Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Sweet Fifteen

My Ranger Cherokee in her youth
I have heard all the sayings….”the happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys it and the day he sells it”……”B O A T means Break Out Another Thousand”…. and of  course there was Rosanne Rosanna Danna’s description of her boat, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another, it’s always something!”. I have had my share of issues, no doubt. I have had the Merc’s lower unit replaced three times due to close encounters with submerged geologic formations (thank you marine insurance!). I have taken the boat to the ramp, launched it and re-trailered it on a number of occasions due to its inability to start. I have navigated my way back to the ramp under electric trolling power when the Merc wouldn’t start. But for fifteen years, my aluminum hulled Ranger Cherokee, 60 HP Mercury and Minn Kota Trolling motor Team have easily tipped the scale towards great fun vs. maintanence headaches. I have boated countless largemouth, smallmouth, northern pike, and walleye. My sons have caught many firsts onboard and I reeled in both my first striped bass and first muskie. My boat has taken me fishing on a wide variety of US waterways and even explored a number of different lakes and rivers in Canada. My niece Claudia caught her first fish on board and my granddaughter Macie will soon take her first spin with crazy fishing Grandpa(new pink life jacket with butterflies is waiting for her).

So, Happy Birthday Sweet Fifteen (thanks Neil Sedaka, and yes, I know it’s Sixteen in the song). For her 15th birthday, I bought a new  cover and applied two  new blue iBass360 vinyl decals to her sides. On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend we began our 16th fishing season where the first one began, at the Byram Ramp on the Delaware River. By some miracle I  remembered to put in the plug, charge the batteries, make sure the kill switch was set in the ON position, pumped the fuel line ball and advance the throttle out of gear and with just the right balance of prayer and luck she turned over on the first try.  I hit all my spots from the ramp up river to the rapids beyond the ruins of the Point Pleasant bridge- a victim of the great flood of 1955. No luck with the fish but I was just happy to be on the water and happy to have everything working well.

Rob Zorn, Co-founder iBass360
I worry about the Wild & Scenic Delaware. The numbers on smallies has been off the past few years and the water levels were very low. I know we have not had a lot of rain but I also think the NY reservoir system with all their dams on the feeder creeks and rivers keep the water levels too low to feed the thirsty city and suburbs.  Memorial Day, Rob Zorn, co-founder of iBass360, and I launched at the Frenchtown ramp for a day of fishing. Given how low the river appeared in the Byram area the previous day, I knew we would need to make a one way trip in order to maximize the water we could fish. Even with a jet boat I doubt I could have gotten back up river trough the many boulder-strewn rapids in the section from Frenchtown to Byram. We had a good time on the skinny water. It was definitely not Rob’s cup of tea as he is more of a power fisherman who really enjoys flipping.

In the initial section, I caught a walleye and a carp on a green/gold Rapala Rippin Rap but no bass, not even in the deeper holes. As we progressed down river, I switched back and forth between a gold #3 Mepps XD and Rapala fire tiger rattlin’ rap, two patterns that historically bring good results. I managed a few short bass and even caught a rainbow trout. Rob got a bass as well but it was basically a blue bird day the didn’t offer up many fish. We laughed as we bounced over the rocks and eeked through the very shallow (not even sure my ankles would have gotten wet) sections.  Hopefully we will see some rain soon and get the water levels up. It was a lot like fishing on Labor Day weekend after a dry summer rather than Memorial Day.

The lack of fish did not dampen the enjoyment of what really is a beautiful section of the River, and best of all, the boat performed well- even managing to power up stream in some fairly fast moving water with the Minnekota to  retrieve Rob’s snags.  I hope the boat luck continues for the rest of the season (I am knocking loudly on wood!) and the fishing luck improves. 

Nationally designated Wild & Scenic Delaware River
Memorial Day 2015

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