Managed a couple hours on the the South Branch of the Raritan yesterday under cloudy, damp conditions. It was comfortable thought being fairly warm for November, low 60's F, and very calm. After last weeks heavy rain and high water, I was surprised to see the river so clear and on the low side. I guess we need more rain to make up for the dry weather of the last two months. I went to a less traveled stretch of the river and had it all to myself as I worked the runs and pools upstream covering about a 1/2 mile of water.
The river is not stocked in this section but those hatchery trout do make their way into the holding water here, and along with some wild rainbows and browns, it can be productive. There were a few blue-winged olives about along with some midges and micro-caddis, but not enough to get the fish to rise in any kind of steady fashion. I fished a #22 olive sparkle dun and got a couple of wild fish that were on the smaller side of the scale and that was more than enough for me. I just wanted to be on the water away from all the stuff that has to be dealt with during the week and not have to worry about who wanted to fish where. Some trips to the river are more about clearing the mind than anything else.
I noticed another thing in this stretch of water that is unusual; the bottom was well cobbled and mostly devoid of the sand that is so prevalent above and below this stretch. It's hard to tell from the photo below, but there is very little sand filling the gaps between the stones. Over the last few decades there has been a lot of development along the river upstream, which has resulted in changes to the river bottom due to sand and silt being washed in during rain events. Unfortunately, there are some pools that now have sand bottoms that were all cobble when I first started fishing them - the sand has literally covered the river stones. One would think these cleaner, cobbled stretches will have better insect populations than the other sandy bottomed areas; we'll just have to come back in the spring and find out.
Don't forget, next weekend is the International Fly Tying Symposium in Lancaster, PA.
Sharpen your hooks.