Thursday, May 24, 2018

My wife got a phone call from the NJ Meadowland's DeKorte Park today. Someone found Sadie's collar and turned it in to the office. lol Nice of them.

Here's Laurie's latest:

Fishing has been pretty good this past week, with lots of Hybrids hitting on herring and  also casting bombers at night. Also producing walleye doing the same. The Yacht Club off of Bertrand’s Island has been good, along with Bed Bug Island and Davis Cove and back in the Byram Cove area. We are fully stocked with a large selection of Bomber lures. Several trout have been caught trolling with a phoebe and hitting on the smaller herring with Pete Pantelis weighing in with a 3 lb 2 oz Rainbow. While out fishing with his Dad Joe, Ethan Orlando landed a 3 pound 2 ounce pickerel.  Seeing lots of yellow perch and some nice crappies, hitting small jigs, worms or fatheads. The Knee Deep Clubs next contest takes place on June 24th for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, so make your plans now. Cash prizes will be awarded for the 3 heaviest fish. We are open early for bait, tackle and boat rentals, from 5:30 AM until 7 PM.  Have a safe Holiday weekend...

Unique Beauty of Meadowlands' DeKorte Park

 We began by fishing rising tide in the upper flat.

My family and I came to the New Jersey Meadowlands' DeKorte Park near Lyndhurst in 2009 or 2010, with New Jersey Audubon on a birding venture. I returned with two other New Jersey Audubon members in January 2010 or 201l, a frigid afternoon in the low 20's, photographing various species of wintering ducks, when the leader told me about striped bass arriving on the Sawmill Creek Flats here where we walked the trail dikes, in March. He told me they congregate around the pipes connecting the flats separated by these pathway dikes, where tidal flows concentrate and pass in strong currents. Soon my son and I were fishing a few outgoing tides and hooking up with a few schooley stripers.

Fred Matero first came with me five years ago in April, when we found the pathways fenced off after Hurricane Sandy. That afternoon and evening we wound up fishing the Hackensack River after tortuous attempts at finding access, though we found some. I find it really hard to believe that was five years ago. Seems a much shorter time, and yet it does feel, on the other hand, as if we've come here a long while, and that it has been.

Fred took a strong liking to the Meadowlands, and we came in 2014 and 2017. During the two off years, Fred got over there from Bernardsville by himself at least once. It's a long distance jaunt and we've always scheduled them around outgoing tide.

And all told, we have enjoyed action with few bass. Every time it seems we meet a regular and strike up conversation, getting more informed on the fishing. Today's confidant lives relatively nearby and has fished here a lot since March this year, as well as the Hackensack River nearby, although he's caught no stripers in the river itself, only on the flats at DeKorte where they arrive from that river, and he's caught them in significant numbers, but not size. He told us another regular said he's caught keeper-size bass (thrown back) through the summer, which surprised me. Someone years ago told me the action is done by June.

There's good reason to release all of the fish, as this is a park requirement, because the hills near water's edge, for one example of pollution source, are actually garbage dumps covered with soil and planted. If you look for them, you can find vent pipes that release gases. These hills look better than ever now, as bushes and trees have grown since I first saw them in 2009, and twice today I heard a ring-necked pheasant's throaty call from up there somewhere, sounding off like an outboard engine turning over.

Fred made the point that bass we catch here could be bass caught in the surf some other time, as they're migratory, but just the thought of eating a fish with pollutants deeply engrained in the area is plenty to remove want to take any home, not that bass we have caught haven't appeared fully healthy.

And the water seems fairly clean as does the bottom. When tide goes all the way out, besides rather minor channels (except for 30-foot depths near a bridge), the flats are mud featuring patches of Atlantic white cedar stumps. There's good reason they were logged during the 19th century. The wood is so durable they remain today.

Compared to what it was only 30, 40 years ago, DeKorte Park is beautiful. The view of Manhattan is world class. And jets, one after another taking off from Newark International only miles away, I never feel these as any distraction, but rather as adding to the unique aesthetic. One of them, a large airbus, I think, its four engines caught my eye and I felt its weight and majesty, becoming aware after it had passed, still feeling awe, that empathy is not limited to feelings we have for other people and animals. We feel it for objects, too, but objects as subtly personified, as things can inspire poetry.

Of course, that jet was filled with human passengers. So, in some respect, I felt empathy for people I knew were onboard.

The jet passed in the middle of spending at least on hour seated on a large rock, casting especially the edge of strong current. I covered that area thoroughly, lobbing the paddletail swimbait upstream and letting it sink and then swing like a fly-cast streamer across the current, then retrieving it back along that edge facing me. I tried casting it directly into current and letting it vibrate at length in place. Sometimes it very slowly sank when presented this way. On other casts when I tried this strategy the current carried it over to the edge and I reeled back at moderate speed. I let eddies so powerful they were like whirlpools turn and twist the lure. I probed bottom. I reeled quickly, keeping the lure near surface.

Not a hit. But after sunset, we walked about 3/4ths of a mile back to Fred's favorite spot. I got there ahead of him; he wasn't sure if he'd got a bump at the other pipe nearby.

I retrieved my swimbait quickly at the surface. "I don't want to hog your spot!" I called out as he approached. And just as my words finished, I felt a fish knock, and swung my look its way to see a large boil on the surface.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Shakedown Street

Condo association where I live is closing in, and I have to haul my two canoes all the way down to Lawrence Township in Mercer County, where my father might not like them. They're in the Common Element. We own our house, but the spaces outdoors--even the patio--have "common element" designated as a matter of control over the people--mostly working class--who live in the Cortland neighborhood.

The canoes are situated behind bushes and the little of them visible actually looks nice. Who would disagree with successfully owning goods like them?

Well, in the first place, I understand, as I understood upon our buying a house under an association's rules, that this ownership is a little like my writing on the Blogger platform I don't own. I do own the copyright, of course, but have bought no domain.

What a loaded word.

The association lords it over us now. They've notified residents of this second inspection in 20 years coming our way. The other happened last year...just as the "ruling classes" crack down on us across the board in a society presumably American. (I hold a working-class job and learn a lot about this society.)

What is the working-class? Like a refuse bin, a collection of individuals receiving damnation from above, the psychological projections of people with a lot more power pushed down on us. As if we're sacrificed like "others" (as if we don't comprise this society as well) can be free.

I worked hard to buy these canoes, and it might be obvious to some that I must have worked by means other than working-class, at least if they knew the level of my wages. And that my wife just put Rod Sirling on, The Twilight Zone, seems like an innuendo about further work I do, which I haven't yet received any monetary payment for. This episode of Sirling: "The Orbiting Human Circus." Ancient Rome never got nearly so spaced-out with Bread and Circuses. Our distraction, I hope, will never again be repeated in human history.

You may recall I recently posted on Sirling. About the pig-faces episode, and I have achieved some quality of life; quality of life may be felt as an abstraction involved in the theme of that episode. Is this achievement of mine unacceptable? Of course not, not among rational people. But for a working-class man to possess significant intellectual capital--while knowing fully that this capital is worthless without physical goods to ground it in reality--for a working-class man to effectively influence this society we live in by use of the mind, this may be very threatening to those Americans who presume to rule, while any American with any self-esteem knows "rulers" are un-American. The American nation is free. That which is not free is bound by farce and injustice.

I use the definite article before the word mind because every individual is, in fact, a social being.

Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead croon about what used to be the heart of town. "Shakedown Street." No one really wants to be dead and grateful; we want to live here on earth. And any man worth the salt of this desire will fight for his life.

There is no forum for appeal with the condo association. I have to move my canoes. We can't begin to afford a lawyer, though of course I am aware the rules could be investigated for possible contest, not that this thought bears much relevance, because if we could afford contesting these rules, we sure wouldn't live here.

What's relevant is that if I must, I can in all likelihood sell my canoes, though I especially want to keep the Great Canadian, a great find, and would do my best to persuade my patient father, if I had to keep it on his property. Selling both would mean dropping back to the shore-bound/rental handicap I bore out for many years. Chris Lido, former editor of The Fisherman, used to joke about my actually mailing print photos to support articles that were published with the film-print images, and I treasure these emails between him and me I keep as hard copy, because I want to believe his humor was good-natured. I was already forever grateful during my 20's and onward to The Fisherman for publishing me at age 16, although not a word was edited, because each passed muster. The articles are good, in other words. There was no prejudice against a youngster writing them who was fully qualified. I fished almost every day during my teens. I knew my business.

Getting back into publication after many years as a self-employed commercial clammer, mostly from the Jersey Shore, this was a lot more difficult than getting published as the privileged teenager of an upper-professional family, although, of course, no mention of this status was ever needed or given; the issue here is that my intellectual ability at that age reflected upon my parents, my father going on to hold the position of Music Director, Washington National Cathedral while George W. Bush was President and surely contemplated my father's music while seated in the congregation, as my father stood conducting. I do know that on another occasion, my father leading the American Boychoir, George W. Bush winked at Dad.

Dad is fiercely independent. This explains why, for me, it's "You're on your own, son." Something to be grateful for eternally, but the loss of a Great Canadian might swing in the balance. I don't know.

Buying another inflatable is out of the question. It worked to some degree of course, but seems laughable now that I have the canoes, not that I would discourage anyone finding some way to get on the water, but that I would encourage moving on to a better craft, if possible. My son and I, friends who fish with me, we have moved on, and if these canoes must be reduced to money in my pockets, we are not going back to an inflatable. We will rent and fish from the bank.

I bought my canoes by writing essays and articles for various paying publications, supporting most submissions with photography. (I also bought very expensive photographic equipment through these earnings.) It's like any other business. The canoes serve to increase my earnings. To sell may mean less income, but I never forget the words of novelist Ed Minus (Kite, Penguin Group), my former writing member: "Sometimes limitations impart greater freedom." That is, if you will act freely within limits, by which I mean the difficulty is the essence of that freedom. This is great reason never to give up.

The general pattern of politics in this country at present: the rich get richer the poor get poorer. I'm fortunate to very unusual degree--thanks entirely to my own effort, certainly not luck, and don't I ever know this--very fortunate compared to most of the working class who lack education. So I try to avoid sour grapes and deal with what gets thrown down on my shoulders. I think of the rock band Lynrd Skynrd's, "Sweet Home Alabama." The last words of the song involve the soloist swearing a load off his shoulders, but rather than racism implied--racism absolutely is evil--I think of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. The motto of Litton's Fishing Lines, "An Angler Always Finds a Way," is the honest truth. To think that some new leader on the condo board, our situation here in fact, would defeat me, this is a lot more laughable than owning an inflatable boat.

Pickerel Action Gives Emphasis to an Otherwise Slow Day on Lake Hopatcong

An early venture, we met writer Michael Vandenberg at 5:10 a.m. sharp at Dow's Boat Rentals, finding the shop open, Michael buying a fishing license and hoping for fresh hybrid striper fillets, the three of us getting rained on the moment we began to move our stuff to the boat. I wasn't messing around this time; before I lifted anything, I put on my heaviest winter coat, and the rain jacket fit tightly over that. My black pants in the photo below are wool, and they proved to be very comfortable.

We motored directly to a spot I thought promising. I've experienced countless outings anybody might think would be a slam dunk that turned out to be slow fishing. We caught 10 hybrids, most of them big, in the rain the other day. Rain again, so ditto, right? It rarely is so easy, but Mike caught a hybrid of about 15, 15 1/2 inches just after we had turned around for our second trolling pass. In the photo it does look like a keeper, and I should have measured it, but at the moment my patience was short, since the plugs of my son and I had already got tangled twice, and I felt certain we could get that problem right, and in fact, we did.

We must have made six or seven more passes before I judged the fish weren't there. Nothing but one fish had marked on the graph, and on Wednesday it was lighting up like a penny arcade gimmick. We swung out and motored full speed all the way to Byram Bay. Water temperature read 60. I  had
noticed that temperature again after two trolling rounds and nothing. The same place is alive with warm water fish with that temperature at 70 or higher, I'm very confident about this.

I began to notice a pattern I didn't expect, since hybrids and walleyes are "supposed" to be in shallows now. Well, some are, but we were marking fish on herring clouds at drop-offs, mostly 14 feet down or deeper, many of them big.

Soon, we were back out towards the main lake and I was casting a Mann's Little George, and then we trolled diving crankbaits; eventually I resorted to a Binsky Bladebait, a favorite fall selection, because we found hybrids and/or walleye stacked from 35-38 feet down over 45-48 feet of water well away from shore and on herring. Big ones. Carp and, as far as I know, channel catfish, don't ride herring schools. As you might expect, nothing hit, and besides, during the fall, vertical and diagonal jigging is a meditation involving lots of time if you want to catch fish. We said the heck with it and went into Great Cove, the walleye weighing more than six pounds caught on a trolled jointed Bomber recently serving as a little incentive, but in the back of my mind and with a little more weight of realism, I was thinking maybe we could hook a pickerel a little shallower than running over the 14-foot depths preferred for hybrids probably suspended over bottom.

We first ducked into Dow's to use the john, and as we walked back to the boat, I mentioned something to Michael about maybe hooking up during our last hour, though I didn't say this with any conviction, just as the sort of floating possibility that does sometimes pan out. Most of my readers might not care a whole lot after three-and-a-half hours of very early morning fishing and couple of fish. Michael had caught his, and I haven't yet mentioned that I caught a largemouth in Byram Bay despite the chilly water. Why ask for more? Well, because when you play a game, you only enjoy it as you give it your full focus and intent, and this means you're looking to score.

And after we caught four pickerel, Michael losing another as it jumped, that lake came alive to us as it hadn't yet all day. I began musing about the light changing relative to cloud density, how some patches of trees were rendered a light green for a little awhile against others darker, and I even came through the windows of my skull and verbalized this to Michael and Matt, just before dozens of sailboats suddenly appeared. Wind actually increased then, and sun came fully out for long seconds at a time. I said, "Nothing else gives you the rhythm of life like a lake," and as I write, I still feel the boat rock. The point of a game is to get transported somewhere else from where you began.

And it had rained, off and on. Spits and splats. We didn't get soaked, though.

We had trolled eight, 10 feet of water when I began to get pickerel on the brain, in the form of an unuttered complaint, when Matt reared back about a minute later as the boat gained a small weedy flat six feet deep. I threw the outboard into neutral, the boat slowing when I felt a knock, and I began playing the second pickerel, both of these small, about 15 and 16 inches. Matt's smaller fish took the plug whole and the rear treble seemed all the way in the gullet, but that couldn't be; no, it was caught on the last gill raker, and my having performed a little surgical operation successfully, perhaps, that fish might live. My son felt no hope at the attempt, but he didn't mess it up.

Meanwhile, I kept a slant eye on the fact of our drifting perfectly back over the flat to our starting point, because I certainly wanted to make another pass. Once again, Matt hooked up, I threw the engine into neutral, and then four or five seconds later as the boat had slowed, I hooked up, this time into a nice fish that gave that respectable pull of definite weight I so enjoy, although, of course, not stripping braid from the reel as the drag would scream for a long time. Those hybrids the other day fought like crazy trains.

The pickerel went fully air-born once, and I knew it weighed about two pounds, though we didn't use the net, 15-pound braid least, given that the fluorocarbon leader wasn't nicked, so I had taken a risk.

About 21 inches.

We made a few more passes, Michael having lost his fish, before we headed to Lee's Cove, exploring more shallows, Matt catching a pumpkinseed sunfish on his Finesse Sinking Rapala that might have placed in Knee Deep Club's panfish derby held today. (I did slow down the trolling speed from that little flat, forward.) We're Knee Deep members, at least I think I chose the family membership again, though I'm getting old and tend to make little mistakes like that would be, but I've got to get trolling plugs in before it's too late for this. So about the derby, which Matt could have entered even as a non-club member, I just never considered that maybe....