Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Crouching for Trout

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dingman's Falls Re-opens October 31st

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

Great news!  Please join us if you are able.

Release Date:  October 30, 2018

Contact(s):  Kathleen Sandt, Public Affairs Specialist

            ; (570) 426-2472

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         removal of 10 trees from structures on the grounds;

·         repair of restroom roofs and vents.

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

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

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

·         Adams Creek will remain closed indefinitely. 

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

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

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


Kathleen Sandt

Public Affairs Specialist

National Park Service

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

(O) 570-426-2472

(C) 570-234-9144

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Kittatiny Ridge Frames a Good Mood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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