Saturday, September 21, 2019


Got word from Noel Sell about the current situation. He read the previous post and wrote, "Totally agree! Fishing is very tough lately. We need rain and cooler temperatures badly."

Forecast mid-80's tomorrow, last I heard. Feels that warm this afternoon.

I'm concerned because I got an invitation to fish Culver Lake on Wednesday, and don't want to exit this outing having caught nothing. We will just have to see how it goes, and in any event, it should be a good time.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Tough Transition Time

Forty three degrees upon our daybreak arrival at Split Rock Reservoir this morning, Fred and I didn't see a cloud in the sky. I didn't think about how tough the fishing could be until 10 or `15 minutes into it, while fishing a shaded cove with plenty of depth and rocks, a very bassy-looking spot with nothing happening. I sat in one of Fred's kayaks.

Fred did catch a little smallmouth on his four-inch Senko, just to the side of that cove in water brightly lit. Four rocks penetrated the surface some 50 yards beyond, and I worked them thoroughly with a Chompers worm, getting no more than the pecking interest of a sunfish. We pulled out two hours later.

Skunked again on Split Rock, I changed my mind about fishing Merrill Creek Reservoir with Oliver Shapiro in about two weeks. Now I want to put my squareback on Split Rock to settle the score. We can troll. I really like the structure I see here for that purpose.

From the reservoir, we rode over to Saffin, me feeling mixed confidence. In any event, my best fishing at the pond has been early and late; although I have caught some nice mid-day bass there, today was no typical late morning and early afternoon. It certainly was not summertime, but it wasn't an October day after bass have adjusted to the new season and slam spinnerbaits, either.

I began along my favorite steep shoreline with its heavy cover, and soon realized it wasn't going to happen, and it never did. I switched from the Chompers, after fishing deeper water out from the bank thoroughly, too, and snapped on a spinnerbait, feeling that most of the bass had slipped into any deep water out away from shore, although, judging the terrain, the more likely case is that they had dispersed in water about eight feet deep almost anywhere out there, not feeding at all. By this scenario, true or not, the bass are like blues and striped bass as they slip into the surf to feed, then abandon it. Not many bass would be near enough the shorelines to perhaps take a reaction swipe at one of the lures Fred and I threw. 

I did get one definite hit. By the feel of that, I knew it was a bass about 10 inches long. A good hard smack. It didn't get the bait fully in its mouth. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Reluctant South Branch Smallmouths

Went to my favorite spot at sundown, missing a hit on the first cast and catching an average stream smallmouth on the third. Clear water flowed moderately, but it was chilly after this morning's temperatures in the 40's. I saw nothing but some killiefish in the shallows, and with a cloudless sky overhead, it became quickly evident to me that the cold front had put the bass off.

I came with killies I bought when my wife and I last visited Island Beach. I did bring my fly rod, but not only was I pinched for time, I don't think I could have caught any with it. Definitely a fall feeling on the river this evening. I do hope next summer I get a chance to fly fish the river at length. A whole morning and early afternoon. I have plenty of flies to try.

I worked my way down the stretch, and having waded about halfway to the back, got a big bass on, but the hook pulled. That's what I came for, a big one. A bass of nearly four pounds, and I really want to hit that mark fair and square, judged by my tested Rapala scale. I trudged back to the bucket, half hoping to hook another, half convinced I missed my only shot at one, baited my hook, and put another killie in the left breast pocket of my Woolrich, a heavy flannel shirt I needed. And it was getting progressively chilly while I wet waded.

Way down at the bottom of the stretch, my big killie flew off the hook on a cast, so I baited that hook with the other, soon getting another bass on, catching it--12-inches.

Gave myself a pat on the back for putting that killie in my pocket. (They live forever out of water.)

So I lost yet another big bass here where I expect them, but it's better by far to have had one on today, than to have never encountered such a fish.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Knee Deep Hybrid Striper Derby this Weekend

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club will be holding their Fall Hybrid Striped Bass contest this weekend from 5 AM. Sat. Sept 21 to Noon on Sun Sept 22. There will be cash prizes for the top three heaviest fish, with gift certificates for 4th, 5th & 6th places. We will be open at 5 AM for the contest weekend. We will be fully stocked with herring ( although they may be on the smaller side, depending on this week’s haul ), chicken liver, and ice  jigging  rapalas.  There were some noteworthy catches with Mike Kaszas with several walleye, the largest weighing in at 5 lb. There were also some pickerel brought in weighing in at 3 - 4 pounds along with some nice smallmouth and lots of white perch & catfish.  Several Hybrids were being caught on liver up to 7 pounds. Next up is Knee Deep’s walleye contest on Oct 5th & 6th. Mark your calendar now. Have a great week !

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Week Too Late

Excellent article on party boat fluke by Fred Golofaro in this week's The Fisherman. I just wish I had read it last week!

I had the idea halfway right. Yes, the use of light tackle is preferred. Jigs as light as a half ounce, let alone the ounce of tungsten I selected. And instead of 20-pound braid on the seven-foot rod, 10 or 15 would be better. (Lighter test=less water resistance as the jig sinks.)

We fished near the stern. Wrong spot. Golofaro recommends the bow. You cast the jig upstream of the drift, and let it swing on down. Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.

So now I get it. While Oliver and I fished, I kept looking at all the lines out, and it bugged if all this was too damn simple. Golofaro says much the same when he points out that taking position along with a dozen or so other lines closely lined together is a losing bet.

Too bad the thought never occurred to go up to the bow and cast. This is why it's a good idea to read fishing magazines. I can't always count on my original thought.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Headboat Fluke Trip out of Point Pleasant

The anticipation of hooking a really nice fluke has me looking forward to going out on a headboat for them. When I fish the surf, I might catch a keeper. Once, when fishing a beach of Sandy Hook, I caught two over 18 inches long, but not by much. It;s not surprising that my biggest so far--22 inches--hit when I leaned against a rail like the one in the photograph. I've fished behind Beach Haven plenty for fluke, and in Manasaquan and Barnegat inlets, catching them as large as 20 inches, but they're just as rarely keeper size there as in the surf. It seems every time out on a headboat, a few over four pounds get caught. If you go, you just might get one over seven pounds. That happens.

Not today.  If you pay attention to reports, you've heard it's a bad year for fluke. Just the same, Oliver Round and I had our hopes. He quickly pulled four shorts over the rail, one of them 17 inches long, while I had to make do with a couple of small sea robins. If they were big enough, I would have taken them home. I hear they're very good eating and might as well taste for myself. Finally, I caught a fluke of about 16 inches, and as always, I had enjoyed that head-shaking dance on the end of my line. The pool winner was the only keeper caught today. About 19 inches.

I began by seeing if I could get a one-ounce tungsten jig with a squid strip and squid strip teaser to bottom and keep it there. Oliver had just told me he heard the water was 80 feet deep, so I knew this trick wasn't likely to work. I did catch a sea robin on my first or second drop, but I gave up on my seven-foot rod and the jig for the obvious reason, finally settling on a four-ounce bank sinker and my eight-foot Tica. Even that much weight didn't hold bottom very tightly, but it did keep direct contact, and by keeping the bail open and a finger on the line, it was easy to release a few yards every now and then, letting the rig distance from the rail. Oliver did the same and caught as many fluke as some using 12 ounces. 

I brought along my Penn Squall 60 reel and a pool cue stand-up rod, just in case I wanted to rig two four-ounce bank sinkers together and drag those on bottom. If the water was deeper and I felt my control compromised, as it was with that tungsten jig, I would have, but I never felt the situation called for the heavy rod.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fluke on Bunker

Kept bunker in the surf all afternoon. Finally, something small tapped repeatedly at it near sundown, and then after sundown, it happened again and got more involved. I set the hook into this Island Beach keeper, 16 1/2 inches. 

The bait intended for a bluefish, reports have plenty of them around, but nothing seemed to be in the surf at all there today, until things got a little interesting during the Magic Hour. Very calm, most waves about a foot high, using my five-and-a-half-foot medium power St. Croix with six-pound test monofilament and a couple of split shots for weight was an effective way to fish live killies, but I got only two hits, after catching the fluke.

Now I have bait for smallmouth bass. The leftover killies. So much for fly fishing them until next summer, I guess. I think I'll try to catch a nice big one on the killies. No, I can't promise, but I certainly haven't forgotten the one that snapped my line two Octobers ago.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

New Jersey Gets Morney for Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Projects

U.S. Department of the Interior News Release

Date: September 5, 2019

Secretary Bernhardt Announces $170.6 Million to Support State Parks and Outdoor Recreation through the Land and Water Conservation Fund

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced $170,623,713 million in grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 States, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. LWCF funds are non-taxpayer dollars derived from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service.
“Using zero taxpayer dollars, LWCF invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help rehabilitate and improve infrastructure at state and local parks and other recreation areas,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Funds will also be used to maximize access by opening up landlocked public lands. A small investment in a little strip of land can open up thousands of acres to outdoor recreation enthusiasts.”
“We are pleased with the permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which came as part of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act earlier this year,” said National Park Service acting Deputy Director for Operations David Vela during remarks today at the National Association of State Park Directors conference. “Investing in high quality outdoor recreation space has proven to increase the public’s physical, cultural, and spiritual well-being. We look forward to continuing our work with state and local partners in the implementation of this important program.”
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure public access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans.
Funds are also used to permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment. The funds enable state and local governments to improve parks and other recreation areas in their communities by rehabilitating and upgrading existing parks, creating brand new parks in places that have none, and developing and expanding trail systems to link communities together and create recreation opportunities.
Since the inception of the LWCF, more than $4.4 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 projects throughout the nation.
The allocation for the State and Local Assistance grant (stateside) program is determined based on a formula set in the LWCF Act, and includes funds appropriated from the LWCF by Congress as well as revenue derived from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. For more information, please visit.
Fiscal Year 2019 Total Apportionments by State
American Samoa
District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Marianas
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Virgin Islands
West Virginia

Friday, August 30, 2019

Word from Laurie

Junior Knee Deep member Brandon Wood weighed in several nice fish this past week, including 2 channel cats  weighing  6 lb 2 oz & 9 lb 3 oz. His pickerel weighed 2 lbs and he had a smallmouth weighing 2 lb 2 oz. Not bad for the last week before school starts…The Knee Deep Club will be holding their Fall Hybrid Striped Bass Contest on Sept 21st & 22nd, from 5 AM Sat until noon on Sunday. Make Your plans now…more info can be found on their website or call the shop at (973)663-3826. Muskie Inc Chapter 22 of NJ will also be holding their Muskie Tournament on Sat. Sept 28th from 6 AM - 2 PM At Lee’s County Park, with a BBQ lunch. Call Will @ (908) 914-5293 or go to their website at for more information. We offer 10% off to any Muskie Inc member incase you need a new Muskie Lure. We have a pretty good selection ! Jim Welsh & Lou Marcucci  have been picking away with some Hybrids & Smallmouth Bass, along with lots of white perch and some nice crappies. Aaron Graybill of  Lake Hopatcong Guide Service has been out & about catching all kinds of fish, including walleye and Hybrids. With less boat traffic the lake here is great for fall fishing. We’ll be stocked up with Ice rapalas, gotchas, and blade baits for fall jigging and tell your friends that Lake Hopatcong is OPEN for boating & fishing. We are open 7 days a week for bait & boat rentals. Our fall hours are from 6 AM - 6 PM. Have a great week !!!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Wild & Scenic Film Festival (Musconetcong River Watershed Association)


August 22, 2019

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

Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Centenary

Asbury, NJ  The Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Hackettstown, NJ: Join the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) when they host the second annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour at Centenary University, Sitnik Theatre on Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm.

“We originally hosted this festival to mark the anniversary of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, of which the Musconetcong is a Partnership Wild & Scenic River,” said Alan Hunt, MWA Executive Director. “We want to inspire people to visit and protect these national treasures that are right in our backyard – that is what the Act is all about.”

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a collection of films from the annual festival held the third week in January in Nevada City, CA which is now in its 17th year!  Wild & Scenic focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet.

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

“In recent years, the festival and its On Tour Program has grown to more than 230 events, supporting organizations and their local community causes through outreach, fundraising, and education.  The On Tour community is an incredible collection of organizations from every corner of the country who are full of empathy, open-minded, and eager to make a positive difference for the world, their communities, and the environment,” says Sarah Muskin, WSFF On Tour Coordinator.

Featured at the tour event in Hackettstown are films highlighting the importance of rivers, the science of agriculture, and pollinators in nature.  Also featured is River Connections - a film highlighting the Musconetcong River.  The festival is a natural extension of MWA’s work to inspire people to act on behalf of the environment.

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

Event Details:

Date and Time: Doors open at 12:00 pm, and shows start at 1:00 pm.

Venue Name and Address: Centenary University, Sitnik Theatre, 400 Jefferson St, Hackettstown, New Jersey 07840

Ticket Prices: $7 or $5 with student ID.

Tickets can be purchased online at

For more information: Contact the Musconetcong Watershed Association, or (908) 537-7060.

New Jersey State Record Cobia Caught

When we visit North Carolina's Outer Banks, we hope to catch cobia. We've caught only one, mine, which might have weighed six pounds.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Salmon Falls River and Milton Pond Smallmouth Bass

As I wrote last night, I didn't expect the fish to jump all over our offerings. I learned months ago that Salmon Falls River is trout stocked, so I expected a fairly heavily fished run. We found water deeply stained by pine needles, that black coffee look of tannic acid, and at first I couldn't help but feel we would get skunked. I've fished tannic Big Flatbrook a number of times, and though I've heard of smallmouth bass, I have never encountered one of them. But Matt hooked and caught an average stream bass pretty quickly, just before a heavy rain shower had us running for the car after we had made a fairly arduous effort at finding positions to cast just outside of Lebanon.

We drove on to find more access.

Salmon Falls River marks the New Hampshire/Maine border here in the south of the two states. It flows out of 271-acre Milton Pond. It's a small river difficult to wade with lots of big, slick rocks, but where you can access it on foot, you can manage. We saw some tubers and rafters, so for anyone who wants to try that approach, it could be the best choice. You could get a small canoe on it, but where you might have to get out, the rocks under foot could be a problem.

That first access we found is in the middle of town, whatever that half-Maine, half-New Hampshire town with U.S. Highway 202 running through it--like a side road up here--is named. Not a bridge access. There's marked parking and some seats made available by public money. A trail leads down. Just don't trespass on the property downstream a little. I was very careful about that. I'm not sure what some people in this rural state, which I greatly respect, might do.

The second access we found, at a bridge, has a very worn and beaten path, compared to the first access back in town. We had viewed the water from atop that bridge, and it looked too shallow. (Later we learned that was illusory, if because of the tannic stain. Water we thought a foot deep was at least three feet.) We followed the path downstream, and when Matt chose a spot, I continued to another. The bass photographed above struck my Senko as soon as it hit the surface.

Our regular readers know I have fly fishing for smallmouths in mind this summer. I spent over a hundred dollars on flies and gear for that. And Jim Holland at Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon kindly gave me three sculpin flies with helmet weights, a value of about $15.00, if I were to buy them online and pay shipping. He's caught South Branch Raritan smallmouths on these very flies. Thus far, none of the spots we fished allowed room even for roll casting. The only exception was a spot just downstream of where I caught my first bass, and third and fourth when we later retuned. There a deep hole seemed promising but yielded not a hit. My bass came from three, four feet at most. A little further down, people were swimming, and the trail ended.

From under the bridge, Matt cast upstream and a bass was on his Senko in a flash. He lost it, a pretty good fish. He said another bass trailed his. I resolved to retrieve my Senko meticulously, and soon caught my second.

Upstream a couple of miles, we found more bridge access. Matt had a big crawfish jig tied on. He had plumbed the depths of the hole near the swimmers. He caught another bass under the bridge. I missed a hit, and then missed another downstream. It was evident we could have waded further downstream, but not only was the river smaller here, and the bass probably likewise and fewer; we had only so much time. We had left after noon and needed to be back by five or six.

Matt felt very interested in finding Milton Pond access. Very little of it exists. But we did find some especially for the dam and below it. Both spots hold bass. You can tell that's so just by looking, if you're experienced. And a kayaker told me he caught nice smallmouths earlier both above and below. I felt there was too much sun on the water. but true to form, a smallmouth hit Matt's spinner in plain view below, though he missed the hit.

River bass impress me as more willing mid-day hitters.

Back when we fished the headwaters of Milton Pond, my former favorite Penn 430ssg finally gave out. The internal gear broke. So not only was I forced to fly fish; I found plenty of space to do it below the dam. I saw some sunfish took interest in a Haggerty's Hell Raiser, but though I gave them a good try, I didn't raise a single bass.

Matt caught the first.

 Matt played a bass from under the bridge.

Upper reach of Milton Pond where we found access but only one small largemouth that didn't hit.

Milton Pond Dam

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Arrived at my in-laws' at Lebanon, Maine, early this afternoon. Near New Hampshire border. Barb & Iain invited some friends over, and we were told about the Isinglass River for trout. I went online and found it's mostly an affair with stockers. I'm definitely interested in native brook trout, but not in driving an hour or more. Isinglass is only 20 minutes away, but we'll pass on any holdovers. Of course, trying to find spots during one evening of internet search won't be very fruitful, unless there happen to be some prominently visible nearby.

And to fit that bill, the Salmon Falls River is only about four miles away. By what I've gathered, it has some smallmouth bass.

Hope to find out tomorrow how many. Don't expect us to find many, though. My gut usually is right. And if we wait until Friday, I'll try to report Friday night.

Sunday, August 18, 2019


I didn't lift it, I shot it. 

We're in Boston, after a five-hour ride that began with "Foreplay/Long Time," but thereafter involved almost three hours of listening to YES. Then we put an NPR podcast on.

Had dinner in town with Matt. Lot's to talk about.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Drop Shotting for Bass at Round Valley

Invited Mike Vandenberg along to try drop-shotting for bass from shore at Round Valley Reservoir. Upon arrival, I felt we might do best fishing to the right, further back in Ranger Cove. Stuff gets washed in there by the prevailing winds, and whether this is the reason, it's more fertile and weedy. But this was Mike's first time at the reservoir, and I wanted to make sure he got a wide view of its extent, so I led us around and to the left, along the rocky shores in the direction of the main launch, but distant from it. Besides, these rocky shores seemed more promising for smallmouth bass.

We used 1/4- and 1/2-ounce sinkers, setting three- and four-inch plastic worms anywhere from a foot to 2 1/2 feet from the sinker. Along this rocky shoreline I mention, we never got a hit, but we began to forget about the daily grind as we let the wide arena of surrounding open space pull us back to reality. We both work long hours and feel they're too long. For a moment, I felt soothed by the quiet sound of  water lapping against the rocks. It's way too easy to discount the likes as worthless trivia not worth reception, but then we might forget that every piece of existence partakes of its ultimate value.

I saw a ranger coming up the trail. Told Mike to make his fishing license conspicuous. The ranger said, "Keep your dog on leash."

"She is on leash," I said.

"Keep it in hand," he said, "So she doesn't run around."

Sadie's an old Lab who just sits beside us.

But the ranger also spoke of back in Ranger Cove as the best area to fish, which reminded me of my earlier feeling. Someone had caught a 15-inch largemouth, he said. We decided we would give it a try, after we tried further along our course where maybe a sharper drop existed, though what we found was shallower water.

I liked the way the water looked. We had got in my car and ridden further back in Lot 2, where I parked above a fairly steep embankment. I told Mike about the five-pound rainbow trout I once caught in December down below from where we presently got out to gather our gear. Here the water had a green tone, rather than the cold-looking rocky feel of where we had fished. It's not as if only largmouths would be present. My son once caught a smallmouth further back in the cove relative to where we were about to stand.

My first cast resulted in the little largemouth photographed. I also caught three rock bass and missed a couple of hits by winging the 1/2-ounce weight out as far as possible and placing each cast differently.

Mike is learning how to cast with a spinning rod, and he made marked improvement today. If I remember correctly, his ice fishing Lake Hopatcong with my son and I at near zero degrees a couple of years ago was the first fishing he's ever done.

Today, it was nice out there. If I can share the following thought, I'm reminded of something my academic advisor at Hampshire College told me a 1986 letter to me, while I took time off. I had let on that all my life, I've sought grand vision. He told me there's plenty to be said for the mundane, and I believe that if I didn't understand exactly what he meant, his words nevertheless cast meaning on the mundane that hadn't existed for me before. Or rather, as a recognition of the value. Daily reality is grand. Ground down by work duties, perhaps not, but just go cast a lure and take it slow.

You'll awaken to what you're missing out on.

Furthest we went along the rocky shoreline.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Big White Cat Wins Knee Deep Derby

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club held their Catfish contest this past weekend with a great turnout of 49 entrants. The winners included Alex Stockton taking 1st place with his white cat weighing 6 lb 1 oz, winning $391, 2nd place went to Lou Marcucci, winning $236 for a 5 lb 2 oz Channel, and 3rd place going to Justin Haines, also with a 5 lb 2 oz Channel, his take home being $157.  Fourth thru sixth place winners received a $20 gift card to The Jefferson Diner, going to Sean Haubrich with a 4 lb 6 oz Channel, Kirra Gifillan with her Channel cat weighing 3 lb 14 oz, and Glenn Sawyer, also with a Channel Cat weighing 2 lb 13 oz. Also making their way to the scale was a 3 lb 5 oz eel, caught by Alan Tourinsky of Mt Arlington. Eddie Mackin also weighed  a Hybrid Striper at 7 1/2 pounds. Speaking of Hybrid Striped Bass, Knee Deep’s next contest  being held for them,  will be  on  Sept 21st & 22nd.  Jack Dziduch, fishing with live herring, had several hybrids, the largest up to 8 pounds. NJ’s DEP has lifted another  of their Swim Advisories , concerning the blue green algae, adding Byram Cove to Indian Harbor & Henderson Cove,   with more areas expected to be lifted by next week.  Check out the Shop Local Campaign for Lake Hopatcong, (you’ll find it online ). You may just find a 15 % off coupon for bait , tackle & boat rentals, from Dows Boat Rental. Have a great week !!!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Bald Eagles

Cool press release I got from Fish & Wildlife. Bald eagles are as free as the air we breathe, and they better be, if we are. But it's fascinating to take interest in our interactions with the recovering population. It doesn't make them any less wild. But it does mean we're part of the picture ourselves, and I would say, ultimately as wild as they are. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Trolling for Pickerel

 Oliver's biggest bass--from anywhere--yet.

The thunderstorm came. During one of my breaks at work, Oliver & I texted about the river level coming up. Later last night, it was coming down as fast as it went up, but how could we tell if the water color would be good this morning? 

So, Plan B. Tilcon Lake. Oliver suggested saltwater before we decided for certain, but I hate going all the way over there, only to infer that no fish are in the surf. I guess some kingfish would be around--I guess--but I didn't feel them worth the drive.

We met at Brian's about 4:45, loaded the squareback. We were on the water at 6:00 sharp. Fog enclosed us. I soon caught a small bass on a Dalton Special up top. It was another very slow morning bite like last year with my son. I switched to a worm, lost a nice bass, caught another small one. Oliver teased sunfish with flies and a popper, hoping a bass would take. My worm rigged with an inset hook, I riled up a pickerel from a foot of water on top of an island among weeds. It took the hook deeply, having savaged that worm, but I released it in good shape. 

All told, I caught two more small bass on the worm. I very much enjoy worming, as if you don't know. A lake threatens to overwhelm me as too much water to cover by fishing that slowly, but by selecting every cast, it's a meditation and a sport. A sport because getting casts exactly right as I foresee them does tend to yield results. 

Oliver wormed too. And caught his biggest bass yet, about 19 inches.

But today's fast action came by trolling. The only plug that worked was the larger of two chrome-finished Storm Hot-N-Tot's. It dives about 15 feet. The shallower running version didn't draw any strikes, and we missed some on the bigger plug. I tried to get Oliver to take that plug away from me, as I hooked pickerel after pickerel, catching four, the largest 23 inches, losing another boatside, missing a couple of jolting strikes. Finally, he conceded. He caught one about 20 inches.

The biggest was the first caught, and my first thought, "Maybe trolling is the key to finding the big ones," played out. Another of mine was 21 inches, another 20 inches, and the other about average, 18 inches. Until today, all the pickerel we've caught here have been 17 inches, 18 at most.

We moved over bottom as deep as 30 feet and got whacked. I can't tell how deep vegetation goes, but the water is clear, and only 15 feet down or so, that chrome finish on the plug surely reflected sunlight. 

 The wooden Dalton Special was my favorite topwater plug. Then the Torpedo. Now the Pop-R. But I felt a desire to try the old Dalton this morning.

Oliver got some interest with his flies and bugs. 

 Wild Man with his biggest Tilcon pickerel yet.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

South Branch Raritan Flemington

Drove to the South Branch at Flemington to check and see if the flow is muddy. It's not. And so long as thunderstorms later today don't raise the level, Oliver Round and I are floating the river further north tomorrow. Water often gets released from Spruce Run Reservoir, raising the river level and muddying the water just enough to make fishing unproductive.

I brought a bucket with some leftover killies in it. I used some more than a week ago, when trying for fluke in the surf; the water they're surviving in is brine taken straight from the Atlantic. I thought I would have the change the water, but the fish are doing fine.

First cast to this long slow stretch behind a dam resulted in a little largemouth about nine inches long. I caught a longear sunfish, besides. I tried to access the river below the dam, but No Trespassing. Then I drove further above and found a nice hole below a rusted railroad trestle, but couldn't get a hit. I put a split shot on the line, too, after covering the area with a killie weightless.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Laurie Murphy Emphasizes that the lake is OPEN

And it never was closed, though word certainly got around that it was closed, completely false information. They closed the State Park swimming beach; no one was swimming at Lee's Cove, as far as I know, but beaches aren't the lake.

My wife told me minutes ago the advisory against swimming has been partially lifted.

As I related in an earlier post, Laurie told the newspapers people were swimming in the lake when the algae was at its worst, and Joe Welsh worked his herring nets--getting wet--the whole time. No rashes.

Laurie Murphy:

Lake Hopatcong is OPEN for boating & fishing, but still has an advisory in effect for no swimming due to the blue green algae bloom. Several private beach communities have opened back up with  swimming at your own risk due to lower #’s of the bacteria counts.  For the few fisherman that have continued to venture out, fishing has been great. Lots of fish & not alot of boat traffic. Jared Hackney landed a 4 lb largemouth bass along with several nice channel cats while fishing the Nolans Point area. Jim Welsh, fishing with herring off the points, managed  quite a few Hybrid Striped Bass in the 6 - 8 pound range, along with walleye weighing up to 4 pounds, smallmouth & largemouth bass, several pickerel and nice yellow perch & crappie for the week. Todays catch included a white Cat weighing  3 lb 9 oz. The Knee Deep Club will be holding their Catfish Derby on Saturday August 10th at 6 pm until noon on Sunday August 11th. We are open 7 days with bait, boat rentals & tackle. Have a great week !

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Anti-Report on the Surf

And now for an anti-report. After all, if you read the surf reports you can find about the Jersey Shore, they all seem to promise lots of action.

A few others fished near me on Island Beach yesterday. I saw nothing caught, although someone told me he caught a kingfish so little, he didn't know it was on his hook.

Just as well I didn't waste my money on clam, because he hooked that little fish on a sand flea. Even so, I never collected any to use. I stuck to my killies and cut bunker. Trying for fluke and blues.

A couple of killies came back cut in half. I never knew if by crabs or snapper blues. Probably crabs, since once I felt some weight on my line.

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

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