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Bass Season Re-Opened June 16

June 17, 2003

The Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers that as summer approaches, so do opportunities for some of the best largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing of the year.

A restricted harvest season aimed at protecting bass during spawning season is effective through Sunday, June 15, followed by the re-opening of bass season on Monday, June 16.

Unseasonably cold temperatures this spring limited bass fishing time to a few weeks prior to the April 15 start of the restricted season. Following a winter that produced up to 25 inches of ice throughout northern New Jersey, early spring temperatures have remained relatively cold. Looking back at 2002, we remember the drought; next year we will remember the cold, rainy spring of 2003.

Cool spring temperatures have extended the spawning season a couple weeks longer than usual. By June 16, the bass will have completed spawning and will shift priorities to feeding. Increasing water temperatures translate to increased metabolism, requiring a bass to eat more.

Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of the bass fishing opportunities in New Jersey. Though New Jersey is the fourth smallest state in the country, we have over 4,100 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs of one acre or greater. Of these lakes about 400 provide public access and excellent fishing opportunities. Largemouth bass are widely distributed throughout the state, inhabiting the clear glacier scour lakes of northern New Jersey and the shallow stained waters of southern New Jersey in great abundance. Smallmouth bass, though not as widely distributed, can found in the many rocky lakes of northern New Jersey as well as lakes with suitable habitat in central and southern New Jersey.

Anglers interested in pursuing the always energetic smallmouth bass of New Jersey don't have far to travel. Lakes with excellent populations of smallmouth bass are closer than many anglers think. For those drag screaming runs that only a smallmouth can produce, try two lakes in the southern portion of the state, Manasquan Reservoir and Union Lake. Both lakes have developing smallmouth populations that the Division of Fish and Wildlife has enhanced through stocking.

Waters in the northern half of the state with excellent smallmouth bass fishing include Merrill Creek Reservoir, Greenwood Lake, Swartswood Lake, Monksville Reservoir, Clinton Reservoir, Oak Ridge Reservoir, Canistear Reservoir, Round Valley Reservoir and Wanaque Reservoir. Early summer smallmouth can be caught using a variety of techniques including, spinnerbaits, topwater lures, soft plastics, and live bait.

Anglers are advised to consult the 2003 Freshwater Issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest for current fishing regulations.

Though smallmouth bass are probably the most exciting of the two species to catch, mainly due to their aerial acrobatics, largemouth can be just as aggressive. Late spring and early summer largemouth have been described by many anglers as ferocious. Largemouth can be targeted with a variety of lures and baits including topwater lures, plastic worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and live bait.

Largemouth bass are located throughout New Jersey from Sussex to Cape May County. Some of the lakes in southern New Jersey with excellent largemouth bass fishing include Union Lake, Rainbow Lake, Parvin Lake, Lake Lenape, and Salem Canal. Lakes in central New Jersey that should be targeted include Assunpink Lake, Stone Tavern Lake, Rising Sun Lake, Manasquan Reservoir and Carnegie Lake. For those anglers in northern New Jersey, Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake, Swartswood Lake, Delaware Lake, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Monksville Reservoir and Round Valley Reservoir.

Bass fishing in New Jersey has never been better and, if you are just thinking of starting bass fishing or haven't been bass fishing lately, now is definitely the time. The popularity of bass fishing continues to grow in New Jersey and nationwide. Who knows, maybe you will be the lucky angler to catch the next state record largemouth or smallmouth bass in New Jersey.

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