Most anglers ice-fished, said Brian from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. The angling seemed good at places like Lake Hopatcong, Swartswood Lake and smaller lakes like Cranberry Lake. But a few anglers fished open water for trout on Pequest River, before this week’s snowstorm. The river had run low, before rain before the snow. One angler reported landing seven trout in 3 hours on the river, saying the fish gathered in small pods. He’d usually land 20 or 30 in a trip like that. Ice-fishing baits stocked include spikes, and usually also include mousies, but mousies were out of stock at the moment. Brian wondered whether mousies were becoming scarce. All the ice tackle is on hand, including augurs, tip-ups, jigging rods and the variety of jigs.
Only 4 inches of snow fell along the lake in this week’s storm, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. So ice-fishing was still “manageable,” she said, and the lake held 6 to 10 inches of ice. Sixty-eight anglers competed in the Knee Deep Club’s ice-fishing tournament on the lake Sunday, and they yanked in yellow perch to 1 pound 10 ounces, chain pickerel to Dylan Cole’s 3-pound 14-ouncer and largemouth bass to 2 ½ and 3 pounds. The club will hold another ice tournament on Sunday, February 15, on the lake.
Yellow perch and crappies were bailed from the ice on Lake Hopatcong off the state park, like before, and now off Woodport, said Nick from Meltzer’s Sporting Goods in Garfield. Off Woodport is a good place for largemouth bass catches, when he fishes there in summer for largemouth tournaments. A few walleyes were creamed through the ice on Hopatcong, and one angler talked about locating them in water a little deeper. Ice-fishing was good at usual larger lakes, and the angling was usually prohibited at smaller local lakes. Waywayanda Lake turned out perch and crappies through the ice. One angler reported a few crappies from Greenwood Lake from deeper water, in 30 feet, from an ice trip, saying the fish move deeper as winter goes on. Fishing might’ve been slower on Greenwood, but that was unconfirmed. Tons of perch were plucked from Musconetcong Lake from the ice. The lake is shallow all over, only 5 or 6 feet, and is good for largemouth fishing in summer, though is weedy then. Lots of perch were pulled through the ice at Budd Lake. Ice-fishing was good at Swartswood Lake. Al from the shop whaled catches from the ice on Highlands Lakes, but those lakes are private. Lots of catches came from the ice at a private lake Nick belongs to in Vernon, too. Lots of ice anglers fished tip-ups, but some also jigged. Lots of mousies were sold for the fishing. “That tells me something,” Nick said. Lots of meal worms were sold, and somewhat fewer wax worms were. Nothing was reported about fishing on Passaic River. “Nothing going on,” Nick said. Four to six inches of snow fell at the store in this week’s storm. Two feet fell farther north in the state, like at Sussex.
Plenty of fishable ice was around, said Joe from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. He mostly heard about the angling from Lake Hopatcong. But he also heard about the fishing from Greenwood Lake, Shepherd Lake and a couple of local lakes. A mix of species, including panfish, chain pickerel, northern pike and walleyes, were axed through the ice. The Passaic River near the shop wasn’t frozen, though other places were frozen on the river. The river ran somewhat high, because of previous rain. That could keep some of the water open, and the river will probably continue to run high, as snow melts or more precipitation falls.