February 22, 2014 – Spruce Run Ice Fishing Report

Went out and hit the hard water again at Spruce Run a few weeks ago on Saturday, February 22 with a few other people for the NJFishing.com meet and greet.  I got out a little late, around 8:00 a.m. and most other people had already set up their tip ups, or were almost finished doing so by the time I made it out to everyone.  Between all of us, we had a pretty good spread around us and had pretty much every type of depth and structure covered; from five feet of water, to about 15 or 20 feet of water, river channels, drop offs, and everything in between.  For bait, most people were either using live Shiners, or big dead baits.  It didn’t take all too long for us to get our first few flags, which was on Matt J.’s (The same Matt that taught Chris and I how to fish for Carp) tip up with a big dead bait on the hook.  While this was happening, I was on the other side of our tip up spread finishing up getting my lines in the water, but Matt landed a nice fat 32-inch Pike.

Spruce Run Pike

Matt J. with his fat 32-inch Pike caught on a large dead bait.

Before all that somebody else landed a decently sized Channel Catfish on a live Shiner (Which I missed as well), so we definitely started our day off pretty decently.  About an hour or so after that, Matt got another flag on another dead bait on the bottom, so we started our journey over to his tip up and about half way there the guys that stayed by our stuff started yelling that we had another flag, on the opposite side of our spread of tip ups, and this time it was one of mine.  So Rob J. and I started our way back over that way to my tip up, and by the time we got to it, it had all the line spooled off of it and was doing a little dance in the hole for us.  So I got the tip up out of the hole, immediately felt a fish on the line and set the hook.  After pulling in what felt like a mile of line, I finally got the fish to the hole and the first thing we saw was the big head of a nice Largemouth Bass, and with the help of Rob J. we got it through the hole and onto the ice.  While we didn’t take any exact measurements since we were a good distance from our gear and I wanted to get the fish back into the water, we estimated it to be somewhere around 4 or 5-lbs.

Spruce Run Bass

Me and my 4-5 pound Largemouth Bass caught on a live Shiner about two feet off the bottom in 10-12 feet of water.

Meanwhile, after we took a few pictures and got the Bass back into the water we found out that while we were handling my fish, Matt had landed another 25-inch Pike on a dead bait fished on the bottom.  After that, the action slowed down for probably about an hour or hour and a half.  Though soon enough we got another flag, this time on one of Dave’s tip-ups rigged with a live Shiner, conveniently (For me at least, haha) Dave was too far away from his tip-up when the flag went up, so I was able to get in on the action.  When I got to within 20 feet or so of the tip-up, I could see the spool spinning out like crazy as the fish stripped the line off the spool.  So I got the tip-up out of the hole, set the hook, and started taking line back.  Once I was able to get the fish within reasonable distance of the hole, it went on a pretty strong run and took a few more yards of line back out.  Though that was it’s last big run, we ended up landing a decently sized 25-30 inch Pike.

David Allen with his 25-30 inch Pike caught on a live Shiner.

David Allen with his 25-30 inch Pike caught on a live Shiner.

That ended up being our last fish of the day before I headed out, but I know the guys that stayed behind landed another nice 30+ inch Pike shortly after I left.  Overall I’d say it was a great day of fishing; met some new people and saw a few people I haven’t seen or fished with in a while, catching fish on top of that was really just an added bonus for the day.  All of the fish we landed were in pretty shallow water, about 10-12 feet of water or less, and were all on either live Shiners on or close to the bottom, or big dead baits on the bottom.


Round Valley Fishing Report

I personally have been going to Spruce Run to fish for Pike the past few weeks, so I’m not certain of the current ice condition at Round Valley as of March 6th.  Though I do know that over the past few weeks people have been catching Lakers out in deeper water on Shiners on the bottom under tip-ups, as well as jigging with lures such as Swedish Pimples and Binsky’s.  I’ve also heard that people have been catching Browns and Rainbows in close on Shiners under tip-ups in 5-15 feet of water.  As far as the swimming side goes, I haven’t heard much buzz about fishing on that side, but last time I fished there around mid-February the Pickerel bite was still going strong.  We were having success with them in 5-10 feet of water or less, and were catching on live Shiners under tip-ups set about a foot off the bottom, as well as on jigs such as Binsky’s, Rattle Traps, and Rapala Rippin’ Raps.

Me with a nice Chain Pickerel I caught on one of my last Round Valley trips in mid-February on the swimming side.

Me with a nice Chain Pickerel I caught  (and released) on one of my last Round Valley trips in mid-February on the swimming side.


Public Meeting Scheduled – 2014 Trout Stocking Canceled

Announcement from: Round Valley Trout Association Executive Board

NJDF&W Cancels 2014 State Stocking of Round Valley Reservoir and other Holdover Trout Waters
Due to an outbreak of a contagious fish disease (Furunculosis) at the State’s Pequest Hatchery, the annual NJ state stocking on May 5th, of over 6,000 plus rainbow trout, has been canceled. This disease is very contagious, and state fisheries biologists have decided not to risk infecting the fishery at Round Valley. Instead, the infected rainbow trout will be disposed of in waters where they can not infect resident fish, and not holdover for next season.

Public Meeting Scheduled
08 March 2014
10:00am start
The Centenary Theater
Seay Building
Centenary College,
400 Jefferson St.,
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Fisheries Pathologist Dr. Jan Lovy and Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries biologists will present information on the proposed policy (see below) regarding management of the bacterial disease (furunculosis), which occurred this past fall at the Pequest Trout Hatchery, as well as a proposal to alter Spring trout stocking in order to protect the state’s trout resources.

Round Valley Anglers are encouraged to attend and voice concern and interest in this policy. All comments and questions will be entertained. For example:

  • How many year-classes might be affected
  • Are there alternate stocking resources available that the state might use?
  • Will the deficit in stocked fish be made up for next year?

The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife invites concerned parties to comment on their web site: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2014/troutmtg14.htm

RVTA Stockings NOT Affected. RVTA’s Trophy Trout Stocking on March 22nd, as well as our regular club stocking on May 4th, will occur as scheduled, as these fish originate from a different hatchery.

See you there,
RVTA, Executive Board


NJDEP Trout Stocking Meeting in Hackettstown, NJ

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will be holding its annual Trout Stocking Public Meeting on Saturday, March 8, in the Centenary Theater (aka The Little Theater), located in the Seay Building, Centenary College, Jefferson Avenue, Hackettstown, Warren County. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.

Division biologists will present information on the proposed policy regarding management of the furunculosis disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery. Information on the proposal to alter spring trout stocking in order to protect the state’s fisheries resources from the disease while providing quality fishing opportunities will also be presented.

This important meeting will have a comment period for anglers to ask questions, voice their opinions, and give suggestions regarding the proposed changes to the 2014 trout stocking program.

Information about the proposed policy and proposed trout stocking plan and allocations, as well as directions to the meeting location, see http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2014/troutmtg14.htm on the Division’s website.


February 9th, 2014 – Ice Fishing Report

I was able to get out on the ice again today for a few hours with David Allen for a day of ice fishing on Round Valley’s swimming side for some Chain Pickerel.  We got out and had our first holes drilled and tip ups in the water by 1:30 p.m. between 4 and 28 feet of water.  Our day started out pretty slow, but once Dave decided to start jigging it didn’t take long for him to hook into a nice Pickerel that T-boned his Rat-L Trap, and was released after a quick picture.

Chain Pickerel

David Allen with a nice Chain Pickerel caught jigging through the ice at Round Valley.

So after about another two hours or so we did some moving around and decided to drill some holes and find a weed bed to sit over to see if we could find some fish holding around it.  A short while after we found one in about 10-feet of water fairly tight to the shoreline so we moved the majority of our tip ups over, and began jigging in some of the extra holes we drilled.  Shortly after that, Dave was into another Pickerel that inhaled his Rat-L Trap on his first drop into a hole. Though our first bit of action as far as tip ups went came after about two and a half hours or so of waiting when we had a flag trip, but missed the fish on the hook set after letting it take out a short amount of line.

Chain Pickerel

My first fish of the day, Chain Pickerel caught on a tip up using a large Shiner in about 9-feet of water.

Though after that, we had a pretty decent day on both the tip ups and jigging.  I got a pretty nice surprise while we were starting to pack up.  I was the first to start bringing in tip ups and I started out at one tip up that I had left at our first spot before we moved, and as I picked my tip up out of the hole and started bringing in my line, it responded with a nice pull back after I had moved it a few inches.  After I realized what was happening (Wasn’t expecting a fish one bit!) I set the hook and fought in a nice 19-inch Chain Pickerel.  Definitely not a bad thing to end your fishing trip with a surprise fish as you’re packing up!  We ended our day with six flags on our tip ups with three Pickerel landed, and three Pickerel landed jigging Rat-L Traps and Rapala Rippin Raps.  Not a bad day on the ice at all!

Round Valley Ice Update

Round Valley Swimming Area

Round Valley swimming area

As of yesterday (February 9, 2014) the swimming side has about 7-8 inches of ice in most spots, with Bass and Pickerel being caught.  The main lake is completely frozen by the boat launch cove with people ice fishing that area and catching some nice Browns and Rainbows up to 20-inches, with the best time being about an hour right before sunset from what I’m told.  Not sure about the thickness of the ice in the boat launch cove, but seems to be plenty safe and getting a bit thicker everyday.  Though as always, you should always be extra careful while venturing out on the ice!


Shore Fishing 101 – Bait Selection

With Winter now in full swing, the majority of fisherman and woman have put their rods away for the year.  But for those of us that brave the cold weather, Round Valley can offer some great shoreline fishing to hold us over until the Spring!  So in this series articles, I’m going to explain the basics for fishing the shoreline at Round Valley, which can be applied during the Fall, Winter, and Spring for Trout!

Bait Selection

Golden Shiner

Golden Shiner, one of the best all around baits for fishing the shoreline at Round Valley.


There’s a wide selection of baits you can use when fishing from shore. Though the two most widely used, and successful baits are Powerbait and Shiners, so I’m going to mainly cover using these in this article since we’re covering the basics of shoreline fishing.  I’ve often found that the time of year does effect which bait the fish will be hitting more readily.  Usually Shiners fished under slip bobbers work better during the Spring and Fall, while Powerbait and Shiners fished on the bottom work better during the coldest months of the year.

Zach Merchant (That's me!) and Robert Ivan with two RVTA jaw tagged Rainbow Trout caught on Powerbait from shore during December of 2013

Zach Merchant (That’s me!) and Robert Ivan with two RVTA jaw tagged Rainbow Trout caught on Powerbait from shore during December of 2013

 If targeting Rainbow Trout, your best bet would be Powerbait on the bottom, or Shiners fished both under slip bobbers as well as on the bottom.  For Brown Trout, Shiners fished both under slip bobbers and on the bottom will produce.  As far as Lake Trout go, they’re a little trickier at times.  I’ve caught them on Shiners fished one foot under slip bobbers as well as fishing Shiners on the bottom casting to about 40-50 feet of water, and everything in between.  Though the most consistent way of catching Lake Trout from shore would be Shiners on the bottom.  While this is what I’ve observed while fishing Round Valley through the seasons, of course this isn’t always the case.  So just to be on the safe side, even if the bite is hot on say Shiners under slip bobbers, I’ll almost always have one rod out with Powerbait as well just in case the bite switches to that throughout my trip (You never know what can happen!).

(left to right) Zach Batren, myself, and Chris Moran with a nice haul of Trout caught fishing the Round Valley shoreline on both Powerbait, and live Shiners!

(left to right) Zach Batren, myself, and Chris Moran with a nice haul of Trout caught fishing the Round Valley shoreline on both Powerbait, and live Shiners!

So pretty much to sum things up:

  • Shiners under slip bobbers in Spring and Fall, when there’s warmer water temperatures.  (But not too warm of course)
  • Shiners and Powerbait fished on the bottom during the coldest months, usually between November/December and March/April.  (Depending on water temperature)
  • Powerbait, nine out of ten times will produce Rainbow Trout.
  • Shiners under slip bobbers will produce Brown and Rainbow Trout.
  • Shiners fished on the bottom will produce a mix of Brown, Rainbow, and Lake Trout.
  • When in season, Shiners can be replaced by live Herring, which can be a more effective bait.

Also, in addition to the baits that I went over in this article.  They are not in any means the only baits that will produce Trout from shore at Round Valley.  A few other baits that are commonly used while fishing the shoreline are:

  • Marshmallow and mealworm combos fished on the bottom
  • Garden worms or Night-crawlers fished on the bottom or under a bobber
  • Cooked salad Shrimp fished on the bottom

Stay tuned in for more shoreline fishing 101 articles!  Next I’ll be covering things such as; rigs for shoreline fishing, finding a good shore fishing location, and casting lures from the shoreline!