Whenever overhearing two or more people from New Jersey talk about where they are from, invariably the conversation focuses on what Interstate Exit they live near to. Having traveled those major highways a few times myself, for years I assumed that those highways and their bordering, over populated hamlets were the sole focus of those poor people’s lives and I could not imagine such an existence. And I could not have been more wrong.
Last Friday morning I began a road trip to Somerset, NJ – a road trip that would forever change my perceptions - to meet with 10 Trout Unlimited chapter presidents at their quarterly State Council Meeting to discuss and provide details on our Veterans Service Partnership, and for the next 700 miles and 12 hours of windshield time I struggled to stay alert through the monotony of the drive.
After a much needed nights rest from the previous day’s boredom I met up with Rich Thomas at a convenient interstate pull-off to follow him to our destination for the day. Rich is the New Jersey TU State Council Chair, and he had promised an afternoon of fishing on the South Branch of the Raritan River as a prelude to Sunday’s meeting.
Our first stop was in the small town of Califon, at Shannon’s Fly & Tackle Shop where I was to pick up a license for the day and get to know a few of the locals. Shannon’s is not your local Orvis company store, but a true Catskill style fly shop which opened its doors back in 1973. And incidentally, Shannon's was awarded Trout Unlimited's first ever Gold Endorsed Business Award for their regional expertise and conservation efforts. Great folks and great service…service that included removing a treble hook from the thumb of an unfortunate angler that stumbled in while we were there. Full service indeed.
Our next stop was at a little parking area on the banks of the Raritan’s South Branch. As Rich and I, along with his young daughter, got geared up I soaked in the beauty of the stream and gave thanks for the chance to enjoy such a special place.
|Me at the Split Rock Pool|
|Rich working the Measuring Pool|