Saturday, January 13, 2018

Five Million Fish Raised and Stocked by Hackettstown Hatchery in 2017

Here's a press release that may interest you. The first link takes you to an interesting story, not an entangled mess of information about changes in the fish code for 2018, the link I posted a few weeks ago. 

A record five million cold, cool, and warmwater fish, consisting of 15 species were raised and stocked by the Hackettstown Hatchery in 2017. Species such as Northern Pike, Walleye, Channel Catfish, Hybrid Striped Bass and Muskellunge from the hatchery provide exceptional angling opportunities throughout the state. Other species are raised to supplement and support other popular fisheries.

For more information on the new record see the DEP news release at ; more information about the Hackettstown Hatchery, including its history, feature articles, species raised and stocking summaries can be found on the hatchery's web page at . A fisheries forum will be held at the hatchery on January 20 - see for details.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Laurie's Report

Must have nearly hit 70 degrees today, but it really doesn't change anything, not regarding the ice fishing season, and my son and I--and I hope Mike Maxwell, too--will ice fish Tuesday at Round Valley.

One exception. I don't suggest anyone run out on the reservoir tomorrow. That's beside the point, as you will read Tuesday. The only report I got on the safety of the reservoir ice was from Mike Maxwell, just before the mild weather really took hold here. He didn't know how thick, but said they were out on the ice near the boat launch.

I've copied Laurie Murphy's report verbatim for you, and you can just feel the confidence this year. The derby on the 21st will happen.

The Lake here is covered with ice about 10 to 12 inches thick. Fishing in Great Cove, Nolans Point has produced some nice pickerel and yellow perch using tip ups with medium shiners or jigging with grubs , small rapalas, or small tungsten jigs.  Reports from the State Park area seem to be about the same. The Knee Deep Club will be holding their first ice fishing derby on Sunday, January 21st. The contest begins at  6 AM and ends at 4 PM.  The entry fee is $20/members and $25/nonmembers and there will be cash prizes awarded for the three heaviest fish in the perch/crappie category, the pickerel category and the all other species category.  More info can be found at or call Dows Boat Rental @ (973)663 3826. We are fully stocked with everything you need. We carry a large selection of ice jigs, tip ups, jigging poles, ice creepers and hand drills along with replacement blades for them,  and jet sleds, as well as shiners, mousses, wax worms and spikes.  We are open 7 days a week from 6 AM to 6 PM. Have a great week...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ice Shots

My son and I went to Peapack Brook and Hacklebarnery State Park for a photo shoot, my having had the idea for several years now to get some shots of ice associated with falls. When we got to Peapack Brook, some swans on Peapack Pond where a bubbler keeps a little water open caught our interest, and I spent a few minutes shooting them at my feet. Then we walked over the bridge, and when we got down to the brook, I said, "Let me get a couple of shots from in front," and I took two steps when suddenly a large mass of the ice yards away I was about to shoot broke off and into the brook with a hollow thud. We laughed.

I had said last night that the milder weather might mean we could have got better shots, had we gone sooner, but Matt said it would make no difference. Ice wasn't going to melt that fast. Oh, yes it does.

We noticed lower temperatures at higher elevation Hacklebarney, and nothing had broken up. The falls of Trout Brook were pretty much frozen in completely with nothing dramatic to get on pixels, but I did a lot of close-up work on water flowing on ice formations, but having come home, deleted files I don't want, and loaded the rest into Lightroom, I'm not satisfied with what I got. And at Peapack, I decided, results might have been much better had I thought to bring my tripod and somehow set it up in front of the falls at the dam, though I doubt this would have worked with the snow and ice on the concrete. 

It's a long process of trial and error. I'm just hoping we get some more cold winters over the course of the next 10 years. I had wanted to go to Clinton Falls on the South Branch, also, but there wasn't time. It's been three years since I went there a couple of times with heavy ice on the dam, and it seems yesterday. That falls and mill has been shot so many times, it seems almost impossible to get anything original, but I don't recall any published shots of the scene with such ice; it's just that what I got three years ago didn't satisfy me.

We got back to Bedminster at 3:53. I dropped Matt off and drove over to Martinsville with my auger shaft to get those blades sharpened.


Inspired tonight by Ravel's Daphnis and Cloe, an orchestral suite (it's on You Tube of course) that reminds me first of water instead of woodland, I thought about how I've never believed beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as if beauty is merely subjective, and yet to bestow the world with beauty is a human act, though, as I see it, an outrageous folly to think beauty isn't essentially there already to receive whatever I might feel.

In Sunday morning's post, I personified her, after first using the objective case, and find that telling, because beauty begins with things, but it moves in-between me and others, as if a level is reached that transcends the ordinary moment, linking me to other places, other times, other people. It's nothing I experience these days that needs succumb to awe, that enveloping of experience by something far greater I would get absorbed by. An eyelash is enough to remember someone I knew 40 years ago, and someone else left back at home, occupants of the same time and space making diurnal marks like years less relevant than the dimension above the three by which we create a calendar.

I wrote, in that last post, about service to this planet. There are many ways of doing this, all important. As a 10-year-old, I founded the Lawrence Ecology Club, and with about a dozen peers, we cleaned up trash along the Little Shabakunk Creek, and in the 50-acre Green Acres woodland near my home, which I had explored thoroughly and alone. We raised and donated money to a John's Hopkin's University whistling swan research project. Not much money, but some. This and many other ways entail service, but I had something else in mind I didn't make explicit. 

On August 28th, 2016, I wrote about grand affirmation after a Lake Hopatcong outing. I had made many such affirmations for years, and I felt this trip was the last, as I presently am reminded of Jimi Hendrix, "The Wind Cries Mary," and the definitiveness of his voice on that word, last. I no longer find I have the heft of soul to bestow such grand affirmation where I go, but it doesn't matter. Things change, and bestowal by lighter forms is not only all that an older man can do; these forms are matured, saner, safer. Service without power changes nothing, but power without service well-considered is saved by the grace of God at best.

Link to 8/28/16:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ice Fishing Near Zero Degrees

Three degrees with a negative 13 wind chill when Matt checked his mobile device before dawn, the temperature was supposed to dip to one degree by 8:00 a.m.  By then, we had shiners under tip-ups in the water of Lake Hopatcong's River Styx--Michael Vandenberg, Matt, myself. Setting up required some use of bare hands. Wind felt like mercury running over skin. And it was important to keep a scarf over the lower face--felt painful exposed--while the eyes and forehead remained open without any trouble.

It was difficult pumping the premix gas from the tank into the carb, because in the severe cold, the flexible plastic bulb wasn't malleable as it normally is. But I managed to get the engine running after five minutes or so, but then found the blade refused to cut as it should. Last year on Budd Lake with Mike Maxwell, it wasn't up to par, either, but now it was a lot worse, as if the blade had dulled a lot more over the summer exposed to weather, though it is stainless. Whatever is the case, I cut about half of the 10 holes with the power auger, while Matt cut eight inches of ice with the splitting bar, opening the other holes faster than I could. I canceled plans to ice fish on my day off Tuesday, and will take the blade to Warren instead, where a lawnmower shop does this kind of work.

I've owned the power auger since November or December 2011; first used it January 2013, I believe. Very happy with it so far, and hope that the blades now stay sharp awhile. We may get out and ice fish the next Tuesday.

We cut holes fairly near a protected spot by the bridge, perhaps 150 yards distant at most from that spot where we took refuge with a Thermos of coffee and a small propane heater out of the wind, while keeping an eye out for any flags. I had been a little nervous about the extreme cold. I've ice fished at zero twice before with full confidence, though on each of these outings, we fished where we could build a big fire and did so, keeping warm. On this outing at River Styx, Saturday morning January 6th, Matt and I dressed in six or seven layers, a couple of wool layers closest to the skin, and our main torsos never complained. I would like to purchase a full body winter suit, but can't quite afford that, given the little I fish in extreme weather. My legs weren't cold. I had a wool base layer and wool pants over that, but they did feel too exposed. The way you want to feel out there is internally protected. Comfortable. Thoroughly.

Although counterintuitive, since my fish sense told me better water is further out towards the main lake and eight-foot depths, I couldn't deny pickerel might hold in the weeds of six feet we fished. I've caught pickerel through the ice of Lake Hopatcong three feet deep. This wasn't going to be an all-day, deeply involved outing, and even if we did have all day, with the power auger not cutting as it should, we would have been crippled, except for Matt's young vitality with that splitting bar. So we cut fairly close to where we stayed out of that brisk wind.

I had to nap for a couple of hours before going into work at 2:00. Driving home, I felt the need of sleep come on heavily, and then again after 10:00 last night, so I'm composing this blog post the next morning. But the work shift never fell out from under me; the most important factor involved keeping on top of the job. It was a tough one with a lot to do I got done, and a lot of customers seemingly revving up for football, making demands.

Beauty visited us out there. I have to admit I sometimes feel I don't do this planet the service it deserves. I have to place my commitments first in money. Bills to pay. Beauty is the most patient reality. It is shy. It will touch you on the eyelashes just to remind you that whenever you might be ready, she will always, always be there waiting for you.