Category Archives: The Paulinskill River

The Paulinskill is one of the last unspoiled watersheds in New Jersey. It is also home to some massive holdover Rainbows and Browns. In addition to the wild and holdover trout populations in this stream there is a an unparalleled indigenous population of Small Mouth Bass. The river begins from to smaller tributaries which combine in Warbasse Junction, Sussex County; this smaller upper section has limited public access as it winds through the active and fallow agricultural lands of northwest New Jersey. Below Marksboro the river is more accessible, larger and well stocked. Moving into Knowlton township the Paulinskill joins Columbia lake before emptying into the Delaware.

End of Summer 2015

The summer of 2015 commenced as a cooler than average summer trailing a long, cold and snowy winter. In fact, due to the weather we experienced, Rainbow Trout have been taken from the Paulinskill throughout the summer. Since mid August, a significant heat wave combined with a lack of rain has reduced river-fishing opportunities. These conditions will improve once the fall rains commence. In the meantime, fishing for warm water species early in the morning or late in the evening remains quite productive.

Sunfish, palm sized delight.
Sunfish, palm sized delight.

August Doldrums

To celebrate the conclusion of this summer and the beginning of, “Cast and Blast Autumn 2015,” we of course, went fishing. This time of year, I cannot stress enough the importance of waking up before dawn and wetting your line by sun up. With Mark still driving from Morristown, I headed over to Dale’s Market in Blairstown for one of their famous breakfast sandwiches. After consuming this delicious creation and 16 ounces of fresh coffee, I hopped in the FJ and headed north to the river.

Crappie that came over the dam.
Crappie that came over the dam.

This morning was to be an epic day of catching warm water species in the Paulinskill. I have often said, the Paulinskill holds a seemingly unbelievable biomass. This morning was a strong confirmation of my previous statements. Mark and I caught the following species in multiple: Crappie, Smallmouth, Sunfish, and Largemouth Bass. They were caught consistently until around mid day. In this river, the fish may not grow the largest but there are a plethora of them.

The Epic Battle

Throughout the summer, these electronic pages have catalogued the pursuit of Smallmouth Bass in the rivers of Warren and Sussex County, New Jersey. Of the countless hours I have put in pursuing the scrappy fighters, the four hours on Saturday were highly rewarding.

A diminutive Smallmouth that fought well for its size.
A diminutive Smallmouth that fought well for its size.

Perched in the spillway of the dam, which didn’t have much water coming over due to drought conditions, I spied some actively feeding Bass in the sand and weeds. These Smallies must have been chomping on little minnows and crustaceans that were washed over the dam.

Spotting the feeding fish, I false cast my Sage 8’6” VXP 4WT two times and then fired about 50 feet of line out of the tip. A near perfect cast, my custom mohair Woolly Bugger landed right in the opening where the Smallmouth was hiding. As the ripples from the splash settled, I quickly gave the fly some action as it fell to the river bottom. Then I felt the tug, the tug that could only originate from a sizeable Smallmouth!

Typical Paulinskill River Smallmouth.
Typical Paulinskill River Smallmouth.

I maneuvered the fish and put the fight on the reel, just as this was complete, the Smallie went aerial. I bowed the rod to the fish simultaneously losing my balance and almost going for a swim. My studded wading shoes prevailed and I caught myself before swimming with the fish. In the end, I landed this fish, tagging in at about two pounds.

You can note how low the Paulinskill is right now.
You can note how low the Paulinskill is right now.

More Fun

As anticipated the fishing turned off by eleven and it got quite warm outside. The whole team then headed over to the Lazy “K” Ranch, our club headquarters, currently under construction in Frelinghuysen, NJ. There we tried out the new Ruger .357 revolver that Zach acquired in the last week. We also started to work on our wing shooting performance that will be required in less than two months.

Mark takes aim with the Ruger .357
Mark takes aim with the 1911.

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:

A Midsummer’s Night Trout

The Yamaha XT 600 posing with my Sage VXP 8' 6" 4WT Fly Rod.
The Yamaha XT 600 posing with my Sage VXP 8′ 6″ 4WT Fly Rod.

The temperature outside was in the high eighties, the air thick enough to wade through. Lacking a pool and with the lakes all kind of warmish the best option to keep cool on Sunday was wet wading in the river! I loaded my XT 600 with some light duty gear for the Smallmouth and rode over to the Lazy “K” Ranch to meet Mark. Over at the old homestead in progress we ran into our other rod and gun club mates. Woodhead was out feeding the resident deer. Dave and Zach came over to enjoy a beer however, I rallied at least Mark and Zach to head down to the river.

My old wading shoes demonstrating their age.
My old wading shoes demonstrating their age.

In an exciting bit of news, using accumulated L.L. Bean dollars I was able to replace my old set of waders with an upgraded pair. The old ones were getting worn out and some of the lace holders had popped out. The pair I purchased are called West Branch Studded Wading Shoes by L.L. Bean. After using the new boots for several hours on Sunday I am highly satisfied with the purchase. The shoes lace up well and provide ample support. The rubberized materials seem to keep off “aquatic hitchhikers” while drying quickly. The studs provide ample grip on slippery rocks, even allowing me to catch my balance and save my phone after falling over a big hidden rock!

Brand new L.L. Bean wading shoes, new boot smell and all.
Brand new L.L. Bean wading shoes, new boot smell and all.

Midsummer on the Paulinskill can be an exciting time to dip a hook in the water. There is literally no telling what you could pull out of the water when something bites. The variety of temperatures, habitat and stream conditions allows for many species, stocked and wild to live together. In just a few hours of fishing we had landed Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Largemouth Bass, White Suckers, Sunfish and a Golden Shiner. This year, the copious rainfall that has kept the river cool and flowing high, yielding above average fishing days.

Typical Smallmouth out of the Paulinskill.
Typical Smallmouth out of the Paulinskill.

As far as tactics go, this time of year the fish seemed to be enjoying a Green Woolly Bugger or similar fly, cast across stream, allowed to dead drift downstream and then retrieved in two inch strips or a steady lift. I suspect a wet fly attractor would have presented in a similar manner and yielded and equally good day of fish. The only trick was locating faster water, springs or deep pools. That seemed to be where the fish were congregating.

Nice holdover Rainbow and not the only one I dredged up.
Nice holdover Rainbow and not the only one I dredged up.