I recently caught up with Paul to learn more about the newest Smoke Rise Club.
Paul Ramirez and The Smoke Rise Fishing Club
C.B.: Paul, tell me about yourself; what you do, how long you've lived in Smoke Rise & Kinnelon and why you moved here.
Paul: I am 38 years old with three children - Julia 10, Susie 9 and John 7 - and married to Tonia. I am self employed in a printing and marketing business name Barrington Press located in Paramus, NJ. We moved to Smoke Rise 5 years ago from Bergen County. We were looking for a more rural setting with access to all the benefits of the metro area. Since we both work locally (Tonia is a teacher in Ramsey), the commute was reasonable and the setting was spectacular. It was (and still is) quite an adjustment.
C.B.: What do you love most about Smoke Rise & Kinnelon?
Paul: I love the fact that I feel like I am on vacation every time I pull into my driveway. It's great to come home to that. I love the setting and the wildlife that comes with it.
C.B.: Why did you start the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?
Paul: I didn't start the Smoke Rise Fishing Club alone. It was a joint effort from 7 people. We all liked to fish, boat and enjoy the lake.
There were a few main reasons for starting the club. One was to sponsor events that would be open to the club and attract more people to the club. All of the members became friends through a common interest in fishing. We hope to attract more people and in turn more friends. We also want our children to become interested in fishing.
The Smoke Rise Fishing Club wants to increase the number and quality of fish currently being stocked. We would like to work with the Smoke Rise Lake & Environmental Board to purchase additional fish to stock in the lake.
One of the projects we would like to see most is the construction of a fishing structure near the boat docks that would contain lockers and storage so members could stow their gear and equipment for convenience and security. This would be funded through the Smoke Rise Fishing Club.
C.B.: What would you like to do or see happen with the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?
Paul: We would like people to get involved and get out and fish. We welcome beginners to experts. We're willing to teach and we're constantly looking to learn new tricks. We are hoping it becomes one of the strongest clubs in Smoke Rise, known for its friendly members and great events. Of course we would like to see our structure built as well to give us the storage we need.
C.B.: Paul, have you always been interested in fishing? What kind?
Paul: I've always loved to fish. I would spend hours as a kid fishing whether I caught anything or not. I have been primarily a freshwater fisherman my whole life fishing for trout and bass, but I love to saltwater fish as well.
C.B.: What's the nitty gritty on becoming a member of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?
Paul: Membership is limited to Smoke Rise residents only. You can become a member by filling out our application for membership on our website and paying the annual dues of $50.00. The money goes towards annual events, seminars and stocking the lake.
We currently have 7 members and 4 who just filled out our application to become new members.
We meet the 4th Thursday of every month at the Smoke Rise Village Inn at 8pm. All are welcome.
C.B.: Talk to me about ice fishing...
Paul: First of all you need safe ice that is at least 4" thick.
For equipment you need an ice auger to drill holes in the ice and an ice skimmer to clear the hole from ice and slush. The auger is required to cut a circular hole in the ice. Power augers are sometimes used. A skimmer is used to remove new ice as it forms and to clear slush left from making the hole.
There are two ways we ice fish. We jig for fish with small fishing rods and use brightly colored lures or jigs tipped with bait such as wax worms or minnows. We also use tip-ups, which use a line attached to a spool that triggers a flag that "tips up" when a strike occurs and lets us know there is a fish on. We bait our hooks with live minnows, set them to the correct depth through the hole and then set the flags. Then we wait for a flag to go off pull the fish in by hand.
C.B.: Are there areas on Lake Kinnelon that you wouldn't go ice fishing on because of the fresh springs feeding the lake?
Paul: We have been on all areas of the lake and yes, you need to be aware of springs. I think the key is never go alone, don't all walk together, bring a long length of rope and ice picks in case you do fall in. You really need to ice fish with someone you can rely on. It's very safe if you use the proper caution.
We stop fishing when the ice gets too thin. We drill test holes as we walk out and measure the thickness.
C.B.: What's the biggest fish you've caught in Lake Kinnelon?
Paul: The biggest fish I've caught in Lake Kinnelon is a 10 lb catfish and a 5 lb largemouth bass. Other members in the club have caught very large fish as well. One member caught a 9lb Walleye and my son caught a catfish just shy of 13 lbs.
We let the catfish go. It has been our experience that the smaller fish taste better than the bigger ones.
C.B.: What other fish have you caught in Lake Kinnelon? Where and how did you catch them?
Paul: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Pickerel, Walleye, Catfish, Perch and Crappie. We catch all these fish year round. We all have our special spots that will remain a secret but most people use artificial worms, topwater lures or spinnerbaits when they fish. You can catch fish with anything on any given day.
[Learn more about these and other fish in the "Our Lake" section of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club website.]
C.B.: Where else have you fished in Kinnelon?
Paul: I have fished the Pequannock River by the North Gate of Smoke Rise, New Pond, Split Rock Reservoir (Kinnelon?) and Fayson Lakes.
C.B.: Any last thoughts?
Paul: No, we just love to fish. I really don't want to take credit for starting the club. I was just one piece of the puzzle. Tom Braden is the captain of the club. He was really instrumental is starting the club and was the one who drafted the charter and layed the groundwork. I just get more exposure as I am in charge of communications, web, printing, etc. and get the most press.
Here is a group photo of the original 7 who formed the Smoke Rise Fishing Club: from left to right: Dan Manoogian, Dylan Altieri, John Roberts, Tom Braden, Paul Ramirez, Mike Iozzi, and Bob Davis.
Congratulations, Paul, to you and the rest of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club and thank you for sharing all of this information!
Do check out the Smoke Rise Fishing Club website, which includes a photo gallery. Become a Facebook fan or follow the club on Twitter.
NOTE: The images above are courtesy of Paul Ramirez. They cannot be used or reproduced without permission and attribution.