Big “D” Stripers: Playing the Tides
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, 18, 2014
There is a saying that "time nor tide waits for no man". The person who said this was obviously waiting for his spouse to finish getting dressed for a dinner engagement, however it does have it's applications for the angler. In particular those who ply the waters of the Delaware for it's tidal inhabitants, specifically that line sided killer the striped bass.
Striped bass are not only creatures of their environment but also creatures of habit. In both cases the tides play an important part in their movements on a daily and seasonal basis. The effect that the tides have on striper movements are influenced by external factors such as water temperature and moon phases and no story about the effects of the tides on the stripers in the river would be complete without including them.
In order to understand the effects of the tides on the stripers in the river we should first understand what makes the tides work. In technical terms when the moon is in Apogee it is at the farthest distance from the earth. Perigee on the other hand is when the moon is closest to the earth. For our purpose the full moon and the new moon is when the moon's influence on the tides is at their greatest. The last quarter and first quarter is when the moon's influence is at it's lowest. The best fishing usually occurs between two to four days after the full and new moons.
Stripers like rough water even when they are found in the ocean. A good example would be the good fishing that is found in the rips along the beach and in the many inlets where the currents are very swift. The same is true of the stripers found in the Delaware and since the full and new moon's exert the most force on the rivers tidal flow, this is when the fishing will be best.
During the spring and fall certain tide are what start migrations into rive systems and bays. As of an example during the spring its usually the full or new moon in April that see the biggest movements of stripers into the Delaware River. On the flip side of the coin in the fall its usually the full or new moon that start the fall migrations of stripers along the coast.
During certain times of the year certain tides will be more productive and this has to do with the water temperature. During the early and late season when the water temperatures are on the cool side (50 and below), the outgoing tide will be the preferred tide. This is because the lower water temperature will cause the striper's metabolism to be sluggish and the bass will not feed as often, nor will they travel as far for a meal. In this case they will hold up in deeper water and wait for the forage fish to come to them with the out going tide. This is when trolling diving plugs and jigging plasticbaits will take their share of the stripers.
During the warm water season the reverse is true. The warmer water causes the stripers metabolism to rise and he will burn up calories faster and be more aggressive. In this case he will feed on both the in coming and outgoing with the in coming being the more productive tide. This is because he will move towards shallow water to feed and in most cases when the tides are low there will be very little water in places like flats, bars, reefs, etc. The incoming tide will pour water into these places and the baitfish will come with it. This is especially true when the river is full of spawning herring which will move into the shallow water to spawn. This is where you shallow running swimming plugs and surface baits will be effective,
Another time when you will find the in coming tide more productive is during the summer months when the stripers take on their nocturnal qualities. This can cause you to loose plenty of sleep because some of the best fishing will be when the in coming tide occurs after dark. You will want to start fishing just after the tide turns and starts coming in just off the channel edges and gradually work your way into shallow water. Many of the bars that are located at the mouths of tributary streams where the water from the streams will collide with the moving water of the river. Swimming plug-teaser combinations make some of te best tools for fishing this condition.
One structure where the tides have a definite effect on the fishing are bridge pilings. Striped bass will hold up behind bridge piling and the bridge pilings that are located in the tidal river have their eddies shifted with each change of the tides. On the incoming tide the stripers will be found on the up streams side, because this is where the eddy will be located. On the out going tide the opposite is true since the down stream side of the piling is where the eddy will be located. In this case fishing jig-plastic bait combinations and sinking swimming plugs are your lures of choice.
There you have it a look at how the tides effect the striped bass fishing in the Delaware River. Choosing the proper tides can make all the difference between a days fishing and casting to dead water, so pick up a tide chart and make playing the tides a part of your fishing.
Islands & River Bends : Prime Spots for Shoreline Fishermen
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, April 11, 2014
Each spring the shores of the Delaware river acts like a magnet drawing countless numbers to it's waters all for one specific purpose, that of pursuing the American shad as they make their way to their maternal spawning grounds. While the last 10years has seen a decrease in the number of fishermen fishing for shad because of the over all decline in the shad population, the last three season have seen this downward trend start to reverse itself as the numbers of shad migrating up river has started to increase.
There are two main strains of the fever known as shad fishing, the first is that which is known as boat fishing for shad and the second is better known as shoreline fishing for shad. Both can be highly addictive and each has it's own special needs to off set the symptoms. Since much has been written about the use of a boat to pursue the shad we will concentrate our story around the shoreline fishing that is available for this excellent game fish and the tools you will need to take them.
Shad have always been considered a light tackle fish due to the tender nature of their mouth. Heavy tackle can cause the lure to tare out of their mouth and a light action rod with plenty of spring in it is the preferred choice of most veteran shad buffs. There are several schools of through when it comes to light tackle, ranging from short ultralight rods to long whimpy noodle sticks which are use to take salmon. Current trends for rods among shoreline fisherman have been changing towards long supper light action noodle sticks in the eight to ten foot lengths. These rods when combined with modern graphite reels with large spools and light line permit the shoreline shad fisherman to cast light darts and other shad lures supper distances. This enables him to put his offerings into distant current lines along which the fish move as they make their way upstream. The soft action of the rod will keep the darts from tearing the delicate tissue of the shad's mouth and pulling free.
There is other equipment the shoreline angler will need in order to be successful as well as fish the river in safety. Since the shad fishery takes place during the spring season the river can often be higher than normal and is always on the cool side. Average water temperatures range from the low 40s into the low 60s and cool water such as this can be dangerous should an angler loose his balance and fall in.
Footware for the angler who chooses to fish from the bank or wade the river should be insulated and both hip boots and chest waders are commonly used. Waders verses hip boots in most cases is a matter of personal choice and both will do the job. Which ever you choose they should be augmented with a pair of spikes or felt soles to give you the traction you need on the slippery rocks. A wading staff is another item that the angler will find useful and the combination of spiked shoes and a wading staff will make getting around the river a lot easier.
Another item that you will find handy when fishing form the shoreline is a good size net. Just as in a boat a net is a must, so too will it be a necessary when it comes to landing a feisty shad from the bank or while wading. There are several nets currently on the market with telescoping handles that are ideal for the shoreline fisherman.
There are certain tip offs to finding productive water for the shoreline fisherman or the wader. The most important of which is the current. Shad are a current fish in that they follow the river's current up stream in order to reach their spawning grounds. This is very important to the angler in his quest for the shad since the active fish will be found moving in the current. Anywhere the angler can find a section of river where the river's main current comes close to the shoreline will be a place worth concentrating his efforts on. Likewise a section of the river that is narrowed down by islands, dams or for that matter any other reason will be productive. In this case the less water the fish have to move through the more concentrated the fish will be when they move through the area. This in turn gives the angler less water to cover and makes the fish easier to get at.
Another aspect the shoreline angler should consider when picking an area to fish, is to look for structures that will allow him to get at the river's main current such as points of land, finger structures, etc. You can even stack the deck in your favor more by choosing places along the river that combines a place where the current sweeps up against one side with a narrow section of river that which has structures that will give him better access. Now lets take a look at some specifics and why they are productive.
Before we go any further it should be remembered that shad do not move at night and will seek out a quiet stretch of water and remain there during the dark hours resting for the next days journey. What this means to the fisherman is that the areas we just mentioned will be greatly enhanced when there is an area of quiet or slow moving water either adjacent to or close by them. The fish will rest here before moving into the current lines to travel upstream and these will be areas of high concentrations of fish.
There are many river bends that have become synonymous with good shoreline fishing for shad. Wallpack Bend and the Easton overlook are but two of the best known ones. As the river twists and turns it's way through the mountains it forces it's currents to sweep up against one shoreline and away from another. As a result the shad will follow these currents and bring them close to the shoreline, in many cases only a few feet from the bank. This is especially true during times of high water, which is usually the case during the spring run. One look at a fishing map of the river will reveal these areas and one look at the numbers of fisherman fishing them during the season will prove our point.
A good many river bends have points of land jotting out from their sides. These points of land have usually been formed by small streams or drainage runs flowing into the main river, which over the years have built up rocks, silt and other debris and formed the point of land. A point of land has several things in it's favor for the shoreline angler. First off the currents of the river bend will push shad into the area of the point of land. Secondly the point of land will have a quiet water pool or eddy located below it which will serve as a resting place for the shad. This pocket will have good concentrations of fish in the early morning and evening hours as they move in and out of it to rest for the night. Third the current line that sweeps around the point will be a prime zone for taking shad as it is where they will be the most active. Lastly the point of land will allow the shoreline angler access to this current line making it a prime spot. So we have four good reasons for the shoreline fisherman to concentrate his efforts on points of land located on a river bend.
The Delaware river abounds with islands both large and small and these islands make excellent places to ambush the shad as they move up river. Since an island narrows down the river it forces the shad to move through certain areas. These runs as they are commonly referred to are usually the swiftest currents during times of low water and the slower ones during times of high water. This may sound a little confusing but there is a reason for it. During times of low water shad will seek out the deepest runs that will allow them to pass through such an area as it is easier for them to navigate these runs. When the water is on the high side, these current lines are usually very fast and since there is no lack of water the shad will seek out more moderate one to travel through.
An island is a rise in the river's bottom where rocks, silt and other debris has built up over the years and vegetation has sprung up creating a land mass. The mere physical nature of an island in a river dictates that the waters along side of it will be shallow in nature and this in turn means that there is usually other smaller structures located close to it. These structures can be points of land, finger structures, rocky areas, etc. all of which can benefit the shad fisherman. What the shoreline angler must do is learn how to take advantage of them.
First off, all of them will help narrow down the water as it flows through the portion of the river which has already been narrowed down by the island. Secondly, they will create pockets of quiet water for the fish to rest in, which will help concentrate the shad. Thirdly, the most important factor to consider for the shad fisherman is how they change the current lines. It's these current lines and runs that will be the most productive spots for the shad fisherman. Shad which hold over in the quiet water pockets will move through them as the make their way upstream and the shoreline angler can use the structures available to him is such an area, to get at them.
One of the most productive spots for the shoreline shad fisherman to fish is a combination of all the places we mentioned. This would be an island located on a river bend with secondary structures along side of it. There are several of these in the non tidal river and all of them are well known shad fishing spots. Some of the better ones are the islands located in the Scudders Falls Area, Hendricks Island, Lynn Island, Raubs Island, Kiefer Island, Dildine Island, Shawnee Island and the island located above the Water Gap and Minisink Island. All of these are prime spots for shad during the spring run and offer the fisherman good access. In each case the island or islands are located on a bend in the river which will cause the majority of the shad to move along the side that the current swings up against. All of the have adjacent secondary structures. In some cases the structures are points of land, finger structures, wing dams and bridge pilings. All of which create ideal areas for shad to hold up or move through.
Picking the right spot to fish for shad from the shoreline is ninety percent of the game. River bends and islands bring the shad closer to the shoreline fisherman and offer the bank bound angler the best chance to get at them. So if you find yourself boat less or just plain enjoy fishing from the shore better, concentrate you shad fishing this spring in and around islands and river bends and you'll see a big difference in the amount of fish you catch.
New Jersey Trout Season Opens April 5
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, April 4, 2014
A good many of this sites readers have e-mailed me and asked me what is the story with the trout fishing in New Jersey this spring. Normally this time of the year I would be listing all the major stocked streams and waters and giving readers a run down on the numbers of trout and when they would be stocked in those waters. A while back the state put out the following statement and a list of waters that would be stocked and some of the waters that won’t be stocked this spring.
The NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2014 spring trout stocking program has been
modified due to the outbreak of a fish disease (furunculosis) at the Pequest Trout Hatchery. The Division has implemented a plan to control the disease at the hatchery, but it is necessary to modify the trout stocking program this spring in order to conserve and protect our wild trout resources and other year round trout fisheries. In order to protect priority trout resources, no trout will be stocked in Trophy Trout Lakes, Holdover Trout Lakes and certain trout production streams, or waters directly connected to them.
These year round fisheries will still provide anglers excellent trout fishing opportunities this spring. Trout waters still scheduled to be stocked will be allocated the hatchery’s supply of negative trout (never documented to have the bacterium). As there is a limited number of negative trout the traditional seven-week in-season stocking season has been shortened to four in-season weeks.
Other waters traditionally stocked with trout that do not support trout year round (non- trout waters primarily lakes and ponds in thee astern, central, and southern areas of the state) have been allocated more trout than usual this spring as trout treated for furunculosis cannot be utilized in waters with existing trout populations. These waters will receive an additional allocation of trout prior to opening day and an additional stocking the week following opening day. In addition, several other waters not typically stocked with trout will be stocked with trout this spring which provide additional trout fishing opportunities.
The Division reminds anglers that there are no human health risks associated with the
bacterium, Aeromonas salmonicida, that causes this disease and recommends anglers
consult Division’s website for any additional changes to the 2014 trout stocking program.
Scheduled Changes Include : In order to protect existing trout population present the following waters will not be stocked in Spring 2014. Anglers are reminded these waters support year round trout fisheries and still provide anglers trout fishing opportunities.
Trophy Trout Lakes
Round Valley Reservoir
Holdover Trout Lakes
Reservoir Clinton Reservoir
Trout Production Streams Hackettstown Hatchery(connected)
Beaver Brook (Hunterdon)
Trout Brook (Hacketttstown)
Franklin Pond Creek
Little Flat Brook
Rockaway Creek S/Br
S/Br Raritan River – upstream Lake Solitude Dam
Spruce Run Creek
Trout Brook (Middleville)
Wanaque River - Lower
Directly connected to Trout Production Streams
Blue Mtn. Lake
Beaver Brook (Morris)
Green Turtle Pond
Mountain Farm Pond
Passaic River – White Bridge Rd
to Rt 24 Bridge, Chatham Borough
Saddle River (Upper/Lower)
Silver Lake (Sussex)
The following waters, not typically or scheduled to be stocked with trout during spring, will be stocked this spring only:
DOD Lake- 4,000
Farrington Lake- (Middlesex) 8,000
Hackensack River-(below Oradel Reservoir dam)12,000
Hockhockson Brook- (below Tinton Falls) 4,000
Mercer Lake- (Mercer) 8,000
Passaic River - (below Great Falls to Dundee Dam) 24,000
Raritan River- (below Duke Island Park) 24,000
Rahway River- (St George to Lawrence) 3,000
Shadow Lake- (Monmouth) 4,000
Over the winter the state had to destroy over 100,000 trout and a couple weeks back they destroyed another 114,000 brook trout slated to be stocked this spring. According to the Division they will be stocking around 450,000 trout. Since the state will only be stocking four weeks, it’s going to be a short trout season this spring.
The Division knew there would be severe cut backs in the spring trout stocking last fall when they found the problems and there were problems with the fall stocking. It wasn’t until late February that they issued the previous statement and lists. No matter what the state says, the truth is the Division is on such a tight budget that they could not afford to loose the money from the trout stamps and license sales that are derived in January and February.
The Division is run on a shoestring and has been since the likes of Bradley Camble and Lisa Jackson ran the DEP and used the money earmarked for the division for things like bear education and bear proof garbage cans. Just like with the rest of New Jersey the socialist, oops I mean democrats (it’s easy to get the two confused) have run the division and state into financial ruin. The division used to run off dedicated funds from fishing and hunting licenses. Once they had to be bailed out with several million dollars from the state, because of mismanagement by the previously mentioned DEP commissioners they lost their autonomy. As a result politics, which has no place in fish and wildlife management, came into the mix.
I did some research and talked to a few biologist I know and was told that the only way to get rid of the disease is to drain the hatchery, scrub and disinfect the raceways and allow them to dry out completely, preferably for a couple months in the sun. Even if that is done, there is no guarantee the disease will not show up again. In short, even barring anymore problems at the hatchery, unless the state buys trout from the feds or elsewhere to keep it’s trout stocking program going, it’s going to be a while before the division has the trout production to support the spring, fall and winter stocking that anglers are used to. While we are all hoping they are right when the say everything will return to normal next year, we will just have to wait and see.
Here are some of the waters to be stocked and the number of fish they will receive off the stocking list release by the Division this past week highlighting Mercer County waters and some of the more popular waters through out the state:
Mercer County Waters
The D & R Canal
The D & R Canal is the Mercer County's largest and heaviest stocked body of water with a portion of it lying in Hunterdon County. Total stocking for the 2013 spring will be 22,450 trout.
(40 trout fewer than last season) of which 13,210 will be stocked before opening day. The canal is broken up into two sections: The Feeder Canal in Hunterdon County from Bull's Island in the Hunterdon to Upper Ferry Road in Mercer County, and the D & R Canal, from Mulberry Street to the Alexander Street Bridge in Princeton.
The Feeder Canal will get 16,640 total trout. Pre season stocking will be 9, 800 trout. During the season 1,790 trout will be stocked the second, third, fourth and fifth weeks and 1,040 trout the sixth and seventh weeks. Stocked on Monday the 1st week & Wednesday 2nd week; 1630 trout Monday 3rd week and Wednesday fourth week.
In the D & R Canal, 5,810 trout will be stocked. Pre-season stocking will consist of 3,410 trout, with 630 trout on Thursday the 1st week and Wednesday the second week; and 570 on Wednesday the 3rd and 4th week.
Specific stocking points are hard to determine since the stocking truck can ride up the tow path along the canal, stocking trout as it goes. Most bridges usually get extra fish because of their accessibility.
Assunpink will receive 2,160 trout this spring, with 1,030 trout stocked pre-season. The creek is stocked from below Dam Site 130 off Route 130, Old Trenton Road, Quakerbride Road and Carnegie Road in Lawrence Township. In-season stockings consists of 230 on Thursday the first week and Wednesday the second week; 210 on Wednesday the 4th and 5th weeks. The main stocking points are Dam Site 19 and the Route 130 Bridge, the Old Trenton-Edinburg Road Bridge, Mercer County Park Pedestrian Bridge, Quaker Bridge Road, Lawrence Station, and the Carnegie Road Bridge. Assunpink will be stocked on Wednesdays.
Stony Brook, the most heavily stocked stream in Mercer County, will receive 3, 580 trout, 2,220 prior to opening day. A total of 480 trout will be stocked on Wednesdays the second, third, fourths of the season. The brook is stocked at Stony Brook Road and Johnson Park.
Rosedale Lake will receive 2,340 trout this spring. Of these, 1,260 are pre-season stocked trout. In season stocking will consist of 370 trout being added the on Thursday the first and Wednesday the second week and 340 on Wednesday of the third week.
Colonial Lake will be stocked with a total of 1, 930 trout with 1,030 trout before opening day. In-season stocking will consist of 310 trout on Thursday the first week and Wednesday the second week, and 280 on Wednesday of the third week. Main stocking points on the lake are by the US 1 Bridge, the mid portion of the lake along the south side and by the dam. Colonial Lake will be stocked on Thursday the second week and Wednesdays the third and fourth week.
Located off Route 31 just outside of Ringos, Amwell Lake will be stocked with 1,930 trout of which 1,030 will be stocked pre-season. In-season stocking will consist of 310 trout on Thursday of the First week and Wednesday the Second week and 280 on Wednesday of the third week.
Located off Route 29 north of Lambertville the creek will receive 1, 190 total trout with 520 being stocked prior to opening day. The creek will be stocked in it’s lower section off Alexhauken Creek Road. Access is sporadic but adequate. The creek will receive 300 trout stocked on Monday of the 2nd week and 270 on Wednesday of the fourth week.
***Mercer Lake will get 8,000 trout this spring.
Closed Date Streams
Big Flat Brook will receive 14,260 trout- 13,320 trout in its lower portion and 940 trout in its upper regions. Pre-season stocking will consist on 8,020 in its lower half and 640 in its upper waters. Key spots include: High Point State Park to the Route 206 Bridge; the four mile "Fly Fishing Only" down from the Roy Bridge; the Blewett Track and the Junction Pool. The Big Flat Brook will be stocked with 1,910 trout on Friday the first week: 1,700 the second week and 1690 the third week.
The Musconetcong River will see a pre-season stocking which will consist of 13,980 trout and a total allotment of 22,770 trout. The Musky will be stocked with 3,040 on Friday the first week; 2,700 the second week and 2690 the third week.
Top sections include: the section which lies between Route 31 near Hampton and Mowder Hill Road, off Route 57; the park in Hackettstown; Saxon Falls; below the dam in Pennwood; and the Warren Glen section which lies between Route 519 and the Delaware River.
The Pequest River will receive 20,250 trout this spring, with 8, 720 fish stocked prior to opening day. The river will be stocked with 3,3800 trout on Friday the first week; 3,010 trout the second, third and fourth week.
Three of the top sections on the stream are the river just down from the hatchery (which is a special regulations stretch); the section between Route 31 and Route 519 Bridge; and the river above and below the dam in Belvidere.
The Raritan River will be stocked with 45,110 trout. The Raritan River will get 3,340 trout, 1,240 pre season and 550 trout on Wednesday of the first week and 500 trout on Monday the second week; 500 on Wednesday the third week and 500 on Thursday the fourth week. The River will also be stocked with 23,400 trout below Duke Island Park with 10,050 pre season and 13,400 trout on Thursday of the Second week. The North Branch will get 7,420 trout, 4,610 trout preseason and 1,010 trout on Wednesday of the first week and 900 trout on Wednesday of the Second and thirds week. The South Branch will receive 10, 950 trout, 6,790 trout pre season and 1,500 on Tuesday of the first week and 1,330 trout on Tuesday of the Second and Third weeks. The Gorge and the South Branch above Lake Solitude will not be stocked.
The Pohatcong Creek will get 5,280 trout, with 4,880 being stocked pre-season. A total of 8,030, 4,470 preseason trout will be stocked from the Route 31 Bridge downstream, while 540 trout will be stocked upstream of the Route 31 Bridge, 410 trout prior to opening day. The Po will be stocked with 1,090 on Tuesday the first week; 1,090 the second week and 970 trout the third week. Top sections include the portion which runs through a small gorge located along Ravine Road; Edison Road and the waters up and downstream of the Route 57 Bridge.
This year the Black River will receive 2,620 trout, 1,620 being stocked before opening day. The river will be stocked with 360 on Thursday of the first week and 230 trout on the second and third weeks. The most popular section of the stream is the Hacklebarney State Park section.
Stocked from the Route 9 Bridge to the Manasquan Wildlife Management Area, the Manasquan will get 10,240 trout, with 6,2600 trout being stocked pre-season. The Manasquan is stocked on Mondays with 1,130 the first week; 1,010 the second week and 920 trout the third week.
Top sections include the Manasquan River Wildlife Management Area; up and downstream from the Hospital Road Bridge; and above and below the Squankum Dam.
The north and south branches of the Metedeconk River will receive 8,610 trout, 5,270 prior to opening day, with 2,270 trout going in the north branch and 5,240 trout in the south branch. The Metedeconk is stocked on Mondays with the North Branch getting 370 the first week; 330 the second week and 300 the thrid and fourth weeks. The South Branch will get 580 the first week; 520 the second week and 470 the third and fourth weeks.
Some of the better spots on the north branch are by the Aldrich Road bridge; the Route 9 Bridge and Route 547 Bridge and the Ridge Avenue Bridge. On the South Branch the tops spots are below the Bennetts Mills Dam; Brewers Bridge Road; and the park upstream from Lake Carasaljo.
The Toms River will get 6,870 trout, 4,180 pre-season. The river is stocked on Mondays getting 620 trout the first week; 870 the second week; 700 the third week and 500 the fourth week. Top sections of the stream include: the Route 528 Bridge, Don Connor Blvd and the Bowman Road Bridges; Riverwood Park and the Route 571 Bridge (TCA).
The Rockaway River will be stocked with 9,950 trout, with a pre-season stocking of 6,180 trout. The river is stocked on Mondays with 1,350 the first week and 1,200 the second and third weeks. The Boonton section is the top section on this stream.
The Ramapo will be stocked with 7,030 trout, 4,360 before the season opens. The Ramapo is stocked on Thursday getting 960 trout the first week; 860 the second week and 850 the third week. The Ramapo Reservation section of the river is the most popular sect of the stream.
The Wallkill will receive 3,790 trout during the spring. A total of 2,350 trout will be stocked before opening day. The wallkill is stocked on Mondays with 520 the first week and 460 the second and third weeks.
The Wanaque will receive a total of 1,740 trout, of which 1,080 trout will be stocked before opening day. The river is stocked on Fridays with 240 the first week and 210 the second and third weeks.
This year the Paulins Kill will be stocked with 13,910 trout, with 8,620 trout being stocked prior to opening day. The Kill will be stocked on Thursdays with 1,910 the firstw eek; 1,700 the second week and 1,680 the third week. The waters around the Route 610 Bridge and Blairstown are two of the tops spots to fish.
Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes
Ten lakes will receive an additional number of broodstock trout prior to opening day. An additional 370 trophy trout will be stocked in the following waters: Amwell Lake; Birch Grove Lake; Burnham Park Pond; Crystal Lake; Dahnert’s Lake; Franklin Lake; Lower Echo Park Pond; Shaws Mill Pond; Verona Park Pond and Woodcliff Lake will each het 30 trophy trout.
April Is Start Up Time for Anglers
Friday, March 28, 2014
After a hard winter and a cold month of March look for some decent fishing should the weatherman cooperate in April. Water levels so far this spring have been below normal and this is sure to have an effect on the April fishing.
What local trout waters will receive this year is anyone’s guess since the state is not releasing the numbers of trout to be stocked, and severe cutbacks in the stocking due to the disease problems at the hatchery. Most lakes in the county are already starting to see vegetation sprouting up and the weather in April will be a big factor in the fishing. Crappie fishing was poor in March, and bass fishing has also been spotty at best. This past winter, along with the month of March were some of the worst fishing in recent years, mainly due to the hard winter and the weather problems in March. Look for both bass and crappie to start heading for the spawning grounds by the middle of the month.
So far it’s been a low water spring on the big river. Walleye fishing started up and has been picky at best. There will be a lot of questions to be answered in regards to the river this season. The first of which is will there be a good shad run this year, especially with the hard winter and cold March we had. The herring fishing continued to decline last spring and there is no reason to believe that it will improve this year. Striped bass fishing was good in 2013, but poor in 2013 so this years run will also be a question mark.
With PA trout season already open and New Jersey opening up on April 5, trout fishing is taking center stage for sweetwater anglers. Checks last week’s story for the run down on eastern PA trout waters and stockings in April and May in the Keystone State. As to New Jersey’s trout fishing, it will suffice to say that Garden State trout anglers will see an off year because of the disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery which has caused the Division of Fish and Wildlife to Destroy thousands of trout. I’ll have more info on the Jersey fishing in next weeks Weekly Story. I’m holding back hoping the state will at least tell us which streams and lakes will be stocked this week. With trout only being stocked in April the spring season is sure to be a lot shorter in the Garden State.
Once again the largemouth fishery is looking good locally and through out the state. Water temperatures are starting to climb and fishing has been poor so far this spring, should pick up with the warmer weather. Last fall was one of the best in recent years and can be attributed to another good spawn in 2013. Look for some decent bass fishing on spinners, spinnerbaits and swimming plugs during the first part of the month and then a turn to plastic baits and swimming plugs by the end of the month, especially in local waters, especially around the edges of the spawning areas.
It will be interesting to see how the spring run of shad will play out i the Delaware. So far we are looking at a ow water river and this will have an effect on shoreline fishermen. Last year we had low water conditions and fishing in the lower river was tough. Cold waters and low water levels sent the buck shad speeding up river in March and early April and the cold water kept the fishing down in the lower river. Likewise the number of roes that came up river last spring was lower tan expected. Low water years tend to see the shad move upriver quickly and msot of the fihsing is in the upper Rivr from Phillipsburg north. Unless we get soe rains that pick up water levels in the river and slow the run down, or we see a huge number of shad move up the river, it will be short shad season in the lower river.
Last season’s smallmouth fishing in the Delaware continued to be very poor. Reasons are being debated, but it will suffice to say there is no reason to expect a significant improvement this year. Should we have a another bad year it will confirm there is an on going problem wiyt the smallies in the river, most likely poor spawning due to the loss of so many fish from the disease. The fishing in the Raritan River, Round Valley and other waters was very good and there is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue.
Pickerel action in the Jersey Pine Barrens has been good this spring and will peak during the month of April. With higher tan normal water levels , look for the fishing to remain very good as long as the water temperatures stay cool. Live-lining minnows, floating swimming plugs and spinners will be your best bet.
White Perch Fishing
Light tackle fishermen are enjoying some good white perch fishing in the streams along the coast. The Maurice, Cohansey, Toms, Wading and, Mullica rivers will see the white perch fishing peak during April. Your best action will be on small spoons, spinners and tinny jig-plastic bait combinations.
So far crappie fishing has been very poor this spring. To say this has been an off year for crappies would be an understatement, especially after the great December we had and the excellent fishing that took place the first two weeks of January. By mid month the crappies will start heading for the spawning grounds, so the better fishing will be during the beginning of the month while the waters are still cool. The spawn more than likely will be late because of the hard winter and a lot will depend on what type of weather we get in April. Look for some of the better fishing to be in and around the spawning areas on tinny jig and plastic bait combos and hair jigs fished under floats.
Walleye fishing in Lake Hopatcong and other lakes where the marbleyes have been stocked are already seeing good catch & release fishing and this should continue well into April. In addition musky fishing in Lake Mercer and other musky waters will also see some decent action. Big spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and swimming plugs will serve up the best fishing.
There is no question that bottom fishing was tough this past winter because of the weather. Cod catches were down from the last couple of years, and hopefully cod and ling fishing will pick up in April. Another bog question mark is the spring mackerel run. If they show up and how long the fishing will last will have a lot to do with the weather patterns when the make their way into local waters.
Winter flounder fishing usually peaks during April. So far the reports we got on the fishing have been spotty, but good. It’s a good bet that anglers will start seeing some fluke start moving into the bays by the end of the month. Regulations on the fluke fishing will be decided at the April Marine Fisheries Council meeting.
Striped bass fishing has been slow to start up this spring because of the hard winter. Look for the first of the striped bass fishing to start showing up along the lower side of Raritan Bay. If you are looking for some good bass fishing and some trophy bass now’s the time to book a charter or fishing trip for the linesiders.
More than likely anglers will see the first slammers make Jersey waters by the middle of April. By the end of the month some of the party boats will start sailing for the slammers and we should see some beach running fish by the end of the month as well. This could be pushed back unless we get some warmer weather to put the fishing back on a more normal schedule.
PA Trout Season Opens March 29
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 21, 2013
Trout fishing in the eastern portion of the Keystone State will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 29 and includes the counties of Schuylkill, Northhampton, Lehigh, Berks, Landcaster, Chester, Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks. The rest of the state opens up two weeks later on March 12.
Many area residents will be fishing Keystone waters on opening weekend. So here is a look at some of the more popular waters close to home. The PA Fish Commission will be stocking a total of 3,924,400 plus trout this spring. Of these, 506,970 will be brook trout, 835,730 brown trout and 1,844,700 rainbows. The state stocks a total of 857 waters (733 streams & 124 lakes). Cooperative Nurseries will provide an additional 737,000 trout and there will also be 8,575 trophy trout stocked, with 7,240 trophy trout being stocked in the streams and 1,335 trout being stocked in lakes.
**** As a footnote to our PA trout season story it should be pointed out that eastern PA trout waters will give Garden State fishermen a good option when it comes to trout fishing this spring. With the spring stocking in turmoil in the Garden State because of the disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery, which has forced the destruction of over 200,000 trout slated to be stocked this spring, a jump across the border to the Keystone State is a very viable option for Jersey trout fishermen.
Bucks County Stocked Waters
Seven bodies of water (2 lakes, 4 streams and the canal) are stocked in Bucks County that are only a short ride from the Trenton area. The two most heavily stocked bodies of water are
Levittown Lake and Lake Luxemburg. After being stocked in the pre-season in March, Lake Luxemburg will be stocked on April 3 and Levittown Lake will be stocked again on April 1 and April 16.
The Delaware Canal’s upper section of the canal (Washington Crossing) in addition to the pre-season stocking will be stocked on April 3. The lower section of the canal (Washington Crossing State Park to the Maple Street Bridges in Morrisville) in addition the pre-season will be stocked on April 3 and 16.
Neshaminy Creek will be stocked pre-season only in the stretch from Valley Road (Route 328) downstream to Mill Road (Route 381). The lower section from the base of the Dam above Tyler State Park Causeway to the Richboro Road Bridge (Route 332) which is closer to our area will be stocked pre-season and on April 3.
The Perkiomens East Branch will be stocked Prior to opening day, with in-season stockings on April 14 and April 22. The creek is located in the middle of the county and is stocked from Branch Road Bridge (Route 431) downstream to it’s confluence with Mill Creek in Sellersville.
The Tohickon Creek is another nearby stream that quite a few anglers from the Trenton area fish. It is not stocked before the season. In season it is stocked from Dark Hollow Road Bridge to Point Pleasant just upstream of its confluence with the Delaware. Tohickon Creek passes through Russell Stover State Park and Tohickon Valley Park. The creek will be stocked pre-season and in-season on April 22.
The last stream in Bucks County that is stocked is the Unami Creek, which is located in the far northwestern portion of the county. This creek has some excellent water and is stocked from the Milford Township Park downstream to Trumbauersville Road (route 405). It will only be stocked prior to opening day and on April 21.
Lehigh Valley Streams
Coplay Creek will be stocked from the Dam at Hill Street Bridge, Ormrod to its confluence with the Lehigh River. In addition to the pre-season stocking it will be stocked on April 25 and May 3.
Jordan Creek is stocked in 4 sections with all getting preseason stockings: (Section 2) from the Route 309 Bridge to Mill Creek Road Bridge will be restocked on April 14. (Section 3) Mill Creek Confluence to the Jordan Road Bridge, stocked on April 3. (Section 4) Jordan Road Bridge to Ceder Crest Blvd Bridge, restocked on March 31and April 21. (Section 6) Mauch Chunk Road to the Confluence with the Little Lehigh Creek, restocked on April 5 and 29.
Leaser Lake- stocked pre-season and on April 3.
Little Lehigh Creek will be stocked in five sections: (Section 2) Longswamp Road Bridge to Smith Lane Bridge, will only be stocked pre-season. (Section 4) Spring Creek confluence to Wild Cherry Lane Bridge, stocked pre-season and on April 30. (Section 5) Wild Cherry Lane Bridge to Mill Race Road Bridge, stocked preseason and on May 7. (Section 7) County Club Road Bridge to UPS Fish Hatchery Road Bridge, stocked pre-season and April 3o. (Section 9) Schoenersville Road Bridge to its confluence with the Lehigh River, Stocked pre-season and on April 24 and May 7.
Monocacy Creek will be stocked from Schoenersville Road Bridge to its confluence with the Lehigh River preseason and on April 16 and May 6.
Bushkill Creek just north of the Water Gap that are favorites of many anglers. In Northampton County the Bushkill Creek is broken up into sections four stocking. (Section 2) Bushkill Center Road Bridge to Filetown Road Bridges, stocked preseason and April 21. (Section 5) Private Bridges off Bushkill Drive to Dam at Binney Smith, stocked preseason, April 23 and May 14. (Section 7) 13th Street Bridge to Confluence with the Delaware River, stocked preseason, April 23 and May 14. In Monroe County (Section 4) Upper Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation to Lower Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation, stocked April 4 and 24. (Section 5) Lower Reservation to Creek Road Bridge, Stocked Preseason and April 24. (Section 6) Creek Road Bridge to Confluence with the Delaware River, stocked preseason, April 22 and May 15.
Another popular Pocono stream is the Broadhead Creek, which is just across the Route 80 Bridge in the Water Gap. The Broadhead is broken up into three sections. (Section 2) Cherry Lane Bridge to Stroudsburg Water Company Property, stocked pre season, April 24 and May 13 (Section 3) Water Company to the Confluence with MicMichael Creek, stocked preseason, April 24 and May 13. (Section 4) Confluence with McMichael Creek and the I-80 Bridge, stocked preseason, May 21 and May 13.
Ropes and Anchors Made Easy
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 14, 2014
A couple items that are essential on every boat, no matter what type of boat, big or small, are anchors and ropes. Being an essential part of every boat, knowing the different types of anchors and how to use them, as well as how to use ropes are an important part of safe boating. So here are some tips on choosing the right anchor and ropes, as well as using them and taking care of them.
Storing Anchor Ropes
Taking care of your anchor lines goes hand in hand with getting the most out of your boat. Sure you can stow your anchor lines in a forward hold if you have one or push in under you front seat, but when it comes time to use it you are more likely to find a snarled mess of rope and you’ll have to untangle it before you use it. Even if you place it in your forward hold in a neat manner it will get tangled up with any other items you might also store there. The purchase of a pair of rope cleats will solve this problem. You can attach them to your forward deck or gunnels about eighteen inches apart and then wrap the excess rope that you are not using around them. You can also store extra sections of rope for your anchor around additional cleats secured to your port and starboard gunnels. This will keep them out of the way but still handy when you need them.
Securing Your Anchor Ropes to Your Boat
Since I use several different types of anchors on my boat and often attach them to the same anchor line, the use of a sturdy clip is a necessity. It’s also necessary to secure your anchor rope to a sturdy section of the boat.
First, choose a galvanized steel shackle to secure your ropes to the boat, the type that uses a set screw to lock the shackle. For all other catch lines use brass or steel clasps and clamps. Be careful of what you buy and make sure the clips you choose are not bronze, which will break much more easily. You should also make sure that the cleat you attach the anchor rope to is sturdy enough to handle the anchor rope, especially if you do a lot of anchoring in a strong current.
Taking Care of Your Anchor Ropes
Taking care of the ends of your anchor ropes is also very important. If you choose to use nylon ropes, it’s always best to fuse the ends with a match or cigarette lighter to keep them from fraying. This will also work with most poly ropes. Certain types of poly ropes can also be threaded back into the rope to secure your clamps and clips to. If you choose to use cotton or hemp ropes, it’s best to whip the endings and/or wrap them with tape.
Fishing with Your Anchor
Speaking of anchor ropes, the use of an anchor can be a precise way of covering a structure. Letting out more line and increasing the distance between it and your boat is easier than lashing and lowering your anchor every time you want to move a few feet. This can be made easier by tying loops on your anchor line every 25-feet or at regular intervals and having several extra sections of line to add to your anchor rope as needed, stored in the manner we previously described.
Another handy item to have around a boat is a set of anchor chalks which are placed one on the port side and one on the starboard size. This allows you to place your anchor rope in a chalk to keep it from moving around the deck in a wind or current. They also make a great way of stabilizing a drag anchor line while it’s bouncing along the bottom. You can also use them to position your boat when anchoring in a current. Chalking your anchor line to port will cause your boat to drift to the starboard and vice versa.
Choosing the Right Anchor for the Job
If you use your boat for all different types of fishing, you will find out that different anchors work better for different jobs. If you fish the fast currents of a river, a grappling type anchor will serve you best. For anchoring in a lake or currentness body of water, especially those that have a lot of vegetation, a mushroom anchor will be a better choice. For use on sandy bottom, a Dansford or other type of anchor with flat blades will do the job best. Since I use several different types on a regular basis, I have them secured to the front of the boat and ready for use.
If you have ever found yourself trying to drift a section of water only to be pushed too fast by the current or wind, you will know the value of a drag anchor. A lead ball, such as the type that is used with down riggers, window sash weights or a lead bell anchor with the edges cut off can be used. You can also make your own by taking a tin can and implanting it into the ground to make a mold. Then place a long U-bolt in the cavity and fill the cavity with lead. When attaching it to the anchor rope, always use a short length of chain or cable about a foot long to prevent the rope from becoming worn through when it bumps along the bottom.
Being around boat ramps day in and day out can provide some interesting entertainment on how not to launch a boat. Take, for instance, the guy who unhooks his trailer strap and hook and backs down the ramp and into the water, only to find that the boat was not attached to anything and is floating away from the ramp. A simple catch line can be made from a length of rope with clips attached to each end. It can then be attached to the trailer rope and the boat hook so that when you back your boat in it is still attached to the trailer. It can then be un-clipped and put inside the boat. When retrieving the boat it can be attached to the stern to hold the boat in position on a windy day or to the front for getting it in position for the trailer. One tip when building your catch line is to make sure the clips you use are made of marine brass or steel for durability. Also make sure the length of the cath lines is on and a half times that of the trailer. This will allow you to attach the catch line to the boat and push the boat back out into the water and back onto the trailer when you are picking the boat up.
There you have it- a look at anchors and ropes on your boat. Take care of them and they will last a long time and serve you well.
Fun with Early Season Crappie
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 7, 2014
Crappie are one of the first fish that become active after the lakes and ponds lose their icy coating. For the angler looking for some fast fishing to open the season with, be you veteran or novice, young or old, they are just what the doctor ordered, and local waters are rich with this big member of the sun fish family.
One of the keys to successful crappie fishing in the spring is to keep your offerings small. Jigs should be kept in the 1/32 to 1/100 ounce range. When it comes to plasticbaits, the most productive ones are two inches and under, and in recent years manufacturers are offering more small baits than every before. Likewise, the colors most plasticbaits now come in has also increased, and some of the newer lifelike patterns are the most realistic ever made. Some of the more popular ones are Panfish Assassins, Fin-s-fish, Twister Tails, Sassy Shads, Tubes, Power Nymphs, Baby Beavers and Trout Magnets.
One trick you can use to spice up your plasticbait collection is to mix the colors on your baits. Commonly known as bleeding, it is done by placing different color plastic baits together and allowing their colors to bleed into each other. I’ve seen some really weird concoctions that have been put together by successful crappie fishermen. One fisherman I know takes a plasticbait and puts their tails into a different color plastic bait for a couple days, which will give the plastic bait a different color tail. He has done this a lot with red to give the tails of his plasticbaits a red tail and has had a lot of success with them.
Another type of jig that is really productive is the hair jig. Hair jigs are not a new item, however, in recent years the modern materials that have come on the market have changed the way most of them are made. The ones we used to use in the late ‘50's and ‘60's were mostly made of marabou, chenille and squirrel or deer hair. Jig tyers now have Mylar, artificial hair (fish hair), glow in the dark materials and ultra-thin hairs to work with. Most serious crappie fishermen tie their own hair jigs, however, more and more are being produced commercially.
The use of fish scents is very common among veteran crappie fishermen, especially when the fish are picky in the spring. There are two basic types of fish scent, liquid and gels. Liquid scents work best with hair jigs, as the chenille, hair or feathers that they are made from will absorb the scent. With rubber baits, gels such as Smelly Jelly will work best because they will stick to the plastic baits and will last longer. Most veteran crappie fishermen use the scents when they first tie a jig on the line to get the first few strikes. Once you have caught a few crappie or panfish on your jig, the scent of the fish will adhere to the jig and give it a natural scent, however, it doesn’t hurt to put a little scent on your jigs every once in a while to spice them up.
Catching Them on the Fall
Shallow water coves, the mouths of creeks and small streams that flow into a lake and the headwaters of a lake are some of the top places to look. These areas generally warm up earlier and thus are some of the first places to produce good catches. The fish will often suspend a few feet off the bottom in these areas and there are two primary methods of taking them with jigs.
The first is to cast your jig and allow it to fall naturally to the bottom. The crappie will often grab the jig as it falls through the layer of water they are holding in. When fishing this way, it’s very important that you watch your line very carefully and set the hook at the slightest twitch or movement in your line that is unnatural. Most often the only thing you will detect will be a slight twitch in the line, or the line will start moving slowly to the side.
If your jig hits the bottom you should reel in some line and raise your rod tip to a high position to pull the jig off the bottom and then allow it to sink again. You can also hold your rod tip high and reel you line in very slowly, causing the jig to slowly move through the suspended fish. The longer you can keep your jig in the layer of water the fish are holding in, the better you chances of taking the crappie.
Using A Float
Floating a jig is one of the most popular ways of fishing for crappie. At times crappie hit very light, and using a small float is one of the best ways of detecting the light hits, however, most veteran crappie fishermen also use a float for fish that are tightly suspended. Sometimes the crappie are suspended, and a few inches up or down can make a difference in the number of fish you catch. Also, quite often crappie will suspend above perch but below bluegills in the same area, and the use of a float to hold the jig in a certain layer of water, instead of working your jig without a float, will keep the jig away from the other fish.
Some of the best floats to use are the inexpensive small Styrofoam floats used to keep baits off the bottom while walleye fishing. You simply pull your main line through the center of the float to the depth you want and then peg it with a toothpick. You then attach the jig to the bottom of the line and you are in business. Carry several sizes of floats so you can use the proper float for the weight jig you are using.
There you have it a look at crappie fishing in the early season just after ice off. If you are looking for some fun fishing before the heavy fishing for bass, stripers and other bigger game fish starts, crappies make an excellent way to start off the open water season.
March Is Going To Be A Crazy Month
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 28, 2014
Two thirds winter and one third spring, the month of March is a time of change on the fishing scene, and after the winter we have had, this is one time change will be a welcome event. So here’s what you can expect to see as the winter comes to an end and the spring starts (maybe).
After six straights weeks of ice on the local scene, the ice will still be around for the first couple weeks of March. Some waters like Carnegie Lake, the Millstone River, the D & R Canal and Gropps Lake started to iced out but were sent back into the ice age by the recent cold weather. It will take at least two weeks or more to clear the ice from the lakes and bring water temps into the range for ice out fishing. As of this story it will be mid month for this to happen even if it got warm right now, and the long range forecast is for more below normal temperatures. Once the thaw starts look for the bass, crappie, panfish and pickerel to move into the shallow waters, which will warm up sooner then the depths. Also look for some of the better fishing to be in the mouths of tributary and feeder streams, especially after a warm spell through out the month. As a post script the month of February was one of the worst months fishing wise we have seen in a long, long time.
Look for the tidal river south of Philly to see the first striped bass fishing on the flats around the Commodore Barry Bridge and the mouth of the Schuylkill River about mid to late month should we see some moderating weather. Crappie and bass action in tidal coves such as Dredge Harbor, Tulleytown and Penn Manor should also start in the same time frame and should come into its own by the end of the month, with jig combinations and live bait being your best bets.
Because of the problems with the smallmouth in the non-tidal river don’t look for any decent early season smallmouth fishing. Also the last couple of seasons have seen the bulk of the buck shad move up river in March. Whether or not this will happen this March remains to be seen. However, its for sure that water temps will be no where near the zone that will make the fish active for fishermen. So don’t expect too much from the shad in March except in a warm water discharge that is pumping warm water.
Walleye fishing is also a big question mark. March usually see the walleye in the spawning areas and this year should be no different, however look for this to happen late in the month.
When it comes to the largemouth fishing you will find the best action in the southern portion of the state, with the fishing gradually getting better further north a little at a time. But here too it won’t be until mid month at the earliest before this starts. You will find the best fishing in the shallow water on spinners, spinnerbaits, floating plugs and live bait fished in the late afternoons on days when warm weather has been present for several days, especially if the weather is breezy.
With most trout stocked waters closing the third weekend of the month, you will have to concentrate your fishing during the first three weeks. This past winter saw plenty of trout left over from the fall stockings and a combination of the very poor weather and the economy helped cut down on the number of anglers fishing for them. However, with the disease at the hatchery which has claimed thousands of trout, the outlook for trout fishing this year is very poor. So trout fishing in the streams should be fair barring any weather problems. You will also find decent trout fishing in Round Valley both in boats and from the shoreline, as well as Merrill Creek Reservoir, once the ice gets off the water. The state will be holding a Public Trout Stocking Hearing on Saturday, March 8 to release the final verdict on this spring trout stocking.
It was a tough winter in the south Jersey Pine Barrens. Many waters are still iced up and if the cold weather continues skim ice will be a big problem for at least the first part of the month, and maybe longer. Live-lining minnows, spinners and swimming plugs will pout you into the chainsides in the open water. As of this story some pickerel were being caught in the spillways below the dams of some of the bigger lakes.
White Perch Fishing
Everything points to another good spring for perch in the tidal rivers and streams along the coast. Look for good fishing in the Toms River, Mullica River, Wading River and tidal streams along the lower Delaware on small spinners and spoons along with jig combinations and live bait. Some of the fishing has already started in the Maurice and Cohansey rivers along the Delaware.
March can produce some good spring fishing and the fishing in each body of water will peak at different times. Knowing when the fishing is peaking is a key to fishing crappies in March. Here too most of the better crappie fishing waters are ice up and will take at least two weeks to come into the prime range for crappie fishing. This puts the start of the crappie fishing at mid month or later depending on the weather. Look for the fishing in most lakes to shift into the main portion of the lakes and reservoirs just off the spawning areas. Crappies are some of the first fish to move into the spawning areas, and you will find the best fishing in the late afternoons around the edges of the spawning areas on small spoons, small spinners and jig combinations.
Ling, cod and other bottom fishing has been on a roller coaster ride most of the winter thanks to the weather and cold inshore water temps. Only a few boats are currently sailing and even those boats have only been able to get out a couple times a week. Boats currently sailing include the: Ocean Explorer; Paramount; Jamaica; Jamaica II and Dauntless. Look for the ocean fishing to start picking up by mid month as long as the weather settles down.
There are big time changes in the winter flounder fishing this spring. The fed has eased restrictions on the fishing and the season will open in March and remain open till the end of the year with the same size and bag limits as last season. Anglers have been catching and releasing flounder for several weeks now and fishing should be decent. Shark River (Tennis Courts, Gas Dock and north channel), Manasquan River (around the party boats, the Glimmer Glass and the mouth of the canal) and Barnegat Bay (Island Heights, mouth of Oyster Creek and the mouth of the Toms River) are normally the first places to see some flounder fishing.
How early the spring striper fishing will start up is determined by the weather on any given yea, and this year fishing is going to be late. Look for the first catches to start showing up mid month or later. In Raritan Bay area look for the better fishing to be seen along the lower side of the bay in spots such as the Cliffwood Rock Wall, Spy House, Monmouth Beach, Union Beach and Cliffwood Beach.
In the middle of the state look for some bass to start mixing in with the winter flounder in Barnegat Bay, the Point Pleasant Canal and Garveling Point. Clams and worms will be your top choices in baits.
2014 Delaware River Outlook
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 21, 2014
As February comes to an end most serious fishermen starting to think about what fishing is going to be like in 2014. If you fish the Delaware River the outlook is quite foggy. Lets face it the fishing on the river for the last four or five years has been anything but stellar. The loss of 70-percent of the smallmouth fishery to disease, along with declining rock bass, and panfish populations in the non-tidal river the river, coupled with an unstable striped bass fishery and closed herring fishery on the tidal river doesn’t make for a bright picture for the 2014 season.
There is no doubt that the river has been having it's ups and downs since the turn of the century, and some of its fisheries are in trouble. So much so that we are now seeing the fed step in and mandating harsh regulations on the shad and herring. Herring fishing is closed on the river and the same is more than likely coming for the shad in the near future. Likewise there are sure to be regulations changes on the striped bass fishery if that fishery continues to see an over all decline along the coast. While the outlook for 2014 is not bright there are some fisheries that are on the upswing in the river, so anglers will more than likely see mixed results. Likewise, a lot will have to do with what kind of weather tantrums Mother Nature will throw at us this year.
While lecturing at some outdoor shows this winter, several anglers asked me what the effects of the harsh winter we have been having will have on the river and it’s fisheries. To be honest, the effects could be positive or negative and only time will tell. On the positive side, the river has been in need of a good cleaning for several years and hopefully the big ice floes that we experienced this winter will scrape the bottom and put the river in good shape. Since scientist don’t know what causes the columnaris disease that sent the once world class smallmouth fishery reeling for several years, it’s not know if, and or/what kind of effect the ice floes will have on the disease. I personally hope the harsh winter will wipe out the disease once and for all in the river. However, because the ice floes scrapped the bottom, there is always a chance that they will put what ever activated the disease in the river back in the river and cause more problems. Truth is, we simply don’t know, and it is a wait and see thing.
After a good year in 2012, the spring of 2013 left a lot to be desired and numbers were way down from the 2012 season. While some big fish continued to be taken between the Tacony and Burlington bridges, numbers in the Trenton continued to decline. Likewise the numbers of adult males spawning on the flats in the lower river has declined to a fraction of what they were in the late 90s. Statistical information shows a decline in spawning waters along the Atlantic coast and the Delaware is no different. It will be interesting to see how the 2014 season plays out for the stripers. The spring run of stripers was hampered by low water conditions, and this more than likely impacted on the numbers of fish that moved up river. If we have a good year for the linesiders, the 2013 numbers may have been due to the low water conditions. If we see poor numbers of stripers this spring we could be in for a further decline in river’s striped bass spawning population.
The last several years saw an increase in the number of shad in the river. The spring run in 2013 saw low water conditions and the shad moved up river earlier. Once again most of the better fishing was in the upper river. The lower sections of the river from Upper Black Eddy downriver saw only spotty action as the bucks moved through in March and very few anglers were fishing for them. Low water conditions hampered shoreline fishermen, while boat fishermen saw decent fishing when the roes made their run. The Lewis Fishery saw a very good year which means the fish were moving through the river in decent numbers.
There is no question that the shad populations is no where near the size it was in the 90s, however, numbers are on the increase and hopefully 2014 will be another good year for these fish which are so important to the river’s over all health.
Indiscriminate netting by trawlers in the north Atlantic continues to be the biggest problem with the shad recovery. The Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s Association will be rasing juvenile shad in tanks and restocking them in the river for the third year this spring. Decreasing the catch limit for recreational fishermen is not the answer. Stopping the indiscriminate killing for the fish in the north Atlantic is.
The river fishery has been closed for several years and don’t look for the herring fishing to open up anytime soon. It’s problems are closely related to those of the shad fishery. Over harvesting in the ocean continues to be the biggest part of the problem, and an out of control cormorant problem continues to plague the river. Biologist have reported a increase in the number of herring in the lower tidal river for the past two years and this should bid well for the 2014 season.
Smallmouth fishing continues to be a big question mark and numbers have never been the same since the record years of 2007 and 2008. The spawn in 2009 produced one of the smallest ever on the river and the 2011 year class was also very poor. Enter the columnaris disease that ravaged the population in 2010 and 2011, and the fishing in 2013 was the poorest I have seen in the 50-plus years I have been fishing the river.
While biologist told me they did not find the disease in the fish in the last two years, the simple truth is that we did not see any decent numbers of smaller fish. This means what ever triggered the disease might be gone for the time being. It also means that we have been fishing on the older year classes for the last two years and this is why the average size smallmouth seems to be bigger. With each passing year the numbers of bigger fish decline and unless we have significant numbers of smaller fish we will not see an up tick in the fishing. For the last two years the smallmouth spawning has been poor and we have not see any number of young-of-the-year fish in the fall. We can only hope the disease won’t show up again and we can only wait and see how the fishing pans out in the next couple of years and hope it builds back up to the levels it once was.
The walleye fishery continues to build in the river. With the smallies in decline for the last several years, there has been plenty of forage for walleyes and this has made for a healthier and bigger walleye fishery. The last three years saw an up tick in, not only the numbers of walleye being caught in the river, but in the spawning as well. This past season saw some decent walleye fishing, that was only limited in the spring by the low water conditions and there is no reason to believe that this trend will not continue as long as nothing drastic happens to the fishery. So look for some good walleye fishing in the river in the coming year especially is we have a high water spring, which sure looks like the case as of this story.
Largemouth fishing in the tidal river from Trenton south has been on the upswing for several years. This past year’s fishing was well above average, and for the last two falls the numbers of mixed sized largemouth that moved into the tidal creeks has been exceptional. From the full moon in September through the full moon in November the backwater areas were full of mixed size largemouth and the fishing lasted into mid January when the cold weather shut everything down. Spawning was also decent as the huge number of yearlings moved into the backwater areas of the river during the fall. The fishery is very healthy and increasing numbers of largemouth are also being found in quieter sections of the non-tidal river from Trenton north. Look for some decent largemouth fishing in 2014 unless weather and water problems cut into the fishing.
Here too the bulk of the fishery is in the tidal coves and backwater areas of the lower river from Trenton south. Crappie numbers this past spring and fall were exceptional and with three to four year classes providing the fishing the outlook is very good for the next few years. The fall fishing lasted into the first part of January and spawning continues to be very good in the lower river. The outlook is good for the fishery and we should see another good year in the tidal river. Like the largemouth the crappies have also made some good inroads into the deeper sections of the non-tidal river.
The last few years have seen a resurgence in the perch fishery. Tide water fishing produced some of the best numbers of perch in recent years with the fish providing good fishing through out the year. Likewise numbers were also very good in the tidal streams that flow into the lower river and as of this story perch are already being caught in the Maurice and Cohansey rivers. Here too the white perch have also made their presence felt in the non-tidal river north of Trenton as far up river as Bulls Island. There is no reason oto belive that the fishing won’t be good this coming season and anglers should see some good light tackle fishing both in the tidal and non-tidal river. Catfish
Catfishing was very good in both tidal and non-tidal sections of the river through out the year. Some of the best fishing during the summer and fall was in the Trenton and Bordentown areas. The 2012 season was a good year for channel cats and the 2013 season was even better. Here too there are several strong year classes with fish from a few inches to as big as 15 to 18 pounds being caught in the tidal river. So look for some good cat fishing in the 2014 season.
Flathead catfish continue to increase in numbers in the river. Flatheads are not native to the river, and are voracious feeders and spawners. Biologist consider them a big threat and are telling anglers to remove any they catch from the river, however many anglers consider them excellent sport and a big fishery has developed in the Susquehanna River.
Another invasive species of fish that is making inroads in the river is the snakehead. This past year saw confirmed reports of snakeheads being caught as far up river as Trenton and unconfirmed reports of fish being caught as far up river as Phillipsburg-Easton. These fish are a particularly dangerous threat to the river for two reasons: their ferocious feeding habits and their ability to move over land.
With some fisheries seeing improvement, while others are in well documented decline, it looks like a year of up and down fishing in the big river. So far this year has seen a lot of precipitation and if this trend continues we could be fishing a high water river. While this will bid well for the spring fishing, it will present a tough river for fishermen during the summer months. The fishery with the biggest problem is the smallmouth fishery and hopefully we will see a good spawn and better numbers of smaller fish this year.
Choosing the Right Reel for the Right Rod
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 14, 2014
Statistics show that four out of five fishermen prefer the use of spinning tackle, and striking up the proper match between rod and reel is one of the most important elements in getting the most out of your spinning tackle.
One the most important elements in choosing a spinning rod and reel is balance. Too heavy a reel for the rod will impair your casting distance and accuracy. It will also decrease sensitivity resulting in more missed fish. Too light of a reel will offset the balance in the other direction and also cost you fish. A proper balanced rod and reel combination on the other hand will give good casting distance and accuracy, as well as good sensitivity.
There is two ways of achieving a good balanced spinning rod and reel: you can choose the rod you want first and then match a reel to it, or, if you are like me, build a rod to match the reel. When balancing a rod and reel you have purchased you should hold the stem of the reel between your middle finger and ring finger or between your ring finger and small finger, which ever is more comfortable. The balance point will be where your index finger rests on the rod. If the outfit is balanced properly you will be able to place it on your finger and have the rod rest level without tipping either way. This will work with the majority of spinning outfits with the exception of some of the heaviest combinations.
If you choose to guild a rod for a reel, your first step is to secure the handle to the rod blank. You can then put the reel on the rod and tape the guides on the blank to see if they balance out. Since you are taping your guides to the blank you can adjust the positioning and spacing of the guides to balance the outfit. Once you have the guides in position to balance the rod and reel, you can then wrap the guides permanently on the blank.
Another important consideration is guide sizes and how they are placed on the rod. When a rod's guides are too small for the reel it will cause the line to slap against the first guide and cut down on your casting distance. If the guides are too big the line flow will not be cut down and this cuts down on your accuracy. Your first guide on a rod should be three quarters the size of the outside diameter of your reel spool which will give you an even line flow.
Both spool mounted and internal rear mounted drag systems on most modern quality reels will do an adequate job, however, most veteran anglers prefer to combine a good drag system with back reeling techniques. Back reeling is far more efficient and smoother than any drag system and no matter how fast a fish runs, you can always compensate by back reeling. If you intend to employ back reeling, choose a reel that has an easy to get at anti-reverse lever where a flip of the finger can turn it off to combat a running fish and then turn it back on when it comes time to hold him in place.
The modern fishermen has all different materials for fishing rods: fiberglass, graphite, boron, etc. along with all kinds of composites. Contrary to what manufacturers will tell you no one material is good for all types of fishing. For ultra-light fishing I have found fiberglass or a fiberglass-graphite (60-40) composite is preferred. When using 2 or 4-pound test high percentage graphite rods tend to snap to many lines. Fiberglass rods on the other hand have a lot more give and give you a better chance to land a bigger fish. Fiberglass or a composite are also better for fishing a popping or darting surface lure. Some of the best surf sticks for casting topwater baits in the surf are know as fiberglass popping sticks.
Graphite or boron on the other hand make a good choice for fishing spinners, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Because these lures are constant motion lures graphite or boron will give you better hook sets.
Graphite-fiberglass composites can be found with different amounts of each material. A light percentage of graphite as 60 or 70-percent fiberglass to 30 or 40-percent graphite make better rods for fishing swimming plugs, spoons and swimbaits that you will fish with a stop and go retrieve. The flex of the fiberglass will give you good action when you are working the lure and the graphite will give you good striking power.
A heavier percentage of graphite on the other hand will give you better results when fishing plastic baits and other lighter lures, especially when fishing deeper water or in heavy cover.
Matching the right qualities of both spinning rod and reel will go a long way to giving you the best results. So take your time and match your rod and reel up properly when buying it or building a rod.
Philadelphia Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show Next Weekend
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 7, 2014
The 2014 edition of the Philadelphia Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show will embark on it's annual run at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at the Oaks this coming weekend, Thursday, February 13th to Sunday, February 16th.
Guides, Charter Boats, Outfitters and Lodges
If you are looking to book a fishing or hunting trip, charter boat or a lodge for your vacation, the Fort Washington Show will have on hand fishing and hunting guides, charter and party boats, outfitters and lodges and travel destinations. New Jersey, Delaware, New York and New England party and charter boats will be well represented at the show, and hunting guides from the East Coast, Mid West, Alaska, and Canada will give you a look at what's in store for the North American hunter.
Timber Tina's World Champion Lumberjills
Timber Tina's World Champion Lumberjills are the premier in Logging Sports Entertainment. They travel all over the world performing at fairs, festivals, exhibitions, private functions, corporate events, and more. Founded by 'Timber' Tina Scheer in 1995, the Lumberjills are the first and original all women group of logging sports entertainers.
The Show consists of taking the old time skills of the lumberjacks and turning them into a modern day competition. The family friendly shows are high action, fast paced, educational, historical and TONS OF FUN!
Cheer on your favorite Lumberjills as you watch these highly skilled athletes compete in: Crosscut Sawing, Underhand Chopping, Axe Throwing, Power 'Hot' Sawing, Chainsaw Carving, and Log Rolling!
Gun Dog Retriever Demos
Professional dog trainer, Pat Fenstermacher will be presenting daily retriever demonstrations with her award winning labs. Pat's demos are known to be both educational and entertaining.
Baywings Falconry will present the beautiful world of raptors. Cheri Heimbach, a Master Falconer and licensed Conservation Educator, will show live raptors and present educational lectures on the life and world of raptors.
Baywings Falconry is a small private enterprise in Central Pennsylvania specializing in all aspects of bird of prey management and education.
Exclusive! American Fly Fishing School
The experts from the American Fly Fishing School will have a casting pool right on the show floor offering continuous fly casting instruction. Also, they’ll have a learning center staffed by expert fly tyers and fly anglers. This is your opportunity to learn the quiet sport of fly fishing.
Trophy Buck Contest
Bring in your record mount! Prizes awarded in all categories!
RULES: Heads and antlers will be scored during public show hours Thursday through Sunday.
Antlers do not need to be mounted. Trophies already OFFICIALLY scored will not be rescored. A score sheet must accompany an already scored entry. Award ceremony will take place at 12:00 noon on Sunday, February 16, 2014. All heads and antlers entered in the Trophy Buck Contest must remain on display until after the awards ceremony.
Best gross scoring buck bow or muzzleloader typical.
Best gross scoring buck bow or muzzleloader non-typical.
Best gross scoring buck rifle or shotgun typical.
Best gross scoring buck rifle or shotgun non-typical.
Entry Fee: There will be a $10 entry fee for all antlers and/or heads entered. For $25, the entry entitles the owner for full membership in the Northeast Big Buck Club. This includes the antlers/heads being registered with the Northeast Big Buck Club and an annual membership which includes patches and an annual magazine subscription.
Prizes: A $100 gift certificate for Weaknecht Archery will be awarded to the winner in each category.
Note: A show ticket must be purchased at the box office or in advance at www.sportshows.com to enter the show and then enter into the Trophy Buck Contest. For all entries remaining until the awards program on Sunday, at the time of registration, a re-entry ticket will be given the owner of the head to allow for pick-up and awards ceremony on Sunday.
Exclusive! Kids Fly Casting Competition
Mike Corblies, national fly fishing personality and Director of American Fly Fishing Schools, will Emcee a Kids Fly Casting Competition sponsored by Wild Water Fly Fishing Products and Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine at the A.F.F.S. "Simul-Cast" Pond.
It's a fly casting accuracy tournament for kids 10 to 17. No previous fly casting experience is necessary to participate and all the equipment is provided. This contest for young anglers is to demonstrate and improve their fly fishing skills, have fun and maybe win some great prizes.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday - Kids can Pre-Register and practice with Capt. Mike.
Competition: Sunday: 10:30 am - 2:00 pm
Prizes: to be announced
Deer, Turkey & Big Game Expo
The Deer, Turkey & Big Game Expo brings you aisle after aisle of archery, guns, gear and hunting guides for deer, bear, turkey and big game.
The Hawg Trough
Check out our 5,000 gallon fish tank loaded with monster large mouth bass. The nation’s top pros will be demonstrating the latest and the tried and true lures. The BEST way to see how a lure acts in the water is to see it firsthand. Let our pros show you how!
The Sportfishing Supershow
The Sportfishing Supershow delivers more fishing tackle manufacturer’s displays than any other show in PA. Local retailers offer low show pricing on tackle for the upcoming season. Plus, fishing guides and lodges.
Bobbing For Trout
Join WXTU on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5pm and see contestants "Bob for Trout" to try their luck at winning a trip for four to Trade Winds Island Resort on St. Pete Beach, includes a half-day fishing from VISIT FLORIDA! Go to WXTU for more details and to register!
Adventures in Climbing brings their indoor climbing wall to the show. Kids of all ages love to climb this four-station, 24 foot rock wall. Participants are harnessed to an auto belay system and then begin their adventure. Each of the four sides offers a different skill level, from novice to expert, providing a thrilling challenge.
Here is your chance to get up close to a live deer. Rolling Hills Red Deer Farm raises over 400 red deer on their farm near Bloomsburg, Pa. Bring your camera! Pet and even feed this big guy and learn more about this red deer.
Plenty of Seminars and Workshops
The show also offers you a chance to pick up some tips on hunting and fishing from local and national pros. Doing workshops at the show will be: Shaw Grigsby; Roger Raglin; David Dudley; C.J. Winand; J.B. Kasper; LouConsoli; Paul Fuller; Mike DelViscoLane Benoit; Peter Fiduccia; Brian Immekus; Mark Wolfskill & Karen Shannon; Jack Montague; Kate Fiduccia; Tom Tatum; and more.
Thursday - 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday- 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday- 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission prices are $12 for adults and $3 for children (5 to 11 years old); children under 5 are admitted free of charge.
February Fishing Will be Unpredictable
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 31, 2014
So far this winter its been a mix of good open water fishing in early January and good ice fishing in the northern part of the state as well as locally for the last week to 10 days. Whether or not the ice fishing continues into February remains to be seen. So far this year we have had a roller coaster ride of hot and cold temperatures. As such, predicting what kind of fishing we will find in February is not an easy chore, and for the most part it will depend on how the month goes in the weather department.
As of this story, lakes and ponds are iced up and being fished on. However, with warm weather and rains predicted for the first week of February, fishing conditions could change rapidly. Should the weather turn cold and we get safe ice again, anglers should get a chance at bass and pickerel on tip ups baited with shiners, while jig fishermen should find some crappie, perch and bluegills. However, it sure doesn’t look like this will happen, or if it does it will only be for a short time. Should we have moderately cold weather casting and slow retrieving spinners and spinnerbaits, as well as live bait, in the dam spillways will be a good bet. Should the weather once again become warm and the lakes start to thaw out, the first few days after ice out should give anglers some good fishing in the small creeks that flow into lakes and ponds.
As of this writing the river was still jammed with ice. However, if we get the predicted warm weather and rains we are sure to see some high water conditions. As long as we don’t have another heavy freeze up look for the fishing to get better towards the end of the month as the walleye start heading for their traditional spawning grounds. Jigging livebait and fishing worms and shiners on bottom walking rigs will serve up the better catches, however, as the walleye move into the spawning areas trolling Rapala Countdowns and other swimming plugs will also take fish. Here, too, the weather and rainfall will have an effect on the fishing. Likewise, look for suckers to start gathering around the mouths of the tributary streams as they, too, began to move into their spawning areas.
How soon the largemouth fishing starts to heat up will depend on when lakes will be ice free. Look for some fair fishing through the ice should we get safe ice in February. Should February be mild, look for good fishing with a few days of the ice leaving the water. Plugs, spinners and live bait will be your ticket to the bass.
Trout fishing this winter has been spotty because of a combination of weather and lack of fishermen, not to mention the disease problems at the hatchery which effected the fall and winter stockings in New Jersey. Anglers are reporting some decent fishing when they have had good conditions. There are plenty of trout left in the fall stocked streams and with some mild weather, February should produce some decent trout action, barring any heavy rains that would damage the conditions. PA trout fishermen continue to see excellent fishing in the Little Lehigh thanks to heavy stocking this past fall. Round Valley Reservoir is producing some decent rainbow and brown trout fishing from the shoreline and boat fishermen have been into rainbows and lakers, mainly while jigging.
Ice, mostly unsafe to fish on, in the Pine Barrens in cutting into the open water fishing, however, fishing has been very good when you can find open water. Look for the fishing to really turn on once the weather begins to moderate and unless we have continued below freezing weather, which would make skim ice a problem, fishing should break open by the end of the month. Live-lining minnows, spinners and floating swimming plugs will be your ticket to the chainsides.
Perch fishing is usually picking up in the tidal streams and rivers by the time February rolls around, however ice jams have put the fishing on hold. Once the water temperatures climb into the upper 40's, fishing should be very good as the white and yellow perch move into the tributary streams to spawn. If current conditions stay the same, this will not happen until later in the month. Look for the perch fishing to pick up sooner should the weather turn warm.
January crappie fishing was super the first two week of the month. As of this report most lakes in our local area are iced up, and crappie fishing through the ice has been slow. Should the lakes thaw out, look for some good fishing in the tributary streams right after ice off when the water temperatures in the streams will be warmer than the lakes. Hair jigs, jig-plastic bait combinations and small live bait will be your top producers.
After a couple of weeks of good bottom fishing in early January the cold weather ko’ed the fishing. The mackerel fishing never materialized to any degree and boats have discontinued trying for the macs. Should the weather turn mild look for the blackfishing to be in deeper water. Ling, cod and pollock catches should also pick up. As of this story the Dauntless, Jamaica II, Paramount, Mohawk and Ocean Explorer are still sailing. However, because of the unpredictable conditions this time of the year anglers should call the boats for their current sailing schedules.
So far offshore fishing has been tough because of the weather which has been limiting sailing time for the boats still fishing. Some mild weather would go a long way to jump starting the offshore fishing.
Winter striped bass fishing has been a real bust in both Raritan Bay and in the surf. Look for some activity in the lower Delaware south of Philadelphia should water temps climb back into the 40's, which more than likely not happen until the later part of the month.
2013 Was An Interesting Year for Fishermen
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 24, 2014
Makes no difference whether you are a freshwater fishermen or a saltwater fishermen, the year 2013 was a very interesting year with plenty of ups and downs. With a roller coaster ride of weather conditions ranging from too much rain to, too little rain and everything in between fishing was very unpredictable this past year. So here are some of our observations for the 2013 season see how they compare to your fishing in 2013.
Freshwater fishermen in particular saw a wide range of conditions and this produced hot and cold fishing during of the first part of the year. However, the fall fishing exploded after the full moon in September and produced some of the best largemouth fishing in recent years for live bait fishermen. Likewise, crappie fishing which was off most of the year because of inconsistent conditions, exploded during the month of December and remain solid till the end of the year and into January.
Fishing in the Delaware River continued to be sub-par. After an above average year for striped bass in the river in the 2012 season, the fishing was poor during the 2013 season. This was more than likely this was due to low water conditions which we saw during the spring. On the smallmouth fishing front once again the fishing was well below the norm. For the third straight year the numbers a small fish that were caught was very poor, more than likely do to the Columnaris disease that wreaked havoc on the fishery from 2008 to 2011. While some nice smallmouth were caught overall numbers are at least 60 to 70% of what they once were. It looks as though it will take from 3 to 5 years before we see significant amounts of smallmouth in the river once again barring any further problems and given we have successful spawns for the next several years.
Walleye fishing was decent in the spring but for the fall, catfish and carp fishing was decent most of the year.
Fishing in the tidewater fared a bit better. Both largemouth and crappie fishing was very good in the tidal coves especially in the fall. By the looks of the numbers of small fish which are found below the dams of tributary streams and in the backwater areas during the fall, the largemouth once again had an excellent spawn. Likewise crappie fishing was very good in the tidal coves and backwater areas during the fall. Hereto catfish and carp fishing was very good throughout the year.
Bass fishing was a real hodgepodge of hot and cold fishing. Spring bass fishing was picky, while pre-spawn bass action was decent however, the spawn was delayed because of rainy conditions which effected water temperatures. Post-spawn bass action started off good in most waters. In deeper waters bass stacked up in thermoclines just off the spawning areas. However, here too rainy weather broke up the thermoclines and scattered the bass. Most lakes and ponds saw fair to spotty surface fishing most of the summer, mainly because of inconsistent weather patterns.
Bass fishing was average at best until the full moon in September when live lining minnows produced excellent fishing into the end of October. Bass action gradually tapered off in November and finally slowed up in the beginning of December in most waters.
As a rule smallmouth fishing was average in most streams and decent in some a larger reservoirs. The South Branch continued to provide some of the best smallmouth fishing in New Jersey, while the Lehigh River served up some of the best smallmouth fishing in eastern Pennsylvania. Most of the better fishing was on jig-plastic bait combinations and small surface plugs. Stillwater smallmouth fishing was very good in Lake Hopatcong, Round Valley Reservoir and Split Rock Reservoir in New Jersey. Lake Wallenpaulpack was the top lake in eastern Pennsylvania.
Trout fishing in the Garden State really had its ups and downs in 2013. Spring fishing was fair with most of the better fishing being in the larger closed date streams. The state continues to cut back on the places listed for stocking on the smaller streams and once again fishing in the smaller streams was well below par. Enter the disease at the hachery which killed thousands of trout and cut into the numbers of trout that were stocked in the fall, and the fall fishing, which has been which has been on the decline for the last several years, was very poor in most waters in 2013. It will be interesting to see what effect the disease will have on the stocking numbers in 2014.
Keystone trout fishermen also saw a below par year in most waters. Here too stocking numbers are down from what they were. The best fishing was in the Little Lehigh in the fall which was heavily stocked in the fall.
Spring crappie fishing was average at best. Likewise summer crappie fishing was also average in most waters. Even early fall crappie fishing was not as good as it usually is. There were some reports of very good crappie fishing in northern lakes and ponds in New Jersey and in Pocono lakes in eastern PA. However, because we had a mild weather crappie fishing was very good during the month of December.
Spring pickerel fishing was decent in the South Jersey Pine Barrens thanks to decent high water conditions. Good numbers of chainsides continued to be caught into the early summer however once the rain stopped and low water conditions took over fishing was spotty. Pickerel action picked up during the fall and was good white through the end of the year.
One fishery the produce good results was the walleye fishing in several lakes. Some of the best catches came from Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake and Monksville Reservoir in New Jersey, and Lake Wallenpaulpack and Beltsville Reservoir in PA.
Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing
Anglers fishing for hybrid stripers saw some good results during the 2013 season. In the Garden State Lake Hopatcong, Spruce Run Reservoir and White Lake produced very good action. In the Keystone State Lake Shohola and Blue Marsh Reservoir were the top spots for hybrid fishermen in eastern PA.
Fishing for shad in the Delaware River saw mixed results. Anglers fishing the lower river between Trenton and Upper Black Eddy was sporadic fishing at best. While the Lewis Shad Fishery enjoyed an excellent year, and boat fishermen did fair in the Lambertville and Byram sections, fishing was poor for shoreline fishing because of low water conditions. Anglers fishing the Phillipsburg to Water Gap section of the river saw decent action. Overall the fishing was better in the upper sections of the river then in the lower river because of low water conditions when the bulk of the fish were moving through the lower river.
Catfishing & Carp Fishing
As a whole fishing was good throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. In particular lakes stocked with channel cats produce some good size fish. In addition rivers such as the Delaware, Schuylkill and Raritan River produced good catches of catfish throughout the year. Carp fishing was also decent throughout the year. In particular some big carp were shot by bow fishermen in the Delaware River once again this year.
As with freshwater fishing, fishing in the brine saw it’s ups and downs. The Jersey coast was still reeling from the effects of hurricane Sandy, which change the bottom and currents along the Jersey shore. This in turn had an effect on the spring and fall migrations, as well as the species of fish which moved into Jersey waters.
Striped Bass Fishing
Linesider action was fair at best during the spring run. While fishing was very good at times it was sporadic at other times. The spring run up in the Hudson River was well below the average, as was the spring run in the Delaware River. Inshore fishing was decent, but here also it was below average, however some big black drum were taken once again this past spring. Surf casters also saw sporadic fishing during the spring, as well during the summer months. The fall run of stripers, while much better the spring fishing, was dominated by a lot of short fish. While some fish in the 30 s and 40s were caught, shorts outnumbered the keepers by as much as 10 or 20 to 1.
Don’t be surprised if we see more restrictive striped bass regulations in the not-too-distant future.
Some of the most erratic fishing was seen by anglers fishing for bluefish. After making an appearance in April and May, the slammers disappeared for over six weeks during the summer. More than likely the changes to the coastline caused by Hurricane Sandy pushed the fish father offshore, as schools the bluefish where found as much as 20 miles off the Jersey beaches. When the slammers returned in late fall some mammoth size fish were taken with plenty of fish in the 20 pound plus class being weighed in at tackle shops.
Anglers fishing for flatfish saw a decent season, however hereto the catch was dominated by sub-legal fish. Mixed in with the scads of smaller fish where a decent number of fish topping the 10 pound mark. Overall fluke numbers were good this year, however the fishing fizzled out in early September. Look for more restrictive fluke regulations this coming season.
Blackfishermen saw some excellent fishing both in the spring and in the fall. The blackfish fishery is one fishery that is in excellent shape long the Jersey coast. Fish topping the 10 pound mark regularly took pools on party and charter boats. Warm water temperatures in the fall kept the fishing good till the end of the year in relatively shallow water. Only the insane regulations for blackfish kept anglers from seeing a more productive year.
Another bright spot along the Jersey coast was a return of good numbers of weakfish to local waters. A solid mix of sizes were seen by anglers fishing from Barnegat Inlet north into Raritan Bay. Only the one fish bag limit kept anglers from enjoying these fish even more. It remains to be seen if good numbers will once again return to Jersey waters this spring.
Another bright spot this past year was the influx of good amounts of croakers, kingfish, porgies and spot. While hurricane Sandy had a lot of negative effects on the fisheries along the New Jersey coast, the changes in the bottom along the inshore waters and in the bays seems to have given the aforementioned fisheries a big boost. For the first time croakers and kingfish are found in good numbers as far north as Raritan Bay. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the 2014 season.
One of the downsides along the Jersey coast this past season was the offshore fishing for tuna. Boats sailing this fall did not see the numbers a tuna that have been the norm along the coast. Here to the effects of hurricane Sandy could have had something to do with this fishing.
However, cod, pollock and ling fishing produced some good action for bottom fishermen. Another fishery that saw inconsistent fishing was a mackerel fishing. Both spring and winter fisheries were sporadic at best.
Foot Prints in the Snow
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 17, 2014
As I was looking out of my kitchen window and watching the birds feed in the feeders while the snow was falling from our first snowfall of the season, my mind drifted back to my parents house when I was a youngster. I was watching the birds in the feeder hanging from the willow tree when my father pointed to the tracks the birds were making in the snow. After the snow had stopped, my father took me for a walk along the canal which was down the street from our house and pointed out all the animal tracks that were in the snow. It was his way of teaching me about nature and the outdoors, and it stuck with me the rest of my life.
My father taught me many things about the outdoors and I was fortunate to have mentors who were what the modern world would call in tune with nature. To them it was just the way things were, it was something they respected and chose to pass on to the younger generation. In today’s world of fast paced life, computer games, the internet and all the other modern wonderments, we tend to forget the simple things in life. There is a world out there that many kids never see even though they are looking right at it. One of the best ways of teaching kids about the outdoors and nature is through the simple things, such as foot prints in the snow.
Foot prints can be an adventure for the young because sometime following the foot prints will give the youngsters a look at the creature that made them. Finding the animals that made the foot prints in the snow can give youngsters a look at wildlife in a natural setting which is quiet different from what they might see on the internet, TV or in a zoo. When I was younger, I was a trapper and a hunter, and learning how to follow foot prints and read signs was a way of life to me. Even now they are a great way of getting some excellent snapshots of wildlife in the snowy white setting of the freshly fallen snow.
Animal and bird foot prints are everywhere. A look in your backyard will put you into footprints from birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, etc. A walk in a park will bring you a bounty of footprints such as foxes, skunks, ground hogs, water foul, birds and more. A walk along a lake or small stream will give you a looks at footprints from deer and other animals that come to the body of water to drink.
Another fun thing that the youngsters can do is keep a journal on the things the foot prints lead them to. I have taught my sons, who were in the Boy Scouts, how to keep a journal when we are in the outdoors and the things they saw and found. This gave them plenty of information for the merit badges and some of the projects they has worked on in school.
Just as my father taught me the secrets of the foot prints in the snow, so too have I taught my sons and daughter to read the foot prints in the snow. Hopefully they will teach my grandchildren and keep the tradition alive. So the next time it snows, instead of sitting at the computer and playing games or watching the boob tube, why not leave the virtual reality world for a look at the real world, and take you children for a walk and look for the foot prints in the snow. You might be surprised how much closer it will bring you to your children and nature as well.
Playing it Safe in the Outdoors During the Winter
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January, 10, 2013
Boy what a crazy ride we have been on so far this winter. Record low temps, record high temps, snow, ice, etc. you name it we have had it. For one I sure can’t wait to see what the rest of the winter has in store for us. That being said, it is for sure if you are going to engage in cold weather outdoor activities this winter, laying safe is paramount. This means not only keeping warm in outdoors, as recent weather spasms have dictated, but also being safe in the outdoors. The cold weather season brings with a whole host of dangers that those of us who spend a lot of time in the outdoors during the winter, should be aware of. So here are some dangers to look out for during the cold weather season and how to deal with them so you can have some safe fun this winter.
One of the biggest problems in the outdoors during the cold weather season is hypothermia. This occurs when body temperatures drop well below the norm. While hypothermia can occur any time of the year, winter is when it is most prevalent. Hypothermia is considered serious when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees and is considered life threatening when the body’s temperature drops below 90 degrees. Hypothermia can occur quickly, such as a person falling into ice cold water, or gradually as when a person is exposed to cold air for a long period of time. The wind chill factor can greatly step up this process. Likewise, intoxication and personal health factors can also hasten hypothermia.
Symptoms include: constant shivering; shallow breathing; a lack of coordination; slurred speech; mental confusion; drowsiness; low energy; weak pulse and a progressive loss of consciousness. Most victims of hypothermia are not even aware of their condition. You should seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who shows the previous symptoms.
First aid: Be gentle with the person and don’t massage or rub the person to warm up. Move the person out of the cold or shield them as much as possible. Remove wet clothing and replace with dry clothing, and if possible insulate the person from the cold ground and cover the person with dry blankets. If need be share your body heat with person. Provide warm non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t apply direct heat, however you can apply a warn dry compress to the neck, chest wall or groin. For more information on hypothermia go to www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothermia
Frostbite occurs when skin tissue freezes. The most often effected parts of the body are the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes. There are three degrees of frostbite: 1st degree is when the skin is irritated. 2nd degree is when the skin has blisters but no major damage and 3rd degree involves all layers of skin which cases permanent damage. The first two degrees of frostbite have symptoms of burning, numbness, tingling, itching or a cold sensation in the area effected. Symptoms of deep frostbite include swelling and blood -filled blisters over white or yellowish colored skin which may look waxy and turn purplish blue as it re-warms.
First aid: Keep effected parts elevated to prevent swelling; move person to a warm area, but avoid walking if the feet are effected; check for hypothermia; remove wet clothing and restrictive jewelry; give person a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage; do not rub effected areas and re-warm effected areas as quickly as possible.
For more on frostbite see www.emedicinehealth.com/frostbite Water Dangers
Water in the form of a lake, pond or stream are the cause of many winter accidents. Never go out of ice without checking the thickness first. While two inches is strong enough to stand on, ice of that thickness is usually not uniform. Four inches of ice is the standard for waking on or for ice fishing and skating. If you are ice fishing or skating on a body of water always have a throwable floatation device such as a lifesaver, buoyant cushing or buoy attached to a length of rope close by. It is always safest to skate or ice fish with a partner. It’s also wise to place your cell phone in a plastic bag and keep it in an outside piece of clothing. Stay away from dams, stream confluences and springs, as well as any posted areas, where ice maybe thinnest. It’s also wise to carry a sheathed knife or ice pick in an accessible place on your outer clothing. Should you find yourself on thin ice lay flat and spread your weight out. Should you fall through the ice you can use it to pull yourself up on the ice and out of the water. Should you come upon someone who has fallen through the ice do not go right to the person. Getting too close can cause you to go through the ice. Talk to the person and try to calm him or her down. Lay flat on the ice and use a rope, branch, jacket, or other object to reach out to the person.
When hiking along a stream or river always stay at least a couple body lengths from the water or icy areas. So if you take a fall you will have a reasonable amount of dry land between you and the water. The PA Boat and Fish Commission has an excellent site for water and ice safty at www.fish.state.pa.us/water/ice_thickness.pfd
Wind Chill Factors
The wind chill factor can be a chief element in frostbite and hypothermia. A thirty degree air temperature combined with a 25-mile per hour wind is equivalent to a 1-degree air temperature with no wind. Always protect exposed parts of your body such as ears, nose, fingers and face.
Proper foot wear is often overlooked, especially by the younger generation. Leave the sneakers home. Water proof boots and boots that are wind resistant are the best way of avoiding problems. Any boot or shoe that will allow water to penetrate into your socks is worthless in the outdoors during the winter months. Likewise always protect yourself with an outer layer of clothing that will block the wind. For a Windchill Chart go to www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/index.shtml
Special Medical Needs
People with special medical needs such as diabetes, circulation problems, etc. should take extra care when in the outdoors in the cold weather. Symptoms of some medical problems can mimic frostbite and hypothermia. Likewise people with medical conditions are often more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, which means they should be extra careful and take extra care to protect themselves. The cold weather puts the body under more stress and this can exasperate diabetes and other medica conditions. I have been a diabetic for 10 plus years and know first hand that low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can mimic symptoms of hypothermia. For more on diabetes and cold weather go to www.idea2000,org/moreinfo/docs/diabetes_cold_tips.html
Last but not least: Keep a winter kit in your vehicle with such items as: first aid kit, blankets, changes of warm clothes, and warmers, matches and fire starter, length of rope and throw buoy, flares, flashlight and other items that might come in handy during an emergency. Ice fishing, skating and other outdoor activities are a lot more fun and a lot safer when they are done with a friend. So take a friend, play it safe and get out and enjoy what the cold weather outdoors have to offer this winter.
The Tip Up and How To Use It
By J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 3, 2014
Now that the holidays are behind us and Old Man Winter has taken up residence in our area for the next several months, it’s time for some good old fashioned hard water fishing. I know the thought of standing on a frozen lake or pond and drilling holes in the ice to catch a few fish sends shivers down the spine of a good many fair weather fishermen, but heck, sometimes it’s the only game in town. One of the oldest and time tested ways of ice fishing is through the use of the tip up. The sound of “Flag Up” is music to an ice fisherman’s ears, so here are some tips to get the most out of your tip up fishing this winter.
Tip ups are nothing fancy. Simply put, they are a pair of legs and a main shaft which holds a spool full of line below the water that triggers a flag on a piece of spring steel that alerts the fishermen to a fishes bite when the fish takes the bait and pulls line off the spool. Well, they used to be that simple, but like everything else in today’s world of technology, fancy gadgets and gizmos have dolled them up and some now light up when a fish triggers the flag and some even automatically set the hook in the fish. However, a tip up by any other name is still a tip up and there are some tricks that can really make a difference in the number of fish you catch no matter what type of tip up you use.
Use the Proper Line
One of the most important factors in using tip ups is using the proper line. All too often anglers try to use monofilament on the spool of their tip ups, much the same as they would when fishing with a spinning reel. Mono is too stiff in the cold water and will coil up when you pull in a fish, which can cause you some real problems, especially on a windy day. Braided Dacron line is the top choice for tip ups. It will last for years, is very limp, will not give you any problems in the cold weather and allows you to do things with it that you can’t do with monofilament. There are also some tricks you can play with braided line that you can’t do with monofilament.
Dacron line at one time was available in just about every tackle shop, however, it has become less and less common. One thing you can do is save your used modern braided line and use it on your tip ups. It’s best to use heavier line, as the very thin line can cut your hands when pulling in a heavy fish.
One thing you can do with braided line that you can’t do with mono is mark the line to measure depths. Sometimes, especially when fishing deeper water, you will be fishing for suspended fish and need to get your bait down to a certain depth time after time. What you can do with several of your tip ups is to measure out the line when you are putting it on the spool and tie a knot every ten feet in your line. Single overhand knots tied in your line will not interfere with the line coming off the spool, but will allow you to measure depths as you are lowering your baits into the water by counting the knots.
One of the problems you have with wood tip ups is that after a few years some of the hardware can come loose as the wood drys out. There are two ways of dealing with this problem. In the case of the U shape staples that hold the triggering device you can put a little glue in the staple holes and then push the staple back in. When it comes to the shaft that holds the spool, which can dry out in the off season, you can soak the bottom of the tip ups in water for a week or so before you start fishing. This will cause the wood to swell and lock the shaft the spool rides on in tight.
Positing Your Tips Ups
One thing many anglers over look is the proper positioning of their tip ups. For this the angler should do a little homework during the regular season. If you fish a lake or pond on a regular basis during the open water season, you more than likely have an idea of when the fish hold up during the cold water season. Often some of the places that you caught fish right before freeze up will be the places you will find the fish once the ice is on the water. These are the places you will want to fish. If you take land sightings while fishing from a boat during the open water season, you can use the same land sightings when you are on the ice.
Another place that is usually a hot spot during the hard water season is an old stream bed or channel. Here, again, locating the channel or stream bed during the open water season and taking land sightings will give you an edge during the hard water season. Placing your tips ups in a line along the channel can often give you some good results.
Another spot that produces well during the hard water season are the submerged weed beds in a body of water. These weed beds act as a dinner table for baitfish and gamefish that will feed on the aquatic life in the vegetation. Most often the best way to fish them with tip ups is to place your tip ups around the edges of the weed beds to ambush the bass and pickerel as they hold there picking up the baitfish and panfish that feed on the insect life.
Dealing With the Wind
A windy day and produce plenty of false alarms as a gust of wind dislodges the spring wire that holds the flag. Positing the tip up properly in relation to the direction the wind is blowing from will help keep this from happening. Always try to position your tip up so the wind is blowing against the main shaft of the tip up and not directly on the triggering mechanism. Likewise position the tip up so that the side the spring wire slides off had the wind blowing against it not away from it.
Adding A Weight To Your Line
Last but not least, there are all different ways of placing a weight on the line of your tip ups. However, the best way is through the use of an egg sinker. Use the weight egg sinker that gives you just enough weight to keep your bait down and not trigger your tip up. Loop the main line from the spool of your tip up through the egg sinker twice, then tie a swivel to the main line and attach the hook and leader to it. When the egg sinker is attached in the manner we described, you can slide the weight up and down your line, thus increasing the distance from your sinker to the swivel. In open water you can increase the distance and allow your minnow to swim around a greater distance from the sinker. If you are fishing close to a structure and want to keep the minnow close you can shorten the distance by sliding the sinker closer to the swivel.
There you have it- some tips for getting the most out of your tip ups this hardwater season.