Tag Archives: Chain Pickerel

Large Chain Pickerel Caught Through The Ice

Large Chain Pickerel
26.5-inches, 5 pound Chain Pickerel caught by Zach Merchant

Fished the Round Valley swimming area yesterday with Nick Honachefsky. We started our day off with a bang, getting our first flag within 15 minutes of getting set up, and I landed what ended up being my new personal best Pickerel! I will be writing up a short fishing report from my last few ice fishing trips either later tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned! – Zach Merchant

New Jersey Skillful Angler Leader Board Posted

The first entries on the new 2015 New Jersey Skillful Angler Leader Board have been posted! The revised Skillful Angler Recognition Program now includes a listing of those with the largest fish in each division/category for all species. At the end of the year, special recognition is given to anglers who catch the largest fish in each species category.

Zach Merchant Skillfull Angler

Visit the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’sprogram webpage to learn more and sign up. Also, visit the current leader board…surprise surprise, our very own Zach Merchant is currently leading the Chain Pickerel catch and release category. Nice!

Zach Merchant 2015 Skillfull Angler chain pickerel

Ice Fishing Report

Ice Fishing Report for Sunday 25 January 2015 from Round Valley Reservoir.
Met up with Zach Merchant, Dave, Kyle and some other folks at Round Valley to check out the ice conditions and hopefully see some fish come through the ice in the hour I had available. I was not disappointed!

Ice Fishing, Round Valley Reservoir, swimming section safe ice

ICE: Main lake open, swimming side 6-7 inches with an inch of slush on top.
TIME: 1:01pm
WIND SPEED: 9.8mph
BAROMETER: 29.75in | rising
MOON PHASE: Waxing Crescent | 40% Illuminated
BAIT: Live Shiners, Large

The group had caught one perch before I arrived. In the hour I was there 12:30p to 1:30p I saw 4 flags go up on the tip-ups. Two of those resulted in fish being landed. Zach landed a ~18inch Chain Pickerel and quickly released it, catch and release video is up on our Facebook page. Shortly after that Kyle landed a larger 22 inch Chain Pickerel, measured and released. Both of those fish were caught on tip ups rigged with large live shiners. We were no more than 20 feet from the shoreline, so I’m guessing the water depth was 10 to 15 feet.

Kyle, Round Valley NJ Ice Fishing Chain Pickerel
Kyle, quick pic before releasing this 22 inch Chain Pickerel caught through the ice on tip up and live shiner.

February 22, 2014 – Spruce Run Ice Fishing Report

Went out and hit the hard water again at Spruce Run Reservoir a few weeks ago on Saturday, February 22 with a few other people for the NJFishing.com meet and greet.  I got out a little late, around 8:00 a.m. and most other people had already set up their tip ups, or were almost finished doing so by the time I made it out to everyone.  Between all of us, we had a pretty good spread around us and had pretty much every type of depth and structure covered; from five feet of water, to about 15 or 20 feet of water, river channels, drop offs, and everything in between.  For bait, most people were either using live Shiners, or big dead baits.  It didn’t take all too long for us to get our first few flags, which was on Matt J.’s (The same Matt that taught Chris and I how to fish for Carp) tip up with a big dead bait on the hook.  While this was happening, I was on the other side of our tip up spread finishing up getting my lines in the water, but Matt landed a nice fat 32-inch Pike.

Spruce Run Pike
Matt J. with his fat 32-inch Pike caught on a large dead bait.

Before all that somebody else landed a decently sized Channel Catfish on a live Shiner (Which I missed as well), so we definitely started our day off pretty decently.  About an hour or so after that, Matt got another flag on another dead bait on the bottom, so we started our journey over to his tip up and about half way there the guys that stayed by our stuff started yelling that we had another flag, on the opposite side of our spread of tip ups, and this time it was one of mine.  So Rob J. and I started our way back over that way to my tip up, and by the time we got to it, it had all the line spooled off of it and was doing a little dance in the hole for us.  So I got the tip up out of the hole, immediately felt a fish on the line and set the hook.  After pulling in what felt like a mile of line, I finally got the fish to the hole and the first thing we saw was the big head of a nice Largemouth Bass, and with the help of Rob J. we got it through the hole and onto the ice.  While we didn’t take any exact measurements since we were a good distance from our gear and I wanted to get the fish back into the water, we estimated it to be somewhere around 4 or 5-lbs.

Spruce Run Bass
Me and my 4-5 pound Largemouth Bass caught on a live Shiner about two feet off the bottom in 10-12 feet of water.

Meanwhile, after we took a few pictures and got the Bass back into the water we found out that while we were handling my fish, Matt had landed another 25-inch Pike on a dead bait fished on the bottom.  After that, the action slowed down for probably about an hour or hour and a half.  Though soon enough we got another flag, this time on one of Dave’s tip-ups rigged with a live Shiner, conveniently (For me at least, haha) Dave was too far away from his tip-up when the flag went up, so I was able to get in on the action.  When I got to within 20 feet or so of the tip-up, I could see the spool spinning out like crazy as the fish stripped the line off the spool.  So I got the tip-up out of the hole, set the hook, and started taking line back.  Once I was able to get the fish within reasonable distance of the hole, it went on a pretty strong run and took a few more yards of line back out.  Though that was it’s last big run, we ended up landing a decently sized 25-30 inch Pike.

David Allen with his 25-30 inch Pike caught on a live Shiner.
David Allen with his 25-30 inch Pike caught on a live Shiner.

That ended up being our last fish of the day before I headed out, but I know the guys that stayed behind landed another nice 30+ inch Pike shortly after I left.  Overall I’d say it was a great day of fishing; met some new people and saw a few people I haven’t seen or fished with in a while, catching fish on top of that was really just an added bonus for the day.  All of the fish we landed were in pretty shallow water, about 10-12 feet of water or less, and were all on either live Shiners on or close to the bottom, or big dead baits on the bottom.


Round Valley Fishing Report

I personally have been going to Spruce Run to fish for Pike the past few weeks, so I’m not certain of the current ice condition at Round Valley as of March 6th.  Though I do know that over the past few weeks people have been catching Lakers out in deeper water on Shiners on the bottom under tip-ups, as well as jigging with lures such as Swedish Pimples and Binsky’s.  I’ve also heard that people have been catching Browns and Rainbows in close on Shiners under tip-ups in 5-15 feet of water.  As far as the swimming side goes, I haven’t heard much buzz about fishing on that side, but last time I fished there around mid-February the Pickerel bite was still going strong.  We were having success with them in 5-10 feet of water or less, and were catching on live Shiners under tip-ups set about a foot off the bottom, as well as on jigs such as Binsky’s, Rattle Traps, and Rapala Rippin’ Raps.

Me with a nice Chain Pickerel I caught on one of my last Round Valley trips in mid-February on the swimming side.
Me with a nice Chain Pickerel I caught  (and released) on one of my last Round Valley trips in mid-February on the swimming side.

Round Valley Ice Fishing Report

My friend Chris and I headed out to Round Valley Reservoir on Saturday morning to do a little ice fishing. The main lake is not frozen over and hasn’t been for a handful of years but the smaller “swimming” side is, so that’s where we fished. We met some other friends and even the now-famous state record eel eating Vasily showed up!

2011 Round Valley Largemouth Bass Ice Fished
Nice size Round Valley  Bucketmouth!


The ice was 3 to 6 inches deep, however there was a layer of snow and slush on top of it which made a pit in my stomach every time I took a step and sank a little.  The last year we were ice fishing at Round Valley,  the ice was 12 to 18inches thick so this was a little hairy.

We started around 9am and by 10am had 20 holes drilled with about 10 tip-ups working and some guys jigging. Remember that you are allowed 5 working holes per person by law and your tip ups must have your name and address on them.

All our tip-ups were fished near the bottom (12 to 30 feet depending on which hole) with a live large shiner hooked just under the dorsal fin. We caught two Chain Pickerel and one Largemouth Bass with these tip-ups. The Pickerel were caught shallow and the bass was caught deep.


Jigging everything we could think of produced nothing and at about noon we had enough and packed it in.  We had a great time but be very careful out there if you go ice fishing at RV, the ice isn’t that great this year. The other side of the lake if you are curious is still open and I spotted two boats out there trolling.