Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Musconetcong River Novices Score a Few

My son, Matt, and I first drove to Asbury as planned. Finding no water to fish in town, although we didn't stop and look around the bridge, I headed south on CR 632. Just below the Interstate 78 bridge we found access, but the river ran deep and regularly, not to wade. So I referred to my copy of Tom Gilmore's Fly Fishing the Big Apple. Mailbox 523 (pretty sure I have the number right) it was, just a couple miles back. The current, with a foot-and-a-half of water or more--to my thighs--moved powerfully. We fished a shady patch with close to three feet of water, then took the trail upstream--to a private club notice--then downstream to another notice, both short walks. So. Only one piece of water to fish here.

Shurts Road has a very nice hole right by the bridge. I lost my olive Woolly Buggy to a snag here, and tied on a Hare's Ear, at least I think that's what the nymph was (obviously my son and are almost complete fly fishing neophytes). We took a trail to its short end downstream. More relatively shallow fast water not worth a cast. I could see about 200 yards downstream and felt almost ready to commit us to wading. But that current came too tough.

Changewater was the best. A nice, fairly deep set of eddying pools below the bridge I knew worth some time. After awhile, my son inquired about moving on.

"Has to be trout here," I said. We would persist.

A few minutes later, I raised a rainbow to the surface, exclaiming aloud. I missed another hit, as all fell quiet. We soon headed upstream, first fishing around a bridge pillar with promising depth. Upstream a hundred yards or so, the far bank looked good, but we found wading limited to the opposite bank and couldn't make the cast. 

I wanted to try the pools once more. My son resigned himself to cleaning mud out of his sneakers. I had two very small fish on. these either baby browns or dace or some other species. Then suddenly I leaned into a nice little trout. The rainbow measured 11 inches.

"I want to try," Matt said, and clambered up the bank to get his rod.

We tried the Butler's Park bridge area, which looked OK. Matt wanted to try a dry fly. He selected a size 10 Cahilll. The sun set and I noticed no hatch. All day I saw not a single rise. But nonetheless, a brown about the size of my rainbow smashed his dry fly a few yards in front of him; he got a clear view, but missed the hit. It came back and hit again; he missed that. But he did manage to catch a couple of longear sunfish, and I suppose, with the help of this little story, these modest fish will never be forgotten.

We took CR 632 out to State Highway 57; the town of Anderson came up, which I had never heard of. We drove through Stephensburg, or Stephens something or other, which I didn't know existed. I've traveled fairly extensively in New Jersey, and yet felt special magic to see places for the first time. 

Darkness fell and Matt said he didn't know the difference between a brook and a stream.

"I don't know either," I said.

"I think a brook is colder water and a stream can be warm," he said.

"I agree."

Later he said, "That's why brook trout are named that way."

"Yeah," I said. "And you would never hear of a southern, slow moving, warm stream being called a brook." 

His perceptiveness deepened my mood. I shouldn't say perceptiveness, perhaps. Lingual curiosity, instead. I felt very calm and deep. And later I said, "Matt, you're very good with words."

"Thanks Dad."

"You could be a poet."


  1. I really would like to spend a day fishing or following you. That picture of the bridge is one of my favorites of yours, the time of day casts shadows that seem to deepen colors. And for the first time I am enjoying a picture of a fish! Has to be the way its laid out along the tools used to catch it.

  2. Did you notice my son in the bridge photo? He's a little hidden. I like your appreciation of shadows and I've long felt the same about many photos, and yet the trend, with digital development, seems to be to diminish shadow to draw out texture in details...I'm really very grateful that for many, many years--since I could afford no better--I shot with s simple, fully manual Pentax K-1000 35mm camera, all the way until just recent...many of the photos...I spent hundreds of dollars to frame many...I treasure.

  3. Yes, now I see that you would have seen him.


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