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)
We started this Memorial Day afternoon fishing Spruce Run Reservoir for hybrid striped bass. We were trolling live herring and fished from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and ended the day with a really nice 24 inch, 7.20-lb Brown Trout.
The Hybrid fishing was pretty tough and really slow yesterday with only one Hybrid Bass in the boat for us that my buddy Jason landed; his first of the year!
After the one hybrid and after a while of zero action, we began thinking about packing it in for the evening. But just then we had a rod go off and it seemed like a really nice fish so my good friend and usual partner-in-crime Rob S. got the camera rolling.
We weren’t able to really tell what I had on for almost the entire fight, which lasted about 7-minutes, until the fish came up behind the boat at the very end. Although we didn’t know exactly what we had hooked before we saw it, every one of us knew we had something very special on the end of our line as the fight progressed more and more. Several times I got it to within 6 or 7-feet of the boat only to have it bulldog its way straight back down to the bottom.
Getting the fish into the boat was going to be an issue too since we forgot all our nets in the truck…talk about murphy’s law… My buddy Jason however, landed the fish by hand and he made it look easy!
We decided to keep this big beautiful brown trout and it will be mounted. Yes, we could have released it, but any good Trout fisherman will tell you that Trout stress out very easily; and when you add in a long hard fight like this one gave us in addition to almost 83 degree surface temperatures, release isn’t always the best option when it comes to Trout.
This fish is actually the 3rd Brown we’ve gotten out of Spruce Run over the past three weeks, and the other two (an 18-incher, and another that was 5+ pounds) were released safely since the water temps were still down in the low 60’s at that point and we didn’t have them on the line for anywhere near as long as this one was.
Been fishing the Valley a lot the past few weeks with Rob S. and Dan P. and the fishing has been on fire! Landed 2 trophy tagged Rainbows during the RVTA Open tournament 2 weeks ago, Rob S. Caught his first tagged Rainbow with me a few days prior as well. Lake Trout fishing has been pretty good and had a few days with over 10 Lake Trout in the boat the past week. To top it all off we caught and released a trophy tagged Brown Trout this morning. Visit the Round Valley Fishing Facebook Page to see all the pics and get involved our community there.
Early Spring pike fishing at Spruce Run Reservoir is off to a great start…at least for Zach! This Northern Pike was caught fishing a shiner on bottom in five to ten feet of water. More info about Spruce Run fishing at their Facebook Page.