Category Archives: News&Events

Another Potential NJ State Record American Eel Released

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.

Zach Merchant holding 45inch American Eel
Zach Merchant holds a 45+ inch American Eel before releasing it back into Round Valley.

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.
-Tight Lines

September Fishing Report

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.

Zach Merchant fishing boat set up for trolling
Zach Merchant’s fishing boat, set up for trolling trout at Round Valley.

Trolling Setup

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

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.

Robert Ivan holding a Rainbow Trout
Author, Robert Ivan with a 17inch rainbow trout showing red spawn colors.
Zach Merchant holding a Lake Trout
Zach Merchant holding one of two Lake Trout caught during the day’s fishing trip.
Zach Merchant holding Rainbow Trout
Zach Merchant showing off one of the larger Rainbow Trout caught on this trip.

The Fishing

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.

Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Training September 15-17

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will be hosting a free 2-day Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) training September 15-17 in Waretown (Ocean Co). HOFNOD targets teachers, staff and volunteers of schools and community-/faith-based organizations looking to engage youth in an ongoing or year-round fishing, conservation and aquatic education program.

HOFNOD is a great way to introduce youth to fishing and their local waters and other natural resources while supporting positive outdoor recreation activities and life skills. The program can be used by most organizations.

For more information or to register visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2017/hofnod_train09-17.htm on the Division’s website.