Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lake Hopatcong Walleye and Largemouths

The 3 1/2-dozen herring we bought had some larger among them, including one a full five inches long, but Joe Welsh, who runs the large wholesale bait operation out of Dow's Boat Rentals, gets what Lake Hopatcong offers, and like a recent year in the fall, the lake is producing small herring about 2 1/2 inches long. How does this affect fishing? The simple answer is that a large, five-inch herring produces more vibrations in the water to alert fish at longer distances to its presence in the dark depths. But what difference it really makes, I don't know. If herring were small last year--it was either last year or the previous--we still did real well, and we did well the previous year, too.

My son got a fairly nice walleye. This was yesterday morning, motoring off from Dow's with our portable running lights on. Twenty-one-and-a-quarter-inches, three pounds, five ounces. We took this one home for his mother to cook. She really likes it when we bring a fish home. That's never a largemouth bass, and hasn't been a smallmouth from the Delaware River in six or seven years or more.

The walleye took a small herring set 33 feet deep. Meanwhile, Matt played around the rocks on the shallow side of the drop-off with his nightcrawlers, catching lots of yellow perch. I decided to give largemouths a try, after I had told Matt repeatedly I could give him a larger split shot to reach those rocks on pinpoint target with the bait right against them. Well, I ended up rigging an ultralight and sailing a cast directly on the bull's eye. All these years fishing with my son, I have it figured out, though, frankly, he's never noticed nearly as much. A nice bass of over a pound took the crawler. My son was pleased.

Next cast, I lost another bass. And the next cast produced a nice one of about 3 1/2 pounds I haven't featured photographed, which impressed my son I hope in an educative way. And the next cast resulted in a bass not much less than a pound!

"Now cast those rocks," I said.

I left Matt to the nightcrawler fishing. He continued to catch yellow perch.

We soon moved to Chestnut Point and I caught a large crappie on herring in minutes. We kept finding herring on the graph with large fish associated with them, but although Matt caught a couple of nice crappies on the Binsky, we couldn't get these marked fish to hit. I mean, fish suspended at 23 feet over 45 feet of water--we had weighted herring right at that level and they wouldn't take. Some of the fish--and large ones--suspended at 14 feet over 27. And we fished bottom closely with the Binskys. Walleye will hug bottom and not show on the fish finder.

We did the same near Sharps Rock, and finally found where most of the NJ Fishing.com meetup took place, on the hump out from where the yacht club used to be. We saw a couple of small hybrids caught on chicken liver. We fished our Binkys and suspended herring to no definite result.

Mostly, a beautiful day on the water, and perhaps the last of these annual outings with son, who will go to a great university soon. We performed OK, but after I was told at Dow's that so and so only jigged and in less time than we had been out, catching two walleye, two hybrids, one of the hybrids six pounds, I said to Matt, when the others weren't in earshot, "Can you imagine, if we caught a six pound hybrid, jigging? Jigging takes real perseverance and patience; we're still amateurs at it."






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