Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Furnace Lake Largemouth Bass

 Caught two this size and four smaller largemouths.

Haven't fished with Fred since January, when we tried for trout at Round Valley. Good to see him again, our late afternoon and evening fishing enjoyed.  

We first approached bass here as Brian and I did the other day--in the shade. After we got the boat in close, my first cast to a bankside pocket a foot deep yielded the bass photographed above. A spot very much like the foot of water that resulted in my 20-incher with Brian.

Then we backed off a little. I kept fishing the Chompers, targeting shaded pockets. I caught three more bass this way, and lost another a lot bigger than the bass photographed. Depth was about five feet, the weeds thick.

After awhile, we moved to the other side of the lake, because no more hits came. The shoreline dropped off steeply, and it didn't take all that long before I felt thoroughly at odds. I suggested we go back to the shallows. By then, the sun was low. "Let's try that corner," Fred said.

"Good idea."

Shallows. Five to eight feet. I quickly caught two on a 3/8th ounce Rebel Pop-R. Great casting range. Like the other evening recently, the bass responded to a slow, subtle retrieve. The first nipped at the plug. Then I barely moved that plug a few times before the bass slurped it. The second took the plug so subtly that it would have been easy not to notice without paying close attention. But both of these bass struck after I got the plug directly against weed edges close to the bank. I made careful choices when I cast each time, to get the plug where I thought it needed to go. Further along the way back to the relative shallows where we began, I caught another on the same plug. Thereafter I began to feel bored, nothing happening, so I switched to the Chompers. 

Beautiful pocket water. Calm surface. Nothing going on. Dusk beginning to settle. 

Fred switched to a spinnerbait. I had my private doubt about its use under calm dusky water, but I vaguely remembered my doubt about my son using a Rat-L-Trap on Tilcon last month, same conditions. I thought, "Well, let him follow his choice. Who knows." Sure enough, he hooked a bass moments later, boated it, and then lost another. Nothing hit my topwater.

So I thought the same about Fred. Sure enough, a moment later he hooked a musky. I saw violent commotion at the surface, "There you go Fred!" And then it was all over. It had cut his line cleanly.


Volunteers Needed for NJ Wild Expo

I volunteered years ago and thoroughly enjoyed my time. Shoot Chris Lido an email message. That's at the bottom of the page.

Calling All WCC Volunteers! 

Planning continues for the 10th annual New Jersey WILD Outdoor Expo slated for September 7-8, 2019. 

The Expo hosts, DEP’s Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Forestry, State Forestry Services, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, are looking for volunteers excited by the thought of helping people connect to the natural world.  The Expo will be held on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township, Ocean County. 

This free event provides visitors with a unique blend of conservation information, education and hands-on opportunities to learn outdoor skills and activities that can be enjoyed in New Jersey’s great outdoors!  Visitors can learn about and try a wide array of activities including fishing, hiking, shooting sports, kayaking, rock climbing, geocaching, camping skills, wildlife watching and much more. 

Volunteers are needed from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days to help with the following tasks:

-  Assist with Fishing Instruction (20 volunteers needed)

-  Assist with "WILD Crafts" craft activities (6 volunteers needed)

-  Distribute Participant Surveys for hosts to evaluate the event and agendas (8 volunteers needed)

-  Register participants for Kayak Workshop sessions (2 volunteers needed)

-  Assist lead kayak instructors with Kayak Workshops - experienced kayakers only (2 volunteers needed)

-  Assist at Archery and Shotgun Ranges as line greeters or trap machine operators (10 volunteers needed)

If you would like to volunteer for this event, you must be at least 18 years of age.  Please e-mail the following information to Chris.Lido@dep.nj.gov

Your Name

Your E-mail and Mailing Address

Date(s) and Time(s) you are available to volunteer, and

The activity(ies) you would like to volunteer for from the list above.

If you know anyone who would also like to volunteer for this event but is not a WCC member, please pass on this information and they will be sent a Wildlife Conservation Corps (WCC) application via e-mail to complete.

Questions should be directed to Chris Lido at Chris.Lido@dep.nj.gov


Lots of Big Hybrids Caught During Hopatcong Derby

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club held their Hybrid Striped Bass Contest over the weekend with 40 entrants. An 8 lb 13 oz fish took 1st place, caught by Lou Marcucci of Mt. Arlington NJ. Second place went to Jack Dziduch of Clifton with an 8 lb 3 oz, and third place was an 8 pounder, caught by Ed Mackin Sr of Boonton. Junior member Mateusz Dziduch, won a rod & reel combo with a Hybrid weighing 7 lb 3 oz. Gift certificates donated by The Jefferson Diner,  went to Hunter Good with a 7 lb 14 oz fish, Fred Nitek with a 7 lb 5 oz Hybrid, and Eddie Mackin Jr with his 7 lb 3 oz fish. Their next contest will be for catfish, being held on Saturday August 10th at 6 PM til Sunday on August 11th, ending at noon. Other fish that made their way to the scales included a largemouth bass weighing 4 lb 1 oz, caught by Bob Smith, a 4 lb 3 oz pickerel caught by Lou Marcucci, and a 3 lb 13 oz Largemouth caught by Jake Cerami.  Crappie & Walleye are being caught also. Have a great week...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bunch of Big Morris County Bass

The first came from a foot of water near the bank under the shade of trees late in the afternoon. We had paddled directly up the lake, beginning our fishing too far out in six feet of water in the sun. The lake is nine feet at the deepest. Most of it seems around five feet. This first bass hooked itself immediately after the worm splashed down, tearing through thick algae on two solid runs that reminded me of a hybrid striper. Brian had to paddle us closer to the fish as it got stuck in the mess, and when I reached for the lip, I felt the hook fall out against my hand.

It measured 20 inches. Weighed 4.36 pounds.

We missed a couple of hits in close. Brian lost a bass of about three pounds on a Rapala before the fast action would come and go. This fast action lasted no more than 10 minutes. By twitching a Senko near the surface in about four feet of water among milfoil and algae matts, I caught four: about 12 inches, 16 1/2 inches, 17 and some inches, and 19 3/8 inches. The latter fish weighed 3.46 pounds.

After that second nice bass of just under 3 1/2 pounds, I told Brian the bite was probably over. It was. An unusual evening bite perhaps--before sunset.

I gave this post a "Big Bass" title. Though none of them weighed over five pounds, which you might say is true lunker status, for New Jersey, I figure they're big enough to have grabbed your attention. Besides, for most fishermen perhaps, a 20-inch largemouth is "five pounds." (If I used the word "nice," instead of "big" in the title, you might not be reading.)

I wondered if we would get something of a secondary bite. It took a long time. We must have fished an hour and a half before it happened, catching nothing, though Brian had taken some hits. Then, as dusk began to settle, Brian hooked a bass of about three pounds on a topwater. It got in the thick, and once that happens, it's difficult to keep line tight. When a bass has loose line on its end of the algae, it finds it easy to throw the hooks. Which Brian's bass did. 

He missed another fish or two. I can't remember the number. But using a Rebel Pop-R, I caught a 12-incher, an 18 1/2-incher that weighed 3.19 pounds--a chunky bass--and another a little over 16 inches that weighed 2.13. I know most fishermen's 18 1/2-inch chunky bass weighs close to four pounds, but that might be by the old standard of the trusty Deliar, a device that made fishermen liars everywhere, because it's nothing like a certified scale. I tested my electronic Rapala on a five-pound bag of sugar. By supermarket standards monitored by the state, I guess that bag did weigh five pounds.

None of these last three bass got photographed.

The secondary bite was nothing like the furious action of the first, when bass violently disrupted the surface when taking my Senko slightly below that surface. Each of the three I caught later over the course of 20 minutes or so first tapped at the plug, besides the biggest, which fully exposed its upper body when taking a pass at the plug while making no contact with it. The trick in each case was to keep fishing that plug. Very slowly. Each bass slurped it slightly, though each was then easy to hook, and, in fact, the big one slurped that plug down to its gullet, though removing the treble with needlenose pliers was easy.

What a day. Brian asked me if it was my best day of the summer. I told him yes. I could have made this post one of my themed stories that evokes the quality of experience more than the knick-knacks of fishing, but not only did I burn out that talent--doesn't mean I can't conjure it back--I don't have time tonight, and besides, I did so well at catching bass today that I want to emphasize this. 

Brian had raised the issue of tournaments while we fished Wawayanda, and tonight I told him I wished I had taken the advice of Tim Tingo, Mercer County Bassmasters' top tournament placer, and taken out the loan for an outboard to go further into tournament fishing. I set my goal on tournament fishing independently of him, but hearing that advice from the club's best was valuable. I did take trophies from guys mostly at least twice my age, having begun fishing bass tournaments at age 16. I remember rising to mania during those events. Intensely competitive.

You can guess what happened. I got inspired as a writer.

An afternoon and evening like today's makes me feel young and starting out. 

 17 inches or so.
 16 and some.
 19 3/8
Brian's biggest cuts into algae where it threw the hook.

https://littonsfishinglines.blogspot.com/2013/09/four-pound-smallmouth-bass-south-branch.html (Not quite.)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

News on Round Valley from NJWSA

The reservoir hasn't come down to a level comparable to 2016 last I was there on Memorial Day.

Link to Excellent Piece on What's Wrong at Lake Hopatcong

Here's an excellent piece on what's wrong at Lake Hopatcong. "If the state would just get out of the way."


Face-Off between the State and Business? Hopatcong's Algae

I refused to come out and state my opinion baldly from the start of the mess, because I had no firm evidence to back it. A friend of mine told me algae blooms go way back--he's in his 80's--and they never harmed anyone, but although I readily felt whatever's happened this year is overblown, I didn't want to say so on one account. But if you will read especially the first link I've offered, you'll hear Laurie Murphy speak about Joe Welsh doing his herring operation these weeks as if nothing's happened, getting no rashes. Mind her additional words, though. She's seen people swimming in the lake recently, but she recognizes that people with weak immune systems could get hurt. And she does not let her dogs near the water.

I don't think an advisory is a bad idea. And the second article is worth reading, also, because it tells of increased phosphates in the lake's water, causing algae to bloom. So apparently, it is worse now than in the past. But the lake is NOT closed. And misleading information got out that it is.

How bad is it? Not so bad as to "close the lake," which never happened, and yet electronic messages along Interstate 80 used language like "ban." Business takes the hit. It's reported that such messages are "erroneous." They are that, but I wonder about the intent. It seems to me the choice of such language is too obvious to be an honest mistake.




Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Caught Some Pond Bass

The late afternoon warmth after a good day off from work motivated me to do more fishing. I haven't been over to Fairview Farms in rural Bedminster Township since, I think it was, 2010, when I took my son and a friend of his. I first fished the pond with Matt in 2004, one of four bass caught nearly two-and-a-half pounds. I caught a two-pounder on another occasion, and although we didn't fish here often, we did enough to know the pond doesn't fish fast.

So it's been almost a decade. Hard to believe. Since then, the Raritan Watershed Association has installed a fishing dock. The pond needs it. I found the banks fully overgrown. Maybe had I walked the trail further, I'd find pathways in, but the best I could judge the situation from where I stood on the dock, all of the spots we depended upon in the past are completely grown in, and the only way to fish the pond is from that dock.

That's bad and good news. Apparently, most of the bass are inaccessible, as stationing along shore here and there normally gets you to them when fishing a pond. But brush overhangs have become a very interesting feature.

I came intending to fly fish, and that's how I started. The popper I tied on is pretty big, and I had a hard time casting. Mainly, it's a problem of the fly line or the rod. (It's moderate action.) The best I could get was 40 feet, before my popper got snagged on the back of the dock, my wherewithal not all that good. I did give it a good try for 15 minutes or so, but refused to retie. I wanted to catch some bass, and the overhangs looked too good not to target them with a plastic worm.

With my St. Croix medium power spinning rod, I was fully in control. I got the worm right into a pocket under brush, on the other side of a cut of vegetation, let it sink, tightened, and hooked the bass photographed. I caught another about the same size near the edge of brush photographed below. Casting a worm with a spinning rod, when pinpoint targets are involved, is a thrill.

It was getting dark and I had to leave. I didn't feel I was at such a loss fly fishing the North Branch this morning, nor when on the South Branch, so maybe I won't find the fly rod a handicap when Oliver Round and I float the latter river. I've caught smallmouths fly fishing the North Branch and Paulinskill rivers, while targeting this species. While fly fishing redfish in South Carolina, I routinely got 50 feet or better, and I didn't feel put out on the Salmon River, but I do have something to learn yet.

Jeremy Mehlhaff, our South Carolina guide, got 90 feet.

I get 60 with my worm on the spinning rod.

It's nice to have a place like Fairview Farms nearby, thanks to RWA. I may not return for another decade, for all I know, but it exists. On the way there, Larger Cross Road took me out of myself, the sun low. I realized, as I left, that in part my motive was to escape my troublesome job...and I couldn't. But I didn't think about it as I fished, if my feelings were perhaps all too conditioned by the habit of doing that job. Seeing darkness encroach and knowing it means getting up soon to go do the job again felt ominous, put me in a low mood, and yet someone was burning wood along U.S. 206, and the smell lifted that mood, reminding me of the Steelhead Inn in Pulaski. We do such damn jobs so we can go to places like that, so these jobs cannot possibly be all bad. 

I may as well confess to you that my father once observed, when I was about 22, that I "try to escape reality." I think there's nothing wrong with trying, if escaping reality, for me, is living on royalties from books written. It's just that I'm a lot older now than 35, the age at which, I hoped when I was 26, I would begin living on royalties. It's not that I was a bad writer; it's that my curiosity led me in so many directions. I was still reading books and searching out my own ideas by age 35. Fishing got me back to getting published, having first got published on fishing at age 16, and fishing has grounded my approach to writing memoir. So there's hope I'll earn royalties yet. 

These last two photos got screwed up because of condensation on my lens, having taken the camera outdoors from air conditioned house. I wiped most of it off, but didn't have the patience to get it just right.

Brush overhang is really good here. That's holding water under those bushes. Getting a worm right into that pocket near the photo's middle...a cast like that yielded my second bass.

Dow's Boat Rentals is Open and Weighing Fish Despite Algae Bloom

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club’s Hybrid Striped Bass contest is scheduled for this weekend July 13th & 14th. They will be making a final decision on Wed,  July 10th as to whether they will be holding the contest or not due to Lake Hopatcong’s recent blue green algae bloom. DEP’s advisory is to avoid bodily contact with the water and to not eat the fish caught at this time. There has been alot of misinformation put out there, but the Lake has been open,regardless of what the signs have said,  other than the public beaches being closed to swimming only. If you go to The Lake Hopatcong Foundation page, you will be able to find out all the latest information concerning the algae bloom, with links to the latest reports from DEP.You can call Dows Boat Rental at (973) 663-3826 after Wednesday for more information regarding the contest. With little to no boat traffic on the lake , it is the perfect time to cast your line. We are open 7 days a week, from 5:30 AM - 7 PM, with bait, tackle & boat rentals. Bruce Apslund, fishing with herring, landed 4 Hybrids, the largest weighing 7 lb 14 oz. Several nice bass, both Large & smallmouth, have been being caught, along with some nice crappie. Jim Welsh landed a channel cat, weighing 4 lb 6oz, caught on some dead bait and Jim Archambault made his way to the scales with a 4 lb 13 oz pickerel.  Brandon Wood’s  walleye  weighed in at 6 lb 8 oz.

Packed House at Lake Hopatcong Foundation meeting concerning the algae bloom. More than 300 attended. Link to the news is below:


Tried for Natirar Smallmouth Bass

Arrived at Natrirar before sunrise and fly fished the North Branch Raritan, bringing no spinning rod this time. All the killies I brought home from the recent Sunday at Island Beach died. They require careful tending, and I got distracted.

This is a bassy looking stretch, about four feet deep, and though none rose for my popper or hit my Haggerty's Hell Raiser, a few sunfish did peck at the popper. It would be a marvel to catch a smallmouth here as big or bigger than the one I got at 202/206 the other day. Most people I know of familiar with the river don't expect big ones as far upstream, but I never forget the story I heard about a 17-incher caught in Princeton's little Beden's Brook. The stream is smaller than the river here at Natirar. 

Haggerty's Hell Raiser

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Finally, Smallmouth Bass

Got to the South Branch Raritan well before dawn and made my way along a trail in relative darkness, noticing a few big carp making a ruckus in shallows when I got by the water, not able as yet to see that water was off color, though I was able to judge it was high and guess that it wouldn't look good, either.

I came with my St. Croix Avid seven weight. My prize for placing as a finalist for the Brookwood Press Writing Award. I've had the rod a couple of years, sitting in its tube, awaiting whenever I might get back to the Salmon River and fish steelheads. I got the idea last year to buy fly line, leaders, and flies to use for the smallmouths. I spent well over a hundred dollars on this summer quest, and though it would seem as if it didn't begin well this morning, I got a taste of efficient casting, and being there on the river was worth the effort.

How efficient, I can't judge by much experience, but it does feel as if the Scientific Anglers Air Cel fast forward line I bought is somehow too light. I don't feel it quite loads as it should. I didn't spend a whole lot of money on it. I should speak to Oliver Round about this, and Jim Holland at Shannon's Fly Shop, and possibly find myself obliged to spend a lot more. If I'm headed back to the Salmon River, I don't want to be without, and besides, after all this anticipation for the South Branch, I don't want to let that be a cheap shot, either.

Nothing rose for my popper. No surprise. I did see a few fish come up here and there, so I thought just maybe a hit was possible, but every time I find the river like this--high but not very high, off color but not outright muddy--I fail to score. The only exception might have been a little bass on a Johnson Beetle Spin once.

I did bring killies. Since I have a bucket full after fluke fishing the other day, I made sure to bring my spinning rod as well. Nothing hit a couple of big lively ones.

I left the South Branch and parked at the North Branch, right over here near home, where U.S. 202/206 passes over. I knew water would be low and plenty clear. No room to fly cast--I wasn't into the idea of roll casting here--I got killies underneath that bridge, having lost a small bass to a jump on the first cast. I told myself you would think there's a nice big smallmouth hanging out back in that darkness, the water at least fairly deep, and I cast as far back underneath as I could--pretty far--and then let current take the bait even further.

Finally, the line moved off and when I tightened it, I felt the weight of a sizeable fish pulling. I set and felt solid resistance. The fight involved a couple of drag screeching runs on six-pound mono. I knew the bass wouldn't quite weigh two pounds, but for steam smallmouths, it qualified as a pretty big one.

I measured it at 15 inches.

I never could get the killie all the way back. I guess a number of attempts finally coincided with the bass having happened to swim up as far back as the bait reached. That bass is still there, released. I've never kept a North Branch bass.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

More on the Hopatcong Algae Bloom

Summer is high time for getting living in, and for many, this involves swimming, fishing, or other wet water sports on Lake Hopatcong, so the algae bloom is a serious inconvenience. If you planned on fishing there this summer, you know that if the algae persists through the rest of the summer, and you don't want to risk getting hit by spray or getting algae on your fingers from wet line, plenty of other places might be interesting in unexpected ways. Or if you can fish from a boat that won't get you wet when the wind riles up chop, you can always bring a bucket of clean water and use a wet rag to keep fingers clean of the stuff. If that's even a problem, really.

Recent news links:



Monday, July 1, 2019

Living is More than Work

It didn't happen right away.

I had to go back to the car for a second armful. As soon as we had our belongings on the beach, Trish left on a long walk with Sadie, while I immediately began tying rigs for my two surf rods. An eight-foot rod I created a simple bank sinker fluke rig for, and for an 11 foot rod I tied a circle hook to 30-pound leader material by snell and rigged fish-finder style. Killies for fluke. Fresh live surf clam for any black drum.

I got deeply absorbed in sitting back and watching the two rod tips closely set apart, the dimensions of shapely clouds overhead against deep blue sky of striking and unexpected interest to me. I'm certain this experience helped me get where I was going.

Some of the time I got up and tried casting for fluke, having cut off the three-ounce bank sinker and going with a couple of large split shot, but the only hit came after I got a killie way out there by that heavier weight and let it sit. I felt surprised, because it took awhile, and I figured peeler crabs would have got the bait.

I had wanted to sit and watch, rather than reel the rig in at the probable moment. I could have done more heaving of killies, but it wasn't too long before the wind shifted suddenly, blowing in from the northeast, temperature dropping drastically all at once, biting flies disappearing in an instant, and surf getting rough, but not very. I figured any fish might move in close. I wanted to be involved with working the bait, rather than letting it sit, though I could have cast the bank sinker and retrieved it by lifting it and letting it drop, though that would have felt heavy. Much of the time I cast a double-split shot weighted killie and let that sit. The split shots held bottom.

The sun getting low but not yet close to setting, this is when I reeled in the baits and took a walk, finding myself very focused in a relaxed way on what was right in front of me. After a hundred yards or more of this, I looked up and around me, and that's when it happened. All the garbage taken in day after day at work evaporated like magic. I was nothing but everything I saw and felt around me, feeling as free as I might ever want to feel. It's not that I was thinking of work at any time earlier during the outing. I hadn't thought of the place since the day before, when I was there. But I did think of my job at the supermarket soon after my defenses had fallen, and felt dismay that a shield came back up, though I went on thinking, realizing that--no doubt--when I'm finally done with stupid jobs, I will heal.

It might take only a day at that.

Stupid jobs, that is. I realized, as I often have, while heading back to our station on the beach from this walk, that writing is work. It's a job, too. I thought of something Ayn Rand wrote (The Ayn Rand Column) and detested her words. That people with "real" careers, or however she put it, don't like to go on vacations. All they really want is their work. She's some example, because she suffered her elder years depressed. I've inferred this from My Years with Ayn Rand, a memoir by Nathanial Branden, and I've also found Jeff Walker claims this explicitly in The Ayn Rand Cult. To do nothing but work is to miss the point of life. Because no work, including writing, is a sufficient end-in-itself. It should be obvious that work is a means to living. Living is more than work.

And I caught a fish today. They always look like a joke when they come into the wash. Skates. But I feel respect for any catch. Mine took a big bloody chunk of bunker I had cut with my Spanish War Knife. I had put it out near the end of our stay hoping for a bluefish, and though I would have much preferred a keeper fluke, or a bluefish like the one a friend caught on Island Beach the other day, or even better yet, a black drum, the only disappointment I felt about the state park was the 8:00 p.m. closing, though I came to quick terms with that.

As we packed to go, a tern dive-bombed for something right in front of us. We saw it come out of the water with a baitfish wriggling between its beak.

"That's a good sign," I said.

Trish said, "They're not leaving." A number of other people on the beach were clearly going to stay later. "You want to stay?"

"No. Let's stay within the law. We'll come back in September."

No restrictions then on staying into dusk


Friday, June 28, 2019

Harmful Algae at Spruce Run Reservoir, too

Worse News than I Expected

A week or two ago, Jim Stabile sent me a NJ Herald article about the algae bloom that didn't rouse too much concern in me, because as reported then, it wasn't very extensive. What I just read makes me wonder if I'm headed to the lake in August, after all. Mainly, I worry about spray on a windy day.

I owe Laurie two seat cushions. They got placed in my trunk by mistake. I asked her if it would be OK for me to return them in August....


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Health Advisory Issued at Lake Hopatcong

Laurie Murphy:

We are still open, but as of this afternoon, the DEP has issued a warning to have no contact with Lake Hopatcong waters for swimming and other watersport activities and to not eat any fish caught out of the Lake until further notice. We are experiencing a harmful algae bloom with levels  quantified at or above the NJ Health Advisary Guidance.  The Knee Deep Club did hold their Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass contest this past weekend with 1st place going to Lou Marcucci with a 3 lb 11 oz largemouth. Second place went to Dave Pavoni with a 3 lb 7 oz Largemouth and a 3 lb 4 oz largemouth caught by Rob Bozik took third.  His son Jake took 4th place with a 3 lb 2 oz Largemouth, 5th place went to Steve Schilling with a 2 lb 13 oz Largemouth and 6 th place went to Patricia Pavoni with a 2 lb 3 oz largemouth. Each of the 6 winners also received a rod & reel combo donated  by Ramsey’s  in memory of Stu Lant. Some other notable catches included Tom Facciolla of Hopatcong with a 7 lb 14 oz walleye,  Jim Macaluso with a 7 lb 4 oz walleye, and Jerry Freeman with a 3 lb 4 oz rainbow trout. Jim Welsh also had several nice Hybrids, along with some perch and crappie and a smallmouth weighing 3 lb 1 oz. Please call the shop @ (973)663-3826 if you need more info on the blue-green algae bloom and on Knee Deep’s summer Hybrid Striped Bass contest, being held on Saturday July 13 and Sunday July 14 th. Have a great week...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"Living Shoreline" at Sedge Island

Sedge Island Research Center in Barnegat Bay behind Island Beach always recalls fond memories in me, because my son spent a couple of weeks there with New Jersey Audubon, when he was a boy. They went ocean-bound in kayaks, paddling from the bay out through Barnegat Inlet, this most impressive, but they also treaded clams. Ever since he was three or four, he wanted to go clamming. He had watched me as a two-year-old, while I treaded, his earliest memory. He still remembers leaning over the gunwale of the boat and imploring me to get back in.

We never clammed together, but he did it successfully with Audubon.

The link below is the latest from NJ Fish & Wildlife. They're building up the shoreline around Sedge Island.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Heavy Thunderstorm Changes Plans

A low thud woke me, and I quickly realized my alarm hadn't gone off. I was out the door three minutes later, rain beginning to break on dry pavement, lightning close. A minute later, I saw roadwork at the entry to I-287 in a downpour, so I made my way through Bernardsville to exit/entry 30.

I caught up with Brian at 5:06, six minutes late, and we had a look at the radar in light rain. The storm hadn't got there yet. I felt willing to sit it out, which according to the forecast would mean waiting until after 7, but Brian had only a couple of hours.

We would have fished in the rain, but the lightning close, casting with graphite rods would have made us fools, even if we didn't get struck.

I'm going to have a look at the North Branch Raritan on the way to work later. The ground is sodden from so much recent rain, so I'm sure these heavy downpours this morning are filling the rivers fast. The plan was to fish again early tomorrow morning for South Branch smallmouths.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Father's Day Bass Outing (A Pickerel, too)

Yet another Father's Day off from the job. I felt surprised about this last year, and now Matt came down from Boston and his internship to spend the weekend with us. I felt a little guilty taking him away from his mother yesterday, but he had the day with her on Saturday, when I had to work. 

We fetched the canoe at Brian's house, where Matt got to meet Brian's wife. He had met Brian once before, almost a year ago, though it seems as if it can't be that long. The four of us hung out awhile, getting photos of the two black Labs together--Sadie and Juno--and talking about things under the sun. I wore a flannel shirt and thought I had dressed too heavily. Finally, Matt and I loaded the heavy canoe and soon made our way thought Dover, onto I-287, and over to Tilcon Lake.

That's our favorite spot, ever since I bought the flatback in 2016. It's difficult getting all 110 pounds into the lake, plus the battery, and etc. We've destroyed two carts taking it in through the front, so as of last year, we haul everything down a very steep and lengthy embankment, and then haul it up long after sunset. It winds us both. We don't complain, because the fishing's good and usually solitary. Yesterday was a Sunday, and Father's Day, no less. Only one other guy fished from a one-man pontoon during all the six hours we fished.

A stiff breeze in our faces, conditions seemed just right for what I'd planned. We trolled very deep-running crankbaits (18-25 feet) up along the side, hoping for smallmouths or salmon, and then cut across to the flat, where I raised the electric so it wouldn't collect too much weed. We snapped on buzzbaits. After 10 minutes and not a hit, I said, "There's no bite."

A moment later, a pickerel rushed Matt's offering, and he got the 20-incher boatside. As pickerel typically come here, a good one. Most are about 17 inches. Bass average two pounds or better. We cast for another five minutes, not getting hit, and switched to spinnerbaits we fished along a slope. I hooked and lost a nice bass about 10 feet deep, when I let the lure pause, but couldn't get another to take. We trolled shallower running crankbaits to a small cove, where I tried a weightless plastic worm, and where Matt hooked a very nice bass on a spinnerbait. He saw the fish rise from weeds and engulf the lure. It's photographed above, where it doesn't look as big as it looked to us, 18 inches. Matt measured it. 

The day felt very long and very relaxed. We fished a lot of spots with a variety of lures thoroughly, and I even hooked a largemouth on a crankbait trolled about 15 feet down. The bass leapt high, throwing the plug, a fish clearly at least 17 inches long. 

I felt the absence of sonar. The unit is going to Alabama on Wednesday, if trouble-shooting over the phone doesn't work. All day, we never experienced a distinct bite, not even as sun got low and set, but despite the lack of telling exactly how much water was under the boat, we caught bass here and there. We knew depth and spots plenty well to be set for a bite anyhow. I caught four bass, and Matt two, in addition to the pickerel. We lost a number of others, including some big ones. My biggest, photographed below, measured 19 inches. I also caught a 17 1/4, and another that might have been 15 1/2, plus a little one.

Turned out the flannel shirt wasn't too much, after all. The sun mostly obscured by clouds as it set, the lake felt chilly. I had brought a thermometer, which we determined registers about five degrees too warm, since Matt's mobile device had juice when we began, and we compared an 80-degree reading on the thermometer to the temperature in Stanhope, 75. The Stanhope report felt right. The thermometer gauges water or air temperature, so I subtracted five degrees to guess that the water was 70, the same guess I made before getting there. Besides, the weather has been so cool recently, I can't imagine that deep lake was 75 at the surface. But I forgot to check the temperature when we decided to head in and pack out. I think it was about 65. We loaded the car with headlamps on, in nighttime darkness. Brian met us when we returned the canoe, expressing concern that something happened. No, we fished late, and I had left my cell phone home. When we got to Bedminster at 11:07, we learned that Brian had called that phone, and my wife had almost phoned Brian. Good thing that didn't escalate. (Matt's device had lost power.) Temperature down here at lower elevation was about 75 at midnight when I walked Sadie. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

NJ State Record Cunner Caught on May 26th.

I caught my first cunners while fishing with a friend from the rocks of Manasquan Inlet, about 1972. My father took us there. He didn't fish, but it was nice of him. Cunners are also known as bergals.

The following message was sent by the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife to e-mail list subscribers. Press inquiries related to this message should be directed to the DEP Press Office at 609-984-1795.

John Zema of Laurence Harbor reeled in the new state record Cunner on May 26. The fish weighed in at 3 pounds, 8.8 ounces eclipsing the previous state record by 6.4 ounces. It measured 18.5” in length and had a girth of 13”.

John was using a conventional rod and reel with 50 pound braided line off the boat Voyager, captained by Denis Katliarov. A clam served as the bait.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Word from Dow's Boat Rentals

Laurie Murphy:

Several nice fish have been weighed in this past week, including Jim Welsh with a 4 pound pickerel. He also had Hybrid Stripers in the 5 to 7 pound range, several nice walleye, some crappie and lots of yellow perch. Jim Macolusa made his way to the scale with his largest hybrid of the day weighing 6 lb 3 oz. Junior Knee Deep Club member Jake Bozik added a 7 lb 1 oz Hybrid,  a 1 lb 10 oz crappie  & a 5 lb 5 oz walleye  to his catch. We are open early from 5:30 AM - 7 PM 7 days a week, with bait  & boat rentals. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass season opens up again on June 16th and Knee Deep will be holding their bass contest on Sunday June 23rd. It is a free fishing day on Saturday June 8th, no license required. Have a great week !

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Great Day on Way-Way--Wawayanda Lake

My wife got a kick out of this photo.

Brian and I have been jinxed for a couple of years, breaking the cycle of not getting out as we try to plan and ice fishing in January, today finally getting out on Wawayanda Lake. I didn't quite realize beforehand how long the drive, about 20 minutes further distant after passing Greenwood Lake, near the New York state border. My son and I fished here in July or August 2011, the boat rental shop opening at 8:00 a.m., and I think I paid, without any reservation, $120.00. We got skunked. (Matt did loose something big that took a herring he let down deep.) It was a sweet day. Bittersweet. That feeling wasn't going to tinge this day. 

The way I feel now is the way I expected to feel. The afterglow of a successful day. It started out OK, us launching around 7:00 a.m., after I had got to Brian's house before 5:00. My Minn-Kota hustled that squareback towards the far end, where my sonar unit showed plenty of depth to scout for herring schools and salmon on them. The screen froze. I tried disconnecting the battery a number of times and restarting. Nothing showed on the screen at all. Just the water temperature. 69.

"That's alright," Brian said, "We can rely on Joe's unit." His friend had arrived here at 4:30 a.m. from Rancocas south of Trenton. He pointed to Joe's one-man pontoon in the distance, got out his mobile device, and asked him if he was marking any. Very few.

"Bruce is bent out of shape," he said.

I knew the day was no loss without another screen to look at, but the need of repair after just two or three years of use, especially when just yesterday I got a check in the mail for an article published and felt that bonus feeling of money going to the savings account, stuck me. We tried and tried to catch a salmon, Jim never finding a real school of herring and salmon on them, us getting a couple of really good drifts under a light breeze, but Brian got the only hit, until later, after the two of us turned to pickerel and bass, Jim lost a couple of salmon that hit his spinner. Meanwhile, I came out of my silly withdrawal. I knew in my head it's not worth quibbling over, but I fight for every cent; paid an hourly wage by a supermarket, very little of that going towards outings like today's, most of it supporting my son's Boston University education, so paying for the likes--although I thank Brian for his generosity in buying the bait today, a big Frabill bait unit, and driving us up there--and for paying the cost of all of my equipment by getting paid for writing, this didn't mean I was set back so much as in need of keeping up, as I have for more than a decade. Besides, had I remembered then how much it cost to fish this lake with my son, how willing I was to take the opportunity, I could have told myself all the more that equipment failure is not worth the trouble of misgiving.

You tell yourself it's not, but if you're in the habit of getting ahead on little, it takes awhile to bounce back. Maybe not long. Soon out of the mood, I never missed the graph.

Brian learned a neat method from his Uncle for catching pickerel and bass. Former Frank's Bait and Tackle, on the way here, and from what I understand from Brian most anglers still call the shop, now named Tackle and Field, used to sell redfin shiners imported from Arkansas, big ones about five inches long. "They were for lunkers. We didn't get many hits on them, but the bass were big."'

They became unavailable, and Brian and his uncle tried the herring they used for salmon on the bass and pickerel, getting results. Instead of anchoring, or floating out the wind, and waiting on the bobbers to go under, Brian had me set the electric motor on low speed, trolling them, bait set about five feet underneath, through weedy water 10 to 15 feet deep. It works. We caught three pickerel apiece and I also caught the biggest black crappie I've ever caught, about 13 inches. Maybe the only black crappie I've caught. I once caught a 15-inch white crappie at Spruce Run Reservoir, and that's the only specie of the two I remember catching. Plenty of those and plenty this big, but I like the dark shade a lot better. Brian also lost three pickerel and a bass. I lost a few, too.

We had forgotten the wire leaders bought at Frank's. I feel responsible on two counts. They were stashed on the passenger side, and I told Brian out on the lake that 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader should suffice. He later said all three of his lost pickerel bit through. One of those three was bigger than any we caught. Maybe I'm sold on wire leaders now. When we ice fished in January, pickerel bit through fluorocarbon then, too.

We went through four dozen herring. Some of them died, but the Frabill unit--big as a cooler--kept them alive a long while.

I suggest weightless plastic worms. Out of the wind--I had forgotten my anchor--Brian hooked a nice bass that came half way out of the water, displaying the wide-opened mouth of a three pounder. He also hooked a small bass that leapt off. I missed one hit from a bass. Panfish seem attracted to the impregnated scent. They pull on the worms a lot.

We were out for hours. Slowing down. Slowing down better than you can read this entire post. Rain came and we headed towards the ramp, coming upon another cove out of the wind as rain subsided. There we caught three bass and a pickerel. Brian was the first to break with targeting the edge of thick weeds as he began reeling his worm over the stuff, getting hit on the first cast. "Just like the Princeton Day School Ponds," he said.

I had fished bass there the same way. Eventually, I tied on a Scum Frog, a soft weedless topwater froggy thing that took three or four missed hits. One of those hits, Brian pointed out, might have been successful, had I waited a second before I tried to set. I know that in principle, but it's still hard to know that in habit, the way it counts.

On the lake eight hours, by the time I got home in Bedminster, more than 14 hours had passed since I had awakened after about four hours of sleep. Brian had bought two Monster energy drinks before we got on I-287 South; I settled on a mix of nuts, filling and plenty good for energy, and I drove the 45 minutes home from Brian's house without feeling exhausted. I cleaned the crappie for dinner and two rainbow trout given me by someone at the ramp who decided he didn't want them--a 12-incher and 16-incher--and got an hour of sleep before I unloaded equipment from my car. My canoe stays at Brian's, thanks to him, and thanks to restrictive condo association measures, but the battery is back on the charger upstairs, and the electric motor in its place. Brian can use my canoes any time he pleases.

The important thing about outings like this is the enjoyment of the day, but plenty of thought goes into them afterwards, more than I ever disclose in a post. If I gave up this mad fishing, this hard work at preparing equipment and carrying a heavy battery and carrying a canoe that weighs 110 pounds up a fairly steep slope to where its kept and, in general, utterly breaking with the comfort of routine, I wouldn't sin against the social system involving work hours that tends to reign us in to habits of obedience; I would sin against life. Brian and I have a way out of getting told what to do. Better. We find life the way anyone knows it as his or her best, and speaking for myself, I'm not only willing to suffer for that, I find the suffering is a lot less than I would think it is, if I didn't get out and have a day with a friend like today.

At the ramp, Brian got out and asked me to look for the keys to his truck in the bottom of the canoe. Not there. "Maybe I left them in the truck."

He came back, "They have to be in the canoe."

They weren't.

"Brian, how could you lose your keys?!" I said, feeling they couldn't really be lost. And in that moment my hand went for my pocket. "They're in my pocket!"

He had me go get something last minute in the morning. Both of us had forgotten.  

Joe and his one-man pontoon.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

My wife goaded me into going to the town parade, and as I told myself I would enjoy the event, the walking, the lemonade and iced tea, the river, I did. And I experienced a moment of heady gratitude for our armed services, which, after all, is what the holiday is all about.

Last night, we watched a special on TV about a WW II battle between British and Nazi forces. Never before in all my life--it featured real footage of skulls splintered and bodies of former friends dumped in view beside trenches, rotting corpses, trench foot, talk of tanks running over their own who had fallen dead, because they had to get forward position, etc.--never have I experienced battle as realistically as this documentary recreated it. Supposedly, creative art does that, not documentary, but no, this production was so intensely realistic it beat any story. What nations have to do, sometimes, in defense.

On the way to Far Hills, we walked over the North Branch, witnessing a fly caster catch a trout. On the way back, we witnessed a trout caught on a spinning rod.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Quick Catch at the Zoo

At the AT&T Zoo just before 5:00, getting just a little preoccupied with photography, flippin' an egg into the current under the exit bridge a couple of minutes later, I hooked my first quickly. I spent more than three minutes with my Go Pro mounted on my extension bar and placed underwater and half-in, half-out, taking that long to make sure some footage works as still shots.

Then I got into what turned out to be an onerous process--feels real good now--of missing at least 50 hits. I caught 13 in the hour-and-a-half I fished, losing another almost at my feet, losing a few others during the fight, all of them coming on one-pound test Suffix. A couple of them measured nearly 13 inches, these fish really running long and hard on the microlight.

That current right at the downstream edge of the bridge is especially difficult to drift when water is high and moving as it did today. Color was OK. Not clear, but not dingy, either. But the flow made getting a direct pull impossible, though I picked up the line quickly enough on these 13 fish. I let the trout take eggs a couple of seconds before setting, but obviously this didn't work too well, though it did work better than pulling back immediately.

I emptied a  large jar of Atlas Mike's King. (I think it's possible I bought the last large jars of salmon eggs available in the nation, at Walmart, Morris Plains, in December last year or January. I cleaned them out of large jars.) Then I got started on Shrimp. I was going to stay around until I reached a total of 15, but I inadvertently snapped off my rig, and then I found tying on a new little snap with that thin line so aggravating, that I decided it was wise to bow out before I felt any worse. Doesn't seem I would have felt that way now, but getting home early to get started on other stuff hasn't let me down. My hand-to-eye coordination has gone so far south with age--they told me 15 years ago I need tri-focal lenses, but I use only reading glasses on occasion--that it is the revenge of my brother David. I pitied him while I was growing up. He does use glasses. His frustrations with tying knots. I was reminded of Winston Churchill--"Never, never, never, never give in." Then, I kept trying, but when a wisp of wisdom visited me, whispering that I can let it go and it will be OK, I listened instead to this.

Eating some trout at present. Cooked them well before darkness fell, thinking I could have caught 25 or 30, maybe more, had I stayed. Definitely would have caught more, had I got the hook into them more often.

Have music playing on my laptop. "Haitian Divorce," Steely Dan. Segued into it from a number of old Motown selections: "Family Affair," "Diamond in the Back," Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown" tossed in, "Who's that Lady," and "What's Going On." Makes Chris Hayes on TV interesting.

Donald Fagan just drips with sentimentality. So much for the tearful reunion. I'm going back to Motown.

…Though you may not drive, a great big Cadillac.


"Summer Kick Off" for Delaware Watergap

Funny how the "Summer Kick Off" makes Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area seem a madhouse of busy visitors to me, but I know its 70,000 acres are plenty to accommodate. That might not seem like many acres, given the amount of total space up there in Warren and Sussex, but the park stretches far north of the gap itself, and despite the fact that numbers of visitors over the course of a summer are very high, when I go, I always find solitude in forested space.

Me, my wife, and son used to go up there every Memorial Day weekend, and I miss these escapades now curtailed by a busy shift schedule.

Release Date:  May 20, 2019

Contact:  Kathleen Sandt, Public Affairs Specialist, Kathleen_Sandt@nps.gov; (570) 426-2472

Park Prepares for Summer Visitors

Bushkill, PA:  Employees at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area have been busy gearing up and getting facilities ready for a busy summer season.  The 70,000-acre national park unit is located in PA and NJ and is one of the top 25 most-visited national park units in the country with 3.2 million visits recorded in 2018.  

“This summer, our visitors will likely see more of our staff stationed at busy sites throughout the park where we can better serve the public’s needs.  We’re going where the people are and where we can be of most assistance. ” said Superintendent Sula Jacobs of the park’s summer plans.  “We’ve been planning ahead and getting the park ready to welcome our visitors and offer them a wonderful national park visit,” she added.  “But for the best trips, we recommend that visitors plan ahead too.”

Get information in person, online, or by phone:

  • Park Headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except federal holidays.  Stop by or call (570) 426-2452 for assistance during business hours.
  • Dingmans Falls Visitor Center is open Fridays from 11 am to 5 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm from June 15 to September 2.
  • Visit the park website at www.nps.gov/dewa.
  • Follow us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS.

Take a hike: 

All trails in PA are open except the following which will remain closed until further notice due to public hazard and ongoing trail maintenance and construction work:

  • George W. Childs Park
  • Adams Creek Trail and drainage area
  • Hornbecks Creek/Indian Ladders Trail
  • Conashaugh Trail 

All trails in NJ are OPEN with the exception of the lower portion of the Van Campens Glen Trail.  The trail is open from the upper parking area to the trail bridge just downstream from the waterfall.  The remainder of the trail is closed due to hazardous conditions and trail construction work.    

Use the Pocono Pony’s Hiker Shuttle to get back and forth between the Park and Ride lot in the town of Delaware Water Gap, PA and the Kittatinny Point/Appalachian Trail/Dunnfield Creek/Lake Lenape area trails at the south end of the park.  The shuttle fee is $1 per person for a roundtrip fare and runs every 30 minutes on summer weekends.  Schedules are available at:  www.gomcta.com/trip.

Cool Off In or On the River: 

  • All beaches and boat/canoe launches are open for the season.  A $10/car fee is charged 7 days a week; annual passes are available for $45. 
  • Visit the park website for a list of businesses in the area that rent canoes, kayaks, and rafts and provide transportation or bring your own. 
  • Use the free River Runner shuttle to transport your own canoes, kayaks, and gear for a day on the river. Check schedules at www.gomcta.com/trip.
  • Always wear a properly-fitted US Coast Guard-approved lifejacket when on or near the water.

Go for a Ride…or a Drive:

  • The McDade Trail in PA is a great place to ride your bike (and it’s the only trail in the park where bikes are permitted).  You can start and finish at the same place or do a one-way trip using the free River Runner shuttle to transport you and your bike on weekends.
  • Visit the park website for information on bicycle rentals in the area.
  • Take a scenic drive and enjoy the views. 
  • Visit one of our partner-operated sites (check their websites for hours and program offerings):

Pick a Place to Picnic:  All picnic areas are open except for those at George W. Childs Park and Van Campens Glen.  Check the park website for group size limits and restrictions.  Grills are not provided anywhere in the park and are only permitted at Milford Beach, Turtle Beach, Smithfield Beach, Toms Creek Picnic Area, Bushkill General Store Picnic Area,  Watergate Recreation Site, Hialeah Picnic Area, and Namanock Recreation Site.  Some areas are “carry in/carry out” so please take all of your food scraps, trash, and other waste with you when you leave so that wild animals are not attracted to these areas. 

Pitch a Tent: 

  • Valley View and Rivers Bend group campsites are available to groups of 5 or more people by reservation.  Call (570) 426-2434 or email DEWA_Campground@nps.gov for information or to make a reservation.
  • Alosa River Campsites are available to river users by reservation.  There are 6 individual campsites at this location. Go to recreation.gov  or call (877) 444-6777 to reserve your riverside campsite before you visit.  There is no vehicle access to these campsites.
  • Dingmans Campground offers tent and RV sites.   For more information or to make a reservation visit their website at Dingmans Campground or call (570) 828-1551. 
  • River camping is available to those on extended river trips in accordance with park regulations.  Designated river campsites can be found on the park website.
  • Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail is permitted in accordance with park regulations.
  • A complete list of campgrounds, river campsites, and regulations is available on the park’s website.  Make reservations well in advance as campsites and campgrounds are in high demand during the summer months.

Watch Water Fall:  Visit the tallest waterfalls in PA and NJ!  Raymondskill Falls in PA drops 165’ in three segments while Buttermilk Falls on Mountain Road in Walpack, NJ tumbles 75’ from side of Kittatinny Ridge.  Both have stairs and an observation area. The Hackers Falls Trail and the Tumbling Waters Trail at Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) are also great places to check out waterfalls.  There is no fee to visit waterfalls within the recreation area.  Visit the park website for trail maps.

Take a stroll back in time:    Visit Millbrook Village, a re-created nineteenth-century museum village where costumed rangers and volunteer guides provide tours and demonstrations of period crafts and trades.  Millbrook buildings are open on Saturdays and on the first and third Sunday of the month from 10 am to 4 pm between June 15 and September 2.   The grounds are open for self-guided tours daily during daylight hours.   Admission is free.  Special events are held throughout the year.

Learn something new:  Take a class or enroll in a workshop with one of our park partners.  Make something of your summer at Peters Valley School of Craft where you can learn blacksmithing, ceramics, fiber arts, jewelry-making, and a host of other fine arts and crafts.  Sign up for an orienteering or birdwatching program, learn how to build a fire, or attend Quilt Camp at PEEC.  Take a guided hike, learn to use a map and compass, or take a wilderness first aid course at Mohican Outdoor Center. For a complete list of classes, workshops and programs and information on dates, times and how to register, visit the individual organization’s website.    

Tips for Travelers: 

  • Travel on Tuesday… or Wednesday, or Thursday to beat the crowds.  Weekends are busy.
  • Plan ahead!  Visit the park website or call ahead to find out what you can and can’t do, where you can go, what you need to bring, and what you should leave at home. 
  • Have a Plan B… and C in case the places you wish to visit are already full when you arrive. Many popular destinations are full by 10 am on summer weekends. 
  • Know before you go!  Be aware of rules and regulations and check safety information for a fun and safe visit. 

 About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.


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?” 

― Rachel Carson