Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Round Valley Reservoir Trout End of the Year

Matt and I first tried fishing shoreline trout at Round Valley in November 2005, catching a couple rainbows, 15 and 16 inches long, in January the next year. I then had no idea where this simple fishing would lead, if it would go anywhere but for me to take my son once and awhile during the cold season. I was working for New Jersey's largest credit union as a courier, driving daily a 150-mile route through North Jersey. The job got especially interesting in 2009, when I started driving the Southern Route as well, alternating daily between the two routes, each about the same mileage. I became aware of opportunities to fish especially on this route new to me on a regular basis, though it didn't take me any further down state than exit 109 on the Garden State Parkway. One of these spots was Round Valley Reservoir, and by 2011, I fished here almost every other day on my lunch hour during the cold season, for trout. The experience became something beautiful beyond description in a blog post. I've written a book that devotes nearly a hundred pages to what I encountered, 300 pages in total, which I don't plan to publish, but revise as a book that will be different, though most of the words about Round Valley will remain intact. As it is, it's a worthy testament between my son and me. I sent it to him by email just before he left for Boston University this recent September, and he placed it in his document files to read. Sometimes I feel as if I live on such a thin tether that it might break, and if something were to happen to me, my son has this book. I don't tell him the likes, In case you never see me alive again; it's just the way I feel. Beyond this admittance, I don't make it anyone else's business to feel this way about me. It's the sort of inner malaise a lot of writers have to contend with, because by seeking what amounts to originality in so many other words, they've lost some connection to the sorts of everyday assurances that comfort most.

Today Matt, Fred, and myself, we hung out in bitter wind-driven cold, and the feeling of ordinary familiarity was a matter of course. Like us, I suppose, Fred had packed quickly and made the short jaunt from home easily, expecting us to either be there or be there shortly. We were 20 minutes late, but that seemed to make no difference as conversation kicked in and never stopped. We pretty much came to catch up on one another's lives. But when, a little unexpectedly--trout fishing in the cold is usually very slow at best--one of Fred's three rod tips dipped seconds after his Power Bait reached bottom in about 20 feet of water, I soon felt a touch of the past excitement in the middle of finding myself checking bait and casting it back out. Some of that passion I knew each time I came here on lunch touched me.

Fred fished the orange Power Bait and marshmallow and mealworm combinations. Matt and I fished shiners, since we're especially interested in any lake trout that might be moving in close with the bitter cold. I had told Fred we would stop at The Sporting Life for shiners and that he was welcome to dip his hand in the bucket. I did that repeatedly, and once took refuge in my car with the heater on full, hands shocked and reddened. Matt and I didn't think to bring gloves, since the fishing here is all too convenient with cars parked nearby.

If any lakers loom along these near-shore inclines, none let us know today. Anyone who wants to try for them should take advantage of this week's cold. With temperatures near zero in the mornings, I bet lakers will be there for anyone who wants to use a bucket ladle instead of bare hands. The park kicks you out at 4 pm, and as we packed it in today, Fred discovered that rainbow trout photographed on one of his marshmallow and mealworm lines.