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New Jersey Fly Fishing Report February 6th- February 13th 2015

Updated 2/06/2015-JH


Shannon's 2014-2015 Stocking Effort . . .Bubba is back, Winter Fishing Is Going To Be Good... 

Sparse Grey Matter Fly Tying Fest at the Califon Firehouse sponsored by Shannon's and Dette's Flies Sunday February 22nd from 10am until 4pm. All tyers welcome! The event is free, low key and informal, it has been called "the anti-show", is open to the public and will be attended by many amazing fly tyers from around our region. Lunch will be served by our friends at the Califon Volunteer Fire Department. We will have some vendors such as GLoomis and Regal Vise there demonstrating and showing their wares but it is and always will be, a fly tying event. Contact Shannon's at (908) 832-5736 or via e-mail at for more information.

One of our new Bubbas was caught and creeled but Bubba Brown II and Old Bubba II are still out there. It's cold but we should have fishable weather on Sunday anyway. Time to tie some flies, clean gear and get ready for better days. Our streams need these cold days and nights and with some snow, spring fishing will be excellent. There is still plenty of winter fishing to be had, and we are finally seeing some better conditions this weekend with temperatures warming up a little into the thirties. Wow!! A heat wave.

Shannon's Bubba Stocking Update February 6, 2015: The river is in good shape just watch the bank ice. The main challenge will be parking as there is still plenty of snow on the ground. A total of 427 trout were stocked in the Califon area bringing our combined Fall Stocking total including the KLG November stocking to over 800 trout. This year, we stocked four Bubbas, yes that's right- four! Two big Browns and a two Rainbows. Most of the trout were between 12 and 21 inches but the Bubbas are very big. One Brown Bubba remains along with Bubba II from last year. I think it is a fitting end to an extraordinary season which saw a creative effort by Shannon's, the Division of Fish and Wildlife and most importantly to you, our customers who love fishing the South Branch. My personal thanks to Shawn Crouse, Senior Biologist at Fish and Wildlife for his support and cooperation in granting us the permits needed to make this effort possible. A special word of thanks to all of those anglers and others including Vern and Jeff Mancini of the Musky Hatchery whose efforts helped us stock over 3500 trout in the upper South Branch this year. 

Bubba Contest Rules: Catch and release Bubba and bring us the jaw tag. Do not kill the fish under any circumstances. Kill the fish no prize. 

Both new Bubba are females aka Bubbettes! We have a new Douglas DHF rods, an 8'6" 5wt and a St Croix Imperial 9' 5wt. These rods are sweet!

Update 2/06/2015: Keith Gardner caught Bubba Bow and Brett Carmen caught Bubba Brown. Both fish were caught and released. Great job guys! Bubba II is still at large......Two more Bubbettes, one of which the big Rainbow was caught but the big Brown is still on the loose! 


River conditions are cold. Flows are excellent but there is ice on the edges so be careful. Use some weight to get those flies down. Small nymphs and midges, egg patterns and scuds are all catching fish. Keep a few streamer patterns handy; the fish are hungry. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife stocked major rivers with 7-9 inch Rainbows back in October and by all accounts these feisty fish are growing quickly with some over ten inches already. 

Harvey's Beach Update: The fall run was sporadic at best. See you next year!


Fish runs and pools with small flies, egg and nymph action is very good.

This is a most unusual year for all of us who fish the upper South Branch. There has been an outbreak of Furunculosis at the Pequest hatchery that has forced the state to destroy a large number of trout. This major loss of fish will impact area streams. Some won't be stocked while others saw trout stocking curtailed. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is doing everything they can to correct this issue. There will be no state stocking of the Upper South Branch from Lake Solitude dam upstream, including the Ken Lockwood Gorge. This will substantially reduce trout numbers available for the Spring Season. More information on the subject can be found on the Division's website:

To date we have stocked over 3500 trout from Long Valley through the Ken Lockwood Gorge TCA (Trout Conservation Area). Based on customer feedback, we will be continuing these efforts in 2015. All of our trout are purchased from Vern and Jeff Mancini at The Musky Hatchery in Asbury, NJ and are certified disease free. Thank you to all of our donors who have contributed so generously. Also, we are grateful for the support and assistance of Affinity Federal Credit Union in supporting our effort.     

Please help us keep up the efforts, and click the "donate" button. Every little bit helps!



General Hatches, Fly Recommendations and Tips . . .

Hatch Update: Mostly midges now. There may be a few caddis and BWO's left. Spring creeks have more reliable BWO's in winter.

During the day: Fish tandem rigs to improve your nymphing success. Fish nymphs and midges in tandem or add a small egg pattern. I always prefer to fish the larger fly first. It is also a good idea to balance your tandems by keeping them within a couple of hook sizes of each other. Other good choices include the Lenny's Hot Bead Midge or Rainbow Warrior or a Tan or Grey Scud size 16-18 or RS2 18-22 about 18-22 inches apart and hold on! Use enough weight to keep the flies just off the bottom drifting slowly. Drag free drifts are a must now. Keep as little fly line on the water as possible and pay attention! Strikes may be subtle or fierce. If using a strike indicator, place it one and a half to twice the depth of the water you are fishing from the first fly. Any additional weight should be about six to eight inches from the first fly.   Streamers: Muddler Minnows, Woolly Buggers, Grey Ghost, Black Nose Dace, and Zonkers if the water is off color. Work them slowly!

  • Hare’s Ear nymph standard and beadhead #12-18. 

  • Any egg or sucker spawn pattern. Trail with a midge.

  • Pheasant Tails #16-22 with or without a bead.

  • RS2 or WD40 #16-22 Grey, Brown or BWO

  • Rainbow Warrior #18 Another great midge larva pattern

  • Prince Nymph/ Zug Bug (Beadhead, Poxy Back, Standard) Great for Isonychia and stoneflies.

  • Black Stonefly #16-18

  • Scuds and Sow bugs: Olive, Grey or Tan, # 14-18

  • Caddis Larva: Olive, Green or Chartreuse is a must right now #14-18.

  • Midge Larva: Disco midges in Green, Red, or Black size 18-22

  • Woolly Buggers: Black, Olive and Brown #10-14 Conehead Muddler Minnows work too.

Note: I use larger nymphs and bead-heads when the water is higher and less weight when water drops. On the South Branch, use the heavier flies when the stream flow exceeds about 175-185 cfs. 


Current Local Hatch Chart . . . Hatches are largely confined to 

midges with BWO's on certain spring creeks. 


Updated 2/06/2015

Note: Some hatches overlap time periods

MORNING (6am-11am)

 High stick nymphing is recommended as is working a streamer deep and slow through likely pools and runs.

ALL DAY 10am-5pm

On warmer days, you may see a few of these bugs still hatching but the active season is winding down.




WD40 or RS2 in Grey, Black, Brown (especially on the Pequest) or BWO #16-22 seems to work everywhere as it matches any number of small midges.

Nymphs should be small for the most part: Egg and Sucker Spawn patterns, San Juan Worms, Pheasant Tails #16-22, Hare's Ear #14-18 and Prince patterns #14-18, scuds, midge patterns such as Kaleidoscope Midge, Zebra Midge,  Rainbow Warrior and Fat Lady Midge, Caddis Larva especially JC's Electric Caddis.  








This time of year, midges are a very good option. Use them in a nymph tandem as the trailing fly or suspend them behind a caddis if surface activity is noted. While there may not be any caddis hatching it is a great strike indicator when you see trout porpoising just under the surface. When you see a rise and just the fish's back, suspend that midge. They are feeding in the surface film not on the surface, small but important distinction. If I see multiple rises, I might try a small Parachute Adams. After all dry flies in December, why not?-JH  



Try egg and streamer patterns in low light. You may be surprised how good the fishing still is...








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