|Some good winter fishing for John|
How did you get into fly fishing?
I think I got my first fly rod when I was in grade school. I was probably about 10 or 11, and it was a Shakespeare 4pc kit I bought at K-mart with money from my paper route. It went unused because I realized that I realized that I'd have much less of a learning curve fishing with a spinning rod, and catching trout was much easier for me with the spin outfit at that time in my life. Fast forward about 10-12 years, I'm living in the north west corner of NJ, and I'm surrounded by trout water, and seeing guys catch trout on the fly made me decide I wanted to do that too. After my first trout on the fly, I've never looked back.
New Jersey isn’t often thought of as great fly water, but I know it has its share of fish. Tell me about your home waters.
|Gorgeous wild NJ brown|
My local water is the Big Flatbrook. It's a 28 mile gem of a stream, which flows through state and federal lands, so development is minimal, and wildlife abounds. In my opinion it has the potential to be one of the top trout fisheries in the state, but because of the fact that it is a largely put and take fishery, finding fish in the heavily trafficked sections outside of the stocking season is frustrating. Where I live in Sussex County I am lucky enough to be very close to PA and NY and some incredible fishing opportunities in both states.
Dry fly, wet fly, nymph or streamer? (or a combination)
If I had my druthers, it's dry flies all day, but being a realist I know that is not always the case, so I tend to employ all of them, and stick with the one that produces the best at that given time.
As you know I am a bit of a warm water nut. What kind of warm water options are available in the Garden State?
Take your pick! We've got 'em all from carp to crappie, and bluegills to bass( LMB &SMB). My usual time for targeting warm water species is when it gets too warm to trout fish. I've got a few nice local ponds and lakes I frequent for bass, and pickerel, and haven't even begun to scratch the surface on all of them. Last year I spent a lot of time on the mainstem of the Delaware River, targeting smallies. It's a great fishery for them, and most all came to hand on my own ties, so that's a real kick for me!
I have been told there are some great options in the Pine Barrens- is that someplace you have hit up? And if you have…. Have you run into the Jersey Devil yet?
Unfortunately, my knowledge of the Pines is limited to the times I drive through them on the way to vacation at the shore.
As far as the Jersey Devil, all I can say is not YET!!!
You got up to the Delaware this spring for a float. Can you tell me about that?
|West Branch of the Delaware|
Sure. I do a trip with 18 guys to the West Branch of the Delaware in the Catskills in early May. We do it pretty nicely too, we stay in cabins right on the river, eat and drink and smoke cigars like kings, and fish early and often. Most years the flows are decent enough to wade comfortably, somewhere in the range of 400-800 cfms. This year however, we had major rains the week prior to our trip, and the river crested over 10,000 cfms. So at that point we knew that wading would not be in the picture for some time. We arrived to camp in the rain, and the river was down, but still flowing at 4500+cfms. The first official day of camp found 90% of the group driving to find fishable water, the second day however was a different story. One of my buddies has access to a drift boat, and we floated 12 miles of the river. We fished hard and pounded the banks with big articulated streamers, and were able to boat 3 fish. Now some guys may say "damn, only 3 fish" but I will say that a 12 mile float with no fish would have been a LOOOOONG day. It was a good day with great friends and I look forward to doing it again
I know from conversations that you tie your own. How long have you been tying?
I've been tying for about 2 years now and really enjoy it. I really wanted to start tying my own, after many seasons of buying flies that would produce fish, and realizing that I could tie them just as well, and not have to pay up to $2 per fly. I was lucky to have to major upgrades in my tying in the last year. The biggest of which was a dedicated tying area, in the basement portion of the addition I put on my house last winter. I share the office with my wife, and my half was turned into my tying area. The 2nd was the purchase of a new vise. I got a Regal Medallion in March and absolutely love it!
I enjoy tying everything really, but if I had to pick one thing specifically, it would be streamers, and the bigger the better. I can crank em out, and I find you can incorporate much more of your own personality into them, versus a traditional dry or nymph pattern,
Tell me about what your local Trout Unlimited group does? I know that some folks would think that you guys might be busy removing mob victims from your streams, but I am sure the reality is a bit different?
|John with a nice Delaware brown|
We do A LOT!!!! We are currently involved in a major effort to improve my local stream the Big Flatbrook. We are doing things such as stream cleanups and riparian buffer plantings, we've also started a float stocking program which covers a little more than a mile of river. It in my opinion has really improved the fishing over that stretch, due to the fact that now people are forced to walk away from the "normal stocking points" and actually look for fish. We are also in the permitting stages to do some major in stream restoration work in the a portion of the river that we are stocking. We have contracted a company to do the work, and hope to be doing the work in the coming months. I will tell you that we have found some very interesting things on our cleanups, but mobster bodies aren't on the list!
Has it been difficult for you to find people to help you out?
As far as volunteers go we are very lucky to have a great membership that is always willing to help, as well as folks from other chapters in the state. I've noticed in my short time as an active member that there is a willingness to "cross volunteer" and help out another chapter with their projects, this I find to be a great thing.
Do you ever get a chance to hit the salt up?
Not as much as I'd like, but yes. The closest salt water for me is a 100 mile trip one way, so when I do go I make a long day out of it. I've had some super days fishing bait, and plugging, but have yet to catch a fish from the surf on the fly. I hope to change that this summer!!!
So you are offered a trip anywhere to fish anything… where do you go and what do you target?
Back to Florida for some Poon!!! A few years back, my wife, daughter and I visited a couple we are friends with in the Cape Coral area. While the ladies were lounging pool/beach side, the fellas were out chasing fish. I jumped two BIG ONES, but got none boat side. It was a rush unlike anything I've ever experienced and would do it again in a second!
Alright, being from Jersey, I have to ask you… have you hooked Snooki (or hooked up with her)? Or would you be more inclined to hook into a snook?
Definitely the fish...I gave up hunting trolls years ago ;>)