South Branch, Raritan River
by Bob Rancan
November 26, 2022
Another fine day, another trip to the South Branch of the Raritan, another low-water paddle. Although it was late November, temperatures returned to the low fifties and the sun was out most of the short day. Some wind kicked up later in the afternoon but there was nothing to complain about. Rain earlier in the week had brought the river up a bit but by Saturday, it was down to a lower level of 2.47, 90.5 cfs. When we have that little water it's wise to do the last miles of the South Branch, almost to the confluence.
We met at the take-out at Studdiford Road in South Branch, moved some boats to other cars and drove upstream to Three Bridges. The paddling itself was uneventful, with a nice lunch stop near the mouth of the Neshanic. There was enough flow to run the broken mill dam at Neshanic Station and I believe everyone found a path through the rocks without getting hung up. I had done this stretch a couple of weeks before on a rainy day and had 6-7 Bald Eagles, an Osprey, 2-3 Red Tails and a whole bunch of Belted Kingfishers. Many Kingfishers were still around, as were the usual numbers of Great Blue Herons, but apart from a Red Tail or two, there wasn't much action. Of course, there were lots of smaller birds darting along the banks but while paddling along on a gray Fall day, it's very hard to do identification.
Thanks to the group: Alex Trotta, Asa Rennermalm, Mike Capizzi, Chris Meyers, John and Linda Yeager, Phillip Molzer and Fuchun Chu.