Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fly Fishing the South Branch of the Raritan River

One week ago, I drove 90 miles north to the Ken Lockwood Gorge. The South Branch of the Raritan River flows through the gorge, and this section of the river is considered one of the best trout fishing locales in New Jersey. Although it is stocked with hatchery fish, some wild browns reproduce and can be caught by knowledgeable anglers. Furthermore, the river is under strict regulation, an occurrence that limits the put-and-take mentality of many Garden State trout fishermen.

The goal for me was to catch fish, obviously, but it was also a chance to try out my new fly rod. I bought a Temple Fork 9ft 5 wt, and it had just been delivered. Rather than use it on South Jersey slow water, I took it to the Raritan for its maiden voyage. The river looked nice, and there was a decent caddis hatch. I ended up landing two stocked brown trout, one on a bead-head pheasant tail nymph, and one on a dry tan caddis. Both fish were small and didn't provide much fight, but it was nice to land something on the new rod.

Before closing this post, I'd like to offer a brief soapbox-like commentary. Now that the trail that runs through the gorge has been paved, fly fishermen should seriously consider not driving on it. When the road was closed, the river had a feeling of privacy, and you could walk at your leisure. Now, nosy fishermen patrol the river from their vehicles, driving slowly, often stopping and observing you cast. This type of voyeurism rubs me the wrong way, and it seems antithetical to the quiet nature of the sport. The last thing I want to see or hear at the gorge is somebody's idling Ford F-150 as I prepare to lay down a cast. If you read this, fish the Ken Lockwood Gorge, and are able to walk in, please consider doing so. Thanks.

Soon, I'll post about a trip to Penns Creek and Opening Day in Pennsylvania.

Image #1 - The Raritan
Image #2 - Stocked brown trout with coloration

Overall Total: 15

River Breakdown:
Paulinskill River
- 7 (7 Stocked Brook)
Sevemile Creek - 4 (3 Wild Rainbow, 1 Steelhead)
Raritan River, South Branch
- 2 (2 Stocked Browns)
Marshalls Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Twentymile Creek - 1 (1 Steelhead)

Species Breakdown:
Brook Trout - 8
Stocked - 7
Wild - 1

Rainbow Trout - 5
Wild - 3
Steelhead - 2
Stocked - 0

Brown Trout - 2
Stocked - 2
Wild - 0

Stocked Trout - 9
Wild Trout - 4
Lake Erie Trout - 2

Trout 15+ Inches: 2

Fly Breakdown:
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 - 5 (3 Wild Rainbow, 2 Steelhead, 1 Stocked Brown)
Bead-head Golden Stonefly Nymph, size 10 - 1 (1 Steelhead)
Bead-head Olive Wooly Bugger Streamer, size 14 - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Tan Caddis, size 16 - 1 (1 Stocked Brown)

Angling Breakdown:
Fly Fishing Rod - 8 (3 Wild Rainbow, 2 Steelhead, 2 Stocked Brown, 1 Wild Brook)
Spinning Rod - 7 (7 Stocked Brook)

State Breakdown:
New Jersey - 9
Pennsylvania - 6

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