About a week and a half ago, I ice fished New Jersey's Budd Lake. One of the Garden State's largest glacial lakes, Budd Lake offers New Jersey anglers the unique opportunity to catch northern pike. Indeed, the state has established a healthy population of pike through an aggressive and effective stocking program. Because of this effort, Budd Lake is now one of the top producers of northern pike in the state.
I drove north early on a weekday morning, stopping only for bait and a sandwich. Although the trip took almost two hours, I was able to get through the eight inches of ice rather quickly. I was fully set up by 10:45, and I didn't pull off the lake until 5:30. In the end, I caught two northern pike, and a white crappie. Three fish over seven hours isn't exactly a lot, but I was excited to have caught my first pike.
Budd is a wonderful place to spend a few hours: its location off of Route 46 makes accessibility quite simple, its boggy/swampy atmosphere facilitates an atmosphere of wildness, its robust pike are a pleasure to catch, and its status as the head-water of one of my favorite New Jersey trout streams (the Raritan's South Branch) engenders warmth in my fly-fisherman's heart. However, Budd Lake may not be the right location for those ice fishermen who seek quiet. Its proximity to the highway makes it all but impossible to drown out the noise of passing cars. In addition, it has a lot of snowmobile and ATV traffic in the wintertime. But if northern pike and an easily accessible glacial lake turn you on, Budd Lake is the place to go.
Image #1 - Budd Lake
Image #2 - Northern pike
Image #3 - Budd Lake at sunset.