Willie from Marx’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon reports the Lehigh River is fishing good for trout. The river is a little high but water clarity is good. Locals are using spinners, fatheads and nightcrawlers for trout. One customer took a 20 incher, another nailed a 19 incher at the falls area while one regular customer landed a 24-incher in the Walnutport stretch of the river. Good large trout catches are coming from the Little Lehigh after last weekends junior/adult fishing contests held on the Lehigh Parkway stretch of the creek. Willlie is also receiving decent leftover trout reports from the Monocacy Creek. He also reminds trout anglers that Lehigh River Stocking Associations’ Lunkerfest postponed last week because of rain and high, fast water, is being held this weekend. Same place, time and rules as we listed in an earlier column.
Willie says anglers are buying lots of big shiners for Leaser Lakes’ catch-and-release muskies. And up at Mauch Chunk Lake, he’s been hearing about good perch and pickerel catches.
If you want big fish, head to the Delaware River. According to Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia, stripers are being caught at the Burlington Bristol Bridge and above. Regular customer Dave picked 38 and 34-inchers with chunked bunker right below the turnpike bridge. Off Buoy One, a group of guys fishing eels, white perch and chunked bunker picked up 5 slot fish and 39 and 32-inch throwbacks. They also had 11 smaller fish with a ton of catfish. JR fishing above Trenton caught several nice 20 to 30-inch stripers on bunker, clams and plugs. Further down-river, Pete had a great day fishing Petty’s Island with 32 stripers in 2 days but only 2 slot fish. The remainder were small. He did best with bloodworms and bunker. Down at the airport several slot fish have been caught with tons of smaller fish on bloodworms. Fishing up the Raccoon Creek one fisherman had three stripers 37,34 and 28 inches and some catfish 5 to 14 pounds. He did best with live eels but also had fish with bunker and shad strips. Down the river in Delaware state waters, there have been some 30 to 45-inch bass caught with live perch, eels and bunker heads. These fish are being caught from the Commodore Barry Bridge down to the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
Above Trenton, the striper fishing has still been very good. At Lambertville one fisherman with top water plugs picked up six fish (24-31 inches) Tuesday evening with poppers and darters. At Upper Black Eddy area of the Delaware River, a fisherman picked up a 31-inch striper with a live minnow. At the Water Gap, Kevin said there have been fish 24 to 38 inches picked up with live eels and live trout. Kevin has still been crushing the shad in the evenings with small darts and spoons. Up at Narrowsburg to Callicoon, they have also been doing very good for shad fishing late in the days. Mr. D was up to Narrowsburg Tuesday catching 19 shad and a 19-inch walleye all with spoons. Jimmy up above Callicoon, had a couple great evenings with 15 to 25 shad each night all with fly rods.
At the shore, there’s been tons of bluefish up and down the coast. Mixed in have been some decent stripers. LBI has been one of the hot spots for bluefish. They have been hitting metal, poppers, bucktails, shad bodies and crankbaits the best. Most of these fish have been six to 15 pounds. Lew had a couple fish 10 to 15 pounds with chunked bunker. Frank picked up over 30 bluefish on Tuesday with 4 keeper stripers mixed in. Bunker heads, 3-ounce Gator spoons and 2 ounce white bucktails with 6-inch grubs were working best. Fred at Sea Isle, had a great day in the wind on Monday catching 17 bluefish and 6 small stripers all with bucktails and 2-ounce metal spoons and jigs. Russ at Brick, NJ, had a couple bluefish on Deadly Dick lures over the weekend. Frank fishing bait at Atlantic City had a few bluefish and a 26-pound striper Saturday morning. A few other guys in the back bay of Atlantic City with smaller metal jigs have been catching 10 to 20 bluefish a day. Most of these fish have been 3 to 8 pounds. If you’re looking strictly for stripers, the hot spot has been up in the Raritan Bay. These fish have been hitting a little bit of everything. The bait guys have been snagging and dropping bunker either to catch bluefish or stripers 20 to 40 pounds. The guys trolling have been using Mojo rigs, umbrella rigs and bunker spoons. These guys have been catching quite a mix of bluefish and stripers 15 to 30 pounds. There was a 50- plus pound fish caught late last week. Off the jetty at Long Beach Island, a few smaller bass were hitting live eels, bucktails with grubs or shad bodies and SP minnows. I even had some good reports of weakfish hitting flukes, saltshakers, bucktails and bloodworms. One fish I did see was 11 pounds caught off a jetty at Cape May point.
From the Fisherman Magazine comes word that New Jersey’s fluke season will get underway (barring any federal intervention) on May 25 with a three fish at 18-inch size limit running through September 5. In a unanimous vote by the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council on May 17 at Avalon Community Hall, New Jersey’s 2017 limits also provide a two fish at 16-inch bag limit for surfcasters at Island Beach State Park, while allowing three summer flounder at 17 inches for those fishing west of the COLREGS on Delaware Bay. The fluke drama isn’t over yet as there are plenty of bureaucratic moving parts that could still muddy the waters – but anglers, captains and tackle shops can mark Thursday the 25th on the calendar as the Memorial Day kickoff to the season as per state officials. Until next Thursday’s NJ flatfish opening (don’t forget Delaware is already underway at 17 inches, so is New York at 19 inches), big drum are hitting at the Coral Beds and off the Villas, tiderunner weakfish are running from Cape May up into the upper reaches of Barnegat Bay, big stripers are on clams and bunker chunks on the beaches while also whacking trolled baits out to the fence in Ocean and Monmouth County, and big “Dream Boat” bluefish can be found just about anywhere you look.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.