Friday, September 25, 2009

Fishing Report: River Rd. in Hackettstown, 9/12/09

So I drove down to Hackettstown, the first spot we went to. I love that spot. It was pouring when I got there, and I forgot to check if I had my rain jacket in my bag. Guess what, I didn't! Anyway, here's the goods: water temperature: 64 degrees. Water color: clear as glass (surprising, I thought it would've been muddy). Water level: absolutely perfect.

I caught and landed a small mouth bass and two sunnies. I had two trout on the line and I lost both of them.

Small mouth: Slate Drake emerger #14
Sunfish numbers 1 & 2: Slate Drake emerger #12
Lost trout number 1: Muddler minnow
Lost trout number 2: olive wooly bugger

Long version: I started off trying these tiny (I mean like, #20 and #22) olive nymphs. No dice. I also tried a different way of fishing tandem: tying the tippet on with a blood knot so that one of the left over strands you clip off is super long. This way you can tie a dry on and it acts as an indicator for the tiny little nymph (an indicator that'll catch a fish if he tries to eat it). It sucked, the two strands kept wrapping around each other. Getting frustrated, I clipped it all off and re-tied my leader. Tied on the #14 slate drake. Immediately caught the bass. He swallowed it good and I pretty much destroyed the fly grabbing it with the forceps (all the way down his throat, poor guy). The other slate drake I tied on caught the two sunnies just as quickly. Then all of a sudden, the slate stopped working.

Moved up to the next pool. Again tried the dry fly / nymph dropper technique. I'm not doing something right. Saw some rises, so tied on a tiny blue wing olive. Nothing. I tied on a muddler minnow next. On my first cast with it, I cast it right into the head of the main flow in that pool. The muddler didn't sink, it floated like I had floatant on it. As I sat there wondering why the fuck that was happening, a decent size rainbow rocketed up from the river bed Jaws-style and nailed the muddler. TOTALLY took me by surprise. I had him on for all of 3 seconds and he managed to wiggle the hook out. I can't tell you how many fish I've lost because I wasn't paying the kind of attention I have on the first cast.

So I figured the muddler was shot. Tried a couple more casts in the same spot, nothing. Tied on the bugger, and I had a very similar thing happen. First couple of retrieves I was doing dead drifts and nothing happened. Eventually, I got kind of tangled up in the slack of my leader. While the fly was about 10 feet in front of me in a relatively dead spot, I tried to wiggle it out with a couple of violent flicks of my fly rod. This made the bugger rise from the river bed like it was a little fish going for a fly. This happened now about 5 feet in front of me so I saw the whole thing: my bugger rose up, and another trout (same one? not sure) came flying up after it. Same thing happened as with the muddler. I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing when the fly was in the water, I was more concerned about having my leader slack properly organized, and I quickly hooked and lost another trout.

There you go, now I"ve put you to sleep, so you don't even have to go tomorrow. :-)

One other thing, just as I got out of the river and was packing up, 5 cars pulled up with 6 people total. It was a bunch of guys from Trout Unlimited, I think they were guiding an older couple. I talked to the one guy, he was super cool, telling me about the dam projects they're working on. Anyway...get out there tomorrow. If you can, go to Ramsey and get some slate drake emergers!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/14/09 S. Branch Raritan, Flanders 5 -7PM

This outing started out lousy and continued to be so as the day wound to a close. The weather was beautiful, 70s and clear. I was excited to christen my new waders and felt-bottomed boots. I had also picked up some Isonychia/Slate Drake patterns earlier in the day and was eager to try them out. I tied an emerger on at the car and hiked down to the river. As I prepared to enter the river, I noticed that not only had I lost the fly on the short trek through the woods but also the top section of my rod. I had felt some snags and pulls on my descent but nothing at all serious, and certainly nothing to alarm me enough to check on the rod. I managed to backtrack and locate the missing piece without crushing it underfoot in the process but of course, the fly was lost without ever touching the river. Also, my bottle of floatant fell out of my pocket unbeknownst to me as i was stooped over searching for the rod. I went back to the river and added a couple of lengths of leader that were lost and tied on another fly. I managed a few casts with this one, another slate drake, before losing it to the overhanging foliage in predictable fashion. For some reason, i decided a muddler minnow would somehow be more snag-proof and tried one of those. I kept this one on for some time but ultimately it became trapped underwater and disappeared after a particularly animated attempt by me to retrieve it. I considered calling it a day after only about an hour on the river but opted to tie on a sulphur emerger instead. Almost immediately i snagged a tiny low hanging branch in front of me with stunning finesse. I watched the tiny fly wrap itself around the twig and enthusiastically cursed life. I did manage to extricate the fly this time, though, and cast again. Inexplicably, i snagged the exact same branch in a slightly different place on the very next cast. One particularly spirited tug later and I had successfully lost my fourth fly of the day without encountering a single fish. It was time to pack it in. I did locate my floatant on the hike back, I consider that to be the day's biggest success. I did learn a few lessons, though. First off, don't assemble the rod before plunging into brush or forest, it's better to wait to do it riverside. Also, take more care casting! Pay attention to the surroundings and concentrate on keeping a lower profile while in the river. If at all possible, stay on the shore. Thrashing wildy about is essential to attracting sharks, not so much for trout.