Tag Archives: trout

2017 New Jersey Trout Wrap Up

This year has been one of the strongest fishing seasons we have seen in years for the northwestern part of New Jersey. Cooler weather combined with high water has blessed us with remarkable conditions. This has been true for the Shad Run and New Jersey Rainbow Trout fishing. I say Rainbow Trout fishing because New Jersey has not stocked Brown or Brook Trout in a while. This does not mean they cannot be caught; it just limits the scope of locations where they can be caught.

A Good Guide Season So Far

Beginning in 2016 Knot Just Flies partnered with The Last Frontier Angler to offer guided Fly Fishing for Trout in the Paulinskill and Big Flat Brook. We also offer a Learn to Fly Fish course; Lake and Pond fishing (spin or fly) and Smallmouth float trips down the Delaware River. This has been a good year for our clients; many fish have been caught and released. Some of the stories end up on the Moose Knuckle Fishing blog for your entertainment and fishing pleasure.

Exploring New Areas

Last season, due to the drought and unseasonably warm weather the Trout season was cut a bit short and barely made it through the end of stocking season. This year we Trout fisherman are winning with the cool and rainy weather. Some of the Trout streams in New Jersey are impressive for their diversity of terrain. The majority of worm dunkers in this state cannot be bothered to walk half a mile to a good hole loaded with fish. Sometimes the best way to locate fish is to find the common stocking spots, go on Google Earth and scope out which way the stream heads deep into the woods then hoof it in.

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Tactics that Produce

You cannot go wrong with a basic inline nymph rig in New Jersey Jersey Trout streams. I like to tie on about four (4) feet of 3X tippet material, three (3) feet of 4X tippet material, then 18 inches of 5X tippet material all connected with a blood knot. I place an indicator way at the top, some split shot above the blood knot between the 4X and 5X material. At the end of the 5X tippet I tie on a general attractor pattern or something like a large stonefly. Then I tie a trailing fly onto the first hook with 5X material. This trailing fly is typically a midge or a bead head nymph (Prince, Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear).

Another way I recommend to ply the water with various types of Woolly Buggers. Green, brown, red and black all do the trick depending on the water and time of day. The Woolly Buggers work the best swung in waist deep fast water. You can also affix a bit of split shot six (6) inches above the fly, this will pull the fly down in the water column if the fish are feeding closer to the bottom.

All in all, this has been a great season and the best part is that it is not over yet. New Jersey Fish and Wildlife is predicting several more weeks of Trout favorable conditions before the inevitable summer lull.

Balmy Memorial Day Weekend

We all look forward to the official start of the summer season and the beginning of fishing summer 2016. This year we were treated to the impending threat of Tropical Storm Bonnie, which despite of the risk of rain, brought some welcome hot weather to bookend our cool spring. The increasing temperatures livened up the action on the Paulinskill and other Trout streams throughout the preceding week.

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

Timing

I took off Friday from work and used both Friday and Saturday to work on my house project. Sunday was planned to be the day for fishing, an important choice because it is also the day of parades, limiting the foot traffic on the rivers. On warm to hot days like what the weathermen were predicting, the key to catching fish is to go early in the morning or late in the day. We started around 6AM in order to get in the holes just as the sun was rising.

This time of year, the river offers all the seclusion that you need.
This time of year, the river offers all the seclusion that you need.

Technique

This time of year is always a good time to break out the color green on the Paulinskill and other local waterways. You can use leverage either Woolly Buggers or Trout magnets. Knot Just Flies in Blairstown has even had a few custom flies spun up specifically for this time of year. A four or five weight Fly Rod or ultra-light weight spin tackle is all you will need.

Nice Rainbow caught on a Woolly Bugger.
Nice Rainbow caught on a Woolly Bugger.

Results

The Trout and Smallmouth have moved from there early and mid season holding locations. The heat is forcing them to seek springs, deeper pools and more oxygenated water. Unfortunately, we even noticed some dead Rainbow carcasses; these fish likely expired from the heat.

Nice Smallmouth caught on the tube.
Nice Smallmouth caught on the tube.

Plying the deep pools slowly and areas known to have cooler waters due to overhanging trees and brush yielded results quickly. The stocked Rainbow Trout have grown since they were first put in here; some of them are pushing over fourteen inches. The growth in these Trout is always nice to witness, as the strong ones tend to become holdovers lasting the entire year.

All of the spring 2016 broods are growing up!
All of the spring 2016 broods are growing up!

Some of the Smallmouth are still watching nests in the river; others are firmly in post spawn hunger mode now. The Smallmouth Bass in the river were sitting in more oxygenated and cooler pools. Looking for the bubbles in the current was a good indicator of potential holding locations. Mark also found that locating a nest was they key to landing a large one.

Formerly a stocked Rainbow that is now growing well.
Formerly a stocked Rainbow that is now growing well.

Let’s all pray for cooler and wet weather to keep the water comfortable and the fish eating.

A fawn hiding on an island in the river.
A fawn hiding on an island in the river.

Ice Fish and Chips

Anyone living in the Northeast this week will agree with the following statement,”It’s a bit nippy outside.” I actually think that is an understatement, the air burns your skin it is so cold outside. There is one enjoyable thing about cold weather besides the potential for snow, that is ice fishing!

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Last weekend the MKFF RAGC crew assembled for our annual reorganization meeting. Not to be stuffy like any old hunting and fishing club, we opted to have a fish fry, with the Trout in our private club pond. Woodhead had previously purchased a deep fryer on sale at Dick’s.

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Ice Fishing

The first ice is always an excellent time to set up a tip up, that is if you don’t mind the risk of getting wet. The fish lay there hungry since the ice has recently cut off their access to the outside world. The Trout circle around the lake, pond or other impoundment. They will quickly consume whatever food is available. I prefer to jig while other people like to use a Fathead or shiner to lure in the Trout.

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Big enough Rainbow Trout can be filleted, those fillets can be deep fried or pan fried. Smaller Trout of any type can be pan fried without being filleted. Either way, properly prepared Trout has an excellent taste and texture.

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The Chips

Once the Trout that is worthy of filleting is captured the preparation must begin. We worked on preparation outside on a table in the snow, though the results were excellent, it took much longer than normal to prepare. It makes you start to understand how long it used to take hunter gatherer societies to prepare a meal.

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To get started you have to gut the fish, that is remove all of its internal organs and clean out the blood and guts that may go along with that. It is not necessary to remove the Trout’s head, in fact it is much easier to remove the fillets with the head on. To start to fillet a Trout, I like to make a long cut along the length of back. I then cut a slit after the gill plate and begin to work the fillet off of the fish.

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After the fillets are removed from the fish, you can cut them into smaller pieces and beer batter the fish. Some people like to remove the skin, generally with a Trout you do not have to. Once the beer batter has been applied, drop the Trout fillet into the boiling oil and let it cook for about three and a half minutes.

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I made the mistake of dropping all of the fillets in at once so they fried together in something of a “Trout log.” Next time, the goal is to master the fillet and the deep fry. A more controlled environment such as the kitchen will help in this process.

 

Summer 2013

This past summer I was fortunate enough to get a drift boat. If you have never fished from one before, it’s a whole new addiction. Just seeing the river standing on a boat is incredible. Rowing the boat down the river and putting your friends into fish is just as good as hooking into the fish yourself. These are the highlights of my summer in photographs.

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The world is a wonderful place and this is some kind of life.

Green River Summers

This Trout is happy to be back in his environment.
This Trout is happy to be back in his environment.

As you travel this great big country of ours, you start to locate noteworthy places with the power to draw you back. Eventually, as you have visited enough destinations, you will return to the awesome places you have been to before. Utah’s Green River and the surrounding area is one such location. The Trout fishing is great, the people are amazing and the scenery is unparalleled.

Brown Trout Jaw
Brown Trout Jaw
This Bow removed the Skunk smell from our boat.
This Bow removed the Skunk smell from our boat.

Dry Fly Fishing

Brenton holding is 19+ Rainbow Trout slab.
Brenton holding is 19+ Rainbow Trout slab.

The Green River is the only drift boat floatable river in the state of Utah; it is also one of the best dry fly fishing rivers in America. Catching a Trout on the dry fly an exhilarating experience. The best analogy I can give for rippin’ lips on the dry from a boat is, “video game fishing.” There is great pressure and excitement as the oarsman guides the angler into a fine drift. At that point the stress is on the angler, throw the presentation out with enough force to defy the wind but lay it down gently enough to prevent the fly from drowning. Add in a proper mend and you will have a serviceable drift. This drift it is likely to trigger a hungry Trout’s instincts, s/he will emerge from the deep to inspect the tempting offer. The angler will retain a vivid memory of every strike. The wide-open mouth emerging from the deep as you wait to set the hook just right.

Chunky Brown
Chunky Brown

On the Green River, certain terrestrial patterns just work. For example, the hopper, an ant, a cicada or the Mormon Cricket are all tried and true, success is always dependent on the time of the year. In addition to these patterns, we were finding strong Midge and Caddis hatches during our five wonderful days.

Chris, George and Brenton after a long day of catching fish.
Chris, George and Brenton after a long day of catching fish.

The Guides

Brenton recently became the proud owner of the Clacka Eddy, and amazing, light and comfortable drift boat. He was kind enough to let Matt and I take the boat down the A section, when mom/ dad and Brenton/ Jourdan were with their guides.

Mom, Dad and Gene on the boat.
Mom, Dad and Gene on the boat.

The first time the family headed out to the Green River, four years ago, we made the mistake of not using a guide and attempting to walk the river. Floating the Green is the best way to fish and explore the river. You will catch fish from the shore though it is nowhere near as effectively as from the drift boat.

Gene rows Chris and Brenton into some fish.
Gene rows Chris and Brenton into some fish.

Three years ago, through Trout Creek Flies, we stumbled upon Gene Gautieri, we have used him every year since. The next year he introduced us to Nick Jackson a new guide who has worked in both Alaska and Argentina. Nick and Gene both are infinitely patient with the less gifted of us Fly Fishing enthusiasts, while willing and able to set you up for difficult drifts and challenging casts when you get your rhythm together.

Father and Nick posing with a birthday fish.
Father and Nick posing with a birthday fish.

The River

I forgot to take my flippers off at lunch, walking like a duck.
I forgot to take my flippers off at lunch, walking like a duck.

In the past year, Utah received a relatively normal snowfall as opposed to the previous year that witnessed a drought. When we first started Fly Fishing the Green River we lived through some high water years that even did damage to the walking trail along the river. During the summer the flow and temperature of the Green River are tightly controlled through the Flaming Gorge Dam. This regulation is what makes the Green a superb tail water fishery.

The family after a tasty lunch provided by Nick and Gene.
The family after a tasty lunch provided by Nick and Gene.

The floatable sections are broken into the A, B and C. Here at MKFF we have cataloged several float trips down the river. This trip we concentrated on the A section due to sporadic evening thunderstorms that washed out Red Creek. The B below Red Creek and the entire C section was cloudy throughout the entire trip.

Rainbow in the Hawg Trough
Rainbow in the Hawg Trough

I had always associated the A section with fishing weighted nymph rigs using an indicator.  Nick worked with Brenton and I to transfer some serious knowledge about fishing the A section with a dry fly. In the four days of guided Fly Fishing adventure Gene was able to impart some of his vast knowledge of the Green River on us!

19.25 inch Brown in the Hawg Trough.
19.25 inch Brown in the Hawg Trough.

It’s in the hole!

The fourth Green River Expedition coincided with father’s 57th birthday and as anticipated there were some good family moments. This includes, though not limited to, the finishing of a bottle of Patron with our friends at Spring Creek Guest Ranch, the entire family having a fish on in two separate drift boats and father shouting, “Its in the hole!” for every fish he hooked.

Mom posing with a Rainbow.
Mom posing with a Rainbow.

Spring Creek Ranch

There are both places and people that stay familiar even when you leave for a time; one of those unique destinations is the Spring Creek Ranch. Rachael and AJ manage the place with Grandmother Pat and their three children. We have come back for the fourth year in a row, each time we depart it is sad but when we return, it is as if we never left.

The Kuhns, Nick, Gene and the family at Spring Creek.
The Kuhns, Nick, Tall Boy, Gene and the family at Spring Creek.

Go West Young Man

The call of the American West is strong, every time I go out there it becomes more difficult to leave. I catch more fish and meet more great people, living and loving life in a way that has been lost to mainstream America. The Trout are large, the land is vast and the rivers are clean and cool.

Stop here in Laramie for Prime Rib or Chicken Fried Steak.
Stop here in Laramie for Prime Rib or Chicken Fried Steak.

Until November…

Jourdan When is your tee Time?
Jourdan When is your tee Time?

Memorial Day Trout

A few of my favorite freedoms I thank America's armies for defending.
ATF – A few of my favorite freedoms I thank America’s armed forces for defending.

On Memorial Day, we remember those who died in combat for the United States of America, it also marks the unofficial start to the summer season. This year, in New Jersey, it also marked the end of in season Trout stocking.  Needless to say, after all the parades and barbeques were finished, MKFF hit the Paulinskill for some Trout fishing.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Unseasonably Cold Weather
Unseasonably Cold Weather

I took off on Friday and was intent on fishing. There was a strong cold front blowing threw, paired with moderate rain, I was not expecting much action. I attempted to nymph with the Bounce Rig, an old stand by on days like this.  After about an hour on the river, I had hooked one Trout and it got away. The rain picked up and I headed home to catch up on some odds and ends.

Fly Tying Riverside
Fly Tying Riverside

Dry Fly Action

This time of the Trout season Blue Winged Olives, March Browns and Grannom Caddis are ending their hatches. Pale Evening Duns, Cinnamon Caddis and Light Cahills are just starting to hatch. The colder season we have experienced has certainly delayed these time lines. We did see BWOs, Pale Evening Duns and a host of Caddis flies throughout the day. Trout were continuously slurping in the shady spots under bridges and trees upon our arrival.

Skunk Buster Brown Trout on BWO
Skunk Buster Brown Trout on BWO

The Tactics

Dry-Dropper

When Trout are slurping off the surface, you will hear a distinct toilet bowl flushing sound. When they simply swirl the surface it means the Trout is likely feeding on an emerging insect. During any hatch there are insects coming off of the surface of the water and those that are rising to the surface. A technique my brother filled me on in is to fish both sections of water at the same time. In order to do this, tie on a “hopper-dropper” style rig. I prefer a size 16 Dry Fly attractor pattern; I use a Coachman for Mayfly hatches. Next, attach 16 to 18 inches of tippet to the back. On this tippet, tie on a size 18-bead head nymph, I use a Pheasant Tail Flashback, again to imitate Mayfly emergers.

I love lazy days off said the turtle.
“I love lazy days off,” said the turtle.

Bead Head Woolly Bugger

The former hatchery resident Trout have settled into comfortable, cool, aerated feeding lanes. The rifles at the head of a pool come to mind as one of the better areas to lie. Another suitable place is the turbulent water under overhanging tree branches. Sending a Bugger across into the turbulence, allowing it to dead drift through and performing two inch strip retrieves will yield Trout action. Allow the Bugger to hang in the current for a few seconds before stripping it in can encourage a strike.

Bead Head Woolly Bugger pulled this out of a run.
Bead Head Woolly Bugger pulled this out of a run.

Spin Fishing with Flies

One of the more innovative techniques I had the opportunity to witness this weekend was brought stream side by Mark. He noticed how I was bringing Trout in using the Pheasant Tail dropper. He tied a dropper to the center hook of a one inch Rapala Floater, he was then able to dead drift the lure across the pool and entice a strike.

Partially thanks to this technique, Mark completed his first ever Paulinskill Grand Slam, congratulations are due to him, there are precious few opportunities in a year to catch a Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and a Smallmouth all in the same day.

Mark's Skunk Buster
Mark’s Skunk Buster

Conclusion

I had a decent day on the Fly Rod, managed to bring in ten Brown Trout, while fighting countless others. My biggest regret was not landing the acrobatic Smallmouth I dragged out from under an overhanging branch. In a few weeks the Trout will be hiding in the coldest available water while the Smallmouth transition to aggressive feeders.

Got to love New Jersey in the springtime.
Got to love New Jersey in the springtime.

Coming up next, a Bass Popper recipe and a trip to the Sunset Hill Shooting Range in the Pocono Mountains.

Behold…Franken-Fish!

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I got out to fish the Pequest River Trout Conservation Area this week.  This area of trout water is open for catch and release fishing before the official opening day, tomorrow April 6.  Several other anglers had the same idea as me, and it was quite crowded in the popular easy access pools.  I decided to try some water with nobody around it, this decision paid off.  I managed to landed this huge breeder brookie.  It was over 20 inches and had massive girth on it.  He followed my size 6 olive monster bugger through the entire run and nailed it at the last minute.

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New Jersey’s trout stream will have plenty of other similar breeder fish as well small 8-9″ guys in it’s trout waters for opening day. Following an article I read in Field & Stream, I will try and focus on these big fish.  The key is to know you are going to sacrifice some numbers in order to land your trophy.  Commit to the plan and it could pay off.  Get away from the crowd and don’t be afraid to explore some areas where there is less angling pressure.  Big Fish = Big Fly is in effect.  This is no time to try and throw any delicate dry flies.  I will be using larger streamers.  If you are worried about numbers, you can drop a small attractor nymph off the tail of the streamer to catch some of the smaller guys.  Most off all have fun and get outside with some friends!!!

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