Giants of the Delaware

by John Brylinski

Muskies? In New Jersey? You bet! Thanks to the efforts of Muskies Inc. NJ, a non-profit conservation organization and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Game, quality muskie fishing can be found in many Garden State waters. More muskies are being caught today than ever before.

One of NJ's premier muskie fisheries can be found on the Delaware River from the Delaware Water Gap north to the State line at Port Jervis, New York. Public boat launch facilities, maintained by the National Park Service, are located at the "Gap", Smithfield Beach, Bushkill, Dingman's Ferry, and within the boundaries of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This extensive area of Federally owned land offers access for shore-bound anglers as well.

This section of the river is composed of long slow pools interconnected by shallow riffles and rapids. Some stretches contain deep holes, gravel bars, weedbeds, islands, and tributary stream. Good fishing locations are straightforward and fairly easy to locate. Slack water areas are the key. Look for them on the downstream side of islands, below shoals and particularly downstream of rocky points and bars which deflect current flow. Eddies are also formed below inside river bends and alongside riffs. The junction of feeder streams will also hold muskies. man made structures such as bridge abutments and wing dams can also hold muskies. If any of these areas contain downed timber, they are particularly attractive to fish. As the water warms, emerging weedbeds will also be prime fishing areas.

Without a doubt, the elusive muskellunge is the king of freshwater predators and the ultimate trophy. They can grow to massive proportions and will eat anything they can get their razor sharp teeth into. Muskies have been caught in the Delaware River in excess of fifty inches in length and weighing over forty pounds! The current New Jersey State record weighed in at a whopping 42 lbs., 13 ounces.

Muskie fishing generally starts in the late spring when the water temperature reaches the mid-60 degree range. The warming water increases the muskie's metabolic activity and has them on the lookout for their favorite prey. Chubs, suckers, carp, and eels are all part of the muskie's diet.

Some specialized tackle is needed to pursue muskies. Most muskie fishermen choose a medium-heavy casting rod with a level wind reel. Spool up with thirty-pound test, low-stretch line and you will be ready to go. Don't forget to use a high quality steel leader to protect your line from a muskie's razor sharp teeth!

This is the time to break out the largest lures in your tackle box. Crank baits, surface lures, and spinners are all good choices, but a special muskie lure called a "jerkbait" is probably the best type of lure to use. These are available in many bait shops and tackle stores along the river.

There are a few guides who specialize in muskie fishing on the Delaware River. Their knowledge of the river, its habitats, and the techniques used to catch muskies will vastly increase your chance of catching one of these elusive giants. If you are considering a guide, be sure he is licensed and has a reputations for being a good instructor as well as being able to put you on the fish.

There is a strong catch-and-release ethic among the muskie fishing fraternity. This has greatly increased the opportunity for everyone to experience the thrill of seeing a muskie engulf your lure at boatside. Forty-five inches of muskie hitting on twelve inches of line is something no angler can ever forget. A photograph or a graphite replica makes an excellent trophy and remembrance of your fish. So remember: "Let 'em go and let 'em grow!"

The author is a professional fishing guide and specializes in muskie, shad and walleye. 973-948-4724.
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ed walz
23 Jun 2014, 04:59
fishing delaware river and some huge fish were in a lilly-pad area. Couldnt see them, but they kept ATTACKING feeder fish i guess, and the splash and noise was that of very large fish!!! Could it have been Muskie, bass, or carp????
01 Apr 2012, 19:58
Hello Fellow Musky Hunters -\r\n Feel free to check out our club meetings on the last Tuesday of each month in Denville, NJ at the Lake Arrowhead Clubhouse. NJ Chapter 22 of Muskies Inc has lure demos, lure swaps, and lots of info at teh meetings. No obligation to join and our meetings are open to the public.\r\nCheck out the website at\r\nThanks-\r\nJim
28 Mar 2012, 16:00
I caught a large musky between gloucester city and brooklawn nj where the big timber creek meets the delaware is this just a fluke or should i continue to try for them this far south.
ron manico
13 Mar 2012, 10:52
I have seen and caught very large muskies in the delaware around Bulls Island. Early morning catch. Most awesome fish to catch. Saltwater guys would love this fish!
26 Feb 2012, 15:37
Caught one last year during the shad run. Just over 41" but pulled me almost into Jersey from the Easton bank.
22 Jan 2012, 20:49\r\n\r\n tch?v=LlB2xDfAl_8\r\n\r\nI'm an animal behavioral researcher and one of the programs that we offer through The Center For Animal Behavioral Research is instructional structure fishing outings on our local lakes in New Jersey.\r\n\r\nFrom September 1 to early December of 2011 I brought 30 muskies to boat-side releasing them all to grow bigger for the next fisherman.\r\n\r\nThe videos show the details of how we do this.\r\n\r\nEnjoy.\r\n\r\n\r\n
29 Oct 2011, 16:11
targetting musky from the shore is a tough thing to do, honestly its probably mostly luck. i have caught them up near the del water gap and south of easton/phillipsburg area. the best "purchased" baits ive found are large X-rap or other jerk type baits...or large spinner baits. You wuold be surprised at how a 10 " bass will go after a 12" jerk bait\r\n\r\nwith the "clacking minnow" (rapala) ive had luck in the lehigh river catching a musky ...key is to cast give it a few tugs and let it go limp and drift for 2-10 seconds depending on current/temperature will catch alot of smallmouth doing this as well\r\n\r\nmy friend uses a piece of wood about 15" long with the top painted red and he catches musky's with it so pretty much anything big will get their attention. steel liter is a good idea, ive caugh them with mono liters but ive also lost alot of 15 dollar lures b/c i was not geared properly. \r\n\r\nalso most of the musky i have caught have been around 5am-7am or 6pm-8pm in the summer or 5pm -6pm in the winter \r\n\r\ngood luck to you i hear north of the water gap is good but i have not tried it yet.\r\n\r\n
09 Aug 2011, 16:04
i caught a 36 inch tiger musky south of where the lehigh spills into the delaware from teh shore using a white spinner with blue and yellow accents just at dusk. only had 12 lb test on ... fight of my life, surprised it didnt break the line. he's back in the river now but i hear big jerk baits cranked fast work real well as well.
11 Jul 2011, 07:24
hi guys &girls :i live neear burilngton,n.j. and am curious if there anyone from that area could tell me where one would go in search of these river dwell,i have no boat ,so i would be hunting from shore.if anyone can enlighten me i would be greatful for i' m new at this.\r\n thank you
13 Jan 2011, 18:09
can u catch these muskie from shore in the Delaware river, i have never once went muskie fishing so i need some help like whats the best rod an reel, best lure, all of the above.\r\n\r\n\r\ni really really really need some helppp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
02 Jan 2011, 16:44
musky are very big fish so if you wear them out they will die
Chuck Hendershot
09 Aug 2010, 11:35
I just got back from The Greenbrier in WV. We tried some Muskie fishing and it was incredible. I was the only one catching them and the other boats and guides were amazed due to the low water conditions and hot temps. Needless to say, I am hooked. My mother lives on the Delaware River and I never knew their were Muskie there. Who can I talk to about scheduling a trip and what times of the year are best?\r\n\r\nThanks\r\nChuck\r\n908-256-4285
31 Jul 2010, 21:39
i am going to be by the del water gap and smithfield beach in august.what kind of fish are bting and what bait or lures? I have a 14 ft fiberglass boat,so im concerned about shallow rocky areas.
14 Dec 2009, 22:59
Lookin for local musky shops or just tackle shops that carry musky lures can any one help
14 Dec 2009, 22:56
Just curious if anybody know of some local shops to buy tackle i know about all the online shops but looking for somthing that i can actually go look at the lure. got a couple lures an due to no color chart didn't like the colors i got
30 Aug 2009, 19:19
Is their any muskie fishing near or close to the C.B. Bridge on the pa side? tx
Jeff Cunningham
21 Sep 2008, 14:10
I am looking for a guide/charter to go muskie fishing in N.J. area. Can you help?\r\nThank You,\r\nJeff Cunningham\r\n732-245-9235
03 Sep 2008, 15:06
keep me up 2 date with musky info. Also had 2 nice musky's on the munksville lake,hit twicw on a 10 in lure,2 nasty hits,trolling about 2,to 300 ft of line out,cut right thro 80lb test of power pro,put on carbon leader,next nasty hit,lost her too,sharpen hooks like a razor after that last fight,take care
Bobby Stewart
03 Sep 2008, 14:01
I'am looking to go muskie fishing for the first time in the deleware river this fall, and i was wondering if you have any special techniqes, lures, or areas i should be looking for when i'am fishing. e-mail me back if you can help.
27 Apr 2008, 07:33
keep up the great work on catch,and release. I been doing this all my life fishing freshwater.
29 Dec 2007, 09:24 - Digital taxidermy - For those who practice catch and release.\r\n\r\nThanks

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