Saturday, March 31, 2012

Appreciations for Delaware & Raritan Canal/Millstone River Aqueduct at Lake Carnegie Princeton New Jersey

I had my camera bag right by the door, and going out I just felt I didn't want to drag it along. By my plans it was altogether unnecessary. I was on my way to register our 12-foot inflatable with the state of New Jersey (55 pound thrust Minn Kota Endura--nice), visit my parents, and a friend at Princeton Medical Center with a bill over a million. No problem with that--he's alive and completely confident.

But I make it up as I go along. Plans I never allow to bind me anymore than I would any other tool. I turned out of Washington Circle onto Route One north, vaguely intending to cut through Kingston and either take Route 533 or 206 into Somerset County and then on home. I ended up on a road flanking the south side of Lake Carnegie as it passes "Hogwarts School" (Princeton Center for Arts and Education) and follows along the Delaware & Raritan Canal back westward. In short order I realized where I was headed--the Millstone River. But it wasn't until I got there that--of course--I found ample parking exists for an area I've actually had in mind on occasion over the years, where the Millstone passes underneath the canal to enter Lake Carnegie at the lake's deepest hole of over 20 feet. I have not been here for about 30 years, when I caught a largemouth on a crankbait in the lake right about this time of year where I soon found myself standing. But certainly no lilypads had emmerged then as early as they have now. I can hardly believe it--lilypads, New Jersey, and the month of March.

Experiencing this place moved me profoundly--the Millstone, canal, lake, the fishermen with a five-gallon bucket full of big bullheads--brown/yellow bullheads at that, nice, healthy fish--the lilypads, the crew racers--some from Annapolis Naval Academy--and just a great, wholesome feeling that I have been at this place all these 30 years.

It's the interchange of waterways that attracts me strongly to the vistas here, the sense of connection to Roman aqueducts and other marvels of ingenuity in a wide open world. I don't care for the ancient Romans so much since I despise power and might when it is valued above intellectual reflection and aesthetics. Intellectuality is fun, aesthetics joyous, and power and might without these values are brutal stress and torment, despair, defeat, and death. If intellect and aesthetics triumph, there will be no war, no presumed reasons for it. But I appreciate the mind's practicality in any civilization. A friend of my younger brother once suggested years ago that I could be an engineer. It is fascinating, but I would write about engineering before I would do it. There's only so much time in life.

I want to go there again, with my son, a rod and reel apiece, and a bucket of shiners (and camera). Why shiners? Well, I caught the bass years ago on a proper crankbait in cold water. Now I might go in July--with shiners--because I want to behave contrary to expectation, and not even care if we catch anything until we might. I just want to be there.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Passaic River with Pike in Mind

 Had only 20 minutes to fish the Passaic River on my lunch break. This second time I've ever fished it I got skunked, as if anything more would be expected on such a short stint. I caught three smallmouth bass in 2006 or '07. First time I've fished a Storm Thunderstick. I really like this plug. It has excellent bouancy, but it gets down a few feet and responds very well to tip action. If any pike stalked it I would be surprised. However, plenty pike are in the river. Stocked by the state each year, the fingerlings grow fast and large. Considering that this is New Jersey, the 46-incher reported by the angler who wrote a great piece on Passaic pike for On the Water magazine is a huge fish.

Should get out again next week. I'm off work and pike are on the agenda. Spruce Run usually yields a few for my son and I and friends. I want to try Ryker's Lake for bass too, although the main focus of this trip will be snakes, as my son observes and photographs many different species. Ryker's Lake is reportedly a mile hike into the wild, so this should be interesting.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Never Saw Millstone River in Better Shape: Looks Like an Ideal Trout Opening Day Ahead

Today I drove along the Raritan River, over the Millstone River at Wilhousky Street, and over the South Branch Raritan at a couple of points, and the Neshanic River as well. All of these streams are in perfect shape. I really thought of Opening Day ahead a week from now less than I did of what a perfect spot for spawn-driven pike that dam at Wilhousky appears to be. But I guess it's too late now. Better to have tried sometime in February this year.

I could have geared up to fish at lunch break, but I'm just not so organized because I can't stand being bound to routine, so if I can get out the door in the morning without even thinking at all of gathering my camera bag and tackle tote, I will tend to do that and enjoy a little freedom. I find little ways to let go of the grip of routine rather than being fixated on security. Today I had intended to meet a friend during my break time, so it was easy to have overlooked preparing to fish in case this didn't work out as it didn't.

Had a taste of Paradise at Wilhousky Street, Manville, New Jersey--just the sight of that clear Millstone River water for a moment, which is so unusual for the Millstone, typically more off-color than clear. I think it will be an ideal Opening Day for trout, not that the Millstone will have any. I'm thinking of Opening Day for my son's sake; I'm just along for the ride to serve as guide.