We finally tried for carp--Matt quickly learned it's slow fishing, but he does want to try Spruce Run Reservoir for some truly large fish. At Stony Brook, Princeton, we first stopped at Route 206. I was very disappointed to see a No Trespassing, Hunting, or Fishing sign posted at the pullover along that little one-way street that ends at 206. I well imagined the sign was specifically associated with a couple large roadwork eqiupment vehicles parked. The contradiction between No Fishing and the Fish & Game Trout Stocked Waters posting was obvious. The signs were just yards away from each other. I used to catch loads of trout here just below the small dam during spring, and we even camped in the woods on the other side of the bridge.
My son and I walked over the bridge to access that area. I was very conscious for the first time, I did this many times in my youth, of being an impostion to motorists. Attitudes have changed. People just don't do this, at least not in Princeton, New Jersey, anymore. During the 70's I used to bicycle home from Princeton fishing on county roads in the dark without lights and never thought of anything amiss. Nor did I ever have a close call, and I did this many dozens of times.
Some of the deep water had filled in, but enough was present to hold carp. The water had good clarity and we saw none, only a couple small bass. Since I was very much on edge about the No Trespassing--the last thing I want is an offense on public record, and although I thought of ways to contest a charge, who knows if I would win--standing on the bridge viewing the water below I spoke of the eight foot hole off Prettybrook Road and asked if Matt wanted to fish there. He asserted positive assent and we were on our way.
Last summer my brother, Rick, and my nephew Kyle came to our eight foot hole--the deepest of Stony Brook with a spring somewhere down there--to fish carp. Kyle had the same desire Matt does, both boys are about the same age. He caught a five pounder and four rainbow trout--in August--on corn. Last evening Matt and I fished prepared mulberry bait, and unless the carp didn't want it, they're gone.
We brought along a bucket of a dozen leftover herring and three shiners. Several smallmouths attacked Matt's large herring, mostly by smacking it repeatedly. None really took the bait. I tried, and a nine incher did the same and finally took it crosswise, then expelled it. So I tried a shiner. I got a Stony Brook classic--a rock bass. I tried another shiner and caught the first crappie I've ever caught in this stream.
On the way out we tried the bend and below. I used the third shiner and a herring and drew no strikes at all. It really puzzles me. I've come to Stony about half a dozen times the past 10 years, and although I haven't really fished thoroughly, it's always disappointed me. One exception a couple years ago, when I didn't fish, but just hung out with my brother, my nephew and Matt caught about a dozen smallmouths on plastics. During the 70's I sometimes caught dozens on a single outing. It's not fishing pressure. Virtually no one then or now fishes Stony Brook for smallmouths. I imagine even fewer have fished for them the past 10 years, although during the 70's I encountered only one other who fished seriously for them--not as much as I did, I fished them regularly.
I have a cracked-brain idea why. In 1977 I stocked the lower Princeton Day School pond with pickerel. I had permission to fish these ponds. In December a friend and I fished Colliers Mills, and placed our 16 pickerel in a large cooler filled with water cold enough for survival. Within a few years that lower pond was loaded with good sized, reproducing pickerel. They spread into a pond below, across Prettybrook Road on another property--and on down into Stony Brook. I know because I sighted one, good sized, years after I frequented the brook very often. My brother blames me for destroying the bass fishing in the lower pond, but he just hates pickerel, the bass fishing remained plenty good. And I think this idea that pickerel have consumed the smallmouths is what I claim it to be, a whim. I don't know what it is.