Monday, November 16, 2009

One For Two Ain't Bad

When: Sunday, November 15th, from 6am to 5pm
Where: Lake Hopatcong
What: Fishing for walleye and hybrids with jigs, the Binsky and herring.
Weather: For the end of November, as good as it gets.  High near 65, mostly sunny, with a 5ish mph wind from the N to NW.

There are a lot of fishermen who wouldn't consider 11 hours on the water and 1 fish a success, but I do. 

Chuck and I had simply gorgeous weather, I was able to actually sit still for almost a half a day, at peace and completely relaxed, and to boot, I caught my first Hopatcong walleye.  I really enjoyed fishing with Chuck, and look forward to doing it again. He's a great fisherman with great passion for the sport, and that is something I truly admire.

At the beginning of the spring, I set two goals (sort of) for my fishing season.  I wanted to catch my first walleye from Lake Hopatcong and my first hybrid striped bass, period.  I think that there was also something about a musky, but that wasn't all that realistic, yet. 

This being the first year that I have even known "how" to fish Lake Hopatcong, I am not embarrassed to say that I had yet to pull a walleye or a hybrid from it.  I have been the Captain of the boat when Lindsay landed a beautiful walleye and my dad a small hybrid, but had yet to get mine.  I have caught walleye from Black Lake in New York and the Connecticut River in Vermont, but not in New Jersey.  I have never caught a hybrid striped bass, but I have a hunch that will change in the next 365 days as well.

I got the walleye though.

You can't expect to catch a lot of fish, or even "a fish" every time that you go out on the water.  However, if you have even the slightest clue as to what you're doing, and put your time in, good things are bound to happen, at least every once in awhile.

So, I set two goals in April and accomplished one.  Along the way, thanks to my first year as a member of the Knee Deep Club and people like Lou Marcucci, Web Guy, Chris Lido and Chuck Sorrentino, I have obtained an incredible amount of knowledge on how to catch fish in Lake Hopatcong.  This information helped my father and I catch some nice trout in May, Lindsay land a gorgeous walleye in June, me catch a walleye in November and a ton of other fish, in just one lake, in one year.  This is knowledge that I can use for the rest of my life, and I have a hunch that I will be having even more successful outings on this lake for years to come.

This will most likely wrap up my year on Hopatcong until there is safe ice.  When I think of all I have learned and how this lake seems to be thriving, it makes me pretty excited to think of what I'm going to catch next year.
A special thank you to Laurie at Dow's for a wonderful year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nor'Easters, A New Friend And Another Day On Lake Hopatcong

As I sit at my desk at 3pm on Friday, all I can think about is fishing.

I was supposed to spend Saturday on Rob's boat with him and Pat, combing the bottom of Roamer Shoals and the East River for what might be the last chance of catching a huge fall striped bass.  Once again, however, Mother Nature had the final word.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling for gusts up to 30knots and 8-10 foot seas on Saturday.  Sunday is supposed to be beautiful. 

This was a no-brainer.

By the time I got word that Rob and Pat had freed up their schedules for Sunday, I had already made a pact with a new friend, Chuck Sorrentino, to spend Sunday on Lake Hopatcong on the last day Laurie will be renting boats this year.  It's supposed to be in the mid-60's with less than a 10mph wind.  I'm stoked.

Chuck is also a member of the Knee Deep Club, and after a few emails, a few phone calls and a little scheduling difficulty, we're finally going to get together and do some fishing.

In addition to catching his share of Lake Hopatcong's mixed-bag, Chuck Sorrentino is a licensed NY State Guide, and has spent countless hours in the Catskills fishing treasured waters, among others, as the Beaverkill and the Delaware.  Chuck also guides the Salmon River in Pulaski in the fall for coho salmon, king salmon, steelhead and trophy brown trout.  Chuck specializes in fly-fishing, but has spinning gear available and can accommodate anyone from a novice to a seasoned pro.

Anyone wishing to use his expertise in the hopes of catching a trophy can contact him at or give him a ring at (201)417-1036.  You can also see some his handiwork in the "Videos You Should Watch" or link to his page under "Sites to Check Out" for more pics and movies.

In the meantime, we're going fishing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Point Mountain Reservation

When: Sunday, November 8th, from 9am to noon.
Where: Point Mountain Reservation, near Hackettstown and the Musconetcong River
What: Hiking
Weather: Unbelievable.  Got up to almost 70.

Another day, another hike, this time with friends.

Those "trout guys" I had been talking about also mentioned Point Mountain and the Musconetcong River, so when Lindsay suggested hiking there for the group-hike she was organizing, I was quite interested. 

It should come as no surprise that the route we followed was yet another "Hike of the Week" from the NYNJ Trail Conference.  With that hike in hand, we found ourselves in a gravel parking lot at 9am, a short distance from Point Mountain and the Musconetcong. 

The first 2 miles were more like a leisurely "nature walk," but followed the bank of the river for a distance and provided some spectacular views.  We saw a couple fly-fisherman, and I will definitely be paying this area another visit with my waders and my ultra-light.  The Musconetcong is a native trout stream, meaning that it has a naturally-reproducing trout population.  It is well protected and quite pretty, and with the efforts of groups such as The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA), has a promising future.  To learn more about this delicate and beautiful river and its tributaries, visit

Back to the hike.

After the first 2 miles, the trail turned vertical and headed straight up Point Mountain.  The few extra pounds that I'm carrying around tried their best to stop me, but I was able to make it up without too much trouble.  The rest of the gang made it as well and a nice couple snapped a pic of us on the overlook. Cheese.

A few minutes, a few peanuts and a liter of water later, we followed the trail along the ridge for a bit and eventually headed down and back to the gravel parking lot.  The 4ish mile hike took us just about 3 hours, which was an ample chunk of time since I had woken up at 1:30am Saturday morning because I was uber-amped to go striper fishing.  I was looking forward to some rest.

This was a great hike on a simply beautiful day for November.  OMG, November?

Well yes, but it felt more like Spring. 

Everyone involved had a great time and is looking forward to more hiking.  After some discussion, we're kicking around the idea of starting a hiking club...................

............and wethinks we have a name.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Attack Of The Yellow-Eyed Monsters

When: Saturday, November 7th, from 6am to noon
Where: Boat left from Belmar, fished north near the Shrewsbury Rocks
What: Striper/Bluefishing
Weather: The mercury didn't crawl over 50, it was windy too.

For those of you who don't travel in fishing circles, the term "Yellow-Eyed Monster" refers to Pomatomus Saltatrix, more commonly known as the bluefish.

Although sought after and even prized by many anglers, striped bass fishermen have a different take on our friend the blue.  These often-abundant fish have been given their omnious nickname for their ability to take bait intended for a bass and to shear line with their piranha-esque incisors.

They put up one hell of a fight though.

Here's a bit of history for you...............................The largest fish that yours truly has successfully landed was indeed a bluefish.  It was probably a few pounds north of 20, which is quite a size for this species.  The other thing, however, is that I caught it when I was 11.  It recently occurred to me, that after all the fishing that I've done, that not only is my "big fish" a mere 20ish pounds, but I caught it two decades ago.

That being said, my best chance for felling this stale record is probably with a striped bass.  It was in the back of my mind that I had at least a shot on this particular day...........but instead.......all I caught was bluefish.

I am in no way complaining though.  It's actually been a few outings since I've had action like this and the bruiser that you see above is the biggest fish that I've caught in some time.  I probably landed a dozen and lost a few more.

It was a great day.

Next week, it's Rob's boat, and another chance at breaking a 20 year-old record.

I'm hoping that this time my 25lb. bass will become a reality, and not another visit by the Yellow-Eyed Monsters.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Should Have Went Crabbing

When: Sunday, November 1st, from 3pm to 7pm
Where: Exchange Place, Jersey City
What: Striper fishing with fresh bunker.
Weather: Cold and windy.

Once again, the Fishing Gods left me scratching my head. 

Approaching full moon, flood tide, the heart of the fall striper run, dusk........................and no fish.  Oh well.

There we were, hours before the start of game 4 of the World Series, two die-hard Phillie fans and a die-hard Yankee fan.  We did our best to get along for a little while, and managed to get a few friendly hours of fishing in before our teams squared off in a pivotal game. 

It was cool and breezy at the end of the pier by the Hyatt.  I've seen some big striped bass caught there, and figure that it's just a matter of time until I get mine.  This wasn't my time though. 

The stars seemed to be aligned, and I was confident that between the three of us, we could catch at least one fish.  I knew from reports that the bass were in the bay and the East River.  It would stand to reason that they'd be in the Hudson as well, but they either weren't around or weren't biting.

The crabs, however, were ferocious.

There is a distinct movement of a rod tip that gives away the fact that a crab is gnawing on your offering instead of a fish.  They aren't often hooked, but a shredded piece of bait confirms what you already suspected.  There was a lot of this happening on this particular evening, and I had the pleasure of liberating a large male that became entangled in my line.  Check out his big blue claws.  That's the sign of a man-crab and is where these tasty critters get their nickname, The Blue Claw Crab. 

Since I'm not too keen on dining on anything that calls the bottom of the Hudson River its home, I let this one go.

When darkness fell, we did have a few potentially small fish taking line from our reels, and once again, I was provided with solid evidence of what was lurking below.

This time, eels, and I once again had the pleasure of getting one back into the water.

Next time we'll go crabbing, and hopefully catch our striper.