Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winter Stalled

Last year, I posted about a real ice season ahead on December 21st, and we got just that. In short order. For more than a week now, with two warm Fridays and buckets of rain each of these days, weather seems more like April.

Nothing in the 10-day forecast indicates much more than skim ice when temperatures dip to the low to mid 20's three consecutive nights.

Happy New to all of you. I thought I better touch base since I haven't posted in awhile.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Some ice was available

I know from NJ Freshwater that guys got out on Budd Lake and Lake Hopatcong two days after I posted about the possibility. Haven't paid attention since then, but looking at the forecast for the week ahead, nothing's promising.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Modern Fish Act on the Way to President's Desk

Here's a press release from the Recreational Fishing Alliance. Any of you who fish the salt may be interested, and even if you strictly fish the fresh, it's interesting to see politics in favor of recreational fishing. There's a lot of money involved in saltwater fishing, but also an ongoing crisis regarding fish populations. A key to understanding what it's all about is to consider actual fish stocks and foreseeable recruitment, to couch my language in the words of management, instead of thinking that species are in peril as a sort of blanket assumption.

Recreational Fishing Alliance   
Contact:  Jim Donofrio / 888-564-6732  
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2018   

U.S. House Passes Modern Fish Act
      Sportfishing-Focused Legislation to Pass Congress Heads to President's

- December 19, 2018 - Today, the U.S.
      House of Representatives passed S.1520, the Modernizing Recreational
      Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). Today's vote was the
      final step toward sending the landmark legislation to the President's
      desk after it
passed the
      Senate on December 17

      Modern Fish Act is the most significant update to America's saltwater
      fishing regulations in more than 40 years and the recreational fishing
      community couldn't be more excited," said Johnny Morris, noted
      conservationist and founder of 
Bass Pro Shops.
      "On behalf of America's 11 million saltwater anglers, we're grateful
      to Speaker Ryan, the 115th Congress and all the elected leaders who came
      together to support and enhance recreational fishing across America."

      priorities of the recreational fishing and boating community were
      identified and presented to federal policy makers in 2014 by the
      Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management in a report
      "A Vision for Managing America's Saltwater Recreational
      Fisheries." The Commission was known as the 
Morris-Deal Commission,
      named for co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott
      Deal, president of Maverick Boat Group. Four years later, many of the
      recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission are found in the Modern
      Fish Act.

      anglers and members of the recreational fishing and boating industry are
      among the most responsible stewards of our marine resources because
      healthy fisheries and the future of recreational fishing go
      hand-in-hand," said Scott Deal, president of
Maverick Boat
. "A huge thank you to our
      congressional leaders who answered the call of the recreational fishing
      community to improve the way our fisheries are managed."

America's 11
      million saltwater anglers have a $63 billion economic impact annually and
      generate 440,000 jobs, including thousands of manufacturing and supply
      jobs in non-coastal states. Furthermore, $1.3 billion is contributed
      annually by anglers and boaters through excise taxes and licensing fees,
      most of which goes toward conservation, boating safety and
      infrastructure, and habitat restoration.

"It is a
      historic day for America's 11 million saltwater anglers thanks Senator
      Roger Wicker, Congressman Garret Graves and our many champions in
      Congress who fought until the very end for recreational fishing to be
      properly recognized in federal law," said Jeff Angers, president of
Center for
      Sportfishing Policy
. "For
      the first time ever, Congress is sending a sportfishing-focused bill to
      the President's desk."

The Modern
      Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:

  • Providing
               authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional
               management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of
               which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies
               (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control
               rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);

  • Improving
               recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal
               managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous
               potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest
               estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting
               (e.g., through smartphone apps);

  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the
               United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery
               allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional
               Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within
               one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and

  • Requiring the National Academies of
               Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within tw
               years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access
               privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the
               social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering
               each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal
               communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to
               stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access
               privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific
               Regional Fishery Management Councils.

America's recreational fishing and boating
      community applauds Congress for this historic vote and looks forward to
      final enactment of the Modern Fish Act following the President's


About Recreational Fishing Alliance
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries. For more information, call 888-JOIN-RFA or visit
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Monday, December 10, 2018

Maybe some ice is available

Past few days I've watched skim ice thicken to a pretty good cover on local ponds. Maybe to the north of here where I sit in Somerset County there's some ice fishing on ponds, and maybe even locally it's possible here and there, especially by tomorrow morning. By the mid-point of the 10-day forecast, there's rain and milder weather.

It's early yet. Whether or not we have another good ice season this year is anyone's guess. I know at least a couple of our readers do ice fish, and I hope to get out with both this winter.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Excellent Mechanic Available for Your Auto Needs

A while ago, I posted "Mike's Cortland Corner." Since then, my fishing buddy Mike Maxwell has expanded business a great deal. If any of you need a car repair or other mechanical or handyman work, I highly recommend his services, since he really has excellent ability and commitment.

Here's the link to his website:  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

New Jersey Mammals and Habitat Fragmentation

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, Endangered and Non-Game Species Program is busy learning about mammals in relation to habitat fragmentation, for one example of their work. I link you to the latest press release I got. At the rate they're coming in and getting posted, it's quite evident that NJ DEP is a very active concern:

Friday, December 7, 2018

I Never Let a Crazy Idea Go

Some say as you get older, nothing's better than fishing with a good friend. I sure fished alone a lot when I was younger, but as I age, I find my preference is to catch up with someone else as we at least attempt a catch. Fred got here earlier than me by about an hour, telling me when I arrived that someone else had our spot when he had got there, catching a rainbow on a marshmallow and mealworm, leaving as Fred arrived to go to work. The man had released the fish, so we don't know how big, but of course, they average about 16 inches. It's very rare to catch a trout less than 14 inches, rather common to land a 20-incher--my biggest here was almost 26 inches--but far and away most are 15 or 16 inches at least in our experience. 

Cold as hell this morning. I'm reminded of ice at the core of Dante's Inferno, because as Fred and I conversed incessantly, he spoke about a series of a dozen adventure novels he's reading, and how Atlantis as one of the story's focus has anything to do with the poet Dante and his trilogy would probably seem crazy on the face of it, but I never let a crazy idea go. I make sure I finish my thought, even if that takes 60 years. By then, it's rational.

We compared writing and invention. Fred would be an inventor. He told me he once had a million-dollar idea. He was certain of it. The next day, he remembered he had the idea, but couldn't remember what it was. I didn't tell him...had he written the idea down.

Oh, well.

So back to fishing. Last I spoke to Zach Merchant at Round Valley Bait and Tackle, unless it was the time before that, he expressed his doubt about the reservoir sustaining the great shoreline fishing of a year ago, and I guess mostly two or three years ago. I really don't remember unless I would resort to skimming some of my past posts. I never got any news this year of outstanding catches along the banks, so I guess that's over and done. Speaking for myself, I missed out on it. Of course, most of the action was during October and November.

We'll probably be back later this month or during January, along with my son, Matt.

 Grass grew here on dry land earlier in the year.

Hey, it's the Superdeck. If you click on the image, you can read for yourself. Huh, I used to read Nietzsche. During an episode of almighty zest, I imagined decking the whole shebang of this Animal House we call civilization.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Where We Feel the Power of this Planet

Fred calls them brain farts. Not always bad ideas. Besides, when you step into streambed muck this coming spring, smell that sulfur gas...anything released from underneath this hallowed planet can't be all bad. The last couple of days, I've been musing a little on the naturalist within me, sort of uselessly hoping for time to read Darwin, read Ewell Gibbons, read taxonomic botanical texts, read more about reptiles and amphibians, go out and apply some of my learning. Now I add, use my camera equipment besides. Re-connect with my young genius as a nine-year-old when I read Aristotle. Collected reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, arthropods, blithely unconcerned with and naïve to any laws that might have then existed, as if I perhaps were born millennia before my time, my manic mind racing to try and catch up, and yet I still don't know what the laws were in 1970. Twenty terrariums in the basement of our family home serving as looking glasses for my ethological studies, note cards at hand, obviously my parents didn't care a whit about any laws either, but I did care about natural law and trying, years before abstract thought normally sets in at age 14, to devise a theoretical scheme to frame behavior of animals in captivity, though in reality, I was far from the status of a zoologist. Not from that of a young naturalist.

I don't remember keeping any of the fishes until I was 12. One aquarium. I still have 3 x 5 notecards with my writing and diagrams on them depicting a little of what sunfish, bass, a stone cat did in the tank. I let all this go by age 13.

Today another day off, the plan was to write my monthly article for New Jersey Federated Sportsmen News, which I not only did, but progressed further than the anticipated rough draft to perhaps the finished completion, although I always seem to find a word or two to change after I think a piece is finished. I also sent an essay to Boston Globe Magazine, not that I altogether anticipate acceptance. I worked on a poem: "Numismatic Prism." Most of all, I worked on a big article assignment, but not under the sort of feverish state of nerves anticipated, and by working with a sort of deliberate slowness instead, I've managed to get more of it done than I really expected to do.

Past two hours, I've been drinking a little of a sulfurous substance--red wine. Rick got back to me in the morning, telling me it was unlikely he'd leave the bank early to fish the surf for those stripers with me, but that he would call if he could. We chatted online about someday trying for Pulaski steelhead in the spring. Read--years from now. Shift work and very little Paid Time Off means no time for that. At least for now.

Let me take another sip. That might help me remember that fart.

Two sips. And here it is, as I anticipated it would come, and don't think for a moment wine was not essential to its arrival. Fishing and naturalism melded together in my head. But I'm convinced this idea is not subjective, because I--rather fuzzily, I admit--see that naturalism, taken for what it is, has to do with observance in the field of natural facets. Fishing has to do with catching fish, but more than this, we do observe not only how they are caught, but take note of all sorts of interesting facets of their behavior, so we might catch more, all this obvious to anyone who fishes seriously.

But here's the thing as it relates to naturalism. Naturalism per se is supposed to appreciate nature as it is. But do we turn over rocks, capture specimens, move apart brush, etc.? Sure. So interaction is part of it, just as, while fishing, we appreciate nature while interacting with it by the use of varying levels of sophisticated tackle. We go a step further while fishing, perhaps. We modify nature, the fish, as once they are hooked, they bring our entire method and approach, basically technological, if very basically so, into play as a gaming success if the fish is caught, and so we include ourselves as tool masters in the whole scheme of nature, if we so presume a naturalist's perspective at the same time.

Who cares about naturalism, right? But remember home base. None of our fishing will come to anything at all, if we were to destroy life on this planet, not that I think there's much danger of this, but for certain this planet is changing very rapidly. It's not a superman issue, as if we as mankind can "save the planet." It's way too late to avoid a changing climate, so the issue really involves how we will change with the change. But even that idea is too grandiose to attract much interest. It's true enough, but in our own lifetimes, it's much less an issue of what we can do, than how any of us might better appreciate nature as it really is when we're out. And as we fish it.

Don't forget sulfur. That's the key. It's what's underneath it all that calls us to the depths. And that's where we feel the power of this planet.

As we might become this power.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Striper Run Flares Up for the Holidays

Quite a run of schoolie stripers in the surf. Similar happened about 10 years ago, when Steve Slota Jr. caught some 75 of them, all about 20 inches long, on one outing. If I vaguely remember, there've been a few lesser runs since then, and now the news includes something in the neighborhood of one keeper bass 28-30 inches long for every 20 shorts.

Jim Stabile first informed me several days ago. Now that I've got info on numbers caught and extent of the schools, I'm motivated to get out and give them a try, especially since there are some keepers moving with the shorts. Not that I'm starving to death, but that thus far, despite my losing a number of big stripers, my largest striped bass was only 28 inches long. Don't get me wrong--beautiful fish--and I caught another minutes later just the slightest sliver short of the same length, but I wouldn't mind catching a 30-incher.

Have emailed my brother Rick. Notice is probably too late for my day off tomorrow, and after the two of us hoping since July or August to fish the surf together this fall, I doubt very much I'll go alone.

Here's a link to an Asbury Park Press article on the event:

Available: 2019 Licenses

Just got word in my inbox that 2019 licenses are available. Think after you click on this link, you click on "link to mobile friendly website" for the fishing license. Anyhow, I'm waiting until the last minute and probably buying my license at Round Valley Bait and Tackle, so long as Zach issues license.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Concern for Menhaden (Bunker)

Over the years, I've followed the concern somewhat for our primary saltwater forage fish. Here's a link to an article from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Pine Snake and the Law

Sitting here bummed out a little, I reflected on my state and asked myself what to do next. I thought of posting my concern. I admit I'm a naïve sort. All of these years herping with my son, who no longer does much of this, now a Sophomore physics major at Boston University, I never managed to inform myself much on the law. I knew you can't keep reptiles from the wild, and we never had the slightest intention of doing so. But you can't "harass" non-game endangered species like the pine snake, either.

I believe 100% in a boy's natural inclination not only to look at such a snake, but engage with it. Of course, when Matt did just that, I was his grown-up father who had no desire to run after and capture the six-foot creature with the powerful jaws to get around without getting bitten by them, which Matt managed to do. I did put on the brakes for him. He saw the snake from the window as we traversed a Pinelands sand road with New Jersey Audubon, and before the car even came to complete sudden halt, his door was open and he was out running clad only in socks, having taken his sneakers off for some reason.

We did no harm to the snake. Matt held it briefly as not only I photographed it, but a dozen or so NJ Audubon members did so as well, not a word of protest from anyone about the broken law, only amazement, photos immediately circulating online. Actually, the link I've connected you to features a pine snake he caught a year later in the Pines, but the point here is moot. No law about "harassment," as if we had any such intent--no, not at all--trumps a higher natural law about boys and their engagement with nature. Nothing will ever prompt me to take this post I've linked you to, and the photo, down.

Who knows. Maybe Litton's Fishing Lines has never taken any awards--many other New Jersey blogs have--because we're too edgy. If you're with me, though, you believe not only in freedom of speech, honesty, candor, and rigor, but freedom to act, as well.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Shifting Borders

Another fall nears closing as once again the surf striper run on the Jersey coast has fallen apart. This fall, a lot of bass got caught three miles or so out to sea, but repeated nor'easters contributed to vacant surf lines. I don't know much of the whole story, but my brother Rick and I have been talking about surf fishing since August, so we were ready to take our opportunity, which never unfolded. He lives in Wall a mile from the beach, and he's been at the ready to say go.

We also hoped to fish Lake Hopatcong. I doubt he's even seen the lake since January 1978, but he's up for walleye and hybrids sometime. Our plan got cut short because Dow's Boat Rentals had to pull the boats, the lake level sinking too low. Every five years, the lake gets drawn down five feet so docks can be maintained.

I also hoped to fly fish on Wednesday, but rivers already high and off-color are flooding plenty now with the next heavy rain falling two days after the previous. More rain is in the forecast for later this week, too.

The climate is mixed up. It seems to me as if the bulk of the stripers weren't interested in the surf line this fall or last regardless of waves as high as 15 feet. Why specifically I don't know. And I don't know if climate has anything to do with it, just that my gut tells me it might. Borders will change as seas rise. The way maps divide regions now will alter. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

3 Degrees

It got cold. Three degrees recorded at Walpack. Four degrees at Pequest. Even seven degrees right over here at Basking Ridge, but we took a road trip today, down through Musconetcong Valley, back over in our home direction on I-78 and getting off to drive by Round Valley, where the pond has no ice on it, though that pond is very deep and exposed to the wind that's been pretty persistent the past few days.

A pond with 35-foot depth takes a while to cool off, and though I am curious about how thick ice got and is getting yet on shallower ponds to the north, I feel just as disappointed because my hunch tells me the wind prevented much from developing.

Back up to 50 degrees tomorrow. I wonder if we'll enjoy some 70-degree temps before January. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

6 Degrees

Happy Thanksgiving! (Watching "Sorry to Bother You" on TV with my family.)

Took Sadie for a walk in 21-degree cold, temperatures expected to fall to 11 here in Bedminster overnight:

North of here in Sussex it's 19, the temperature expected to plummet to 6, and with cold persisting into Saturday morning, I suspect ponds up there may support ice fishing for anyone who would care to do it:

Just a fascination of mine. I probably won't ice fish until January, and not a whole lot this winter. Walking Sadie, I paid my respects to the pond, not frozen. Wind is always a factor when it's present.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Measures Against Great Lakes Asian Carp

Press Release:

Statement: National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp

(November 20, 2018 – Ann Arbor, MI) -- Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final draft plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The draft chief’s report of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam includes both structural and nonstructural measures including an engineered lock fitted with an electric barrier, a bubble barrier, an acoustic barrier, and a flushing lock to stop aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is located just south of Chicago and is a critical chokepoint to help stop Asian carp from continuing to swim closer to Lake Michigan.  The estimated cost of the project is $777.8 million, up from an earlier estimate of $275 million. A previous draft of the plan included water jets in place of the bubble barrier.

Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, black, and grass carp. After escaping from southern United States aquaculture facilities, they have spread rapidly and have reduced native fish populations in waters connected to the Mississippi River watershed, which connects to the Great Lakes watershed through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp pose a significant threat to our economy, outdoor heritage, and way of life.  In addition, the invasive species is a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes sport-fishery, which is estimated to generate at least $7 billion each year in economic activity.

Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, issued the following statement in response to the release of the updated plan:

“Across the country, Asian carp are undermining our nation’s fisheries and threaten the Great Lakes $7 billion annual sport-fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to rebuild the Brandon Road Lock and Dam south of Chicago is our opportunity to put stronger measures in place to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes a gauntlet of technologies to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The investment in this project pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We intend to review the updates to the plan in detail and offer official public comment later, but at first glance this looks like the plan we need to protect our waters, our fisheries, our sport-fishing economy and our way of life.”


Drew YoungeDyke
Senior Communications Coordinator
National Wildlife Federation
Great Lakes Regional Center
Uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world

Monday, November 19, 2018

Looks Like Marginally Safe Ice

Come Wednesday night, temperatures are expected to plummet to the mid-teens, getting down to 15 after a high of 27 on Thanksgiving, and then dropping to 24 Friday night. This is Bedminster's forecast. In the northwest corner of the state, it's likely marginally safe ice will have formed on ponds, although after early Saturday morning, milder weather will return and knock out anyone's taking advantage of November ice fishing.

Here's a link to the forecast. Think it will get dated quickly:

Friday, November 16, 2018

Winter Trout Stocking

Fred used to catch winter stockers at Speedwell Lake, but this late stocking of ponds and lakes is largely about ice fishing, and none is allowed there, so they phased out the stocking. A pond I fish a lot, Mount Hope Pond, I know supports some jigging--and catches--when the freeze comes. I will keep you abreast of developments concerning ice or lack of it as ice season comes.

Here's the link to Fish & Wildlife information:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ice Watch Begins

Skim ice will likely develop overnight on ponds in the northwest corner of the state. Recent years have seen this happen about now, as the link (below) takes you to a November 24, 2016 post with a photograph of Lake Musconetcong frozen over, although that ice was very thin. The photo leaves something to be desired as far as making that freeze evident goes, but that was the case.

Less than three weeks ago, the trees remained primarily green here in Bedminster, and now most of the leaves are down. We took a very sharp turn in the weather, so here I am beginning my yearly ice watch already.

We shall see how much snow we get tomorrow, if any.

Wouldn't mind a solid ice season, although I don't plan on getting out more than three times. I don't rule out four ventures, but I do like to use winter as a time to get a lot of writing done. Matt looks forward to ice fishing this winter, especially after having so much fun on Round Valley Pond last January, and he's interested in what I have to say about ice fishing Tilcon Lake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Excitement You Never Forget

Haven't fished since October 31st. My brother Rick and I would have gone tomorrow, but the prospect of surf casting for stripers in pretty serious cold does not feel right with most of the catches three miles out and further. He fished them a few days ago in the surf and didn't get a hit.

Like last Wednesday, rivers and streams are high after rain, but I wouldn't have fished a week ago anyhow, nor tomorrow, besides the surf. Too much writing to do, which I'm enjoying a great deal. You see the announcement on the page about coming books. Whether or not a publisher takes the book on trout fishing I'm finally working on again, I enjoy writing it so much that I actually feel that if no cares to publish it, it will still have been fully worthwhile. It's as if I can't lose. As a case in point, the novelist Barbara Kingsolver is probably more introverted than I am. As a matter of fact, I took a personality test the other night for the fun of it, and I scored 65% introverted, 35% extraverted. I've thought for years that I'm ambiverted, and this balance of percentages shows this is pretty much the case, anyway. But about Kingsolver, she said in an interview that she would have written all of her novels just for the joy of writing, and then stuffed them in drawers, as if never to be read by anyone else.

I figure if no one will publish my book, I'll figure out how to publish it online, but I really do want a good commercial publisher to take it. The trick is not to invest too much hope in this, in case it never happens. And besides, the best writing, though it addresses readers through every word and punctuation mark, is written on the level of language, not as an expediency with designs solely to cash in. So every move this writer takes is redeemed by the fact that it's for the joy of it. That feeling does want to reach out. It's just that nay saying can't ruin the work.

I got word from Fred Matero tonight, in answer to my suggestion that we swing over to Round Valley maybe sometime in December. He's up for it. I never forget the last lake trout I lost. I'm assuming it was a laker. They come in when it gets really cold. A few of them. That afternoon early in January, think it was, wasn't so cold, but it was winter, and I had cast a really big shiner way out there by use of an 11-foot noodle rod with great range. Fishing bottom can seem a bore, but once line starts moving in a world shut down by the season that keeps most people indoors, you feel excitement you never forget.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Crouching for Trout

Told myself recently today would be a day for catching up. No fishing. Ha! I finished a query I needed to write at 1:30 pm, after spending more than an hour-and-a-half before this at cleaning up my laptop. As my reward for good work done, I rode out to Scherman-Hoffman Preserve and signed myself in for some Passaic River fly fishing. I was notified I had to be out by 4:45, this at 3:12, so I briskly hiked directly to my favorite pool.

I got fully absorbed in the fishing right away, crouching with my Simms-covered seat in the water, but I caught no trout. I caught a silver shiner, the same species I use as bait, amazed at the three-incher's gumption at striking a size 16 beadhead. Soon I hooked something else small that got off, and then later caught a five-inch chub that fought like it might have been a little brown or rainbow, both species reproducing here in the big river's headwaters.

I can dig this sort of fishing. The particularity by use of my little six-foot, two-weight TFO involves plenty of reward for developing skills, which have paid off in the past, even though, so far, none of the trout have measured more than nine inches long. I have spotted them in this Bernardsville flow about a foot long in the past.

New Jersey offers a lot of opportunity for wild and native trout. It's no wonder they don't get much pressure, given the size of most of them, and relatively sparse populations for the most part, but I like the feel and I will be back, connecting at least to my own practice at gaining on some success.

On the way home, I swung over to the North Branch Raritan at AT&T, fishing persistently, wading across the river and upstream after fishing by the exit bridge, getting a beadhead deep in a nice pool with strong and deep current leading into it. I felt a nice trout had to lurk there, and I kept trying to get a hit, feeling as if maybe I could do this for a hundred years and nothing would happen, but who knows. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dingman's Falls Re-opens October 31st

I've always wanted to walk this trail....

Great news!  Please join us if you are able.

Release Date:  October 30, 2018

Contact(s):  Kathleen Sandt, Public Affairs Specialist

            ; (570) 426-2472

It’s No Trick!  Dingmans Falls Re-opens on October 31

Bushkill, PA- The employees at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are excited to announce that the Dingmans Falls boardwalk trail will re-open to the public at 1 pm on Wednesday, October 31.  The popular visitor destination and local favorite was hit hard by damages from back-to-back winter storms in March 2018 and as a result was closed for the spring and summer while work crews made repairs.  

Superintendent Sula Jacobs, who has been on the job at the park for just under two months, was briefed on the storm damages and the work to be done before she accepted the position and seeing it through is one of her top priorities.  “When I got here, I toured the site and was told that the trail would re-open in the spring,” said Jacobs.  “I am thrilled that our dedicated team- both on the ground and behind the scenes- was able to get the work done sooner than expected and with no injuries or further negative impacts to the environment. And we are all thrilled to be able to welcome the public back to one of their favorite places, and one of ours.”   Dingmans Falls Visitor Center will re-open as usual in the spring.  The lower portion of Johnny Bee Road, the Dingmans Falls Access Road, and the main parking area will remain open until the first significant snowfall. Once the roads are closed for the winter, the trail will remain open and accessible by foot.

The devastating storms uprooted and snapped hundreds of trees along the access road, parking area, and trail.  The downed trees crushed, twisted, and lifted boardwalks, stairs, railings and bridges and damaged structures on the grounds.  Work completed at the site includes:

·         Repairs to the boardwalk trail including replacement of approximately 130 feet of new decking; 

·         repair and replacement of two staircases leading to the upper observation area;

·         repair and replacement of 80 feet of railing including railing on 2 bridges;

·         precision removal of more than 500 trees from the site, including the access roads and parking lot;

·         removal of 10 trees from structures on the grounds;

·         repair of restroom roofs and vents.

“Dingmans Falls is one of the jewels of the park, and of the region, and was a top priority for the park’s trail crew over the past few months,” said William Tagye, Roads and Trails Supervisor for the park.  “In addition to repairing damages from the winter storms, the crew has also made some other improvements along the trail that will allow visitors to have a better and safer visit to the falls while making the trail itself more sustainable into the future.”  For example, new surface treatments were used to provide better traction on areas of the boardwalk trail that tend to get slippery in the damp shady environment and drainage improvements were made in areas where water runoff or ponding on the trail was an issue. 

While the majority of storm-damaged trails and facilities have re-opened, there is still a lot of work to be done at the few sites that remain closed.  These areas sustained a great deal of environmental and/or infrastructure damage and the work there is more complex.   

·         Tree removal is scheduled to begin shortly at George W. Childs Park where hundreds of trees fell in tangled masses onto boardwalks, bridges, fences, historic structures, and observation platforms.  Sequoia Tree Service of Dingmans Ferry, PA was awarded the contract for that phase of the project.  Tree removal is expected to be completed by the end of the year.  Planning, design, and environmental compliance work is also underway.  At this time there is no estimated opening date. 

·         Adams Creek will remain closed indefinitely. 

·         Hornbecks Creek/Indian Ladders Trail and Conashaugh Trail will remain closed until work there can be completed.   

·         Work on a re-route and repairs to the lower portion of the trail at Van Campens Glen in NJ is set to begin during the summer of 2019. 

For updates on trail openings and closures visit our website at; call the information desk at (570) 426-2452, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm; or follow us on Facebook at  


Kathleen Sandt

Public Affairs Specialist

National Park Service

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

(O) 570-426-2472

(C) 570-234-9144

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Kittatiny Ridge Frames a Good Mood

On Millbrook Road, accessed by first navigating a series of roads new to my travels, we approached Kittatiny Ridge. Trish and I got a very clear look at the face of it. The walls of schist or whatever looked smaller in the distance than they are, but still appeared prominently, distinctly off-white like marble. I said, "Matt and I climbed that ridge from the bottom when he was seven-years-old." The vertical elevation from the start of the Mount Tammany trail to the summit is 1200 feet. I think the Rattlesnake Ridge trail Matt and I climbed is about the same ascent. At the top, there's a pathway no more than four feet wide between a gigantic boulder face, and an edge over which distance drops about 900 feet to treetops and rocks. I felt very nervous walking that. My young son showed no fear at all, once standing right at the edge and looking down as frankly as had he looked at a floor. I was stunned.

Further on Millbrook Road today, views from the ridgetop felt thrilling. And after the last view passes, descent is steep and swift, Millbrook Village appearing on the right quickly. No event held by the park service today, we came to hike further up along Van Campens Brook, further than we had walked several years or more ago. I slung my camera bag on my left shoulder and carried my two-weight TFO fly rod with my right hand. We did work our way further up the Donkey Hollow Trail, but I remember last time somehow finding a trail that follows the brook closely. This time that wasn't evident. I did manage to fish the spot photographed not long after we left the village, and also cut off the trail far upstream, making sure moss on stones I braced my boots against didn't slide under them as I worked my way downhill to the water. This second spot was a nice hole, bottom four or five feet deep perfectly visible, but I felt as if I had imposed on the fish there, fish I suspect are present but had dodged me and my bead-head nymph.

Later, when I unloaded gear into the trunk, a man a little older than me came up and asked had I caught any. We launched into an informative chat about the fishing, his experience and success a lot more than mine up there. "You have to approach them with stealth."

"I did feel I imposed on them," I said. "Do you crouch?"

"Oh, yeah." And he said he wears camo. He kept mentioning the trout's weakness for bead-head nymphs, that they like the reflective gold surface on the tungsten. He wasn't fishing today, but he's done quite a lot up there.

The hike wasn't for the fishing. It was for my wife. And mainly, we came up here for that hike and for dinner at Walpack Inn. As events proved out, Walpack Inn was the main reason, but before we parked among hundreds of other vehicles and carried books into the restaurant, anticipating a wait, we visited Roy Bridge again, where I didn't fish, but did perform a productive photo shoot.

The view of the ridge as we traveled back on State Park 615 to the restaurant felt grand. Green tone recently gave way to yellow on the rusty side of the color spectrum, I could tell. Down here in Bedminster, the color tone is still predominantly green. We got a table without waiting. I felt utterly amazed, as we were led to it, at the size of this place. Where do the dozens of employees come from? It must be 45 minutes to the nearest gas station. Maybe that's hyperbole, since Layton isn't far, but Layton is a hamlet. Despite a lot full of vehicles, getting a table was no problem, the place is so big, and the food was fantastic. I had prime rib, Trish a strip steak. Each of us got baked potato with sour cream and horseradish. Doc Joe's (think it is) Hard Apple Cider is so fresh it reminds me of a Class 1 trout stream like my favorite Dunnfield Creek. The apple pie with ice cream was a huge serving for each of us. And as we ate, aside from us, a huge picture window admitted a full view of Kittatiny Ridge whenever we turned to admire the mountain.

We took a walk behind the building towards the ridge before we left. It's certainly not the highest mountain on the east coast, but to deny it if you haven't taken its challenge is cheap. And if you were to deny it and then take it's challenge, it might not be safe...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Boats Coming Out Soon

Not much going on here this past week…We had hoped to be able to rent boats into November sometime, but with the earlier start to the 5 foot drawdown, it has affected us more than it usually does. We are unable to keep our docks in the water, which means the boats have to be pulled sooner than we thought.  We will still be open with bait and tackle for some time, but please call to check on our hours. (973) 663 - 3826. We will be stocked and ready to go for ice fishing season.  Thank you for your support for 2018 , a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to all. It will be here before you know it !!! Have a great week...

Laurie Murphy

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Savage Summer Flushed Clean

As we departed our cars for the river, Pat asked if I expected us to catch any. I said, "I would be surprised if we didn't." Such is my belief in this river and the stretches we fished, but if reality never checked my presumptions, I would get all too full of myself very quickly. We found the South Branch running high but very clear. So clear and cold my first impression told me the bass weren't going to come easily. Pretty soon, I figured they weren't going to come at all, but part of the game involves narrowing down where those fish might be, in spite of their refusal to let you know for sure.

The edges and shallows where bass struck last I was here weeks ago were empty. No hits, and by wading these areas, we sighted nothing but a little smallmouth about five inches long. Pat waded across the river and examined the edge on the other side, the first of any of my parties, including myself, to do this. He sighted a carp about three feet long and nothing else but rocky ledges and bottom. Eventually, I crossed the river and though I distinctly saw bottom five and six feet deep, no fish made themselves evident at all. My conclusion that the bass must be down in about eight feet of water hugging bottom felt all the more certain. The current moved powerfully through these depths, but right at bottom it doesn't move much. We probed that bottom repeatedly, but nothing was interested.

Cold and clean, the water gave us no doubt fall has settled in. Trout water, but bass will still hit sometimes. Today we fished the middle of the afternoon under sun and clouds, but a lot of sun. Last November, I came here with Steve Slota at daybreak, frost crunching under boots, and I caught a smallmouth about a foot long on my second cast. The magic hour early or late makes a difference. It is possible water somewhat off color that morning did too, although I'm more under the impression that the clarity it has now would be even better for catching bass.

There was an impressionistic feel to the place. I've never before experienced it like this. Seurat could have filled a canvas with dots as if things weren't quite real in the hard-edged ordinary sense, and yet every time I looked down through that clear water at bottom--whether soft, gravelly, or rocky--I felt nature had flushed the savage life of summer clean, as if all that is left are the elements without the waste life inevitably leaves behind.

We drove downstream where trout got stocked weeks ago and fished salmon eggs for whatever still awaits in the currents. Not a hit. But I got absorbed by use of my three-and-a-half foot wand, not doing any more magic than controlling the drift. That's a matter of allowing the egg to ride with the current near bottom, while keeping monofilament nylon fairly tight so a strike can be detected and hook set. Pat was into it, also. I thought of springtime ahead, and I realized that perhaps the most beautiful thing about fishing in April, before trees green and confirm the fact of spring's presence really here, is the expectation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What a Try for Trout

Plan was to wake up, pack up, go trout fishing. I didn't care to go at all, and instead of making myself do it, I respected our mutual endeavor and gave myself a break, rather than put the kibosh on what I always want to go well.

Sure enough, by early afternoon while I continued to struggle with an essay I will submit to a high-end fishing magazine, and felt frustrated over losing time to query yet another, I began to feel like going. Trish and I had plans to go over to the Lamington for a photo shoot as the sun would get low, but I had plenty of time to scoot over to the local AT&T stretch and dip some salmon eggs.

I got over there, reached to open the door, and realized I had left the salmon eggs in the fridge. "Goddamnit!" I drove home, fetched them, and soon worked the current under the exit bridge, polarizers revealing very nice depth, though I sighted no trout hugging bottom as I began a process of covering water swiftly. I knew there was no point of continuing to cast when I didn't feel this would yield anything, but not only do I trust my fish sense very tightly, I plainly saw no fish. I imagined there might be a few camouflaged, but I had my doubts. Finally, I settled on the fast water below the entry.

Standing in front of four foot depths, I realized I needed to add a couple of barrel swivels to my snap to get the egg near bottom. First, I took the safety pin holding swivels off my vest, clumsily emptying the prong of all eight or nine swivels onto the leaves at my feet, recovering only two of them, but I got them on the the process losing my leader and hook. So next, I got involved in the frustration of tying a new leader by the use of my bad eyes. Those size 14 hooks and ultra-thin two pound test are not easy for me now. After long minutes of intense frustration--all I wanted to do was come and have an easy go at this--I found that somehow I had broken off the hook I had tied to the fluorocarbon. So I tried again, and this time I completely screwed up on the loop knot, finding--after I tied a second loop on a leader that was about three feet long, not half that length as I had misjudged it--that I had indeed tied a successful loop in the first place, which was about a foot from the hook. So there I was with two loops, and when I tried to break the leader so it would measure about a foot long, I destroyed that first loop I had tied. Finally, I ended up with a leader attached to my snap about four inches long. Absurd. But it would have to do. I had had it. Battering off defeat, I thought very hard on making a new leader wallet, because there is no way I'm going to have trouble like this in the spring. It popped into mind that there's probably no reason to trouble over making my own wallet. I owned a wallet I made during my teens until I lost it a couple of years ago, but nowadays of course, I could just check on what's for sale online. I got a cast in, the swivels took the egg near bottom, and then when I made the second cast, the rig got caught in branches hanging pretty high over the current I hadn't noticed. I broke off and said the hell with it.

I haven't felt frustration as I did this afternoon since my teens. A burning kind of frustration. But I got my head together before I marched entirely off the premises with that resolve to buy a leader wallet. At least I know now I need one this spring. Yup. Had I driven all the way to the South Branch to have this sort of trouble, it would have sucked a lot worse. I got home and immediately ordered a 10-leaf leader wallet from Amazon. Then Trish, me, and Sadie went for that, successful, photo shoot.

After we got home the whole afternoon felt very invigorating.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Relaxed Beside an Island, Ordinary Life Seems Absurd

Every fall, I manage to get out on Lake Hopatcong and fish the drop-offs, but even worse than last fall, the warmth had kept the lake from turning over and the trees from changing color. For longer than a week, I was aware of cooler weather forecast, and I hoped it would make a significant difference, because with temperatures in the 70's and 80's, I knew fish would be suspended over drop-offs at best. Mark Licht and I met at Dow's Boat Rentals just after 6:00 a.m., and instead of temperatures in the mid-30's as forecast, they hovered around 40, but of course that's a lot better than the 71-degree reading I noticed at first light on Wednesday.

Brian Cronk was supposed to come, but he phoned me Saturday night, telling me a friend of his had shot a bear and he had to help in the morning. Brian and I have tried to get out and fish together since early June. We're jinxed. Instead, I would meet his UPS driver. I found Mark to be great company. Brian and I have planned on fishing Lake Wawayanda for what seems an eternity now, me interested in going Old School and fishing live shiners for big pickerel common there, Brian wanting Atlantic salmon usually referred to as landlocked salmon here. It so happened that when Mark and I got off the lake, a man and his wife of foreign description were busy cleaning a good-size pickerel, so I went across the dock and joined them for a moment, admiring a limit catch of pickerel that seemed to range from 18 to maybe 22 inches. I know of one angler who claims he prefers eating pickerel to walleye, a radical dissent from the usual derision about these pike family members, just because of Y bones in their backs. In any case, and I've tried pickerel and they're good, this moment before Mark and I departed to go home seemed portentous to the fishing Brian and I will do yet, and it's good to be reminded that deep drop-offs in October are not the only possibility on Lake Hopatcong.

"The motor is quiet!" Mark spoke above the hum as we motored away from Dow's. He has a large center-console, but wanted to try from one of Laurie Murphy's boats. He told me fishing for him is about the big picture, not just the narrow limitation, as he described it, of keeping eyesight glued to the linear form casts create. He takes the environment in, and I said it's the same for me. Readers of this blog know I take great liberties, perhaps less so at description of environments I fish, than of rendering accounts of complex ideational moods these places inspire in me. I haven't written any posts recently true to what I've called grand affirmation, not since the Tilcon Lake posts, keeping instead to more conventional accounts of the fishing, but perhaps by the time I finish writing this one, I will have written material that Lenny Matera and Fred Matero--each other's best friend with nearly identical last names--say they can't understand.

Mark and I began fishing a mid-lake drop, finding suspended fish stacked over 38 feet of water, but instead of fishing them right off the bat, I put a marker buoy in the water, and then with the words of Jimmy Welsh at the shop in mind, "I've been catching them 20 feet deep," we anchored in 14 feet of water to the side of that buoy set near the drop-off's deep end. Jimmy had also said, "Striper fishing sucks," mentioning smallmouth bass this deep instead. Well, maybe a walleye would take a live herring.

We set our baits 14 to 25 feet deep, and soon Mark hooked the first walleye he's ever caught. Sun had barely reached the horizon. Later Jimmy would weigh this fish at four pounds, seven ounces. Five minutes later I caught a two-and-three-quarter-pound walleye. And then besides my catching a one-pound (or so) walleye an hour later, nothing else hit and so we went after those fish near the buoy.

There must have been hundreds of stripers under the boat and around the boat. We tried to catch them for a solid two or three hours. The lake almost dead calm, we had no trouble putting herring and also chicken livers on their noses. We jigged. I rode a Binsky bladebait through the school repeatedly. Not one hit. Later, I would discuss this with Laurie, and she said it happens all the time, "And then, like last week, someone will catch 40 or 50 of them." Seems like you can always depend on largemouth bass. Just put a proper lure in a bass's lair, and you'll catch some, as Mark and I did on this trip, but these hybrid stripers seem downright weird regarding feeding habits.

We had to give up, or else we wouldn't use our dozen nightcrawlers. And this is when the trip got to feeling especially good, or at least it did for me. With the electric, I pushed the boat at a pretty good clip up to an island where my son and I have fished for more than a decade. We used ultralights to catch all sorts of panfish and bass. Mark also used a heavier rod and Senko to catch a bass and lose a pickerel at the boat. I set three lines out deep for walleye, and eventually, Mark caught a walleye a little bigger than the larger of my two.

But best of all, whatever you want to call it--psychological resistance, habitual responses, suppression, all the big words for a simple problem--the tension, which doing a hard job day after day builds as a defense to doing anything amiss, gave way. I had first uttered some words to Mark I forget now, but a moment's reflection on them was pleasing to me for their spontaneity and grace. So much is written against language, among spiritual circles of the Eastern variety, as if talk is a hindrance to Zen and what not, but nothing could be further from the truth on this outing. Once I had spoken a few times, words devoid of mannerism and more intelligent than anything typical, the bottom dropped out under my tendency to suppress natural flow to get the job done, and I was free. For at least an hour before we left as 1:00 pm approached, I lived purely in the moment, completely accepting the mess we made of the boat and the sort of helter-skelter character of dipping many lines. And upon reflecting on it for a moment, ordinary life seemed so absurd and a waste of energy and life, as if the whole problem with society is that we don't let go.

Most of the fish we marked were at 17 feet, but sometimes the graph was almost full of fish icons across the screen. Some fish did mark as deep as 31 feet, so the lake is turning over, but not any deeper than that as of yesterday.
All these years fishing herring, this had never happened, but it happened a second time after I shot this photo.

Mid-October normally features peak fall colors. So far, there's barely any change from summertime.