I forgot to crop close to the sign in the photo before I had uploaded the images, and formatted the card, but it reads "Environmental Refuge No Fishing." --Where, two years ago, among the bass I caught in two visits shore fishing included one over four pounds. Immediately obvious to me was that they had segregated out shore fishermen from the spot of choice, to the right of the launch and through the woods less than a hundred yards, a long, perhaps 200 yard stretch of flooded timber, including fairly shallow flats perfect for this time of year, and good in the summer, too. Anyone can walk along these shores. Just can't fish. (The slight timber to the left, and steep drop-offs, photographed without the sun above trees, is where I had to fish, sure I'd be skunked, and was.) Anyone with a boat can fish the area in question, too. What does that say? It may be evidence of an oligarchic tendency in our government--so long as you pay the taxes implied by a boat purchase, go right ahead. Where is the default switch in a political decision like this to ban shore anglers? No one would consciously think "Well, boaters pay more in taxes, so we'll let them fish here, and punish those with less money." But it's obvious they did not think well of shore anglers, at least they did poorly enough to have denied us. Additionally, many fishermen, me included, are environmentalist. But some environmentalists are anti-fishing. And they really mean it. If they had their way, fishing would be outlawed altogether. (What would this do to Isaak Walton's literary reputation? Would his book be banned or kept on the secret shelf of a benevolent dictator like the character in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?) No, I don't neccessarily believe radical environmentalists will get the American government to pass a law outlawing all fishing. Not any more than I believe that the American government will pass a law making Veganism mandatory for everyone. I think officials behind the scenes of Merrill Creek Reservoir negotiated--certain environmentalists wanted this and that, and got this. Fishermen were designated to the left side of the ramp (and probably still have other shoreline to fish; I wasn't there long to find out). But negotiation means we do have to be aware, get in, and keep in the political process.
So what happened to Manasquan Reservoir as promised!? My son fell sick with allergies. It's the time and the season. We hope to go next weekend. Certainly, I observed no evidence of spawning at Merrill Creek, and I hope the water remains cool enough at Manasquan so that the big females aren't ready by the time we try to catch a few. A few boats came in here at Merrill Creek. I spoke to one boater who had caught four five-pound trout, surely not from the recent stockings. Two other shore anglers had two small trout. At 210 feet deep and with much more fertility than Round Valley Reservoir, Merrill Creek is perhaps the best trout lake in the state. The bass grow huge here, too.
Wildlife at Merrill Creek, and the entirety of Warren County, flourishes. I had a wonderful drive, observed a lot of deer and light green flora while listening to jazz and news radio. A sandpiper that I have come upon reference to in reading--it dips its rear end up and down--but don't remember the name, came and poked about the stones and pebbles near me. Snow geese, like the one I photographed, are not common on lakes and reservoirs, although I have seen one on Lake Musconetcong. Mostly, look for snow geese at Brigantine, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, during the fall. You may observe thousands there.