Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We Got Hammered Yesterday

Woke up yesterday morning to dark skies and a rain-snow combination falling from the gray. By the time I dropped Julia off at her school 3 miles away, it was mostly snow. At work it was a rain-sleet event. No big deal, right?

At about 2:00PM, Karen arrived home from school and called me to tell me the power was out and trees were down all over. She had to go around the long way because the entrance to our street was blocked by no less than a half dozen trees down across it. When I got home around 5:30, the power was still out and even more trees had come down.

We had about 6 inches of wet, heavy snow that was caught by the leaves still on the trees, and many of them couldn't take the weight. It looked like a bomb had gone off here, and at many other places I passed coming home. This is the entrance to our driveway today. The big green mass at the top is also a tree that came down.

A large limb down on the side of the drive.......

Looking east toward the pond. I couldn't get to the pond to check it out,because it was surrounded by downed trees and limbs.

We spent the night in the dark without heat or water, but it wasn't bad thanks to flannel, a thick quilt, and the warmth of my wife! It was 51 in here when I got up this morning....I think I got dressed in record time. When I got home today the power was on, the house was toasty and I had this in my hands........and she's still smiling after 24+ hours without power...what a woman! Oh, and a serious chain saw...........

So, that's it. A mess of trees, a little loss of power and four tired but warm puppies tonight. You know, if this is the worst that happens, I'll take it. Nothing hit the house and no one was hurt. I only wish I had gathered some firewood, but that won't be a problem now, because this Saturday is tree cuttin' day on the Grobert homestead.

Life is good. A little discomfort keeps the rest of this wonderful life in perspective.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Took a Holiday Today

This morning just before leaving for work a friend called me and asked if I wanted to meet him at the Ken Lockwood Gorge today to do some trout fishing. What else could I do but take a holiday? We met at the trestle and then split up.

It was chilly, but bright and the river was low, cool and covered with the colors of Autumn. When we first got there we didn't see another angler. By late morning there were a few, but not bad at all for one of the more popular Trout Conservation Areas in the state .

There's a reason the South Branch is one of my favorite wild trout streams in NJ. It's loaded with them, even in the gorge. Most of the wild fish are brown trout, but there are also good numbers of brook trout, and even some wild rainbows. I decided right off that I was going to fish only dry flies, and after prospecting with an ant for while, I noticed the trout were gently sipping something right in the film. I seined the surface and sure enough there were some BWO duns and spinners floating in the meniscus among the red, yellow and oranges of Autumn. Some of the leaves were even a light chartreuse in color - they looked like they were from the maple trees that line the steep banks of the gorge along with the evergreens, oaks and other hardwoods.

I tied a #18 dark rusty spinner to the 6X tippet at the end of my 12 foot long leader, and shortly after was into an average sized wild brown - about 7-8 inches. I concentrated on the glides and side eddies and found plenty of rising, willing trout by timing my cast so my fly would land in a window within the leaves a short distance up current from where I saw a rise. The largest fish was a brightly colored male brown of about 11-12 inches. All but one were browns, the one was a nice 10-inch rainbow with lots of small, black spots and pale pink flanks highlighted with light lavender parr marks. No stockies were caught today, but saw tons of them in the deeper pockets and pools, which I stayed away from. No pics of fish, left my camera on my tying desk. But here's a pic of the well-chewed fly I used.
I love fishing in the fall, and today was one one the reasons why. It's so invigorating and energizing - just ask my wife - when I got home I cleaned up a few planting beds for the winter and mowed half the lawn before it got dark. She gets it - she's always telling me I should fish more often.

Get out there if you can and wet a line. The water may be low, but it's cold and all the more challenging being so clear.....and full of leaves.

Life is good. Take a break from work, go fishing or do something outside, and get energized.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Life is good. Wake up!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday - A Day of Contrasts

Yesterday was one of those days that makes it easy to appreciate living on the outskits of the NYC metropolitan region. It was a beautiful early fall day, clear blue skies, bright sun and comfortably warm.

Late in the morning, Karen and I went out to a western NJ river so I could fish, and she could sit in the sun and study for her mid-term this week on neurology and pain management. After sitting next to the river and eating some lunch together, I rigged up and waded out into the clear, cool flow hoping to catch a few trout.

I fished for about two hours and unlike last weekend, this week I couldn't bring a fish to the top with dry flies so I had to go down for them. And in contrast to last week, I didn't catch a single wild trout. I caught a bunch of stocked brook trout - big honkers, too. All them on a size #18, black, beadhead micro-midge nymph.

Here's one of those big, ugly fish........this one was about 3 lbs! They fought well, and were fun to catch, but they just don't have the beauty and aura of a wild fish. Not that it wasn't fun and a great day to be out on the river. One the highlights was watching a good-size kingfisher work the edges of the water and after many missed attempts, it took nice 3-4 inch long chub from a side eddy.

Although it was fun to be out fishing, and the fishing was good, all in all I would much rather catch the smaller wild fish, or stocked fish that have been in the river and that have naturalized somewhat to their environment. That said, it was a joy as usual to be alive and on/in the water on such a beautiful day.

About mid-afternoon, I headed back to the car and while taking off my waders and putting my gear away, I got to listen to Karen boil down two hours worth of cramming medical terminology into her head. She quizzed me to recall it and burn the info into her head she does it all the time, and its pretty interesting stuff................usually. Sometimes its just plain funny the way she gets going and goes off on a tangent that's like a foreign language in many ways.

Then after getting home and changing, we headed into the city to see a concert at Radio City Music Hall - Ray LaMontagne.

The concert was great. And the city, in stark contrast to where we had been earlier in the day, was packed with people and humming with manmade energy. As with the countryside, the city has so many qualities that make you feel alive. If I had to choose though, I'd certainly take the country as it suits me for the long-term, but I do love spending time in the concrete jungle. Thank goodness I don't have to choose.

Life is good. So is a day of contrasts.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Warm Autumn Day

Today I fished my favorite New Jersey wild trout stream, the South Branch of the Raritan River. It was a warm, breezy, sun filled afternoon. The trees struggling to hold onto their green as rogue leaves within the bunch were turning red, or yellow, or orange and others only going half way - lots of half green, half brightly colored leaves.

The river was low, clear as gin, and cool on the legs and feet. Terrestrial insects, active from the warmth of the day, occasionally got blown out of the trees and shrubs over hanging the water. The second they hit the water, an opportunistic trout would quickly dart up from below and in one swift motion, sip them in and then settle back down to wait for another meal.

When this happened, I'd fix in my mind the position of the water ring left behind. Then cast to place my fly a foot and a half above the target so it would float briefly into the trout's feeding lane. As long as I made a good cast and got a drag-free float over the fish, it would again rise to my offering and take it. Here' a couple of the many fish I caught today as I worked my way up a 1/2 mile of river alternately working rises and blind casting to likely holding water.

Most of them small, but beautiful nonetheless.

It was a great day to be on the water, made even more enjoyable as I used my "Classic" Thomas & Thomas graphite Special Dry Fly rod - 8' 3" 2-pc. 5 weight - it has nickle silver ferrules and a nice, slow action much like a bamboo rod.

Life is good. Get out and enjoy the fall colors on the trees and the fish.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Idiots.....Chew On This....And Some Fishing

If you've been following the news, you've been bombarded with tons of political manure and sports.......

The first idiot we need to address is Al Davis. The guy should pack it in and let someone else who lives in the 21st century run the team. The Raiders are a losing team now and will be as long as he runs them from his ivory throne. Not that you care, and not that I'm a Raiders fan, but when some one acts as disgracefully as he does it draws my attention. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google the moron and see for yourself.

What does football have to do with this? I love football, always have. Fly fishing and bullshitting is what you do when you are too old to play football.

And how about Obama-lama-ding-dong and McCain. Do they really think they are going to save the world? I will tell you this: It really doesn't matter which one of them wins the election. Unless the winner can bring our selfish, egotistical members of congress together, things are not going to change. Everyone of them has to be right at any and all cost.

How about not being right and instead doing what's right? Now that's a concept, huh? A government by the people, for the people.

And what about the candidates? I guess I'm cynical, but in my mind, neither of them have yet to elucidate on how they intend to "change" things in this country. Oh, sure, Obama has ideas and can articulate what the problems are and where we need to go, but he has yet to give us a road map or an actual plan of how we are going to get there.

And McCain? He's about as articulate as a drunk on a binge after getting stopped by state troopers. Lots of experience, but still lost in his past.

Yup, I'm still undecided. Like you care? I'm just a fisherman, what do I know? I know that I am like most Americans that are worried that my children will inherit a world that is very different than the one I came into after a college. I know, our parents were born into a world vastly different than ours, too, but then the contrast was a different shade of gray. Now it's more like black and white....................

And now I think its time to talk fishing.

The rivers are cool and clear. A little low, but not so much they aren't ripe for a well presented fly. Today there were some little blue-winged olives on the water. Tiny ones, the size of a freckle on an Irishman's nose. A few trout sipped them, but most drifted unmolested before taking to flight. With the shortened days, I wasn't on the water soon enough to fish, but I managed a good day dream while watching the water.........I even landed a few in the depths of my mind.

That's the great thing about fly fishing; you can fish in your mind, casting as smooth as the best day on the water. The trout rising silently to take your fly. You lift your rod, tighten the line, and then imagine the life on the end of the line as it reacts to the tension of your grip. Is it a brightly colored rainbow with pink flanks, or a buttery colored brown digging for the depths? Or maybe a wild brookie with pale blue halos highlighting randomly placed red spots on a background of deep olive? In your mind, it can be whatever you want it to be. And when you land it, you quickly take a picture in your mind before releasing it back into its watery world. You smile, just like you do when astream.

Life is good. Thank goodness I can fish in my head when the water is not at my feet.