Tenkara Trip Reports Trout & Char

Discovering New Jersey’s Wild Gems

Trip Report by Jack Rinderer

When Spring starts to rise, the trout also start to rise. Here in New Jersey many people would never think that a beautiful trout stream exists. So, on a warm March day I went out on an adventure to one of New Jersey’s small wild trout streams to see what it had to offer.

I decided to go to Dunnfield Creek, the wild trout stream that offers brown and brook trout. It is a well-known tributary of the Delaware River, similar to Brodhead creek in Pennsylvania. Hot summer days will have crowds of hikers, but during this time of year few people will be here.

New Jersey Wild Trout - Jack Rinderer - Tenkara Angler - Dunnfield Creek
Fall day at Dunnfield Creek

Following a long drive to the Delaware Water Gap, I arrived at my destination. A quick look at the stream near the parking lot revealed that a 9-foot 5 weight fly rod wasn’t going to be my weapon of choice. The stream has many trees overhead that would make fly casting more difficult. Many people would say this stream is too small to hold trout, but I was eager to find a wild brown trout in my home state of New Jersey. I decided that a 12 foot and a 5-foot tenkara rod with a black sakasa kebari was going to be perfect for the situation. It would allow me to drop my fly right down in the deep pockets of water and let them drift.

I started the hike to better understand this beautiful stream. The Dunnfield Creek trail follows the stream all the way up to Sunfish Pond. Many anglers will fish above the main waterfall for a greater chance to catch a brook trout. Once I got to the bridge with the small waterfall, I began to set up my rod. With each section taken out, lined up, and secured I added my 12-foot line with 4 feet of tippet. Fighting back my shaking hands of excitement, I tied an improved clinch knot to a size 14 black sakasa kebari. I was ready to fish! I began casting my fly into the deep pockets that this stream is known for, moving upstream in hopes to catch a little gem.

Pools like this could possibly hold a wild New Jersey brown trout

I was happy to discover a neat little run with some rock formations and deep pockets. I began to toss my fly right behind each rock while I worked my way up. Before I knew it, a little brown trout came up and took my fly. He tried his hardest to push back but armed with a long rod I was able to quickly defeat him. I quickly swung him into my net. After a few quick pictures he was already back into his habitat.

New Jersey Wild Trout - Jack Rinderer - Tenkara Angler - Brown Trout
Little wild brown trout

I casted a few more times with no luck, doubting that there were any more trout in that run. Being that my time was limited, I knew that I would only be able to fish one more pool. I continued on my hike and found a new section with rushing water that had a steep drop off into a pool. These are perfect for larger wild trout to gain control of and feed in. With a simple upstream cast into the deep pocket, I immediately felt a big tug on my lightweight tenkara rod. The fish began to swim deeper and deeper. While adding side pressure I brought him to the surface of the water and netted him. I was in awe looking at the colors of this fish. The bright yellow body with red dots is something I have never seen for myself in stocked brown trout.

New Jersey Wild Trout - Jack Rinderer - Tenkara Angler - Brown Trout Sakasa
Wild brown trout caught on a black sakasa kebari fly

On the hike back to the parking lot where the stream meets the Delaware River, I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery before sunset. The rushing sound of water flowing down over the many waterfalls will always be something to remember about this stream. Before the sky was dark, I made it back to the parking lot and put my thoughts together. I really appreciated having made such a fun, cold water wild trout discovery in the state of New Jersey. From saltwater fishing off of a boat to finding these little gems by foot, New Jersey is an amazing state despite what people say.

Jack Rinderer is an up-and-coming fly angler that is born and raised in New Jersey. Follow his experiences and advice for others to locate and access the many species that New Jersey has to offer through his blog NJ Fly Angler and its associated Instagram account.

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