Monday, August 1, 2011

Where are the Carp?

We arrived at Route 665 bridge over Lamington River shortly after 10:00 a.m. Viewing the stretch from the bridge, immediate evidence suggested it had been siltrated since we last saw it. Sure enough, the other side too. We spotted quite a few bass, and water clarity was very good, but we never wetted a line. Having seen not a single carp, I drove us downstream along Burnt Mills Road where I had spotted carp in the past. Again, some bass, no carp along about a hundred yards of bank trail. I had hoped for an easy, short trip, then I would get a lot of writing done this afternoon and evening. But we headed home, five minutes away, to get a Hagstrom map and head for the South Branch Raritan. Somewhere on this river the state record 47 pound carp was caught. I also took some heavier tackle along with 10 pound instead of six pound test.

Plenty of parking is available just above the North-South Branch confluence. The water under, upstream, and downstream of the bridge over the last stretch of North Branch is deep enough for carp, but we spotted no fish whatsoever. Beckoning just downstream at the confluence and the mouth of the South Branch is a beautiful, deep hole. This is clearly evident by the color tone of the water. But the edge of river downstream is deep muck, and no trails lead out through the thick vegetation from the parking area or other side. I wasn't about to try to bushwack through the briars, stinging nettle, and thistles, etc. etc. I told my son perhaps a big pike is guarding that confluence and mused about some day launching a canoe or small boat.

We drove upstream of the confluence along the South Branch to the first bridge, parked, and scouted this stretch. We had fished it about five years ago and memory returned--I had seen no carp, and we saw none today, nor did we come upon any very deep water upstream. We could walk until we found deep water, I considered, but I was still in "easy trip" mode. We drove on upstream, another bridge near Neshanic Valley Golf Course without access, and then very familiar territory at Neshanic Station where I catch bass and trout, and never have seen a carp.

Meanwhile I had told Matt about carp in Spruce Run--those are the fish we see jumping in April.

"Oh yeah!"

But I want to catch them in a stream, and my hunch is that Spruce Run would be hit or miss. I know an eight foot deep hole in Stony Brook, Princeton Township, which always has held carp, and in fact my nephew caught a five pounder and four rainbow trout on corn there last August. We used to swim in this hole, and if it doesn't have a spring at the bottom of it, nevertheless its depths are cold. So we would perhaps first try a stretch where I hooked a 20 pounder using a bunker-snag treble very many years ago. That's a lot bigger than five pounds. If it has no carp these days, as carp that were abundant not long ago in the Lamington seem gone altogether now, we would go to the eight foot hole.

So, earlier plans frustrated, I began to really look forward to fishing carp this evening. Now that blazing heat in brilliant sun is a dull warmth under thickening clouds, and you guessed what's on the radar bearing down on Princeton.

I do hope we get out for the carp this year. We meant to last year.

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