Monday, August 28, 2017

Cowperthwaite Road to State Highway 28

Matt and I canoed and fished, floating and pulling the canoe through shallow riffles of the North Branch Raritan River, from the iron bridge over the Lamington River at Cowperthwaite Road, through the confluence, and on to State Highway 28, a distance of about two-and-a-half miles total, beginning at about 10:00 a.m., arriving upon The North Branch Bridge shortly after 3:00 p.m. We've had this trip in mind for about 13 years, although Matt doesn't remember as I do. This our first time covering the total distance.

Temperature perhaps 70 degrees when we began, it never seemed to get much warmer, although neither of us ever complained of any chilly discomfort. For late August, water temperature was chilly; I don't believe much warmer than 68.

We were about to shove off, my having remarked that with water this cool, we might do well on plugs, which I don't like to use until late September, even though my experience at catching stream bass after August includes very little. Matt told me he had plugs in his tackle bag, left in his car at The North Branch Bridge, so I volunteered to drive back and get that tackle.

Turned out I never used a plug, and though Matt tried a bit, we caught all 17 of our bass on Senkos.

The trip's highlight happened where we last left off 12 years ago, Matt six-years-old, a nice hole well downstream of the iron bridge. We waded and walked just that far, small planes taking off the end of the local airport runway more and less directly behind underbrush and trees. Matt hooked a smallmouth about eight inches long; a giant bass of 19 or 20 inches--giant for a little stream like this river--rose and followed directly at its frantic tail. "It looked like it was going to eat it," Matt said.

We found several other really nice holes on downstream, each of them inaccessible, except by floating or taking long, brush-burdened hikes. (Some of these stretches, I imagine, don't allow for wading through convenient shallows.) The deepest of these holes--I seriously wondered if it's 12 feet deep; the water was pretty clear, but I couldn't see bottom--features a lot of big carp. Many of them weigh, I believe, 12 pounds, and they are by the dozens.

It was yet another successful outing. I can't remember the last time I went fishing and felt it skunked, even when I've caught nothing.