Category Archives: Catfish

Big Channel Catfish

NJ Channel Catfish
Hunter Whitehead‎ with an 18lb Channel Catfish he caught while fishing Round Valley Reservoir, Clinton Township NJ.

On 09 October 2014 Hunter Whitehead‎ was fishing Round Valley with garlic cheese balls when he connected with this big 18lb Channel Catfish. Read more on our Facebook page. Nice Catch Hunter!

The channel catfish is the largest member of the catfish family found in New Jersey. Channel cats are avidly sought after sport fish that grow to trophy proportions. They are excellent table fare and are commercially raised for market.

NJDEP

Fun Fact – There are three common types of catfish caught in Round Valley Reservoir: Channel Catfish, Brown Bullhead Catfish, and White Catfish. Can you tell the difference between them?

Night Fishing for Catfish at Round Valley

Channel Catfish
Zach Merchant holds a 6.1-lb Channel Catfish caught at Round Valley Reservoir.

Fishing for catfish at Round Valley is generally a lot slower than Spruce Run, however the few that you do get are almost always bigger than the fish you would get on average at Spruce run.

Catfish Baits

I’ve found that the best baits for catfish at Round Valley are live Shiners or live Herring, dead Herring, and pieces of shrimp.

Catfish Season

Sitting around in cold weather isn’t fun…unless of course you’re ice fishing, so most of the catfishing we do in the warmer summer months. When targeting catfish at Round Valley, I don’t usually hit the water until around 10:00 p.m. or so since for the most part the catfish there seem to start hitting fairly late.

Catfish Structure

As for location, try to find a shallow feeding shelf with quick access to deeper water, and some sort of structure that will hold bait (weed beds, rocks, etc). Common areas are the coves around the boat launches, sandy point, both sides of the dike near the ends and more, depends on how much you want to walk!

October 12 & 13, 2013 – Shore Fishing Report

Woke up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 12th to meet up with Zach Batren for a full day of fishing.  I managed to get a late start since I fell back asleep after getting everything ready in the morning, but luckily Zach texted me and woke me up before I missed too much.  I arrived at Round Valley around 7:15 a.m. and Zach B. had already landed a beautiful 15-inch Rainbow Trout on rainbow Powerbait.  So I got both of my lines into the water and about an hour later I hooked into another nicely colored Rainbow Trout that took my salmon peach Powerbait.  Within the ten minutes that followed that; the fisherman to my right landed another Trout, and Tom (Who is a regular reader of this website) lost another good fish, which we assume was a Trout.

Round Valley Rainbow Trout
My 15-inch Rainbow Trout caught on salmon peach Powerbait

Though after that flurry of action, we didn’t get anything else by the time Chris Moran met up with us around 9:45 a.m. so we gave it until 10:30 called it quits and packed up to change spots.  As we were walking back to our cars, we saw another fisherman fishing on the swimming side with live Shiners about 3-feet under bobbers hook into a nice chunky Chain Pickerel, probably around 25-inches.  So we stopped and talked to him for a little while and he told us he had been getting Pickerel all morning, so we decided to stop and try for a bit.  We didn’t get anything besides a few boils behind our topwater baits we were casting (Zara Spooks, Rapala’s, etc.).  After about 45 minutes or so of that, we headed off to the South Branch of the Raritan River for some more Trout action.  There were definitely a good amount of anglers fishing the stretch of river we were fishing, but none seemed to be catching much of anything as far as we could tell.

South Branch Brook Trout
Zach B. with his 15-inch Brook Trout caught at the South Branch of the Raritan River on a gold Panther Martin

Probably about three minutes in, Zach B. was into a nice fish that hit his gold 1/8-ounce Panther Martin, and after a pretty strong fight he netted a nice 15-inch Brook Trout.  We tried for about another hour and a half or so without anything else besides some Smallmouth Bass Chris had hooked into while bouncing worms along the bottom.  Zach B. and I decided to head on over to Spruce Run to try for some more Pike, Catfish, and Bass.  Unfortunately Chris had to leave for work, so he decided to stay at the South Branch instead of joining Zach and I at Spruce because of his time restrictions.  So Zach and I headed to Spruce and after making a stop at Behre Bait & Tackle for some Herring and another stop for some lunch, we arrived at Spruce Run around 3:00 p.m.  The wind had picked up a good amount since we left Round Valley and was blowing right back into our faces, which made casting out a little challenging at times but we managed to get our lines out perfectly fine.  After waiting for what felt like forever (But in reality was probably only 45 minutes at most) Zach got a hit on one of his lines that took out a decent amount of line, which was shortly followed by a hit on one of my lines that also took out a few feet of line.

Spruce Run Bass
Me with my Smallmouth Bass (Left) and Largemouth Bass (Right); both caught on live Herring

For the majority of our time there, that was all we got; good hits that just didn’t stick the hook.  Though after a while I started to get into some smaller, but decent Channel Catfish, all around 3 or 3.5-lbs or so.  By the time we decided to end our trip around 7:30 p.m. I had landed four Channel Catfish (One away from limiting out), one decent sized Smallmouth Bass, as well as a pretty bulky Largemouth Bass probably around 3-lbs.  Zach B. on the other hand was only able to land one fish by the time we headed out, but he did manage to get the biggest fish of the day; a 23+ inch, approximately 4-lb Channel Catfish.  So we definitely had a great day of fishing overall and we probably would have stayed out longer at Spruce, but we wanted to get back, fillet our fish, and make ourselves a nice fish dinner so we called it a night.

Spruce Run Channel Catfish
Zach B. with his 4-lb Channel Catfish caught on live Herring. Our biggest fish of the day!

The next day (Sunday, October 13) I headed over to DeMott Pond since I woke up too late to go to Round Valley like I had planned.  But I managed to get out to DeMott around 1:30 p.m. and got my lines into the water for some Carp fishing, and as usual I was using sweet corn along with an oat pack.  About 45 minutes after getting my lines into the water, one of my rods gets a hit and starts peeling out drag and I immediately know it’s a Carp.  At first I wasn’t sure how big it was since it swam towards me at first, then to the left instead of straight out like a lot of Carp at DeMott tend to do.  Though as soon as I got it about half way in the real fight started and became a stalemate since every time I would gain a few feet of line, it would take it right back out and we started again back at square one.  After a while, I was finally able to start gaining some ground on the fish and was able to get it close to shore, almost within netting distance.  Right around then is when I got my first real good look at it, and was able to see that it was definitely an above average sized Carp for DeMott.  For a little while it became a stalemate again with the fish holding it’s ground right outside of netting distance, but after a few more minutes it finally began to tire out and after a few attempts, we were finally able to net it.

DeMott Pond Carp
My 25-lb Carp out of DeMott Pond

The fish weighed in at 25-lbs and was around 35-inches in length.  Definitely one of the biggest Carp I’ve been able to pull out of DeMott to this day!  Unfortunately that was the only fish I was able to land that day, though I got a few more hits and bumps that were definitely Carp, but none took.  All in all, despite the fact I only landed one fish, it was a great trip, and if I only land one fish a trip that would definitely be one I wouldn’t mind hauling in!

Spruce Run Shore Fishing Report – October 11, 2013

Fished over at Spruce Run Reservoir on Friday, October 11, 2013 with Zach Batren in some cloudy, overcast, and rainy weather (Sounds like fishing weather to me!).  We met up at Spruce Run around 1:30 p.m. and got our first lines into the water around 1:45 p.m at one of the coves on the Northern side of the reservoir, and had a six rod spread between the two of us.  We were using live Herring fished on the bottom with a basic rig consisting of an egg sinker, barrel swivel, short leader, and a hook.  After not even ten minutes, I was into a fish, which turned out to be a nice 4-lb Channel Catfish, probably around 22 or 23-inches.  It didn’t give much of a fight since it swam towards me for pretty much the entirety of the fight, but still a good way to start any fishing trip!  After that, we kept getting constant hits on almost all of our rods for a good hour or so until the action seemed to die down for a bit.  Then out of nowhere one of my rods doubles over and I’m into a nice fish with a lot of fight in it.  At first I thought it was a big Channel Catfish judging from the fight, until I saw it jump and was able to see it was a nice big 17-inch Smallmouth Bass.

Spruce Run Smallmouth
My 17-inch Smallmouth Bass caught on a dead Herring at Spruce Run

After a hard fight; with several strong drag peeling runs, and not one, not two, but five jumps where it went completely airborne, we were able to net it.  That Smallmouth was definitely a nice surprise for the day, especially seeing as it took a dead Herring that was meant for catfish.

After that the action slowed down for a little bit again, with the occasional hit here and there.   Though just as we got used to the lull in the action, Zach B. was into another fish that took another dead Herring.  We weren’t sure what exactly it was that he had hooked since it wasn’t fighting too much, but after we got it in closer we were able to identify it as a Northern Pike.  While it wasn’t anything huge, it was still a nicely sized and beautifully colored 25+ inch Pike.  We were definitely making out with a good mixed bag of fish up until this point with one Channel Catfish, one Smallmouth Bass, and now one Pike landed, though we released the Smallmouth as well as the Pike.

Spruce Run Pike
Zach B. with his 25+ inch Northern Pike that took a dead Herring

After that the action really slowed down for the next few hours, other than a few more hits we got but the hook didn’t set well so we lost the fish, as well as a snapping turtle I reeled in.  Our next landed fish was a little while later after dark.  Zach B. hooked into something just as the sun slipped under the horizon, and he was able to wrestle in another nice Channel Catfish; almost identical in size to the one i landed when we first started fishing.  A few minutes after we finished up with netting and unhooking that fish and Zach got his line back out into the water, I was into another fish which ended up being another Channel Catfish, a little smaller than our other two.  Maybe about a half an hour after that, I got a hit on one of my lines and my line snapped right after I set the hook, which was another disappointment on top of all the missed hits we had earlier in the day.  After that I got my line back into the water, and about an hour after that Zach was into another fish.  Now landing this fish started off normal, but ended up being one of the weirdest and most confusing ways to land a fish I’ve had all year.  At first we weren’t sure what he had on the line, and at one point Zach thought he had lost the fish, but luckily it was only swimming towards him.  Anyways, once we got it close enough we were able to see it was a nice big 31-inch Northern Pike with a good amount of girth to him.

Spruce Run Northern Pike
Zach B. and I with our surprise 31-inch Northern Pike

But the weirdest part came after we landed it and realized that Zach’s hook wasn’t in the fish at all, but about 10-feet away tangled in another fishing line which had the hook attached to the fish, and we decided was definitely one of mine since it was the same exact line, swivel, leader, and hook I was using.  So we assumed that the Pike had somehow taken one of my other lines without us noticing and gone right over to Zach’s line and his hook snagged my line.  But I then reeled in my lines to see which one it was, and it wasn’t any of mine that I had out, which means that it was the line I had that broke off an hour earlier after setting the hook.  This in turn meant that the same fish that my line had broken off on was in the same area for one whole hour, and Zach’s hook had somehow managed to snag my line trailing behind the fish while it was going by.  Now what are the chances of that?!  Definitely was one of the weirdest coincidences I’ve ever had happen while fishing to this day.  I think it’s only fair to give Zach B. the credit for the catch, but I came in with the assist and we both get to add another crazy fish story to our collection!

Spruce Run Northern Pike
Zach B. showing off the business end of his Pike!

A little while after that, we decided to call it a night at 8:30 p.m. after getting two Northern Pike up to 31-inches, one 17-inch Smallmouth Bass, three Channel Catfish to 4-lbs, and missing countless other fish that hit our lines.  As usual, both the Pike and the Bass were all released.  But as for the catfish, those were dinner!  Definitely one of the weirder days I’ve had fishing in a while, but we definitely got some nice fish and despite the amount of missed hits we can’t really complain one bit about the outcome of our day.

September 24, 2013 – Shore Fishing Report

Chris and I started off the morning bright and early with a short stop at Behre Bait & Tackle, then we were off to Merrill Creek for some shoreline Trout fishing.  We got our first lines in the water around 7:30 a.m. and had a slow start and only landed one very colorful Rainbow Trout on yellow Powerbait by 9:30 a.m.

Merrill Creek Rainbow Trout
Approx. 12-inch Merrill Creek Rainbow Trout

So instead of waiting around for too long, we decided to head out and try out some stream fishing for a change of pace over at the South Branch of the Raritan River in Clinton.  We started off by bouncing worms along the bottom, which at first only gave us Bluegills, but eventually Chris began to get into a few Smallmouth Bass.  After trying that for a while and not getting anything but Bluegill, I decided to switch over to spinners and started casting a gold 1/8 oz. Panther Martin and shortly after I was into a nice fish.  I ended up losing the fish after a very brief fight, but got a good enough look at it to see it was a nice hold over Brown Trout.  I ended up hooking into it once more time, but that time as well it got off.  Shortly after that, Chris started getting into some small, wild Brown Trout.

Wild Brown Trout
Wild Brown Trout from the South Branch of the Raritan River

While they weren’t big by any means, they were certainly nicely colored fish and very rewarding to catch; especially for Chris who had never caught a wild Trout before.  Although none of the fish we caught were big by any means, we definitely caught a lot of fish, and fishing a river was a nice change of pace from only fishing the reservoirs and ponds like we have been for the past few months.

After we were done at the river Chris had to leave for work, so I decided to head on over to Spruce Run for the rest of the day to see what I could get.  The water levels been dropping there for a while now since they’re draining the reservoir a bit like they do every Fall, so I went back to the same spot Chris and I had been fishing back in April for Pike, Bass, and Catfish.  After a short trip back to Behre Bait & Tackle to pick up some Herring, I made it out to Spruce Run and got my first line into the water at 5:15 p.m.  Almost immediately after I got all three of my rods into the water, I got a hit on my middle rod that bit my Herring clean in half which led me to believe it might have been a Pike; even though the water temperature is still a little warm for them to be in that close to shore, but anything is possible when it comes to fishing.  Anyways, as I waded out to cast my line back out, just as I got into waist deep water one of my rods back on shore doubles over and starts going crazy.  So I finish my cast and start back to shore as fast as I can (Which wasn’t very fast in waders), and by the time I reached my rod the fish had already set the hook for me so it was on with no signs of coming off.  I ended up landing a decent 20-inch Channel Catfish, and after that it was nonstop action for the rest of the day for me.  A few short minutes after I casted my line back out again, I got another catfish on one of my lines, followed a few seconds later by another fish on another line.

Channel Catfish
6-lb Channel Catfish out of Spruce Run

Since I had two fish on at the same time and I was out by myself, I ended up putting the first rod down mid-fight so I could set the hook on the second rod, then went back to fighting the first fish with the second rod back in the rod holder.  Luckily I ended up being able to land both fish, which ended up being both Channel Catfish; weighing in at 4.5-lbs and 6-lbs.  By the end of my time at Spruce, I had landed 7 Channel Catfish up to 8-lbs, and lost two Pike just outside of netting distance, both of which were probably around the 25-inch range, and lost another four fish on their way in.  Most of my fish were caught within the first hour and shortly after I had to leave since I was out of Herring.  Definitely not a bad day of fishing in my book!