Saturday, August 25, 2012

Manasquan Inlet Fluke and Seabass on Killies

I have to confess that my motive to go today, all the way down to Seaside Park, then up Route 35 to Brielle and Manasquan Inlet, was as much to get an issue of Lake Ontario Outdoors at Betty & Nicks and two pints of killies for smallmouths, as it was to fluke fish, although I was completely open to letting the fishing take me. But by the time we had eaten on the boardwalk and taken our time to get to the inlet, we had only two hours to fish. I could have stayed longer, but right now I'm glad I have the magazine to read since I want to write for it.

We each got a fluke by simple 1/2-ounce steel egg sinker rigs, size 2 hooks on 15-pound flouro, and we caught scads of little eight and nine-inch seabass. Light spinning tackle. Matt's fluke, just under keeper limit, shook out of my hand. You see in the photo that Matt got at it down under the rocks, and he tossed it back safely. Fred Matero recently caught 75 fluke here at the inlet within a single tide. I didn't expect to catch anything like that many, and I was glad we each got one at least.

I lost something really good sized. That especially made me want to stay longer. Unlike so many activities we do enjoy, but move on from casually without a thought to looking back, we often regret having to quit fishing for the day.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Exploring South Branch Raritan River for Smallmouth Bass

More exploring South Branch Raritan River, but I had only a half hour, so I marched down fast and back. Further down this stretch is inviting; maybe next time with some live killies. Matt & I plan to fluke fish tomorrow, and just as important is bringing back a bucket full.

I've been catching them on Senko-type worms, but love using killies. Have to say that in the rare event, nothing beats a lively, large shiner that leaps away from a big, rushing bass. A smallmouth nearly three pounds blew apart the surface four times--the last attack leaping clear out of the water to close down upon the shiner--a few weeks ago. I had not a fraction of a second to let that bass run with the bait, and I caught her. But killies outlast shiners and are much less expensive. Smallmouths love them too.

Two average stream bass today. I have the feeling September will be good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

6.6 Pound Smallmouth Bass, South Branch Raritan River Remembered

Just an average stream bass, South Branch Raritan River, fishing for about an hour. New water, but no bass in all the range I explored. I got the bass under the tree where I've caught a number before, where I set out today, hoping to uncover new opportunity elsewhere.

Well, I still want to try downstream from Darts Mill Road, and many other ranges besides. Today I realized that I've caught no smallmouths in the Musconetcong, Pequest, and Rockaway rivers, nor the Flatbrook. All of these streams have at least some bass. I get these moods when all I want to do is explore, but in reality I get these one hour stints and that's about it. Well, I take a lot of time for outings on weekends.

One thing I will do when my son packs up for college--fish from the confluence of the North Branch Raritan and Lamington rivers down two-and-a-half miles to Route 28, and back.

A 6.6-pound smallmouth caught and weighed in from the South Branch in 2010. Feel the mystery of that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speed Plastic Worming for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Pickerel

Fished my local pond after sunset with Senko-type worm, only lure I brought along. I caught this bass on my second or third cast and had to leave the hook in the deep grisle that grips forage and forces it into the gullet. (It will rust.) Having brought no other hooks, I just took a minute to walk home and got some. I lost another good-size bass, average for this pond, and caught another retrieving the worm, rigged Wacky, at almost top speed while jigging the rod.

I've read about bass fishermen who swear by speed worming. This isn't the first time it's worked for me; I've caught a smallmouth bass and one or two pickerel, but I''ve never methodically worked a worm this way except to get it back quick to make the next cast. Since I usually arouse a bass on the initial drop, I tend to retrieve staight back after letting settle.

The purple flower cluster spindles are loosestrife. I really love this plant for its name, the word given it, but then again, the word has pointed my senses to the reality in a wilder sense than plant life alone. The yellow isn't golden rod, not sure what. I know of ironweed, but not iron rod.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fly Fishing Trout as Streams Cool

A bright, wonderful day, but without rod and reel because the herniated disk in my lower back has given me trouble since Friday. I did get out and enjoy Round Valley Reservoir scenes at lunchtime, taking some photos. If any of you are classical music afficiandos like me, Biedrich Smetana's The Moldau was fitting music, signaled from WQXR, New York.

I thought I would revise a story I wrote for Recorder Newspapers of New Jersey's Highlands almost a year ago, get the piece out early, although we do have some cooler weather now, which hints at what's less than a month away.

With Cooler Temperatures Trout are Game

          Streams are cooling—at least in the mornings—below the 68-degree threshold, above which--more or less--trout do not survive lactic acid trauma after struggle on a hook and release. That’s a general rule—brook trout need cooler water, rainbows tolerate slightly warmer, and browns fare even better through summer—but it’s worth keeping in mind when fishing trout during the heat of summers like this and the previous two we’ve got through.

          Many small spring-fed streams, may never warm above 68. But my son, Matt, and I fished the Paulinskill River in Sussex on the hottest day of the year last summer through stretches with ample springs, and we finished our short afternoon by swimming—in water that felt about 82. A visit to the Paulinskill late in July this year saw no trout at all, whereas a month prior browns were everywhere. Most of them probably got through the heat having found spring holes. 

          The Musconetcong River in Morris, Warren, and Hunterdon Counties is spring fed especially below Hackettstown on down through Asbury, and the Pequest is noted as a limestone river by Tom Gilmore in his book Fly Fishing the Big Apple. Trout holdover in all of the streams I’ve mentioned and more; reproduction occurs in smaller spring streams. 

          Trout fishing for both fly anglers and those who prefer spinning tackle should improve with cooler temperatures with streams and rivers at normal levels, and it won’t be long before rivers like the Musconetcong, Pequest, Paulinskill, Black, Rockaway, and North and South Branch Raritan receive a generous stocking of 14 to 16 inch, and larger, trout from the state the second and third weeks of October. The volumn of fish stocked is less than during spring, but plenty escape angler’s intentions and remain in rivers for a productive winter fishery; a few holdover into spring and beyond.

          However, New Jersey trout are not all about the Pequest hatchery. Native brook trout with genetic lines extending back to the end of the Wisconsin Glacier exist in many pure water streams. Some clean and cool water streams are not stocked, yet have abundant populations of rainbow and/or brown trout which have reproduced since stockings many years ago. Some streams feed into rivers that are stocked; trout migrate upstream in turn.

          The headwaters of the Passaic River in Bernardsville are full of wild rainbows and browns, accessible at Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary. Angers are required to release what they catch, and use artificial lures (flies or otherwise) with barbless hooks. Make sure to check at the office for additional regulations. Hooks can be rendered safer to released trout easily by crimping barbs with needlenose pliers. Most Passaic River trout are five to seven inches, few a foot long, and the very rare catch reaches 17 inches.

           Trout in small streams such as the Passaic headwaters spook easily and require stealth and skill. It’s easier to fish a wet fly, nymph, or streamer in a deep pool where your quarry will more likely be unaware of your presence. Rivers allow greater casting range to reach unsuspecting shallow water trout, but many years ago I caught plenty of nine inch brook trout in the small, crystal clear Dunnfield Creek of Warren County on small shad darts, jigs used in the spring Delaware River shad run. Use no more than two pound test line and cast anywhere you need to reach.

          I must confess before I attempt to enlighten you on dry flies that I have yet to catch a trout on any. I’ve only dabbled in fly fishing, although this year and the past, my son and I have tried a number of times, as yet catching more smallmouth bass than trout, and all of our fish this year on nymphs. Matt gets the crown for two browns that rose ferociously for a large, size 10, Adams dry fly. He missed both.

          I refer to Fly Fisher’s Guide to the Big Apple: Great Waters within 150 Miles of New York City, by Tom Gilmore for my advice to you.  Parachute Adams, size 18-24, Parachute Blue Winged Olive, size 18, Blue Quill and Blue Dun, 16-18, Gray Wulff, 10-12 represent hatches that may be encountered.

          Terrestial patterns come in fascinating variety which the folks at Effinger Sporting Goods may have further advice to help you, but ant, inchworm, and caterpillar patterns are good into October. The Wooly Worm, a wet fly caterpillar pattern I loved in my teens, is effective tied to as large as a size six hook. Find a few fly patterns you like, and this may get you started better than trying to outsmart nature.