It wasn't as expected. I looked out over the lake with clear, cloudless sky and a breeze and felt the glory of our recent introduction to Shepherd Lake, to which I hoped to return, feeling reduced to the thinness of the air. I don't at all know what it is, but to be greeted with a sunny breeze for a summer morning's fishing is a very bad sign. We rowed off at 8:30 a.m. Not only does Shepherd Lake not open until 8:00, officially, the state personnel for Ringwood State Park do not open the gate until 8:15. I made this situation an issue with them.
"Well, we get here just about now," one of the two young women said.
"Then you should state in your literature and on that post that it opens at 8:15."
The other young woman gave me a sugary smile, and said, "Have a nice day."
Imagine if Dow's Boat Rentals, claiming to open at 5:00 a.m., opened at 5:15. It's unimaginable in the private sector. Nevertheless, I was having a good day; complaining to the staff didn't phase me at all. But as soon as we rowed off onto the lake I knew it was doom--not them, the fishing situation.
My son had been very interested in holdover trout, so I bought a dozen live herring in Wanaque. Too large. We gave the lake a long drift anyhow, and then I offered that he use them for pickerel.
It didn't take long before he hooked a very nice fish--it tore drag before the hook tore free--10 feet directly under the boat over 19 feet of water about five yards from a weedline. But fishing remained very slow for the next four hours. I worked that favorite Chompers worm through the weeds, along the weeds, and out away from the weeds and never got a hit. I fished over the weeds with a Dying Flutter and a PopR on top hopelessly. I had gone for the net confidently when Matt hooked that big one, as if he'd really score--as it should be--and forever after the day was a drag, but peppered with hope.
Matt caught a pickerel on the herring, I lost a nice crappie on herring at boatside and missed a hit on a nightcrawler I had let dangle under the boat, apparently a bass, no sunfish for certain. Speaking of which--Matt fished nightcrawlers, I think two to be exact. He never got a hit from a sunfish or perch. That's a radical difference from last time when he hooked them left and right.
It was tough.