Our schedules had been nuts, so my bassin buddy Joe and I decided that a day of hookey was in order. It’s no secret that for the past few years the springtime bass fishing in the back end of Raritan Bay has become nothing short of spectacular. The waters at this time of year can be a bit muddy from the spring runoff and ahem, other things. In any case, we know exactly where we were going and why.
Joe offered up his smaller center console boat and I jumped at the opportunity to leave my boat, and the labor associated with it, behind.
We launched out of the newly rebuilt Sayreville launch ramp. FYI- It’s got everything, lighting, parking, porta potti, boats wash down faucets, even a quaint gazebo with a great view of the landfill(s). They hit you up for $20 for the right to enter the water (more about this painful topic coming soon) if you are not a resident, $10 bucks if you are. Cracks me up that they get away with charging a jet ski $30… I would have liked to have been at the town board meeting for that decision for the entertainment value alone.
Anyway, all the other boating anglers promptly headed east out to the bay, but we think we know better and decide to go the other direction, west, upriver. Not that I am a purist, but as a light tackle fishing guide I promote angling with only artificial lures/flies and of course catch and release. This means No bait and No trolling for me. Normally we use a fly rod, or really light casting tackle.
But in the spring, you have to change up if you want to cash in on the big fish bonanza. You almost have to use a live or fresh dead bunker to hook a trophy size bass. Sure, by chance you could get a 40 pounder to inhale a fly, but with all these yummy bunker around it’s a stretch at best.
We drop anchor (another thing us light tackle guys rarely do) at this bend in the river that Joe says holds bass. It’s a deep hole in fact, about 18 feet. For those of you that don’t know the raritan river, this is a deep spot compared to the rest of the river.
We reach into the live well and pluck out two, one foot long menhaden, hook em up and drop em down. We both know that there are absolutely giant bass swimming down there and I have to admit, I was excited at the prospect.
There we sit. Drowning our one pound baitfish in the murky waters of the Raritan. Although Joe and I have been fishing these waters for years we have subconsciously agreed that the fishing in the river far surpasses the environmental history of the river, so we never mention anything. We always joke however, about how the polluted past of the river protects the exploitation of the incredible fishing and keeps the crowds away.
A moment or two goes by and I just can’t resist. As I look out over the transom, I blurt “Will you please look at where we are fishing?”, that’s the freekin backdoor of the Middlesex County Utilities Authority pump station. It was at this very spot 5 years ago the 10 foot wide pipe failed and 500 million (probably more) gallons of raw sewage came out of this plant and completely flooded this part of Sayreville.
Geysers of raw sewage shot up into the air, flooded the streets, basements, lawns and yards.
After that it rained really, really hard as well. We all know what happens when it rains. All of this crap wound up right in the river and subsequently flowed right into Raritan bay, Sandy Hook, Navesink, Shrewsbury etc.
I continued my rant… I don’t think we could we have ordered up more EPA superfund sites if we tried! In fact I would defy anybody, anywhere in the entire US of A to beat our surroundings. I do a 360 in the boat announcing what I see…. Dupont paint & chemical, National Lead, Raritan Arsenal, Kin Buc landfill, Edgeboro Landfill, Sayreville landfill and pesticide dump the list goes on and on. We were at the epicenter of it all.
We both knew about all this stuff but never talked about it. That seems to be just the way it is. Don’t talk about it. Don’t do anything about it. Over time, things just seem to settle in the mud and disappear, right?
In fact there are more that 200 contaminated sites that border the river but nobody cares, nobody remembers and we even build houses right next to and on top of all these sites. Little Sayreville kids are playing with dogs in the contaminated yards in the new waterfront homes that overlook the superfund sites.The lawns are really green.The high tension wires crackle overhead.
The ospreys are happy eating the contaminated bunker, the Great Blue herons are eating all the toxic spearing and grass shrimp. The phragmites that line the river are working triple secret overtime to filter out all of the toxins and heavy metals.
The Striped Bass don’t care either, for next spring they will migrate back up the Raritan and spawn in the freshwater part of the river that the Union Carbide waste filled the river with carcinogens back in the 70’s. Let us be sure to remember that as the river waters warm all of these fish will migrate out and beyond Raritan bay, and then onto the table they will go, contaminating us all.
Nope, we didn’t get any giant bass that day, but we did catch some big bluefish and we released them just as we would have done with the bass. When we were done fishin, I pulled up the anchor it was covered in a nasty black substance that didn’t even resemble mud.
I wouldn’t dare touch it.