Zach Merchant is part of a group of Garden State fishermen who spend two or three months each winter trekking out with sleds full of equipment and supplies across frozen bodies of water to take advantage of the chance to go ice fishing.
Full article at nj.com Special thanks to reporter Michael Warren for reaching out to us to get this interview and article done!
The serious, dedicated angler believes that fishing season doesn’t end when lakes and ponds freeze over. For guys like 25 year old Zach Merchant, it’s just beginning. Merchant and some friends spend a a day on Round Valley Reservoir and Furnace Lake catching bass, pickerel and perch. (Video by Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
Long-time readers may remember back in August 2010 when our Russian friend Vasili caught a potential NJ State Record American Eel, but never had it officially measured and instead opted to take it home and eat it.
Well, it’s happened again…kinda. Zach Merchant was fishing last night at Round Valley and spotted a rather large eel swimming close to shore so he quickly baited up a four foot ultra-light rod laying around and cast out toward the serpent. As Zach tells it, the mighty beast broke off his 2lb flouro leader twice before he was able to land the fish…er…eel.
Now as a reminder, the current NJ State Record American Eel weighs 6lbs, 13 ounces, measures 41.75 inches and was also caught in Round Valley Reservoir. Zach’s eel measured 45+inches, no weight taken. The eel was squirming around too much and he didn’t have anything to put it in, so he let it go. Crazy.
#FunFact American Eel spawn in the Autumn in the Sargasso Sea. Visit the USGS site to learn more about the American Eel.
What crazy catches have you seen or been a part of? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I want to thank Lawrence for reaching out to us on our FB page and sharing the below Drone footage. Stay tuned for Spruce Run. -Robert
It was that 4:30 pm work day call when your buddy asks you to join him out on the boat for an evening of fishing out in Round Valley Reservoir. Being heavily involved in the film industry, I quickly ran home to pack up one of the my drones and a few other cameras. My brother joined us as we enjoyed the sunset out on the water and caught a few fish doing so. I hope you enjoy all the sights of Round Valley from above.
Be sure to check out my YouTube channel to see more drone sights and videos. – Lawrence Garafola
The biggest fish of the day from an impromptu fishing trip to Round Valley Reservoir with some of my close friends on Saturday September 16, 2017. We were trolling spoons for lake trout when this Channel Catfish hit at 80ft in 85ft of water, quite unexpected. It also ended up being one of my biggest fish out of Round Valley for the year so far!
The Sunday weather was mild, hooded sweatshirt weather in the early morning hours for sure. A fog covered the late and we parked ourselves under a light to help us see what we were doing while setting up our gear…well, Zach’s gear…the dude has everything. Our plan was to troll for Rainbow Trout and Lake Trout on Zach’s boat using 8 planer boards and 2 downriggers. So with this in mind, we hit the water at 6:30am for a day of fishing Round Valley Reservoir. Surface water temperature was 70.5 in the morning.
We started trolling with the planer boards higher in the water column, most of our marks on the fishfinder indicated fish hanging out in 20-30feet of water. If you’ve ever fished Round Valley in the early morning fog, it’s not uncommon to see fish feeding at the surface so don’t hesitate to put out a couple lines right on the surface. We also put a couple spoons down deep for the lake trout which we were marking at or near the bottom. Trolling speed was 1.5mph.
Lures consisted of various Warrior spoons 2 to 4 inch in size, single and treble hook, as well as jointed J-7 Rapalas. We used darker colors in the early hours and brighter colors after about 10am when the sun was up and the fog was gone. Be sure to attach your spoons to snap swivels or you will get terrible line twist.
From 6:30am to about 9:30am the action was steady. We picked up about 15 rainbow, two lakers and one yellow perch. Once the sun burned off all the fog the bite turned off and for the next 3 hours we picked up only 3 more rainbows, though one of them was the fatty Zach is holding in the image above. All fish were released successfully. Note too that we are in Lake Trout spawning season so any Lake Trout caught 16 September to 30 November must be returned to the water. Read this article to learn more about fishing for trout with a downrigger at Round Valley. Check out this older post with video if you want to learn more about trolling with planer boards and lead core line.