Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hedden Park and Pohatcong Creek Make a Full Day

I hadn't fly fished since '99, and the trout photographed here is the second I've caught on a fly rod. I've caught some bass and panfish, but have tried for trout very little with a fly rod. Now I've inaugerated what I think will prove to be a real effort.

Before I go into details about my fly sojourn, Hedden Park Pond, in Dover, NJ, Morris County, is fed by two crystal clear mountain streams. I wouldn't be surprised if they are trout production waters, although I haven't looked into this. But the pond is a filled in, muddy, a turbid three acres or so that leaves you to wonder about how the water quality decimates all of a sudden. More water exists to the left of what I photographed, beyond that cove, but most is so shallow and barren--a foot deep or less--that it isn't bass water at all. Nonetheless, plenty of bass exist in the pond. I caught nine in little over an hour, although they were nine to little over 10 inches long, with one of them a foot.

The bass moved about on the cruise, as they often do in ponds on sunny, summer days. Casting accuracy proved to be the key to catching them. To get a worm a foot or less in front of a bass often resulted in a quick rush and take. I had my Senko on the line as I walked up, but seeing a dozen or so bass at the surface, I quickly changed to my Chompers with its slow descent. Had I not spent most of my time scouting all the way around the pond, I would have caught many more. But the largest I spotted was 13, 14 inches tops. I noticed a pair of two-inch bass. These were yearlings! Just that, unless they have extremely fast growth, born this spring, which all other indications do not support. 

Just another regular New Jersey pond with small bass. I suppose a three-pounder exists in there somewhere. But I can't mess around with little pop'n dockers and expect to catch that lunker I'm pursuing. It was a lot of fun, and brought back memories of catching cruisers in my youth. But a pond like Mt. Hope almost certainly has six-pound bass in it.

Pohatcong Creek, writes Tom Gilmore in his very informative book, Flyfisher's Guide to the Big Apple: Great Waters within 150 Miles of New York City, has one of the best sulfur hatches around, with wild browns picking them off with abandon, so I came prepared. I found Ravine Road near Bloomsbury, Warren County, with ease, drove down about three fourths of a mile, parked, and waded in sneakers and shorts. To my dismay at first, the water ran off color due to recent rains. Immediately I felt sure those sulfurs would not hatch this evening, and I tied on an olive Woolly Bugger streamer with a weighted head. Sure enough, the only rise I saw in nearly an-hour-and-a-half, came splashing.

At first my maneuvers managed all extremely clumsy, nothing subtle about them. And I kept getting hung up on bottom. But soon I started to get the fly where I wanted it to go, and I can honestly say I never snapped the fly line, something I learned about back when I was about 10 and first tried fly casting. The rainbow, close to a foot long, leftover from April, might have been that splash riser. But I also watched a seven-inch brown attack the streamer about the rod's length from me, and lost another good fish in the same spot, a run of deeper water, maybe three feet, with some undercut bank across from me. I felt sure the trout did not hide under it with the dingy water and evening. Within 15 minutes of leaving, I felt good, real good. 

I've always loved to wade. And this form of casting is marvelously involved. Much of what fishing is, is casting, whether fly casting, spinning (sometimes needing meticulous accuracy, at Hedden today, for example), or baitcasting. Ice fishing and trolling don't involve casting. But they get involved in other ways. The variety is open ended.


  1. Hello Friend,

    I have lived near Hedden Park all of my life. It has an abundant bass population, and I have seen fish break the 3lb or so barrier (although I did notice a decline in larger fish over the years). Perhaps due to the large amount of unlicensed fisherman who decide to keep their catch :( On good days you can whip out a senko and catch a few dozen. It is funny because the bass act exactly how you describe. And you are also correct about Jackson Creek. It has a wild, self-sustaining brook trout population designated by Fish and Game.

  2. I wonder if anyone's caught any bass yet this chilly early season.


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