Saturday, February 20, 2010

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.