Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trout Stocking Day at North Branch Raritan River

Lots of good memories here at the AT&T North Branch Raritan stretches, fishing with my son for trout, and even more for spending summer afternoons snorkeling and exploring the area otherwise. Matt's playing baseball now, and I'm just glad I got him out for Opening Day. I expect to fish the opener again next April with him, unless we're traveling, but I've lost interest in my 3 1/2-foot wizard switch spinning rod and salmon eggs.

This is how I go about life: letting interests die, rather than becoming traditional. We haven't surf fished in years now, besides Father's Day last year, and we didn't go for northern pike at Spruce Run Reservoir this year. When I was at the height of my enjoyment ice fishing Budd Lake for a few consecutive winters, I thought I would ice fish there every winter, but I pretty much let it go to fish Lake Musconetcong, Lake Hopatcong, and Round Valley Pond. I really look forward to fishing Lake Hopatcong, however, and doubt our annual excursions will fade any time soon. I got tired of our once-a-year Barryville excursions, float tripping the Delaware, but my wife loves this annual event and I've already made plans for my sister and brother-in-law to join us in August. The one interest I don't let die is writing, which isn't traditional, but developmental. I've also fished every year of my life since I was eight, but I keep changing it up. I'm much more interested in catching trout fly fishing now than on weightless salmon eggs. And I plan on fishing largemouth bass with my six weight.

Speaking of weightless salmon eggs, the river was much higher than expected. It's flowing clear, but with a lot of volume. I had no split shots and could have used at least a BB sized. Instead, I weighted my snap with four swivels. The wind blustery as can be, this complicated the drift even more. I managed to catch only one rainbow, lose another, and miss two hits in about an hour of fishing. This counts as among the slowest re-stocking days I've ever fished.

I got to the AT&T bridges at about 5:30. A couple of men had three trout each. They eventually filled their limits and got out shortly before I left. Very few other trout got caught. It was tough with the current and wind, but it seems not many were stocked.

It's been good. I can assure myself this. I fished the Green Brook and Middle Brook in '94, really getting back in the trout game for the first time since '83, fishing those two streams that flow out of the volcanic Watchung Ridge. And living in Chester, NJ, from '94-'99 with my wife, I fished the Black River, and it was a wonder. I didn't need a fly rod at all. At the time, I had a four-foot spinning rod. That broke. I found the lightest spinning rod I've ever known, 3 1/2 feet, with a tip I can bend back and crossover the rod stem. I also made my son a 3 1/2-foot spinning rod by cutting an ultra-light blank, wrapping on guides, filing and sanding a cork handle. It's beautiful and wonderfully functional. The rod is as green as a May day, the wrapping thread yellow and patterned originally, varnished thickly, and the cork handle is evenly shaped and smooth. I hope Matt always keeps it as a special memento.  

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