Pike & Muskie Fishing photo

How many times have you or one of your buddies said something to this effect: I hear there’s good INSERT SPECIES HERE fishing over at INSERT BODY OF WATER HERE. We should go check that out one of these days. Now, how often does the day you actually go come? When you have limited time to fish on weekends, or skip out on work here and there, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of trips to unfamiliar places and opt for the waters you know well. I’m just as guilty of doing it, but I was reminded last week how important it is to roll the dice every once in a while, because you’re bound to learn one of two things. Either you’ll know never to try it again, or you’ll discover something worth revisiting. In my case, I found a pretty great northern pike fly fishery close to home.


I had been hearing about pike stockings in New Jersey’s Passaic River for years, but had no idea where to find access points, or even whether there were enough pike in there to make it a viable fishery. This winter, while sitting at a bar with friend and guide Joe Demalderis, he let it slip that he’s been toying with a Passaic pike exploration as well. Four months later, we found ourselves driving 2 hours to a stretch of river we weren’t even sure would have a sufficient launch for Joe’s drift boat or be navigable once we got underway. We just decided to go instead of talking about it, and whatever happened happened.

What happened was we wasted the first few hours looking for a launch, but we eventually found one right next to what I’m certain was a meth lab in a full production run. The owner of what I’m sure was a meth lab kindly told us we wouldn’t have any problems parking and launching at this spot–he seemed trustworthy–and off we went, rowing up the meandering, chemical-filled Passaic.

By the end of the day, Joe and I couldn’t get over how many pike we turned on flies, and we both agreed we need to get back there and do it again soon. If we had kept debating the launching issue over the phone and scouring Google Maps trying to figure out if the float was even feasible, we may never have gone.