Rosedale Lake - The Fisherman

Rosedale Lake

Image courtesy of the New Jersey Trails Association (njtrails.org).
Image courtesy of the New Jersey Trails Association (njtrails.org).

Beginning on opening day of the trout season (April 11, 2020) the fishing at Rosedale Lake will begin to warm up, with the 30-acre impoundment thereafter getting three in-season rainbow trout stockings without closures. PowerBait floated about 18 inches above a sinker is the easiest way to hook up, although spinners, and spoons like the Phoebe, catch trout. They offer you better casting range than tiny jigs like the Lelands Trout Magnet and Berkeley Atomic Fry. Those jigs are deadly, but they might limit your reach here.

To the spillway and beyond, a dike curves until it ends at a small cove. It’s the most popular stretch for trout, largemouth bass, crappies, sunfish, channel catfish, and carp. The deepest water of about 17 feet is within casting range. By May, the bass fishing gets good.

Years ago, a fellow member of the Mercer County Bassmasters told me he caught 20 bass over 4 pounds at Rosedale during that month. Old stories seem best, but several years ago a friend who fishes casually asked me about the lake. I recommended he try it. He did, and sent me photos of three bass, all of them nearly to over 3 pounds. Not a fantastic catch, but who would give a thumbs down? Besides, he fished from shore.

With no ramp or boat launch, it is possible to get a car-topper on the water, though no electric motors are allowed. It’s a good lake for a kayak or canoe, whether you fish in the spring, summer, or during October. From a boat or from shore, you won’t find aquatic weeds, and the water is usually off-color due to a muddy bottom. The consistency of that mud gets loose as the lake turns to the left, forming a narrow V-shaped cove. Although topwater plugs can possibly produce in those shallows, I think the soft bottom compromises the fishing. It might be better to try the wider V-cove immediately to the right of the parking area, although this one has no stream leading into it.

The shoreline opposite the parking lot, however, is very productive, accessible by walking the dike and around the small cove. From a kayak, or car-topper with oars, cast towards shore at an angle. A Senko rigged Wacky is probably the most popular pitch, and it’s especially appropriate from May into September. A Senko will tempt bass along the dike, also, but so do an innumerable list of crankbaits, including Lipless varieties, which become especially productive in the fall.

Anywhere at the lake, when bass are feeding heavily in the shallows, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits get to them faster than any variety of worm. In late September or October, spinnerbaits might be your best choice. Buzzbaits are better suited to a calm surface, usually early in the morning or in the evening. A windy day with lots of sun in October means spinnerbaits may be deadly. Something otherwise to consider during spring, summer, or fall is that with the onset of heavy rain, the little creek leading into the narrow V-cove will flood and provide some fresh food, possibly drawing bass to it.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife stocks Rosedale Lake with channel catfish. In 2019, 200 of them averaging 14.6 inches long were stocked. Chicken livers are an option, but sunfish chunks or other freshly cut fish might work better. Sometimes channel catfish hit plugs or take plastic baits intended for largemouths.

Rosedale Lake isn’t widely known for its crappies, but if you want to test the bite, you might find some stacked along the dike by tossing crappie jigs. Many anglers fish the lake only for trout, but in my experience, it definitely is interesting for bass. While growing up, I lived 5 miles away. I fished constantly during my teens, but at first completely ignored the lake because it has a manicured park appearance. The guy from Mercer County Bass clued me in a year or so before I left for college, and I confirmed what he told me by fishing the lake myself.

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