Friday, November 13, 2015

Boat Launch Reconstruction at Delaware Water Gap: Opportunity for Winter Walleye and Smallmouths

Work began on the boat launch ramp at the Delaware Water Gap, officially designated as Kittatinny Point, earlier this month. The ramp had been badly damaged by floods in 2004 and 2006, testament to the river's amazing power. Construction is slated to be finished in early December, so all you walleye anglers who want a winter opportunity, the river at the Gap reaches 55-foot depths, although the fish won't likely be so deep, particularly on any mild afternoons with sun slightly warming shallows. I like the area around the Interstate 80 bridge with some deep runs that aren't so deep the fish get lost under you, but shallower edges without too much current can come alive after warming. I've fished among the pillars by wading, caught lots of bass, and have for years desired to come here in a boat during November. This is good-looking water and always respect the seams between faster and slower.

Around sunset is the time to be prepared, and jerkbaits like the suspending Rapala Husky Jerk can be effective. Smithwick makes suspending jerkbaits that get down eight feet, also; for a minnow plug without the typical diving lip, these are an opportunity to try. Smallmouth bass hit throughout the winter too, and while deadsticking a tube jig by letting it sit on bottom may work, since the soft-plastic tentacles move in the current, if you want to feel assured, go with jigs tipped with live shiners, or even a size 6, plain shank hook and heavy split shot on the line. Walleye will certainly take live shiners also, though the place to fish them is especially in holes with slower current. I've caught smallmouths in the river during December, and not very deep, but my bass were average river fish, and I've heard plenty stories that relate bigger fish in the cold. Look for those holes, but don't spend all day fishing the deepest.