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Fishing Report: August 18th - Windows open at night

Early rising anglers know immediately if it has been cool enough overnight for a quick predawn session. If your windows are open at night, you’ll know before leaving bed. Alas, my dear better half does not like the windows open overnight, so the first thing I do after pouring a cup of coffee is stand outside and just feel the air. The intermittent crisp nights are more reminiscent of fall but can get the water temperatures down to safe levels. These windows of opportunity are not to be missed if one happens when time allows for some rare summer trout fishing. Of course, you can check your weather app and plan ahead for when the overnight lows fall to 60, too. Double check the water you are about to fish and take that time to observe the stream.

Where to go? I try to stay away from the Trout Conservation Areas, even when the thermal window allows; after all, look at the name: conservation area. These TCAs are a small percent of the publicly available fisheries. Let them do their work! The exception may be the Pequest TCA. As previously discussed, the outflow from the hatchery creates a unique stretch of cool water that is a popular draw year round.

What to fish? For me, I have two choices in mind when I am walking to the river bank and looking for snouts - tiny dries or streamers. BWOs and Trico play a huge role in the summer months, RS2s, Griffith’s (am I on repeat?), you get the picture.

Streamers are tons of fun in the morning and I think the bigger fish are looking for their last meal before they hide in the daylight hours. We have more streamers in the shop now then I remember having in stock at any other time. Pick a few and see which ones work in your favorite stretch of the river.

The cold nights and cool temps close quickly. By ten I am checking the stream thermometer and heading south of route 78, loosely following 31, from Clinton towards Flemington. The chain of parks heading south has great runs and pools that are worth checking out. Watch out for the kayaks and tubers!

And a bonus from Roy, thoughts on 'fishing' and not 'catching':

My grandfather introduced me to fishing when I was young. “That’s why it’s called ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’” was among his favorite refrains. These words did little to alleviate boredom for a kid when the bite was not happening. I repeat these words to myself as an adult when exploring new water during the hot summer months.

At the risk of repetition, it is not the time of year to fish for trout. If you plan to eat a stocky, have at it - consider not taking the fish from a Trout Conservation Area. Instead, find the ponds in the NJ Fish and Wildlife digest (available online) or lakes that offer access for fishing, including a few that will rent a kayak for an hour or two (Call ahead!). Exploring a new area is easiest with a likely fly. If you do not have to break your rod down, or can do so easily, I usually leave a popper or wooly bugger on for easy access as I wander the banks. Flip the fly out as far as you can muster and retrieve. Often, fish hang just off the banks and under floating vegetation and around docks. Focus on changes in depth and structure, including rocks and logs.

This is fishing!

If nothing else, expect honesty from this report - it is not always catching. When it happens, however, it is worthwhile. Make a note of the date, time and weather for next summer. Return frequently to see the fish hang out or if they appear to follow a pattern. Time of day has a profound effect on still water, especially in the shallows, so think about when bass or pike or carp are likely to be inshore. Some ponds seem teeming with fish one year and stagnant the next.

My grandfather and I fished throughout the summer months in Morris county in the 1980s. We kept (and my mother cooked) just about everything we caught. Trout were his favorite while I preferred perch. I have heard people say that the fish will die anyway during these summer months. A few might, for sure, but they are clever and can move to find suitable places to lay low for a few weeks. Those that do will grow and be ready for us in the Fall. See you out there!

Roy B


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