Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Private Ponds for Largemouths and Crappies

I had the good fortune to take Tom Savko's invitation and fish a couple of ponds with him. Small and shallow, they hold really big bass in spite of appearances. Tom's caught a number of them around seven pounds, his largest seven and a half. Plenty more four and five pounds. He caught a four-pounder today on his second cast with a spinnerbait in close to the bank among lily pads. He got it against the bank, where somehow the line broke: 

Tom tried to catch the hook of his spinnerbait with the tip of his stout rod.

The water badly stained in that first pond we fished, I managed to catch two small bass on a spinnerbait with a chrome Colorado blade, but then tried, by Tom's suggestion, one of his with a brass blade, catching another bass. Tom had caught three or four more small ones. Finally, I tied on a Senko and caught one more from beside pads. All the while I felt the presence of big bass in that muddy water. Tom missed a hit right at the surface from another bass of about four pounds, but unless one of my missed hits was such a fish, I never drew any to my offerings. We fished all the way around the pond.

At the second pond we fished, I said, "Maybe there's a bass by that shadowline," and winged my Senko into sunlit water next to shade. First cast in proximity to a pond corner, but many yards from the bank. I got a pick-up but missed out on setting the hook. Tom tried for crappies with a jig under a bobber, catching a couple of bluegills, while I quickly landed three bass, none of them larger than a pound, and missed another hit. Tom having switched to a spinnerbait, I leapt ahead down along the shoreline to s small point, where nothing hit my Senko, although by casting all the way across the pond to some sticks, I missed a couple of hits.

My right arm is in bad shape. I fear it could be serious. I don't know what it is. A popped tendon, or something. Just playing bass under a pound was a little stressful, and I dread what a five-pound hybrid striper might do to me next month. I love catching those fish. The fight is the best I know. So I feel put off, for sure. Today, my casting ability was affected. And so was getting hooks set. I'm patient with it. I never want to jump the gun and see a doctor too soon. I trust the thing to heal. It gave me trouble for months after I arm wrestled my son, then got better. Whatever it is, it's related. 

Meanwhile, as I fished near that point, Tom drove the large ATV up, cast his spinnerbait alongside that point, and scored a small bass. Soon, we got all the way back at the pond's end, and I missed a hit from a bass that felt pretty good, though I don't believe it was more than a pound and a half, if that. Just not certain.

Done giving the ponds the best we could, we ate lunch at a deli restaurant, talking fishing. He spoke about having fished bass tournaments, so I mentioned that I used to be a member of Mercer County Bassmasters. "So was I," he said. He joined a year or so after I left for college. He's fished local, state, and national tournaments. For one of the nationals, an event on the Hudson, he got paired with Rick Clunn. This astonishes me. Luck of the draw, but who knows, really, what unseen mechanism of fortune might guide chance. It's dangerous to be too optimistic about events in your favor--in case you fail to see threats--but it's not a matter of any of us being at the mercy of the elements, because we know anyone exposed too long to nature doesn't make it; rather, something deep within each of us, and linked to one another, seems to help guide our lives, if we allow it to.

Tom told me he learned a lot from Clunn. "Sheer genius," he said. And he told me Clunn volunteered to let him have the front of the boat for half of the total of the tournament hours. 

Today I got to see a part of Jersey I haven't seen in 40 years, though I used to see these places quite often. Seeing the past right before my physical eyes had a calming effect for a good hour or so, but I'm glad I moved away from that wider area to make a home with my own family. Now that today I've been where I used to be, I remember the early years with my wife-to-be in this region where we've lived for more than 25 years now, and realize by comparison especially with the years of my upbringing how familiar it's become.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Musconetcong Watershed Association "Run for the River" Fundraiser

Certainly an active and successful organization, supporting the river and its watershed:


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) to host Run for the River

Date: Sunday, May 5, 2019 (rain or shine)

Time: Registration opens at 8:30 am, Walkers start at 9:45 am, Runners start at 10:00 am

Location: Asbury Fire Company, 410 Old Main Street, Asbury (Warren County), NJ 08802


Contact: or (908) 537-7060

Asbury, NJ  Join the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) for our 19th Annual Run for the River.  Run or walk a scenic 4-mile loop in Asbury (Warren County), NJ.  Participants will pass streams, pastures, historic buildings and the beautiful Musconetcong River on this mostly flat, family-friendly course.  Afterward, there are awards presented to the top runners in 12 age categories as well as best overall.  There is also a free raffle open to all of those who participate and free tethered balloon rides (courtesy of Unity Bank).  Registration is only $30 and includes a commemorative t-shirt, while supplies last.

“This really is a great community event,” said Alan Hunt, MWA Executive Director. “Local businesses donate to the free raffle as well as provide participants with bagels, oranges and water to keep everyone satisfied and hydrated, and a local DJ keeps the event lively.”

The Run for the River is the largest annual fundraiser for MWA to-date, and funds generated from this event will be used to support our education program, water quality monitoring program, hiking and paddling trips, ‘River Talks’, and more.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its Watershed, including its natural and cultural resources.  To learn more about the MWA, this event, or our other programs, please visit