Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Number of Really Big Smallmouths this Year

Another four-pound, eight-ounce smallmouth. Jealous. Laurie Murphy's report:

Just a reminder that The Knee Deep Club’s  Hybrid Striped Bass contest is  being held this weekend Sept. 22nd & 23rd. Stripers here have been hitting on chicken livers and herring. We have both available here at the shop and will be open at 5 AM for the contest. Entries are accepted up until 8 AM on Saturday. Gary Gurevich of Randolph NJ, fished with live bait and herring and had a variety of fish that kept him busy for most of the day. Jake Cerami, along with his friend Trevor Nilesen, caught pickerel and bass on their outing, the largest being 3 lbs 5oz. Jack Dziduch, fishing with his son casting small jigs and Rapala rippin raps, landed his 4 lb 8z smallmouth out of shallow water. Maquire Bruce - Lockhart (age 9) , landed a smallmouth also, weighing in around 3 pounds.  Although the lake drawdown begins this coming week, we will still have boats available thru November sometime, depending on the weather. We’ll be stocked up with plenty of Rapala ice jigs for the fall jigging season. We also have new Bomber colors in stock. Have a great week...

Monday, September 17, 2018


Island Beach State Park with my wife yesterday was a nice time, but instead of fishing much, we relaxed and talked and I read a story about trout fishing a little unnamed river in the Rockies, one of many stories collected in The Greatest Fishing Stories Ever Told, edited by Lamar Underwood, published by Lyon's Press. We made our usual stop at Murphy's Hook House for a bucketful of killies, and then soon after buying some burgers to take into the park, found the beach crowded, the surf pretty rough. I cast killies weighted by a 3/4-ounce steel slip sinker using my seven-foot Speed Stick, the rig holding bottom OK, but nothing biting. Towards sunset I tried again, finding the surf had calmed down considerably, and soon watching the guy next to me reel in a foot-long blue. I had just lost a killie to the tell-tale tapping of a snapper blue, only the head remaining. The other guy used peanut bunker heavily weighted.

I gave that better surf a good try, but never got another hit.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Some Big Fish Brought in from Hopatcong

Laurie Murphy:

Finally, with some cooler water temps after all the rain, lots of nice fish are starting to be caught. Hybrid Stripers are starting to hit on liver, fishing off of Chestnut Point, with fish in the 4 to 6 pound fish. Still using herring tho, Jim Welsh made his way to the scales with a Hybrid weighing 9 lbs 4 oz,  and several walleye in the 3 and 4 pound range, also catching lots of crappie, catfish and white perch. Lou Marcucci had a mixed bag of fish, his largest, a walleye weighing 6 lb 2 oz. Jack Dziduch, casting a small Rapala rippin rap, caught his 4 lb 8 oz smallmouth in shallower water.  We are open 7 days a week, from 6 AM to 6:30 PM. With the lake drawdown beginning at the end of the month, we will still have boats in the water until Nov sometime. We are well stocked with whatever you need to fish.  Have a great week...

Monday, September 10, 2018

Latest on RVR Project

Work on the Round Valley Reservoir dams scheduled to begin this summer is delayed until October. Current water level will be maintained for now. Here's a link to the project update:

Friday, September 7, 2018

If You are On Fish--It Works

So Fred and I managed to get out and fish, despite worries that schedules would not coincide. When we learned they would, Fred suggested Spruce Run Reservoir as a possible destination. I emailed him about the "23- to 25-inch largemouth bass" Phillipe Rochat lost back near the power lines earlier this summer. When we got to the area, I didn't feel the mystical aura as Phillipe's story had impressed me, but the clouds were keeping the newly risen sun in check, the air was heavy but not too warm, and everything about our situation resolved itself in a certain sum I felt comfortable with: Summer fishing was definitely not over, no sign of transition to fall as of this morning.

Fred began fishing a Senko; I fished a 3/8th-ounce Rebel Pop-R. Using the electric, we rounded a bend into a cove (I checked the name of that cove and depths on a map, but don't have that map handy now), and just as I was beginning to feel that for whatever reason my plug was ineffective despite calm surface, Fred hooked and caught his first bass, weighing it by use of his Berkeley grip scale at one pound, 10 ounces. I started casting my Chompers weightless on the five-and-a-half-foot St. Croix.

We came upon evidence of some wood in the water, some of that wood breaking surface, and I winged a cast to it, missing my opportunity to knock wood by about three or four inches. Line began moving off to the left, I reeled to gather slack and set the hook. Nice bass, hooked in about four feet of water. I asked Fred if his scale is accurate, telling him I have a Rapala scale. I didn't think to mention that I intend to check the accuracy against a five-pound bag of sugar or the like. It was big-headed skinny bass, not quite 18 inches, perhaps, but definitely close to that length if not that long, and the scale put the fish at two pounds, 13 ounces. The fish had a big gaping mouth and I would have thought it weighed three pounds, but now I remind myself that I caught a 19-incher a couple of summers ago I felt convinced would weigh no more than three pounds. After catching the fat 23 1/4-inch largemouth at Merrill Creek Reservoir in June, I want to keep my new scale handy, so long as it does weigh accurately. By the length and girth conversion tables I've read, my guess about that fishes' weight seems spot on. Seven-and-a-half pounds. But while talking to Mike Maxwell shortly after I made the catch, and getting the opinion from elsewhere that the fish might have been pushing eight, I said, "I don't want to catch an eight-pound bass and not know I caught it!" I'm satisfied with believing it wasn't that big, but have my scale hereon.

We continued to the back of the cove and up the other side and on back towards Mulhockaway Creek. Fred missed two or three hits and caught a smallish bass. Soon he caught another nice one I photographed. Later, we tried another cove and before we got discouraged by too-shallow water, I had caught a smallmouth on my first cast, Fred pointing out that we cast towards the bank from two-foot depths under the boat. I stuck my rod tip to bottom, finding it gravelly, which helps a little to explain the catch.

Somehow or other, this morning out seemed to go by fast. We had to use the facilities in the launch area after about four hours of fishing, and just as someone else was getting off the reservoir with two five-pound hybrid bass, he offered us his leftover herring, four of them, and told us where to try. My fish sense really woke up where some rocks protruded from shore and a sort of hole like a basin 15 feet deep existed only 20 or 30 yards from shore. By other accounts I got before Fred and I went out, the hybrids are out suspended over main lake depths, but I felt that for whatever reason, fish were in pretty close here. Fred still has to figure out how to read fish on his graph, but the fish alarm was going off, and though we weren't sure what tripped it off, the underlying resonance of that fish sense in my brain rather than a mere electronic unit made this spot interesting to me. It's not that I capitulate to certain belief when I feel this way; I just let it be for whatever and however it is.

Guys on this reservoir are really going whole-hog when it comes to equipment, spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on lead-core line tackle and the like, but I like my simple lake Hopatcong tactic: A size 10 treble hook hooked through the herring's nostrils with no other attachments to the line. No weight, nothing. Just cast the herring out and let it swim. Obviously, you have to be on fish for this work, and if you are on fish--it works.

It fought like a hybrid. I lost it almost boatside but never saw the fish. It was no crappie. It could have been a smallmouth, I guess. It could have weighed two, maybe two-and-a-half pounds. Not a big hybrid, but we left the reservoir with me feeling that if we had a bucket full of herring, maybe we would have done very well.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

My Facebook Friend is Still Typing

Awoke early this morning and drove my son and his mother to the train station, where they got onboard, heading for Boston where Matt is now a Sophomore at Boston University. So as it concerns us, and I mean readers included, the summer of 2018 has come to a finish line, though this doesn't mean the summer fishing is quite over yet altogether, but now I turn to friends to fish. I sent a number of emails out over the past couple of days. Fred's already responded, as has Jorge, and then Fred followed up on a reply, so unexpectedly, it looks like we're on for Friday. Fred and I have been all but totally jinxed for time off coincided, so I was planning on a solo venture to a favorite South Branch spot, either at first light or near sunset Friday, the vision of that 17-incher throwing the topwater plug back in June as compelling as life itself. So perhaps I should make the effort to get up before work someday and give that bass another offer.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing Fred and possibly a nice bass or two. (I expect to hear from Lenny about this on Monday.)

A friend has been typing a comment on my Facebook page for at least the last 20 minutes. I don't expect to reply as long, lol. I would type for hours this post, because I could easily say as much, but tonight I would have preferred my spiel to issue over beers with a friend. Anyway, the less a blog is a lonely and isolated venture of one individual, the better, because the web represents the world community, and though no community can possibly exist, except for the individual (that's what's written on Soren Kierkegaard's tombstone, "the individual," but if you don't know who he is, he expected as much), no individual exists without others, either; elementary, and yet maybe we happen to stare into screens at the loss of connect, but it will be real good to hear from Lenny by staring into mine.

The point is, I don't write and post photos here as an egomaniac or boast. I use my name in the blog's title, but I've never believed a name is foul language. Lenny's disagreement on this point is a jest invited every time, and it ramps up the share numbers, because without a little wrangling between readers, we're only wrangling with fish, and they're dumb compared to us.

My Facebook friend is still typing. It's unbelievable.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Hosted by Musconetcong Watershed Association

Press release:

Photo care of MWA

Contact: Karen Doerfer, Communications Coordinator, Musconetcong Watershed Association,, (908) 537-7060


The Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Hackettstown, NJ: Join the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) when they host the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour sponsored by National Park Service at Centenary University on Sunday, September 9th from 10 am to 2 pm.  This year, the tour celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. 

Northwestern New Jersey has three National Wild and Scenic Rivers: the Musconetcong, the Lower Delaware (Harmony Township to Trenton), and the Middle Delaware (Delaware Water Gap National Park).  A panel of speakers will discuss river conservation issues and recreational opportunities on these rivers.

Featured at the tour event at Centenary, is the film River Connections.  This film interviews local residents and MWA Executive Director Alan Hunt discussing the benefits of the Musconetcong’s most recent dam removal and the return of the American shad to the River.  The festival is a natural extension of the MWA’s work to inspire people to protect and conserve the river, its watershed, and the region’s cultural and historic resources. 

“This is the first time the Wild and Scenic Film Festival is coming to our region.  We are proud to have a film featured in it and that we are able to offer free admission through the generosity of sponsor,” said Hunt. “We want to inspire people to visit and protect these national treasures that are right in our backyard – that is what the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is all about.”

The Musconetcong River is a Partnership Wild & Scenic River and is managed by local governments and non-government organizations through the Musconetcong River Management Council.  MWA serves on this Council and was instrumental in supporting Congress’s 2006 designation of the Musconetcong as a National Wild and Scenic River. 

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a collection of films from the annual festival held the third week of January in Nevada City, CA which is now in its 16th year!  Wild & Scenic focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet.

“Films featured at Wild & Scenic showcase frontline activism and stunning cinematography,” says On Tour Manager, Johan Ehde. “Our changing Earth is at the forefront of conversations nationally and globally.  Now, more than ever, it is imperative that individuals propel the groundswell of the environmental movement.  Collectively, we CAN make a difference!”

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in 2003.  The festival’s namesake is in celebration of SYRCL’s landmark victory to receive “Wild & Scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999.  The 5-day event features over 150 award-winning films and welcomes over 100 guest speakers, celebrities, and activists who bring a human face to the environmental movement.  The home festival kicks-off the international tour to over 170 communities around the globe, allowing SYRCL to share their success as an environmental group with other organizations.  The festival is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal of using film to inspire activism.  With the support of National Partners:  Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, CLIF Bar, EarthJustice, Klean Kanteen, Peak Design, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the festival can reach an even larger audience.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its Watershed, including its natural and cultural resources.


Date and Time:  Doors open at 10 am and shows start at 11 am

Venue Name and Address: Centenary University, Sitnik Theature, 400 Jefferson St, Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Ticket Prices: FREE! But please register here:


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Killie Skunker

Just got back from fishing the North Branch with my son. Killies we took home after Island Beach State Park survived in an aerated bucket while we were away on vacation.

I told Matt, "If smallmouth always hit, we wouldn't respect them as much."

"Yeah, like sunnies."

"They don't always hit, either."

"I don't think there's been one time I couldn't get them to hit something small."

So I told him about my attempt at catching them in Stony Brook on a cold January day. (When I was 12.) Not a hit.

"Well, yeah, during winter."

This morning I watched a 17-incher nose around a wriggling killie, refusing to take, after it swam slowly along some rocks my way after ignoring Matt's killie.. I later watched a nine-incher take that killlie broadside. Then the fish expelled the bait. The only hit I got. Something else sort of took Matt's. The only killie he used. Maybe a sunfish. I watched an 11-inch smallmouth stare at a killie in front of its nose and then slowly swim away.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Bluefish are Oily like Butter

 I finally took a shot of one of the "Kingfish" I've mentioned in recent posts.

If you ever stop in Exmore, VA,, get dinner at El Maguey. The Mexican food is authentic, and the Horache soft drink has a sweet and spicy flavor that balances. I was talking to a young man here at the Holiday Inn who has some experience fishing Rolling Point on the Chesapeake up the road near Pokomoke City, MD, telling me about catfish. I asked him what kind, and he didn't know, but from the bay I can only imagine they're the saltwater species I was fascinated in as a boy.

I've never seen one. Then or since. But I read about them and contemplated pictures.

After a long afternoon on the beach yesterday--this included a long time in the water with my son--we fished one of Matt's new-found spots, which started slow, Matt catching a snapper blue on the Shorty, nothing happening for me. Matt took a walk and then called me over, visibly excited. I didn't see the fish, but by his fully trustworthy, experienced, and accurate account it was a sheepshead twice the size of any we caught with Ryan O'Neal eight years ago, which puts the fish somewhere around 10 to 14 pounds. These fish, and I say "these" because barnacles are abundant and so there are surely a number of the fish, won't be easy to catch. The best we could do last night involved Matt dialing in his mobile device on bait for them, confirming that shrimp works, and me walking back to the car to get my Maxwell House can with some shrimp in it.

I caught the kingfish, the gag grouper photographed below, and a pigfish, but of course the wary Sheepshead never got near the shrimp--I assume--before bait stealers tore most of the bait from the hook. I tried fishing that shrimp like I fish a weightless worm. No added weight, the best I could do to try and tempt a truly large fish, but I imagine that even with future attempts here, we may never get one of these big ones. 

We need to bring the net next time, though.

Matt caught some more blues and killed them for shark bait. This third night in the surf worked out. A full moon had risen slightly to our left over the brine. Directly in front, the red planet, Mars, stood. The god of war meant more than Nasa may capture, because lit by a distant sun, he cannot submit as local prying and plying can only take piecemeal. Directly on our right, Venus or Jupiter. I imagine Venus, that woman who incites a volatile temperament. Matt distinguished the hit from the sting ray he caught, from what he's sure was a shark. That "shark" delivered two distinct chomps. Seems like a shark to me, too. In 2013, fishing the end of Avon Pier for king mackerel, one of our live bait offerings--a large spot--disappeared. I mentioned this odd situation to our fellow and more experienced king mackerel fishermen from Virginia. I was told, "Sometimes a blacktip just chews it off the hook." 

Before we waited on the bait last night, we decided on what to do when a hit would come. Matt chose to let the shark take some line before he would set. I told him that by using the circle hook he bought, he really wouldn't have to set, but in any event, begin reeling. Oddly to him, this fish on his bait hadn't taken any line. And then he pulled on the rig, feeling no added resistance from that bait. So he began reeling in. No resistance. Just the weight of the sinker. The bait got chomped off the hook.

"Bluefish are oily like butter," I said. 

 It's a grouper and I think a gag grouper.
 Southern stingray
 I boosted ISO to I think 4000 and the original RAW image came out very dark, photo shot at about 11:00 pm, but look at not only what I was able to do in Lightroom; the amazing thing to me is that through the darkness of night, the camera picked up green in the dunes many yards away. It was a full moon, but we couldn't begin to distinguish green by eyesight.
Teaches Lair. Tackle and stuff where we stopped moments after getting onto Hatteras Island on our way here to Exmore, VA. (As far as we know, Teach never made a lair for himself along Hatteras, though he certainly did at Ocracoke.)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Broken Line

Matt was just somewhat better prepared than last night. He double and triple checked his knots. I helped him with nothing but the first cast...which resulted in the rig he created breaking off before the forward arc reached high point. Now he knows he must make sure to know if the line on the spool of the reel is not tangled and knotted. I could have thought of it myself, since I reeled in the slack last night, but I'm an old man now. He has to pick up on his own.

Which he says he will begin doing tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. When Tradewinds Tackle opens. Strike three or score tomorrow night. If the surf is doable. It was beautiful again tonight.

Earlier in the day, I had noticed he had one circle hook left. I could have told him so. Last night, the problem was essentially the same as what unfolded again tonight. He needed another rig. But the less I tell him what to do, so much the better. The only way to learn, when you really get down to it, is not by sitting in classrooms and getting spoon fed information; it's by getting confronted with the denial, not of a parent or anyone else just saying no, but that of existence itself. Boy, was he ever frustrated tonight.

Actually, last night, as I reeled in that slack, I felt the stirring of a rejection of the reel he chose to use. Old as I am, I forgot all about it a second later, but I remembered tonight. It's his reel. That's OK. I got the idea in the first place of mounting it on my slightly longer rod, because he didn't want to use my reel with the broken anti-reverse. But the spool is larger, mine is. So now that he screwed up again, I told him about my reel compared to his. I had us compare the exact specs. His reel--280 yards/12-pound test. Mine--440 yards/12-pound test. That's a critical difference when fishing sharks.

We switched out the reels. He will hold the rod in hand. What's more, he discovered while sorting out the tangle of his spool--successfully--that I had tied a braid blood knot (not the same as with mono). Forty-pound test. That's OK for little striped bass in the surf, but I felt uneasy right away in our situation.

That Penn he owns I bought at a fishing flea market very shortly after I began writing for The Fisherman again, I guess about 12 years ago. Brand new. Half price. Beautiful. And I told him after we got back here tonight that I remember as I reached for the reel I had already made up my mind to buy for him, I told myself I want this reel to last him into his college years.

So here we are. We haven't fished the surf together in years with the heavy tackle, but have a look at this tangled situation we're in now, and it involves a curious twist of fate. Had I been reasonable and seen right away that he's better off with more line and my reel, his own reel would have got no use on this trip, shortly before he returns to Boston University as a Sophomore physics major. It's all a learning curve for him. And more than that. What is 12 years? On some level, it must have some sort of equivalence to one second's duration. What I saw as I reached for that reel included these two nights. I bet it did factually. But not as an ordinary linear sequence.

I got into how a fish on a long run not only builds torque on the spool as it empties, thus increasing chance of breakage, but the line in the water takes on weight. "It's physics," I said, "I can't explain it in an equation, but maybe you should tell me."

"Oh, yeah," he said, airily. "I see what you mean."

"When you can apply your physics to practice, then I will think its smart," I said.


Preparation and Rethinking the Situation

I like it when an excessive mood takes me by surprise, inspiration flares, and I perform daring feats on paper with a pen, or by type and a screen, but it seems as if more often than not, my readers feel put off. There are really more exceptions to this rule than of the rule itself, which I merely assume for the sake of making my point. I always feel timid about actually going public with my performances; even when I'm feeling as bold as a lion, that uncertainty waits in shadow. As many as 90-some "likes" for a post almost overnight, just to give one example, and many others that balanced well and instead of having offended readers, these that remain as sure evidence I create posts that make readers feel good about themselves for reading what I have to relate, these at least make me feel that maybe I'm into something so much flare can compensate for. (It would be nice if every post did that.)

Anyhow, experimentation may be wise if in earnest, though I don't always know when I go astray. (That's what edit function is for. But even so...)

Let's get to the extended point. Here on Ocracoke in 2005, we had a beach afternoon and evening, and as the sun set, I caught a nice 13-inch croaker, which I cut up for bait. Naïve as I was, I was thinking of a big bull redfish. Darkness fell, and I cast two lines rigged fish-finder style, set the heavy surf rods in holders. No more than three minutes passed when Matt's rod went airborne. He caught it, and slammed the butt into the sand.

Matt was six-years-old. The line would have dug a groove into the top of his hand, as it ran over his skin at high speed. Whatever he had hooked was huge and headed for Spain.

"Take it," he told me.

Critical juncture. What an opportunity to make my little boy a hero, had I said, "No. It's your fish."

Nuts. This fish would have worn him out very early in the game. My skill at stopping the run before getting spooled amounted to some 20 yards leftover. I had made up my mind. I wasn't going to break the fish off. But to make a long story short, a half-hour later and about 200 yards down the beach, I saw my wife's flashlight go dark in the distance, and then I heard my son screaming for Dad. I put pressure on the spool and let the shark break off. I ran back to them. He thought the shark had pulled me in.

Thus began Matt's fascination with catching sharks.

At age eight, he did finish off a good one. A bonnethead from the bridge to No Name Key in Florida. With flashlight beam on the exhausted fish, I estimated its weight at 25 pounds before--together--we broke the line.

Back at the cottage, Matt got out his Florida Fishes. We both had agreed it looked like an odd hammerhead. Bonnethead. World record: 18 pounds and some ounces. So his mother and I had to do some fast thinking. We could have hoisted the big shark with a snag-treble attached to heavy cord. But the result of whatever Trish and I said was a lot of laughter among the three of us.

Now the record is over 33 pounds, but Matt could have held it a little while....

Last night, the moon was nearly full and lit the surf and the beach nicely. We built a big fire. Matt had prepared his own rig. That sentence is correctly in the singular. All of these years, I've done the bulk of the preparations, so Matt really has a lot to learn, because so much of what fishing is about, is how well you prepare before going out. As yet, he can't even cast a surf rod.

The surf was very light, wind form the northwest. Three years ago, last we were here, it was ridiculously rough, a southward flow carrying our seven-ounce sinkers like salmon eggs drifted for trout. Matt's the only rod we took and I cast, I popped the set-up into a surf spike. We started making smores. Five minutes later, the rod falls over, I pick it up, test for a bite, and sure enough, a shark, I assume, had taken the bloody cut bait. I lowered the rod tip, about to hand the rod over to Matt, when the shark lunged and the line broke as if it were four-pound test.

He needs to test his knots, too.

He was devastated, and started talking about driving home to fix another rig with wire and circle hook as he had for this fish he blew. But we had a six-pack of Big Two Hearted (after Hemingway), and he had already finished his second. His mother disallowed his plan, of course, but I said nothing, and instead, I fell back on deep thoughts about the situation.

Finally, I said, "Matt, it's not really a defeat. You just missed one hit. You could have caught two or three sharks on a night like this. Check the weather for tomorrow night. It's all one process from now until then."

It will blow from the east, but not by much, so it's quite possible he'll hook one tonight, as unlikely as hooking a trophy always might seem.

In the interim, we did our Portsmouth trip this morning and afternoon. Austin Tours. The proprietor told us up front that the tide was unusually high, and the wind from the north too heavy to land on the beach there were the inlet empties. So Trish and Matt revisited the village proper, though I kept at the fish there by the dock pier.

I caught a kingfish nearly a foot long; Matt caught another later, but what interested me most, besides the 18-inch or so gray weakfish a boy lost when trying to haul it up on the boards, were six good-size croakers I caught. I also caught a fluke, a pigfish, and innumerable pinfish (like sunnies) we call bait stealers.

Once I was privileged to fish--because given a handful--a menhaden-like baitfish about four inches long, getting no hits on slow retrieves. So I resolved to put the bait out there, weighted by a 3/4-ounce steel slip sinker, and fix the braid so neither the current pulled it off the spool with bail open, nor would the rod get pulled in by a fish. Five or ten minutes later, while reeling in another damned pinfish on Matt's abandoned rod, the tip was bouncing, but by the time I had the hook undone from the bait stealer's mouth, my hand in slight pain from the dorsal fin pricking it, whatever took that big offering, had really taken it right off the hook.

Pigfish. And sounds like that.

We call these fluke in New Jersey. Here they have to be 15 inches to take, this one short.

Atlantic croaker. They don't quite sound-off the same as pig fish.

Mr. Austin said he's astonished after every hurricane to see this house stand.

Portsmouth was last occupied in 1972, (if my recall of the date is correct). Now Park Service is a staying presence. No roads or ferry lead onto the island.

In Mr. Austin's memory, Beacon Island was 11 acres, now worn away to only three, although some 1200 brown pelican hatchlings emerged this past spring.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

300th Anniversary of Edward Teaches' Decapitation

It's the 300-year anniversary of the decapitation of pirate Blackbeard here at Ocracoke, and the celebrations go on by the minute and the hour. We sacrificed a mess of fish to the honor of the Virginia Governor, Alexander Spotswood, who ordered Edward Teaches' death, sending a ship south and ending, among worse acts, the unholy collusion between the pirate and some of the ancestors of people here today. I would only be joking, since none of us invoked Spotswood by any intent or recollection, if not for correlation between the anniversary and some thoughts of mine about two ways of looking at life.

All that about a pirate and a little island with so much better going for it is deep in the past and the collusion between the murderer and some of the early island residents is as shrouded in mystery, perhaps, as the location(s) of Blackbeard's treasure. My son says he buried silver bars somewhere or other, never found, and probably never to be found. Blackbeard is marketed on the island today, but the best of the attractions offers admission to a small museum portraying an objective account by featuring displays allowing visitors to infer that it was real and came to a gruesome but just end. Surely none of the island's early residents had any real need of him. I can only imagine human sympathy got taken in, and likely also an element of fascination for an awesomely bold man with great personal courage, though on the wrong side in a world of good and evil, who began his seamanship as an aboveboard sailor, and is said to have possibly come from a wealthy family.

I don't know as much about Ocracoke as I should. Its history. But I do know the fishing village is resilient. I've purchased some books and have read a couple of them, hoping to find time to read more, all the while knowing that no matter how many hurricanes lap up against the sand here vulnerable to these storms, when evacuations get called, a stronghold of residents won't budge and the social life of the island will go on just as it has for hundreds of years. The O'Neal family, among others, has roots here in a time when people spoke a very different English, Elizabethan or Shakespeare's English, difficult to understand, and the only dialect spoken here not very long ago. A little of the brogue remains, it's said, though I've never heard it besides getting captivated by a recording, unless I have a vague memory of overhearing speech in 1969. My first visit was not very long after the time Ocracoke emerged from more than 300 years of isolation. Now we have wifi here.

We met Ryan O'Neal going on 10 years ago. He was the youngest charter Captain to get his license here in the Southeast. He's had clients since age 18, but most are one-time deals, I believe. Before we left the dock on Thursday, he urged me to call if we needed anything during the remainder of our stay. Offhand, I can't count the number of times we've fished the inlet and just outside together, and each venture offers something different.

Especially today, gray weakfish, or as they call them here, trout, made the difference. That's Matt with one of his in the photo above. Before we got into these fish, we began fishing as we always have, by trolling, catching blues and Spanish mackerel on Clark spoons getting five to maybe seven feet deep by use of planers. Trolling is for the birds. Those birds are always the aim. The baitfish schools rove and dive, and wherever they come up the terns and gulls seem to find them first, but there's no telling by so obvious a sign as congregated and diving birds that the fish we're after stay on them most tenaciously.

In 2011, as we caught sheepshead, I asked Ryan about trout, and he said he puts clients on them sometimes, but I felt left to an aura of mystery. So today I felt skeptical about us catching any. And as events unfolded, we drifted using squid for bait a long quarter mile or so before either of us got a hit. Ryan invited Trish to fish, but she declined the offer. How anyone can deny the fun, once a fish gets on, is more of a mystery to me than trout, but I recall an incident years ago when Trish hooked a striper in the surf. The look on her face was despairing rather than thrilled. She just held the rod and refused to reel. Once I got by her side, she gave the rod to me.

There are two ways of looking at life. (Don't ask me how many other ways.) It's one big festival or else it's mass panic. According to the latter view, every living thing is always ducking for cover. We humans have the moral responsibility to aid. Of course, the realism involved in the festival feeling would seem perverse to prevailing moral sentiment among us. Creatures everywhere devouring one another and having a great time at it. As gray trout eat little fish with abandon, we put them on ice to fillet and eat for lunch. (That lunch was delicious, by the way. We had killed the fish about an hour prior.)

It's really not so simple. We humans do have a moral responsibility to aid where we can, such as releasing fish in healthy condition. I think in my wife's hands, the rod with a striped bass on could have felt disturbing. I feel plenty of empathy for this. But I don't take the view that a fighting fish is "terrified." In pain, perhaps, though nothing like pain I would feel with a hook set in my mouth and a line pulling. The world of nature is pure competition. So a fish on a hook sort of expects a struggle. And gives it! We humans make the best of life through cooperation. Anyone who has to compete all day at work to make nickels and dimes as profit margin....not a whole lot more...knows that the stress isn't very good for him. Go on vacation and if you don't feel things come together--cooperating--you've failed your visit. And you know your success is as human life should be. Coming together and feeling good about what you do.

Suddenly--our baits began to work their way up a drop-off from 26 feet towards shallows--we were into fish. In addition to two Spanish of about 18 inches and a bluefish on the troll, I caught two more blues (these fish about 14 inches), two fluke, and three gray weakfish. Matt caught three grays, some blues, whiting...he lost count but caught more fish than I did. One of his gray trout was too small and tenderly released by Ryan.

"What are we after today?" I asked him when we met before leaving the dock to enter three-mile-wide Ocracoke Inlet.

"I was going to take you out for red drum. I can't get the bait."

"I read in one of the fishing reports there're a lot around."

Red drum have been on my mind for awhile. Forty, fifty, sixty pounds. Maybe next time.

From the beach this afternoon, in-between reading Chris Dombrowski's Body of Water, I caught a kingfish, a member of the drum family smaller than a croaker, mine about nine inches. It took an eighth-ounce jig tipped with a piece of shrimp fished on my light St. Croix rod.

Back home, preparing for shark fishing tonight, Matt took off to get bait, finding a number of new Pamlico Sound spots, scoring four bluefish on that Hopkins Shorty in the process. That's bait. He also asked a young woman about his age, described as beautiful, for a few of the fish she caught on bait and would have tossed back. So he's prepared.

Preparing for lunch and more meals yet. (Some of our catch.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On Ocracoke

Matt tried for sharks at the launch

We got on the road Saturday morning, running into a turnpike standstill near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, getting to Exmore, VA, before sundown, where we stayed the night. Some stops along the way to Ocracoke Sunday helped make the trip feel leisurely; we got here at about 6:00. It took me a few days to get my pressured job off my mind, and now that Thursday is almost here, I'm still not completely free. Watched a movie last night we found surprisingly good. Arrival. That especially helped me get over the rattled feeling, which petty concerns like filling customer demand for turkey meatloafs leave me to contend with. It's awful I have to limit most of my time to getting nickeled and dimed, but unless I find another job, it's not as bad as living without the income.

So far, we've fished at the boat launch a few times. To begin with, things seemed to shape up very well, because the killies out in back of our house in the tidal creek are abundant and big, filling our pots in no time. We managed to fish the launch the morning and evening of our first full day, but besides one 10-inch bluefish, all we got to hit are pinfish, a sea robin, and a few lizard fish until this evening. Matt tried for sharks Monday evening, after he sacrificed a pinfish on the boards by use of my Spanish war knife. Twice something hit and got the bait, but maybe they were wily eels taking the meat off the hook. Just an hour or so ago, I caught a 14 1/2-inch bluefish on a big killie fished on my medium/heavy Lew's Speed Stick, and that blue put up a pretty big fight. Matt caught a 10-incher on his Speed Stick while casting a Hopkins Shorty. So despite a slow start, our favorite little spot (which has become very popular, crowded) yielded some pretty good fish as it continues to reward us consistently.

Nothing from the surf. Here on Ocracoke, it's a flat shallow surf, which doesn't mean there are no pompano in close, but since we couldn't find any sand fleas to bait them, we don't really know.

Matt and I got up at four this morning, boarded the ferry at five, and arrived at Avon Pier north of here at about 6:20. I've never before witnessed a pier fish as slowly during summer. We couldn't even get a single spot to take shrimp, nothing at all that would bait our pool cue rods with a lively offering for king mackerel or whatever else big might take. Ideally, a bluefish about as big as I caught this evening might work.

Heavy wind made the wooden structure sway and the water murky. It's always better fishing when water is clear, but we've fished from piers when water was just as bad and at least caught a few blues. We tried and tried to catch a sizeable bait, but eventually my fish sense drew me back in the direction of the pier's entrance, to fish closer to the final line of breakers than anyone else. I figured a fluke might take my killie. On my first cast, I hooked something enormous, which I assumed was a ray, not a big black drum, but it ran with increasing speed before I broke it off. I got another killie, hooked another enormous fish on the next cast, broke that off, and then the third big one I hooked gave itself away. Certainly a ray, though I could never lift it to the surface with that relatively light Speed Stick and get a thrilling look at the fish. It just hunkered down and stayed in place. I couldn't budge it, so I broke it off. Uncharacteristic behavior of any fish but a ray. Matt enjoyed playing yet another one, and someone else got the notion, hooked up using squid for bait, and eventually got the fish to the surface by lifting it with his heavy rod. The fish was about seven feet wide, easily a hundred pounds, if not more.

Maybe fluke were there. But the rays so many, we just couldn't tell.

At the launch, we fished well into dusk.

Potting killies behind our rented house.

Matt fights a big ray.

The boards are just below foot level, the ray about 25 feet down below.

Trolley Rig tackle we never used. Notice the anchor weight at the bottom center edge of the picture. Cast by the surf rod, it keeps a tight line to slide the Trolley Rig, with the likes of a live bluefish for bait, to the water's surface, where the frisky fish possibly attracts a king mackerel of perhaps 30 pounds. We've witnessed it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Laurie's Lake Hopatcong Report

Laurie Murphy:

Lots of crappies being caught, taking fatheads or rubber jigs, with nice size fish up to a pound and a half. Also, lots of Bass , with Pete Rathjens largest smallmouth weighing in at 4 pounds. Largemouth Bass are averaging between 2 1/2 - 5 pounds, hitting live bait or artificial lures. Hybrids have been a little on the slower side, but earlier in the week, Tom Facciolla had several nice fish with his largest Hybrid hitting the scales at 8 lb 11 oz, using herring for bait. The Knee Deeps Club Catfish contest is this weekend, August 11th & 12th, and entries can be taken up to       7 PM on Saturday. For more info you can call the shop at (973) 663 3826. Have a great week...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Some Fish in the Surf

Family day at Island Beach State Park yesterday. We always stop at Murphy's Hook House before the bridge over to Seaside, buy bait, and like last year, killies served the purpose. We caught no fluke last year, only an 18-inch striper and a few snapper blues. Over the course of seven or eight years coming here on Father's Day--except for August last year--we've caught some fair-size bluefish, but no fluke. We've caught fluke in the surf at Long Branch and Sandy Hook, including some keepers.

They weren't keepers yesterday, and word I got earlier in the summer suggested there's a lot of small ones and few to take home. Eleven to 16 inches, 12 of them, a 14-inch bluefish, and five skates. Matt didn't fish much, caught nothing, but to his credit he dove into the 66-degree water twice, which I never braved beyond my thighs.

I began by using my five-and-a-half foot St. Croix, the killies weighted by a medium split shot, fishing them in close where the water was deep with tide risen more than halfway to high level. Lost a fluke, and then got interested in my new seven-foot Speed Stick, rigging with a 3/4-ounce slip sinker, getting some distance on the cast, setting killies down five yards or so in front of the sand bar. Never went back to the light rod, but caught a number of the fish in close.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Early Morning Topwater Nice Bass

This morning went as planned for the past three weeks. At present, I'm tired and trying to get this blog post out before midnight. I met Oliver Shapiro at Saffin Pond, 5:30 a.m. this morning, temperature about 68, clear skies overhead dimly lit. We heard a lot of water moving into the pond, rains during the past three weeks have left behind them near-record amounts, and I hoped that despite the flow, the pond would not be muddied. This proved to be the case. The water level is up about half a foot, nothing but the typical tea-water tannic stain is there. At the end of my time at the pond (Oliver stayed on while I had to go to work), we noticed the stream flowing in was clear like trout water.

Originally we planned, though, on Mount Hope Pond. It was just fortuitous, as yesterday's post relates, that I found it stained by a milky muddiness and ruled it out. I learned about Mount Hope Pond in the first place by reading Oliver's book, Fishing New Jersey: A Guide for Freshwater Anglers, but I suggested we go there because it seemed the logical choice among our options.

I hadn't thought of Saffin, though. Matt and I fished Mount Hope at the end of May, and I wanted to get back there.

We started with Rebel Pop-R's this morning and I caught a 12-inch largemouth pretty quickly. Further down as the pond flows very slowly, something slurped at the plug, not taking it, then came back and slurped again when I set and no hook point grabbed. I could tell it was a good bass; maybe three pounds, I thought. I pitched the plug back--this fish had come up just yards in front of where I stood--chugged that plug a couple of times, and the fish slurped it into its maw. So now it's two consecutive Saffin Pond outings and two 18-inch largemouths. I caught the first when fishing with my son there in June.

The sun poked over trees and Oliver wanted to go fish the other side in shade. I told him I would catch up to him, because I never fish Saffin without trying my favorite steep banks. Light penetrated the surface at a sharp angle, the water underneath was at least six feet deep where I pitched the worm a couple of feet beyond overhanging brush, where that tannic stain absorbed a lot of the light. Any bass situated near bottom wouldn't be terribly affected by early sunlight. Besides, I catch plenty in the middle of bright summer afternoons on the weightless worms. Line began moving directly away from the branches and I let it tighten, then set the hook. I felt heavy resistance for a moment and then the fish was free.

You can always let a bass take a worm a long time and then reel it in, but I would shun anyone who would do that, because it's not sporting to ensure catches by letting bass take hooks to their gullets. (Anyone who would do that might clean out his wallet buying worm hooks, too.)

I fished very thoroughly, finally caught an 11-incher, then joined Oliver in the rather cool shade beyond. He had lost a two- or three-pounder and caught two small bass.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

In the Rain

I must be getting a little confused as I age. Got to Mount Hope Pond in heavy rain at 5:00 a.m., 15 minutes ahead, I thought, of plans made with a friend, wondering if he would show up. When I phoned him at 5:17, I thought it a little odd his phone wasn't on, and then I ventured out in the lingering dark and rain soon thereafter, sure he wasn't coming. After a few casts, I remembered we planned on Sunday.

Just as well I made the trip, because the pond is pretty badly stained, definitely not water I want to worm. I fished in the rain for more than an hour, finding more accessibility for topwater fishing than I had expected, catching a 13-inch largemouth and missing a hit from a smaller bass or a pickerel.

In rain like that, I would have expected more and bigger, but I was just left wondering what the bass do for food in such off-color water. I could have thrown a spinnerbait, but for the most part, Mount Hope's tight quarters make that sort of fishing frustrating.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Big Fish Caught from Lake Hopatcong Shore

Laurie Murphy:

Several nice fish were weighed in the past week. A walleye, weighing 4 pounds was weighed in by Jerry Freeman .  Matt Wood, while casting bombers from shore, had himself several nice fish, including a walleye weighing 7 lb 7 oz and a Hybrid at 7 lbs 12 oz.  Junior Knee Deep member Max H. caught his 4 lb 3 oz Largemouth on a shiner  and while downrigging , Drew and Phil Togno had several nice hybrid stripers, the largest weighing 6 lb 8 oz and 4 lb 12 oz.  Next up is The Knee Deep Club’s Catfish contest, which takes place on Saturday,  August 11th, from 6 PM until noon,  on Sunday August 12th. Mark your calendar and bring some friends…Have a great week !!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Few Smallmouth Bass an Unusual Catch Today on Tilcon Lake

 After popping surface plugs for ten minutes and one hit from a small one for Matt, I caught the 18 3/4-inch smallmouth bass. Not a bass even close to four pounds, it was nevertheless a large surprise.

A mid-week outing like this is such a shift out of my normal routine, I get nervous the day and night before, or even the week before, when I think of what's ahead. I concluded yesterday or sometime recent that what gives me the qualms is the fear that the trip isn't going to go well. I've claimed on this blog, I'm sure, that these outings always go well. And besides the pedestrian sort of side trips we take on occasion, not much effort invested in them--though they're not bad times--the big outings always do seem to elevate life for awhile. Today was no exception, even though I did feel for a couple of hours, under intense sun on calm Tilcon Lake surface, a little lost in my approach to bass that just weren't hitting.

I meant to get home from work about 10:00 last night, do a couple of minor computer chores, load the car, and go straight to bed, but I didn't sleep until going on 1:00 a.m. The alarm woke me at 3:35 a.m. For a couple of weeks I subtly dreaded on occasion this getting up early and hauling the canoe as I detailed in the last post about Tilcon. As events turned out, I really cut sleep short, but last night I just accepted things to do and didn't hurry. When the alarm went off, the pain was minor and short, and within a minute or so I was on my feet, alert, active, completely on point.

As we hauled the canoe to the car at my friend's house, first light emerged. By the time we got to Tilcon, the sun wasn't on the treetops yet, but by the time we had hauled everything and got in the canoe, it was, and I had already realized we were about a half hour behind what I had anticipated would be our start. My calculation last night about when to set the alarm failed to take into account the extra time driving from Mine Hill. (It's a lot of  extra driving, not having the canoes here at home.) I wanted to find a balanced comparison between the evening bite, and the morning bite, which I didn't quite get today, because the evenings have taken us well into dusk, but today we began fishing well after first light.

I was easing the canoe on low speed whenever I wanted to move ahead. We fished less than a hundred yards of shoreline when a pin-point cast landed my Rebel Pop-R aside of a gravelly sort of very shallow shelf. A wake lifted towards my plug, typically of a pickerel, and I plunked the plug once, timing the almost inevitable event of a strike by the judgment of my gut, which worked perfectly without any doubt or hesitation on my part. The strike was savage. When I got the fish near the canoe, I was astonished to see a smallmouth bass, the first we've hooked on Tilcon. The rear treble, I found, grabbed deep down at the gullet, and the forward treble had cut a gill. The bass had all but swallowed the plug, bled badly, and I smelled this thick blood in the motionless, close air. My wife likes smallmouth bass cooked with Old Bay seasoning, so its life is not a total loss.

We tried the eastern shoreline under shadow for almost an hour with topwaters, never getting another hit, besides a little largemouth leaping for my plug as it hung near surface from a tree branch. That bass got off the hook it dangled from a moment. I did set the hook of a weightless Chompers worm on a bass that never got the hook in its mouth. An unusual example of a bass having some of the worm in its tightly closed mouth, resulting in reeling back a hook without a worm.

I soon used a quarter-ounce bullet sinker to get a worm deep, intense sunlight penetrating straight through calm surface. Matt persisted at weightless, catching a pickerel as he retrieved the worm back for his next cast. Stubborn about the worms, which usually work well, as the morning would unfold, that persistence seems to have got the better of me today. I was marking some big fish on the graph. They were 14 to 23 feet deep, suspended, but I didn't want to attempt them yet, although soon I tied on Phoebe spoons, since I once hooked a big salmon at the surface this way in early July. I did see today a few of what must have been salmon slurping herring at the surface energetically, but not sending spray in all directions as sometimes happens. 

We persisted with worms, me getting no hits deep, Matt catching another smallmouth bass, about 15 inches, among weeds 16 feet down. I want to buy an electronic temperature device to try and figure out more of what's going on deep. We were marking fish, and large, on herring mid-lake, figuring they're salmon, but is 14 feet of water cool enough to hold them? I understand they temporarily rise to eat herring at the surface, but do they hold that shallow during summer? (Surface was 79.) And what do temperature differences mean for bass and pickerel deep? Last time here, I caught a pickerel from about 25 feet down, unless I misjudged depth and it was more like 15 where it struck a weighted worm.

Finally, I gave up on worming. I don't know why nothing hit deep, but I do know--seems peculiar now--that I never felt much confidence in trying the worm weight, which has worked well here in the past under brilliant sunlight. Nor did I feel confident about weightless, except for at least 20 minutes after Matt's smallmouth.

We snapped on deep-diving crankbaits and went after those suspended fish I kept marking. Within five minutes I took a terrific hit over 26 feet of water, the plug traveling maybe 15 feet down near a weedline. I felt nonplussed at failure to hook up, and figured it probably wasn't a salmon that close to weeds. Awhile later, I caught the pickerel photographed below. Not too long after that, the smallmouth struck as I trolled that deep-diver over water anywhere from 25 to 35 feet deep. Near where this bass struck, we ran over 50-foot depths where salmon stacked by the many dozens, most of them 37 feet down, two Augusts ago. We marked not one fish there today, which further substantiates the notion that we marked salmon today elsewhere mid-lake. 

We had to get home after going on six hours of mostly slow fishing, just as clouds began to roll in, and just as we had figured out trolling crankbaits is productive. In the moments before we turned to haul the canoe up those 30 vertical feet of bank, I felt sadness as I surveyed Tilcon Lake for the last time this year, unless, perhaps, we get thick ice in December. A good summer up there, and we look forward to more. Matt talked about building a cart so we can enter again at the front of the lake with lot more ease, but he has no time for that, especially not when he would have to do an expensive, fool-proof job. On the subject of spending a couple hundred dollars or more on such a device, I concluded, "It will all be a lot easier when we move the canoes back home."

No largemouth bass caught today!

 My pickerel struck a moment before the trolled Storm Hot 'n Tot would have fouled in weeds.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

NJDEP Seeking AmeriCorps Recruits

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is seeking recruits for the 2018-2019 AmeriCorps Watershed Environmental Class. After completion of training, an AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassador receives compensation for 1700 hours of work over a 10- to 11-month period: $13,732.00. Also known as the domestic Peace Corps, AmeriCorps was first hosted by the DEP in 2000.

Here's the link to the NJDEP press release covering the operations in detail:

High Water

Grass got dry and parched, and then rain began falling about a week ago and just hasn't stopped. I got the press release on Thursday evening from Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and I will link you to it, but I've been too busy to post it until now. The National Park Service did not expect a river closure due to unusually high water.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Big Smallmouth Weighed-In at Dow's Boat Rentals

It's definitely exceptional.

I was just thinking, earlier today before I read Laurie Murphy's report (below), that the biggest smallmouth I know of weighed-in at the shop was under five pounds. That certainly doesn't mean bigger haven't been caught. And regarding largemouths, the largest widely known to have been caught in Lake Hopatcong weighed about 8 3/4 pounds, but a 10-pounder was once found dead.

Not a lot going on here at the lake with the rainy weather we are having, but several nice fish have made their way to the scale. Jimmy Welsh landed 2 nice smallmouth, one weighing 3 lbs and the other weighing in at 4 lbs 7 oz. Richard Hilton, while casting rubber worms along the docks, had himself a Largemouth Bass weighing 5 lbs 10 oz, and a Channel Cat at 4 lbs 4 oz. Kirra Gilfilan also had a Channel Cat that weighed in at 6 lbs 8 oz. Tommy Togno, while fishing with his family on a rainy afternoon,  had a walleye that weighed in at  4 lbs 4 oz. Crappie and Hybrids are also still hitting, along with some pickerel. The Knee Deep Clubs next contest is for Catfish, to be held on August 11th & 12th, from 6 PM on Saturday until Noon on Sunday. Have a great week...

Pond Declined


Years ago, I wrote posts about the bass pond closest to home, about a hundred yards from where I sit now in our living room, and the number and size of bass caught was astonishing. Then we got hit by two consecutive hard winters about four years ago, the second resulting in a fish kill here. The pond is very shallow and the ice was very thick. One of the dead bass Matt found would have weighed about five pounds. Despite finding so many dead bass, we still caught some and nice size the spring and summer thereafter. I optimistically assumed the fishery would come back around in a few years. I wasn't sure if the bass would be as big--averaging two pounds--because 10 years ago the fish averaged about 11 inches, so I was aware the pond was going through phases before those hard winters came.

A few years have passed, leaving me puzzled rather than optimistic. Mike Maxwell says the same as Matt. The pond is dead. Back in April, I did catch a little nine-incher, but that's all I caught, and tonight, neither of us got a hit. We were fishing a buzzbait (Matt), and a spinnerbait, instead of plastics, having anticipated muddy water when in fact the clarity is normal. We didn't care to walk back and retie, and besides, Matt used to score as many 45 bass on a weekend using buzzbaits here exclusively.

The fishing was better after the kill. Why it's worsened, rather than improved, I have no idea. We keep a watchful eye on it. The fishing pressure, which never was heavy, has been even less since the kill.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

State Keeping an Eye on River Herring

An interesting link (below) to NJDEP F&W operations concerning river herring.

When I was about 12, I got filled in on the herring run. My friend David Voorhees, who I knew from church and school, told me about the use of gold hooks, weighted by one-ounce sinkers to get a good cast and a little depth on a medium retrieve. The herring hit that shiny hook and once brought up above the bulkhead at tidal Trenton Delaware River, got tossed in a garbage pail. My friend, his father, and I think his uncle used to fill a garbage can full, take the fish home, and pickle them.

Sure enough, my mother knew how to do that. Or I guess, she figured it out. In any case, I eventually got over to the river and brought some herring home. I did this two or three times a couple or a few May afternoons years apart. The way my mother prepared the herring, they were better than any I've bought at a supermarket.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Beware of Giant Hogweed

NJDEP sent me an email about a dangerous plant I didn't know about, nor do I recall ever seeing it, and the photograph inside the pdf I've linked to shows a plant resembling common Queen Anne's Lace, though it does appear a little different.

The sap of Giant Hogweed on the skin can cause severe burns, once that skin is exposed to sun. And it can cause blindness if it gets in your eyes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It's Summer, but the Hybrids were BIG!

Laurie Murphy:

The Dominic Sarinelli Memorial Hybrid Striper Contest, held over the weekend by The Knee Deep Club, had 63 entries, with some real nice fish taking the top 6 places. Mike Truglio took 1st place with a hefty 9 lb 8 oz fish, winning $630 for his efforts. Second place went to Tom Focciola with an 8 lb 10 oz fish, taking home $300 and Frank Sarinelli placed 3rd, winning $204 with a 8 lb 3 oz beauty. $20 gift cards from The Jefferson Diner, went to Ray Sarinelli with his Hybrid weighing 8 lbs, Saige Bruzaud with a 7 lb 12 oz, and Eddie Mackin with a 7 lb 5 oz Hybrid. Other notable catches over the weekend included Trevor Nilsen with a 4 lb 4 oz pickerel, John O’Neill with a walleye weighing 5 lb 7 oz and Rob Gaydos , also with a walleye, weighing 6 lb 3 oz.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Slow During Summer

Good thing Matt and I didn't have Tilcon Lake in our plans today. Thunderstorms moved in from I-95 northward at about 2 pm and continued until about 6. We got out the door at 6:40 pm for Round Valley, my entire family, where conditions for fishing seemed good, but I just never seem to hang any fish from shore after Memorial Day. Not in the pond, either, which fishes better through the ice, than through a summer day, including the Magic Hour, when Matt and I gave it a pretty good try.

Matt did catch a small largemouth in my favorite corner of the reservoir.

Round Valley Dam Project News

Grouting work begins later this year. For now and the foreseeable future, the reservoir level at 374 feet will be maintained, but drawdown to 360 will begin next year. The reservoir reached the record low level of 359.48 on November 29, 2016. The previous record low was 361.05, set on November 28, 1982. Full capacity is 385 (above sea level).


Low water here makes for some very interesting photography. Shoreline fishermen did exceptionally well for rainbows in the fall of 2016, too. My hope is that so much vegetation decomposing under water after the reservoir fills, when the work is done, serves to significantly raise that water's fertility. That will mean more baitfish. And who knows, maybe Round Valley Trout Association and the state can work things out so alewife herring get stocked, and those herring thrive and reproduce for at least a few years before fertility gets scarce again.

Round Valley Reservoir is a renaissance at its best. I've been told there've been years before when trophy trout were sparse, then water level fell, rose again, and it was a boomtown situation again for trout fishermen. And then that fertility thinned out again.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Some News

What the necessity for a power plant on the Wild & Scenic Musconetcong River would be, I don't know, but it clearly seems to me high time we move to solar energy, when I consider the disgusting effect on the clean water 2000 gallons of waste per day would incur. Tom Johnson's article offers more information:

Jim Stabile recently reported on the coming of an International Fly Tying Symposium in Parsippany this fall. I thought I would pass this news along, since this is really a very big deal happening here in New Jersey. He also reports on successful boat inspections by conservation officers, and a fishing day camp for kids run by Andover Hunt & Fish.

I can just imagine the marvelous time the kids are having.

Here's the link to Stabile's Column:
True to my interest in New Jersey dam removals, I wrote earlier this year on the removal of the Columbia Dam on the Paulinskill River, but I came around to that mention in a sort of roundabout way, as I had set as an objective this summer fishing Columbia Lake. Fred Matero knew before I did, and informed me, that the dam is coming down. Here's a DEP press release on the dam removal and the benefits we stand to gain: