Saturday, April 6, 2013

Brook Trout at Locatong Creek, Big Rainbows at Pohatcong Creek, Cliffs Behind Frenchtown

 We fished in the Hunterdon Hills this morning, my brother Rick, me, Rick's son Kyle, my son Matt, and their Uncle Jim Purdon. Some of it is really pretty country. We began at the Route 519 bridge over the Locatong Creek at Kingwood, not as many brook trout present as Opening Day last year. The water was very low and it was evident the trout were bunched and hadn't spread out. We caught less than a dozen and moved on after an hour, Matt and I down Federal Twist Road, Rick and Kyle to Milford, and Jim back to Maplewood where he lives with my sister.

Had spoken to Rick at length yesterday, and he said he doubted any parking exists any longer near the mill. Actually, I'm not sure where we ended up is where the mill used to be, if it still exists further downstream, but it was Mill something or other road we took in from Federal Twist in hill country. We've fished this series of streams by Native American names from the Pohatcong to the Alexaukin near Lambertville since the 70's on occasion. I clearly recall fishing with Rick when he was 10. Matt & I found some trout bunched just below the bridge of Mill Road and caught another dozen, leaving when the fishing was still good after 45 minutes. I tend to feel too much of a good thing diminishes it, and Matt had no inclination to stay any longer either.

We phoned our party. Rick had already stopped at the Hakihokake Creek, finding it wasn't stocked, and learned of a 20-inch rainbow caught at Pohatcong and a lost 26-inch or so rainbow. The Pohatcong, a larger stream, is the exception when it comes to large trout. We rode down the 300 feet or so of hill and took SR 29 to Frenchtown, the sky beautifully blue and the Delaware River marvelous, flowing at a level perfect to invite fishing.

I always take Creek Road up along the Nishisakawick, rather than fish in town with the community park and the kids' play sets. In no time, you're among impressive scenery. My favorite hole, about six feet deep, is set against a cliff of sandstone with rounded features somewhat resembling the limestone columns of LaRue/Pine Hills of Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, stunning features that Meriwether Lewis noted in his journal during his adventures with William Clark, and my son and I have visited. The New Jersey cliff rises about 60 feet total, whereas the Pine Hills bluffs are at least 200 feet with singular 60-foot columns, but what you can see just beyond Frenchtown is impressive.

Water was clear--six feet deep looked less and the bottom was perfectly visible. No trout stocked here, unfortunately, but it was the highlight of the morning. takes you to a comprehensive article on salmon egg fishing. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ryker Lake Pickerel and Largemouth Bass

Last year, everything was green by now, although it was record warmth days on end. I didn't expect the fishing to be as fast as last year at Ryker Lake about now, but I didn't feel prepared at first to fish persistently. The first time we fished here felt exihilarating, so many pickerel. After 20 minutes or so of feeling lost and taking more pleasure in photography than in fishing, I began to feel the rhythm of fishing a shiner slowly, cast after cast, in four to seven feet of water, a pleasure my son never enjoyed, having given up to let a bobber float with a shiner underneath. 

When you get into fishing, it's hard to stop, even if you're not getting a bump. You seem to become an extension of water flow and it feels good. I described this to my son, sitting nearby, but I think he had little idea of what I experienced right there before him. Flow is about the healthiest thing for you, perhaps, however it's achieved, and the ways to do it number limitless, but all are fairly difficult, at least at first.

As I spoke to Matt, I felt the tugging and weight I knew was a fish. When I set the hook, I thought at first it was a good one, but it was only a small pickerel, 14 or 15 inches. Thirty-acre Ryker Lake in Sussex County is designated a Conservation Bass Lake by Fish & Wildlife, minimum size 15 inches. We return our bass anyhow and so far we've caught only small pickerel and bass here. Perhaps during the summer with weedless plastics in the thick mats we could catch some nice bass in our inflatable, but I find it hard to imagine two and three-pound bass would take such lures like they used to on Lake Musconetcong. If you know otherwise, leave a comment, I'd like to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spruce Run Reservoir Northern Pike Fishing in the Cold

Temperature really dropped the hour before dark. Must have been 38 when we left the jetty at Spruce Run Reservoir off Van Sycles Road with stiff fingers, sore hands, and red cheeks. Despite the cold, we heard a chorus of peeper frogs. We saw no one else at all. Nice to be out, clambering on the stones and sand with bobbers set and live lining a shiner, retrieving it with jerks when it had expired. Usually at least one bobber (of five) will indicate if any fish are around, although I catch most by casting outward up and down both sides of the jetty. Fresh air for sure. It felt invigorating but also painful. We were dressed pretty light.

We've caught them when it's been cold in the past. On a snowy April afternoon, 35 degrees, I waded in the cove at Black Brook and caught a 17-inch largemouth. Most of what we've caught have been northern pike and many of these on very chilly days, pike our original motive in fishing here this time of year since 2005, the largest 33 inches. We've caught largemouth bass (Matt caught a 20 5/8-inch largemouth, plenty have been about 17), crappies (one of these over 15 inches and they're usually at least 13 and become available with warmer weather), surprisingly a 17-inch brook trout that looked like it had gone to sea, a steelhead brookie similar to sea-run brookies I caught on Gaspe Peninsula, plenty of smaller brown trout, and one channel catfish. We saw an eight-pound hybrid striper caught and have heard of others.