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.