Fishing Lake Hopatcong
Nothing shuts the door on winter as when the ice breaks
up and the first of 9,200 annual trout arrive at Lake Hopatcong in the
initial days after the vernal equinox. Rainbows, brookies and browns,
averaging 10 1/2" in length and ready to catch, arrive at their
final destination after a year and a half of pampering at the Pequest
Hatchery in Warren County. Along with them come many more thousands of
walleye, channel catfish and the relatively unfamiliar hybrid striped
bass in the ongoing "put, grow, and take" program. More
stocked fish come from the Knee
the lake's preeminent fishing organization. Thus begins the annual cycle
favorite sport. Nothing brings more delight to all ages than catching
a righteous fish.
Rich Giessuebel is a biologist by trade, teaches eighth
grade, lives with his family on Lake Hopatcong, and fishes. He has fished
all over the world. He is an ardent fly fisherman and has fished waterways
from our own Beaver Kill and Musconetcong to the most famous trout streams
on earth. He has written books and given talks on the subject. But he
still gets excited when he describes, with passion, fishing on New Jersey's
largest lake. He is the resident expert on how to make your fishing trip
to Lake Hopatcong a success. "Our lake", Rich calls it with love and
respect for the life it holds and the joy it can bring. Through his experience
we can begin to appreciate the bounty of New Jersey's largest lake.
Brown trout caught by Marie Archambault (left)
Every spring day spent fishing for rainbows or browns
is precious. The life of an Hopatcong trout is tenuous- few survive through
the year. Because of excessive weed growth and resultant oxygen depletion,
the upper 20 feet of water in the lake become the only habitable place
for trout by summer. And as the water temperature in this top layer approaches
75° (62° is optimal), trout become a rare sight. Undeniably,
some survive by spending the dog days of summer in a cool creek off the
lake. In fact the state record Rainbow Trout (most certainly a holdover
at over 13lb.)- was caught in Lake Hopatcong a few years ago. But a trout
over 10" is exceptional after July. Trout can be pursued before fishing
season opens in early April as long as they are released unharmed.
To Rich, the lake represents both "the old fishin'
hole" and big game adventure. He has spent a whole year learning about
and locating the prized hybrid striped bass using down riggers and depth
finders, mapping the lake and it's upcroppings. The Hybrid
Striper, relatively new to the lake, is a cousin to the Striped Bass
of ocean surf fame, and has quickly become the premium catch. The Hybrid
Striper is the hardest to find and one of the biggest fish in the lake,
growing up to 20 lbs. (The Knee Deep record is 9 lb. 9 oz.) In the days
of the Morris Canal hundreds of barges crossed the lake dropping ballast
at regular spots. These spots- where the lake's bottom now suddenly rises
from 40 to 20 feet under the water- are popular with hybrid stripers.
Using a depth finder and trolling herring, Phoebe or Rebel lures at about
18 feet, a good fisherman can expect only one or two stripers a week
to start. That's until you find the spots. Try around the Yacht Club
over near Bertrands Island.
Hopatcong's name originates from the Lenni Lenape Indian
word "Huppakong" meaning Honey Waters of Many Coves. The coves are part
of what makes Hopatcong a great bass lake, and many tournaments are held
here. When you know the lake you can get a stringer of bass on any day
in about 2 hours. Largemouth bass are probably the most fished in this
water. The record is 7 lb. 8 oz., but consider anything over 3 lbs. a
good fish and 5 lbs. a tournament winner. Rich has seen a dead 10 lb.
largemouth. "There are fish out there that just don't get caught. Bass
are part of that story". The smallmouth bass is the strongest fighting
fish pound for pound. Growing to 4 lbs., smallmouths just don't like
to get caught. They jump, contest your command, and would bite you if
they had teeth. Find them in isolated locations over rocks, where they
are hunting crayfish. Use frogs, real or rubber, with light tackle and
your battle with the smallmouth is on.
Jim Archambaulte with muskie on Lake Hopatcong.
Trout and bass aren't Lake Hopatcong's whole fish story.
Walleye are rare, despite the thousands stocked each year. Pickerel are
everywhere. The largest run about 5 lb. and can be found in the deepest,
coldest water by springs and rock formations. Fishing at about 20 feet
around Raccoon Island will yield 3-5 nice size pickerel a day. Cast anything-
a worm, a hot-dog, whatever- into the lake at night and you will catch
a catfish. In fact a night's fishing can yield 100-200 catfish a night!
Channel Cats are Hopatcong's biggest - the state record fish (33 lb.)
was caught off Nolan's Point a few years ago. And don't disregard the
panfish. Crappie and perch can yield a memorable day of fishing for the
whole family. As Mr. Giessuebel puts it, "People can come up here...
I would advise them to use a 1/2" bobber, the smallest you can get and
a little lure called a Rufus Jr., which happens to be a bucktail, 1/32
or 1/64 oz. It's very small.- no bait necessary. Put it 3 feet under
the bobber, cast out anywhere along the shore line and watch it disappear!" Retrieve
slow to get crappies, retrieve fast for yellow perch. Use light line
because these fish are line sensitive. "The lake is loaded with fish.
You can catch fish 8 days a week, 24 hours a day."
The lake's acquifers, refurbished by winter snows,
run cold water into the lake through early spring. As summer approaches,
the boats, skiiers, and swimmers take over Lake Hopatcong, and fish get
harder to find. Spring is the time for hook, line and sinker, and the
lake offers 28 miles of shoreline to explore.
Lake Hopatcong, of course, isn't the only large body
of fishable water in the Skylands, but the principals are the same- look
for structure in the water, fish the drop-offs, find the right temperature.
Round Valley Reservoir in Hunterdon County or Merrill Creek Reservoir
in Warren County both receive thousands more stocked fish every year.
In these deeper, cooler waters you will find Lake Trout, a fish that
has become rare in Hopatcong's warmer, shallower water. Round Valley
approaches depths of 160 feet in spots, and Lakers lurk at around 80
feet on warmer days. Lake trout are big game fish. They grow to exceed
20 lbs. and must be over 24" to keep. Spring yields great fishing off
the shore at Round Valley (they say trout favor marshmallows in the spring).
The state record brown trout-18 lb. 5 oz.- was caught by a woman fishing
live bait in shallow water off a boat ramp. The state record smallmouth
bass (7 lb. 2 oz.) was also caught in Round Valley- by a woman.
Anybody can be a fishing boat captain for a day. Go
to a bait and tackle shop and rent a boat and engine. Bring clip-on down
riggers, a thermometer to find the right temperature and a portable depth
finder to pinpoint locations and you are a big game fisherman like on
Lake Ontario or anywhere in the world. Or try marshmallows, hot-dogs,
or shiners under a bobber from a boat ramp or bridge. Either way you
will quickly find something at the end of the line. And the surprises
17 Aug 2012, 09:04
When is the fishing event for kids run by j. klien???
13 Aug 2012, 08:29
Are there any FREE (Public) Boat Ramps on Lake Hopatcong? If so,
where?\r\nThanks very much,\r\nNicole
19 May 2012, 08:03
Fishing license only
21 Sep 2011, 08:47
Do I NEED A PERMIT TO FISH THE LAKE AND HOW MUCH IS IT. Can you tell me
where the closest ramp would be, I'm coming up route 80 from North Haledon
also where are the bait stores and what time do they open.
17 Aug 2011, 20:29
hello guys, I want to know if i need a fishing permit to fish on lake
13 May 2011, 10:01
mike freni my name ron e-mail me i will show you how to fish lake hopatcong
i am on the lake for 30 email@example.com
07 May 2011, 06:43
Good morning! For anyone interested in fishing in NJ I am professional
guide and would be more than happy to take people out. I am small business
and my website is www.njadventuretours.com. Check us out today! Hope to see
you on the water!
24 Apr 2011, 07:32
4-26-2011\r\nHello, I am looking for someone who would like to fish with me
in my boat. It is a 17ft vhull loaded with almost anything. I have fished
lake Hopatcong a few times but with not much luck. I am looking for someone
who knows where to fish and what to use. I live in Pennington so it is
somewhat osf a trip for the day so I like to make it worth wild. Hpoe to
hear from someone soon.
31 Mar 2011, 11:56
Does anyone remember Herb Spencer, Bertrands Island? I cannot wait to go
fishing off of Dow Marina, hoping to catch different kinds of fish with my
grandson Nicholas. I intend to use the Dow marina for bait.I wish all
fisherman good luck and hope to meet some of you at Dows Marina.
28 Mar 2011, 07:52
do you rent boats and if how much are they?
24 Feb 2011, 13:43
Jim: Thank You so much and I look forward to meet you in May at Dows
24 Feb 2011, 13:38
Roger Dows has everything you need to go fishing. April is cold. Try May
24 Feb 2011, 11:53
What type of baits does Dows Marina have? I am so looking forward to fish
with my grandson Nicholas off the Dow Marina dock or to be able to rent a
boat which I would row out a little bit and get ready to try and catch some
good size fish, trout, pickrel, perch and bluegills.
14 Feb 2011, 07:56
Jim Welsh: Would it be possible to catch some trout while fishing off the
dock at Dow's Marina. Remember the fun we used to have during the summer?
How is charlie and your sisters. Remember Bertrands Island and its rides.
14 Feb 2011, 07:35
Jim: What a wonderful surprise, remember Herb Spencer's rowboats and all
the times we used to fish from his docks. Remember night time
catfishing.Probably in April I and my grandson Nicholas will show up at
Dow's Marina, we will be able to fish from their dock correct?
05 Feb 2011, 15:52
Roger Sullivan I work at Dows Charlie brother.
03 Oct 2010, 18:38
Weed beds weed beds and did I mention weed beds, find em, fish em, and make
sure you are using at least an 1 oz of weight to get through them WEEDS?
28 Sep 2010, 08:15
Brian: Thank You very much, both Nicholas and I will try that spot this
week-end. I love catching sunfish and just maybe there maybe a few small
bass or trout.
28 Sep 2010, 05:42
For caesar re: water quality in Hopatcong - on a recent canoe trip my wife
and I saw an American river otter near Raccoon Island; a homeowner nearby
said the otter had been living there for a while. River otters will only
live in clean water.\r\n\r\nFor Roger Sullivan, re: where to fish with
grandson - There's a marina/market on Prospect Point that let my 7 year old
fish from the dock (he caught a bunch of sunfish) and they let us put our
canoe in for free too. Nice people.
25 Aug 2010, 10:43
sleddog: I want to thank you very much about where I can take my grandson
Nicholas to fish. We will try Dows Marina asap.
24 Aug 2010, 18:36
Roger go to Dows Marina by the Jefferson House they let you fish off the
22 Aug 2010, 18:17
Once again I am asking anyone about the spot on Lake Hopatcong in the
Jefferson Area where I would be able to fish with my grandson Nicholas.
Finding a spot is very difficult because there are not a lot of spots that
allow to fish from the shore. I need a favor from some great person. Thank
19 Aug 2010, 11:11
Is the water in lk. Hopatcong? I heard a rumor few years ago that it was a
little polluted. I want to go fishing there with my dad. does anybody know
about the condition of the water?\r\n\r\nThanks.
02 Aug 2010, 16:10
Who remembers Bertrands Island and all of the great times that were had on
nickel nights on the roller coaster and the slide ride that was in a
boat.Who remembers Charlie Welch, his brother Tommy and Herb Spencer, Teddy
Romanowski and his sister Patty.
01 Aug 2010, 16:46
Can someone direct me to a spot in the Espanong Jefferson area that will
allow me and my grandson Nichols to fish in Lake Hopatcong. We tried two
weeks ago at Lees Park and asked a few marinas but no one would allow us to
fish. I was just looking for a dock or a land area that would allow us to
fish. Does anyone know Ted Romanowski of Espanong who was my friend back in
1950's or his sister.
20 Jul 2010, 14:31
do you need a license to fish on the lake? if so where do i get one?
12 Jul 2010, 07:25
Your definately right caught about 10 channel cats from 6" to 12"in 1 hour
just fishing off the docks!
Shawn M. Demmerle
07 May 2010, 10:11
Rich, am so glad I was subliminally magneted to my Mac this a.m. I am a
Veterinarian who just moved to Lake Hopatcong, and want to get involved!
Spending some time in Minnesota during my internship has me Muskie
dreaming!!! I live very close to the Lake on Chincopee Lane, near the State
park. \r\nMy Brother and I have fished the Chesapeake our whole lives,
Check out our website (Business) www.chesapeakelures.com. Hit me back
Rich, \r\nThanks...\r\n\r\nDr. Shawn M. Demmerle D.V.M.
10 Apr 2010, 18:48
yeah im going tomorow first time on that lake will rent a boat from bow's
im big fun of pike if any one know any good spots will be a big help my
friends fish ther but they cant come to show me if any one can pleas email
05 Apr 2010, 13:55
Is going to be my first time
05 Apr 2010, 13:52
I want to fish in that lake what tackle is the best how about live bait
GLENN MARTIN MILLER
31 Mar 2010, 12:32
I usually rent a boat from Dow's. I try herring and crawlers, and tubes.
All good. However, I have yet to catch a walleye here. What are the secrets
for walleye on this lake - what area?
20 Mar 2010, 07:05
20 Mar 2010, 07:04
Forgot my email address
20 Mar 2010, 07:02
Can someone please email some shore points to fish lake hopatcong. Thanks
07 Mar 2010, 15:05
Hi all. First timer to the lake hopoctong\r\nhere's my question. When can I
start , can I fish off the side I usually fish starting may fresh water but
I just can't wait. I purchased my liscence and I'm ready can someone email
me. Joeygello3210@aol.com. Thnx guys or gals
03 Nov 2009, 11:17
Was there on Sunday.. no one bite...
07 Oct 2009, 13:14
Hi, I fished lake Hopatcong all summer with great sucess. Trohpy size
pickerel off raccon island in 10ft of (weeds) water. using weedless mepps
spinners#5. Also caught many small mouths,large mouths Hybrid Strppers and
walley off nolans point. Lindy riging with herring.\r\n\r\nThings seem to
have slowed up in october, I actually have been skunked for the month. Any
29 Sep 2009, 09:06
The week-end of October 9th, I intend to take my grandson Nicholas who
lives in Jefferson fishing off some available dock. Fishing for blue gills,
perch and just maybe a trout. I have been looking forward to this for so
long. My family used to have a home on the lake(Espanong) where we spent
all of our summers and visited Bertrands Island every Monday and
Thursday.We used to get our boats from Spencers
21 Sep 2009, 18:33
you can catch a lot of perch and sunnys off the docks at lee's county park
marina at lake hopatcong. also some bass and walleye
05 Sep 2009, 07:42
Looking for a good shore spot on the lake to go fishing this weekend. Any
22 Jul 2009, 18:56
Great lake to fish, I live on the lake. Muskie, hybrid stripers, big
cattys, and monster nighttime walleye. Use topwater, zara spooks, sammy and
super spooks, also long A bombers cranked super slow as well as cotton
cordells, and rebels. Nighttime is the right time.
24 Jun 2009, 15:14
I am entering the stew lant contest with my nephew this weekend, i am
already registered, where can i get a list of public boat ramps on lake
hopatcong or private pay ramps i have no idea where i can launch. thank you
21 Apr 2009, 16:14
31 Mar 2009, 19:25
What am I likely to be able to catch from the shore in a shallow cove in
mid-April? I'm trying to decide whether to buy a fishing license for a
weekend visit then.
michael n. grooms
27 Mar 2009, 04:17
i am plannining to fish hopatcong for the first time soon. i am primarily a
salt water big game fisherman returning to fresh water. are there any
guides with boats offering charters? ( i need a little help until i get my
feet wet in fresh water after many years)
26 Mar 2009, 19:41
I AM FROM NJ BUT NOW I AM IN COLORADO DO TO THE ARMY AND I AM MAKING A TRIP
OUT TO NJ IN JULY AND WANT TO GO FISHING WITH MY SON FOR BASS SO WHERE IS
THE BEST BASS FISHINF I LOOKED AT LAKE HOPATCONG AND LAKE WAWAYANDA SO
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE
michael n. grooms
12 Mar 2009, 08:09
planning to fish hopatcong this spring need any- all hot tips! THANKS A
14 Jan 2009, 19:33
Tito:\r\nRubber worms, Baby Bass color, are deadly in spring around the
docks, if you want largemouth. Also, skirted football jig (black and blue)
with craw trailer seem to work well around the 4-8 foot rocky/sandbar areas
all season.\r\nI did well last season with 4 5lb-ers and dozens between 2-3
lb-ers all season. Even had one break 12lb test after a 3 minute fight.
definately a state record, I saw him or her and she was huge. shame I
couldn't bring her in.
11 Jan 2009, 22:41
Im lookin foward to fishing this lake soon. Does any one got any good
05 Nov 2008, 22:06
can i supply you with fishing flies?
26 Aug 2008, 15:58
I am thinking about taking the kids fishing at Lake Hopatcong. Is this a
good family fishing spot and can you fish off the shore or do you have to
rent a boat. If so how much are the boats? Thank you
15 Aug 2008, 13:13
Can you tell me about how wide and long the lakeand is? \r\n\r\nThank
you\r\n\r\nPS Thank you for the fishing information.
28 Jul 2008, 15:46
any info about carp fishing?
10 Apr 2008, 10:09
I am looking for resaninable dry storage for my 20 foot pontoon boat and
trailer any info would be greatly appreciated
08 Apr 2008, 19:37
8 lb striper this weekend off of Barns bros.\r\n\r\ngood times