Posts Tagged The Bronx

Tippets and Tibbetts

Tippets and Tibbetts . . .


Tibbetts Brook (06 2015)

Tibbetts Brook
(06 2015)


George Tippett, a colonial loyalist, lost his land where a major skirmish in alliance with native tribes was waged against the British crown during the American Revolution. The battle was lost, the war was won. The outcome turned the land over and again, a name alteration emerged into a new standard, and land acquisition through marriage came to Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

Tibbetts Brook flows, rather meanders, meanders down through a forested vein in The Bronx. Two parks: Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt, give the northern frontier of New York City freshwater fishing as close as the salt of the Hudson River where the striped bass swims.

Water Lily, Spatterdock, and sediment flats offer a few fit and fat Centrarchidae with an appetite. Females, finished doing duty and ready for a meal, make up the bulk of the menu in June. Scattered few have fallen for a kebari. Others have been and may be in future flushed by frisky waterfowl or a passing cyclist if one pauses to inquires “How’s the fishing?” or “Catch any?” The most polite individual encountered, the one I ally with, is instead the semiaquatic genus Ondontra. The only one of its kind, the Muskrat deserves a most elevated status for its humble, pleasant nature and mild, herbivorous ways.

Calm water, or perhaps rippled from a sustained breeze, both enjoy the presence of the solitary bass of several pounds lurking below. Patterns may take the form of a size 6 Green Guarantee streamer or perhaps a kebari of a different kind, such as the foam Panfish Spider. Experiments on the latter pattern using all game feather and fur remain ongoing and make for awesome time at the vise.

Tippet, here in 2015, takes the form of three to six feet of 4x monofilament knotted to a twelve foot Level Line or Traditional Tapered Line. The less opaque Level Line makes a better choice in skinny water and finds itself used more often for this fly fishing. The line and leader formula gives a surging bass of three pounds sporting opportunity to break free into cover. Fishes with a face full of weed can come with this territory, making a stiffer 7/3 flex like that of the Tenkara USA Yamame rod a prudent choice.

Fights are fun, and fishes landed by bending rod and body in the protracted wrestle strike the profile of a true football. Nerf nerds might appreciate a comparison in the mix as well. A female, long and muscled, at this time of year will feel deflated and seem somewhat airy next to an earlier one heavy with eggs, the kind of bass an angler with a soul let rest, as she is best then left alone.

Aggressive females: the after party is a second story. Hungry, collected, they strike if presented a morsel of opportunity during a cruise in open water. A big girl emerges from cover with a slow, confident pulse that excites. Casting form may suffer from adrenaline jitters unless absolute focus is maintained.

The female Largemouth Bass now wants to bite, to pounce on prey lingering too far from a green algae mat or lily pad or stand of pickerel weed. The pond permit, the Bluegill, shares the pattern. Olive and silver in tone with distinct vertical bars, the ladies inhale a fly, hold it in mouth often without the hook penetrating, making release easy if forceps have been brought along.


Aggressive Female Bluegill (06 2015)

Aggressive Female Bluegill
(06 2015)


Meanwhile, male Centrachidae are too busy to bite. Young bucks are swift, nimble, and chase instead of take. Try your best. The men are interested in pushing you away, not pulling. Noses nudge a fly pattern along, far away from nests full of fry, far from from a potential hook set. Smart behavior expressed by strong fish.

From bottom to top, from end to end, full fishing reportage takes at minimum a full day to cover. The explorer angler’s hike, jog, or bike best includes some time in between to stop and read the informative historical markers and enjoy the wildflowers. Tippett’s land has changed, as has the legacy of his name. Still, scattered spots along this namesake brook in the Bronx may offer encounter with the kind of Largemouth Bass that can begin and end a memorable day in one respectable cast.


A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top. (06 2015)

A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top.
(06 2015)

– rPs 06 12 2015

Postscript: In Memory of Andrew Victor Amici, United States Navy, 1950-2015

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Grand Slam in The Bronx

Grand Slam in The Bronx . . .

Welcome to The Bronx! (photo taken 09 11 2012)

Just one of the five boroughs of New York City is situated on the mainland of the United States. The Bronx holds this distinction as well as a somewhat checkered reputation. Crime reports often vie for headlines beside the successes of its favorite sons: the New York Yankees.

The borough has its more quiet, bucolic, and unspoiled corners out of the media spotlight. Of these, Van Cortlandt Park is perhaps The Bronx at its best: 1,146 acres of green space, including the nation’s first public golf course and a freshwater lake that sustains black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.

I paid two visits to the park this September. A leisurely ride to the end of the 1 train’s line leaves one off at 242nd Street. From there I hiked in about five minutes under a canopy of sweetgum and oak trees, through a short wetland trail, to the western shore of Van Cortlandt Lake. Fed by Tibbett’s Brook, a meandering flow full of lily pads, the lake was formed when this waterway was dammed by Frederick Van Cortlandt, son of Jacobus Van Cortlandt, in 1699. The surrounding park, once a mix of uncut forest and grain fields, was sold by the family to the City of New York in 1888. The fields became parade grounds, a public golf course opened in 1895, and the lake, long and narrow, remained a prominent geographical fixture for surrounding trails popular with cross-country runners.

The sign points the way . . . (photo taken 09 25 2012)

This month I fished the lake’s edges and discovered the joys of tenkara in the lily pads. Casting a fly-tipped tenkara level line provides much greater accuracy and fewer snags (and lost patterns) than a conventional fly rod matched with floating fly line. The reason, as I perceive it, is that a long rod and short line offers more control and less room for error than a short rod and long line. The spaces between the pads are usually tight and overhanging tree cover is often present. Tenkara threads the eye of this needle with a combination of less line, less extraneous motion.

As I fished, I could tell I was on the right path here. I spotted a great blue heron, a green heron, a great egret, and a kingfisher all at work. My feathers were bound to a hook, but in the presence of these well-preened anglers, I knew fish had to be present.

The end result of my exploration and experimentation drew me back to baseball. As the Bronx Bombers continued to race the Baltimore Orioles for sole possession of first place in the eastern division of the American League, I enjoyed my own fall classic in the form of an angling version of the grand slam – a four species outing – including:

Black Crappie . . .

(photo taken 09 25 2012)

Bluegill . . .

(photo taken 09 25 2012)

Largemouth Bass . . .

(photo taken 09 25 2012)

. . . and Yellow Perch. To my frustration, just as with the golden shiner at Harlem Meer earlier in the year, I failed to seal the deal with a photo of the perch. Fish photography, while angling solo, remains a challenge for this tenkara advocate. I admit I still need work on the second leg of the “Catch, Photo, and Release” tripod, but I have covered the four bases, the four game fish of Van Cortlandt Lake, thanks, in large part, to tenkara.

An egret urban angler. (photo taken 09 25 2012)

– rPs 09 29 2012

Postscript: To learn more about the history and ecology of Van Cortlandt Park, visit the website of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy by following this link:

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