Monday, May 17, 2010

River Country

My first "canoe bass."

When:Saturday, May 15th, from 5:30am to 8pm
Where:5:30am to 10:30am-Budd Lake; 11am to 2pm-I'll never tell; 3:30pm to 8pm-South Branch of the Raritan River near Clinton.
What:Fishing from Chris' canoe.
Weather:Warm, high into the 70's. Windy (scary windy on a canoe) on Budd Lake, but calm later in the day on the river.

This was my second time fishing from a canoe and the first time that I was successful at a catching a few fish while doing so.

It was a long day and when all was said and done, Chris walked away with the award for "quantity" and I took home the award for "quality."

That's just the way we like it.

The day started off at 4am, with Chris rolling up to my home in downtown Jersey City with his canoe atop his Jeep. We headed west like we've done so many times before, and once again found ourselves at Musconetcong Bait and Boat in the pitch dark.

With herring in the bucket, we headed further west and pushed off the shore of Budd Lake as the sun was coming up over the horizon. Chris immediately turned his sights to the panfish and I started tossing the biggest baits in my bag in the hopes of enticing one of the resident northern pike.

Chris succeeded, I did not.

After a trip to the further end of the lake put us into the teeth of a 20mph NW wind and made me wonder if I was going to take an early-season swim, we headed off the lake no worse for the wear.

After our less-than-stellar showing on Budd, I decided to show Chris an old haunt that never failed to produce.

It didn't disappoint.
This skinny girl needed a meal after just laying all of her eggs.
We fished there for a couple hours in which I landed 3 nice bass and missed a few more. Chris landed a bass or two and added countless hefty panfish.

Then it was off to Clinton to finish our day on the South Branch.

We stopped in downtown Clinton for ice cream and coffee before dipping the canoe one last time. Our last outing lasted close to 5 hours during which I caught a couple more largemouth and some slammer yellow perch. Chris caught a little smallmouth, and once again, slaughtered the panfish.

What a day.

One thing I have to say is that Hunterdon County is officially my favorite place to fish. Clinton has a downtown that is about as cool as it gets and the South Branch is one the healthiest and most pristine bodies of water I have seen in NJ. Even though we fished not far from where the people roam, there was still a sense of beauty and solitude and a noticable lack of coffee cups, water bottles and cigarette butts.

Canoeing in these parts was reminiscent of scenery from Smoky Mountain National Park and Pisgah National Forest.

I'm not joking.

I've been all over all New Jersey and still have much more to explore, but as far as quality fishing and background, this might be as good as it gets.

Props to Chris Lido for filling in the Martalus boys, and ultimately me, in on this gem of a stretch of river.

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