South Jersey Fishing: Hiding in Plain Sight
Sometimes, something hits you straight between the eyes. And then there is the residual smack to the forehead.
Talking freshwater fishing here, at a prime time before the full autumn transition, and, albeit the brief appetite-wrecking turnover. As you read this, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and panfish (read: crappies, yellow perch, and sunfish) have affixed the feedbags, and some of the best angling of the autumn period is underway.
Oftentimes in places, one would never expect, such as municipal and county park ponds, creeks lazing through said areas or through campgrounds, or community lakes that are more about swimming and catching tadpoles and frogs, and even retention basins (often the recipients of a nod ‘n wink “locally” stocked bass) behind corporate buildings, housing developments, and schools.
Welcome to the up-close and unexpected south Jersey fall freshwater fishing bonanza.
“On a nightcrawler under a bobber. I was just off the shoulder,” quipped a beaming Katie S. as she hoisted a bass that was every bit of 5 lbs. The paved, kind of heavily traversed county blue sign-labeled road that went past a prominent park in Ocean County shall remain nameless, as will the pond less than a mile farther up the road. Suffice to say the pounding rhythms and revvings of the Garden State Parkway were still within earshot.
Fast forward a couple of days.
“Check out that catfish!,” was the exclamation from a couple of LabraDoodle walkers.
Youngster Marius R. triumphed in a struggle with what turned to be a thick-shouldered channel catfish that a visual guesstimate put at 6 lbs. “Oohs” and Ahhs” all around.
The diminutive swim was surrounded by homes, a walking/biking path, i.e. not a place where one would expect big fish to be in residence.
C’mon! We’ve all done it...”it” discounting water because, well, it’s in a park or a retention basin or along the road, is too small, is too weedy, or...add to the myriad excuse list.
“New Jersey has outstanding freshwater fishing opportunities,” opines Hackettstown Hatchery superintendent Craig Lemon, adding, “We stock a variety of fish, mostly channel cats but also bass, sunfish, and crappies, in urban and suburban ponds and lakes up and down New Jersey. Some excellent fishing is available in these waters.”
Visit njfishandwildlife.com for a list of public waters open to fishing. Click on the Freshwater Fishing link, go to the Hackettstown Hatchery link to discover just how many multi-thousands of fish under the warm water and cool water designations, are stocked.
Some of the best fishing is close to home.
Hiding in plain sight, if you will.