Following Tuesday’s Slay Ride, the Moose Knuckle Crew was out again on the streams of beautiful Northwest New Jersey. The water levels are more indicative of early summer than mid April. Nonetheless, the trout do not seem bothered by the missing water. There are bountiful quantities of Trout in all the streams around here. Across the state, most anglers swear by the size 14 through 18 Hare’s Ear Nymph. In addition, I have caught ample trout on the Mickey Finn, Gray Ghost, Moose Knuckle Fly Fishing’s Woolly Bugger, and the Hornberg Wet Fly.
South Branch of the Raritan
Saturday, the crew met in Califon, New Jersey to visit out friends at Shannon’s Fly and Tackle. At present, the South Branch is low, thus the fish are weary of the anglers seeking them. We had limited success down in the Gorge with a mixture of wet flies, the Coachman, and a Brassie. Additionally, it was reported to us, the stocked Brook Trout were going bonkers over a dead drifted White Wooly Bugger. Here I will give a shout out to the Califon General Store and their Jersey Devil Sandwich. After eight hours of fishing it hits the spot. If you enjoy spicy Horseradish combined with delicious Roast Beef, like myself, you need to try it! Overall my fishing was mediocre, pulling just one Brook Trout and one Rainbow Trout. Others in the crew did better than me.
Sunday brought the team to one of my personal favorite places to fish, the Blairstown section of the Paulinskill. This slice of water, above and below Paulina Dam, is generously stocked with sizable Trout. Furthermore, the water supports year round Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Sunfish, Perch, and various warm-water species. It is conveniently located near Dale’s Market, renowned for their Dale’s Famous Breakfast Sandwich and The Blairstown Wine Gallery, a liquor store with a bar within 30 feet of the Paulinskill. Remember to support local business when you are out fishing, the big chain stores make enough money.
Approaching the stream, I had a good hour of pools to myself before Mark arrived. I prefer to tie on a colorful traditional streamer, for example the Gray Ghost, in order to prospect for some lunkers and determine what lies beneath. This is a tried and true tactic in the Paulinskill with its long, slow and meandering pools. Off the bat, I hooked into a few Rock Bass; a mediocre fish to get the rod bending, as always I was there for a Trout. I commenced dead drifting the Gray Ghost whilst performing a varying speed strip retrieve. Soon enough, Rainbow Trout on, the fight was intense and aerial. Rainbow Trout on hooking, shoot for the moon and when they do, they spit the hook right back at you. Following this epic loss, I tied on a Hornberg Wet Fly, executed the requisite drift, and caught a nice Brook Trout. This fly was real hot, many strikes, I just could not hook one into the mouth.
Mark an expert Bass Fisherman, was on site to spin fish. Subsequent to witnessing a Trout gulp a top water Dry Fly, he will be joining us Fly Fishing soon enough. Mark’s day was a solid recovery from Saturday’s lack or Trout. I was casting my Wooly Bugger about 50 feet from him and it appeared he had taken a big cast and been snagged. I found it strange for him to snag, he had on an intermediate sinking two inch Rapala. Then there was action, the line was moving! The “snag” was a fish, and a large one! Mark, an avid Bass and Salt Water angler, had hooked his first Brown Trout ever. Not only was it his first Brown Trout ever, it didn’t even fit in my net!
Dry Flies Finish Strong
Continuing on after Mark’s fish of the day, it appeared as we moved upstream that small intermittent hatches were occurring. Some Trout would randomly rise to take small flies from the surface. Not being able to directly match the hatch, I tied on my size 14 Coachman and enticed a few strikes, while missing all hook sets. Reasoning that a Coachman is a good attractor fly, I tied on my CDC and Deer Hair behind it. The Brook Trout really loved this combo and they came after it, though it still proved difficult to set the hook. Finally, I moved downstream a bit and was able to lip hook a Brook Trout. Upon reaching the goal of a Trout on a Dry Fly, we packed up and walked back to the truck.
Until next weekend: