Monday, March 30, 2009

Close to Home

When: Sunday, March 29th , from 5pm to 6:15pm
Where: Reservoir #3, Jersey City Heights
What: My specialty: Largemouth Bass on Soft-Plastics
Weather: Almost 60 degrees, 10 mph NE wind. It had rained all morning and a storm was on its way.

Having a place to fish within five minutes of my pillow is something that I will never take for granted.

I never really gave much thought to what was behind the big stone walls on Central Avenue. When someone told me that it was a small reservoir filled with bass, needless to say I was a little surprised. With that being said, it would be wrong of me to not mention that you are not supposed to fish in there. I can tell you that the city opens its gates from time to time and that I have heard that the police are not too concerned about the people coming and going. I can also tell you that the easiest way to get in is a short wall on the northwest corner, up by the Pershing Field pool.

Whatever way you want to look at it, it's trespassing. My take on it, is that if a police officer wants to arrest me for fishing, that's on his conscience, not mine. Furthermore, I think that the JCPD has more to worry about than me and my fishing rod. Two officers watched me crawl through a hole in the fence (which is no longer there) last year and didn't say a word. Armed with that information, you are free to make your own decisions.

After learning that my hole in the fence had been patched up, I parked at Pershing Field and found my new access. If I had to guess, I would say that it was about 15 minutes after I left my door on 8th Street that I caught my first bass....priceless. I fished for only a little more than an hour, but that was enough time to land about 10 bass. There were a few more that got off the hook.

I have fished this little hole about a half-dozen times since I was turned onto it a year ago. It has definitley come in handy. The weatherman scared me away from the Western part of the State on Sunday. It turned out he was wrong. You can't always depend on the weatherman, but you can always depend on your backyard.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Old Faithful

When: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 from 2:30 pm-6pm
Where: Spruce Run Reservoir, near Clinton, Hunterdon County, and a small farm pond near Budd Lake, Morris County
What: Fishing for Pike and Bass with shiners and soft-plastics
Weather: Mid to high 40's, frickin' windy

Every good fisherman should have one; that certain spot that he knows he can go to catch a fish if all else fails. I hadn't visited my spot in many years. For the last six months, I was convinced that it had been filled with dirt and topped with a McMansion after several failed attempts to find it. On Tuesday, we were reunited.

I started off the chilly and windy day a couple of hours after noon on Spruce Run Reservoir. I had forgotten my warmer clothes in a frenzied attempt to pack the car and escape from 8th street before the Jersey City parking patrol made their rounds. When I left, my thermal sweatshirt and wool hat remained on my bed.

I wasn't at Spruce Run long before the wind and the cold got to me. All trout-stocked waters closed on Monday until opening day, aside from a handful of lakes, and certain sections of rivers designated as Trout conservation areas. I headed to the South Branch of the Raritan near Califon, thinking this part of the river was open to fishing, but was informed otherwise when I arrived.

It looked dismal. It was almost four o'clock, I hadn't done much fishing and hadn't caught a fish. In a last ditch effort, I decided to once again to try and find my long lost fishing spot of times past. After driving up and down Schooley's Mountain Rd., getting lost in Western Morris County and being absolutely convinced that I was a two hours drive away from Route 46, I eventually wound up on a somewhat familar road. In a short distance, I found it, overgrown with weeds, but indeed, just as I had left it. After a little bug spray, a little bushwacking, and amazingly, no ticks, I was nestled into a spot on the shore and ready to fish.

My friend Donny introduced me to this pond many years ago. There were days where we came and caught 30 nice bass and a few of the biggest perch I've ever seen in just a couple of hours. I dunked my shiner, and within thirty seconds, landed a two and a half pound bass. My mind started racing to times past and how many fish I was about to catch. Would it be a half-dozen, a dozen?

That fish was, in fact, the only one I caught.

But I will be back.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Our hike had come to an end. We were on the outskirts of the property belonging to the Weis Ecology Center and were coming up to a field that lay just beyond a line of trees. When I looked through the trees, I saw a woman holding something quite spectacular.

The woman was holding "Kili," pictured above. After being assured that it was okay to approach and even take a few pics, we learned a few things about Kili.

Kili is a red-tailed hawk, and also a rescue bird that cannot be released into the wild. Red-tailed hawks can be found in New Jersey, but this bird came from South Dakota. Kili flew into power lines and was blinded in her right eye, thus preventing her from being able to be released. She is now used to educate children. Her handler has been working with her for ten years and we were fortunate enough to bump into them taking an afternoon stroll.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Norvin Green State Forest

When: Saturday, March 14th, from 10:30 until 3
Where: Norvin Green State Forest, near Wanaque, Passaic County
What: Hiking the Wyanokie Circular Trail, and other trails
Weather: Mid-30's when we arrived, Mid-50's by the time we left.

I can't think of many things that can compare to standing on top of New Jersey with two people who are dear to my heart.

There I was, on a gorgeous late-winter afternoon, on Wyanokie Hi-Point (not THE High Point), propping my camera up on a rock to snap a shot of me and my two favorite girls, Lindsay and my sister. We have hiked together a few times since taking up this hobby a year ago, but this was the first time that our trek offered us a 360-degree view of New Jersey. It was beautiful.

Norvin Green State Forest is located in Passaic County and offers its shade to the impressive Wanaque Reservoir. The park is home to the Wyanokie Circular Trail (among others) and the Weis Ecology Center. After passing the purple house on Snake Den Rd., a gravel parking lot will appear on the right. A little further past the lot, the Ecology Center (and clean bathrooms) can be found.

I have always been one to give credit where credit is due, so I feel the need to tell you that almost every hike that the three of us have taken together had already been neatly mapped out for us by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. If you visit their website,, and look under "Hikes of the Week," you will find a listing of great hikes, complete with pertinent informatin such as directions, difficulty and lentgh of the hike. I always like to have a trail map handy, but I will tell you that having a copy of the Hike of The Week while on the trail, I have yet to need one.

This was one of the more strenous hikes that we have taken, especially after a long winter of pizza and ice cream. There were several points on the trail that required some skyward scrambling to reach a summit, with the reward being another beautiful view. The highlight of these, of course, is the 360-degree Wyanokie Hi-point, as seen in the picture above.

The better part of the hike was still barren from the colder weather. Mountain Laurel and Pine were two of the few shades of green that could be found along the trail. Evidence of Black Bears and Deer let us know that we weren't the only mammals in the forest.

The hike took us the full four-and-a-half hours that the Hike of the Week estimated. However, we tend to walk at a fast pace, and take lots and lots of time to sit down and snack and to improve on our careers as amateur photographers. This hike was no different in the fact that we came home again, with some wonderful pictures and some wonderful memories.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Please, Be Safe......

As long as lakes keep freezing over, we will not stop seeing these reports.....

By Keith Goldberg
Times Herald-Record
Posted: March 10, 2009 - 2:00 AM

VERNON, N.J. — An ice fisherman fell through the ice and drowned in a small lake Sunday, Vernon Township police said.Police said the family of Luther Stahl Jr., 49, of Franklin, called them Sunday evening after Stahl didn’t return home and didn’t answer his cell phone. They told police the location of a lake in the Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Preservation Area that Stahl frequented. When rescue workers arrived, they determined that Stahl, who was fishing alone, had drowned. His body was recovered from a hole in the ice about 25 yards from the shore.

I would strongly urge anyone who feels compelled to go ice fishing this time of year to take at minimum, these precautions.

1)Do not go ice fishing alone.
2)Wear a life preserver.
3)Have a rope accesible.
4)Have ice-picks on your person at all times.
5)Have a cell phone in a waterproof bag.

This is really sad, but it will not be the last time that this happens. This is an extremely dangerous time of year to be on the ice. If you feel that you absolutely must go, do yourself and your family a favor, and take the necessary steps to ensure your safety.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Perfect Day

Where: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, near Millbrook, Warren County
When: Sunday, March 8th, from 8am to 3pm.
What: Hiking (and a little fishing) the Van Campens Brook Trail, Watergate Pond Recreation Area, Millbrook Village and the Upper Hamilton Trail.
Weather: 44-degrees when we got there. It was near 60 by the time we left. Wind probably around 10 mph coming out of the NE.

I have been fishing in the state of New Jersey for as long as I can remember. I have sat on the beach on the Jersey Shore from Long Branch to Cape May and have fished in just about every lake that I have heard of. I thought that I had seen just about all that New Jersey had to offer.

In the middle of July of last summer, I took an eight and a half hour hike through Worthington Sate Forest with my girlfriend, and began to get a sense of just how much more there was to see.

For the second time in only a few of weeks, I found myself in a car driving up Old Mine Rd. along the Delaware River. My girlfriend and I had our backpacks, a bunch of water, our cameras and a two-piece fishing rod, and were ready for our next adventure in what is quickly becoming one of our favorite hobbies. We arrived at the Van Campens Glen parking lot just before 8, and there was no one around. For a few hours on Sunday morning, we were completely alone in the forest. We did not see another human being for another 5 hours.

We hiked up the Van Campens Brook Trail north towards Watergate Pond and Millbrook Village. We tried fishing with trout magnets in the pools along the way, but I think that it is still a bit to cold for even the trout. I have to say that this hike far exceeded my expectations. I had no idea that anything like this existed in New Jersey. We came across beatiful, deep pools and more than one set of spectacular falls. There were places where the brook cut deep into the rock and places where it slid sharply over huge stones.

We stopped for a bit at Watergate Pond, doing a little fishing and a little eating near a lake that I was standing on when it was frozen less than three weeks earlier. After a short while, the fishing rod was in the backpack, and we were once again walking north.

About a half of a mile north of the pond, we came to Millbrook Village, which has not had any inhabitants for some time, but has been restored and is open to tourists. We snapped a few pics, peeped through a few of the windows, and continued on our way.

We picked up the Orchard Trail north of the village, which can be a little difficult to find. I would suggest to anyone taking this hike to continue North on Old Mine Rd. and the trailhead will quickly come up on your left. After a short distance on the Orchard Trail and a few ticks on our pants, we came to the Upper Hamilton Trail and were headed back down to our ride home. The two mile hike back to the car was uneventful compared to the rest of the day, but the forest was simply beautiful, and the slow walk made it easy to enjoy the good company.

I have been on a handful of hikes with a handful of people since I started seriously hiking New Jersey a little less than a year ago. Much like fishing, different things can come into play, making each trip a unique and very different experience. This past Sunday was one of those rare but cherished times where simply everything was right, and made for an absolutely perfect day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Passaic River

Where: The Passaic River, Near Lincoln Park and Elmwood Park, Passaic County
When: Tuesday, March 3rd, Late Morning
What: A lot of driving, not much fishing. Used Large Shiners for Northern Pike.
Weather: Frickin' Cold. Temp in the Twenties, Wind Chill in the Teens. Wind was whipping. It was sunny though.

For the past few years I have been reading reports about the Northern Pike fishing in the Passaic River. With the majority of New Jersey Lakes in the late winter limbo between safe ice and open water, river fishing is one of the few ways to wet a line this time of year.

The state stocks Northern Pike into a handful of bodies of water in New Jersey, and the Passaic River is one of them. Pike are a coldwater fish, and the end of February into March is one of the better times to catch them. During this time of year, Pike are on the move to spawning locations, which can make finding them an easier task.

A task I failed.

I found myself driving through the morning commute in Downtown Paterson to get to a bait shop in North Haledon on the other side. I bought my shiners and left with a couple tips on where to fish. I drove north to Lincoln Park, and found parking and river access on Two Bridges Rd., right where the Pompton River joins the Passaic. I fished for about an hour without a bite, and then decided to do more exploring.

I drove down Fairfield Rd. towards Route 46, and although I saw a few spots with potential shore fishing, there were none that looked as though they offered shelter from the wind that was steadily picking up. I eventually wound up in Clifton, found it absolutely necessary to get two hot dogs and french fries from Rutt's Hutt, and then headed to Garfield to try and find the Dundee Dam.

I have heard from reliable sources that Pike and even Striped Bass can be caught below the Dundee Dam in Garfield. The proprietor of the bait shop suggested parking on one of the side streets and told me where to walk down. This information must have gotten lost somewhere between the first and second hot dog, and the temperature outside didn't really make me feel much like walking around trying to find a way down to the river.

I continued driving up River Rd. towards Elmwood Park, and eventually came upon a small park that my father had taken me to fish for carp when I was younger. I spent another half-hour trying my luck, but the wind and the cold eventually got the best of me, and I made my way back to Jersey City.

Since I started this blog a couple months ago, I have never done more than a bit of editing to each new entry that I made. However, this particular one, I rewrote a few times over the course of the last few days. Something didn't seem quite right. I finally resolved myself to the fact that this just wasn't the best day that I have ever had fishing. It was cold, windy and I spent a majority of my time driving. I've come to accept the fact that it would not be possible, and that I would be doing everyone who reads this an injustice by trying to paint a pretty picture of something that simply wasn't. Almost any trip that I take and don't catch any fish, I will almost surely tell you that the highlight of the day was just being outside. On this particular day, it was the hot dogs.