Monday, October 26, 2015

Witness to Trout Rising in Ken Lockwood Gorge

I didn't know the back way to Ken Lockwood Gorge, South Branch Raritan River, but once I realized it's just County Road 512 through Pottersville, over the Lamington River and straight on out to Califon and Shannon's Fly Shop, I found it very easy and convenient. Bedminster isn't exactly centrally located in relation to the Highlands, but right at the foot of the hills, it's in a real good position for access. The shore's a cinch to get to, also, just takes a little while.

Today I went into the Gorge at the north end, and found a hole right away that surely holds trout, though none hit my black Wooly Bugger. Soon, I took advantage of sunlight about to vanish, and I wonder now if I really should be shooting with a remote at high apertures. Donned in waders, I set my tripod up midstream, and managed to dig it in tight enough to prevent current from shaking. I got a big smile from a woman with a tripod and a full frame camera. It's treacherous to take expensive camera equipment into the river, but to get shots you can't get otherwise, carefully take chances. Yes, I had Korkers on.

On down the river, I found a stretch I liked and got hung up, so I waded quietly and freed the streamer, finding myself in better casting position. It didn't take long to sight a 15-inch rainbow. Sometime later, that rainbow rushed the Bugger, but didn't strike. I also sighted a small rainbow stocked in the spring. Naturally, I felt inclined to linger, and overtones suggesting that I stay into the magic hour seemed to promise some action.

I never got a strike on the streamer, but I noticed some tiny, off-white mayflies, and then a dimple. I tied on a size 20 or 22 blue-winged olive, and somehow fouled my leader above the tippet, and proceeded to have a bad time with a new blood knot on uneven line diameter, the damned trout dimpling repeatedly. But I got it done, and then found the fly tended not to stay afloat, nor could I ever see where it alighted on the surface. You can tell I'm a novice at fly fishing, but regardless of skill, things got real interesting fast.

An even smaller rainbow, no more than nine inches, rose repeatedly a few feet in front of me. And then about half a dozen were rising, sips and few splash rises. I whipped that little fly mid-air for all I was worth to dry it off in hopes it would float! But whether or not it did--I could never see it, though once I did drop it in front of me and it floated--none of the trout took, though for about 10 minutes as dusk gathered, they fed with abandon.

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