Sunday, December 27, 2009

Iced Out

Chris sets free a small native brown trout caught by yours truly in the Hollow Brook. Apologies for the bush-league photography.

When: Sunday, December 27th
Where: From Budd Lake, along the South Branch to Spruce Run Reservoir to Tewksbury
What: Enjoying the un-seasonably warm day and catching a couple of trout.
Weather: High near 50, Sunny.

Regardless of what the calendar says, my New Year begins with my first ice fishing trip, and for as long as I have lived by this philosophy, that day has always fallen in January.

As of a few days before Christmas, I was fairly certain this year was going to be different, and that this last Sunday of December would be spent standing on a frozen Delaware Lake with the twins, Brian and Chris.  However, as the holidays passed, rain and high temperatures put our endeavor in question, and we ultimately decided ice fishing was going to have to wait.

Instead of loading the truck with gear only to be diappointed by unsafe conditions, I decided to let my sled, jigs and tip-ups rest for a couple more weeks and come up with another plan.  Fishing days have been hard to come by this month, so I wasn't going to let this beautiful weather get away.

Brian and Chris asked me to come by their folks' place in Hunterdon in the early afternoon, so I decided to slowly head out that way and do some investigating in the process.  My goal was to first find access for ice fishing for a future date on Budd Lake, and to also locate river access on the South Branch, which originates at its southwestern shore.  Budd Lake is one of the handful of New Jersey impoundments that has a healthy population of northern pike, and although I have never fished there, I am looking forward to trying it.

I succeeded in finding parking and access right on Route 46. I marked the spot along with a couple others on my road atlas, then proceeded to take a stunningly beautiful drive along the South Branch and Route 513 through Western Morris County and eventually Hunterdon.  I did a little more scouting around Spruce Run Reservoir, and eventually made it out by the boys in Tewksbury around 11am.

It was an honor to have two long-time locals show me all the pools in the neighborhood brooks and for their determination to get me a Christmas Trout.  We hiked up and down the Cold Brook and the Hollow Brook, managed to entice a couple native browns and barely survived a couple slides down a ravine (if Lindsay's reading this, I'm kidding, but not really).  The weather was top-notch for December, and their mother rewarded our efforts with some fine food.

After a hectic holiday and a busy couple months at two jobs, it was great to have some morning solitude and to take a peaceful ride through some of the most beautiful country in the state.  In most of years that have passed, my connection with the outdoors has ended with the cold weather.  More recently, I have found that hiking, fishing, photography and taking a Sunday drive doesn't have to depend on the seasons, and that a few layers of clothes will allow anyone to be at peace when most others don't want to leave their homes.

This should, for all intent and purpose, end my adventures for Decmember, and for that matter, the year.  By my best calculations, I have caught two fish this month.  That may not seem like a whole lot compared to the other months this year, but it's undoubtedly two more fish than I normally catch in December.

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year to everyone!!!!!

With Peace and Love,

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