Thursday, June 21, 2018


"I'm not a bassman at all," I claimed in the Providence post. Huh. It talks about reservoirs and big bass and how I could catch one. Days later, I catch a seven-and-a-half-pounder at Merrill Creek Reservoir, and feel stunned and sort of wondering why I feel that way. For more reason than the preceding post, but it is true that this blog is a process that involves the real world.

Shortly after I caught that lunker, I felt converted, even though I had forgotten all about the Providence post written shortly previous. No bassman at all? I caught some kind of answer to the contrary of what I had asserted.

You can see the quizzical look of an unconscious poker face on the Merrill Creek post where I'm holding the fish. None of the photos my son got of me show me breaking out in much of a smile, at least not loose and relaxed, I was so dumb-founded. The poker face wasn't intended as such, but later I thought I look as if I'm answering back to the bass community who might have doubts about my prowess stuck on little three-and-a-half pounders, but better than that. It reflects back on me. My body language is saying, "I didn't mean to fool you about my denial, but I went ahead and did anyway."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bass Derby Open to All Comers


Remember that the Knee Deep’s Bass contest is this weekend on Sunday, June 24th. Speaking of Bass, a couple nice smallmouth made their way to the scale this week with John Moran catching a 3 lb 7 oz fish and Max Hughen weighing in his 3 lb 4 oz smallmouth. Several nice largemouth were also caught, along with yellow perch and crappie.  Codey Youkon, while casting a keitech custom worm, landed his 6 pound walleye fishing in Great Cove. We are open 7 days a week, from 5:30 AM to 7 PM, but will be open at 5 AM on Sunday for the contest. Entries can be taken up until 8 AM that morning. Have a great week !!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

North Jersey Outdoor Recreation

As a boy, Matt found 10 of New Jersey's 16 species in the wild, a couple of lizard species, a number of turtle species including the rare bog turtle, and numerous salamander, frog, and toad species. Not to mention out-of-state reptile and amphibian finds. I awakened a deep desire to reconnect him with this passion, and today, about a month after I thought of going, we gave it a try, but he couldn't quite remember where the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area spot for salamanders exists that New Jersey Audubon led him to about six years ago. Lots of salamanders. He photographed many. One of the species he found we're uncertain about as to its identity, so I particularly wanted to encounter some of these. His best guess about where: Van Campens Glen. So I suggested we bring fly rods, too. We found a spot he thought might have been the place, but the ground was too dry and we found nothing, so I doubt this is where, but maybe the spot has changed.

Meanwhile, we fished a large deep pool beneath a waterfall. Very thoroughly using various beadhead nymphs. With and without small split shot. Another fly angler showed up, who told us he regularly catches 8- to 10-inch wild  browns there, his biggest 13 inches, some wild rainbows too. I invited him to fish with us, but he wanted to go on upstream to a larger waterfall. I kind of wanted to see him in action, but I fish a waterfall pool on the upper North Branch that never fails to at least yield a hit from a wild brown. We got no hits today. And we later figured these two pools of Van Campen's Brook get a lot of pressure. Today a weekday, in the middle of the afternoon someone else showed up to fly fish. You can just imagine how many times the trout in these pools get caught and how reluctant to hit flies they become.

We stopped at my favorite Delaware River spot on the way out. Poxono Island. We basked in the sunny heat a few minutes and that felt good. We didn't fish at I-80 bridge, either, where we've caught a lot of smallmouths wading in the past. Maybe it was hunger that drove us on. We took 94 "into town," finding farm fields instead, but curving through Hainesburg with no deli or stores along that short tour of a hamlet I was seeing for the first time, passing a bridge over the Paulinskill where the river looks very inviting...we drove on. Dales Market in Blairstown served us an Italian hoagie, trail mix nuts, M&M's to add to the nuts and raisins, and a coke and green tea.

When we pulled up to our favorite smallmouth spot--big ones here--and finished eating, I walked down, glanced at the water, and it informed me we were probably there to give our respects. Not because anything specific was amiss about the river's condition. It was just an impression I got. A glance like that always seems to tell me everything. We fished about 20 minutes and Matt caught a little nine-inch smallmouth.

On the way to Saffin Pond--the plan was to fish sundown there--we talked about a possible part of the day's plan we had let go. My idea was to hike up the ridge and check the copperhead den. Get photographs. We haven't been there for five years or so, and I would like to get back, but we began to realize the full area deserves more time and exploration. Neither of us could remember searching the wetlands for salamanders, years ago. There were so many varieties of frogs. We observed these instead that day a year or two before I began blogging in 2011. So maybe next summer we'll spend an entire afternoon up there.

We got to Saffin Pond as light was climbing towards the tops of trees to the east. Matt caught a largemouth a foot long. I caught four largemouths, lost another. I measured my largest: 18 3/8ths inches. All on weightless worms. Three of the bass hugged tight to wood in the water near the bank where depth gathers pretty quick. I spotted a pocket in sparse shallow weeds to catch the biggest. Another pocket yielded a small one of about a pound. All released of course.

Monday, June 18, 2018

23 1/4-Inch Merrill Creek Reservoir Largemouth Bass From Shore

Most magazines take first-use rights, so well after a better photograph, in which the bass looks bigger, clears the legalities, I'll post that photo here.

My wife had never visited Merrill Creek Reservoir, so I offered her the opportunity, along with our son after he got off work today. We left Bedminster around 6:30 p.m.. It was too late for a hike, but we sat down on a nice "beach," as a passerby called it. I sized up the situation. To our right, sparse flooded timber, apparently open water in front of us. I reasoned that bass will frequent virtually any shoreline, and this stretch in front of us really wasn't bad with that wood in the water nearby. I cast my weightless Chompers far as I could and imagined it sinking through 20-foot depth, sunlit up top, nice and dark below, and then I propped my rod and reel on my camera bag, bail opened, lay back on the gravelly sand, closed my eyes and enjoyed sun on my skin.

Pretty soon, prompted by how it felt odd to be under gravity's power, I had a sort of weird vision about how mass and gravitation might "really" work. I started mumbling to my son, who had decided to lay back next to me, my son who knows everything physics, of course, as a physics major, this a Golden Opportunity for him to condescend to his dad. He didn't convince me about energy as the fundamental reality. "But energy has being," I said. I had seen gravitation in my mind's eye--a force--as merely following form. Stuff did not just glom together here to form this planet, on which I so perfectly lay back to take in the sun. The form preceded the existence. I was thinking that form sort of drew the stuff here. That would be gravitation, but only in the literal sense. I was really thinking of space itself as somehow formal. But "space" makes no sense without things, which to my mind begs a question about what space might be, not in terms of things like this planet, which has not existed here forever, but instead in terms of information that somehow precedes what comes about and gets established as reality. To put it simply doesn't explain anything, but of course, this planet never could have come into being, unless it possibly could come into being, before it actually did....

I didn't get further into it with Matt. After about 10 minutes of feeling really good about sandy gravel on the back of my head as implying gravity and certainly more than that somehow or other, I lazily sat up, reached to check my line, and for a moment was a little confused, because it seemed tight. Yeah, I had sized up the situation as possibly yielding a bass, but we came here to show Matt's mother the place, not actually get a fish on, and to have just walked up to the first spot we came upon at a 660-acre reservoir, 210 feet deep, that just isn't likely to yield fish.

I stood and found a fish was on for certain, made sure that hook was set, and felt that whatever this fish was, are there carp in Merrill Creek Reservoir? carp do hit plastic worms, it was pretty big, and now it was rising to leap, and when a largemouth came completely out, "eight pounds" flashed in my mind. I loosened the Penn's drag a little, because this bass was going to run, and it eventually did, once it saw the shore. Before it got near, it leapt once more, seeming almost as fat as long, and I was astonished a fish as overweight as it looked could clear the surface.

Hook secure, though, I subdued it, and Matt grasped the lower jaw not by thumb and forefinger, but with all four fingers and thumb curled underneath. She measured 23 1/4 inches with a fat belly, so correct me if I might be off a little about the weight, but I judged seven-and-a-half pounds. That secured hook actually caught on the upper lip, so I'm very sure this bass took the worm off bottom in the dark, after that worm sat there on bottom for about 10 minutes. And it must have hit about the moment I decided to get up and check my rod.

Sun ducked under the trees and we soon left. The gate closes at sunset.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Just bought a Lew's Speed Stick

Just bought a Lew's Speed Stick (spinning) and Ardent Bolt spinning reel. Lew's Speed Stick I seem to remember from way back when I constantly read Bassmaster magazine as a teen, so I identified with the offer on Ebay immediately. As fortune would have it, I spent the next half hour scrolling down lists of specs on other rods, and felt convinced nothing else would serve better, and though I was tempted to spend some more on a St. Croix bass rod, since St. Croix is my favorite brand and gives me a lofty feeling, I just couldn't deny Lew's, not after somehow or other riveting upon the brand so many years ago.

It's medium-heavy. Seven feet. The other day on Tilcon, I horsed a nice bass from weeds and felt the near-breaking point of my medium power St. Croix. I've owned this rod since 2000 and there's no way I will let it break. So I need Lew's. At least I think this one is heavy enough. It's rated up to 14 pound test, which isn't really much; I'm using 15-pound Power Pro on my St. Croix, and that's why it almost broke. I want #20 on my Lew's, and for all I really know, it may break, but I've muscled a lot of good bass on my lighter rod, so I feel halfway confident the Lew's will work out.

Tilcon Lake is just too weedy and the possibility of a really big bass is just too great.

I own an offshore jigging rod with a light tip--I was warned against its pier use when I tried it there--and can you believe that rod is rated up to #100?

If Lew's breaks, I'll up the ante. But I'm thinking of a very extreme situation that will never happen, I guess. We shall see..

Friday, June 15, 2018

Something I Don't Want to Lose

More than a year ago, On the Water magazine did a great job of combining this GoPro shot I got of a Round Valley Reservoir brown trout with a shot I took in the Ken Lockwood Gorge, by using Aperture-Priority mode on a DSLR to blur fast-moving water. The finished product looks as if a giant brown turns for a lure in a pool immediately below that blur effect.

So I went online again to look at GoPro options, found a Hero 3 Silver like my old device for $69.00, found low prices for underwater housing and extension tube, and balked before buying. I went outside, sat down, and thought it over. For one thing, I had decided earlier in the day I discovered it lost that it was the worst investment I've made with money earned by writing. $325.00 plus whatever I paid for accessories, and after six years, I've got two still shots from it published, which isn't really bad at all, considering how limited space is in magazines; it's just that cost/benefit doesn't work in this respect.

I decided it does in more personal ways. I couldn't escape the fact that just a handful of family footage I've taken is really valuable. If I were to shoot endless videos, we would never hit play for most of them. I also simply want to see a really good shot of a largemouth bass taken through Tilcon Lake's clear water.

Before I came back in minutes ago, I decided the least I can do is clean up the back seat area of my Honda. I looked there very thoroughly, but maybe not just enough. I resolved to pull myself out of bed early tomorrow. Then I sat down here, pulled my lap top over, and felt interrupted for a second. One of my telltale hunches. I looked over the armrest of the sofa I'm sitting against. No, nothing down there, as I had checked a dozen times. But wait a minute. What if...I reached underneath the sofa edge, and felt a familiar feeling, the foam-plastic grip of my GoPro extension tube.

It's here complete.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Latest Report


Fishing with herring this week, Jim Welsh had a nice variety of fish, with several pickerel in the 3 to 4 pound range, some walleye at around 3 pounds, crappie, white and yellow perch and a Hybrid Striper weighing just over 8 pounds, along with several smaller ones.  Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass are also hitting, with that season opening back up on Friday, June 15th. With Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to take your Dad fishing . The  Knee Deep Club’s  Bass tournament is set for Sunday,  June 24th, and following that is the summer Hybrid Striped Bass contest, held this year in memory of Dominic Sarinelli, on July 14th & 15th. Mark your calendars now… Have a great week

*** I have my dates wrong…Bass Season opens back up on Saturday, June 16th , not on Friday the 15th. Thank You