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Freshwater Report

Report from Wednesday, March 27.

| New York | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY WEDNESDAY
New Jersey
Customers mostly geared up for the opening of trout season, said Andy from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston. Two Saturdays from now, April 6, is the opener, and Big Flatbook near the shop ran at a good level for the fishing. The stream ran a little high a few days. But the Flatbrook drops quickly and was a great level now. Many customers also fished Delaware River for walleyes. That angling was good, mostly on shiners on jigheads. Or rubber worms were fished on the jigs. No customers really fished lakes yet this season.

Yellow perch and crappies, big ones of both, were nailed at Lake Hopatcong in the shallows, said Kevin from Ramsey Outdoor in Succasunna. That included off the state park and the southern end of the lake, but anywhere with shallows that were warm and attracted the fish this time of year. Jigs with baits like small Mister Twisters and small sassy shads hooked them. Kevin saw a couple of largemouth bass from the lake. Those were also clocked on small jigs, and Kevin sometimes finds that the bass bite small tackle like that in early spring. The bass aren’t aggressive in the chilly water. The store is loaded with supplies for the opening of trout season on April 6. Many waters are closed to fishing where trout are being stocked, until fishing for them is allowed starting on the opener. But some places are open to catch-and-release, including Trout Conservation Areas. At waters like that, trout were picked on early black stoneflies and nymphs.

A bunch of crappies were tugged from Delaware Lake during the weekend, mostly on fathead minnows, said Keith from Hi-Way Sports Shop in Washington. Was a good weekend for that. Northern pike began to be heard about from Spruce Run Reservoir. Large shiners whacked them. The shiners were probably fished with just split shot on the line or under a bobber. The pike roamed shallow water. One angler fought northerns from Budd Lake on Rat-L-Traps. Some largemouth bass began to be lit into at ponds on Rapala Husky Jerks. A couple of customers went to fish for lake trout at Merrill Creek Reservoir from shore on Sunday on shiners that they were apparently going to fish on jigheads or free-lined. Keith didn’t know how they fared. Blade baits are cast for that type of fishing, too. Surely Lake Hopatcong was fished, but no customers mentioned in past days.

Boats will begin to be available this weekend from Dow’s Boat Rentals in Lake Hopatcong for the fishing season, Laurie said. Yellow perch and crappies nibbled in the lake’s shallows. Fatheads and small shiners, both stocked, will catch them. So will small, size-6 Rapala Husky Jerks, hair jigs like Rufus Juniors and rubber jigs like Cubby Mini-Mites. The perch and crappies were mostly what bit in the lake. But a couple of chain pickerel did, too. No largemouth bass were heard about yet.

Everybody looked forward to the opening of trout season in two Saturdays, said Cheryl from Fairfield Fishing Tackle in Pine Brook. Salmon eggs are in, and nightcrawlers, baby nights, meal worms and butter worms will be stocked. Few anglers fished for largemouth bass yet at lakes. No feedback rolled in about fishing Passaic River near the store. Not a lot happened with fishing yet, but that will pick up soon. Even saltwater news was scarce. Small striped bass that hit at places like the mouths of brackish rivers was about the only news from there.

More and more shiners were sold for fishing at Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River, Dennis said. People headed out for chain pickerel and crappies at lakes. A few who had just stopped in said they were going to a lake or pond in Jackson for pickerel fishing. Mostly pickerel chomped currently. A token trout was beaned from the Toms River’s Trout Conservation Area. Catch-and-release fishing is legal there, while other parts of the river are closed to fishing for trout stocking until opening day of trout season, April 6. In addition to shiners, baits stocked include killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Chain pickerel and yellow perch were whipped including at Wilson Lake, said Mike from Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown. Roostertails and actually Whopper Ploppers mugged the pickerel. Whopper Ploppers are more commonly fished for largemouth bass. Small jigs with nightcrawlers or trout worms dialed up the perch. Largemouth bass were sometimes reported from Franklinville Lake on Yamamoto worms and Whopper Ploppers. At Union Lake, smallmouth bass were socked on tubes or 3-inch Yamamoto worms in dark colors like black and dark brown. Anglers said they fished the worms slowly.

A little uptick in largemouth bass catches came from lakes, said Steve from Blackwater Sports Center in Vineland. Chatter baits were often fished for them. Jerk baits hit them, and Rat-L-Traps worked pretty well on the bass. Customers bought the shop’s minnows and picked away at crappies on them at most local ponds. On brackish rivers, white perch fishing was a little spotty. When they were caught, they were caught well. Sporadic. Bloodworms were dunked for them and are stocked. In saltwater to brackish, lots of small striped bass were now played along Delaware Bay and Delaware River. A few were talked about from along the state’s coast.