I was up early this morning and figured I head up to the South Branch of the Raritan to give it an early morning shot. I ran out of tapered leaders last week on the Flatbrook so I planned in making my first trip to Shannon's Flies in Califon and check it out. I got there about 6:40 but he doesn't open till 8, and after looking the river from the bridge in town it didn't seem to be worth the wait. The river was up and stained. I headed to the Ken Lockwood Gorge to see what that looked like. There was a bunch of guys in the water on the lower stretch so I made my way up to the bridge. I had about a 4x tippet on an old leader I found in the bed of my pickup so I used that. I tried a hares ear below and then above the bridge, I had two flashes at the artificials but no takers. While there I met a couple of guys and we talked about the KLG, past and present. They weren't top happy with the road replenishment project that was just starting. Years ago a flood knocked out the dirt road that paralleled the river, since then it's been blocked off to vehicle traffic. I knew something was up when I pulled up and saw the big
mounds of stone in the parking area. Allegedly, they are taking down trees in the parking area, putting down a gravel bed, and then paving the whole road along the river. These guys said the insects got much better when there was less traffic. A new macadam road won't help. It will increase water and dirt runoff, increase the silt build up and thus decreasing the insects, or they said. After a hour or so of fishing and shooting video I decided to make my way down to my favorite spot on the river. As usual I was the only one there. Here the river was up a bit and a little dirty. The birds were swooping down across the river taking caddis flies from the air. There must have been a half a dozen different caddis flies, in different sizes from 22's to 16's. I did find a lone isonychia- no doubt-because I bought it home and gave it the Caucci/Nastasi "Instant Mayfly Identification Guide" test. I usually carry it with me, but I'm always afraid I drop it in the drink and ruin it. Large hind wings, dark forelegs, pale middle and rear legs- isonychia! I am checking most of the bugs I find now because this is one area where I- 1) need improvement and 2) will really need to nail when I start guiding. I turned over some rocks and found some grannon larva in their neatly built chimney like houses. I fished for a bit with the hares ear and then switched to a sulfur emerger when I found that sulfurs, size 18's, were around. My first one I lost on a poorly tied 7x tippet section. Next time I just tied it into the 4x or whatever it was down to and gave that a shot. I had another strike and then a few minutes later I released a healthy 12 inch brown. The bite must have been on because his belly was full, you could run your finger along it and feel it's stomach contents inside. The only other thing to say about this day was, I broke my ass falling down a stone wall built along the bridge. I mistepped and fell from the top about 15 feet down, hitting every rock on every bone in my body. Luckily I didn't have rod it hand!