Looking ahead to spring, largemouth bass clubs are scheduling the year’s tournaments. A friend’s club, the Northeast Bassmasters, announced dates, Capt. Dave Vollenweider from Live to Fish Guide Service from Montvale said. See the schedule on the club’s website that will begin with a tournament on Lake Hopatcong on Saturday, April 12. Dave plans to attend the Muskie Max Show in Butler in western Pennsylvania this weekend.
A few anglers fished Saturday, not a lot, but more than on previous Saturdays, said Joe from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. They mostly worked the ice on smaller lakes or ponds, mostly tugging in perch and pickerel on live bait. Not many fished the ice on larger lakes nearby and Delaware River, because of snow surrounding the waters, not snow on the waters. Snow surrounding them was 1 ½ feet deep and became somewhat packed down, but with a crust on top. Someone would walk maybe two or three steps then break through, difficult for walking. Snow on the ice on the waters wasn’t a problem, because the surface turned to slush two weekends ago, in warmer weather, then froze in colder weather afterward. That was frozen solid now. Waters held plenty of fishable ice or 18 inches to 2 feet.
“It’s cold,” said Brian from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. But anglers sometimes fished from the ice on lakes. Catches heard about included muskies from Lake Hopatcong and trout and landlocked salmon from Lake Aeroflex, all on tip-ups. Trout streams became pretty much covered with ice in the past week’s cold. But spring-fed, warmer Pequest River was fished for trout. One angler talked about nabbing a trout on a Roostertail fished very slowly. The location wasn’t mentioned, but Brian thought maybe South Branch of Raritan River. Another angler hooked trout on Musconetcong River on butter worms, again fished very slowly.
Plenty of ice, 15 to 18 inches, covered the lake, Laurie from Dow’s Boat Rentals from Lake Hopatcong wrote in an email. “We missed the snowstorm (on Monday)!” she wrote. Cold weather this week should keep the ice in good shape for this weekend. Last weekend, plenty of anglers fished the ice. Lots of perch and pickerel were beaten, and the perch were sizeable, a pound and larger. Dylan Cole axed two big pickerel to a 4-pound 8-ouncer on shiners on a tip-up. The Knee Deep Club will hold an ice-fishing tournament on Sunday, March 16, on the lake. Anglers hope the ice will hang on for another week for the event. Previously, this coming weekend was the tentative date, and the tournament was only recently scheduled, because this has been such a good ice season. The club also held an ice tournament in February, covered in a previous report here.