Monday, May 21, 2012

Lewis Morris County Park: Multiple Recreational Attraction, Fishing Included

Lewis Morris County Park in Washington Township, N.J., covers 1154 acres of forest, meadows, streams, and sites developed for recreational purposes from Route 24 south and west to Tempe Wick Road, bordering upon Morristown National Historical Park. Maintained trails wind through forest for mountain bikers and hikers to loop as many as six miles on a single path, many more miles comprise the combined trails. Morris County’s great unifying trail, Patriot’s Path, connects many parks and communities, and links Lewis Morris Park into its eclectic system. Some trails are designated for horseback riding, open spaces serve cross country skiing and snow shoeing, open hills sledding during winter. Athletic fields, fitness stations, horseshoe pits, a playground, dog park, picnic facilities, and a group camping area also make the park attractive for recreation.

I used to take the county park system too much for granted, almost as if "they" had reserved the land and constructed the recreational features. I valued wilder places like the Great Smokies and also the removes of Great Bay and Great Egg Harbor--the whole Barnegat Bay system really, except I didn't venture far north behind Island Beach. For 13 years I clammed mostly behind Long Beach Island, and this is wild space--especially in January and February. But nowadays I appreciate the homier wild spaces.

Discovering who or what the parks signify puts them on your mental map. Lewis Morris was New Jersey's first governor.
A three-acre aquatic impoundment also graces Lewis Morris Park near Route 24.
Sunrise Lake is fed by a tiny brook with a small population of native brook trout, which require pure water to survive. (The stream's length is about a mile from the originating spring.) A swimming beach, paddle and row boats, snack bar, locker rooms and showers, and plenty of shore space to fish largemouth bass, sunfish, and bullheads are main attractions. The fishing is good, and has been written about for The Fisherman magazine.

I've caught bass here on Redfin minnow plugs in November. Balsa Rapalas have faster action suited to August, when we have done well in the corner area near the dock around sunset. Since Sunrise gets weedy, spinnerbaits are often effective--especially with falling barometer and initial rain. But Senko- style worms cast long range to floating algae masses. This is shadowline fishing. Get the Senko right next to the mass; it drops in sunlit view for a bass in the shade to shoot out and take.

Not all bass situate under those masses. Three acres isn't a whole lot of water, but fishing a worm can make it seem so. Fish whatever weed edges you can find first, then start guessing. The area near the dock and that corner produce. But so does the dike edge and outwards.

I once caught a four-pounder, and a number from two to two-and-a-half pounds. Most of the bass here measure 10 to 13 inches, but I've heard of five-pounders from a reputable source.

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