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:

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.


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!


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.


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)

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)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bull's Island Wildflowers

Below are the wildflowers I encountered on my trip to Bull's Island. I have also provided links about each one (except the unknowns, of course!). If anyone knows any of the unknown three flowers please let me know!

Black-eyed Susan

Blue Vervain


Bouncing Bet

Cardinal Flower

Fringed Loosestrife




Monkey Flower


Wild Purple Hibiscus

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Phlox with Butterfly


Spotted touch-me-not

White Phlox

Woodland Sunflower

Unknown 1, probably member of the pea family

Unknown 2

Unknown 3 (type of aster?)