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New Jersey Freshwater Fishing Report 10-25-17

<b>NEW YORK</b>

<b>Salmon River</b>

This was probably the best week of autumn steelhead fishing Jay Peck from <b>Jay Peck Guide Service</b> had in two years on the river, he said. His trip’s catches this past week were probably more numerous than all the steelheads his past two years’ trips angled in fall combined on the river. The past two years were slow in low water. The river currently ran at 335 cubic feet per second, and that’s the fall minimum. But the flow was healthier this past summer than in some time, because of the wet, cool summer. The river was in the mid-50 degrees this past week, good for steelheading. On Monday the water was 53 in the morning and rose to 55 that day, and that’s excellent. Steelheads thrive in those temperatures. Jay’s trips this past week averaged four to six steelheads landed per angler, and three times that many steelheads hooked per angler. The steelheads were “hot” or aggressive, difficult to land. They always are when they first migrate to the river from Lake Ontario. One of his anglers lost several as soon as the fish swiped the hook, breaking off the 12-pound tippet. The steelheads are averaging 8 pounds, a typical weight for the river. The trips are fishing light drags, and the steelheads are screaming off on runs. More steelheads filled the lower river than the upper, because this was the beginning of the migration. A few salmon still trickled into the river, but the peak of the salmon spawning finished a week or two ago. The upper river still held salmon eggs that triggered steelheads to bite egg flies. The flies in Oregon Cheese color worked well. Not many eggs were in the lower river, where most steelheads were, so Jay’s trips fished the “fun flies” there: streamers like small Intruders, other classic wet flies and wooly buggers. Swinging those flies across current on a cast quartered downstream is the fun. In mornings and evenings, during low light, colors like pinks and purple worked well. In the middle of the day, earth tones did, like olive, black or brown. After Halloween, Jay will begin to fish for big brown trout that migrate to rivers and creeks farther west in New York, around Rochester. He’ll keep doing the steelheading later in fall to early spring, including in winter. But he takes advantage of the browns while fishing for them is peaking. The browns are huge because they migrate from Lake Ontario. This is a chance to land trophies. Eventually the western New York waters freeze, ending any fishing there, including for the browns. Salmon River, a bigger river, never completely freezes, so fishing lasts there throughout winter. Plenty of salmon are still migrating the western New York waters. Salmon River is at a higher elevation and therefore cooler, so the salmon run is earlier in the Salmon. Fishing pressure dropped off on the Salmon, because the salmon migration was practically finished there. That was welcomed for the steelheading. Jay specializes in fly-fishing and catch-and-release, and books trips that fish with conventional tackle with his other guides.


Rivers and streams ran low, including Big Flatbrook, and trout all gathered in holes, the deeper water, in the Flatbrook, but were caught, said Eric from <b>Stokes Forest Sports Shop</b> in Sandyston. Many of the fish remained wherever they were stocked in the recent fall stocking, because of the low water. Fly anglers hooked the fish on streamers in bright colors, egg patterns and isonychias. Spin-rodders caught on PowerBait or spinners. Customers who trout fish mostly work the Flatbrook. Delaware River also ran low, but gave up smallmouth bass at dusk on top-water lures. A few walleyes chomped in the Delaware on nightcrawlers, shiners or any usual live bait.

Capt. Dave Vollenweider from <b>Live to Fish Guide Service</b> socked this <a href="" target="_blank"> musky</a> on a lake Friday on a Giant Killer bucktail spinner from Mepps, he said. He also scored four follows from muskies, and the water was 62 degrees on the trip. Lakes were cooling but unusually warm in this warm autumn. He guided a trip Sunday that trolled for muskies on Greenwood Lake, but nothing bit. That can happen while trying for the fish of 10,000 casts, but musky fishing’s been good this season. His trips have been catching them, covered in previous reports here. Greenwood’s been slow, though. Greenwood was 62 degrees, like the other lake, and Dave saw quite a few boaters fishing for largemouth bass on Greenwood on the trip. But he didn’t know how they fared. His friend and tournament bass angler Paul Schmidt hung a 5-pound largemouth from Lake Hopatcong on Friday. Schmidt runs bass tournaments for a club he founded, the Northeast Bassmasters, but the tournaments are finished for the season. Schmidt was bass fishing less now, so Dave didn’t know how the angling was going for Schmidt. Lakes were much quieter after the summer crowds, and Dave appreciated that. Soon Dave will fish for hybrid striped bass on Lake Hopatcong. When weather really becomes cold, he’ll fish for trout at Round Valley Reservoir in winter. An article he wrote about the winter trouting is supposed to be published in On the Water magazine this coming season sometime.

Weather finally cooled, and some rain fell, so streams should be in good shape for trout fishing, said Kevin from <b>Ramsey Outdoor</b> in Succasunna. Terrestrial flies including ants and beetles should work well. Those bugs should still be crawling around. Egg flies and bead-headed nymphs should tie into catches. Surely smallmouth bass bit in Delaware River. Fishing for them is usually phenomenal this time of year, including on hellgrammite flies or imitations like large wooly buggers. Anglers are saying walleye fishing is beginning to turn on at Lake Hopatcong on Rapala ice-fishing jigs in deeper water. Not much was heard about hybrid striped bass at lakes like that. Large herring that are livelined for stripers were no longer available. Only small herring were. So anglers fished shiners for the hybrids, and that didn’t catch as well. Little feedback came in about largemouth bass fishing at lakes in the past week. In the previous week, Kevin hit the bass on chatter baits in white-and-blue or white over weeds. Weeds are beginning to die. Largemouths are “on the move” and feeding because of the changing seasons. Lake temperatures just began to drop, and had been about 70 degrees. The warmth of the water currently was like mid-September. “We’ve got a ways to go,” he said.

Fishing for trout was awesome since the fall stocking, said Keith from <b>Hi-Way Sports Shop</b> in Washington. That included at Pequest and Musconetcong rivers and South Branch of the Raritan River. Even the Pohatcong gave up some good trout catches. Fat, thick, beautiful fish were stocked. Customers mostly bought meal worms, butter worms and baby nightcrawlers for trout fishing. But nearly any usual bait, lures or flies should work. Delaware River’s smallmouth bass fishing was terrific. When the river becomes a little colder, walleye fishing should pick up there. He thinks the walleye fishing will be great. A customer had just bought a Spro mouse lure because he’d been bailing largemouth bass at a pond on the lure and lost the previous one he bought on a snag. The lure was about $20, but the angler laid down the money. The lure would seem unlikely to lose on a snag, because it’s a top-water.  Spruce Run Reservoir served up northern pike and crappies here and there for shore anglers. Merrill Creek and Round Valley reservoirs fished well. Trout were pulling close to shore at Round Valley for the season, so shore anglers began to bank them. Customers kept gearing up for the angling, and the fishing should improve as the water cools.

Passaic River ran a little low but turned out good fishing for carp and northern pike and occasionally smallmouth bass, said Joe from <b>Fairfield Fishing Tackle</b> in Pine Brook. Customers were also heading to Ramapo Valley Reservation, tying into largemouth bass on the lake and trout on Ramapo River. Hybrid striped bass were angled from Lake Hopatcong. In saltwater, striped bass fishing seemed hit and miss, at least according to surf anglers. Customers fish saltwater in the Sandy Hook area. Larry from the shop lit into false albacore from the surf on a trip. A few boats sea bass fished since sea bass season opened Sunday. The fishing seemed okay. 

Trout continued to be plucked from the Toms River since the fall stocking, said Virginia from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b> in the town of Toms River. That included at Riverwood Park and the Trout Conservation Area off Route 571. Her son walloped a 6-pound rainbow trout and three others on the Toms on a trip on Trout Magnets. Trout Magnets and spinners were most effective on the river. Dough balls usually failed to attract the trout. Her son on the trip tried dough balls, and the trout would check them out or mouth them but never entirely bite. Good catches of largemouth bass were made at Forge Pond. The Toms River at Trilco, downstream from where trout are caught, is always a place where chain pickerel, largemouths or yellow perch can be hooked. The water level is pretty consistent, for some reason, though other waters were low currently. Lester’s Lake was super low. Trilco is a closed building supply, and no sign identifies the building, but locals know the stretch by the name, located off Route 9 and near Garden State Parkway. Ponds including Ocean County College Pond shoveled up sunnies, yellow perch and a few catfish.  The college pond was a good place to take kids for catches like the sunnies. The pond was loaded with them. The lakes at Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area will really fish well for big, slab sunnies, largemouths, pickerel and yellow perch. A boat is probably necessary, because lily pads and grass probably prevent casting from shore. The vegetation will die once a good cold snap happens. Virginia fishes at Colliers, and crappies were about the only typical species in lakes that she never hooked there. She didn’t know whether none swam those waters. Nightcrawlers caught best for her. She caught on killies, but nights scored better. Crappies were nabbed from Manasquan Reservoir. Largemouths and pickerel were reported from Brick Reservoir. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Fishing for largemouth bass was turning into a fall pattern, said Matt from <b>STC Sports</b> in Gibbstown. Crank baits, spinner baits and swim baits clocked the bass. Greenwich and Swedesboro lakes doled out largemouths. Customer Mark “Gigz” was crushing largemouths to 4 ½ pounds on crank baits but also drop shots. Matt heard nothing about striped bass from Delaware River. The shop in recent reports talked about schoolie stripers biting in the river and tributaries. Maybe Matt just heard nothing about them lately. In saltwater, the migration of large stripers remained up north, yet to pull down to South Jersey. But small stripers were played on South Jersey’s back bays on top-water lures like walk-the-dog types.

Customers cashed in on trout at Grenloch Lake during the weekend, said Ed from <b>Creek Keepers Bait & Tackle</b> in Blackwood. Those were fish from the fall stocking, and one breeder was weighed-in from the lake: a 3-pound 1-ouncer. Trout and largemouth bass were sacked at Oak Pond. The trout at both lakes were beaned on PowerBait and meal worms, and the bass at Oak were honked on minnows. Chain pickerel were reported from New Brooklyn Lake. Ed talked about pickerel from the lake in last week’s report, and another customer recently talked about rustling them up. From saltwater, snapper blues were banked from Brigantine’s surf. News about them came in.

Largemouth bass fishing remained about the same at lakes, said Andrew from <b>Blackwater Sports Center</b> in Vineland. They were reeled in steadily, not crazy, and water temperatures were dropping from the 70 degrees to the 60s. This was a time of change. They mostly swam shallows and still jumped on top-water lures. The water was warm enough. But they also pounced on soft-plastic lures and jigs. All customers who said they fished for trout said the angling was pretty good since the fall stocking. PowerBait and spinners caught, and none of the stocked waters seemed to fish better than another. But places where the fish came from included Shaw’s Mil Pond, Iona Lake, Mary Elmer Lake and Maurice River. In brackish rivers and creeks, like farther downstream on the Maurice, white perch were active, hitting bloodworms and grass shrimp. In saltwater, striped bass fishing improved in back bays. Those were younger, smaller fish yet to migrate, becoming more active than before, because of cooling water. Large, mature, migrating stripers remained farther north. They should arrive off South Jersey within a month. Also in salt, snapper blues and blackfish were cranked in, and sea bass season opened Sunday.

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