high enough to avoid snags, like on logs, in spring. His boat is at the shop for upgrades, including side-imaging sonar and a new trolling motor in the bow, and seasonal maintenance. The upgrades will make the vessel top-of-the-line, he said. Trips on lakes on the boat will begin once that’s finished. Dave saw a report about 50 crappies boated on a trip on a lake. That fishing seemed under way, and is something Dave does. His nighttime walleye trips usually peak in mid-May into June, when spawning alewives attract walleyes into lake shallows, where plugs can be cast to them, at night. He’ll also boat for muskies from spring through fall, and is available to fish for any freshwater species that’s biting. That could include largemouth bass, carp and more.
Most local trout fishing was slow on streams, said Joe from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. That seemed because rainbow trout were stocked first this year, and are less tolerant of colder waters than brook trout that are usually stocked first in spring. But the brooks were the most affected by the disease at the hatchery this year. So rainbows and browns were stocked first. Brook trout were the most difficult to treat for the disease. The usual order is brooks, rainbows, then browns, because of tolerance for cold and warm waters. However, Wallkill River fished great for trout, because the river was stocked Monday. Customers who trout fish usually work Big Flatbrook most, sometimes Paulinskill River. The state announced bad news: The hatchery’s final 90,000 brook trout were found affected by the furunculosis, and had to be euthanized. The brooks were supposed to be stocked the next two weeks, but 44,000 rainbow trout will still be, according to an email from the state. This season’s trout stocking had already been shortened to four weeks in-season, instead of the usual seven, because of the disease. Trout are always stocked pre-season, too. More trout than usual were stocked in some waters at first this season, because some waters that are usually stocked were not, to help prevent spreading the disease to native trout. A few shad began to appear in the local Delaware River, but not enough to fish for yet. Shad fishing began to go well farther downstream at Delaware Water Gap. A few smallmouth bass and not a lot of walleyes bit in the river. Fishing is catch and release by law for smallmouths and largemouth bass through June 15 and for walleyes though April 30, because of spawning. On lakes, crappies and panfish were axed. Fathead minnows and medium shiners were preferred baits for the crappies. Yellow perch fishing was slow on lakes, and not many anglers tried for largemouth bass on lakes, because of the catch-and-release regulation.
Trout fishing seemed slow, because of limited stocking, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Fewer trout than usual were stocked in some waters, to help prevent spreading the trout disease at the hatchery to native fish. But more than usual were stocked at some waters, as a result. Butter worms hooked good trout catches. Hendricksons should begin to hatch any day, including on Musconetcong and Rockaway rivers. Lakes were cold, and water temperatures were maybe two weeks behind, after the cold winter. But good fishing for chain pickerel was heard about from small lakes. Not much was heard about largemouth bass fishing yet, and fishing for them is catch and release by regulation through June 15. Walleyes seemed to hit at Big Swartswood Lake. One customer took them on Power worms on jigheads in the middle of the day, not during night or low light, like walleyes sometimes prefer. Walleye fishing is catch and release by law through April 30. Shad were fought on Delaware River, migrating at least as far upstream as Belvidere. None was mentioned from farther upstream. When forsythias bloom, like currently, shad usually arrive. Blooming dogwoods later in the season also usually coincide.
The Knee Deep Club will stock trout in the lake at noontime Saturday, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Because of the state’s limited trout stocking in the lake this year, because of the disease in some of the trout at the hatchery, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation is making a matching grant for trout stocking to the Knee Deep Club, if the club raises $5,000 for that by Saturday. Time remains for people to donate. The club will also stock trout on May 3, and will hold a trout and pickerel tournament on the lake on May 4. Trout were sometimes trolled from the lake on Phoebes in shallow waters. Chain pickerel and walleyes also jumped on the lures, and walleye fishing is catch and release through April 30, according to regulation. Tony Farina put together a good catch of crappies to a 2-pound 2-ouncer during the weekend.
All the stocked ponds fished well for trout, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Action on trout was reported from Rockaway River. Passaic River still ran somewhat high and fast, keeping news scarce about the river’s northern pike. Largemouth bass released were heard about from Lake Hopatcong from a tournament. The fish by law must be let go through June 15. But angling for them started to come alive for boaters, not for shore anglers.