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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, July 20.

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North Jersey
The two anglers aboard plugged eight walleyes Friday night from a lake with Live to Fish Guide Service, Capt. Dave Vollenweider said. Another walleye got off that smashed a lure and broke the line. The season could be becoming late for the angling, but walleyes still bit. They weren’t big on the trip, and some were undersized, but weighed up to 6 pounds, and the anglers each kept a limit that produced plenty of fillets. Walleyes are good-eating, a member of the perch family. Few herring were heard splashing, and the batifish are a reason walleyes push to shallows, where they can be plugged, good sport, at night. Spawning herring in the shallows attract walleyes in the dark during part of spring and summer. Herring were finished spawning, Dave thought, and the anglers just blind-casted into the water, near shore, and connected. They began fishing at 9:30 p.m., and hooked three immediately. The trips often catch on Rapala Original Floating Lures in size 18. But a Reef Runner Ripstick, a banana-shaped lure, seemed favored this night. One of the anglers began catching on that, so the other angler switched to the Ripstick from one of the Rapalas. The water surface was 78 degrees, and the moon was full, and sometimes bright nights from full moons can slow the angling, Dave’s found. But the moon during the trip was low in the sky, and the east side of the lake fished was dark. Dave guided a musky trip on Greenwood Lake the next day, Monday, but none of the fish of 10,000 casts bit. Musky fishing’s seemed off to Dave this season, and he spoke with a musky sharpie who said his musky fishing’s been slow on Lake Hopatcong for unknown reasons. Greenwood’s surface was 78 degrees on the trip, and the water temperature deeper was as low as 68. Dave uses a ClineFinder from Catalina Technologies to locate the thermocline in lakes for fishing for muskies and other catches that hold in the thermocline. The ClineFinder is a gauge with a weight that’s dropped into the water, and every 2 feet of the gauge’s line is labeled. The gauge measures the temp, and the labels let the angler determine the depths of the changing temperatures, so the thermocline can be located. Wind or rough seas can hinder that, because then the gauge will dangle at an angle. The thermocline or where the fish prefer to hold is where the temperature changes the most. So on this trip, the water temp was as low as 68. A lake’s temperature this time of year will be highest at the surface and lowest at a certain depth, and then mostly be that same temperature all the way to the bottom. In fall, when air temperatures become cool enough, lake temperatures will drop and become the same temperature from top to bottom. During the moment that happens, that’s called the turnover. It happens suddenly, and when it does, it pulls bottom debris up toward the surface, and anglers will notice that disturbance in the water. Fishing will be off for a moment during the change. When the water temperature then becomes the same from top to bottom, fish will be found throughout the water column, no longer attracted to certain temperatures in the thermocline that no longer exists. Summer is the time when thermoclines are fished for certain catches like muskies. Dave fished for muskies from a lodge on Eagle Lake in Ontario this month, covered in the last report here, and the guide told him the location of the thermocline can change daily. The ClineFinder can come in handy to locate it. Dave later this year is supposed to fish for sturgeon in Washington state that can weigh 500 pounds. That’s supposed to be an incredible fishery.

Some good largemouth bass fishing was tapped from Lake Hopatcong, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Riot Baits Fuzzy Beavers were popular sellers for the angling. Anglers fished them in weeds, and the Blue Steel color, a combo of blue and black, seemed key, imitating abundant crawfish. Hybrid striped bass and walleyes were fought from Hopatcong at night. Kevin bailed a bunch of smallmouth bass and a small striped bass from Delaware River on a Sunday afternoon recently. A Keitech and a black Mister Twister on a ¼-ounce jighead clocked the fish, and the water level was great. The Delaware is a great fishery. Nobody else was really around on the river during unpopular hours like that, and there’s always something to catch, and the river is beautiful. Nobody really trout fished in the summer heat, unless they fished the streams in early mornings or in evenings, cooler times of day that are more favorable for catches. After a thunderstorm can be a good time, especially the next morning. Then flies like beetles and ants can be fished, imitating terrestrials that storms wash into the waters. Many anglers avoid trouting in the season’s heat that can kill trout, cold-water fish, during the fight.

Hybrid striped bass were pulled from Spruce Run Reservoir, said James from Behre Bait & Tackle in Lebanon. That was on live herring under slip bobbers at first light, last light or 12 midnight to 2 a.m. They could bite all day, but dusk and during the night fished best. At Round Valley Reservoir, rainbow trout and lake trout were still trolled, on Warrior spoons, Challenger lures, Sutton Spoons and Meatheads. The fish bit in the thermocline 15 to 30 feet down in 80 to 100 feet of water, not in shallows, though many anglers kept fishing shallows close to shore, for some reason. Or the lakers could be hooked on livelined herring or shiners fished on bottom from an anchored boat.

Lou Marcucci won Knee Deep Club’s hybrid striped bass tournament on the lake this weekend with an 8-pound 1-ouncer, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. That was among 70 entries, and first place was more than $700. The second- and third-place hybrids weighed just under 7. The club will next hold a catfish tournament Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14, on the lake. “Make plans now,” she said, “it is always a fun time with friends.” The lake doled out lots of walleyes to 6 and 7 pounds in evenings and at night on lures and live bait. Four or five rainbow trout 2 to 3 pounds were known to be yanked in. Lots of yellow perch bit. Jim Welsh weighed-in a 4-pound 9-ounce chain pickerel from the lake.

Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook traveled to ICAST this past week, so hadn’t heard a lot about local fishing, she said. That’s the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades and is famous for the year’s new fishing tackle that’s introduced at the event. She especially liked the Daiwa Black Gold or BG Reels that are being introduced for fishing from freshwater to tuna. The only local fishing she heard about was that largemouth bass were socked at small lakes and Lake Hopatcong. No news about Passaic River rolled in since she returned, and she was unaware whether the river ran high, low or moderately. Customers fish the river for catches including northern pike that are stocked and carp.