There is only one explanation as to why a variety of cars and trucks were seen parked along the sides of Berkshire Valley Road Saturday – trout season.
Fishermen of all ages could be seen standing shoulder-to-shoulder, thigh-high in the frigid waters of the Rockaway River just east of Rt. 15 in Jefferson.
Oak Ridge resident John Lewis spent the morning in the river with his grandson. In the water at exactly 8 AM, the official start time, they caught their limit in just over an hour and despite the bright sun and blue skies, decided to call it a day.
“I’m freezing,” said Lewis. “My hands are cold, my feet are cold. Lets go home.”
The fifteen or so guys Lewis left behind in the river just under the bridge near Taylor Road were all happily still snapping their lines into the river as he and his grandson headed to their car.
On Lake Hopatcong the fishing wasn’t so easy though.
Pete Cusick, on his boat deep in Hurd Cove said the only thing he’d hooked all day was a couple of crappies. Trolling the lake from Dow’s Live Bait shop north, Cusick, a Lake Forest resident, said he talked to about 10 other guys on the lake and not one of them had caught a trout let alone had a hint of a nibble. Cusick has been fishing for about 58 years, he said, about 13 on Lake Hopatcong.
But if you asked brothers Billy and Evan Callis, Oak Ridge residents, the fishing on Lake Hopatcong was great.
Standing along the rocky shoreline near Brady Bridge, each brother caught a trout about 10 minutes apart, all with the help of their family friend Ted Gallis from South Plainfield. After Evan hooked his trout, his first catch ever Gallis encouraged him to kiss the fish, a fisherman’s tradition, before throwing it back into the lake. Evan, however, would have nothing to do with touching it, let alone kissing it. Gallis took matters into his own hands, giving the fish a peck then tossing it back into the lake.
Craig Montgomery and Artie Vitale, both from Union county, were trolling under Brady Bridge when they were asked if they were having a good day of fishing and if they expected to catch anything.
“Every time I come out, I expect to catch something,” said Vitale who had their boat in the water by 7:30 AM. “But today we are not catching anything,” he added.
Ken Adams, from Morris Township, took his nine-year-old grandson, Dean Filippone, from Madison, out to the Paulinskill River, but with no luck.
“We were driving home and passing by the lake so I thought, why not stop and so a little fishing here,” said Adams.
David Gedicke, owner of Lake's End Marina, said there was a "steady stream" of fishermen coming into his shop Saturday but by mid morning, none had returned with a fishing report, or with any fish.
James Daly, from Wharton, casts his line in the Rockaway River along Berkshire Valley Road near Taylor Road.
The Berkshire Valley Road bridge over the Rockaway River proved to be a nice location to fish on the opening day of trout season.
Craig Montgomery and Artie Vitale fish in open water near Brady Bridge.
Evan Callis from Oak Ridge, right, with his first catch. He is learning to fish from family friend Ted Gallis, left.
Dean Filippone, 9, from Madison, fishes off a dock near Brady Bridge.
Fishermen troll the lake near Lake's End Marina.
A lone fisherman trolls the lake in Hurd Cove. Pete Cusick fishing from his boat in Hurd Cove.