Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Skinny On Round Valley Reservoir In The Fall



The Where-To

Round Valley, New Jersey's largest reservoir and second-largest body of water can be easily reached by taking Route 78.  If coming from the west, take 78-East to exit 18, take 22-East and follow signs for Round Valley Recreation Area.  If coming from the east, take 78-West to Exit 20-A, take 22 west, and once again, follow signs for the park.  Parking, boat launch and an abundance of fishable shoreline can all be found at the recreation area.

The cool waters of Round Valley Reservoir cover over 2,000 acres and reach depths pushing 180 feet.  It is the deepest lake in New Jersey.  Round Valley has a naturally-reproducing lake trout population and is stocked several times a year with brown and rainbow trout by the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Round Valley Trout Association.  Although rainbows and browns cannot naturally reproduce in Round Valley, the large number of "holdover" trout keeps the reservoir populated with them throughout the year.

It is important to note that Round Valley Reservoir has been designated as a Trophy Trout lake.  Size regulations and creel limits on Trophy Trout lakes are more restrictive than on other bodies of water in New Jersey.  There is no closed season for rainbow and brown trout on Round Valley, but all fish must be 15" and only 2 fish combined may be kept per person, per day.  Only 1 lake trout of 20" or more can be kept per day, and no lake trout can be kept from September 15th to December 15th.  Anyone fishing Round Valley Reservoir must have a valid NJ fishing license and persons possessing trout must also have a trout stamp.

The Low-Down

Every year, while children are thinking about what they want to be for Halloween, the brown and rainbow trout of Round Valley are thinking about children.  The problem is, however, that since no streams or creeks flow in or out of the big reservoir, they can't find a place to spawn.  As a result, they spend long hours cruising the shoreline looking for a place to breed and are easily accessible to shore anglers.  The movement of brown trout usually follows the movement of rainbows by a few weeks.

How To Catch Them

This angler initially failed miserably at his endeavor last year for one simple reason.  Trout are line-shy.  Using anything larger than 4-lb. test greatly reduces, or even eliminates your chance of catching a trout.  I have learned to overcompensate for my previous inadequacies, and now use 4-lb. test fluorocarbon, which although a few bucks more, is virtually invisible underwater.

As far as catching them, there are a few simple and inexpensive methods that I use. 

1)Spinners.  My personal preferences are 1/8-oz. and 1/16-oz. Blue Fox, Panther Martin or Rooster Tails.  There is really no trick to using a spinner.  Cast it out.  Reel it in.  Change the speed of your retrieve and see what happens.

2)Nightcrawers.  Casting a whole nightcrawler on a #10 trout hook when they are visible from the shore is probably your best shot at catching one.

3)Power Bait.  While casting spinners or crawlers, I usually have a light slip-sinker rig off the bottom with Berkeley Power bait.  This is a tried and true way of catching trout.

As far as tackle is concerned, the lighter the better.  If you have a light or ultra-light combo available, great.  If not, my medium-action bass rods have done the trick.

Fly-fishing is one of the most well-known means of trout fishing.  I'm hoping to put off opening that can of worms for as long as I can, or hopefully forever, so although there are many respectable authorities on fly-fishing, I am not one of them.  As a matter of fact, unless it is absolutely necessary, this may be the last time that you will ever see me mention fly-fishing in my blog.  One of the goals of my writing is the hope that I will teach somebody, something, anything, but if you are hoping to learn something about fly-fishing, I will tell you now that you are going to be disappointed.  I truly admire this intricate art of angling and those who seek to master it, but I have enough trouble moderating my hobby as it is, and can't afford (both figuratively and literally) to embark on any new endeavors at this point in my life.

Conservation

By all means, take one or two (at most, by law) home for the table, but remember that fisheries are delicate and their existence is dependent on our conservation practices.  Fish being returned to the water should be quickly unhooked, photographed and released.  If a fish is hooked deeply, cut the line and sacrifice your hook or spinner to give it a better chance of survival.  NEVER use stainless steel hooks.

In Closing

It would be my absolute pleasure if someone reads this, and in turn catches a trout.  Even if you are not a fisherman, Round Valley Reservoir is a breathtaking piece of scenery to behold.  Its clear water instantly makes an impression, and its sheer size is something that you may never forget.  Always bear in mind that the survival of such treasures is in our hands

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