Thursday, December 13, 2012

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, South Branch Raritan River, Neshanic River, Round Valley Reservoir, Subtle Portals to Places

Delaware and Raritan Canal in great shape--haven't seen it so clear in years. I may fish it this fall or winter after all. South Branch Raritan has perfect level, but I don't intend to try for trout here, or smallmouths. The little Neshanic River is also photographed. I once photographed a mink here where I stop on occasion for a breather.

Put out a line at Round Valley, nothing. I thought of what I wrote in a recent post about living as seamlessly as possible. Certainly, if seams are denials, repressions, complications, walls by which one refuses to get up and live, then living "seamlessly" is a nice suggestion. But the facts include that every situation is unique and bound to what it is, and to move into another occurence means passing through a change, which implies a limen, a seam. Be grateful reality is this way, because if things go wrong in one place, it's possible to go elsewhere and correct them.   

Delaware and Raritan Canal
South Branch Raritan
South Branch Raritan
Neshanic River (The way I shot it, resembles the canal)
Round Valley Reservoir
Round Valley Reservoir Angler

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Playful Pranks, Fun Element of Absurdity, Try, Try Again

 There's been an element of the absurd with me all my life, just as there has been with yours. Playful prankster as a kid and full of fun as an adult, I've never given up on celebrating life. Situations exist in which intense observation, rather than celebration, is needed. Life with a purpose is sure to raise eyebrows, so what I do is ignore or answer best I can, and when I'm not happy with my own results, I correct them. My father is the best example I've ever had. He's an organist and choir director who demands high artistic standards. Since I was a young boy, I've been trained at stopping, reflecting, trying again. And then doing this again, if necessary, multiple times until I get it right. Everyone on this planet is here together, but not everyone is perfectionist. The ones I would prefer not to associate with are those who might bellow that no one's perfect.

I want to live in a great, prospering, flourishing society, and I could use more adjectives to describe what will be, but don't want to weigh the words heavy. I never got very confused over self and society: no one can live without either.

I did mind my standing on a picnic table. That could be rude. But no one else was present besides my son, who knows his dad has tended to be slightly inappropriate sometimes, and I asked first, if you will, by minding what I was doing. What is it Jesus said, I forget, about going ahead and doing what you will if you know what you're doing? That statement made a very good impression on me as a youngster. Of course, even though Jesus spoke a very wise statement, he was crucified as a common criminal.

That's the Delaware Watergap in the background. Who would have thought a river would make it through that great mountain ridge wall? Impasses are meant--by definition--to be gotten through, around, or over.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Moving Much too Fast? Sure, I Want my Love to Last. Round Valley Reservoir and a Nice Rock.

Blessed relief at Round Valley. Must have moved at the speed of light or should that not be stressful? Didn't feel any stress--for what, weeks? Well, I recall feeling some in Giants stadium. But sitting on a boulder and reading Camus for an hour finally took that dreadful light out of me enough to be human again and ache a little, which feels good.

Put out a line, but knew I would catch nothing. The day I got the big rainbow, I felt the whole reservoir pregnant with possibility. Today I sat on the same rock and wrote, but the other day, the trout pulled the rod next to me right at the perfect time synchronous with what I was about to write, and did note after I caught the fish. I also cited the fish along with the ideas.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ice Fishing New Jersey Trout: Time Can Encircle Forward Steps and a Lake is Always Rounded: It's the Nature of a Water Molecule: Air's Full of Them

I know, some lakes form elongated shape, but even these have edges rounded by water flow. Here's another of my column articles. It sketches some basics for anglers who want to catch trout this winter in New Jersey, and it relates grasp of ice fishing experience that will be of interest to ice fishermen and others alike.

New Jersey Winter Trout: Lakes and Ponds

          New Jersey’s Division of Fish & Wildlife began this winter’s trout stocking of lakes and ponds in the region November 19th, completing the mission November 21st. Morris County’s Mount Hope Pond and Speedwell lake; Little Swartswood Lake, Lake Aeroflex, Lake Ocquittunk, and Silver Lake in Sussex County; Hunterdon’s Amwell Lake; and Furnace Lake in Warren County have received rainbow trout 14 to 18 inches long.

          I recently spoke to Fred Matero, eager to fish Speedwell Lake in Morristown, an impoundment of the Whippany River with architecture left standing from about the time of the American Revolution. The size of the pickerel Fred has witnessed is outstanding. The lake is not loaded with them, but it’s heartening to know gamefish other than those stocked exist right at the edge of an urban setting. Take the trout home—they never make it through summers here—but leave the pickerel behind because they exist as resident fish that make the lake special.

          Any of the waters listed will harbor rainbows vulnerable to shore fishing. Perhaps most anglers use Berkeley Power Bait, which rainbows fall for easily, because the bait floats and the bright colors also create visibility. Use enough weight to place the bait in fairly deep water with about three feet of leader margin. Or you can try a marshmallow and mealworm on a size 6 hook this way, since a small marshmallow will float the bait. Some trout get caught on worms on the bottom, and weighted shiners allowed to swim on a long leader prove somewhat effective, perhaps small size best. Spinners hook a few also, but the water’s cold and if you can fish on a mild afternoon, it’s a good to let bait do the work, sit back and enjoy the weather or read a book. Open air does wonders for health and concentration.

          But the most interesting approach to lake and pond rainbows usually happens in January, February, and early March. Ice fisherman tend to catch the interest of anyone who sees them busy jigging through a hole, tending tip-ups, or sitting out on a lake on a fold out chair. The unusual extremity of weather exposure makes people wonder. But most of all, people seem to question what enjoyment exists in trying to catch fish in the dead of winter. Ice, of all things, seems counterintuitive to the freedom of casting a line and fishing currents, depths, or surf. I once got a magazine article assignment about ice fishing because, the editor told me, “I think you guys are friggin’ nuts and want to know something about it.”

           Most people aren’t drawn to a stark, frozen landscape to find serenity. Doing something very different than any activity in a controlled, heated environment provokes us to feel that others can speculate all they want about just why. It’s a good time; elevated feelings have their reasons. Going solitary or social, ice has its attractions. One of the things I like about my life is that time does not seem to steal it in the way I’ve heard others complain about this loss, and ice fishing slows and deepens experience of time uniquely. Nothing further removed from usual recreation exists--besides winter trail hiking, perhaps, or skiing a course-less, wilderness slope. Ice fishing is pursued in an environment that does not exist every winter, but when it does exist, it's as absolute as any other and stranger than most. What might astonish you is the levity you feel once you stand on frozen water. It’s impossible to know how ice awakens senses until you cut the hard stuff yourself. Ultimately, the mind centers experience in space so that time encircles you, rather than runs ahead dragging you with it.

          But if you never have tried ice fishing and want to find these things out, don’t venture onto ice alone unless you are absolutely familiar with the outdoors. No one wants to stand over water that would kill a human being in ten minutes of exposure, without knowing it’s safe or not. Find someone who knows who will take you. Guide services for hire exist.

          I first ice fished shortly after I turned 15. An older angler introduced me to a frozen pond near Plainsboro, N.J., before the vast farming acreages became McMansions. No sooner had we set a few tip-ups, I heard a thunderous crack and a deep, fluid grumbling sound, sort of like weaponry. I must have jumped three feet into the air, and Joe laughed out loud, me staring at him directly waiting for an answer.

          “The ice settles!” He said, and turned back to cutting more.

          I’ve ice fished ever since as if that first time showed me a different world. I keep going back because what I found is better than salt for sanity in a distracting world.       

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Giants Football, the Jets, Apollo Space Mission, and Round Valley Reservoir

Giants beat the New Orleans Saints, 14th birthday celebration for my son who played football this fall and high school next year. I remember the 1969 success of Joe Namath and the Jets enough to have never faltered in judging them my favorite team.

I sat down, looked at the field, and saw how a 747 would fit. I like jets more than giants as indelible symbols of civility and human achievement. What's a giant by comparison, unless his name is Orville Wright?

Jimi Hendrix wrote "Catch that Feeling," but the Jet's success in 1969 was more than a feeling. It was a wave that shot right up with the Apollo space mission.

When Joe Namath showed up on TV in panty hose, he sold something that keeps garbage collectors in business. At least nowadays visionaries think hard on what to do with dumps. 

The Meadowlands stadium--I can call it that--reminded me of Round Valley with the reservoir at center. That stadium placed in the reservoir, water surface would cover all, swallow everyone and everything like the sea takes the Flying Dutchman. 

So much for me and the Giants, besides that I got the rolling stones c.d. photographed at bottom as a handout.

Relationship Between Aristotle and Alexander the Great, Friendship, and the Delaware River as an Environment Basic to Cultures

The piece following this preface was originally published by Recorder Newspapers as an installment of my "Reel Time" column, revised somewhat for this post, and concerns walleye fishing. The original syndicated piece dealt with both Aristotle and Alexander, including the notion of environments as basic to cultures, exemplifying the Delaware River, which, incidentally, is essential to the history of the United States, as George Washington and his troops crossed the river near Trenton early in the morning of December 26th, 1776, marching into this present-day state capitol of New Jersey to turn the American Revolution in the rebel's favor. The winter Delaware River is what the article is about. That's an environment which implies weather commonly regarded inhospitable. Since the article makes a point about the relationship between Aristotle and Alexander the Great, I want to fill in some more about this.

Aristotle's the author of friendship. His writings on friendship testify to this so fully that I think of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the Ode to Joy--and friendship--as Aristotelian. He learned much from his pupil, Alexander, a great mind in his own right.

I think Aristotle's concept of animal locomotion speaks well for his tutelage of Alexander, the greatest military genius the world has ever known, because Alexander moved upon other cultures, conquering them and becoming one of them himself, although he always remained his own individual character, important to remember for what I'll soon disclose.

Alexander conquered, but Aristotle was the prime mover. Without his mentor, Alexander couldn't have achieved what he accomplished. The historical facts involve these two giants together.

But what really happened to prompt Aristotle to say that he would not let philosophy be sinned against twice, recalling the execution of Socrates? When Alexander turned his forces against Athens--where Aristotle wrote and taught at his school, the Lyceum--his chief target may have been Aristotle, as if to conquer his teacher would be a triumph to relish. After all, Alexander had merely conquered nations and cultures. Perhaps he resented his status as protégé of the world's greatest mind. Could he conquer the greatest of what truly moves events?

In any event, Alexander understood that by moving against Athens, he would implicate his former mentor as head of the Lyceum, which he, Alexander, helped finance. Aristotle did not flee just to save his own skin. And he did not flee from Alexander, but the political elite Alexander played upon, who would have executed Aristotle for his association with the conqueror, benefactor of the school. Aristotle's chief concern was the safety of his own family, his wife and children.

So much is written, particularly with regard to women's liberation, about Aristotle's subjugation of women. To some he seems to have been a monster. Modern America has progressed a great deal from ancient Greek times. No Greek polis included women as citizens. But above all else, we could not have progressed to our current levels of emancipation without Aristotle's work in the background of the civilization America is part of.

Together he and his family left Athens. Aristotle's resentment against his former student Alexander was a trifle.

Delaware River is an Opportunity for Hardy Anglers

          This late in the season a relative few go fishing for recently stocked trout, but most have given up until April. So after November, I always feel I write mostly to entertain, although anyone taking a Sunday stroll or drive along the Delaware River near Bull’s Island, Philipsburg, or Belvidere, for examples, may be surprised to witness either a shore angler or boat fisherman. Very few brave the severe cold, but especially mild afternoons can stir excellent walleye fishing.

          Deep, slow pools serve as walleye spots until these fish spawn in March. But no creature wants to stay in one place unless they were to hibernate. Fish never hibernate. This is why winter river walleye anglers love mild evenings following an afternoon of the river’s absorbing sunlight, temperature of shallow water rising slightly. Something to anticipate for the joy awaiting.

          I have caught Delaware walleye in December, when I owned a boat sufficient for the requirements of comfort and safety, and have looked forward to doing the likes again as one of the most desirable fishing pursuits. It’s not really as simple as getting out there and conquering weather opposing you. Weather changes an individual. Especially by performing an activity with an objective—walleye fishing—the environment makes he or she more fit for life in general. Possibility expands which anyone encountering it couldn't have realized, until he or she goes out and achieves the potential.

          I like to think of the way Alexander the Great, the ancient Macedonian, conceived of conquering. Not nations really, but cultures. What he subdued modified who he was by his own choice and discipline. However, natural environments are at the root of cultures. Alexander could not possibly have known this fact as well as his mentor, Aristotle. An earlier Ionian philosopher, Thales, is credited as the first proto-scientist, but the enormous achievement of Aristotle regarding science has led to modern advances. We needed English philosopher Francis Bacon in the interim--at the dawn of the 17th century Scientific Revolution--to make modernity truly achievable. But Bacon sure had a task in Aristotle to overcome.

          Day to day, season to season: weather modifies any environment, each fluid, as another ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, spoke of rivers. No river stepped in a second time the same. I am myself of a disposition akin to high atmospheric sunlight—I love jet travel at 38,000 feet or higher—so it’s natural for me to desire an opposite, finding myself completely comfortable on a gray cold day in a small open boat.

          This is the same principle as applies to walleye. No creature wants to stay in the same place. No creature can. By definition, animals have the power of locomotion, as Aristotle described what animals do—move.

          Angling is about moves aligned with keen wherewithal. The fisherman has more to remember than his catch or lack of it. He learns how to find fish by various hand-spun experiments. Big smallmouth bass lurk in slow deep pools this time of year, along with walleye as large as 13 pounds, and possibly bigger—state record size. Typically, live shiners suffice, although smallmouth bass as large as four or five pounds have been caught on tube jigs.

          The idea is simple. Tube jigs have soft plastic appendages. Put the tube on a quarter to half-ounce stand-up jig head, and let it sit on the bottom of a hole. Slow current will move the appendages like something alive. Some anglers fish this way, letting the arrangement sit for a minute or more while waiting for the feel of a tick. If nothing happens--the usual state of affairs--they move the jig five to 10 feet and do this again. This can seem the epitome of boredom, but although the point is to hook into action, the wider experience is relaxed and contemplative in a way that engages natural substance. Experience that takes things in to engender health and mindfulness. It creates soul, a reality mistakenly thought to be a given, instead of self-made to some degree, as Alexander poured ingredients from each culture he conquered into the melting pot of his inwardness, making himself a complex personality. After all, something receptive must be present at birth in order to grow. 

          A bare quarter ounce jig-head with a shiner attached is effective for winter walleye, but some anglers swear by simply clamping on a medium to large tin split shot 18 inches above a size 6 plain shank hook. A hunk of tin or lead at a shiner’s mouth is not the most natural presentation of the bait, but does make it stay on bottom. Some holes are 30 feet deep or more and a split shot is insufficient to get the bait to bottom. Walleye take a bait that does get to them like trout, mouthing it by little tugs. If a jig head is used. set the hook immediately because the walleye may drop the lead weight, but using lighter split shot allows waiting as long as ten seconds for the shiner and hook to get deep into the mouth to ensure hooking the fish. If the intent is to release a fish that’s swallowed a hook, plain-shank size 6 hooks typically rust away and the gullet heals.

           If you get a glorious, mild, sunny afternoon, stick around into dusk and fish shallows near a deep hole with Rebel or Smithwick floater/diver plugs, or the Rapala Countdown. Even better, perhaps: Rapala Husky Jerk suspending jerkbaits or the likes. You can pause these lures in place. Slow retrieves really work, but especially fish the edges between current and slow water. The Countdown is a real winner because it can probe a little deeper by letting it sink. Sometimes half a dozen walleye over four pounds get caught before dark.