Connetquot River

In 2003, the year in fishing began outside of New Jersey as a change of pace. Mark, Jamie, and his father ventured out to the Connetquot River to fish exclusively for trout. The Connetquot River has its own trout hatchery, which means all fishermen must follow their strict guidelines. Set up using a European style of river fishing, all fishermen have their own stations(docks) spread out approx. 50 yards apart. Wading in these waters are prohibited, and all hook barbs must be crimped. During trout season, you are allowed to keep 1 fish...but even that is questionable.

Mark's nice Rainbow Trout: March 29th, 2003 - 11:26AM

Mark's nice Rainbow Trout: March 29th, 2003 - 10:51AM

A pretty Connetcuot Brookie caught by Jamie at 10:38AM.

Surprise Lake, Watchung NJ
Early April Pickerel

In the beginning of April, Tom and Ryan fished a lake located in the Watchung Reservation. Despite temperatures in the 40's, they figured it was a nice enough day to try a lake knowing pickerel would be biting. Sure enough, they pulled out a pickerel each. Ryan caught his early on, while Tom hooked his a few hours later on the opposite side of the lake. To assure that Spring wasn't quite here, it snowed the following day.
Caught by Ryan, April 6th - 10:34AM

Caught by Tom, April 6th - 12:41PM

Watchung Lake, NJ
First Big Bass of 2003

On April 20th, 7:37PM of this year, Tom pulls out a nice bass from Watchung Lake. "It's really great to see bigger bass hitting this time of the year, before the spawn". He continues to babble and says "Having a digital camera is nice; you know exactly when a fish is caught...down to the minute".

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

After Easter, Mark, Jamie, his father, and uncle Bob went up to Pulaski, NY on a Steelhead trip. This was Mark and Jamie's second trip to the river this year, and proved to be more productive than the first. Without a foot of snow on the ground and better conditions overall, this time around produced much larger trout in bigger numbers.

Caught by Jamie, April 26th, 2003

Day and Night

Jamie with a female and male steelhead caught at two different times of day. Dusk can be the 'magic hour', but you can be successful any other time of the day as well.

Caught by Jamie, April 25th, 2003 - 7:16PM

Waders n' Brews - Kickin' it Pulaski Style

Watchung Lake
The Shad and the Crappie

April 29th, 2003

Although Shad and Crappies are common to New Jersey waters, they're not so common in Watchung Lake. You are much more likely to pull out a bass, catfish, or of course a sunfish. It is believed that someone had introduced crappies to the lake within the past several years, but catching one now is no surprise. The shad, on the other hand, existing during the end of April is more interesting than why the fish was in the lake to begin with. Kregler explains, "Rare because they're dying off, dead by this point so they don't really "feed". Unless it was foul hooked, that would explain the blood on its head plus the fact that they should be dying off; it all fits together". Credit for these two fish goes to Ryan.

Caught April 29th, 2003 - 7:51PM

Caught April 29th, 2003 - 7:53PM

Watchung Lake, NJ: Nice May Bass

Caught by Tom, May 2nd, 2003 - 8:08PM

On May 3rd, Tom and Kregler hit Watchung Lake with great results. Due to people fishing their regular spots, they decided to hit the opposite end of the lake, which turned out to be a smart move. Not only did it produce several bass, it also produced a nice catfish on a jig, no less. The outing also gave Kregler a chance to test a new sink-tip flyline, which worked out well for him that night.

Caught by Tom, May 3rd, 2003 - 7:43PM

Caught by Tom, May 3rd, 2003 - 7:52PM

Simply referred to as "The Gorge" by us, it is one of the more respected trout streams in New Jersey. A majority of the water is fairly shallow, and most of the stream can be accessed with the help of waders.

Other spots, like the one pictured to the right, are deeper pockets that can be a few feet deep.

Home to primarily Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout, The Gorge was a strictly fly fishing trout stream until 2002 when they allowed the use of artificial lures. Although you can now throw in a jig or spinner, the best method of catching a trout would still be a fly. The average size trout is anywhere from 8 - 12 inches, while a "keeper" trout is 15" and above.

As more of a bass fisherman, The Gorge is always an interesting experience for me because of the fast moving current and rocky surroundings. The window of opportunity that a fish has to strike after a cast enters the water is very short, since your lure is swept down stream in a blink of an eye. Being my second trip to The Gorge, I still haven't gotten use to that part of it and only hooked one, which fell off after I treated it like a bass.

Jamie, on the other hand, knows these waters very well since he has fished them since he was a kid. From what he tells me, locating trout and presentation are key in catching them. Unlike bass, you cannot just toss bait in the water and hope they see it. Observing changes in current, knowing what trout are feeding on, and making the fly appear like the insect it is imitating all play a part. Since drifting a fly is such a great technique to use in this type of stream, movement is secondary. Jamie caught five Brown Trout out this outing; the last of which is pictured below.

"There's No Fish In There!"

On a slow night at my usual spot at Watchung Lake, I got heckled by a little kid in a passing car. Since my back was turned, all I heard was this little voice that informed me "There's no fish in there!". After being there for well over at hour without even a nibble, I took the comment personally. Five minutes later, I caught this bass as proof that there were, in fact, fish in the lake. The kid was long gone by this point, so I couldn't be annoyingly victorious about it. Honestly, it was really a matter of time before I caught something considering dusk was nearing (good fishin') and I already started to get some good hits. Either way, I was still staying until I caught one. Good thing sooner than later.

Rubber worms DO work!

I guess a good time to try a new is lure when your regular tackle isn't doing the job. I've had rubber worms in my tackle box for some time now and I never bothered to really fish them for very long, even though it's probably one of the easier ways to fish for bass and can be very effective. The bass below was caught on a rubber worm using a Texas rig. Caught at 8:36PM would explain the dark picture.

The Gorge: Part 2

It's back to "The Gorge", as Jamie and Kregler return two weeks after the last visit to this beautiful stream. Brown trout were active again, even more so than the last time, but a nice rainbow trout and a sucker were also caught that day. Below, a close up of a young native brown trout which was caught by Kregler (Right).

Q & A

Q: What makes them "native" brown trout, and how can you tell?

A: Native fish can be told apart by their more brilliant colors and their fins. Their more brilliant colors come from their all natural diet, as opposed to a hatchery fish which eats artificial foods: dry pellets. The fins on a hatchery trout will often be worn down, due to crowding up against tank walls, while a native trout, who swims freely in a stream, has fuller fins.

Whoa Momma! Check out the fins on that one!

A beautiful native brown trout caught by Jamie

Other Observations about Native Brown Trout

Jamie: the native browns seem to have wider spots than the other trout.

Mike: the native fish seem to be stronger fighters (especially the browns), maybe because they've lived their whole lives in water with current.


Mike's expression says it all - Although a fun fish to have on your line, Suckers are, by no means, a "prize catch".

Mike: Yeah, they're sometimes called "trash fish," but since we don't aim to keep any, I'll take a few suckers. They don't usually hit flies, but they do make some nice runs due to their wide bodies. When you're fish doesn't jump, roll, or flash like a trout, it's probably a sucker .

The Gorge: Part 3

Once again, Jamie and Kregler fished "The Gorge" on a particularly rainy day on June 2nd. Although the weather wasn't cooperating, the fishing was a different story with many nice trout hooked throughout the day. Pictured to the right and below is a very decent brown trout caught by Jamie.

On this outing, Kregler did very well with a nice rainbow trout and an equally nice brown trout. Although these fish made it to the site, there were nearly 20 fish caught between both fisherman that day.

During the month of May and continuing into June, New Jersey was hit with an unusually large amount of rain, like most of the country. This could sometimes be a disadvantage when fishing lakes and streams due to flooding and cloudy, murky waters. During these rainy spring days, it is good to see the fish still biting.

June Catfish

Watchung Lake has definitely felt the effects from all the rain with extremely high waters containing large amounts of debris. It will take a few days for the lake to settle and return to normal. Nevertheless, a cloudy day with cloudy water were signs that catfish would be biting, and luckily one did on a pink rubber worm. Believe it or not, that is not a hunk of chewed Bubble Yum.

First Solo Trip to
The Tip of 2003

On another rainy Saturday, Jamie fished the hook and tested a new salt water flyrod. A successful outing : the trip produced some decent sea robins and fluke, plus the new rod and reel worked great.

Nice June Fluke

A shot of a good size fluke, around 14 inches, and the new salt fly combo.

Since this has been the coldest recorded spring in NJ history, salt water trips have been delayed by approx. 1 month when compared to last year. With warmer weather ahead, you can expect many more entries this summer.

Two weeks later, Kregler and Tom returned to "The Tip" and landed "The Tip's Trifecta: sea robins, fluke, and a bluefish.

Here is Mike with the first catch of the afternoon - It's another Nice June Fluke!

Points Awarded: 1,500

The next three fish Mike and Tom hooked were sea robins (2 of 3 are shown). Although grouped with suckers as a trash fish, sea robins can still put up a decent fight, as did the one below.

Completing the trifecta is a classic shot a bluefish falling for the ol' diving plug.

Note - In the late afternoon, an eastern wind developed which killed the fishing.

Pair O' Bass

On July 19th, Tom hit Watchung Lake armed with a bag of purple rubber worms and caught 2 nice bass right off the bat. Unfortunately, nothing else hit after these 2, and not for a lack of trying. 'It was like their feeding switch was flipped to off'. It's a odd feeling hooking 2 good fish in the first 10 minutes, and nothing else for 2 hours.

For a while now, bigger bass have been harder to locate at Watchung Lake. Not sure if it's the heat of the summer or simply being over fished. Either way, I think the bass have just moved out of their normal spots and it's a matter of finding them now. This pair was caught in a different area than I normal fish, which made me think.

Delaware & Raritan Canal

To switch things up, Ryan and Tom fished the canal near Kingston, NJ during the first week of August. Always a mix bag of fish to be caught: sunfish, largemouth, crappies, pickerel, catfish, and carp...if you're going for them. Even if the fishing is slow, it's still a nice scenic walk with plenty openings to cast along the trail. Pictured below is a good example of the canal's variety; Ryan checking out the pickerel he just unhooked, and Tom holding up a pretty crappie and a rock bass.

Size Comparison

A great shot of a nice bass and the spinning reel that helped him to the sidewalk. It's also a telling way to show the size relationship when it comes to fishing and photography. Including something in the shot that its size is commonly known (a dollar bill, a newpaper, or the person holding the fish) will display the true size of the fish. In this case, a medium spinning reel(5 inches) tells us this fish is roughly 12" in length. (Lengths still may vary based on fishermen's exaggeration)

Fight & A Half

Ryan with a nice bass caught over at Watchung Lake. Big bass have been destroying rubber worms lately, which was what Ryan was using. As we tend to favor mid-size rod setups, this was a small battle to land. This fish puts Ryan in the lead for the Bass of the Month Award, which will count for the month of August.

September Largemouths

Saturday 6th, 2003: These two bass were landed on a beautiful, sunny afternoon. I arrived at the lake around 3:15; these two hit around 4:30. Both were definitely larger fish for lake, especially the second largemouth. Purple rubber worms were obviously working the best, since green, black/firetail, and pink weren't getting many results.

Times at the lake can vary, as far as feeding goes - For a while, dusk had been a great time to catch bass. Lately, I've noticed during the day (1-4 o'clock) has been very productive for larger bass for this time of year.

Moonlit Bass

Watchung Lake can be surprisingly bright during and around a full moon at night. And if you follow the lunar phases when making fishing plans, some say those are the best times to go.

Full Moon Catfish

October 10th, 2003 - Tom and Ryan were back at Watchung Lake the next right, but instead brought heavier rods and chicken livers, which some consider the ultimate catfish bait. Well, this may be true. Ryan hooked into 2 big catfish on a slightly breezy full moon night. Pictured is his second catch of the night.

Surprise Lake Pickerel

On mild mid-October day, Tom catches one of Surprise Lake's most abundant exports. Pickerel thrive here, for what ever reason, and even on a slow day like this one you'll almost always catch one. As signs of Fall start creeping closer, this is great place to go with colder water tempertures; there's an off chance a hungry bass may still lurk, but pickerel tend to stay very active into Fall and early Winter.

Surprise Lake Pickerel: Round 2

On a gorgous day in the low 40's, Tom, Ryan, and a Crane(right) were bundled up once again in the Watchung Reservation's Surprise Lake on November 9th. This trip did produce three pickerel, but the catches seemed few and far between within a 4 hour period.

Last Cast: Pulaski, NY

On a weekend in the middle of November, Jamie and his father went back up to Pulaski on another "spur of the moment" fishing trip. It turned out to be an amazing 3 days on the river, and also a huge finale for the year in fishing page.