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There's More than Just Trout Out There

by Mark Boriek
Principal Fisheries Biologist
October, 2006

Trout thrive in cold water. That is why the NJ Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries stocks trout in the early spring and now in the fall. To other fish such as smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes, muskellunge and striped bass, chilling water in the fall signals a time to store up reserves for the oncoming winter. Before the water becomes too cold, slowing their metabolisms, these fish begin to feed heavily.

Growing up at the Jersey shore, Tom Martin took advantage of the striped bass run and went surf fishing throughout the fall. He now lives in Hunterdon County, NJ and regularly fishes the nearby Delaware River. "Down at the shore, I would get a break from fishing in the winter. Here, in the Delaware River there is always something to catch, so I wade and fish it throughout the year."

In the evening of October 16, he headed to the river near Rieglesville to try for walleyes for a couple of hours. Six-pound test line is his choice for walleyes, but having experienced break-offs with who knows what kind of large fish, he filled his spool with 12-pound test. Good thing he did. Slowly retrieving a Lucky Craft light blue chartreuse Pointer, he heard the fish take the shallow running lure.

"It was a sucking sound, close by, near the surface. She didnít freight train it." He could feel it was massive, as the fish peeled off line, getting into the current. Cupping the spool, he couldnít slow the behemoth, and feared it would take all of the line. Then suddenly, the fish did a 180 and swam upstream. Tom was able to wind in his line and eventually land the beast, a 40 lb. 3.5 oz. striped bass.

Tom Martin with striped bass
Tom Martin with his striped bass
Click to enlarge

But stripers aren't the only massive fish lurking in the river.
Patrick Hardy with muskellunge
Patrick Hardy with his muskellunge
Click to enlarge
Within a week a boat angler, in the same area of the Delaware River, was casting for smallmouth bass using a small spinner bait on 10-pound test Power Pro line and a Loomis 6'6" rod . Ten feet from the bank, something grabbed the lure and ripped off 50 yards of line.

Patrick Hardy cranked his drag down and held on. Reeling in after the run, he caught a glimpse of the beast. It was a large musky, the size of a small child, swimming around. It took another 10-15 minutes to reel in and net the fish.

The musky was just hooked in the top lip by the trailer hook of the leaderless spinner bait. Patrick was in shock. The estimated 20+ lb. fish was subsequently released, with the proud angler happy that she is still swimming around and knowing we all will have a chance to catch the many many little muskys that big girl will produce.


arrow Striped Bass Information
arrow Muskellunge Information
arrow Fall Trout Fishing Information

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Last Updated: October 27, 2006