Saturday, February 27, 2010

02.27.10 More snow in the Northest

Well we got hit with a ton of snow in the last few days. I have figure out where I am going to fish next, maybe the Lackawanna River on Tuesday. Right now the flows there are good, around 100 cfs and a gage height of 2.15. Monday and Tuesdays temps should be around 40 degrees so hopefully all that runoff won't be in the river. I am also looking into possibly heading up to the Saranac River next weekend to try for some landlocked salmon.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

02.21.10 Nice visit to the Musconetcong in Asbury

Lucky for me today I was in Asbury for a family party, only a thousand feet from the Musconetcong River. I was able to get to the river around 330 and joined a few guys on the bridge dropping worms into the deep pools below the bridge. They said they got and released a few. I decided for the other bridge where I could be alone. I navigated my way down the snow and ice covered steps and set myself into the only spot there is at river grade. I still had on the fly I "invented" last week so I just went with it. As I turned to check my backcast I saw a nice small pile of yellow corn sitting on a rock.
Just past that a early black stonefly sat on the still white snow. I high sticked the eddy in front of me and slowly worked my way out to the middle with my casts. After about 2 dozen casts I saw a silver flash near where my fly was and soon had on a real nice and healthy 18 inch

rainbow. The fish jumped at least four times before muscling into the deeper water below the falls. I got the fish to the shore and tried to reach for the camera but had to just concentrate on releasing the fish. I was sure there would be another. I made a few more casts, then went downstream a bit, and then finished under the other bridge. I saw some midges in the air, but no rises, and no baetis. As far as my "limit" today, which I had set at three, I got a sneaker, a

glass bottle and a plastic bottle. A little more then an hour later I was sitting down to a turkey dinner. Not a bad day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

02.20.10 "Take your limit, please!"

So I came up with idea the other day. Finally I have a good idea about something. It's free, easy to do, and will help a lot. I was walking down to river the other day and saw some garbage sticking out of the snow. I started picking it up and wondered why I don't pick up garbage every time I go out. I think it's because there is so much that I just don't want to keep picking up garbage while I fish. SO, my idea will help me enjoy my time fishing while doing my part to help clean up where we fish.
It's called "Take your limit, please!" . Every time you go fishing you either use the set creel limit or come up with a number and you remove that amount of garbage while you fish. The picture above is of my "catch" while fishing the West Branch of the Delaware in Hancock. Not bad for a few minutes!
If you fish 100 times a year, and remove say 5 pieces of garbage each time, that's 500 pieces at the end of the year. If we multiply that by 100,000 anglers, that's 500,000 cigarette butts, bottles, cans, bikes, tires, plastic bags, mono line, bobbers, tampon applicators, and who knows what else we can keep out of the rivers and oceans, and off the banks and beaches where we fish!

02.17.10 A cold day on the Pequest

My week got switched around a bit so I took advantage and headed out west, well northwest. I first stopped at the outdoor store in Bound Brook for a few things including some more of those environmentally friendly split shot. I took 78 west to 31 north and about an hour later I was pulling into the parking area of the Pequest River Trout Conservation Area. I was surprised to see half a dozen cars in the parking lot. I dressed quickly and grabbed my camera, tripod, and camera bag and headed upstream from the bridge towards the spillway. It was a pain getting up there as my hat kept getting caught on the branches, my rod on the sticker bushes, and my tripod on the low shoots pushing up from the 8 inches of snow on the ground. I set up across from the spillway where there was a guy with a fish on, and who had several more

while I was there. I went above him to fish the bottom of the long pool on the bend below the bridge. As I approached the water I paused to survey if there was anything going on. As I lookd across to the other side I noticed the shelf ice that had formed off the other bank. And then I heard the sound of icing cracking below me, and in a second my feet were planted in bottom of the river. Luckily it wasn't that deep. When I got in I took out my thermometer and the water was 36 degrees. I fished through using a black wolly bugger with no luck. I asked the guy fishing below the spillway if he stuck the water but he did not, but he say it was markedly warmer. I haven't fished the Pequest in 15 years and now remember that it's always cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter out of the spillway and along the hatchery side of the river. There were four guys spread out along that side and I wanted to take some readings and see why. So it was through the woods, almost, when I looked down and found this early black stonefly resting

on the snow. Of course I stopped and had a quick portrait session with him before crossing the bridge and walking up to the spillway.
Once at the spillway I stuck the water and it was 46 degrees, 10 degrees warmer then the water above. It was cool to see the trout lined up along the bank all taking midge pupas. I will have to say they were big fish, but the ugliest collection of trout I have ever seen. They were a collection of white snouted, finless, black headed, no tailed rainbows- who are probably caught at least once a day. There were some guys in the middle of the river casting to the bank, but I didn't see a need to. It was kind of a dink and dunk kind of fishing from the cover of the trees

along the bank. I switched over to a size 14 black stonefly and went to work, I got a few looks and refusals but no takers. Then I switched over to the fly I tied the other day and that was it. I blindly had one on for a minute and then dropped it in the mouth of a 17 inch rainbow, that was
not horribly looking, but whose fins were almost gone. I released this fish and then saw a much bigger fish set up next to a large rock about 6 feet off the bank. Fishing from above him I was able to put it in his mouth and he easily took it. This fish was bigger, well over 20 inches- but ugly as all hell. With a small crowd watching I couldn't bring myself to take the time to take a picture of it. So it was a quick release and I was done. I spent some time speaking with a guy

who fished from the middle of the river, 80 years old who fishes here all the time. As we spoke I saw a nice big, and healthy looking rainbow set up below me. I told him of the fish and guided him into where it was. I saw the fishes mouth open and the size 20 scud float in, the man set the hook, the rainbow took off and headed upstream where he spit the hook when he jumped out of the water.

Monday, February 15, 2010

02.15.10 Winter fishing the West Branch of the Delaware

Even though all my kids had off from school today I was still able to take a quick run up to the Catskills and get some fishing in. My first priority was to check out our house in Roscoe. We haven't been up in a while and I wanted to make sure it was still standing. Luckily that area didn't get the snow we got down the shore so there wasn't any additional snow load on the roof. The area didn't have the amount of snow on the ground that we have here in New Jersey. The town of Roscoe looked kind of bland, the skies were gray, the dirty snow was piled up throughout town, most shops including the two fly shops were closed, and it was cold. 28 degrees. The only difference I could see was someone painted the Reynolds House yellow and purple which is a totally different look. It is now an eye opener.
I pulled out of Roscoe and headed west on Route 17, soon to be Route 86, and thought about where to fish. The only water that is open this time of year is the border water between NY and PA. So from the Upper Gamelands stretch of the West Branch through the entire Mainstem. I decided to hit the Gamelands but I was going to access it on the Route 17 side at Monument Pool. The snow plows had filled in the access at the railroad tracks so I parked near the log home headquarters and walked the mile to get into the water. I fished the braids for a while

running a black wolly bugger along the deeper water along the banks with no luck. I walked down past the parking area opposite the trailers that are perched above the large pool. As I fished I could here the banging of nails as two a large home is being built to the right of the footbridge that crosses the access from the trailers. As I fished here the sun came out and the clouds started to disappear. It was just before noon and I was hoping the water would be or get a little warmer then the 36 degrees it was. I decided to take the long trek back to my car and head downstream. I drove down to Hancock and parked at the Route 191 bridge. The sun out, the clouds were gone and I was sure I would get into at least one fish. I stuck the water and was at 36 degrees, same as up above. I fished the fast water above the bridge and then into the large pool below. I switched off the wooly bugger to a stonefly and finished with a hares ear. I

decided to flip some rocks and found a great yellow stonefly nymph. I took some pictures and let it go. What a great meal they must make for a hungry trout! I had the entire river to myself for the day, which either means I was a genius or a fool! I can't wait to come up when things heat up a bit!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

02.11.10 Tons of snow but I gotta go!

I am sitting in my man cave after a long day of running around and shoveling snow at four different houses. I am a little tired and need to figure out when I am going to get out again. Believe it or not I was figuring on hitting the Toms River tomorrow until I just got the call that the kids school is closed. So they will have off three days, then the two weekend days, and then two next week. Not much fishing going on there. But I am looking at the USGS gauge station in Hale Eddy on the West Branch of the Delaware. 425 cfs and temp of 38 degrees. I don't know how much snow they got the last two days but I am thinking maybe next week for a winter West Branch trip.

Monday, February 8, 2010

02.08.10 New look at The Average Angler

So after looking at the website in black and white for the last few months I decided to make a change. Where before there was no color images on the site, and the background was black, I've decided to brighten things up. I have come to realize that some of these images, although I love black and white, are just better in color. Case in point in the brown trout image I have on the Main Page. This beautiful wild brown was caught on the Lackawanna River. The colors just pop. Below is the comparison between the two.

Stay tuned as some more cool changes are being made to the website. For now the BLOG will remain the same. And weather update, southern New Jersey got blasted with over a foot of snow, while the northern part of the state only got a few inches. Looks like I might hit a river of north this week if the temps up there are approaching the high 30's.

Friday, February 5, 2010

02.05.10 Great day on the Manasquan!

After some early morning office work I was able to pack up for a quick trip to the Manasquan River. Yesterday I stopped by a local outdoors shop and picked up a few wooly buggers since I wouldn't have the time to tie any before today. Got to talking with the fly guy their about the sea-run brown trout and how far up the Manasquan they go. He said guys come in the shop catching big browns up into Howell above Route 9. So that is where I started, Route 9 and Casino Road. I pulled onto Luxury lane off of Casino and it dead ended into the river. The water was muddy brown and full of trees and garbage. I did thrown a chartreuse wooly bugger into a couple of deep holes without a hit. I headed back to my car and found a little better section at the West Farms Road bridge. I parked and crossed the road and headed upstream. After maneuvering through heavy brush I found a place to throw in. This spot looked familiar to something I watched on ESPN last month. Larry Dahlberg was fishing for wolf fish in Surinam. I stayed for about 30 minutes and packed it in. I traveled downstream near Allaire State Park and had the river to myself. I still had on the chartreuse wooly bugger and then switched over

to a chartreuse flash caddis. For some reason I thought green was the ticket. After about and hour I switched over to good sized black wooly bugger and went to work. The air temps were 34 and the water temp 38 degress, a little colder then the last time I was here. The guides kept freezing up and the ice had to be knocked off to let the line pass through. I fished the same

water with no result and then upstream to water I hadn't touched in years. I was in pursuit of sea-run browns and had emailed the Mark Boriek, the chief Fisheries Biologist from the State, the day before with some questions. So I standing in cold water when my Blackberry chimed that I had and email, it was Marc with some answers to my questions. The questions I really wanted answer was do the sea-runs actually spawn or just come back because they think they're going to spawn, he answered the later. The water temps and substrate wouldn't support spawning, although he did say some anglers have reported seeing fish spawn. So after that I was a little re-energeized and within 10 minutes I had nice healthy brown trout that took the dead drifted wooly bugger hard off the bottom. He was nice steady fight and after a quick photo

he was back in the water. The section I fished was a nice hard cut bank that I knew must hold another bigger fish. I left this section and went upstream and fished beneath the railroad bridge, great water that I worked really hard in but no fish. So that brought me back down to where I caught the brown. I still had the wooly bugger on, with a small BB split shot, non-lead, and casted upstream and left it drift along the bottom down. After a dozen casts a felt a hard strike as I lifted the rod. It was a heavy fish. I could feel it trying to shrug off the wooly bugger. When I got it to the net I couldn't believe how big it was, just over 18 inches, with a nice pink hue starting to come it, and good fins all the way around. I could picture this fish on someone's dinner table on opening day. As I held the fish in the net I struggled to get my camera out of my top pocket. I was trying to get the zipper undone with one hand, hold the net in the water, and hold my rod with two fingers. I got my camera, wet my hand and slid it under the fish, and then the fish slid into the water. No picture. But what a nice fish.
I felt that I couldn't beat those two fish there so I decided to head down river to fish the Hospital Road bridge access. After a quick drive I pulled into the parking area and surveyed the water. It was even murkier then upstream, hard high cut banks, with even bends and trees then I would have liked. But I gave it a shot. I fell at least 4 times on the mud that lined the stream and I was covered in that orange mud-clay thick nasty stuff they call soil down there. I did more walking then fishing and eventually made my way to the Garden State Parkway bridges. Again

I waited for Larry to show up with a Teramar rod looking to hoist some devil from the deep. Or two old guys sitting on chairs with their rods leaning against a sapling while they catfished. I surveyed the water there and made a few casts, busted my ass on the mud and started walking out. They say that this spot is one of the best for the sea-run browns, usually after a heavy rain.

I can't wait to come back and give a shot when the browns are here, funny thing is, they are super skittsy and easily spooked. Sea-run browns are supposedly super nocturnal, and night fishing is the best time to catch one. It still isn't the prettiest spot here to fish, but maybe in the fall I will come back here to try and get one. The water is deep, slow moving, full of trees and

branches, just what a fly fisherman loves! On my way out I met some guys fishing, one with a fly rod, who said he picked up a few small browns above the bridge so I hit before I left. I went a few sizes on my black wooly bugger and did have one small brown come up and lip it and release. I fell twice more and then drove home. It was so muddy down there I had to wash the car and my waders even thought we were due to get over a foot of snow Friday night.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

02.03.10 Hunting for sea-run brown trout in the Manasquan River

Since the other day when I met Andrew on the Manasquan River my interest in the sea run brown trout program has been growing. After I posted the 01.27.10 blog I started doing some research on this interesting and relatively "quiet" fishery. So even though I would rather be writing about a more well known fishery and river, ie: steelhead and the Salmon River, I decided to take a long "10 mile drive" to the river where nearly 25 years ago I started fishing for trout. This morning I gathered my notes on where the most sea run brown trout have been caught and headed to Brice Park in Wall. When I got there another guy had just set up a Home Depot bucket and planted his rod in it after casting some Power Bait into a large pool on a bend in the river. At first he was tight lipped about the sea run browns that are caught throughout the river. He said sometimes the fish are huge...and recently he had been catching smaller browns on Panther Martin spinners there at the park. But his eyes lit up when he talked of fish in the five to ten pound range that are caught every year. "Okay- thank you, have good day" what I thought to myself as the man turned and got into his car to stay warm. After a few casts a large town dump truck came into the park and stopped near where I was parked. Two tough looking guys starting walking over to me and I at first thought maybe I was fishing when or where I wasn't supposed to. But as they got closer I could see one of the guys had a fly fishing hat on, so my back hair stood down. We talked for a while and the one guy seemed to know a lot about this location and more importantly, about the sea-run browns. He started in about the big browns, and how just a few weeks ago he ran into a guy at a local coffee shop who showed him pictures of three fish he had caught upstream in the days before, up to 10 pounds!!! He also told me that the sea-runs come back into the river in October-November and make their way upstream to spawn? (The state is still evaluating if in fact these fish do spawn). According to the stocking chart on the NJ Division of Fish and Game website in 2009 the state stocked 18,090 brown trout that averaged 7.6 " with a total weight of 3,015 pounds, or .16 of a pound, which means very tiny fish. I would think most of these would be a tasty treat for larger prey in both fresh and salt water.
So I packed up and headed to a place I haven't been to in 25 years. I started my trout fishing "career" here on the Manasquan. A river where you learn where not cast rather than where to. It's also a river that could be used to show the history of hooks, sinkers, and lures that have been used in the last 100 years. Basically, there is wood everywhere. Forget the backcasts, it's behind you, in front of you, above you and below you. It's where I started with mealworms and salmon eggs. Salmon eggs that would be stored on your wading belt after removing the cap and screwing the jar into a metal lid and holder combination. I can remember the slick that would be formed everytime I would bend over to reach to remove my gear from a log or branch.
The access I went to was Preventorium Road behind the high school. As soon as I got to the bridge it felt very familiar. I saw the signs stapled to the trees and went over to look.

The bottom sign was the Trout Stocked Water warning sign and above it was about the Sea Run Brown Trout. Maybe these things do exist! I spent the next hour and a half remembering how to fish the Manasquan. It's takes practice and patience. It was a little new since I had never used a fly rod on this river. I can remember how deadly and accurate I was with an ultralight Diawa spin outfit. I didn't catch anything but boy did I have fun. I found some nice holes above the bridge and also remember what it was like to try and cast through a thicket of branches to get

to that perfect spot. I did get there, managed to get a wooly bugger in there, and waited for the strike that never came. I moved below the bridge to some water that I would think held fish but not today. It was just fun to be out there. The water temp was 40 degress and the air temp went from 32 when I got there to 38 when I left. The area below the bridge was a series of s-turns

that made pools and bends in the river. As the morning turned into afternoon I decided to try a new spot downriver. I took the short drive and was on a neat section, with long slow pools and a few riffles. I changed my wooly bugger from olive to black and a few casts later felt a fish on. I saw it turn near the surface after a sluggish strike and it was off. Game on now. It was a little over an hour later when I lost the next fish downriver. But I felt good because I knew fish were there. I went back at both of them with no result. As I tried the second time for the first fish, braced on an overhanging tree, with my leg up as a counterweight, and slightly off balance, I could feel the resistance as I made my cast in the air. My eyes focused on a large branch overhead. First I saw the series of spilt shot, then above that a bobber, and then finally near was my wooly bugger. A typical Manasquan River decorated tree, and with that, my day was done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

02.02.10 Finally at the vise

Well here's a simple creation that I may field test tomorrow on the Musconetcong River. It has no name and is super simple to tie. Tiemco #2487 size 12, 1/8 brass beadhead, 6/0 black uni-thread, Antron dubbing. 

02.01.10 Organizing, listening, and learning

Spent most of the weekend and early part of the week organizing my gear and fly tying bench. Never did get around to pumping out any rhyacophilia imitations like I planned to. But as I puttered around in my man cave located in the basement of my house that holds me, a future wife, four kids, and three cats- I enjoyed listening to several podcasts. I try to not mention manufacturers or business that aren't paying to advertise, but I have to mention The Itinerant Angler and Ask About Fly Fishing . I listened to some great interviews on the shows that included magazine The Drake owner Tom Bie, author Paul Weamer, guide Rachel Finn and fly caster wiz Tim Rajeff. As much as I hate the new technology era, from time to time I do take advantage and enjoy it. Amazing how I can listen, see and enjoy so many things these days for free! How are people supporting themselves an getting paid? I guess that's the million dollar question. When I figure it out, I won't share it with you!