Saturday, June 25, 2016

River Cleanup with Central Jersey Stream Team

We worked in the South Branch Raritan River through the South Branch/Branchburg area not very far upstream of the confluence with the North Branch, removing more than a hundred tires and some assorted junk. Central Jersey Stream Team formed in 2013, after a family canoe trip down the South Branch.

"We saw more tires than wildlife," Steve told me. He is an Eagle Scout, so experienced in organizing projects. In three years time, more than 3000 tires have been pulled from the river, and about five tons of metal. Over lunch, some of us discussed the possibility of the removal of so much rust changing the river's pH a little for the better.

Anyone can volunteer. Central Jersey Stream Team's website has a sign-on function. I know I want to do this again, whether or not I have time this summer or next. An excellent group of regulars has a lot more fun than any drudgery.

Whatever the purpose, I like being on a river or wading a river or walking the edge and bank. I'm not limited to fishing, but I especially like practical involvement in some form or other, so long as I take my moments of wide-open appreciation for the surroundings. That's not limited to sight, which involves my camera in turn, since I pay attention to birdsong. And what people have to say.

Next time, I hope to find more tires. At least today, one I sighted in the immediate vicinity of the big tractor tire discovery apparently had some valuable significance for removal, whether or not the others would have found it anyway. We loaded the canoe I steadied, careful that it did not tip with all my expensive camera equipment in the bag on board! Ultimately, we hope to find fewer and fewer, but we're aware that with flood erosion, tires now buried under mud will at least partially emerge. There's work to be done yet. Steve told me they've found plenty dating from the 1950's, whitewalls from a long gone era deposited for us to take and leave a river cleaner than a century ago for the future.

 Andy Still prepares to place a tire in the canoe I used.

Treading for tires.

Monday, June 20, 2016

North Branch Raritan River Summer Trout

Another day with choice in the balance: dog park or a little fly fishing with the black Lab. Well, this time I planned days in advance to do the fly fishing! And as it turned out, in the middle of vacuuming the house, I realized I had minutes before 8:00 p.m., grabbed my gear, and found the two-weight fly line on my Flyrise 1 had somehow got seriously loop-wrapped. Took me 15 minutes to unloop and unwind it all, tie on a Muddler Minnow and go, but I would not comprise on my chosen light approach.

I came for smallmouths, and another fly fisherman happened to be leaving as I got the two photos. He'd caught a redbreast sunfish and seven-inch smallmouth, missed a few trout upstream, and told me about two-pound smallmouths upstream last summer. He used an eight-weight rod--so convincing, that.

I fished a favorite run where I caught a smallmouth fly fishing a few years ago, missed two hits probably from sunfish, and then got freaked out about my camera set aside in the bushes. Some other guy had stopped on his bicycle nearby for a long time, suddenly left, and I hurried to have a look. Of course the camera remained. When you're older, you've had some experience and can't let be as when young and vulnerable.

But this put me just downstream of the exit bridge, and soon I noticed some sip rises. Trout remain in this stretch all through summer. The water temperature surely in the 70's somewhere, I never would go out intending to catch trout with water this warm, but with trout rising in front of me...well. Pretty soon, a trout struck the Muddler at the surface with a splash. Two others barely lipped the fly, but finally one of them whacked it as I stripped, and I caught the rainbow.

I released the trout and it seemed to be perfectly OK. I kept fishing long enough to make sure it didn't belly up somewhere near me. Apparently this fish's lactic acid level resulted in no lethal end.

What a nice half hour to end the day! That's the beauty of a clean smallmouth bass--er--trout river near home. Both.

Photo Shoot Afternoon at Round Valley Recreation Area

Bright mid-day sun isn't ideal for photography, but much of the time I just have to take what I can get. Patricia and I spent Father's Day at Round Valley Recreation Area through the main gate for a little more than a couple of hours in the heat. My favorite of all the photos I took is the candid shot of her absorbed in thought. I had been busy trying to photograph a small blue flower with a sunburst pattern, a shot that didn't work out well. Since I got this photo of my wife in the shade and with my 18-55mm Nikkor kit lens, I feared for the worst, but Lightroom is a savior and the kit lens...really isn't as bad as I tend to think. But you can see the blue in the distant trees I couldn't get right, and the sky is bleached out, so once again, I think I'm buying the 17-55mm that costs a lot of money.

The other shots used my Tokina 11-16mm--great lens--and Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 with a 1.4 Nikkor extender and my Nikon D7100 set to 1.3 crop factor. (I used my tripod to get a shot of the carp at quite a distance.)

 About a hundred carp swarmed in the back of Ranger Cove. The angle--fish at a distance--made them look like a miracle of lake trout at the surface on a 93-degree afternoon.