Tag Archives: New Jersey

Sparse Grey Matter – Fly Tying Fest

The winter of warm, sunny Sundays continued into the last weekend of February. The fly shops are a buzz with discussion of active Trout, taking into account the time of the year. I suspect, Trout fishing will start on a strong note this year.

Taking advantage of the weather, Moose Knuckle Fishing headed down to Califon and met our fishing pal George Wasaleski for the second annual Sparse Grey Matter – Fly Tying Fest sponsored by www.ShannonsFlyTackle.com, www.DetteFlies.com and www.sparsegreymatter.com.

The Califon, NJ Fire Hall was ablaze with fly tying, fishing and all things Trout! The sponsors who cobbled this event together did an impressive job attracting several commercial tying operations, authors, product representatives and fishing enthusiasts from across the region.

George and I stopped first at Anthony Giaquinto’s B&R Custom Flies, conveniently seated next to Lenny Ruggio; our other friend from Sundays at Shannon’s Fly and Tackle. Anthony demonstrated his Rainbow Scud, a fly that I find particularly colorful and lifelike. Lenny was kind enough to instruct Moose Knuckle Fishing on the Mohair Leech pattern. Later on in the week we will do a Favorite Patterns featuring this superb opening day fly.

Next stop was another recurring instructor at Shannon’s Fly Tying Sundays, Matt Grobert author of, “Fly Fishing New Jersey Trout Streams.” He was tying a miniscule brown and yellow Caddis Pupae, which I was informed, is a hot fly this time of year. Further note, the second edition of Matt’s book will be on book shelves soon, I will be sure to pick that up.

St. Croix Rods was on premise demonstrating their new Kelly Galloup series High Stick Drifter rods. The representative did not have to sell me on this product, I am already a satisfied owner of the 7wt Bank Robber; we landed a fish on this rod during the Maine trip last fall. I recommend that any angler into modern nymphing techniques should consider purchasing one of these fine American made rods. Also present was G. Loomis rods; unfortunately I was unable to slip in and have a discussion with the representative.

Galvan Fly Reels, a family owned company that manufactures in northern California had a representative present. In an upcoming trip, Moose Knuckle Fishing is headed down to Sanibel Island, Florida and I had important questions regarding Salt Water Fly Reels. The Torque Tournament series, held in one of my photos, is exactly what is required for Fly Fishing for Ocean species.

To wrap up George and I stopped in Shannon’s and purchased the material required to tie Lenny’s Mohair Leech. Then I walked to Califon’s picturesque Island Park for a few casts and to enjoy the weather. Without my waders, it was impossible to make a quality presentation to the Trout. I abandoned my efforts and went for a hike along the river instead.

NJ Wild Trout Streams

The State Legislature of New Jersey has designated 35 of the most pristine streams in the less populated areas of the state as “Wild Trout Streams.” Up to 175 similar waterways exist throughout the state, smaller in size and more difficult to access, they are classified as trout producing waters. “Wild Trout Streams,” support the natural reproduction of trout within their banks thus are well protected.  In addition to development buffers, special regulations apply such as artificial lures only and a 12 inch/ two per day limit, effectively protecting the rare populations within these waters. If you are lucky, a few of these locations harbor Heritage Brook Trout; the ancestral relatives to the stocked brook trout of today.

Saturday was unseasonably warm and the Moose Knuckle crew ventured to a purposefully undisclosed location. Many of the streams are at higher elevations (for NJ) as wild Brook Trout require clear, cool and highly oxygenated water. This trout stream is surprising. It thrives in swampy low lands, backyards and long since abandoned farm fields; a true testament to the smart growth management tools used by the town and state government.

Pulled this guy out on a gold Panther Martin

Fortunately, in February there are no briars or thistle; come May this stream is inaccessible courtesy of the dense underbrush that colonized the fallow grazing land surrounding the muddy channel. Fishing was slow and remained that way, the sun disappeared behind the clouds as soon as we arrived. The trout were not cooperating with our intention to momentarily capture them. A gold Panther Martin helped end the skunk; when the sun poked through the clouds, the gold glint attracted an aggressive Brook Trout.

The quarry was stacking up at the tail end of the pool, along an undercut bank prior to the narrow fast riffle where the water exited. They would respond only to lures that dragged along the muddy bottom, risking a snag on the tree roots. Above is a picture of one of the little guys, we promptly released him to where he came. As note, please be gentle with these wild trout; de-barb your hooks, wet your hands before handling and release as soon as possible. Practice catch and release here, it takes longer for these Brook Trout to grow a mere 12 inches than any hatchery trout.

This blog is the first of an ongoing blog. If you are interested in learning more about Wild Trout Streams in New Jersey or a guided fishing trip on one of these streams send an email to mooseknucklefishing@gmail.com.