Hot Spot: Alloway Lake - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: Alloway Lake

alloway
You’ll find Alloway Lake appearing in your Navionics Boating App, and find your way to the Canal Street boat ramp by going to 39° 33.832’N / 75° 21.258’W.

Serendipity is a good thing when it comes to discovering a heretofore heard about, but never seen lake that word was in passing over the years a southern New Jersey hot hole for largemouth bass, jumbo black and white crappies, and head size sunfish.

A turn here, another there, eyes to the skies trying to track the flocks of wheeling snow geese that overcast late February afternoon. Then another turn, and it was eventually a slow roll into the hamlet of Alloway in Salem County.

Alloway? Angling info memory mode kicked in about this 120-something acre serpentine-shaped venue that’s managed by NJ Fish & Wildlife’s bureau of freshwater fisheries as one of the Garden State’s four lakes and one reservoir under Lunker Bass Lake regulation (see page 24 of the 2024 New Jersey Freshwater Fishing Digest).

The remainder of the afternoon was relegated to recon of the nearly mile long impoundment. Bankside access was at an extreme premium. There was a decent amount of cover in the form of laydowns and brush protruding from the shorelines, and a paved ramp with plenty of parking. Boat approach necessary.

Formerly a privately owned venue, Alloway underwent an 8-year dam/spillway replacement project. After intense negotiations among parties, it was opened to the public in 2009, the sticklers being that it was strictly a catch-and-release water and electric power only. However, the C&R mandate was eventually put to rest, one condition being that in order to protect and enhance the stellar largemouth fishery, it be put under special regulation. Hence, the Lunker Bass Lake designation.

As with the majority of southern tier county stillwaters, Alloway’s complexion is stained and lends to turbid after significant rain. It has a maximum reach of 12 to 13 feet, with a mean depth between 6 to 7 feet. The 7.5 to 8 average pH attests to the swim’s nutrient-rich confines.  Subsurface vegetation is primarily filamentous algae, with duckweed along the back end. Pockets of yellow water lily constitute the top water cover. Hard cover underneath is about a stump here, another there. Again, the laydowns and overhanging brush along the shoreline lend themselves to good shots, with the banks on either side of Lakeview Drive prime stretches.

Water temps rise significantly here. During the mid-summer swelter, surface readings can get into the low 90s, with temperatures below the flaccid liquid skin not that much cooler. Such is the case, for example, on the flats on the finger beyond the Commissioners Pike overpass.  Forage species include gizzard shad, golden shiners, and small sunnies, crappies, yellow perch and bullheads.

Largemouth bass are the Alloway headliner, and with good reason as bass to 6-1/2 pounds have been recorded during relatively recent bureau electro-shocking surveys. Not a lone specimen, either. Says principal fisheries biologist Chris Smith, himself an avid bass angler and occasional pro circuit competitor, “There were enough bass and forage species remaining after the fish salvage prior to the dam and spillway repair that were a nucleus for a quick recruitment of year classes to get Alloway back to the fishery that is was before the lowering of the lake.”

The bass, crappies, perch, sunfish, etc. salvaged were relocated to select area swims one being Lake Sycamore in Camp Edge which is open to the public via phone call to Ryen Garrison at 609-287-6254.  Predicated on water temperature, Alloway Lake spawning in occurs as early as the first or second week on March.

By no means overlooked are the black and white crappies. Smith recollects receiving a text in real time showing a black crappie that was certainly a state record based on what the scale read (the recognizable background was Alloway) but, because of the existing catch-and-release regulations at the time, he was not at liberty to pursue the matter. As for white crappie, these brighter calicos to 2 pounds are by no means uncommon.

From April through September, the lake is open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and then from October through March hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The boat ramp is located at 26 East Canal Street, but if hauling a trailer, the best access is via Birch Street. Yeah, it costs to wet a line here, $10 for a day launch (the receptacle is at the boat ramp) and $100 for a seasonal non-resident permit. Still electric power only. However, kayak and canoe anglers get in for free.

Want to conduct a tournament? It’s a $100 tab. The parking area at the ramp can accommodate 20 trucks/trailers.  For information you can call 856-935-4080 or visit allowaytownship.com.

Early spring bass and/or slab crappie urge? Make the getaway to Alloway.

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