Wednesday, January 27, 2010

01.27.10 Finding a new stream and visiting an old haunt

Today I criss-crossed the State while on assignment for New Jersey Monthly magazine. My first stop was up in Union County and I stopped at a little stream called Green Brook in Watchung along New Providence Road. Surprisingly the water levels were low and clear. The stream followed the road below a pond and through the remnants of what appeared to be an old mill. There are signs from the NJ Fish and Game noting trout stocked waters. I am sure itgets pounded in the spring and warm in the summer. I will have to try it sometime if I'm in the area.

On the southern part of my trip I was on 195 heading east from Trenton when I decided to check on an old haunt, the Manasquan River. It is the river that I started trout fishing as a kid about 25 years ago. I pulled off the highway onto Lakewood-Farmingdale Road and turned around to get into the access below the bridges there. As I pulled down the ramp I saw a car parked there with license plates that surely belonged to a fly fisherman. Below the small falls a

guy was nymphing in stained-to muddied water. As I watched him I saw he had an attachment to his reel seat that seated the reel below the rod. I haven't seen that before, and I was surprised I didn't notice it at the Somerset show. We started talking and he explained to me that it was called a Balance Reel Arm, used to perfectly balance a rod and reel. He is a regional rep for several companies, including Ross Reels.

We talked about some winter fishing we had both done while it was warm and before the monsoons that came in the last few days. He said he had fished here and was catching small sea-run brown trout. In 1997 the Division Fish, Game, and Wildlife released 16,000 eight inch brown trout in the lower freshwater and brackish water of the Manasquan River. I am going to research this a little further and maybe even drop a line in an old haunt that is just a short drive from my house.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

01.26.10 "Rain, rain, rain,rain..rain...I don't mind"

Grateful Dead Well actually I do. ( 5 points if you know what song that line is from...and another five if you know the band) So yesterday I got a call from my sister up in Saranac Lake telling me the North Country was flooding over. The temperatures up there had rose and the rains came at the same time. I dropped Rick Nolan, the Superintendent of Black Brook, the town where the lodge is, an email to see how the town was doing. He said yesterday there was a ice dam downriver but the amount of water rushing against it flushed it clear. A few years back a major. ice dam formed at the junction pool where the East and West Branches of the Ausable meet. It flooded part of the town of Jay across the river, and the water crested at the top of the retaining wall the lodge sits on. Below are some ideas on the amount of water we received between rain and runoff in the past few days, in rivers I follow-

East Branch of the Ausable- Jan. 20 (2ft) Jan. 26 (8ft)

West Branch of the Delaware- Jan 20 (650) Jan 25 ( 9000) Jan 26 (2900)

Salmon River @ Pineville - cfs Jan 20 (300) Jan 26 (2390)

South Branch Raritan above High Bridge- Jan 20 (125) Jan 25 (2600) Jan 26 (421)

Lackawanna River @ Archbald - Jan 20 (180) Jan 25 (1800) Jan 26 (625)

So basically there's no fishing, for me, in NJ, NY or PA for the next few days- and then we are supposed to get cold again with snow on the horizon. I regularly watch the stream flows and temps on my favorite rivers, especially the ones that I have any kind of drive to. Looks like I will spending my time brushing up on my entomology lessons and tying flies. I am currently working on some homegrown rychophilia (green rock worm) patterns that I should have up on the BLOG in the next few days.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

01.24.10 Final day at The Fly Fishing Show

Well today was it. Sold some raffles for TU, went to some lectures and bought some dubbing and hooks. I attended Matt Grobert's NJ and PA Hatches class and went again to hear Joe DeMarkis speak about the Lehigh River where he runs most of his North East Drift Boat Guide School. But for me the best was Capt. Rat Stachelek from Rhode Island speak about catching large stripers- over 25 pounds on a fly rod- in the spring, summer and fall- on bright sunny days, on flat water, with no blitzes or birds overhead. It was packed with information and proof that a fly fisherman can catch huge stripers. It was all boat fishing close enough to see the shore using sinking lines, and big flies. I did pop in to a presentation on the Cascapedia River in Quebec, always looking for interesting places to go and photograph for the magazines.
So all in all, a good weekend where I felt I learned a lot, met some great people, and made some connections. My highlights were Aaron Jasper's lecture, speaking with the guys from Restigouche, meeting Eric Stroup and passing on my kudos on his new book, and learning about the drift boat school. John Dembeck always gives a great lecture on the Delaware ( NYDEC # 0189 WOW! ). I did forget but today Ian Bechtel from the Delaware River Club gave a great presentation on the Upper Delaware from spring through the fall. Lefty- what can I say. I can't believe how light the new Sage reels are. I was able to get information from Project Healing Waters from fellow TU member Bob Cowen who gave me the schedule for fly casting, tying, and fishing outings they run in our area. Now I can go through the 500 pamphlets and brochures that I have and try and decifer the notes and codes and contact information I got over these three days. Hopefully this show will help me get through the next few weeks until I travel to the Salmon River for some steelhead.

01.23.10 Day 2 of the Fly Fishing Show

Day 2 was busier than Friday. The crowds were there from the minute the show opened at 830. I worked the JSTU booth for a while before heading to Ozzie's "Underwater World of Trout" presentation. Great underwater video of what a trout "may" see. Anyone trying to catch a fish should see this. While I was watching it I was to figure out which of my fishing shirts and hats I wouldn't wear steam side anymore. The angles, and refraction, and distance that trout see is amazing. No wonder why I put so many fish down. I also went to a little bit of Tom Gilmore's Albie talk- great show with a ton of useful information. I can't to get into them more this fall. During most of these lectures I was writing a mile a minute. I watched Lefty's casting demo again- I can't believe he is 84 years old- I am glad that I was able to see watch this legend in the sport once again. I met up with some of the partners from the Restigoughe River and watched Kevin's presentatation about the Atlantic Salmon fishery there. I ended the day with Joe DeMarkis who presented his North East Drift Boat Fly Fishing Guide School- something I am seriously considering attending this spring or summer. Lastly I sat in on Jim Valle's class on becoming a FFF CAsting Instructor. I had downloaded the requirements for the test but it was good to hear Jim go through it and explain what they are looking for from the candidate who is testing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

01.22.10 Day 1 of the Fly Fishing Show

Day 1 of the show is over. Slow day. I worked the Jersey Shore Trout Unlimited booth for two hours and we sold a few raffles for a 500 dollar gift certificate to Cabelas. After that I spent the day in demonstrations and lectures. I watched Lefty Kreh's casting demonstration which was amazing. I sat in on a few great lectures like Aaron Jaspers Czech Nymphing and John Dembeck's Delaware River talks. Both were done and presented well. I will have to try fishing with a 10-12 foot rod and up to a 24 foot leader someday! The method seems to make sense and more productive then the use of split shot and indicators. John Dembeck is a experienced and well known guide. When I received my NYDEC Guide License, #6225, I looked up Jonh's number which was guide # 0189. There's a little difference. The only item I purchased today was a nifty vest mounted rod holder. It's called "Fish hands free", I had a blast with the developer and his wife, and after a great presentation I dropped the 15 bucks for one. I 'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

01.21.10 Fly Fishing Show opens tomorrow

Just a heads up for those who have lost their head. This weekend is the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ. It will be the place to be, unless your a Jets fan and are heading to Indianapolis!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

01.20.10 Back to the KLG, and first fish of the year

It just seemed like the right thing to do. I had a part of the day free, last night was my TU meeting, the Fly Fishing Show is this weekend, and I had to fish. I headed back out to the South Branch of the Raritan River at the Ken Lockwood Gorge. We have had a little warmer temps then when I was here last week. The snow has melted, and the ice that covered the road along the river has melted. But the contractors are still using heavy machinery on the lower part so the road is closed. I got into the river around 1030, right below where I parked. I tried a black stone fly and soon moved a nice 15 inch brown from under large boulder and tree. I keep on him and he'd showed interest but never a take. On my last drift I put in the area and when I lifted the fly I felt the fish. Immediately he headed down into deeper water. He seemed to be "heavier" then the fish I saw. After a bit I realized he was foul hooked and shortly I had him below the surface removing the stonefly from his upper back. Nice way to start. I headed back up to the bridge figuring on hitting the lower, "bigger" water. This time I went above the bridge and fished down through the run in front of the new handicapped access. There was a guy fishing in the pool below that so I headed below and fished through to the faster water. Not a nothing. I switched the stonefly with an olive wooly bugger and went for the shallower, faster water. I know the fish are sluggish as their metabolism is slow. But I figured with the water at 40 degrees, and the air temps the same, and the sun hitting hard on the river every now and then- it just might be enough to get them to move. I fished down stream to where I spooked that big rainbow last week. I again was towards the other side of the river, so I worked all three rocks from the middle, and walked back upstream to work them from the road side bank. I was getting complacent since I couldn't find a fish or induce a strike. I was in a nice spot on the bank, and stood on some rocks to get a good shot at the water around the three large boulders. I worked the two with no results. Then I stripped

off some more line and made a cast to the front right side of the boulder above. The current took the fly and carried into and under the boulder. I felt a nudge, or so I thought. So went back again, same cast, this time I watched and waited as the fly line got to the same spot where I felt the nudge and lifted the rod tip. The fish was on. And it was a good one. It headed for the deeper water in front of the boulder and after a short while easily came over to the side. The fish was 17 inches and brightly colored. After the easy lip hook release it gently headed back to the deeper water under cover of the

of the boulder. That was a nice way to start fishing in 2010. I continued to fish the faster water, in an area where there seems a harder gradient change in the river. I caught two small, but pretty rainbows in the fast water. These fish were

quick to jump on the woolly bugger, striking it soon as it the water. On the way out I met a few guys who had fished the faster water below where I was. They saw a few flashes but that was it. We talked about the latest thing that seems to have gathered some steam, Czech Nymphing. I have recently been reading about it and listened to a podcast that local fly fisherman Aaron Jasper had done on it. It seems to be very productive, especially in water like at the KLG. Years ago I learned of a technique called high sticking that worked well on many of the New Jersey streams. It sounds like the two may be related. I can now breathe a sigh of relief and will able to enjof the fly fishing show just a little bit more after this outing!

01.19.10 JSTU meeting, Casting For Recovery

Tonights was our regular monthly meeting and our speakers came from Casting For Recovery, a non-profit organization that provides weekend fly fishing retreats to women who are in remission or are currently in treatment for breast cancer. It was a great lecture and a something I would like to volunteer to help out with. The retreats run Friday to Sunday, with Sunday being the fishing day. The group looks for river helpers to assist the women while they fish. I signed up, so we'll see. There are two retreats planned for New Jersey in 2010.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

01.14.08 Ken Lockwood Gorge winter fishing

Finally we have a had a break in the weather. Not only here in New Jersey, but all across the US. Yesterday the temps were up over 30 degress for the first time in a while. With todays forecast calling for temps to crest 40, I decided to jump in the car and head out to the South Branch of the Raritan River at the Ken Lockwood Gorge. I entered through the lower access and after a short drive I had to pull over and park. The new and improved road had iced over and there was gate just above the lower parking area.
After getting my fishing gear, my camera gear, and my audio gear I started the trek up to the bridge. I spoke with a few guys who had a fish or two during the warmest part of the day, which was about 42 degrees around 2pm. When I got up to the bridge I took the water temperature and it was 38 degrees. I fished below the bridge with a size 14 black stonefly nymph
and continued down to the first deep pool on the bend, and the run that follows that. No bumps or hits. I continued downstream and fished the faster water, again with no luck. I did stop and watch a great blue heron that was perched on a rock staring dead into the water. After a while he took flight and I fished the area he was keying in on, again to no avail. I had made my way out into the middle and encountered deeper water as I tried to get back over to the bank. About 3/4 quarters of the way across I hit one of those vaseline covered rocks and lost my footing. Luckily there was one of those big boulders in front of me and I grabbed on. As I did this my foot went under the rock and as I looked down a very large brightly colored rainbow darted across and set up under shelf ice that had formed near the bank. I got my bearings and footing back and for the next 45 minutes tried to entice a strike using the stonefly nymph and later a black woolly bugger. I got a few looks and maybe a refusal but after my on again off again casts the trout took off downstream. I was glad to at least see a fish. On my way out I met up with a couple of guys who had caught a fish or two. We talked for a while about the river, and about some of the latest chatter on the fly fishing forums on the web, mostly about Garden State Trout. I had one last almost-break-my -ass on the ice that had formed across the road shortly before I made it to the parking area where Bertha was. All in all, a good first day, although a trout would have made the first 2010 outing just a tad better.

Friday, January 8, 2010

01.08.10 Early birthday gift as my Simms guide boots arrive

I just got home from running around and on my front door step was nondescript box from Bozeman, Montana! Inside were a new pair of Simms new Guide boots. I had sent my old boots in for a repair estimate and after their review they said they would replace them. Simms has one of the best product warranty policies as I have ever seen. They truly do back their products.

Monday, January 4, 2010

01.01.10 Happy New Year from The Average Angler Lodge

Happy New Year. We loaded up Bertha and took an extended nine, yep, nine hour trek up to the North Country.