Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hot On The Trail Of Passaic River Pike

The "tranquil" Passaic River, well upstream of its confluence with the Pompton.
When: Saturday, April 2nd, from 10am to 2pm
Where: The Passaic River
What: Trying to find northern pike with Martalus in his canoe
Weather: Morning low of 39-degrees, warmed up into the 50's, 15mph NW wind
Moon: Day of the New

Fishing unfamiliar water can often be challenging, which is exactly what Chris and I were faced with today. To further complicate matters, Spring has not yet arrived and a Nor' Easter brushed New Jersey just yesterday. Although we had hopes of hooking into a Passaic River pike today, the bigger story was simply trying to figure out where to find them. I think that we may have succeeded on that front, but it remains to be seen.

Until recently, I had called it quits on trying to find a place to fish the Passaic River. The Passaic that I had come to know is a big, gnarly river that flows through tough neighborhoods in Paterson and crowded residential communities in Little Falls, Wayne and Garfield. It seems that the access points in these areas are well-guarded local secrets, unless one is brave enough to fish behind Kennedy High-School.

I am not.

In the past, I failed in my attempt at finding a way down to the Dundee Dam, got repeatedly snagged in Elmwood Park and spent hours driving around Passaic County trying to find a way down to the river.

I had given-up.

Then, just a couple months ago, I read something online that gave me a completely different perception of the Passaic River. What a lot of people don't know is that the wide, highly-polluted river that flows through downtown Newark has its source in the heart of Morris County, where it is designated as a native trout stream. As it snakes its way through Northern New Jersey, it provides plenty of peaceful scenery before it opens-up at its confluence with the Pompton River at Two Bridges.

Now, although I knew of the decent pike fishing downstream from Two Bridges, I was not sure how good the fishing was in this calmer stretch of water. After checking-in with a few friends, the answer was clear.

This is where it's at.

I have found a couple spots to fish from shore in the past month, but there was no doubt that the best way to access the Passaic in these parts was by canoe. Thanks to some help from a new friend (thanks Bob), we found exactly where to drop it in.

Today was the trial run.

We would have liked to have caught something, however I was incredibly satisfied to have found a great stretch of water on the Passaic to fish for northern pike. I did hook-up once with what was probably a decent northern or a chunky smallmouth, but it must have been hooked lightly and came loose after a few solid tugs.

Oh well, we'll be back.

Next Up: Hiking with Lindsay tomorrow, followed by pike fishing next Saturday (Opening Day of Trout Season)........on the Passaic.