Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A World Next Door

Peapack-Gladstone are the connected town centers immediately west of Bedminster-Far Hills, yet like so many places, a world away despite seeming close proximity by road. More goes on here in regards to outdoor restaurant space, and instead of a Jeep dealership, there's a very upscale sports car outfit. But like Bedminster, a river runs through Peapack-Gladstone, although smaller than the North Branch Raritan and flowing into the larger of these two streams, technically not a river at all, but a brook. Peapack Brook. Flowing a little stronger than many who pass over and by the water may notice at all. 

And chilly. We wore no waders and felt the brisk entry. My son parked his Volvo in a municipal lot just above the stream; I got out with my camera to have a look around. Trout rising repeatedly below, I immediately doubted the nymph tied on Matt's tippet, garden worm imitation on mine. Once we got down to the streambed, I noticed a very few mayflies in the air, but felt sure those trout rose for some smaller insect. Sadie the black Labrador marched ahead and right into the deeper water with the fish, but I knew those slippery shadows would position in minutes...though not necessarily hitting. I felt success all but completely unlikely. 

I let Matt soak that nymph over and over while I took my pleasure shooting many photos. And then I went under the low bridge, casting in the dark, tempting nothing in deep shadow, emerging out on the other side and trying a run below. When I turned back after a while, Sadie stood looking directly my way at attention, and Matt was just emerging from darkness. Heavy evening shadow had sunken into the scene, giving the sight a sort of awesome moody feel. Without pause, I stepped forward towards my family.

I said, "Let's go to the dam. We might catch one or two before it gets too dark."

Besides a spot just off U.S. Highway 206, so far the dam is the only Peapack Brook spot I know. As of this April. Where we fished today is the first either of us have seen this part of town, let alone Peapack Brook. Matt had never seen the dam, and as we clambered out of the stream valley here in Gladstone to the roadway above and got walking to the car, lightning illumined clouds beyond.

Driving the mile or so back to Peapack, I felt the lightning storm might beat us, but we got to the spot, dusk deep. As we walked towards the bridge, I said, "The moon is out!" Gesturing by lifting my right arm as I spoke, at that moment a Jersey Transit train blared nearby, and I thought the space between the train and the entry to the brook might be too tight to pass. We found no train coming, just lots of them stationed a hundred yards or so westward on divergent tracks.

Matt insisted I cast first. I lay in several loops and then told him I didn't feel right. There's existed this tension between us--mostly on my side of the relationship--about fishing privileges since he was a little boy. I try not to get selfish just because I approach a spot dead-on. I try to let him go first. Would he please go dabble the worm fly off the dam? That's really all he had to do, if any trout would hit. His rod got tangled, so we used my two weight. I had no doubt trout were present, but I called over to him above the sound of falling water, "This fishing is tougher than catching steelhead on the Salmon River!"

That's because we don't know what the hell we're doing with fly rods.

He got a hit. He must have presented that fake worm three dozen times, but one of those casts resulted in his setting the hook and having to extricate the fly from a tree branch. Lightning no longer flashed. Darkness had thickened further. Just as we decided to leave, a Jersey Transit horn alerted that road crossing nobody but people on foot seem to use, and bound for Summit--I suppose--the gray-silver passenger load rumbled quickly above and by us.