Saturday, April 11, 2015

Knee Deep Club Stocks Lake Hopatcong with 1260 Rainbow and Brown Trout

The Knee Deep Club trout stocking took place today out of Dow's Boat Rentals. 1260 trout total came out of the Musky Fish Hatchery's tanks escorted to five boats, which distributed the rainbows and browns around the lake. 1000 of these fish range from 12 to 15 inches, the additional 260 from three to six pounds, but the big brown photographed above surely is at least seven pounds. From what I gathered, it's about 28 inches long.

That's not a fish photo. The man from the hatchery holds the fish right against the top of his waterproofing, which seems to show well for a company restraining the accentuation of an image and sticking to the facts. Customers have relied successfully on Musky for years. These fish are clean, healthy and now in the lake to provide a real nice fishery at least into June. Last year, summer never heated up enough to kill every or nearly every trout. A few got caught through July and possibly later.

KDC provides for any and everyone who will fish Lake Hopatcong. The possibility is there. Today's event a good time, it's just one example of club functions anyone who fishes can get involved in, whether individually or as a family. Membership includes at least 900 people total, and joining is as easy as Googling the club's name, filling out the form and paying the very modest fee, considering the value of these great fish.

KDC is a highly influential voice for Lake Hopatcong's fishery, with a successful history of negotiating with NJ DEP regarding stockings. In 1985, KDC initiated the stocking of hybrid striped bass in the lake, which has become a fantastic year round fishery. 1996 marks the year the club stocked the first muskies. It's amazing how the lake seems to have transformed overnight into a great musky destination. Join the club and enhance the value of your lake fishing experience. It makes a difference to be an insider, because you have a hand in making this lake what it is. You can come to the annual trout stocking event and carry trout to the stocking boats.

 That's the Big One
And Will it get Caught?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Went after the Big One

Two guys fished in the spot where I lost the 16-incher yesterday. I went downstream, missed some hits, caught two. I forgot to replace the one-pound test Fireline with two-pound test monofilament. The line test isn't the problem. Fireline is composed of thread-like material that salmon egg oil gums up. I gave up on a good spot because casting became all but impossible. I could not quite get the eggs in the zone, and too many flew off the hook. With two-pound mono and about the lightest tip possible for a rod, the weight of a single salmon egg and no more than a snap without swivel is enough for most situations. And if a little more reach is needed, snapping on a second leader adds the weight of another egg.

Further downstream a fast run has produced a lot of trout in the past, but today not one hit. The casting distance I could manage without tearing the salmon eggs off the hooks sufficient, there just didn't seem to be any fish here.

A nice, short romp. When I get a chance, I'm going to strip off the expensive Fireline and replace it. I may be back for more rainbows on salmon eggs yet.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

North Branch Raritan River Rainbows on Salmon Eggs

Guys casting Trout Magnets and the like pulled four or five trout apiece out of the river in 10 or 15 minutes, and then the rainbows got picky. The jigs simply plummet for bottom and trout swoop on them. It's very easy to fish that way. Hookups are a sure bet, when trout tend to steal salmon eggs at least as often as get hooked. Where I positioned having come in at 4:40 (North Branch is restricted to 5 pm opening on stocking days), I could not quite put salmon eggs on the trout. Besides, I still fiddled with figuring out how current carried the eggs before the guy to my left had five trout and quit after 15 minutes. I caught an average rainbow, yet wasn't satisfied with the eggs on snell hooks, double leaders snapped on with no added weight, no swivel...I wasn't sure they got in the zone, so I snapped on a small swivel for added weight, and then decided this was too much and undid it.

I began missing hits, and lost at least a couple of trout I played for awhile. I use a 3 1/2-foot spinning rod about 8mm wide at the butt. It's got a much lighter tip than my 2 weight, six-foot fly rod. With two-pound test mono, a 10-inch trout makes drag useful. Today I tried one-pound test Fireline and do not recommend it for this kind of fishing. Salmon egg oil makes casting very frustrating. It gums the line on the spool and I felt relieved I could fish at all. Mono gets to be something of a mess, but not really a problem.

I missed more hits than I would want to admit. The difficulty in drifting salmon eggs as a method involves hookset especially. In general, if you let a trout take too long, it steals the bait, but if you set too soon, you might pull the hook through the egg without catching any of the mouth. Add to this the wide range of how trout take eggs. Sometimes a trout takes an egg whole and instantly gets hooked deep in the mouth as it turns like lightening. Another trout lips an egg and sort of chews on it without ever getting the hook point in position to catch. If you wait on a fish like that, it will simply force the egg from the hook, and you never really had a chance to set anyhow.

There are days you never get it right. Other times, it comes together and you catch most of the trout that take. It's easy, once you start on the wrong foot, to go downhill during the rest of the outing. One screw-up leads to more confusion, and you just don't get the timing right.

In between spots I enjoyed the persistent call of a red-winged blackbird. The first I have noticed this year. I also felt the presence of a brown dirt trail I walked remind me of river smallmouth bass fishing during summer, a much more relaxed pursuit than trout fishing among so many competitors on a stocking day.

I found a nice little run all by myself where I saw at least half a dozen trout through polarized lenses. Then a real nice one came into view, which I watched finally snatch an egg. Missed this trout of at least 16 inches. Despite so many fish humiliating me, I lingered and fished hard, missing hits here and there. Finally, I came to the bottom of my jar of Mike's Shrimp Eggs. With the two leaders on one snap I got a lot of casts with the last two eggs before one slipped off the hook. Now one egg left, I still managed to gain casting distance and make the zone. I saw my line stop when current would have carried it and reared back. That big trout shuddered for a second in my view on the line and felt great, gone the next instant.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spruce Run Reservoir Warm Evening Low Level

With 70-degree temperatures, a strong south breeze and some sun warming the water, I felt this evening might be one of those special experiences with northern pike, slab crappies and largemouths feeding near the mouth of Spruce Run Creek.

We drove onto the bridge and I said, "This is not good, Fred. We'll have a look."

Water down at least four feet, something of a basin forms near the tip of the earthen jetty, four or five feet deep. Perhaps some fish would move in and settle in those depths, but I felt like having a look at Black Brook Cove. I almost decided on unpacking for the jetty, and yet if we didn't check what the other spot looks like with water down, we'd never know.

We pulled in. "This would be a great spot to launch a kayak," Fred said. "I haven't been here in ages."

It didn't look promising. Too shallow where I hoped for a drop. Nevertheless, the creek channel has definition and I felt sure fish might move right up within casting range of a live-lined shiner. I set two bobbers also. Fred figured a pike might hit a Zara Spook. He got great casting range with it.

Water pretty cold, maybe it hit 50 today at most in shallows, if that. I got the bass live-lining the channel and missed a hit from something on a bobber rig. The bobber popped under, then back up, just as a pike plays with the bait. But when it finally went down, the line moved off slow like a bass takes. My guess: a bass small enough not to have got hooked.