Editor’s Log: Trout Season Opens! - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Trout Season Opens!

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, I never did any trout fishing as a kid.  But by the age of 11 my friends and I would pedal our bikes from the Timbers section of Barnegat to Ocean Acres Lake (aka Holiday Lake) for what started out as light tackle pickerel and bluegill action, ultimately figuring out how to catch largemouth there as well.  That said, I don’t recall any New Jersey trout stocking efforts in that area of Southern Ocean County in the 70s.

It wasn’t until I attended Kutztown University that I took up trout fishing along Maiden Creek where I’d rented a house in Lenhartsville, PA (actually, dad rented the house as part of the tuition).  My intro to trout started with tossing spinners on long hikes along the stream, but after damming a portion of the creek behind the house to create a whirlpool, it ultimately became part of my college sustenance, kicking back on a Saturday afternoon with friends while baited rigs cycled around that hole several dozen times before we had enough takers for the grill.

I guess I brought that “meat fishing” mentality with me from the salt, thought truth be told I have no interest in ever taking a pickerel or largemouth for the table again (been there, done that, no thanks).  Sure, if you’re casting the long wand at wild trout with the artful dexterity of Paul Maclean from A River Runs Through It, I’m sure the thought of killing your catch might be frowned upon.  But honestly, even the Macleans measured success by the size of their creel!

When that movie came out in 1992, the popularity of fly fishing in America exploded!  I often joke with fishing industry friends about how the angling world could really use a big boost in participation via another blockbuster flick starring Brad Pitt.  Not sure if Brian Cox, known for his role as Logan Roy in HBO’s Succession, now playing the lead character Ike Fletcher in the Netflix hit Mending the Line, has the same street cred.

Check out Jenni Ackerman’s Open Boat #41 video segment on fly fishing at The Fisherman’s YouTube page.

When fly fishing experienced that 90s boon I was one of the millions who entered the fray; for me it was mostly due to the amount of personal time I was spending in Sussex County in those years.  So I picked up an 8-1/2-foot, 5/6-weight St. Croix Pro Graphite and Cortland Vista DS at the old Fly Hatch in Shrewsbury, followed by an assortment of flies from Stokes Forest Sport Shop in Sandyston, before heading up along the Brocks Road stretch of the Big Flat Brook to figure things out.  I stubbornly refused personalized instruction (I bought a book instead, remember those?) and spent a solid 5 hours spooking fish and untangling lines from trees before finally getting a small rainbow to strike at a wooly bugger in late spring.

Several weeks after that first fly-caught ‘bow (a fly at which most purists would probably turn their nose) I was wading a stretch just off Walpack Road when I saw trout rising to sip at flies along the surface, leading to one of the most memorable fish of my life, my first trout on a dry fly.  And while my finances were a little better at that point in my life than they were the decade prior as a college kid, that rainbow still ended up in the frying pan for lunch.

Yeah, I guess I’ll always be a meat guy at heart; then again, isn’t that the concept of the “put and take” trout stocking?  Even if you’re an old salt, I highly recommend getting your New Jersey freshwater license and trout stamp to take advantage of the incredible stocking efforts in the region, whether for dinner or simply making new memories.


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