Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bass at Hoffman Park Pond and Other Travels

Checking for directions to Mulhockaway Creek on Google Maps, I noticed Hoffman Park and a pond marked. I swung around Spruce Run Reservoir on Van Syckle Road to explore Mulhockaway a little, taking photos, soaking my hiking boots, having forgotten my wading boots. I had my two-weight fly rod in the car, but didn't see anything happen to prompt me to try.

I drove through Pattenburg, picking up on the Mulhockaway further upstream, but residences forbade any further exploring. I turned around on CR 614 at the border of Alexandria Township, where what appears to be Hickory Tavern stands, but the architecture is of the very early 20th century, not early 18th century from which the history along the King's Highway originates, that
 astonishingly early, though the Dutch were in New Jersey earlier at least near the Water Gap.

The Hoffman Park Pond is about eight acres, maybe more, and fishes slow. I caught two bass, biggest about 13 inches, saw only a couple of bucks busy with beds, missed a couple of hits at long range. A Senko-type worm casts forever, so far that when a bass takes at such range, setting the hook is a problem. I cast to cover I could reach from across relatively narrow water. Only a few spots drew my interest and they had bass. Interesting to have found new water, but I won't return. There's too many places otherwise to visit.

I had two more things in mind: Spruce Run Reservoir and the Black River, the former for bass, latter photography. Before I swung back on I-78 at exit 11, I photographed Bethlehem Baptist Church, abandoned 1909, founded 1837. Historical registry and the markers are really helpful. I also saw Van Syckle Tavern, where someone or other was hanged in 1773. This is at the end of Van Syckle Road and nothing about it is available by Google, apparently--but it's there! What's more, it's on the registry. Well, now a little is available by googling.

Having realized I never thought of the fact that the Black River is way the hell over in another corner of the Highlands near Chester, I had time, but I would return to Bedminster and go up U.S. 206. I wasn't sure I wanted to, had enjoyed plenty of an afternoon. And sure enough, once I got on 206, I remembered that 5:30 p.m. is not a good time to be traveling. Forget it. I'll go to the Black River another day, and this next time, visit Electric Brook and photograph the falls near Long Valley, just on up the road from the river, rather than attempt anything foolish like I tried today.

So, all in all, I really should have doubled back on the reservoir. I've found a few good spots there where bass can be caught from shore. I had one of them in mind, and the water's back up. The reservoir's not full, but water level is a lot higher than it was early April.

Bethlehem Baptist Church: Trees with big trunks grow from where the congregation used to sit. (Notice limb to the left, tree trunk is a foot and a half thick.)
Corporate presence isolated in our Highlands.
Hickory Tavern Site. This building cannot be it. 20th century, I think, and besides, it's wood. Photograph is a little oversaturated as if to suggest a mild dose of psilocybin at work, just a fancy to combine with a perhaps overly prosaic attitude to history encountered in some people. We can keep it quaint and also have in fun in Shop to actually see it differently.

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