Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Knee Deep

When: Tuesday, April 28th, from 6am to 1pm
Where: Lake Hopatcong
What: Lures and live Herring
Weather: Almost 90 degrees, windy, 15+ mph from the SW

There's something about motoring past Nolan's Point on a small boat as the sun is coming over the mountains that just never seems to get old.

I've been renting boats from Laurie at Dow's for over 10 years. Lake Hopatcong has become one of my favorite lakes to fish, and with the help of the people at the bait shop and the Knee-Deep Club, I'm slowly learning more about it.

My father and I were on the water by 6am on probably one of the nicest days that April has ever seen. It got a little windy in the afternoon, but the fact that it was 90 degrees didn't seem to make that matter too much.

We had most of our action in the back of Byram Cove. Lake Hopatcong still had plenty of stocked trout and a bunch of them were taking up residence in the back in Byram. We put 2 Browns and 2 Rainbows in the boat by casting and trolling Gold Phoebes. I lost a bigger Rainbow at the boat and my father managed to land a 20-inch Pickerel without it's teeth severing the 4lb. test leader. My father added a small bass, a small perch and a sunfish to round out our catch for the day.

Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in New Jersey. It holds almost every type of fish that can be found in the State. Fishing this lake can be a daunting task, as, true to form, some areas hold a lot of fish and other areas hold none. Also, different times of the year bring different species of fish to life.

I suggest to anyone wishing to learn how to fish Lake Hopatcong to visit the Knee Deep Club's website at You can check the reports to see where the members are fishing, what they are using and what they are catching. Membership to the Knee Deep Club is inexpensive and allows you to attend their meetings, where you can learn a great deal about how to fish New Jersey's largest lake.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back Bay Stripers

When: Sunday, April 19th, from 7am to 1pm
What: Fishing for Striped Bass with Clams
Where: The Raritan Bay
Weather: High in the Mid to Upper 50's, Wind 10+ mph from the East

I could not have been more excited when I finally met Pat, Rob and his 18 foot Wellcraft at the boat launch at Liberty State Park at 6:30 in the morning.

After a short ride past Lady Liberty and under the Verranzo Narrows, we were anchored up, Rob was cracking open clams and tossing them into the water. The action was slow, but we managed 3 short fish and a couple skates to boot. There were a few missed opportunities as well.

It's been too long sinced I've fished in the Raritan Bay, too long since I've caught a Striped Bass, too long since I've spent some time with Pat and too long that I've lived without knowing Rob. After a handful of stressful weeks, this fishing trip was exactly what I needed.

I would have been fully content spending the day on the water with these two guys and not getting a bite. However, fortune smiled upon me this day, and I was able to come home with a picture of the beautiful fish you see above.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Last Cast

When: Sunday, April 2nd from 12pm to 8pm
Where: Stone Tavern Lake and Assunpink Lake, Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, Near Allentown, Monmouth County
What: Everything (Shiners, Worms, Soft Plastics, Jerkbaits) off Chris's Canoe
Weather: High in the Upper 50's, Breezy, Wind 10-15 from the NE

Chris and I just did not want to give up. After 6 hours on the canoe only landed us a small sunfish, we tried the shore at Stone Tavern Lake, and Chris caught a small pickerel. For all of our effort, that would be the only action we would get that day.

Sometimes Mother Nature mixes up a recipe of wind and weather that makes it virtually impossible to catch fish. I've started to learn a little about weather patterns and fishing, but will still be damned if I know what makes the fish decide to bite. Chris and I were on Stone Tavern Lake this Sunday, and my father was floating on the Shrewsbury River with his friends trying to catch flounder. None of us, or anyone around us for that matter were catching fish. My father told me that the Party boats out of Atlantic Highlands even got the skunk.

Stone Tavern Lake was more crowded than I had ever seen it. The high winds prevented the guys who still think that there are fish in Assunpink Lake from fishing there, so they were all on other lakes.

Of course, even after 6 six hours of not catching fish, Chris and I had not lost our resolve. We put the canoe back on top of his truck, and set out to Assunpink Lake to prove my theory wrong. We caught nothing.

A sure-fire way to tell that a person is a true fisherman lies in reluctance to stop fishing. The hope of catching a fish has given me the drive to spend many fruitless hours on the water. I can remember spending 9 hours straight sitting On the Banks (tee-hee) of the Raritan River without even getting a goddamn bite. This was one of those days. Even though we were tired, hungry, that it was getting dark, that we had a long drive home and both had work the next day, it was just so damn hard to stop fishing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Typical Tuesday

When: Tuesday, March 31st, from 9:30am to 1pm
Where: Bearfort Ridge Trail, near Hewitt, Passaic County
What: Hiking with my sister
Weather: Perfect (High 50's-Low60's, light wind)

Once again, the NY/NJ Trail Conference provided my sister and I with a guidline for a wonderful hike. I hadn't been past Ringwood State Park in probably more than 10 years. The drive along Wanaque Reservoir and over Monksville Reservoir is probably my favorite in the State. After catching a glimpse of Greenwood Lake, we parked at a turn-out on the side of Warwick Turnpike and put on our packs.

The first half-mile of this hike was an ass-kicker. We hiked a steep incline which eventually landed us on Bearfort Ridge. For the next couple hours, we followed the ridge, which provided us with some stunning views of Monksville and the Wyanokies. The Ridge eventually took us to the shores of Surprise Pond, which made for a great place to have lunch.

To anyone taking this hike, be aware that the orange-blazed trail leading back to the start of the hike can be a little tricky to follow. There are a few stream crossings and another handful of places where the trail has been washed out or flooded. Getting around these obstacles and locating the next blaze can be mildly difficult, so just make sure that you stay on the trail and are always looking for the next blaze.

The Trail Conference estimate this hike at four and a half hours. It took us a bit less, but we tend to walk at a good clip. There weren't as many photo opportunities on this hike, so we finished rather quickly.

It must be said that the weather on this early Spring day was perfect. We could not have asked for a better day. The rest of the week was questionable at best, but this particular Tuesday was beautiful. Tuesdays tend to be a special day in my family, and this one held true to form.