Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bergen County, New Jersey, Striped Bass

We weren't the only skunked at DeKorte Park today, but another guy we spoke to caught an 18-incher, and two other guys caught two bass, one of them eight pounds. For the Meadowlands Flats, where the largest I've heard of caught was 12 pounds, that's a nice fish. The flats are so shallow that full exposure at low tide reveals mud and scattered Atlantic white cedar stumps. Creek channels hold the only water. They're the key to the fishing here. Outflows here and there along the Saw Mill Trail create strong currents where bass hold. All of the bass we've caught so far got hooked right in the current. Some of the pipes between upper and lower flats are small. Others larger. And the heaviest flow is a sluiceway bridged by a wooden walkway. On the upstream side, the water is very deep.

Fred met me and Matt at 7:00 a.m. and we arrived at the Flats after about an hour of easy driving, no traffic entanglements, easy going conversation on the way. Fred immediately judged dead high tide, no movement at the pipe in the first corner, and as we readied to carry our rods and tackle in, noticed something big chasing a herring or gizzard shad. I know it was forage something like that, because it leapt clear out of the water. A foot long. And the bass after that fish was big. We saw boils. No other big gamefish here in these former garbage dumps.

Fred was rigged up and cast for the fish to no avail. As I tied paddletails onto the four rods of my son and me, I said, "Is the water moving?"

"Yeah. The stuff on the surface by the pipe just moved, right when I looked up," Fred said.

Once that water starts coming down, it seems to fall very fast; all because of these drain-ways. We fished all the spots to the final breach below the sluiceway, fished these spots hard, but the best of it for me was sitting on basalt at the sluiceway and just letting stress get carried off by the breeze as I cast and cast, sun on my face, and the temperature a little chilly but not brisk.

My son fiddled with his damned mobile device. I never protested outwardly, but I hate those things and have never owned one. I'll keep my flip-phone as long as I can and use it little. The last thing I want in life is to give up my mind informed by my senses--such as those fairly long moments as I sat by the sluiceway--for a mind mediated by a bunch of bullshit.

I never can find the best information I need online anyway. I use public libraries and independent bookstores.

Fred got a hit. I got a hit. That's our striper action to report.

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