Thursday, June 21, 2018


"I'm not a bassman at all," I claimed in the Providence post. Huh. It talks about reservoirs and big bass and how I could catch one. Days later, I catch a seven-and-a-half-pounder at Merrill Creek Reservoir, and feel stunned and sort of wondering why I feel that way. For more reason than the preceding post, but it is true that this blog is a process that involves the real world.

Shortly after I caught that lunker, I felt converted, even though I had forgotten all about the Providence post written shortly previous. No bassman at all? I caught some kind of answer to the contrary of what I had asserted.

You can see the quizzical look of an unconscious poker face on the Merrill Creek post where I'm holding the fish. None of the photos my son got of me show me breaking out in much of a smile, at least not loose and relaxed, I was so dumb-founded. The poker face wasn't intended as such, but later I thought I look as if I'm answering back to the bass community who might have doubts about my prowess stuck on little three-and-a-half pounders, but better than that. It reflects back on me. My body language is saying, "I didn't mean to fool you about my denial, but I went ahead and did anyway."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bass Derby Open to All Comers


Remember that the Knee Deep’s Bass contest is this weekend on Sunday, June 24th. Speaking of Bass, a couple nice smallmouth made their way to the scale this week with John Moran catching a 3 lb 7 oz fish and Max Hughen weighing in his 3 lb 4 oz smallmouth. Several nice largemouth were also caught, along with yellow perch and crappie.  Codey Youkon, while casting a keitech custom worm, landed his 6 pound walleye fishing in Great Cove. We are open 7 days a week, from 5:30 AM to 7 PM, but will be open at 5 AM on Sunday for the contest. Entries can be taken up until 8 AM that morning. Have a great week !!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

North Jersey Outdoor Recreation

As a boy, Matt found 10 of New Jersey's 16 snake species in the wild, a couple of lizard species, a number of turtle species including the rare bog turtle, and numerous salamander, frog, and toad species. Not to mention out-of-state reptile and amphibian finds. I awakened a deep desire to reconnect him with this passion, and today, about a month after I thought of going, we gave it a try, but he couldn't quite remember where the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area spot for salamanders exists that New Jersey Audubon led him to about six years ago. Lots of salamanders. He photographed many. One of the species he found we're uncertain about as to its identity, so I particularly wanted to encounter some of these. His best guess about where: Van Campens Glen. So I suggested we bring fly rods, too. We found a spot he thought might have been the place, but the ground was too dry and we found nothing, so I doubt this is where, but maybe the spot has changed.

Meanwhile, we fished a large deep pool beneath a waterfall. Very thoroughly using various beadhead nymphs. With and without small split shot. Another fly angler showed up, who told us he regularly catches 8- to 10-inch wild  browns there, his biggest 13 inches, some wild rainbows too. I invited him to fish with us, but he wanted to go on upstream to a larger waterfall. I kind of wanted to see him in action, but I fish a waterfall pool on the upper North Branch that never fails to at least yield a hit from a wild brown. We got no hits today. And we later figured these two pools of Van Campen's Brook get a lot of pressure. Today a weekday, in the middle of the afternoon someone else showed up to fly fish. You can just imagine how many times the trout in these pools get caught and how reluctant to hit flies they become.

We stopped at my favorite Delaware River spot on the way out. Poxono Island. We basked in the sunny heat a few minutes and that felt good. We didn't fish at I-80 bridge, either, where we've caught a lot of smallmouths wading in the past. Maybe it was hunger that drove us on. We took 94 "into town," finding farm fields instead, but curving through Hainesburg with no deli or stores along that short tour of a hamlet I was seeing for the first time, passing a bridge over the Paulinskill where the river looks very inviting...we drove on. Dales Market in Blairstown served us an Italian hoagie, trail mix nuts, M&M's to add to the nuts and raisins, and a coke and green tea.

When we pulled up to our favorite smallmouth spot--big ones here--and finished eating, I walked down, glanced at the water, and it informed me we were probably there to give our respects. Not because anything specific was amiss about the river's condition. It was just an impression I got. A glance like that always seems to tell me everything. We fished about 20 minutes and Matt caught a little nine-inch smallmouth.

On the way to Saffin Pond--the plan was to fish sundown there--we talked about a possible part of the day's plan we had let go. My idea was to hike up the ridge and check the copperhead den. Get photographs. We haven't been there for five years or so, and I would like to get back, but we began to realize the full area deserves more time and exploration. Neither of us could remember searching the wetlands for salamanders, years ago. There were so many varieties of frogs. We observed these instead that day a year or two before I began blogging in 2011. So maybe next summer we'll spend an entire afternoon up there.

We got to Saffin Pond as light was climbing towards the tops of trees to the east. Matt caught a largemouth a foot long. I caught four largemouths, lost another. I measured my largest: 18 3/8ths inches. All on weightless worms. Three of the bass hugged tight to wood in the water near the bank where depth gathers pretty quick. I spotted a pocket in sparse shallow weeds to catch the biggest. Another pocket yielded a small one of about a pound. All released of course.

Monday, June 18, 2018

23 1/4-Inch Merrill Creek Reservoir Largemouth Bass From Shore

Most magazines take first-use rights, so well after a better photograph, in which the bass looks bigger, clears the legalities, I'll post that photo here.

My wife had never visited Merrill Creek Reservoir, so I offered her the opportunity, along with our son after he got off work today. We left Bedminster around 6:30 p.m.. It was too late for a hike, but we sat down on a nice "beach," as a passerby called it. I sized up the situation. To our right, sparse flooded timber, apparently open water in front of us. I reasoned that bass will frequent virtually any shoreline, and this stretch in front of us really wasn't bad with that wood in the water nearby. I cast my weightless Chompers far as I could and imagined it sinking through 20-foot depth, sunlit up top, nice and dark below, and then I propped my rod and reel on my camera bag, bail opened, lay back on the gravelly sand, closed my eyes and enjoyed sun on my skin.

Pretty soon, prompted by how it felt odd to be under gravity's power, I had a sort of weird vision about how mass and gravitation might "really" work. I started mumbling to my son, who had decided to lay back next to me, my son who knows everything physics, of course, as a physics major, this a Golden Opportunity for him to condescend to his dad. He didn't convince me about energy as the fundamental reality. "But energy has being," I said. I had seen gravitation in my mind's eye--a force--as merely following form. Stuff did not just glom together here to form this planet, on which I so perfectly lay back to take in the sun. The form preceded the existence. I was thinking that form sort of drew the stuff here. That would be gravitation, but only in the literal sense. I was really thinking of space itself as somehow formal. But "space" makes no sense without things, which to my mind begs a question about what space might be, not in terms of things like this planet, which has not existed here forever, but instead in terms of information that somehow precedes what comes about and gets established as reality. To put it simply doesn't explain anything, but of course, this planet never could have come into being, unless it possibly could come into being, before it actually did....

I didn't get further into it with Matt. After about 10 minutes of feeling really good about sandy gravel on the back of my head as implying gravity and certainly more than that somehow or other, I lazily sat up, reached to check my line, and for a moment was a little confused, because it seemed tight. Yeah, I had sized up the situation as possibly yielding a bass, but we came here to show Matt's mother the place, not actually get a fish on, and to have just walked up to the first spot we came upon at a 660-acre reservoir, 210 feet deep, that just isn't likely to yield fish.

I stood and found a fish was on for certain, made sure that hook was set, and felt that whatever this fish was, are there carp in Merrill Creek Reservoir? carp do hit plastic worms, it was pretty big, and now it was rising to leap, and when a largemouth came completely out, "eight pounds" flashed in my mind. I loosened the Penn's drag a little, because this bass was going to run, and it eventually did, once it saw the shore. Before it got near, it leapt once more, seeming almost as fat as long, and I was astonished a fish as overweight as it looked could clear the surface.

Hook secure, though, I subdued it, and Matt grasped the lower jaw not by thumb and forefinger, but with all four fingers and thumb curled underneath. She measured 23 1/4 inches with a fat belly, so correct me if I might be off a little about the weight, but I judged seven-and-a-half pounds. That secured hook actually caught on the upper lip, so I'm very sure this bass took the worm off bottom in the dark, after that worm sat there on bottom for about 10 minutes. And it must have hit about the moment I decided to get up and check my rod.

Sun ducked under the trees and we soon left. The gate closes at sunset.