In recent decades the Hackensack River has become known for stripers. DeKorte Park, home of the Meadowlands Environmental Commission offices, containing several large tidal flats connected to the river, and surrounded by hills, all of which are black-hearted garbage dumps beneath the exterior grasses, is known to some for stripers as well. The largest I've heard of yet is an 11-pounder, and 25 and 26-inchers are spoken of with real respect. In the main river, a 30-pounder has been reported caught, but most of those fish are smaller than what lurks in the Hudson, and Raritan Bay.
The water I fished this evening flowed with normal clarity, nothing about it suggested severe pollution. The Meadowlands, once the largest active garbage dumping grounds on earth--only 35, 40 years ago--is now a wildlife refuge that exists as a testament to nature's resilience. This will never be pristine wilderness again. Dig anywhere and you will hit trash. But the birds and fish that flourish here are as real as those in the earth's most remote regions.
I felt the conditions were perfect. Eighty-five-degree heat warmed shallow flats, tide flowed fast out from them, through a deep sluiceway from one large acreage into another. Surely stripers would stack up in the eddies of warmer water. Not a hit. So I wonder if stripers moved on through that sluiceway into those shallows out of reach. I fished deliberately, trying different depths and retrieves with swim shads; I don't think any stripers were present. And I tried smaller outflows, too. I spoke to a regular who told me that someone caught two--on swim shads--Saturday. One, two, after an hour, and then no more for an hour. That suggested to me what I had thought happens out there--stripers move about in pods.
This was my first try in the Meadowlands. I walked away from that large sluice with a bitter regret, but I'll be back. Sometimes conditions seem perfect and anticipation soars high. But such has happened many times, and I knew very well I might be denied.