October 04, 2010
Our local expert has narrowed down our states' countless fishing possibilities to 36 top places to try. Is one or more of these picks near you? (February 2007)
Sweetwater anglers looking for some good fishing have plenty of choices throughout the year in the Mid-Atlantic.
Not only are there many species of fish to catch, there are also lots of waters to pick from, ranging from large and small rivers and streams to lakes, ponds and reservoirs.
So here are some top bets for the 2007 season. Surely some of these choices are near where you live.
Gunpowder Falls River
For first pick, let's start with some winter trout fishing. In 1986, the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) negotiated an agreement with the city of Baltimore for a minimum-flow release of cold water from Prettyboy Reservoir.
Until that time, Gunpowder Falls River would produce some good trout fishing, but it was anything but consistent. Natural reproduction was non-existent.
Once the water-flow problems were solved, the state began stocking thousands of fertilized brown and rainbow trout eggs in the river's gravel bottom. They also stocked thousands of fingerling and adult brown and rainbow trout, which took hold and turned into a naturally reproducing trout population.
The river is now considered one of the state's best year-round trout fishing streams, and it makes an especially picturesque setting for the dedicated trout fisherman.
One of the best stretches of river is the 7.2 miles of Gunpowder Falls that lies between the Prettyboy Dam and Blue Mount Road. The stretch is designated a wild trout stream and is catch-and-return, flies and artificial lures only. These regulations result in plenty of trout during the winter season.
The 6.1 miles from Corbett Road, downstream to a hiker/biker trail and approximately one mile below Phoenix Road, is also a good winter bet. This section of the stream is stocked in the spring and fall and provides a popular put-and-take fishery with a limit of five trout per day and no bait restrictions.
Swartswood Lake, N.J.
Our second pick is 494-acre Swartswood Lake in the northern portion of the Garden State. This lake is located in Swartswood State Park in Sussex County and is part of the Paulinskill River drainage.
When the state decided to refurbish the old Charles O'Hayford Fish Hatchery in Hackettstown (after the Pequest Trout Hatchery went online), one of the first species grown at the hatchery were walleyes. Walleye stocking is one of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's (DFW) better success stories.
Swartswood Lake is one of the program's biggest success stories. Walleyes topping the 10-pound mark have been taken from the lake, and some of the best fishing takes place in late February, as long as the winter season has been mild enough to have open water. On years when the lake is frozen, walleyes become the main target of ice-fishermen.
The lake, with its quick dropoffs, is ideal for slow-trolling swimming plugs and bait-spinner rigs. The drop-offs are also ideal for jigging plastic baits and live bait.
Swartswood Lake has a decent boat launch and is an electric-motors-only water.
Records Pond, Del.
Early spring means breakout largemouth fishing. One of the top picks for some early-season bucketmouth action is Records Pond in Delaware.
The pond's 92 acres lie in Sussex County near the town of Laurel. Record Pond is a relatively shallow body of water that warms quickly in March, especially when the area experiences a mild winter.
The early season usually sees decent numbers of average-size bass, along with an occasional trophy fish being caught as well. Your best choices for some good early-season action, in addition to live-lining minnows, are single and double spinnerbaits and floating swimming plugs, with the better fishing being in the late afternoons.
The lake has a decent boat launch, fair shoreline access and also a fishing pier that's handicap-accessible.
Pequest River, N.J.
April is the first month of the trout season in New Jersey. And one of the state's top trout rivers is the Pequest. The Pequest Trout Hatchery is located on the river's banks. While the water for the hatchery comes from artesian wells that are over 150 feet underground, the fact that the hatchery is located right on the banks of the river makes it one of the easiest bodies of water in the state to stock. The river's waters are clean and remain cool year 'round, which translates into ideal conditions for trout.
The Pequest is a free-flowing, rock-based stream that produces good bug hatches all year long. Most springs mean water flows higher than normal, especially during years with snowy winters.
Since the hatchery lies on the river, most of the better fishing occurs from downstream of the hatchery to the Pequest's confluence with the Delaware River in Belvidere. In this section, the river is highlighted by long, moderately deep stretches studded with boulders and rocks. This means you'll find plenty of eddies and short, slow-moving pools.
Passaic River, N.J.
Another stocking success story in New Jersey involves northern pike. The state stocks eight waters with northern pike, and one of the best places to find them are in the Passaic River. The state has been stocking northern pike here since 2000, and their survival and growth rates in the river have been excellent. Over the last couple of years, pike topping the 20-pound mark have been taken.
River access is decent, with plenty of good shoreline fishing. Mid-spring water levels are ideal for fishing big swimming plugs and spinnerbaits. The river is an ideal setting for the kayak and canoe fishermen.
Two of the top sections on the river for pike fishermen are the Little Falls and Garfield areas, which offer decent access and some of the deeper stretches of river.
Triadelphia Reservoir, Md.
Just because angling here is catch-and-release only for the first half of June, that's no reason not to go bass fishing, especially at Triadelphia Reservoir in Maryland. Its 800 surface acres are backed up behind the Brighton Dam. The reservoir is a June hotspot for bass. Triadelphia Reservoir is in Montgomery County and is part of the Patuxent River Drainage.
The reservoir offers both deep and shallow-water bass habitat. In June however, most of the better fishing is centered on the spawning areas. How soon the June spawning is over is a product of that year's weather. Some of the best fishing is in 5 to 15 feet of water.
The lake is an electric-motors-only water, and permits are required to fish the reservoir. There are six launch sites to choose from there.
South Branch, N.J.
Some of the summer's hottest fishing for smallmouths takes place on the South Branch of the Raritan River. While the South Branch is better known for its trout fishing, it is also one of the finest smallmouth streams in the Garden State.
And July is prime time for smallmouth fishing here. The South Branch offers some of the best wet-foot wading of any water in the state, along with excellent access.
Most of the better smallmouth fishing on the South Branch takes place from the Ken Lockwood Gorge downstream to its confluence with the North Branch, where it forms the main Raritan River. The lower portion of the South Branch is basically a shallow rock and gravel stream with sporadic deeper holes and runs.
The 2006 season produced some of the best smallmouth fishing in the last 10 years, with fish to 4 pounds and more being taken.
Lake Assunpink, N.J.
If you're after largemouth bass in the summertime, Lake Assunpink is hard to beat. The lake is part of the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area and is part of the Assunpink drainage, which has a reputation of producing some of the best bass fishing in New Jersey.
One of the main reasons for the large numbers of bass and their excellent growth rates is the large gizzard population the lake contains.
August provides excellent top-water action. With some 300 acres of water, Assunpink is mostly a shallow body, with the deepest water being around the island and dam. Constant-motion surface plugs, poppers and darters can bring some real explosions from the bass in the early morning and evening, as well as by the light of the moon. The lake also produces well on crankbaits and weedless-rigged plastic baits.
The main access to the lake is off Intrastate 195 via the Cox's Corner exit. The lake is electric motors only, and its boat ramp was rebuilt in 2006 with a new concrete ramp.
Casselman River, Md.
The Casselman River in Garret County is known for its excellent trout fishing for browns and rainbows. It is a fairly wide stream with a variety of habitat types. Fishermen will find long productive riffle sections, deep pools and even some pocket water.
Though most of the land bordering the Casselman River is privately owned, most landowners do allow access to fishermen. This is due, in part, to the annual clean-up efforts of Trout Unlimited's Youghiogheny and Nemacolin chapters. The Casselman River Bridge State Park is the only public land bordering the river's delayed-harvest area.
Adult browns and rainbows are stocked each spring and fall. The Delayed Harvest Fishing Area includes a catch-and-release season from Oct. 1 through June 15. Anglers are allowed only artificial lures and flies. Fishermen may keep two trout per day from June 16 through Sept. 30, with no bait or tackle restrictions.
Jennings Randolph Reservoir, with 950 acres of surface water on the Northern Branch of the Potomac River, is the largest reservoir in the Potomac basin. More than 2,500,000 walleye fry have been released into Jennings Randolph Lake over the years by West Virginia's Division of Natural Resources.
In recent years, walleyes to 14 pounds have been caught in the lake. October is prime time to catch old marble-eyes. The layout of the reservoir offers the anglers some good deep-water trolling, as well as some excellent jigging opportunities as well.
The Maryland boat launch is on Mt. Zion Road, off state Route 135 on Backbone Mountain. The launch includes a 30-foot-wide concrete boat ramp with a floating pier system. The large paved parking area can accommodate fifty cars and trailers, and a comfort facility is available for the boaters' convenience. The Maryland service charge is $5 for launching
Abbots Pond, Del.
Good fishing in a small package is the best way to describe Abbots Pond, located in Sussex County, not far from Milford. A shallow natural body of water with a maximum depth of 6 feet, Abbots is an excellent late-season target for bass fishermen. The pond has excellent natural reproduction, with decent numbers of average-size bass and fish topping the 5-pound mark being caught each season, too.
While the shallow nature of the pond lends itself to excellent top-water fishing during the warm water season, the lake cools quickly in the fall. How late the good fishing lasts is a product of the autumn weather. Should mild weather present itself, the fishing often lasts into mid-December. However, most of the better fishing takes place during the early part of November, when plastic baits and live-lining minnows produce the best results.
The lake has a decent boat launch and parking for about 10 vehicles, along with limited shoreline access.
Savage River Reservoir, Md.
With 350 acres of water surface and 16 miles of shoreline, all located in a deep canyon of the Savage River State Forest, Savage River Reservoir is an excellent choice to end the season with some eleventh-hour crappie fishing. The reservoir has an excellent papermouth population, not only in numbers but in size as well.
The reservoir's gin-clear water makes jigging your prime tool to take slabs in winter. Once you locate crappies holding on structure, cast jig-plastic bait combinations and hair jigs. Allow these offerings to sink slowly to the level where the fish are holding.
As the jig falls, watching your line closely for the sl
ightest movement is a must. Setting the hook quickly will put you into plenty of fish.
The reservoir is full of rocks and boulders, which are excellent late- season targets for jigging. As long as the reservoir doesn't freeze, some of the best action is in the coves on the reservoir on live bait fished under bobbers, hair jigs and jigs tipped with small plastic baits.
Only electric motors are allowed on the reservoir. The one thing boat fishermen should watch out for is the wind. Since the reservoir is down in a canyon, it's not uncommon to see a stiff breeze come up quickly. Late-season gusty winds make some of the coves very attractive when you want to get out of stiff breezes.
There you have it -- 36 total choices and 12 prime picks to keep your line wet all season long. It's the best cure I know of to keep cabin fever at bay!
Find more about Mid-Atlantic fishing and hunting at: MidAtlanticGameAndFish.com