When:Saturday, August 14th, from 5pm to 12am
Where:Clinton, then the Delaware and D&R Canal
What:Catching bait and catfishing
Weather:A little cooler, hight in the Upper 70's, minimal wind.
Moon:Waxing, 1/4 full.
It's trips like these that help remind me exactly who is in charge.
We're in the "dog days" of summer. For a freshwater fisherman like myself, that means the water temps are as high as they're going to get all year and that fish are sluggish and don't feel much like biting.
Except for catfish.
No water is too warm for the channel catfish, which thrives in regions further to the South. Since this is what Chris and I were after on this beautiful Saturday evening, we stopped in Clinton to catch some "big cat" bait..........bluegill sunfish.
We left Jersey City just before 4pm and made it Clinton at 5pm. It only took 45 minutes to put a handful of "bite-sized" bluegill in the bucket. We also released a bunch smallmouth, largemouth and yellow perch; another testament to the health of the South Branch of the Raritan River.
Upon setting up shop in Byram, we quickly realized that the current was too swift and there were too many snags. It was not a good prospect for fishing, so we decided to cut bait and make our way down to Bull's Island and fish the D&R Canal.
That's when we met Patrick.
.........or more to the point, "found" Patrick.
While heading south on Rte. 29, we passed a deflated tube on the side of the road. Since this was a common thoroughfare for rafting and tubing trips, it wasn't really a strange site. However, as I looked back, this tube appeared to have a person in it.
We went back to investigate.
Upon approaching the tube, we found 23 year-old Patrick, who had been lying there on the side of the road holding his dog, apparently quite comfortable and quite intoxicated.
From the best that we could piece together from Patrick's story, he had been on a home-spun tubing trip with his friends, his dog and a cooler full of booze. He had then gotten into a fight with his girlfriend, somehow got split up from the pack (who may or may not have still be on the river) and found his way up to the road. I'm not quite sure what his next course of action was, and upon inquiring, he didn't really have one.
As it was getting dark, it was pretty apparent that we couldn't leave Patrick and his dog on the side of the road to be hit or arrested. So, we did the noble thing and put him in the back with the fishing rods to try and find his friends. Patrick did his best to tell us who was parked where and in what car, but it really wasn't panning out.
After two fruitless hours in which Patrick told us a phenomenally intoxicated version of his life-story, we were ready to find a resolution. Patrick did not know his girlfriend's phone number, but he did know his Dad's.
Dad was not happy.
Dad did, however, meet us in Lambertville at the Lambertville Station to take Patrick off of our hands. He thanked us for our efforts.
At this point it was 10pm and needless to say, the fishing wind had been taken out of our sails a bit. We did spend a couple hours fishing the canal during which Chris caught an eel and I got the skunk.
Not the best fishing, but who cares? I already had a great story to tell.