Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fly Fishing the Northeast in December

December is a difficult month for fly fishermen of the Northeast. Trout will rise to a fly, but the conditions must be perfect: i.e., forty degrees (at least), sunny, midge hatch, etc. It can be cold in December, but it can also be exceedingly mild on the right day. Therefore, December lures fly fishermen like myself out to shivering cold creeks with virtually zero chance of success because it is still possible, if not likely, to catch a trout or two.

However, it is possible in the colder months to encounter a trout feeding frenzy. This occurs when fish recognize the coming winter inactivity and respond ferociously to an available hatch.

If you are curious and brave enough to give it a try, take in consideration the ten-step process I've listed below:

1. Find a mild December day, preferably sunny.
2. Dress warmly and keep an extra set of clothes in the car (in case you get wet).
3. Go to a familiar river (why risk going somewhere new? You may fall in and regret ever leaving the house).
4. Seek out a well-known hole or pool replete with slow-moving water.
5. Check the riparian vegetation for evidence of midge hatches (small, microscopic black or white insects) and tie on an imitation of whatever you find.
6. Scan the water for a few minutes and keep a lookout for rises (trout will sometimes feed sporadically in cold weather, rising only once every five minutes or so).
7. If you can reach the spot of the rise from the shore, do so. If not, wade in carefully.
8. Repeat your drifts again and again. Trout move slower in colder weather. Keep that in mind and don't get discouraged.
9. If all else fails, tie on a flashy streamer and slowly drag it across obvious trout lies (you'd be surprised how many hits you will receive with a wooly bugger in December).
10. Give it a try because it's better than sitting at home dreaming of May.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Late November Fly Fishing at Penns Creek

In the past I have successfully caught trout in Penns Creek in November; however, my efforts in 2008 did not work out quite so well. And while I didn't catch any fish, I was able to enjoy my favorite river for a few hours with my friend Eric. The trip also produced a some still photos and a video of a porcupine.

I am hesitant to claim that this trip was my last of the year, yet my prospects for the rest of the season look dim. I think there is a reasonable chance I will get to Marshalls Creek again in late December, but I can't be sure. In the meantime, I plan to post some unpublished pictures from my adventures in 2008 and provide a year-in-review analysis in the near future. Please stop back soon!


video

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trout Update #16: October Fly Fishing at the South Branch of the Raritan River

I've considered the South Branch of the Raritan River my "home water" since moving to New Jersey in July of 2007. Prior to that month, I'd fished the river once; since then, I've consistently driven the forty-four miles to the Ken Lockwood Gorge. In the past month, I've visited the river three times and caught four trout (three stocked browns and one wild brook).

October has rewarded me with a few memorable moments. I've watched the annual molting of the tall sycamores. I've seen their large green leaves turn yellow, then brown, and finally collapse into the Raritan. Their presence makes casting a fly an impossible task: countless times I've needed to recast after hooking sycamore castaway after sycamore castaway. I've watched as a young bald eagle flew above my head, coasting toward a shallow pool where its evening's feast swam. I've watched a great blue heron frighten a squirrel so severely the acrobatic quadruped nearly crashed onto the Raritan's moist bank. And I've watched my girlfriend finally view my favorite New Jersey river.

(Image #1: View downstream of the Raritan, taken by Jackie.)
(Image #2: A nice brook trout. Maybe wild, maybe stocked.)
(Image #3: View upstream of the Raritan, taken by Jackie.)



Overall Total: 168

River Breakdown:

Marshalls Creek - 28 (28 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 26 (16 Stocked Brown, 7 Stocked Brook, 2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Bushkill Creek - 21 (17 Stocked Brown, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)
Pequest River - 17 (9 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Beaverkill River - 10 (7 Wild Brown, 2 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Brown)
Spring Creek - 10 (5 Wild Brown, 5 Wild Rainbow)
Poplar Run - 9 (7 Wild Brook, 2 Wild Brown)
Faulkner Brook - 7 (6 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 7 (7 Stocked Rainbow)
Brodhead Creek - 4 (3 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (4 Stocked Brown)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Rattlesnake Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 3 (2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Tiger)
Mullet Brook - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Mud Run - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook)
Old Town Run - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Pine Creek - 2 (2 Wild Brook)
Cherry Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Lawrence Brook - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Musconetcong River - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)
Neversink River - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Yellow Breeches Creek - (1 Wild Brown)


Species Breakdown:

Brown Trout - 75
Stocked - 51
Wild - 24

Brook Trout - 73
Wild - 58
Stocked - 15

Rainbow Trout - 19
Stocked - 13
Wild - 5
Golden Rainbow - 1

Tiger Trout - 1
Wild - 1
Stocked - 0


Wild Trout - 88
Stocked Trout - 80


Trout 15+ Inches: 7


Angling Breakdown:


Fly Fishing Rod - 99 (37 Stocked Brown, 20 Wild Brown, 16 Wild Brook, 11 Stocked Rainbow, 9 Stocked Brook, 5 Wild Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)

58 Stocked
41 Wild

Spinning Rod - 69 (42 Wild Brook, 14 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 4 Wild Brown, 2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Wild Tiger)

47 Wild
22 Stocked


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 98
New Jersey - 56
New York - 14

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Trout Update #15: Fly Fishing Spring Creek and Fishing Creek

I spent Thursday at the ubiquitously-titled Fishing Creek. This specific Fishing Creek is located in Clinton County, Pennsylvania and runs through Sugar Valley en route to its confluence with the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. It's a delightful drive out to the valley from Lewisburg. Mapquest and other "time-saving" devices would send a driver up to Interstate 80 and then west; I find that ride to be dull. Instead, I take PA Route 192 out past R.B. Winter State Park and a series of back-roads. These twisting mountain roads eventually take you through the stunning Logan Mills covered bridge and into quiet Sugar Valley. It takes a little over an hour, but it's worth the extra time. (image of Spring Creek; I couldn't photograph Fishing Creek because of rain)

However, I caught no trout. This was partially caused by the steady downpour that fell all day. I decided to brave the conditions, knowing that I wouldn't have many more chances to fish the medium-sized limestone stream this year. The only trout I saw was frightened by the landing of the fly. It seems that the low water conditions of late August have made the Fishing Creek trout tentative. I suppose I can empathize - I hate warm weather, too. I'm sure the fishing will pick up in later September. However, I didn't leave empty-handed: I scooped up a bunch of wild mint. Later, Jackie and I made mojitos with it.

On Saturday Jackie and I drove to Bellefonte, a small town near State College. I enjoy fishing the Fisherman's Paradise section of Spring Creek, the oldest designated fly fishing-only water in the United States. Before fishing, however, we enjoyed a great lunch at the High Street Pub in downtown Bellefonte - a place I would recommend to anyone in the Penn State area. After our meal we went to the park located in the center of town. Spring Creek runs through it and fishing is prohibited. Consequently, there are huge rainbow and golden rainbow trout. You can even pay a quarter to feed them some pellets. It's a highly entertaining enterprise - again, I would urge any readers near State College to give it a try.

After feeding the monstrous fish, we drove to Fisherman's Paradise. My first glance at the stream revealed that the trout were active: I counted three brown trout rising to the surface. I put on a green weenie, an inch worm imitation, and quickly caught one wild brown replete with beautiful orange flares decorating its fins. I proceeded to catch one more wild brown and two wild rainbows - all on terrestrial patterns. One wild brown (pictured above) and one wild rainbow (pictured left) were of considerable size. Jackie even got into the fishing, suggesting various patterns for me to try. Spring Creek is a highly productive, consistent, pretty, and accessible wild trout stream. It is a shame that the river is hundreds of miles from New Jersey and sixty-five miles from Lewisburg. I suppose I have to settle for another long-distance relationship.


Overall Total: 164

River Breakdown:

Marshalls Creek - 28 (28 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 22 (13 Stocked Brown, 7 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Bushkill Creek - 21 (17 Stocked Brown, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)
Pequest River - 17 (9 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Beaverkill River - 10 (7 Wild Brown, 2 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Brown)
Spring Creek - 10 (5 Wild Brown, 5 Wild Rainbow)
Poplar Run - 9 (7 Wild Brook, 2 Wild Brown)
Faulkner Brook - 7 (6 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 7 (7 Stocked Rainbow)
Brodhead Creek - 4 (3 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (4 Stocked Brown)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Rattlesnake Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 3 (2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Tiger)
Mullet Brook - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Mud Run - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook)
Old Town Run - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Pine Creek - 2 (2 Wild Brook)
Cherry Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Lawrence Brook - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Musconetcong River - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)
Neversink River - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Yellow Breeches Creek - (1 Wild Brown)


Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 72
Wild - 57
Stocked - 15


Brown Trout - 72
Stocked - 48
Wild - 24


Rainbow Trout - 19
Stocked - 13
Wild - 5
Golden Rainbow - 1


Tiger Trout - 1
Wild - 1
Stocked - 0


Wild Trout - 87
Stocked Trout - 77


Trout 15+ Inches: 7


Angling Breakdown:


Fly Fishing Rod - 95 (34 Stocked Brown, 20 Wild Brown, 15 Wild Brook, 11 Stocked Rainbow, 9 Stocked Brook, 5 Wild Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)

55 Stocked
40 Wild

Spinning Rod - 69 (42 Wild Brook, 14 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 4 Wild Brown, 2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Wild Tiger)

47 Wild
22 Stocked


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 98
New Jersey - 52
New York - 14

Trout Update #14: Fly Fishing Pine Creek and Marshalls Creek

On Wednesday of last week I stopped in the Poconos on my way to central Pennsylvania. My goal was to purchase a reel for my "flea rod" - a six foot, 1 weight pole designed to fish small creeks. I stopped at my favorite outdoors shop, Dunkleberger's, and found the perfect fit. I also purchased 1 weight fly line and sped off to two of my favorite Pocono wild brook trout streams: Marshalls Creek and Poplar Run.

After setting up the rod and reel at Poplar Run, I discovered that the stream was overwhelmed by the warm weather and lack of rain. I left following only a few casts. Marshalls Creek was a different story: I landed seven wild brook trout on the flea rod (pictured left) and one on a spinner (for old time's sake). I fished the waterfall in Wilderness Acres and used a small olive wooly bugger to catch six and a copper john nymph to catch the seventh. These wild brooks are addicted to quick movement; small streamers are thus an effective way to catch them. Even when I use nymphs, I often drag them through the water in order to entice the tiny fish. I had hoped that adding the flea rod to my equipment would enable me to land more wild brook trout; my time at Marshalls Creek quickly affirmed this would indeed occur.

On Friday I decided to stay close to Bucknell (relatively) while Jackie went to her three hour seminar. I drove to Pine Creek, seeking its confluence with Stony Run deep in the Bald Eagle State Forest. Pine Creek is a typical mountain watershed: it has shallow riffles, "deep" pools of about 2-4 foot depth, and tall coniferous trees growing above it. These pines shield the river from direct sunlight and thus keep the water cold enough for wild brook trout to flourish. After a few weak attempts with my spinning rod, I switched to the flea rod. Soon enough I caught one wild brook trout (pictured to the left) on a bead-head caddis nymph. A few hundred yards downstream I located a deep pool near where Stony Run dumps more water into Pine Creek. At that spot I caught another wild brook and saw a few bigger rainbows - fish I assume swam upstream from the town of Woodward, where the stream is stocked. Knowing time was running short, I took a few casts in Stony Run. I momentarily courted a small brookie, but failed to land it. On the way back to Bucknell, I fished Rapid Run for an hour. I lost one stocked trout and caught nothing.

Overall, I am elated to have caught ten wild brook trout - nine of which were landed on my new flea rod.


Overall Total: 160

River Breakdown:

Marshalls Creek - 28 (28 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 22 (13 Stocked Brown, 7 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Bushkill Creek - 21 (17 Stocked Brown, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)
Pequest River - 17 (9 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Beaverkill River - 10 (7 Wild Brown, 2 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Brown)
Poplar Run - 9 (7 Wild Brook, 2 Wild Brown)
Faulkner Brook - 7 (6 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 7 (7 Stocked Rainbow)
Spring Creek - 6 (3 Wild Brown, 3 Wild Rainbow)
Brodhead Creek - 4 (3 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (4 Stocked Brown)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Rattlesnake Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 3 (2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Tiger)
Mullet Brook - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Mud Run - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook)
Old Town Run - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Pine Creek - 2 (2 Wild Brook)
Cherry Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Lawrence Brook - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Musconetcong River - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)
Neversink River - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Yellow Breeches Creek - (1 Wild Brown)


Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 72
Wild - 57
Stocked - 15


Brown Trout - 70
Stocked - 48
Wild - 22


Rainbow Trout - 17
Stocked - 13
Wild - 3
Golden Rainbow - 1


Tiger Trout - 1
Wild - 1
Stocked - 0


Wild Trout - 83
Stocked Trout - 77


Trout 15+ Inches: 5


Angling Breakdown:


Fly Fishing Rod - 91 (34 Stocked Brown, 18 Wild Brown, 15 Wild Brook, 11 Stocked Rainbow, 9 Stocked Brook, 3 Wild Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)

Spinning Rod - 69 (42 Wild Brook, 14 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 4 Wild Brown, 2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Wild Tiger)


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 94
New Jersey - 52
New York - 14

Bass Update #5: Fly Fishing Penns Creek

With my second year of coursework in graduate school rapidly approaching, I frantically raced to fish some of my favorite stretches of water before classes began. In the end I had fished eight beautiful rivers, caught 14 trout, landed a few bass, and spent a lot of time with my girlfriend at some of Pennsylvania's most well-known limestone spring-fed wild trout streams. Over the past few days I've debated how best to write up the experiences of the past week. Ultimately, I've decided to put up three different accounts of my latest fishing expeditions; these posts will be grouped according to a vague sense of similarity.

I fished Penns Creek last, but I will write about it first. On Sunday Jackie and I drove the thirty miles from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to the special regulations catch and release area of Penns Creek located close to the village of Weikert. It was a pleasant and entertaining drive: Sundays in central Pennsylvania are busy days for the region's Amish and Mennonite population. We passed numerous buggies, bicycles, and bonneted women, all en route to their religious/social Sunday gatherings. After arriving we enjoyed a nice riverside picnic lunch. At our meal's conclusion I left Jackie to go fish my favorite river.

Early September/late August is a difficult time to fish the big limestone stream. Firstly, an angler needs to consider the water temperature: the higher the temperature, the greater the risk to the river's precious wild brown trout. Fortunately, the summer had been relatively cool; additionally, two separate rainstorms at the end of last week provided much-needed cold water. Despite the relatively decent fishing conditions, I saw no trout. It appears that the trout at Penns are not yet over the stress of the summer (that, or I am an unbelievably bad fly fisherman). Not willing to abandon my favorite place so quickly, I ventured back to where I had left Jackie - on a grassy bank in front of a wide, shallow pool. I tied on some terrestrials and caught a few smallmouth bass, a rock bass, and a bunch of chubs. Indeed, Penns always delights, even when the trout are hidden.


Note: all pictures taken by Jackie.







Overall Total
: 23

River Breakdown
Penns Creek - 5 (4 Smallmouth, 1 Rock)
Stony Brook - 5 (4 Rock, 1 Smallmouth)
Delaware River - 4 (4 Smallmouth)
Millstone River - 3 (2 Largemouth, 1 Black Crappie)
Potomac River - 3 (3 Smallmouth)
Bushkill Creek - 2 (2 Smallmouth)
Difficult Run - 1 (1 Smallmouth)

Species Breakdown
Smallmouth Bass - 15
Rock Bass - 5
Largemouth Bass - 2
Black Crappie - 1

Type of Fly
Streamer - 11 (6 Smallmouth, 4 Rock, 1 Black Crappie)
Nymph - 6 (4 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth, 1 Rock)
Popper - 4 (3 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth)
Dry Fly - (2 Smallmouth)

State Breakdown
New Jersey - 11
Pennsylvania - 8
Maryland - 3
Virginia - 1

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Trout Update #13: Fly Fishing the Neversink River Gorge


Yesterday I drove to upstate New York (is anything not included in the NYC city limits considered upstate?) to fish the Neversink River. A little history: the Neversink was fished by Theodore Gordon, inventor of the Quill Gordon, and by Edward Hewitt, inventor of the Bivisible. Indeed, the Neversink reservoir now covers the land formerly owned by these two historic American fly fishermen.

Below the reservoir, the Neversink is a tail-water masquerading as a freestone stream: cold water releases from the dam keep the river cool year-round, while huge outcroppings of sandstone create immense pockets of deep, fast water. The Neversink Gorge, where I fished yesterday, is as steep and inaccessible a stretch of water as I've ever fished. The banks are sometimes non-existent; the gorge walls stumble down right upon the river at spots. Additionally, no trail runs directly along the river, an occurrence that helps keep fishing pressure relatively low. Despite being a New York state protected "unique area," I did not see a single other fisherman in the six hours I spent there. Think about it for a second: this is a river located less than 100 miles from New York City, a river with an unparalleled historic significance, a tail-water river with cold water in the middle of summer, a river full of wild trout, and a river with numerous wild brook trout tributaries. And I had it all to myself on a beautiful day in late August.


The fishing, however, was difficult. The Neversink had a decent flow that kept me from adequately casting. I struggled to find trout, cast, and wade. The accessibility issues caused me to fall a number of times. My feet sustained pretty nasty blisters. It wasn't the best of days.

However, I caught three wild brook trout on a spinner in a tributary - let's call it Mullet Brook for now. I also lost at least a 23-inch rainbow trout on a Muddler Minnow in the Neversink. It was easily the biggest trout of the year, maybe even the biggest non-steelhead of my life. But the hook was never really in its mouth very well...OH it kills me to think about it. Around 6ish a decent slate drake hatch started coming off the water. I switched to a dry fly and, after three trout missed the fly, including a BIG brown, I landed a 12 inch wild brown trout. I was elated. All the falls, all the blisters, and all the cuts were worth it because of that one fish: I had caught a trout in the same river as Gordon and Hewitt. Here's a video of the spot where I caught the trout:
video


A few minutes later I became completely soaked after a nasty fall and left.



Wildflowers: St John's Wort, turtlehead, wild mint, spotted touch-me-not, forget-me-not (photo), chickweed, white wood aster, smooth aster, birdsfoot trefoil, heal-all, purple loosestrife, blue vervain, and a few more. I didn't take as many pictures of flowers because I was concentrating on the fishing.




Overall Total: 150


River Breakdown:

Raritan River, South Branch - 22 (13 Stocked Brown, 7 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Bushkill Creek - 21 (17 Stocked Brown, 3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)
Marshalls Creek - 20 (20 Wild Brook)
Pequest River - 17 (9 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Beaverkill River - 10 (7 Wild Brown, 2 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Brown)
Poplar Run - 9 (7 Wild Brook, 2 Wild Brown)
Faulkner Brook - 7 (6 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 7 (7 Stocked Rainbow)
Spring Creek - 6 (3 Wild Brown, 3 Wild Rainbow)
Brodhead Creek - 4 (3 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (4 Stocked Brown)
Penns Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brown)
Rattlesnake Creek - 4 (4 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 3 (2 Wild Brook, 1 Wild Tiger)
Mullet Brook - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Old Town Run - 2 (2 Wild Brown)
Stony Run - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brook)
Cherry Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Lawrence Brook - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Musconetcong River - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)
Neversink River - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Yellow Breeches Creek - (1 Wild Brown)


Species Breakdown:

Brown Trout - 70
Stocked - 48
Wild - 22

Brook Trout - 62
Wild - 47
Stocked - 15

Rainbow Trout - 17
Stocked - 13
Wild - 3
Golden Rainbow - 1


Tiger Trout - 1
Wild - 1
Stocked - 0


Stocked Trout - 77
Wild Trout - 73


Trout 15+ Inches: 5


Angling Breakdown:


Fly Fishing Rod - 81 (34 Stocked Brown, 18 Wild Brown, 11 Stocked Rainbow, 9 Stocked Brook, 5 Wild Brook, 3 Wild Rainbow, 1 Stocked Golden Rainbow)

Spinning Rod - 69 (42 Wild Brook, 14 Stocked Brown, 6 Stocked Brook, 4 Wild Brown, 2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Wild Tiger)


State Breakdown:
Pennsylvania - 84
New Jersey - 52
New York - 14

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wildflower Update

Over the past few weeks I've accumulated a significant collection of wildflower photos. So far I've photographed nearly 60 different species of flower - with, hopefully, more to come as the fall approaches. I hope you enjoy the flower photos as much as I do!



Bull Thistle

Ostensibly an invasive "weed", the bull thistle is an impressive plant. It is also vitally important to various species of birds and bees.







Butter-and-eggs

A great name, a pretty flower.






Crown Vetch

A beautiful flower Jackie and I found during our hike up Point Mountain in New Jersey's Hunterdon County.





Deptford Pink

The typical "pink": small, beautiful, and unassuming.






Enchanter's Nightshade

One of my favorite flower names. Don't get too close to this one!






Heal-all

This "weed" apparently helps heal sore throats.






Pennsylvania Smartweed

Looks similar to Lady's Thumb. I'm 80% sure that this photo is of the smartweed. Has medicinal benefits.





Oxeye Daisy

She loves me, she loves me not.






Pale Touch-me-not

The larger and yellower sister of spotted touch-me-not.






Prairie Rose

Photographed years ago in the Delaware Water Gap.






Purple Coneflower

Jackie and I walked through fields of these large, colorful flowers last week.





Sneezeweed

One version of how this plant received its name is as follows: early settlers used to snort it (when dried) to sneeze out evil spirits.





Swamp Rose Mallow

With its six inch flowers, it may be my favorite of all our native wildflowers.





Trumpet Creeper

A native vine with colorful flowers. You may have seen this growing along fences or the highway.






Water Plantain


A very interesting plant; it intrigues me.







White Campion

A traveler from Europe that fits in well in an American meadow.






White Snakeroot

Poisonous! Don't touch!







Wild Basil

Pretty flowers, delicious herb.








Wood Nettle

Don't touch! Nettle stings can last for over three days. I know from personal experience: the day of my high school prom I received a nasty sting from a nettle that didn't go away for some time.







Yellow Wood Sorrel

I used to eat the leaves with my friends when I was kid. They have a funny, sour taste.





Golden Ragwort

Jackie and I found this ragwort over a year ago; it was growing near the Delaware and Raritan Canal in July.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bass Update #4: More Millstone River Fun

Last night I went back to the spot where I missed the large fish from Monday. I tried to catch catfish and failed. I tried to catch the mystery fish and failed. I failed to catch anything of significance until one of my last casts when I landed a black crappie, a fish known to some as a calico bass; I believe this is the first crappie I've ever caught on a fly rod (it took a Muddler Minnow streamer). As it is not a sunfish or trout, I have decided to count it on the bass list. I will continue to do this for the rest of August.


I saw a belted-kingfisher, a white-tailed deer, a great blue heron, and other assorted songbirds. Additionally, I spotted some spotted touch-me-not growing in a meadow.

I also found a new wildflower: field bindweed. I also found some milkweed.

(Images in order: black crappie, field bindweed, video of white-tailed deer, milkweed)

video



Overall Total: 18

River Breakdown
Stony Brook - 5 (4 Rock, 1 Smallmouth)
Delaware River - 4 (4 Smallmouth)
Millstone River - 3 (2 Largemouth, 1 Black Crappie)
Potomac River - 3 (3 Smallmouth)
Bushkill Creek - 2 (2 Smallmouth)
Difficult Run - 1 (1 Smallmouth)

Species Breakdown
Smallmouth Bass - 11
Rock Bass - 4
Largemouth Bass - 2
Black Crappie - 1

Type of Fly
Streamer - 11 (6 Smallmouth, 4 Rock, 1 Black Crappie)
Popper - 4 (3 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth)
Nymph - 3 (2 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth)

State Breakdown
New Jersey - 11
Maryland - 3
Pennsylvania - 3
Virginia - 1

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bass Update #4: Canal Days Continue at the Millstone River

Last evening I ventured into the wet and muddy mire that comprises the mutual Millstone River and Delaware-Raritan Canal floodplain (pictured to the right). The plain contains a mix of shagbark hickory, black hickory, black walnut, and sugar maple trees. These common and conspicuous tree species loom over a wooded grassland that possesses wild grass occasionally shoulder high. It is a singular micro-environment made possible by the unique shared floodplain of the canal and river. If the canal begins to overflow, gravity takes the extra discharge one way: down the west bank to the Millstone. Likewise, when wide-scale inundation strikes the Millstone, the muddy river has only one way to flood - back east toward the canal (due to the high banks on its west side). Keep in mind that this distinctive style of floodplain only exists in the Griggstown, NJ area; elsewhere on the canal, the flooding pattern is different. It is my belief that the constant flooding (it has twice the possibility of becoming deluged) represses the growth of small trees; consequently, wild grass thrives in the open forest-floor environment.

As for the fishing: I caught one 12 inch largemouth bass in the Millstone on a stonefly nymph (pictured right). I also lost a fish of considerable size. The mystery fish struck so quickly and with such force that I never had a chance. You can bet I'll be back to that spot tonight. I landed another largemouth on a silver Rapala. I also fell hard twice, and slipped countless times in the mud. While the trees, grass, flowers, and mushrooms were nice to photograph, the river's difficult access made the expedition damaging. I'm still hurting.


Wildflowers: purple loosestrife, skullcap, monkey flower, aster, evening primrose (pictured right) and sumac.





Mushrooms: one unknown, one of the collybia variety, ganoderma applanatum, and boletus edulis (pictured down to the right).


Wildlife: two white-tailed deer, mallard and late ducklings.



Overall Total: 17

River Breakdown
Stony Brook - 5 (4 Rock, 1 Smallmouth)
Delaware River - 4 (4 Smallmouth)
Potomac River - 3 (3 Smallmouth)
Bushkill Creek - 2 (2 Smallmouth)
Millstone River - 2 (2 Largemouth)
Difficult Run - 1 (1 Smallmouth)

Species Breakdown
Smallmouth Bass - 11
Rock Bass - 4
Largemouth Bass - 2

Type of Fly
Streamer - 10 (6 Smallmouth, 4 Rock)
Popper - 4 (3 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth)
Nymph - 3 (2 Smallmouth, 1 Largemouth)

State Breakdown
New Jersey - 10
Maryland - 3
Pennsylvania - 3
Virginia - 1

Monday, August 11, 2008

Canal Days

Not much to report after spending the last few days housesitting on the Delaware-Raritan Canal. Heavy rain fell yesterday and this morning; conditions will not be favorable for at least the coming day or so. I did, however, catch a pickerel, some smallmouth bass, and some red-breasted sunfish in the Millstone River on Friday night (all on the spin-casting rod, so I'm not updating my fly fishing bass totals). Additionally, I caught two catfish in the canal Saturday evening. (image of my best friend Will fishing the Millstone; he caught one largemouth bass)


Wildflowers spotted: purple loosestrife, black-eyed susan, aster, groundnut, monkeyflower, and cattail. (image of the larger catfish I caught)






I also found some interesting mushrooms. I find these organisms interesting and, consequently, I've now purchased a mushroom field guide. I hope to add pictures of various mushrooms to my blogging endeavors. Hope you enjoy! (image of amanita citrina, I think)