Saturday, January 17, 2015

7 Inches of Ice Lake Hopatcong

Oliver asked where we would go on Hopatcong, and I suggested State Park, River Styx, and a spot with a drop-off from about 10 feet of water. Two years ago, Landolfi took my son and I here, and we waited for about two and a half hours, just talking and on occasion lifting tip-ups from holes to stir any lagging shiners back to life. The sun touched the horizon and we were thinking of leaving, although my interest piqued, since I'm very familiar with things happening at the magic hour. A flag went up, all three of us threw cares aside and ran for it. The fish hit right on the drop-off about 12 feet down. Matt heaved on the line and could barely move it.

"Here!" Joe grabbed the line. Landolfi's patience is short lived, but he gets things done. The hook pulled.

"That was a big fish," Joe said.

It's the sort of spot not limited to pickerel and bass as State Park at least tends to be, besides perch and panfish. Could have been a walleye, channel cat, or even a musky.

Today I mostly looked forward to getting out, conversation, and having some moments of communion with the environment: all fulfilled. And of course I shot photos, 200 of them. But after our four hours or so were finished and Oliver had caught one yellow perch to show for our efforts, when two guys came walking to Dow's dock behind us and reported catching six pickerel, I felt the old familiar urge to actually catch fish come alive as waiting on our 10 tip-ups never did provoke.

 Felt mild the first couple of hours, though never got above freezing.

Lake Hopatcong never freezes evenly. Great, thick sheets of ice collided here like little continents, heaving up ice to the left of this photo, and driving ice under here where I photographed the fissure with a very thin sheet over it.
Black ice is best. But this time a bust.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Round Valley Reservoir Trout Report

I've fished trout four or fives since I reported last, lost a nice one, and have witnessed three lakers 15-20 inches, two browns 19 and 22 inches, and a 22 inch rainbow. Mike got the browns on shiners, and the lakers also took shiners. A man and his young son fished together, the boy catching the rainbow on what I forget, but the fish was a conversation piece. Whatever I had on hit a marshmallow and mealworm. I've noticed a couple of guys using 9-foot rods to get extra-distant casts. My son and I each own 11-foot steelhead noodle rods, and I'm thinking about it. Can't use more than 6-pound test; noodle rods are light power, but that's the test I use now anyhow.

The word has been that the browns are gone, but it's rainbows I've heard little about. Oliver fly cast his 10 wt. recently and watched a golden palomino follow his nymph. Not a taker, but a close encounter.

Lake Hopatcong has as many as seven inches of ice in the coves, but this ice may thicken considerably more before the reservoir freezes. In any event, the reservoir won't freeze unless we have more sustained extreme cold than we have enjoyed as yet.

You've got to admit it. Cold can feel good on the face. It stings the nerves and can make the face burn for an hour after you come in, but it's a sure sign that you're responsive and alive.