Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hooked a Salmon in New Jersey and Caught Bass

Oliver arrived a little before me and spoke to two guys coming off in a jonboat who caught nothing but sunfish, fishing all day from early morning. We got on the water at about 5:15, fishing from Oliver's double kayak, Oliver insisting on fly fishing while I brought along my 5 1/2-foot St. Croix spinning, as well as a 6 wt. fly rod. I trolled a weighted Clouser minnow for a short while. Then I concentrated on bass fishing, allowing a weightless Chompers worm to slip down among towering weeds as deep as 25 feet.

The results: six bass, the largest 17 inches, others 16, 15, and nine or 10 inches, all quickly released. Oliver caught sunfish on a dry fly, including a couple of them really panfish-sized. One of those actually hit a small streamer. But he hooked something mysterious on the dry fly--bass-sized--though none of us got a sighting other than commotion on top.

Mid-lake, flying ants speckled the surface, and we spotted something pretty big sipping them. Brown trout exist in the lake, very few. The surface must have been 77 degrees, and yet who knows. Would a straggler brown surface to sip a few dozen and dive back down?

Certainly the salmon shoot up from cold depths and crash herring on top. We saw this action long before sunset. Water clear, they see the herring and zero in. Besides, lateral lines can sense those herring better than sight, at least on calm days. At sunset and thereafter, we eased about mid-lake for an opportune moment for Oliver to fly cast a streamer, and for me to heave my heavy Kastmaster a mile.

We saw some crashes. I kept throwing my Kastmaster where a single salmon had surfaced and splashed minutes before, and hooked one. The Kastmaster has a single, large hook more suited for bluefish. I fought one for 10 or 15 seconds before it got off that hook.

Yeah, hooking a salmon in New Jersey makes me feel young again. You look out on the lake from shore--you'll never hook one! But all that space is fair game. The herring cruise and the salmon shoot like silver terror anywhere and everywhere so long as it's deep below, which is a lot of water, but not too much.

Sometimes when they crash on top it really is a sight to see with water splashing around like kids in a pool forcing it in each other's faces.   


  1. What lake is this? seems weird to see a lake in New Jersey so empty in the summertime, looks beautiful.

    1. I don't divulge the name, since we're interested in keeping it as empty as possible. But a lot of lakes exist in New Jersey where you can go fish for hours alone. Just this morning, we fished on New Jersey's largest, Lake Hopatcong, and didn't see anyone else for the first hour or two.

    2. haha, as a fellow fisherman I completely understand where youre coming from. The salmon talk piqued my interest though I must admit. Ive been mulling over visiting some of the Newark Watershed reservoirs (Clinton specifically) to try for some of the holdover browns in a place thats not as expansive as Round valley, have you had any success catching holdovers in these waters? Ive looked around your blog for as much info as I can gather on the subject but I would love to hear of any other experience youve had in these areas. Your blog is also very informative and im glad you put it up, there is an usually low amount of first-hand experience blogs about freshwater jersey waters , which is weird because we do have some amazing fisheries in this state.

    3. Weird, your other comment was NOT "removed by the author." Anyway, my son and I once fished Oak Ridge, Newark Watersheds, from shore--one 17-inch smallmouth, some missed hits. I have only had success with holdover browns in Round Valley, from shore, October & November, although some wild browns from streams. I don't really know how good those reservoirs are, although it would be interesting to try. My son and I tried Shepard Lake with herring at 35 feet for the holdover brook trout purported to exist, but caught none. We did OK with pickerel, leftover herring. Thanks for the compliments and maybe we can fish sometime, although I'm so busy things tend to be hard to schedule. And by the way, Merrill Creek Res. is not nearly as large as RV, although you're limited to electric motor. The browns in MC are purported to be larger than RV, since the herring do so well in MC, and the herring in RV decimated down to almost zero in the mid-90's. Round Valley Trout Association stocks RV with shiners now, loads and loads of them, and I believe the state has stocked a lot too, but what the res. needs is a reproducing population of baitfish, in my opinion, if the stockings nevertheless really do make a big difference. And about the blog, I see a lot of anglers far more dedicated than I to put in the time; I know of a guy who for years fished Lake Hopatcong like three times each week and I think through the ice, too. I read NJ accounts and see some really contemplative, first-hand accounts there, but it's a rare bird who catches fish--at least some--and knows a technical thing or two, appreciates just being there--with acute observance inside and out--and is altogether dedicated to writing. I don't mean to toot my horn, but all the across the country, compared to, what, 50 million recreational fishermen? There are relatively few who blog from experience. Enjoy it and I'm glad you comment.

    4. sorry about the confusion with the comment, I removed it because I started a whole new thread instead of replying to your comment! Its interesting to hear about the supposed holdover brook trout population this is the first time im hearing anything about it, even if it is just a rumor its still an exciting prospect. I wouldnt even begin to doubt it either , stranger things (like a report I read on a forum about someone dunking clams for stripers in the surf and catching a 3 pound sea run brown trout here in new jersey) have happened. I have also read about Merrill Creek and its population of alewives , which gave me instant visions of boating a 5 pound plus silver holdover brown haha. My feelings are also with you about Round Valley. as you mentioned im also worried about the longterm repercussions of not having a forage species like the Alewife in its waters. The lack of fertility in the lake I assume would also pose a problem for the longterm survival of a filter feeder like the alewife. I have usually always averaged at least one trout per outing to Round valley, and I usually go in the winter, before it ices over obviously. The only upside of the all scud diet that the Round Valley trout eat is that it makes their flesh orange like a salmon, and tasty, as opposed to white and bland like the freshly stocked hatchery trout. Also thank you for extending an invite to fish! I dont know many other fisherman , usually I just get friends and family to tag along. They are content with fast action pan fish fishing or throwing a spoon into a bluefish blitz, but waking up at 5 am to go live line herring for hours to possibly not even catch anything is definitely not something they would want to do. I fish for all fish and am content to do so but as you may have noticed I have a personal vendetta against the trout. There is something about boating a silvery rainbow or a beautiful brown, or even bringing to the net a freshly stocked brookie, that I find much more appealing than fishing for most other fish. I think its in part to how finicky they can be at times, or the finesse involved with Ultra light tackle fishing, but for whatever reason I enjoy it. I usually do well on the musky in april, but after catching a few holdovers in Round valley I just became obsessed with trying to catch these transformed stockies. I am interested particularly in Clinton because as you might be able to relate to with your Shepard Lake excursion its exciting to go into a body of water where your target species may or may not be swimming underneath you. I know clinton has documented brown trout catches, but not as well documented as the bigger lakes like MC or RV , and it would be personally very rewarding to bring up a fish that I only knew might be there from a few photos and mentions on a handful of forums. Again, im also very grateful for blogs like yours. Showing up to any new body of water can be overwhelming, and alot of the information given by the state is simply where to park and where to launch your boat. Having the first hand knowledge you put on this blog makes it easier to get to a body of water and properly fish it and have fun instead of doing a few exploratory trips beforehand. I hope we can get together before winter sets in completely. the only fishing vessel i have currently is a kayak and sadly they arent allowed in the newark watershed waters, so ive been trying to find a decent jon boat to get out there. If thats not possible I would definitely just settle for fishing a holdover trout lake like Wawayanda where I (or we) could rent a boat and try for these fish. Thank you!

    5. The bad news about getting out before winter is that, probably, the Wawayanda rentals are shut down for the season. Dow's Boat Rentals on Hopatcong are open into November, but I'm not sure Wawayanda is a private operation, though we can find out. Hopatcong is good for stocked trout in the spring, but this time of the year we go after walleye and hybrid striped bass, as I'm sure you've read on the blog. I'll see about Wawa & get back to you, maybe this evening...

    6. Yes, it's state park, the rentals, so naturally you have to phone & find out if they're renting this late in the season, probably not. Didn't phone this a.m. and got back late from work, but anyway, it doesn't look now as if I'll have time this fall. Turns out my son has tomorrow & probably next Saturday off from work. He has plans tomorrow anyway (& is probably up all night), so next Saturday it looks like he & I will get our annual LH fishing in, just a week late, and I hope the fishing is still good, probably will be. You probably have normal weekday work hours. I do get some weekday time off, but other than that, I'm booked. We go to Pulaski the 5th. And after that...well, I guess I might fish Waywanda, if the boats are available. It would be interesting for the salmon.

    7. Hey bruce I sent you an email! Let me know if you got it.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Comments Encouraged and Answered