Thursday, May 2, 2019

North Branch Raritan River Early

Phoned Mike Maxwell last night about fishing this morning; he didn't pick up, and before he phoned back, I had already taken my sleeping pills, so I told him I was going around 6:00 a.m. He told me he might go mid-morning, when he gets a break from work.

Some guy was there fishing Power Bait with a big rod when I arrived, having caught two. I went on down to my most dependable hole and got not a hit, figuring not many got stocked yesterday. I went back upstream and caught one where a fairly deep current slackens. Getting no more hits, I went further up, just below the exit bridge where in the past I've caught many, getting no hits there. But under the exit ramp in the shallows I caught four.

Salmon eggs, as I usually fish. All of my trout I released today. 

I didn't feel my usual verve. Had to make myself get up, carry my camera bag with my right arm still giving me some trouble, and walk down under the entry ramp to the fast water below. I felt sure some trout would be there, and though it took awhile before I got my first hit and landed the trout--the water pretty high and the current tricky for drifting eggs--some are there. I caught yet another and missed a strong hit.

Not many hits missed this morning. The guy using Power Bait caught as many as I did. I watched him closely, even though I felt this a nuisance, feeling jealous because I like to think nothing's better for stocked rainbows and brook trout--brookies no longer stocked in Jersey--than microlight method. That's a presumption impossible to proove. Plenty of times I've done better than other guys in the vicinity, but plenty of times others have kept up, too. I like to think I'm not the vain sort. That I'm there on a stream for my own good time and don't care how others do, but though it's true I come to enjoy myself, I do get competitive. 

Better than that, all four of us--two other guys showed up--recognized each other with waves and hellos. It's a lot better to fish a stream with others who put simple good will before doing better than the next guy, and as usual this was evident today, in spite of my edgy mood.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Microlight is how I catch most of my trout. Salmon egging. All of us have our preferences. Fred catches plenty on jigs, and today my brother Rick fished Stony Brook, first with jigs and Power Bait in Hopewell Township, then with a fly rod and nymphs in Princeton Township; 24 of the 27 he caught on jigs, one of them just slightly under 18 inches. Four-and-a-half hours fishing.

Interesting that back in the 70's, a lot of us fished salmon eggs, but I don't remember jigs getting used at all. Maybe Fred and Noel can fill me in. I'm pretty sure the rise of the Trout Magnet began in the 80's, but maybe later.

I did use jigs, though, on native brook trout in the 70's. Shad darts. Nine-inchers hit them hard.

I don't mean to imply jigs catch more than eggs. Rick's fished eggs for decades. One day, fishing the Pohatcong Creek with eggs, he caught 175 trout on them. My highest number, I think, is 86, but I would have to confirm this against my handwritten log. That was a long time ago on the Hunterdon streams I've posted about.

Hopatcong Report

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club’s Panfish Challenge is being held this Sunday, May 5th from 5 AM - 4 PM. It will include Sunfish, white & yellow perch, Rock Bass and Crappie. It is a point based contest and cash prizes will go to the top 3 finishers. Entries can be taken up to 8 AM that morning. More info can be found on the Knee Deep Club’s website , or by calling the shop at (973) 663 - 3826. We will be open from 5 AM - 7 PM.  Some notable catches the past couple of weeks, include Jim Salerno with a 3 lb 12 oz pickerel and Clint Myers with a 3 lb 3 oz Rainbow Trout. Walleye season is open today May 1st.  Eddie Mackin has weighed in with his 6 lb 14 oz fish and his brother Christopher had several fish in the 3 to 4 pound range, hitting stick baits and live herring.  Have a great week !!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Spruce Run Creek and Sparse Trout

Took some planning, but Oliver Shapiro and I managed to get out and fish trout this afternoon and evening. He left it up to me, whether we would fish Spruce Run Creek or Lopatcong Creek. I did get online and figure out where some Lopatcong access is available, but chose Spruce Run, because I decided I want to approach the other stream with a fly rod in the fall. I've never fished there, though Mike Maxwell and I caught many trout here in Glen Gardner on salmon eggs.

Today I did manage to fish spots new to me. By walking up and downstream of stocking points, I found some interesting holding water, but no really deep holes. Oliver hiked and waded far, too. Now we've each seen parts of this stream the other hasn't. Despite recent rain, the water was very clear, and lower than when Mike and I fished here two years ago. Stocked on Monday, about a week ago, we found very few trout. I managed to catch two and miss a handful of hits. Oliver got one hit.

That second trout made me feel especially fulfilled, since I had already come to grips about few for the taking. And I released both. They holdover. Or at least any leftover do. (Quite a few end up in Spruce Run Reservoir.) But it took me an hour or so before I got my first hit, and the first trout I caught relieved me of the skunk on my back. It's one thing to write a book about this marvelous microlight method, and quite another to look forward to your guest reading it before it goes to an agent...while you caught nothing during the outing introducing him to the fishing. A little scary. Both 11-inch trout took off on drag-screaming runs on that one-pound test Suffix I'm using. The only draw back to this line is the difficulty in seeing it while I drift eggs. I chose the clear option. Maybe orange is a wiser choice, but I just don't like the idea of using line the trout might see, and besides, a bright orange line would seem garish to me.

I've noticed over the years that sometimes many more get stocked than other times. Why the stocking crew decides to put more in one stocking day, and not so many another, sometimes seems impossible to tell, since it doesn't always seem to do with water level or dangerous warmth. (Maybe Noel can fill me in.)

Towards sundown, we pulled over at a stocking point downstream and found the only obviously worthwhile hole occupied, deciding not to encroach on the owner of an SUV with PA plates. We hopped on down to another point, or ostensible stocking point, finding nothing but very shallow water, so we decided to give the North Branch in Bedminster a half hour.

Water was high but not off color, just not very clear. Fishable. But little were hitting. Oliver did manage to get a hard smack on a spinner, then another hit on the same downstream. I got two hits in my most dependable hole at the Zoo. One of those hits came at high speed, the trout swimming a full five feet before I completed my attempted hook set, drag on the line in the water making that impossible. This microlight game is largely about the fun of setting hooks. If you get good at drifting eggs, you will get a lot of them, but missing many is unavoidable.

Chilly day. My brother Rick mentioned possibly fishing the Pohatcong, but he had decided the rain and the "cold" weather had changed his mind. I've caught plenty of rainbows on eggs in early April weather much chillier than today, but perhaps a distinct drop in temperature does affect the trout badly. Oliver and I saw no insects hatching. It's not that trout stocked fairly recently are selective about dry flies, but when you do see insects in the air, it's a good sign. Life in general is on the move. Probably on the feed.