Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale took the boat fishing for the first time this season, on Lake Hopatcong on Saturday, he said. That was more of a shakedown cruise, but he Mohawked 26 crappies, releasing most, keeping a few to eat. The fish, swimming in inches of water, near shore, jumped on a 1/32-ounce Road Runner jig under a bobber with rattles. Dave was surprised they schooled that shallow. The lake was 2 feet low, and he had thought he should fish deep. The water was 65 degrees where the crappies schooled, at a cove, and was 48 degrees in the main lake. What a difference. The crappies were tough fighters, like usual. Then Dave trolled four chain pickerel in 10 minutes at a weed bed in 7 feet of water on a gold Phoebe fished at 2.2 m.p.h. He was hoping for a trout or a hybrid striped bass. A long but skinny pickerel, because it was spawned out, was largest, and would’ve weighed 4 pounds, normally. When he sailed the shallows, he saw a 4-pound largemouth bass and a 3- or 4-pound trout. Some fish seemed to be scoping out places to spawn. Largemouth fishing became limited to catch and release from April 15 through June 15, like every year, for spawning. Dave spoke with someone at the lake who said a 5-pound largemouth was released. A friend previously told Dave an 8-pound 4-ounce largemouth was jigged on the lake last week, during a tournament that only caught three of the bass. Water was cold. That 8-pounder was almost as large as the lake record. Big largemouths can love jigs, because the fish can love to hit crawfish that the jigs can imitate. Not a lot of largemouths might be caught on a jig, but jigs can attract hefty bass. The crappies seemed about to spawn. Many fish, including muskies, spawn when the water reaches 50 degrees. The water temperatures Dave read were along the surface, of course. The water would be cooler, farther down. Dave could fish for muskies still, before they spawn, and that’s one of his specialties. He’s also been trout fishing on streams with lures, one of his specialties in spring. That’s been going great, covered in previous reports, and he headed to Pequest River to trout Sunday, but realized he forgot his wading boots. So he cast from shore, wherever he could find openings, and landed four rainbow trout. Previous trips landed as many as 34, mentioned in those other reports, on lures. On all the trout trips, he fished Rapala Countdowns in size 3. On this trip, he fished the lures in the colors black-and-gold and black-and-silver that provided good flash. On the previous trips, on the Pequest and Paulinskill River, he mostly fished the lures with a blue back. On those previous trips, the trout were released. On this trip, he kept the trout for someone who wanted them to eat. The Pequest ran somewhat low, but rain later this week probably raised the river high and cranking. Dave loves the plugging for trout, because the fishing is fun, effective and attracts large trout. Spring’s higher water is an ideal time for the lures, avoiding snags on bottom debris like logs.
Trout fishing was good on streams, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. Many anglers caught on butter worms. But a bunch of reports talked about the trout taken on Wooly Buggers, bead-headed nymphs, Prince nymphs and Zug Bugs on the Big Flatbrook from the fly-fishing stretch to Delaware River. A few trout were talked about from South Branch of the Raritan River. Landlocked salmon were jigged on Lake Aeroflex on blade baits. A couple of friends hooked largemouth bass at Lake Hopatcong on Keitechs in the deep. The water was cold for the angling, but they connected with some. Largemouth fishing is limited to catch and release from April 15 through June 15, for spawning. A few shad were heard about from Delaware River at the Delaware Water Gap, but the season was early for shad to migrate that far. More will probably arrive in a week.
Lots of yellow perch and crappies were nabbed in the lake’s shallows, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. Fathead minnows and small jigs will hook them. Trout, chain pickerel, bass and walleyes also roamed the skinny water. The Brady’s Bridge area was popular this time of year. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleyes must be released by law, until those seasons are opened. The trout and pickerel were trolled on Phoebes in the shallows. Jim Salerno weighed-in a 2-pound 12-ounce rainbow trout, and Robert Smith took several trout to a 3-pound rainbow. Ed Mackin iced a 3-pound brown, and Lou Marcucci beat trout to a 2-pound 2-ounce brown. The Knee Deep Club will hold both a pickerel tournament and a trout tournament Sunday on the lake. Anglers can call Dow’s for info: 973-663-3826.
Trout were mopped up from private lakes, and anglers sometimes had luck on trout on streams, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Some complained about the trout measuring 9 inches, but they caught. Spinners and PowerBait were probably most popular. Passaic River’s flow had dropped, but the river probably ran drastically high early this week, because of rain. Still, northern pike began to bite in the river. Just a few were reported, or the angling wasn’t a “big hit” yet.