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