Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dog Hike to Butternut Falls, India Brook Park, Mendham, NJ

Thought up this family dog hike about eight months ago, but settled on this evening only yesterday. It's a nice little gorge in Mendham, a 20-minute drive from our house in Bedminster.

India Brook Park serves as entryway down and in. This stream is part of the North Branch Raritan River headwaters. Butternut falls are stunning. Not great, big falls like Passaic Falls in Paterson, but for a local woodland, very nice.

Matt started fishing right about the same time others arrived to swim. I urged him to continue, but as soon as he tangled his line, I knew it was no use, especially because we recognized the situation for us had got compromised anyway. I thought this evening would be perfect. About 67 degrees out, cloudy, no one would swim the 60-degree water. They did. I said offhand to Matt we can return in October.

After we got home, I mentioned again the possibility of a return sometime, and Matt suggested we use the fireplace at the head of the falls to cook. His mother had checked out the details and said we have to get permission from the township. So perhaps we'll get permission and do this sometime. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Catching Big North Jersey Bass with my Son

Took my son to my favorite North Jersey big bass lake, actually a large pond of perhaps 20 acres. Matt felt very happy to catch this nice one of 17 inches or more. This bass fought hard, so hard that when he got it to the bank, he commented that it didn't match the five-pounder he caught in our neighborhood pond. He caught the five-pounder many years ago.

Pitching worms names the game we played. It's all about hitting selected targets like brush edges and submerged stone, letting the worm descend, and retrieving back (sometimes letting it descend twice more on the way back, etc.) to make the best of the next cast or flip or pitch. A lot of tight space exists in back. Skill in getting a worm where it needs to go results in bass. And once we got back among the trees and rocks, Matt climbed a rock face, found a big slider turtle shell, and observed two full-grown bullheads mysteriously hanging right against shore under thickets.

We tried to get all the way in the belly furthest back, pretty much did, and then we would make our way to the other side. A machete would have helped. And heavy-duty, waterproof boots. Nothing's impossible, but my upper back ached like hell and I judged we should leave. We had fished two hours and both of us felt ready to go. Before we exited in the car, I pulled aside and looked for any possibility of accessing the other side easily. It's fenced off from that approach.

Five of my seven bass would have measured the scale between about three to 3 1/2 pounds. I caught a 19-incher so skinny it couldn't have quite weighed three pounds, at least I guessed not, maybe an ounce or two more. I've never before caught a bass I thought about to die. This sick fish clearly seemed on the way out. I've never before seen bass eyes shrunken in sockets as this fish suffered.

The way I'm looking at the fish as I hold it: no conscious reckoning of the sign of my own impending age.