Category Archives: Kayak

Fishing Report – Week of March 17, 2014

NJ trout fishing report for the second week of March 2014. Rainbow and Brown Trout from Ken Lockwood Gorge and Round Valley Reservoir.

I was finally able to get out for a solid week of fishing again last week, and while I didn’t have enough to put up a report for any given day, I feel like the week as a whole deserves a short report on here.

Ken Lockwood Gorge

I started out the week by fishing over at Ken Lockwood Gorge on Tuesday morning (March, 18) with Chelsey Hoover.  We got out around 7:00 a.m. and started off to see if we could get into some Trout for the day.  Since Chelsey’s just starting to get into fishing, she was spin fishing with Trout Magnets and Panther Martins while I was fly fishing with bead head nymphs.

If you’ve never fished or hiked Ken Lockwood Gorge, do yourself a favor and just go. Here is a large KLG contour map and here is a description from the njwildlifetrails.org website:

New Jersey Monthly magazine has called Ken Lockwood Gorge one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey.” With its steep slopes, huge boulders, impressive rapids and northern hemlocks, Ken Lockwood has long been a famous and much-loved site to birders, naturalists, kayakers, photographers, hikers, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. This is the southernmost hemlock glen in New Jersey and the cool microclimate—created by the hemlocks, local geology and rushing water and mist—is home to a number of species of birds, other animals and plants that are more typical of far northern New Jersey and New England.

Ken Lockwood Gorge
David Allen with a beautifully colored Rainbow Trout caught at Ken Lockwood Gorge during a recent March 15 trip.
We started off by trying a few spots that were holding some fish last week when I fished with David Allen, including a spot where Dave landed a nice Rainbow and I got a few more hits.  Though that morning, we had no luck there and eventually made our way down to a spot after about a mile hike where I had hooked into a beautiful wild Brown Trout a few days before.  Didn’t take too long for me to hook into another fish at that spot, which ended up being another wild Brown which took a #16 bead-head pheasant tail nymph.  That was about it for action that day for us, and after trying for about another hour or so we called it quits for the day.

Ken Lockwood Gorge Brown Trout
My 15-inch wild Brown Trout caught on a #16 pheasant tail nymph at Ken Lockwood Gorge.

Round Valley Reservoir

I got word that Round Valley had some open water for fishing the shoreline early in the week last week, and Chelsey H. and I decided to give it a shot.  We first headed out in the rain on Wednesday afternoon (March, 19), and it was about a 1/2 mile hike to open water.  While our day started off pretty slow and miserable, we got one nice fish on the line that took Powerbait off the bottom, but unfortunately it took us around a snag and spit the hook so we called it quits after another hour and a half.  Though we went back the next morning and had our lines in the water by 7:00 a.m.  It didn’t take too long for us to get some action, which picked up a little after 7:30.  By the time 8:30 a.m. rolled around we had gotten about six hits, all on Powerbait.

Round Valley Rainbow Trout
Chelsey Hoover with her first Round Valley Trout; a 14.5-inch Rainbow Trout caught (and released) on Powerbait!

Though the fish were just lipping it and hitting too lightly to stick the hook, so up until that point we hadn’t actually hooked into any fish.  Though a little after 9:00 a.m., we had a hit on another one of our rods, and Chelsey hooked into and landed a 14.5-inch Rainbow Trout; her first fish out of Round Valley!  That was it for the rest of our trip, but at least we beat the skunk!  As far as the ice went that day, it had receded about another 100-150 feet or so from the previous day when we were there, and we even saw a few ice chunks up to 30-40 feet wide float by as the ice broke up.  Also, as for the current ice situation; the ice completely broke up by last weekend and Round Valley is 100% ice free,  which I’m sure everyone’s happy to hear!

Round Valley Ice
Chelsey atop one of the bigger ice chunks we had float by while fishing the open water.

Kayak Fishing Reports – Spruce Run Reservoir

Finally brought the kayaks out for a fishing trip at Spruce Run Reservoir with Frank Deluca on Sunday July 14, 2013. Despite getting a late start, we managed to get out on the water at 4:30 p.m. in some sunny 90 degree weather, with a slight breeze coming from the west.  Surface temperature was 80 degrees and the gage height was 272.35 feet.  We started out working the shoreline for some Bass with Rapalas and other various crankbaits, with no luck.  After probably about an hour or so of that, I put on a bigger Rapala to troll behind me and moved out to deeper water and trolled along a rock ledge for a bit to try for some Pike, also with no luck.  Though while I was trying for Pike, Frank put on a large Shiner and dropped it down to the bottom in 5 feet of water and not even a minute after dropping it down, Frank was into a fish.  After putting up a nice hard fight, Frank landed a 15-inch Largemouth Bass.

Spruce Run Largemouth Bass
Frank with his 15-inch Largemouth

Shortly after that, both Frank and I decided to move out into about 25 feet of water and try for some Hybrids, but it became clear after one drift that the wind was making us drift too fast for that to be effective. So we went back into the same cove we were fishing before, though this time we set up a drift going along a rock ledge in 10 feet of water.  Shortly after I began my first drift through the area, I got a nice hit on one of my rods and was into a fish.  Once I got it up to the surface, it turned out to be a Channel Catfish, which weighed in at 4.5-lbs and 20-inches, so I wouldn’t really say it was big, but it was definitely a decent size and put up a fun fight from the kayak.  On my second drift I hooked up with a decently sized fish, which turned out to be another Channel Catfish, probably about 5-lbs, though unfortunately it spit the hook right next to my kayak before I could net it.  After that, we set up a third drift through the same area.

My 4.5-lb, 20-inch Channel Catfish
My 4.5-lb, 20-inch Channel Catfish

Right as we started our drift, I hooked up with another decently sized fish which shook the hook before I could get it in close enough to see it, though I’m pretty certain it was another Channel Catfish judging from how it was fighting. A short time after that, as Frank and I continued our drift, we started getting a lot of smaller hits from smaller, more finicky fish. Frank managed to pull one up and it turned out to be a 10-inch Crappie, which led us to believe that we were drifting over a school of Crappie, though that was the only one we managed to land. We tried one more drift after that, with only one or two hits, so we decided to call it a day and got off the water at 7:45 p.m.

A few days later, on Wednesday July 17, I headed back out to the same spot, this time with Chris Moran. As opposed to last time, we started out later in the day and got out on the water at 7:30 p.m. so we could target some Channel Catfish, and by that time the water temperature had dipped down to 76 degrees.  We went straight to the same area over the rock ledge that Frank and I had fished the other day and immediately dropped our bait to the bottom and began drifting.  I was the first to hook up with a fish after a slow start to our trip, and my fish turned out to be a small, 14-inch Channel Catfish. After trying a few more drifts over the same area, as well as a few different drifts in different areas with no luck, I moved over to the same area Chris and I had been catching all of our fish back in April.  Shortly after I began my first drift there, I was into another fish and managed to land a slightly larger, 16-inch Channel Cat.  A few minutes later in the same area, Chris hooked into and landed another Channel Catfish, about the same size as my last one.  After that, it slowed down for about 15-20 minutes with nothing hitting our lines, until out of the blue, Chris got a big hit on one of his lines.  He was using a light 4-lb leader we normally use for Trout so he had his drag set fairly low so the line wouldn’t break, which made for a fun fight.  After a good fight which lasted a few minutes, Chris finally landed another Channel Catfish, which ended up being our last and biggest fish of the night.  Chris’ fish ended up weighing in at 4.75-lbs and measuring 22-inches.

Spruce Run Channel Catfish
Chris with his 4.75-lb, 22-inch Channel Catfish

We kept trying for about another 45 minutes or so with no more luck.  All of our fish were caught on live Shiners fished on the bottom while we were drifting between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.  Didn’t land any real big fish this trip, but definitely had a nice night fishing from our kayaks and had some fun reeling a decent haul of Channel Catfish.  This trip was also Chris’ first time kayak fishing…or is it fishing from a kayak, so it was something new for him and I’m sure we’ll be getting out on them yaks again real soon!

Spruce Run Kayak Fishing
Sunset on Spruce Run

Introduction To Kayak Fishing

You’d have to be blind not to notice the latest trend going on in the fishing world; fishing from kayaks, or what participants call kayak fishing. When I got started about a dozen years ago an angler wanting to enter the sport had to be a detective of sorts. There wasn’t a whole lot of info available and what there was came from the west coast. I took the plunge after a day at Monmouth Beach surf fishing. There was a blitz of epic proportions going on. Normally I’d be thrilled but the melee was a few hundred yards off the beach and the fish never came within range. Still my buddy Chris and I stopped by that beach continuously to see if things changed. They didn’t and at dusk we headed home. The next morning I read online the fish crashed a beach to the south at dusk. There was an hour of superb action on striped bass from 15 to 30 pounds. That did it, I had read an article about using kayaks to access such fishing and I was determined to be a kayak fisherman the following season. I took the plunge and got a kayak. It turned out to be a lousy kayak for fishing and after 3 outings I sold it and got a model that suited the purpose much better. As I stated earlier there wasn’t a lot of info available and you pretty much had to figure things out on your own.

Musky from a Kayak

That was then and this is now as the saying goes. There’s a wealth of info available to the angler and lots of equipment too. When I got started it was a struggle finding the right gear. I soon got involved in all aspects of the sport. I shared info on forums and eventually created the first entity that not only dispensed the information but also made the necessary accessories and kayaks available to anglers. When I started there were only a few kayaks that truly fished well. Now there are well over 100 and the total is approaching 200. Manufacturers are even making models that are designed for specific environments. If stand up sight fishing is your thing, there are models that do it extremely well. If fishing moving water is what you’re into there’s even a whitewater based model just for that. There are many choices available. So how does one choose? Just like motor vehicles they all accomplish the same thing, in a manner of speaking, but there isn’t any way a 2-seater sports car, a minivan and a pickup truck are going to be right for everyone. Each has attributes they excel in. Fishing in NJ is diverse. We have small lakes and ponds, rivers, reservoirs, bays and estuaries, and the ocean. There are spots I fish on remote parts of Garden State rivers where I have to wheel a kayak as much as a half mile to get to the water. Not only the trail but the section of river I fish requires a small kayak. Conversely when fishing large reservoirs like Round Valley, bays or the ocean a much longer kayak is required. That short kayak that works so well on the tight river would struggle to make any headway in a 15 mph wind in open water.
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