Category Archives: Fishing Lodges

Fishtember

The World War era bunkers at Sandy Hook.
The World War era bunkers at Sandy Hook.

Today is the last day of September, we are now two weeks into the autumn of 2015. Temperatures have been steadily cooling though holding higher than I can anecdotally recall in the last two autumn fishing seasons. The fall fishing extravaganza leaped off to a strong start as the water temperatures steadily cooled and our H2O residing quarry again became more active.

A sign of the fall, pickups loaded down with wood.
A sign of the fall, pickups loaded down with wood.

This weekend the majority of the MKFF crew is headed up to Pulaski, New York to check out the early Salmon run then Mark and Zach will be heading down to Sanibel Island for an extended fishing adventure. I will not be fishing due to my college roommate’s wedding; therefore this is an appropriate point to provide you with an update on New Jersey fishing for the first few weeks of fall.

Black River WMA

Pheasant Hunting Season and the Cast and Blasts which mark November are now less than two months away. I dusted off the old JC Higgins 16 gauge side by side along with the Remington 12 gauge and headed down to the Black River WMA range. Both firearms performed well, presenting my shoulder with the swift kick of an old gun while consistently delivering a load to the target. Next on the agenda is to attempt and gunsmith my Savage Model 220B with some parts that are now available online.

Gunsmithing Kitty
Gunsmithing Kitty

The Jersey Shore

Light surf in the morning.
Light surf in the morning.

The salt water community is abuzz with the looming biannual arrival of the Striped Bass to the New Jersey shore. It is still a bit early for the main event however we headed down to Avon by the Sea to evaluate what could be pulled out from the beach. Initially I was going to try to fish with some spin gear but the guys over at Orvis NYC convinced me to try a few softy minnows in the surf. The plan worked with me landing a few one pound Blue Fish and Jack Crevalle in the morning. Mark pulled in a nice Sea Robin and Star Gazer, however I could not convince him to measure the Star Gazer in an attempt at the MKFF Salt contest. We wrapped up over at Sandy Hook where a few keep able size Fluke were caught from the beach.

Mark’s Sea Robbin
Mark’s Sea Robbin

Orvis Game Fair

Bison head at the Orvis Game Fair.
Bison head at the Orvis Game Fair.

Continuing the fall adventures, Mark and I met in Morristown on Sunday after fishing the shore all day Saturday to head up to Millbrook, NY for the annual Orvis Game Fair. The Game Fair, which we have reported on in 2012 and 2014, is a sporting lifestyle fair geared for the family. This year they had few more distilleries, which are popping up, in the Hudson Valley thanks to New York State’s updated liquor laws. The event has expanded every year that we have attended and is a great way to spend the first weekend of fall.

Handcrafted bar made of fir wood. Made in America.
Handcrafted bar made of fir wood. Made in America.

My other favorite part of the Orvis Game Fair is fishing Wappingers Creek, a local stream in Dutchess County New York. Wappingers Creek stretches 41.7 miles from Thomson Pond to New Hamburg, NY, emptying into the Hudson River. The northern stretches of the creek hold Trout while the southern stretches are more of a Smallmouth fishery.

Wappinger Creek Smallmouth Bass
Wappinger Creek Smallmouth Bass

After leaving the Orvis Game Fair, we stopped at The Roadhouse in Pleasant Valley, NY. This is an excellent upstate New York bar. This establishment is a jewel, a true treasure including a main floor with a list, pool table, dartboard, cold beer and delicious beer. This is not a yuppie bar, the bartenders are friendly, the food delicious and reasonably priced!

Looking Ahead

New Jersey’s fall Trout stocking is scheduled to commence between October 13th and 21st , this year they will be placing 20,000 Trout, between 14” and 22”, in 16 streams throughout the state. Our club is also planning on stocking our private pond with Tiger Trout for the winter. After the Trout season dies down, Saturday November 7th will be opening day of Pheasant season in New Jersey. This is in addition to the fall archery season that begins in October and then the December firearms season for deer.

Knot Just Flies

Blairstown, NJ is a bucolic small town in a bustling state, surrounded by first class fishing and hunting opportunities. The working farms, hunting clubs, preserved land and overgrown bush combine to make this town and northern Warren County a sportsmen’s paradise. Even so, there has not been a sporting goods store in this town since Red Hawk Outfitters closed more than a decade ago.

The sales counter at Knot Just Flies
The sales counter at Knot Just Flies

Thanks to local business owner Valentino Mota, this has all changed, for the better. Val has opened Knot Just Flies at the Valero on Route 94. Conveniently located in front of the Paulinskill River as it meanders through Blairstown. Val has opened his store as an authentic general store of Fly Fishing, angling and hunting supplies. In the modern world of ecommerce, something that he has experience in, brick and mortar retail stores need to carry the items you need on the spot before a day of sporting adventures. This is what Val will provide to our community.

Flies geared to your local waters.
Flies geared to your local waters.

Knot Just Flies caters to a wide market of sportsmen or woman and the equipment they need. By stopping here you will be able to spend more time fishing or hunting and less time driving to far away outfitters. He is conveniently opened 7AM to 7PM Tuesday through Saturday and 7AM to 5PM on Sunday. Mondays the store is closed.

Deer corn and shooting clays are in stock.
Deer corn and shooting clays are in stock.

Knot Just Flies is a full service Fly Shop right in the heart of Warren County Fly Fishing country. Located less than half an hour from every major Trout stream in the area including the Paulinskill, Flat Brook, Pequest and the Musconetcong. Not to mention the Delware River Smallmouth and Shad fishery. Val spends a great deal of time cultivating the new entrants into the sport and creating the next generation of Fly Fishing. As such, he offers daily rental packages and you can arrange a Fly Fishing lesson through the store.

Fly tying supplies, enough to get started on most local patterns.
Fly tying supplies, enough to get started on most local patterns.

The location literally has a little bit of everything you need to pursue your hobby. It is a general store of outdoor sports, preventing you from ruining your day by forgetting gloves in the cold or sinkers for cat fishing. Freshwater angling supplies, wingshooting necessities, archery supplies, Bass baits, live baits, catfish baits, ice fishing supplies and some saltwater tackle are all here. To make it even more convenient for people in the area, Val is stocking some Salmon and Steelhead supplies at reasonable prices to prevent you from getting price gouged in upstate New York this fall.

Angling supplies for Bass and Catfish.
Angling supplies for Bass and Catfish.

Val got into fishing at a young age with his father introducing him to the sport. It has been his dream to open up a fly and tackle shop, when the opportunity presented itself he seized it! He has extensive experience selling products through ecommerce; therefore, you will find reasonable prices throughout the store. According to Val, “This shop is geared to the community, products I sell are effective in this community. Whatever is on the wall is here for our local anglers.”

We have famous Thomas Trout lures.
They have famous Thomas Trout lures.

Some name brands available at the store include, but are not limited to, Redington, Rio, CP Swings and Thomas Lures. Any item you could purchase at Bass Pro shops can be ordered right in Blairstown! We hope to see you in the store soon.

Contact Info:

Fly Fishing in Montana

How to Catch Monster Trout!

Montana fly fishing has a well deserved reputation for producing some huge trout. With thousands upon thousands of miles of quality trout streams, outstanding scenery and a rugged landscape it is easy to see why the state holds a special place in the hearts of fly fisherman from around the globe. Montana is also one of the few places in the lower 48 where an angler can consistently catch wild trout over 20″. As a longtime guide and Montana fly fishing outfitter, I have learned that nothing tops of a Montana fishing trip better hand catching a giant trout. 20 grip and grin photos of 14″ fish can’t add up one photo of a truly huge trout! All though anyone fishing the waters of some of Montana’s legendary lake and rivers can stumble on to a trophy fish at anytime, there are several ways to increase your odds of hooking and landing big fish.

Just because you are fishing in Montana doesn’t mean that you have a shot at big trout. There is terrific action packed fishing to be had smaller rivers and mountain lakes throughout the state, but most of the smaller streams or high elevation lakes do not produce massive trout (with some exceptions). On the other hand, most of the larger rivers like the Yellowstone, Madison, Missouri, Big Hole, and Bighorn frequently produce trout over 20″ on a regular basis with a few bruisers running over 35″ and 15lbs. There are a handful high mountain lakes that hold populations of freshwater shrimp that fuel trout growth. Large trout in high mountain lakes is the exception rather than the rule, however, and they often are cyclical based on winter-kill. Finally, some lower elevation lakes and irrigation reservoirs have a prolific supply of shrimp, mayflies and damselflies allowing for some gargantuan trout. In order to catch large trout you must target a fishery that holds large fish. The beauty of fly fishing in Montana is that there are multiple fisheries that produce wild trout of trophy proportions. Many streams and rivers in other parts of the world simply do not offer the water temperatures, habitat and food supplies necessary to grow large trout.

Trophy trout have a different energy budget than smaller fish. The size of large fish requires that they spend many more calories to move the same distance as a smaller trout. A small insect contains more calories than the amount of energy that a small trout uses to capture it. Large fish, however, need to spend much more energy to intercept a small insect and actually spend more calories in fueling that motion than they take in from the insect. Large fish, therefore, need to eat large items. Small trout typically have a diet that is composed primarily of small aquatic insects. In Montana, large trout key in on crayfish, sculpins, small trout and extra large insects such as large stonefly species. If you spend the majority of your time casting small attractor dry flies, you will have a great time catching lots of small and medium size trout on the surface, but you won’t hook many really large trout. On the other hand, anglers that willingly huck monster streamers and crayfish imitations will rack up there fair share of huge trout. Occasionally large trout will key in on small insects. These exceptions occur on lakes and still waters where trout do not need to fight current to eat the smaller insects and during very intense hatches where trout do not need to move far to take in a large number of the critter of the day. There are three primary techniques that frequently result in big fish hook-ups. The first is to dead drift large nymphs imitation crayfish, sculpins, baitfish or large stonefly nymphs. Many anglers choose to drop a smaller nymph off of the back of the large fly in order to still catch smaller trout while still hoping for a monster. The second is to strip large streamers. Streamer fishing produces aggressive strikes but it is a low number game. Although streamer fishing usually produces a small number of fish, it is the best way to catch really large trout. Finally, massive dry flies can sometimes bring up the largest fish in the river during the salmon fly hatch. Salmon flies are enormous aquatic insects that can be over 3″ long. This annual occurrence rarely produces fast action, but it does give lucky anglers an opportunity to hook trout over 25″ on a dry fly.

Although it is possible to catch a large fish at any point in the day, there are definitely prime times and prime days that produce big fish. Large fish do not eat consistently throughout the day like smaller trout often do. A large trout may eat a 9 inch trout in the morning and spend the next 24-48 hours digesting it. If your streamer swims by he fish later that day he won’t be interested. In general, large trout prefer to feed during low light levels making early morning and evening prime time for landing big fish. On rivers that warm significantly during the day, large trout often feed in the middle of the night and some brave fly fisherman target these trout using large streamers after midnight.

Some days are “big fish days”. Although I have had a few days that seemed to produced multiple fish over 20″ when the sun was shining, the vast majority of monster trout days that I have encountered have occurred when clouds were thick. Large browns are notorious for being wary on sunny days. If you have flexibility on the days that you fish, make sure you are on the water when the fronts come in and low lying clouds spit rain all day. These are also the days to consider shifting to techniques that specifically target huge fish. On more than one occasion, we have switched from dries to streamers when a large thunderstorm rolled in an experienced a 45 minute feeding frenzy of big fish. Sometimes these midsummer storms can produce five or six strikes from fish over 20″ in less than an hour. By the end of the frenzy the fish are regurgitating sculpins. These same trout probably do not feed for at least two days after such binges so it is wise to swing for the fences when the whether is right.

I have seen big Montana trout caught during every month and week of the year. There are two times of the year, however, that I believe you can maximize your chances of hooking big fish. The first is to target posts runoff compression. When rivers first drop and clear from runoff, big fish are hungry and have not seen many flies for several weeks. To top things off, he fish are often pressed against the banks to avoid the brisk mid river currents. The second time of the year that constantly produces huge fish is in October and early November when brown trout are moving through the rivers in preparation to spawn. Browns get much more aggressive in the fall, making this a great time to hunt for big fish.

Brian McGeehan has been guiding in Colorado and Montana for 17 seasons.  He is the owner and outfitter of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman.
Brian McGeehan
Owner and Outfitter
Montana Angler Fly Fishing
76 Lucille Lane
Bozeman, MT 59718