It's Bunny Time
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, November 20,014
One of the pleasures of the month of November for outdoor people is the
advent of small game season. Pheasants, quail, rabbits and all kinds of
delightful table treats are up for grabs as shotgunners take to the
fields. The sound of a good beagle in a thicket on the scent of rabbit
is music to the small game hunters ears. So here are some tips on
pursuing that rascally rabbit.
Rabbits can present a real challenge to the hunter. With powerful back
legs, a rabbit can really turn on the juice when it’s get out of Dodge
time. Combined with good agility and the fact that he lives where you
are doing the hunting, a rabbit can really disappear quickly. Rabbits
never run in a straight line and hop from side to side in short spurts.
They also have pretty good stamina, and much like the energizer bunny
they can keep going and going until they are out of danger. They are
also very alert critters, with acute hearing and very good eyesight, and
are usually very aware of their surroundings, this makes stealth a
valuable asset when hunting bunnies.
average rabbit hunters go stumbling through the thickets and fields
with no game plan other than kicking up anything the can and taking a
shot at the first bunny they happen to spot. A seasoned rabbit hunter on
the other hand knows that he should use his surroundings and tools such
as a good beagle or hound to put the odds in his favor. There is a good
reason a beagle always walks with his nose to the ground. Their acute
sense of smell and raging curiosity will keep them on the trail of
anything that smells like a meal and a rabbit is their natural target. A
good beagle will do the work for you. They will search for rabbits
through briars, thickets and bushes, following their scent until it
leads to their hiding spot all the while howling to let you know they
are on the scent.
Having a good beagle or several beagles is still no guarantee your going
to get a shot at some bunnies. Locating rabbits is no different than
any other kind of hunting. Comfort and food are two of the prime
ingredients. Comfort means cover from enemies and a safe resting place.
Dirt mounds, fallen trees, brush piles, over grown structures and
equipment, you name it rabbits will set up a nesting place in it.
Likewise these areas will be greatly enhanced when they are located near
a food source. That source can be anything that is green, farm fields,
fruit trees, berry bushes you name it they will eat it. Beagles will
through these areas no matter how rough the terrain is. In cold weather
look for the rabbits on open fields that have the sun on them,
especially if these places offer the rabbit a food sources.
When hunting with a beagle it is best to pick your shots. Never hunt
with more dogs than you can handle. If you are hunting with several
hunters and a pack of dogs, spread out so you can follow the dogs
howling and keep their high reaching tails in sight easier. If the dogs
chase up a rabbit, the rabbit will usually bolt away from the dogs for a
good distance and then stop and turn around to see if they are still on
the trail. This is one of your best shot opportunities as the rabbit is
stationary and away from the dogs.
If the dogs loose sight of the rabbit or loose it’s scent they will
usually circle around looking to re-acquire the scent, and that’s when
the will usually push the rabbit back in your direction.
If you are working the dogs in a brush pile, place a couple of hunters
outside in any open areas. Most often the dogs will flush the rabbits
out into the open and this is another excellent shooting opportunity.
Last but not least patience is a key to good rabbit hunting. More often
than not, once the dogs have picked up the scent of a rabbit, it’s best
to go real slow and allow the dogs to bring the rabbit to you. Knowing
when to move and when not to move often makes the difference in getting a
good shot or coming up empty.
It’s Time for Some Whitechin Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Anglers bottom fishing along the Jersey coats have enjoyed a good fall of sea bass, big slab porgies and in increasing numbers of nice tog. Most boat captains I speak with on a weekly basis say they are seeing some of the best numbers of good size whitechins along the inshore waters that they have seen in recent years. As of Sunday, November 16th the bag limit on blackfish goes up to 8 fish till the end of the year, and most sinker bouncers are looking forward to some good tog fishing to end the year. With fuel prices going down it’s time to take advantage of the good year ending fishing, barring any serious weather problems that is.
Capt. Chris Hueth of the Belmar based Mohawk III told me he can’t wait until the bag limit goes up and he can put some tog in coolers for anglers to take home. For the last month or more anglers have been able to take one legal size tog (14 inches) a day and most fishermen sailing on his boat have had no problem doing so. Chris said despite the plethora of New York boats that have been fishing for tog in New Jersey waters, the wrecks, snags and rough bottoms are loaded with blackfish. Most of the recent pools on the boat have been blackfish, some topping the 10-pound mark.
Increasing numbers of blackfish began showing up on the inshore wrecks and snags about the end of September and the numbers continued to build through October and the first part of November. Most serious blackfishermen consider green crabs and white leg crabs to be the best baits for tog and most party boats are now carrying both. Boats sailing for tog usually sail 3/4-day, and while it’s wise to pack a lunch, many boats have galleys to accommodate fishermen with hot and cold food.
If you are planing to do some blackfishing there are some things you will need. A conventional rod and reel combination are preferred, and you should choose one of 6 to 7-foot in length that combines a soft tip, to detect the light hits, and enough backbone to enable you set the hook quickly and deal with the snags and depths you will be fishing. In the reel department some good choices are a Penn 209 or 309, or a Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 6500-3C packed with 30 or 40-pound mono. While I personally prefer 30-pound braided line, most party boats frown on the sue of braided line. When it comes to the hooks used for whitechins most seasoned tog fishermen prefer Virginia style bait holder blackfish hooks in sizes ranging from 2 to 3/0 preferred, along with bottom sinkers ranging from 4 to 10 ounces. Be sure to take a variety of weights so you can deal with the currents and depths which can vary. I have seen days when you started fishing with four ounces only to have the currents pick up and have to go to 8 or 10 ounces to get your baits down.
Capt. Steve Spinelli, who skippers the charter boat Skylarker and is one of the best tog charter boat captains along the coast, advises anglers to keep their rigs simple. A sinker attached to the bottom of your line along with one or two hooks snelled on a stiff leader to keep them from getting tangled is about all you need. Fishing for blackfish is a lot different from fishing for sea bass, ling or porgies. Most boats that fish for tog will use a double anchor system to hold their boat right over the wreck or piece of rough bottom they are fishing. Instead of bouncing your sinker up and down off the bottom like your would do for sea bass or ling, it’s best to allow the sinker to go to the bottom and try and hold it in one place.
Blackfish will use their buck teeth to break the crab shell on the first hit. So it’s best to await the second hit when they go after the meat of the crab to set the hook. Once you have hooked the tog it’s best to use the backbone of your rod to reel the fish up off the bottom and away from the wreck as quickly as possible. Once you have the fish in the open water there is a less likelihood of getting the fish tangled up in the wreck and losing the fish.
Blackfish make for some tasty filets, so if you want to put some fish I the freezer for the winter, now’s the time to get in on the tog fishing.
Party Boats Sailing for Tog
Belmar: Mohawk III, Capt. Chris Heuth- 732-974-9606; Ocean Explorer- Capt. Bob Quinn- 848-565-0519; Capt. Cal, Capt. Ron Kish- 732-977-2020 and Royal Miss Belmar, Capt. Al Shinn- 732-681-6866.
Brielle: Paramount, Capt. Francis Bogan-732-528-2117 and Jamaica II, Capt. Joe Bogan- 732-528-5014.
Point Pleasant: Norma K III- 732-899-8868.
Charter Boats Sailing for Tog
Skylarker II, Capt. Steve Spinelli- 732-309-7689lAST Lady, Capt. Ralph Leyrer-(732-988-8907) .
Five Tips for Autumn Largemouth
By J.B. Kasper
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Like everything else this years fall bass fishing is several weeks late. Water temps are finally down in the 50s and the lakes and ponds have finally turned over and the fall feed is in full swing. Shorter days, cooler nights and good fishing that's what fall is all about as the bass fatten up for the coming cold water season. The nice about it is there is also less fishermen fishing. Many are hunting and many have also packed away their gear for the season. Most fishermen simply don’t know how good the fishing can be when the water temps are between 40 and 55 degrees, especially if you know how to fish the cooler water. So lets take a look a some of the tricks and methods that will put you into the knock down action that can have you as the seasons change.
If I had to pick one condition that annually produces excellent catches of bass on a consistent basis it would have to be the patches of vegetation that are left as the weed beds die out in the fall. During the warm water season the largemouth live and feed in the weed beds in most waters. The main reason for this is that 75 percent of the lakes in the state are shallow in nature. It's true that the state does have some bigger bodies of water with depths in access of 25-feet however even these had plenty of shallow areas where the vegetation gets heavy during the summer months. Weed beds have all the ingredients that a bass needs: shade, food, oxygen are all in abundance in the weed beds during the warm waters season. As the seasons began to change, these weed beds began dying out and bass relate to the remnants of vegetation that are left.
Early morning and late afternoon hours will find some good action in these areas on floating minnow plugs, such as Rapalas, Bombers, etc. and spinnerbaits. During the mid day hours working worms and other plastic baits will give you some good results. The later in the year it gets the more prominent the use of shiners and other types of minnows will get. Some of the best fishing is on good size shiners live-lined around the edges of these weed patches.
Fish Slow and Steady
Controlling the speed at which your lure is retrieved is one of the most important elements in late season fishing. A simple rule to follow is the cooler the water gets the slower your retrieve should be. Unlike the summer months when the bass are active and will react to a fast erratic retrieve, the cooler waters of the fall will trigger a slower response. This makes a slow, steady retrieve a better choice. Even the forage fish will be moving around at a slower pace and you'll need a lower retrieve and a lure that has a less vibrant action to imitate this slower life style.
Jigs and their many combinations are some of the best lures for fishing slow and precise. One of the top spots for them is along the drop-offs that are found close to the decaying weed beds. Once the vegetation begins to really thin out the bass will retreat to these drop-offs and hold there making an occasional foray into the leftover weed patches and shallows to feed. If and when you do locate some bass holding in these areas, position your boat over top of them and lower your jig combination down into the fish. Then work them with a slow precise motion. Some anglers will hold their rods against the gunnels of their boats on a windy day and allow the rocking of the boat to work their jigs while holding their boats over the bass. This is a trick from the crappie fisherman's book but it works well with bass, especially in the late season.
Thermocline Layers of Water
One of the most productive areas in a larger body of water during the autumn season are the thermocline layers of water that are trapped between the cool water on the top and the cold water on the bottom. Most often these layers of water are found along the side of a lake that has a steep bank and has the wind blowing up against it. The water is blown across the surface, hits the shoreline and is then pushed along the bottom. Bass that were holding along the drop-offs will then migrate into these warm layers of water off the drop-off.
The trick to taking the bass found here is to be able to locate the bass and then get your lure or bait down to the fish time after time. Slow trolling big bibbed crankbaits and swimming plugs, and jigging are the prime ways of taking the bass from the Thremoclines. One way of making sure that you get the lures down to the same depth time after time is to use a magic marker to mark your line at the length you want the plugs to run of the jigs to hold at. After locating the bass and getting your lures down to the fish take the magic marker and put a mark on your line and then the next time you put your lures in position release the line to the mark and your will achieve the same depth each time.
Use the Sun to Your Advantage
Many bass anglers think that the sun is their enemy the year around and nothing could be farther from the truth. During the changing seasons, spring and fall, the sun is one of your most valuable allies. After the sun, and in the case of the autumn the lack of it, is what brings about the change in seasons. The fall and spring season are quite similar as to how the sun effects the water. You can make the sun work to your advantage by fishing the portions of lake where shallow water is in the sun light for the longest part of the day. It's in these areas that the bass will be the most active. This is especially true when the shallow water also has a warm wind blowing up into it. Water temperatures can change in these areas by as much as five degrees or more and the bass can really turn on particularly during the first part of the autumn.
Spinnerbaits and in-line spinners are one of the favorite ways to take the bass found there. During the first part of the fall one of the best ways to take the bass here is to use a floating Rapala or other floating swimming plug. Casting the plug into the shallow water and very slowly retrieving it just under the surface can pick up the bass that are sunning themselves in the shallow water. Fin-S-Fish and Sluggos are also by many anglers to pry bass from these regions during the autumn.
Afternoons Are Often More Productive Then Mornings
Last but not least the time of day you do you are fishing can also make a big difference. During the autumn season water temperatures can rise and fall as much as 5 degrees or better between sunup and sundown. This can make all the difference between catching and not catching bass.
When ever you can, pick afternoons that have been sunny, warmer than normal and breezy. Likewise when you have had several days in a row that fit this description you can expect to see some better then average action as long as the water temperature doesn't drop below the 40-degree mark at night on a regular basis. Once down in the high 30s or low 40s it will take a lot more then a few warm days to get the fish active again.
There you have it a look at five things that can make a big difference in the number of bass you pick up during the changing autumn season. Methods and tackle are always dictated by the current conditions, and being flexible and taking advantage of the changing conditions of autumn is the key to the best fall fishing.
November Cool Weather and Good Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, October 29, 2014
October saltwater fishing was some of the poorest we saw in recent history with the sea bass fishing being closed most of the month and the striped bass fishing in limbo, anglers did not have much to catch. In Freshwater if you were live-lining you were catching bass and the fishing lasted right till the end of the month. So here is a look at what November should have in store for fishermen.
On the local scene lakes and ponds are low and water temps have finally dropped into a normal range for this time of the year and this should keep the live-lining good well into the month. Once the water temperatures start drop below 50 the key to fishing lakes and ponds will be the decaying vegetation. The later in the month the more you will want to concentrate your bass fishing around the remaining vegetation, especially in the afternoons when the water will be warmer, especially when a few warm days and breezy weather present themselves. Crappie fishermen are still seeing good early day fishing, however as the month progresses the better fishing in the late afternoons.
After a very poor summer for smallmouth on the river due to the virus problems of a couple years back, don’t look for too much smallmouth fishing in November. While fishing was better than the last couple of years it is still not anywhere near what it was before the disease hit the smallmouth population. On the upside the walleye fishing has been above average and once the water drops below the 50 degree mark the fishing should produce some good numbers. The low water we are seeing in the river will make the fishing tough and some rain will give the fishing a big boost. Worms and minnows will take the marbleyes early and late in the day, and just after dark in the bigger eddies and pools.
In the tidal river look for the bass and crappie fishing to be in the backwater coves with the top of the outgoing water to produce best, especially in the afternoons. Catfishing around the mouths of the tidal coves and streams has already started and should get better towards the middle of the month. Look for walleyes, a few smallies and largemouth, along with some stripers to be caught in the warm water discharge in the power plant as long as the are pumping water on a steady basis right into Thanksgiving.
Fishing for largemouth, while not as good as last year, has been decent and November should see decent largemouth fishing through out the state. Here too a lot will depend on the weather and how quick the waters cool down. Fishing live bait in the spillways has been good and should remain solid into Thanksgiving. Live-lining around the vegetation will be your top bet during as the month progresses. Once the water starts cooling down fishing, jigging minnows in the deeper water will give you better results especially in the bigger reservoirs and lakes.
Don’t look for too much in the way of smallmouth fishing in the state’s larger streams. Fishing was well below the norm in the streams this summer and early fall and water levels are low which makes for tough fall fishing. What smallies are going to be caught from the larger streams will be taken on jig-minnow combinations.
Smallmouth fishing in the state’s bigger lakes and reservoirs should be good with most of better smallmouth fishing being in the 20 to 30-foot water around the trees and rocky areas. Here too jig-minnow combinations will be your top producers. Look for some good fishing in the thermoclines later in the month. Top late season bets will be Round Valley, Merrill Creek, Lake Hopatcong and Split Rock Reservoir in the northern part of the state, as well as Lake Audrey and Union Lake in the lower part of the state, and Manasquan Reservoir along the coast.
The first reports on the fall trout stocking tell of low water conditions and fair fishing in most streams and lakes that were stocked. Because of the disease problems at the hatchery the state only stocked 25,000 one-year old fish in the streams and about 2,500 larger fish in the fall stocked lakes. A lot of these fish have already been caught as the smaller fish will hit as soon as they are stocked. However, very few anglers fished for the trout and there should be plenty of fish for fall fishermen. Shoreline fishing in Round Valley Reservoir has been good and should get better as the month progresses. Merrill Creek Reservoir is also a good bet for lakers and browns.
Pickerel fishing was good in October because of higher than normal water levels that were present most of the year and the fishing should only get better in November, especially in the south Jersey Pine Barrens. Most of the rains that moved up the coast in the last couple of week put more water in the lower part of the state and this is why water levels are good in the lower part of the state. Fishing should be very good on live bait right up to freeze up.
Crappie fishing has been excellent since the last week of August. September and October both saw excellent fishing and November is prime time. Barring any bad weather in November that would wreck water conditons, November should see some good fishing. Both local and state wide lakes are in decent shape for crappie fishing and catches have already be good in many waters. Look for tinny jig-plasticbait combinations and small minnows to be your top producers. Fishing will early and late in the day during the first part of the month and gradually shift to the mid day hours later in the month.
Good reports on the walleye fishing are already coming from Lake Hopatcong, Swartswood Lake, Greenwood Lake and Monksville Reservoir. Also look for some good northern pike fishing in Spruce Run, Budd Lake, the Passaic River and some good hybrid striper fishing in Lake Hopatcong and Spruce Run Reservoir. Some nice musky are also being caught in Lake Mercer.
The re-opening of the sea bass season on October 18 put some life back into the bottom fishing which was sparse during October because of a lack of fishermen. Porgies, tog and ling supplied the bulk of the fishing in October, however several party boats took a couple, of weeks off because of a lack of fishing and fishermen. Look for some very good tog fishing when the blackfish bag limit goes up on the 15th as there is plenty of fish along the inshore waters. There has also been some cod around and catches have been on the rise for the last several weeks, so look for some good cod fishing as well.
Anglers fishing offshore in between the weather problems have been into some very good tuna fishing, a mix of yellowfin, longfin, bigeye, mahi mahi and some nice swordfish. Here too water temps are still above normal for this time of the year, and this should keep the fishing good well into the month. Likewise long range bottom fishing is already picking up and several boats are planning on fishing the mid-range and offshore wrecks for cod, tilefish and pollock. However, there are only a few boats sailing offshore.
Striped bass fishing, which slow to get started this fall, turned hot this past week and some big fish are being caught in the northern part of the state in the surf and along the inshore waters. Look for the striped bass fishing to spread out along the coast in the next couple of weeks and because water temps are above normal for this time of the year, the fishing should be productive into the end of the year, barring any severe weather problems. The fall striper fishing is weather dependent and there is no question the run is late this year, making November prime time. If the right conditions present themselves and winds keep the bunker and other baitfish up against the beaches while the bass are migrating though our waters the fishing will be super. If this doesn’t occur most of the bass anglers will catch will be local smaller fish. In recent years the fall run stripers have been going well out to sea and around the New York Blight then come back in along the Jersey coast about mid way down the state. This fall the mullet and other baitfish have been hugging the beaches and this could make the difference in how November goes.
Bluefishing saw super in October with fish topping the 20 pound mark being caught in northern waters. In the last week or so those bigger fish have started to migrate south and wether or not the big blues once again make an appearance in the surf remains to be seen.
After a good fall for weakfish last year, this year fishing was back to poor. September and October produced very few fish, so don’t look for much in the way of weakfish this fall.
Bridges for Late Season Crappie
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Autumn is half over and we have just about two months left of the 2014 fishing season. However, if you are like me and want to get in every last day of fishing before the fall scenery and good fishing comes to an end and the holiday season is upon us, there are several spots that can produce fish right up to ice up and even after the ice starts to form. Crappies and panfish are still active and can give you some of the late season hour fishing in most waters. One place that holds fish through the fall and late in the season and even after the ice is forming elsewhere on a lake is around bridge pilings and bulkheads.
There are several reasons that bridges pilings and dock pilings are good places to look for late season fishing. First off deep water is usually found around them or close by them. In addition they often times are the only structure in a particular section of a lake. One of the main reasons however, is that they are usually located in areas where streams flow into a lake of at the headwaters of a lake, and are areas where crappies, perch and panfish move into in the late season. Plankton and aquatic insect life abounds in these areas and is usual carried by a streams current into a lake. This prime forage often settles into the deeper waters around a piling, or is trapped in an eddy that is created behind and close to the piling. Thus this gives crappies and other fish two of the basic ingredients of a late season holding spot, comfort and forage. It’s not uncommon to also find bass and other gamefish in these areas as well. So if you have a bridge, bulkhead or dock on a favorite lake dawn some warm clothes and grab your ultra-light tackle and get ready for some cold weather fun.
Jigging with hair jigs, tiny plasticbaits and other small lures is the best way of taking the crappies and other fish that are holding in these areas. Crappies, panfish and even bass when found in these areas in the late season are not feeding on large forage. Remember a fish’s metabolism, even in fish that prefer cold water, is slowed down. Since it takes them longer to digest their food, they are feeding on smaller forage. Likewise a lot of the larger forage is not present in these areas. So keep your jig combinations small in the 1/32, 1/64 or 1/80 ounce range. Fishing the tiny jigs that are so productive in these areas require that you use of ultra-light spinning tackle packed with two and four pound test. The light lines and tackle make for a better and more precise presentation, which translates into more hits and thus more fish.
There are two basic ways of presenting your jig combinations around the pilings. In most cases where you find the fish will dictate which one you use. Most times the crappies and other fish will be holding tight to the pilings or with in a few feet of them. The colder the water gets the closer to the pilings they will hold. If this is the case on the day you are fishing the best way to take them is to stand on the bridge or piling and lower your jig combinations right down along side of the pilings.
Crappies are often suspended in a certain layer of water at a certain depth. If there are perch or bluegills around they will most often be found under the crappies, usually right along the bottom. This means when you are in one layer of water you will be catching crappies, while if you drop down below them you will be into the perch. The first thing you need to do is determine at what depth the fish are holding. You should lower your jigs down a couple of feet and bounce them around for a few minutes, then lower it a couple more feet. Once you find the depth the crappies are at you can then lower your baits to the same depth.
Sometimes, especially on a cloudy day, the crappies will be shallow, then along comes the sun and they move deeper down or into the shadow of the piling. This is why it is always best to check out the different depths at different times of the day, especially under changing conditions.
Some pilings will have vegetation, duck weed, leaves and other debris stacked up against them. Many times the crappies will hold just under the floating vegetation or debris. This dictates that you fish just under the debris. The best way to do this is to hold the tip of your rod up high and open the bail on your spinning reel and let the jig fall to the water. Once it hits the water close tour bail and lower the tip of your rod down and hold the jig just under te floating vegetation or debris. Every few seconds tap the tip of your rod to make the jig jump, or raise it up a few feet and allow it to fall back down. Crappies will feed on the insects and other forage that will hold in the floating vegetation or around the debris. So you don’t always have to fish deep. If the floating vegetation is thick and your jig won’t go through it, tie a storm sinker on to a length of cord and drop it through the floating vegetation or debris and use it to pull a hole open to get your jig through.
Quite often you will the crappies holding under the bridge or pier. When this happens you will want to cast or flip your jigs up under the bridge or pier and allow them to fall slowly into the depths until it is right below you, than jig them up and down to see if any fish are right below you.
The cold water season often produces some very light hits. Don’t wait to feel a hit, watch your line closely and set the hook at the slightest twitch or movement of your line. Jigs will fall faster in warmer water and slower in colder water. Likewise, because of the difference in diameter, two pound test will cause your jig to fall faster then four pound test. So if you want the jig to fall slower use four pound test. For this type of fishing high-vis line is preferred because it is easier to follow and easier to detect hits with.
Bridge pilings are some of the last places to freeze up on a lake, and in some cases unless the weather gets real cold, they won’t freeze. Even if they should freeze over they will usually not freeze very thick and you can use a sash weight or other heavy object tied to a rope to punch holes through the ice and keep fishing until the water freezes up good enough to get out on it.
The last two months of the season can produce some of te best crappie fishing of the year and bridge pilings are one of the top spots to look for the slabs.
Top Local Spots To View the Autumn Colors
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, October 16, 2014
This October is one of the most colorful in recent years. Baring any stiff winds that would defoliate the trees, fall colors could last into the first couple weeks November.
Leaves are the part of the tree that absorb sunlight and use it to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch which make the tree grow. This process (Photosynthesis) takes place in the leaf in cells containing chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. While other colors are present in the leaves, green is the dominate color that masks the other colors.
During the fall chlorophyll breaks down due to the decreased amount of sunlight a tree receives in combination with cooling air temperatures. As the chlorophyll breaks down the other colors which were masked by the dominate green color become more visible. While this process is taking place other chemical changes also take place and form anthocyanin pigments. Some of these changes show up in red and purple hues in trees such as sumacs, dogwoods and maples. The amount of chlorophyll varies from tree to tree, thus the various colors you see in the fall are a result of the mixture of chlorophyll and other chemicals in the particular tree.
The greens you see in the autumn foliage are mostly conifers such as pines, spruces, hemlocks and cedars. These trees have needles, which are actually leaves that stay green the year around, and some trees don’t shed their needles every year with needles staying on the trees two to four years or more. With most pine trees older needles are shed in the fall and one and two year old needles stay on the tress. Nature does this so that winter snows will have less cross sectional area on the tree for snow to gather on. If the pine tree retained all it's needles the winters snows would break a lot of branches on the soft wood white pine tree.
Close To Home
Top Spots To View the Delaware
One place that is just south of the Trenton area is the scenic overlook off Route 295. The over look offers you a look at the river and its tree lined shorelines at the bend in the river just up from where the Crosswicks Creek flows into the Delaware. On the north bound side, the overlook gives you a look at the Trenton marshes up from the Crosswicks Creek. A pedestrian bridge goes across Route 295 and allows you to walk from one overlook to the other.
Route 29 runs along the New Jersey side from Trenton to Frenchtown, while Route 619 runs from Frenchtown to Milford, Route 627 runs along the river from Milford to Riegelsville. The road is narrow with a good part of the road being right at the base of the cliffs. The road is elevated above the river and gives you a scenic look at the rock studded river and it’s spectacular colors.
Carpenterville Road runs from Riegelsville to just below Phillipsburg. North of Phillipsburg, Route 662 and Route 46 parallel the river to Belvidere, while Route 80 will take you into the Water Gap. There are many photo ops along the previously mentioned roads, however, some of the best are: the wing dams at Scudders Falls, Lambertville and Byram; the old mill at Prallsville just north of Stockton; the old bridge pilings at Point Pleasant; the cliffs north of Milford and Raubs Island. Most of these photo ops are best shot from the PA side of the river. Route 32 Runs parallel to the river from Trenton to its juncture with Route 611 at Kintersville. Route 611 parallels the river from there to the Water Gap.
Needless to say, the fall foliage can be spectacular in the Poconos. One of the most picturesque sites is Buttermilk Falls. Located off Route 209, a few miles west of Route 80 on Buttermilk Falls Road, the falls offer a picture postcard view of a small water fall surrounded by the fall colors. If you are into hiking, a trek to Bushkill Falls, located off Route 209, will give you all the classic fall scenery you can film. With all the rain we have had this past summer, the falls are in full flow.
Old Mills and Dams
Some of the most picturesque settings for the fall photographer are the numerous old mills that dot the Jersey landscape. In particular, the old mill on the South Branch of the Raritan River in Clinton is made for a calendar shot.
Another great place to photograph old mill dams is off Musconetcong River Road in Warren County. The river is located off Route 31just north of the town of Washington. In addition to the autumn foliage along the Musconetcong River, there are two old mill dams, along with the old towering railroad trestles in Changewater.
D & R Canal
If you are into kayaking or canoeing, one of the best ways to view the autumn colors is to paddle the D & R Canal, which is a state park, has a tow path along the Delaware from West Trenton to Milford, New Jersey. The hard packed gravel path makes an ideal way to view the fall colors from a bike or on foot. It makes an excellent place for a family ride or hike with the kids.
On the PA side of the river, the Delaware Canal also offers a place to paddle, hike or bike in the fall colors. Stretching from Morrisville to Easton, the canal parallels the Delaware River and offers you an excellent view of the colorful sights on the Delaware.
Hiking & Nature Trails
If you are looking for a short hike or just a stroll in the autumn foliage, there are several public trails located close to home. The first is along the north side of Plainsboro Pond. The trail is a gravel marked path that runs from the parking lot at the front of the lake to the back of the lake, approximately one mile in length. A second is located along Stony Brook from Carter Road to the park by the Rosedale Road Bridge. The path is a marked trail that parallels the brook and gives you an excellent view of a small brook in the fall setting with it’s bridges, rocky shorelines and old bridge pilings. Hiking trails also transgress Mercer County Central Park and along Mercer Lake. Paved trails with plenty of parking and access to the park make it an ideal walking or biking spot. A fourth trail runs through Roebling Park in south Trenton. The trail gives you an excellent view of the marshes that surround Watson’s Creek and White City Lake. River Over Look
One place that is just south of the Trenton area is the scenic over look off Route 295. The over look offers you a look at the river and its tree lined shorelines at the bend in the river just up from where the Crosswicks Creek flows into the river. On the north bound size the over look gives you a look at the Trenton marshes up from the Crosswicks Creek. A pedestrian bridges goes across route 295 and allows you to walk from one over look to the other.
Our area has a pair of covered bridges that are very picturesque, one in Jersey and one in PA. One the Keystone side the covered bridge in Tyler State Park crossed the Neshaminy Creek and is accessible via a walking trail in the park. The one remaining covered bridge in New Jersey is located in Rosemont, just north of Stockton and crosses the Wichechoke Creek. Creek road, which runs from just up from where Route 519 meets Route 29 (Stockton Bend) to the Covered Bridge makes for an easy couple hour walk that not only gives you a look at the bridge in its fall colors, but the scenic Wichechoke Creek along the Wichechoke Creek Greenway.
There are many scenic spots on the Delaware River, however one of the most eye pleasing is the section that lies between the town of Millford and the upriver Raubs Island. A narrow road runs from Milford north to the island with a good part of the rods being right at the base of the cliffs. The road is elevated above the river and gives you a scenic look at the rock studded river and it’s spectacular colors. It’s not uncommon to see eagles, osprey and other soaring birds riding the air currents of the cliffs along this section of river.
It you are looking to paddle into a marsh that time has forgotten smack dab in the middle of civilization this will be right up your kayak. Your launch point is in the Millstone River at the Aqueducts in Princeton. You can paddle upstream and under Route one then into the backwater marshes that run all the way to the nature preserve which is on the river between Plainsboro and Grovers Mills. The marsh is home for egrets, water fowl and all kinds of birds, beavers and muskrats and other wildlife, all of which make for some great viewing and photography in the autumn setting.
Playing Hit and Run with Stream Trout
by J.B. Kasper
John Paul Jones once said “Give me a fast ship for I intend to go in harms way.” While that statement applied to his naval exploits, something similar can be applied to stream fishing for trout in the fall. Many trout fishermen waste too much time fishing in the same spot for fish that are not active or have been caught and won’t hit again for a while. Sitting in one spot waiting for the fish to come to you has never be a paretically productive way of fishing. Hitting a spot correctly and then moving to the next productive looking spot and covering as much water as possible will out produce sitting in one spot by big numbers. Simply put you are playing to the active fish and they are the ones more likely to hit your baits, especially when it comes to fall stocked trout.
The first requisite of playing hit-and-run with spring stream trout is knowing how to read water. Trout are cold water fish and while they are not lazy fish they know how to conserve their energy in a fast-moving stream. Holding in the eddies behind rocks, bridge pilings, and other structures that negate the streams current, awaiting a meal and darting out into the current and taking that meal as it passes by, is the typical MO of a stream trout. Picking out these trout holding spots on a stream is the key to playing hit-and-run fishing with the trout.
Putting your baits into the current around small stream structures and allowing the current to sweep your baits into the eddies behind the objects is the way the fish them. Make no bones about it if you’re bait comes to one of these holding spots and there is an active trout sitting there he will take it. So each one of these places, unless they are good size, should only get a half a dozen well-placed casts.
Often times you will have trout dart out and follow your baits as they move down the current lines and into the pockets only to have the trout moved back into the resting places. This is because they are either fed up, or in some cases your baits moving along the current line looked out of place to the trout. In this case it’s best to try a different angle with you next cast to make the bait move along the current line and a slightly different manner. You may want to cast your baits farther upstream, a little farther out or a little close in on the current line, etc. If you change the angle of your cast several times and don’t get it strike it’s time to move to the next spot.
When fishing larger structures and the bigger eddies behind them, you will have to use a bigger number of cast to cover the water. It’s also best to change positions several times and present your baits from several different angles as trout can be very picky, especially late in the season when starts cooling down. Even with larger structures, only use enough casts to be sure you have checked out the area. In short don’t waist time beating dead water.
Two other things that influences how much time you spend fishing on a structure or likely looking spot, are where that spot is located and what the water conditions are. This is especially true with stocked streams. If streams are at normal levels the fishing around stocking points such as bridges will be worth a little extra time, especially if the stocking point has good fish holding structures around it. However, high water conditions can change everything.
If water conditions were high at the time of the stocking or became high shortly there after, it’s always a good bet to check out the fish holding structures that are located downstream from the stocking point. Many times fish stocked during times of high water will move downstream until they come in contact with a good fish holding structure that will allow them to get out of the current. They will often remain there even after the water levels go down.
One last thought on playing hit and run with the stream trout during the fall: high water conditions often create fish holding structures that will not be there once the water levels go down. Most of these structures will be along the stream’s sides. When this happens its best to fish all the small structures that may pop up along the shorelines instead of wasting time with the structures that are productive under normal conditions, but will be tough to fish when the water is high.
The Truth About Fisheries Management Insanity
by J.B. Kasper
Before you read this piece there are several things that I would like to make perfectly clear. First off the views in this piece are my personal views and are the result of over 35 years of dealing with the insanity know as fisheries management. Over the years I have attended all kinds of meetings, interviewed biologist, politicians, organization leaders and all kinds of people involved in fisheries management. Secondly I’m probably going to get some people ticked off when they read what I’m going to write in the essay. Frankly, at age 66 I simply no longer care who’s toes I step on. This is a website that I have dedicated to teaching people about the outdoors. I have tried to stay away from the political insanity that has become fisheries management. However, the nonsense about a one fish striped bass bag limit has simply gone too far, and its time someone brought to light all the insanity in fisheries management. Lastly, I have been a catch and release fishermen from the better part of 50 years, however, I believe that we as Americans have a rite to harvest fish and game for the table. It’s called food! Likewise, all too often in today’s world environmentalist, and other zealots think they and put things back the way they were before man set foot on this continent, well I’m sorry it can’t be done, man has a right to live here too.
Federal Fisheries Management
First lets take a look at fisheries management on the federal level. Make no bones about it fisheries management on the federal level is designed to do away with recreational fishing in favor of commercial fishing. Case in point: why does the fed expand commercial fishing for striped bass while demanding cut backs in the recreational catch? Answer: money. The commercial fishing lobby supports the election and re-election of politicians who support commercial fishing.
In recent years the problem with the senate and house of representatives has become even more acute with the influx of money from radical environmental groups. This got even worse when the current administration came into power and appointed numerous radical environmentalist to positions of power who now control fisheries and wildlife management. These ideological groups want to see fisheries populations bigger than they have ever been which is a total impossibility. In short fish and wildlife are not being managed on science as they should be, but rather what they view as being politically correct. Most of these environmentalist, with the exception of a few, know nothing about fisheries management and have never been involved in recreational fishing, as such have no regard for people who work in the recreational field. Simply put: they hate recreational fishermen and want to destroy our recreational fishing heritage in this country. Case in point: when the Magnuson-Stevens Act (Public Law 94-265) was re-authorized in 2006 and signed into law by President Bush on January 12, 2007, it set up a system of fisheries management designed to destroy recreational fishing. Environmental groups had used their money and power to have written into the law quotas and stock rebuilding parameters that simply were unattainable. As an example they mandated that the sustainable fluke bio mass be over 200-million metric tons by a certain date. The fluke population has never been at that size even before the loss of habitat, modern methods of fishing, pollution and other factors that now effect the fishery. It will never get that big because the environment will not support it. That being said, the current fluke population is at record levels and in better shape than it has ever been in. Yet they still demand cutbacks every time we go over some insane quota. Logic would dictate that recreational fishermen would get a moderate increase in their limits as the fishery grows. Likewise, sea bass, blackfish, winter flounder and other fish populations are in the best shape they have been in years, yet we still have insane restrictive seasons and quotas that are putting people out of business and destroying the recreation fishing.
One look at how fisheries are managed and it’s easy to see why things are so screwed up. In short they are managing the fisheries ass backwards. First off they manage one species of fish at a time with no regard as to how a rebounding fishery will effect the overall fisheries. Case in point: we brought back the striped bass fishery to huge levels about ten to 15 years ago. Than we watched the shad, herring and other forage populations in rivers and along the coast go into decline. While the rebound of the striped bass populations was not the sole reason some of the fisheries when into decline, it sure was a huge contributing factor.
Likewise when you shut down a fishery you put angling pressure on other fisheries causing them to be over fished. Why not allow fishermen to keep a collective bag limit. In other words allow a fishermen to keep 15 fish, no matter what they are. Think about it: you catch a sea bass from 150-feet down and have to throw it back because the season is closed. That fish will not survive. The pressure changes alone will kill the fish. So in essence you are throwing back a dead fish that could have went on a table. It could have also gone to a collective bag limit, thus putting the fish to good use and not wasting it. Doesn’t it make better sense to manage all species together and take in regards how they effect each other? I guess this never occurred to the babbling idiots who have taken over fisheries management!
Another insanity of fisheries management is that when a fishery has problems, the first thing they do is decrease the bag limit, increase the size limit and demand a shorter season. Over the years this has lead me to believe that a dog breeder, horse breeder and even a farmer has more brains than a fisheries manager! A farmer doesn’t sell his best corn and use the poorest crops to plant next years harvest. He does just the opposite. Likewise, a dog breeder doesn’t use the runt of a litter to breed, he uses the best of the litter. A horse breeder uses his best offspring to breed a better horse. So why do fisheries managers force recreational fishermen to catch bigger fish, thus putting the spawning on smaller inferior fish. Case in point: wouldn’t it make more sense to allow recreational fishermen to two or three smaller striped bass between 18 and 30 inches, and make it illegal to take the fish over 30s inches. Doing it the current way is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Bigger striped bass have been around longer thus their immune systems are in far better shape than younger fish. Also larger fish produce larger numbers of roe, thus more offspring. Another point in favor of protecting the older fish is that a younger fish makes a better fish for the table. So why are we killing the bigger fish instead of protecting them?
Another case in point is the fluke regulations. It’s a biological fact that 80 to 90-percent of the fluke over 17 inches are female. By forcing fishermen to adhere to higher size limits you are putting the pressure on the females, thus destroying the spawners. Now tell me that isn’t total insanity!
State Fisheries Management
The feds are not solely to blame for the fisheries management insanity. On the state level much of the blame is with the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council which has for years been controlled by commercial fishing interest. On more than one occasion I stood before that council and asked two simple questions: First why don’t the council hold their monthly meetings in a different part of the state each month rotating the meetings between north, central and southern parts of the state. Doing this would allow better participation from the recreational sector, as well as party and charter boat captains who have to work for a living. Holding the meetings in Galloway Township every month puts a huge burden on people who live in the northern and central portion of the state when it comes to travel and the cost of traveling. Not once did they accept this suggestion. In short they could not give a fiddlers damn about the recreational fishermen, and would rather meet only a short distance from their homes. Likewise, they like less participation. It gives them easier control over what goes on, and less people are around to question how they go about their business.
The second question that I asked on numerous occasions is when is the state of New Jersey going to finally stand up for the recreational fishermen and take the fed to court over the unfair regulations being imposed on recreational fishermen? Other states have done it and won. Never once has the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council or the state had the brass (for want of a better term) to say enough is enough. Fishermen pay taxes too damn it, and it’s time the state start thinking about how much money fishermen spend in New Jersey and how much businesses and the state are losing as fisheries are put off limits to fishermen and more people quit fishing.
If you look at how states take care of their resources New Jersey is at the bottom of the list. Case in Point: A state like North Carolina has one or more biologist for each species of fish, while New Jersey has a hand full of biologist to manage all saltwater fish. Likewise, recreational fishermen put way more money into the state economy than commercial fishing fishermen, yet the state puts next to nothing into recreational fishing research especially when compared to other states. Instead they treat the recreational fishermen like a cash cow.
While most of the state’s fishing organizations have fishermen and fisheries best interest at heart and are well intentioned, they are simply a pawn in the chess game of fisheries management insanity. Every time there is a meeting on a fishery regulation change it’s the same old BS. The Fed makes a mandate; the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council and Division come up with a list of options and the organizations tell their members to support one option, that in most cases is the least intrusive. It’s always: “If we don’t choose one they will shut down the fishery.” Boy that has worked out well! As an example: We now have a two fish limit on winter flounder (if you fish for the table are you really going to fish for two winter flounder, let alone pay to go on a party or charter boat for two fish)? So in reality you have shut down the winter flounder fishing with a two fish limit. But technically it is still open!
There is surely no lack of sea bass, yet the sea bass fishing is currently closed until October 18. Clubs and organizations accepted the sea bass season and how we have some boats not fishing for the next couple of weeks because they can’t carry enough bottom fishing customers because the fluke season and sea bass fishing are closed. Boy that worked out real well!
Time after time clubs and organizations have told their members that if they support a certain option its best for fishermen and the fishery? Take a look at the current regulations, how has that worked out? We are doing away with recreational fishing one fish at a time and how long will it be before we have nothing to fish for? When are these fishing organizations finally going to say enough is enough and demand the state stand up for recreational fishermen instead of conning them into supporting regulations that are only going to take away there fisheries one at a time?
Its’ always the same answer: we don’t have the money!
The only time recreational fishermen beat the fed at its own game was when the Save the Summer Flounder Fund raised the money and hired one of the best statisticians in the world and he took the feds own data and found all the faults in it and forced the fed to change the regs. Did it ever dawn on some of these organizations that they should do the same thing?
Studies show that there has been a decline in the striped bass population. That is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the way striped bass and other fish are being managed and why recreational fishermen are bing blamed for the problem. The last time we saw a decline in the striped bass numbers they curtailed commercial fishing for them. And guess what: the numbers bounced back with in a decade. Did it ever dawn on the rocket scientist that manage the striped bass on the federal and sate levels that is what should be done now? Likewise, did it ever dawn on the fed and states that the increases in the quotas the gave commercial fishermen in the last twenty years might have something to do with the decline in numbers? Recreational fishermen are not the problem. Several organizations have been fighting to make the striped bass a gamefish. By doing so it would stop commercial fishing for them, force sensible bag and size limits and give party and charter boats, and tackle shops a year around fishery that would help keep them in business. It would make the fishery easier to manage and put a lot of money into local and state economies.
Ask yourself these questions: have you ever know the fed to not screw up a program? What makes recreational fishermen think fisheries management is any different? Do you have better access to fishing areas and fisheries now with all the regulations? And are these regulations really helping the fisheries? Does the way fisheries are being managed make sense to you?
Recreational fishermen had better wake up. Take a look at the difference between the regs we have today and those of 20 years ago, or 10 years ago or even five years ago and it is easy to see that we are losing our fisheries a little at a time to over regulation, a lack of common sense in fisheries management and politics. I have been in favor of making the striped bass a gamefish for a long time and it’s time that fishing organizations and individual fishermen start demanding gamefish status for the striped bass.
October Fishing Looks Good
by J.B. Kasper
September 27, 2014
After a mild, cooler than normal summer, the first month of autumn looks good for sportsmen. October usually ushers in some of the best fishing of the season, both in saltwater and freshwater, as the fish fatten up for the coming cold water season. With most waters still below normal for this time of the year because of a recent lack of rainfall, good fall fishing will have a lot to do with how much rain we get this fall. So here’s a look at what anglers can expect to see in October.
On the local scene, most lakes and ponds are experiencing lower water levels for this time of the year which is causing problems with vegetation and algae blooms. Water temperatures are in the 60s and will more than likely drop into the low 50s by the end of the month. Most lakes are seeing a late and early day crappie bite and spotty bass fishing. The vegetation in most waters will be the key to the fishing, and most waters are just starting to see the vegetation starting to die out. So far live-lining minnows has been fair but well below the norm. An inch or two of rain will go a long way to giving the bass fishing a boost by turning over the water and bring water levels up to a more normal level.
With the exception of this year’s shad run, fishing on the Delaware continues to be some of the poorest we have seen in many years. Smallmouth fishing in the river north of Trenton is showing no signs to bouncing back and once again the spawn left a lot to be desired. Fishing is still several seasons away from even coming close to its once nationally rated stature. Once again the river saw sizeable pods of small shad and herring in the river, which should have put the fish on the feed, but once again there was a distinct lack of fish feeding on the shad. This shows just how many fish were lost to columnaris disease that hit the river from 2009 through 2011, and is still present in the river. While live bait fishing in October should produce better numbers of smallies, don’t look for banner fall fishing. I have fished the river at least once a week through the summer and so far this fall, and the fishing is no where near what it used to be. Even fishing livebait the last couple of week’s has not produced any significant amounts of smallies.
Even the fishing in the tidal river, where the bass and crappie populations have had several good spawns in a row, is not as productive as the last few years. So far no significant amounts of bass and crappie have moved into the backwater areas as they did in the last three years. This could be due to the lower than normal water levels, both on the main river and in the backwater areas. However, the movements could just be late like most other fisheries this year. Hopefully we will see a good movement of fish on the full moon in October. Catfishing in the tidal river was very good in August and September and should provide some good action in October as well. Look for some good action in the mouths of the coves and tidal streams as the cats moved off the main river for the cold water season.
During the early part of the month, fishing is usually early and late in the day, however with water temps below the norm things could change quickly should we get some significant amount of rain. The key to the bass fishing will be the vegetation. Fish the pockets of open water that are opening up as the vegetation decreases. Here too look for live-lining minnows to out fish everything else as it is already doing. Likewise, the fishing could be later than normal and could go well into next month should the fall remain mild. Should the fall turn cold we could have a very short bass season.
Look for the smallmouth fishing in the state’s larger streams to peak in October. Fishing has also been well below the norm in the streams. This past winter re-arraigned the structures in most of the streams and scraped the bottoms clear of vegetation. Even fishing live bait so far this fall as only produced fair fishing at best. Fishing in the larger lakes and reservoirs will also peak in October, and the bass will move deeper or into a thermocline as the water cools, however here too a wet month will change the structures in many waters. Many of the larger reservoirs are also lower than normal, however so far this has not effected the fishing which has been decent on live bait.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania will have fall trout stocking programs this fall. The PA trout stocking will be the same as the last serval seasons. However, because of the disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery, New Jersey will only be stocking 25,000 one year old trout in the 16 fall stocked trout streams and about 2,000 larger trout in the lakes that are stocked in the fall. Water levels in both state’s streams are very low and this cold cause stocking problems.
Close to home, Colonial and Rosedale lakes are slated to be stocked, while Levittown Lake will be stocked on the PA side of the river. You can get a better look at each state’s fall stocking program by going on their websites to the fall stocking information.
Trout fishing in Round Valley is already heating up along the shoreline and from the boats and conditions are excellent in the Valley and Merrill Creek Reservoir for another good fall. On the flip side of the coin water levels in Spruce Run are very low and the boat ramp is not operational as of this story.
A cooler than normal summer in the south Jersey Pine Barrens have turned the pickerel on early this fall. While water levels are low the fishing right now is very good and should remain good through out the month. Live-lining minnows is taking good numbers of chainsides and the fishing is well worth a ride in the pines. In addition to live lining minnows, fishing floating swimming plugs and jigs tipped with swimbaits are taking plenty of chainsides.
Crappie fishing has already started up in most waters through out the state. So far the fishing has been very good. However, this could mean one of two things: The early start to the fishing could me an early start to the fall fishing because of the cool summer. If so we could see an early end to the fishing should we have a cold fall. On the flip side, hopefully it means we are at the start of a very good fall season for the slabs. Fishing in the early part of the month will be in the early evening, however, because water temps in most lakes are below normal for this time of the year fishing should start to spread out throughout the day by the end of the month. Jig combinations, fished on the fall or under floats and small minnows will be the ticket to the better fishing in most lakes and ponds.
Walleyes, hybrid bass and northern pike catches have already picked up in bodies of water where they are present, and October should provide excellent fishing. Most of the better fishing is still in the evening, but look for the fishing to spread out during the day as well. Some top waters for walleyes are Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood, Monksville Reservoir and Swartswood Lake. Hybrid fishing is good in Spruce Run, however car top boats are the only way to fish the reservoir because of low water conditions. Manasquan Reservoir and Lake Hopatcong are producing fish along with hybrid stripers, but here to the fishing has been spotty so far. Catfishing has been excellent throughout the state and should continue through the end of the month. Look for some muskies to start hitting in Lake Mercer once the water temps drop into the low 60s and upper 50s. Good Musky fishing is also being reported in Leaser Lake in the Lehigh Valley tanks to recent stockings there.
Because fluke fishing is shut down most boats are bottom fishing. Most skippers agree that bottom fishing has been some of the best in recent years. Sea bass (sea bass fishing is closed and will re-open on October 18), big porgies, ling and blackfish should serve up the best action along the inshore wrecks. The blackfishing (one fish bag limit) should come into it’s own early as well, however, the bag limit doesn’t go up until November 15th. Because of this year’s closing of the sea bass season until October 18 some boats have stopped sailing for a couple of weeks and are doing maintenance on their boats to get them ready for the fall fishing. So be sure to check the boat’s website for it current sailing schedule.
So far offshore fishing has been good when boats have been able to sail. The Hudson Canyon and other offshore hot spots are seeing decent numbers of yellowfin, longfin, bigeye, mahi and marlin. Here, too, a lot depends on the weather. The last couple of weeks have seen limited fishing because of poor weather and sea conditions. If the weather continues to keep the boats from sailing, fishing could be tough. Should the weather should once again turn favorable, the cost of a trip to the canyon will be worth the money. Quite a few boats in Belmar are offering open boat offshore trips which gives you offshore fishing at a reduced price.
This year saw a return to sparse weakfishing. Only sporadic fishing was reported through out the state, in Raritan Bay and Delaware Bays. Likewise croaker and kingfishing was also hot as good as last season. So don’t look for any significant fall fishing for the weaks.
So far the striper fishing has been spotty, with most of the fishing to the north of Manasquan Inlet. The baitfish have already started to move out of the bays and unlike recent years, so far the mullet and other fish have been moving along the beaches and in the undertow. Hopefully this trend will continues, if so we could be in for some good fall surf fishing. Most of the stripers being caught as of this story are local fish and the bulk of the migratory run won’t start until mid or late month. How good and how long the fishing will last has a lot to do with how soon the baitfish move out of our waters and what kind of weather we have this fall.
This summer saw a lot better bluefishing than last summer, and so far this fall the fishing has been very good. When the mullet started moving out of the tidal rivers and bays during the middle of September the big slammers were and are all over them, along with albacore and bonito. Look for the slammer fishing to continue to be good throughout the month and into November.
Anglers have already started to see some action in the suds from Sandy Hook to Shark River, and this fishing should build and spread down the coast as October progresses and more baitfish start moving down the beaches. Likewise bluefish are already moving in the suds and here too both fisheries will depend a lot on the weather and the amount of storms we get moving up the coast. Hopefully the migrating bass will zero in on the baitfish which are hugging the undertow and will move down the beaches and close to the coast, unlike recent years.
Basics Give You Better Fishing
by J. B. Kasper
PART 5: WATER CLARITY AND LIGHT PENETRATION
Two key elements of fishing that go hand in hand and effect all fishing are the clarity of the water and the amount of light that reaches the fish. Each effects the other and because a fish can't close its eyes they have a direct effect on fish movements and where you will find them during different times of the day. Likewise different light levels will effect the fish in different ways and can work for and against you.
During the early season, areas that have the suns rays on them for the better part of the day will warm up faster. This is especially true in areas that have shallow ripples and other places where the air and wind can come into play.
During the warm water season, light penetration can have a negative effect on the fishing. Since fish cannot close their eyes, they will retreat into deeper water or under some type of cover to cope with high light penetration. High light penetration can also combine with high air temperature and breezy weather to drive the water temperature in shallow areas well into the 80's.
There are many ways of coping with the high light penetration that occurs during the summer months. Fishing during the early morning and late afternoons will greatly increase your chances. It's at this time that the effects of severe light penetration will be at it's lowest.
Another thing you can do is to fish the shadows. During the morning hours, fish the side of a body of water where the sun takes the longest to reach the water. This is the side where the fish movements into shallow water will last longer. During the evening hours fish the side that the sun set on first this is the side where the fish will move earliest. Days that are overcast, especially those with falling barometer readings will keep the fish closer to the surface of the water making them easier to catch.
When fishing a river or stream during midday hours fish rapids, ripples and other turbulent areas when the light is broken up by the choppy water. This drastically reduces the amount of light that reaches the fish, making them fish less cautious.
This is another factor that can change very quickly in a river such as the Delaware. You should think of this factor on a weather related basis. During the summer months, a quick rain can cause small streams in a certain section of the river to rise and get muddy. This water will flow into the river and create a muddy water break line which carries all types of forage into the river with it. Fish will stack up along this color change where clear water meets dirty water and pick up the forage as it passes by.
In times when the entire river is on the dirty side, the first places that will clear up are the many small streams that flow into it. This is the reverse scenario where you will have a clean stream of water flowing into a dirty river. These places are a good bet, as the fish will move into this clearer water for the better oxygen levels and better forage supply.
Heavy rains can often make the river unfishable for periods of time. Once the river starts clearing up after a dirty water period it will go through stages ranging from unfishable brown to gin clear. As the water starts to turn green in color and visibility starts to improve, the fish will begin to feed more heavily. It's at this time when many of the bigger fish will be taken. In gin clear water the bigger fish tend not roam as much, however, when the water becomes clear enough to allow a few feet of vision, the larger fish will move around more freely. The clearer the water gets, the more spooky the fish will become, so the in between water clarities are where the bigger fish will be on the prowl.
During the spring season, clearer water will also warm up faster as it will allow the light to penetrate better. The reverse will be true when the water is on the cloudy side. So it's prudent
to say that the water color will effect how fast water temperature will change.
In larger lakes and reservoirs small streams and their confluences with the main body of water can often have color changes. If the small stream becomes muddy it can put a muddy water break line into the main body of water and carry with all types of forage that the fish will feed on, making it an excellent place to fish.
In bigger reservoirs where trees and other debris were left when the reservoir was flooded, fish will often move vertically staying in the shadows down deep during the daylight hours and then moving to the surface or shallow water around the tops of the trees during the night and early and late in the day. This scenario will greatly be enhanced when shadows from the mountains will be on the water.
Also in lakes and reservoirs where you have a lot of vegetation bass and other predators will often hold in the shadows of the vegetation or in the vegetation facing the open water looking for an easy meal to come by. So always fish the shaded side of a weedline or patch of vegetation.
Knowing how to deal with the effects of light penetration and water clarity can be a big help especially when the fishing get tough.
Another condition that helps you deal with light penetration is fog, especially in the fall. Foggy or over cast days have decreased light penetration and the fish will move around a lot more freely. Fog in the call is caused by warm water and cold air. The warm water means the fish will be more active and the fog will negate the effects of light. A good one-two combinations that often spells good fishing.
Basics Give You Better Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
PART 4: MOON PHASES AND TIDES
There is a saying that "neither time nor tide waits for no man". The person who said this was obviously waiting for his spouse to finish getting dressed for a dinner engagement, however, it does have it's applications for the angler.
Tides play an important part in fish movements on a daily and seasonal basis. The effect that the tides have on fish movements are influenced by external factors such as water temperature and moon phases. Moon phases, on the other hand, have more influence in the tidal waters than they have on the fish in the non-tidal waters because of their effects on the tides.
In order to understand the effects of the tides on fish we should first must understand what makes the tides work. In technical terms, when the moon is in apogee it is at the farthest distance from the earth. Perigee, on the other hand, is when the moon is closest to the earth. For our purposes, during the full moon and the new moon is when the moon's influence on the tides is at their greatest. The last quarter and first quarter is when the moon's influence is at it's lowest. The best fishing usually occurs between two to four days after the full and new moons.
During certain times of the year, certain tides will be more productive and this has to do with the water temperature. During the early and late season when the water temperatures are on the cool side (50 and below), the out going tide will be the preferred tide. This is because the lower water temps will cause the fish's metabolism to be sluggish and they will not feed as often, nor will they travel as far for a meal. In this case they will stay in deeper water and wait for food to come to them with the outgoing tide.
During the warm water season the reverse is true. The warmer water causes the fish's metabolism to rise, burns up calories faster and makes him more aggressive. In this case he will feed on both the incoming and outgoing tide, with the incoming tide and the first part of the outgoing water being more productive. This is because he will move into shallow water to feed and when the tides are low there will be very little water in places like flats, bars, reefs, etc. The incoming tide will pour water into these places and the baitfish will come with it.
Another time when you will find the incoming tide productive is during the summer months when the many fish take on nocturnal qualities. This can cause you to loose plenty of sleep because some of the best fishing will be when the incoming tide occurs after dark. You will want to start fishing just after the tide turns and starts coming in. Moving tides will always out produce slack tides, since the tidal movements will stir up baitfish and for the fish to expend energy to cope with the moving water.
One way of making the effects of the moon and tides can work for you is by allowing you to have a good look at shoreline areas along a beach or structures in a tidal river. Recently the supper moons we have cause the tides to be higher and lower than normal. In some cases by as much as one and two feet. This means when the tide goes out it will be well below the norm and it will expose structures you would not normally see. This will be greatly enhanced when you have a down river wind blowing or a west wind blowing off the beach. When this occurs you should use the condition to have a good look at the cuts, holes and bars along the beaches, and the structures in a river. You can plot them on a map or on a GPS for future reference.
Moon phases also have an effect on non-tidal water. The biggest effect is on the full moon. A lot of seasoned fishermen I know will not fish on the full moon, especially at night when it is so bright. One of the best ways of dealing with the full moon is to fish it when there are cloudy or over cast skies to conceal the bright full moon.
Basics Give You Better Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
PART 3: Weather Conditions
There is no other element or combination of elements that effect fishing more than weather. Weather conditions effect fishing on a long term basis (through the change of the seasons) and on a short term basis (heavy rain fall, droughts, quick temperature changes). Coping with weather patterns is one of the most important parts of fishing and the angler who knows how to use them to his advantage can capitalize on some good fishing.
Of the several elements of the weather that contribute significantly to the movements of the fish and one of the most important is the Barometric pressure. In order to understand how barometric pressure works on fish we first must understand how barometric pressure effects the weather patterns.
High barometric pressure readings foretell good weather conditions and this usually means bright sun light, very little clouds and maximum light penetration. Another thing that it does that can really can stall fish movements is it puts a heavy amount of atmospheric pressure on the water and this effects the swim bladder of some fish such as bass. By doing so it tends to make the fish sluggish.
Even without making the fish sluggish high barometric readings will cause the fish to move into deeper water or under cover, become very spooky and be a lot more alert to a fisherman's presents. This dictates that the angler be more precise in his lure presentation, fish deeper water (which by nature is more difficult to fish) or fish heavier cover during the mid day hours. He can
also cope with the conditions of a high pressure system by fishing early in the morning, late in the afternoon or during the dark hours of the night.
Low barometric pressure readings on the other hand have the opposite effect. They are usually associated
with poor or stormy weather patterns and will produce low light penetration, deaden sound and keep the fish in shallower water. This makes the fish easier to get at for the fisherman and makes his job of lure and bait presentation a lot easier. The lessening of the atmospheric pressure will allow the fish to move around more freely and they won't be as spooky. Low barometric pressure readings will also keep fish active throughout the day and give the fisherman more time to fish for active fish. What this translates into for the fisherman is that poor weather conditions, as long as the water is in good shape, will produce some of the best fishing.
Weather Effects & Water Conditions
Another way that weather conditions effect the fishing is by effecting the water quality in most bodies of water. Rivers and streams are the two types of water that are most effected by weather patterns. Their water levels and color are usually the result of the amount of rain fall or lack of it, that occurs on any given year or portion of a year. Water levels and the weather conditions that govern them have a direct bearing on where you will find the fish in a stream or a river. During a year with a lot of rain, water temperatures will usually be cooler than years when rain fall is scarce and water levels are low. The higher volume of water takes longer for weather to effect it.
When a year with below normal rain fall presents itself, water levels will drop and the water will warm up faster thus water temperatures can elevate higher than normal. This will cause large bug hatches in most streams and rivers causing the fish to feed more on insects. It will also cause the fish to gravitate to oxygen rich areas in order to cope with the higher water temperatures caused by the combination of warm air temperatures and low water.
The amount of rain fall we receive will also effect bays and the saltwater portion of a river, by changing the salinity of the water found their. During years that are very dry the salt line in a tidal river can move far upstream since the amounts of fresh water coming from the upper river is decreased. This will cause such fish as stripers and bait fish to move further up into a river.
During years when the amount of rain fall is heavy, the amount of freshwater flowing into bays and tidal portions of a river will be elevated and thus will dilute the saltwater. This in extreme cases can cause spawning problems with certain fish and cause some fish to be sluggish. In extreme cases it can cause algae blooms and thus move bait fish populations, that feed on the algae around.
One last though on the effects of rain on the waters. Because we live in a highly industrial area, rains that fall in our area are very acetic and this can reek havoc on the Ph of the water. A quick heavy rain can cause the Ph to drop significantly on the surface of the water in lakes and ponds. This can cause the fish to become sluggish until the acetic water becomes diluted. In a river or stream, because the water is moving and constantly being stirred up, the acetic water, (hard water) can mix into the depths of the river or stream and shut down the fishing. However, rivers and streams will recover quicker and it will take a heavier rain to effect them because the acetic water becomes diluted quicker. Years back rains used to stoke up the fishing because the water was softer, however because of the conditions we just mentioned the hard water usually does just the opposite, and I have see the fish turn off quickly even with a light rain. Likewise, each body of water handles Ph levels differently and knowing how the Ph in a body of water is effected by rains and also be of used when it comes to catching fish.
Weather On A Seasonal Basis
As we mentioned earlier, weather conditions effect fish on a seasonal basis. Weather patterns during the winter season can make or break an ice fishing season. Without cold weather there simply isn't any ice to fish on. Likewise too server of a winter can create ice jams on rivers and streams, making fishing impossible at the least. Ice jams on the rivers and streams can alter a river's structures, cause flooding and change conditions for spring fisheries. This was the case in the winter of 2014 in an extreme case.
During the spring the weather patterns will dictate how fast or how slow all bodies of water will warm up. This will cause different water temperatures to be reached at different times in different bodies of water, thus different fish will becomes active at different times. In a lake or reservoir yellow perch and crappie will some of the first fish to start moving after ice off followed by pickerel and bass. (This did not happen in the spring of 2014) Along the coast winter flounder will start moving out of the bays and rivers as the water temperature rises and this is intern effected by the weather patterns on any given year.
Fishing along the beaches for such fish as stripers and bluefish are also governed by the weather patterns. In the spring as the fish move up the coast the amount, severity and direction from which storms come, will move both migrating game fish and forage fish closer or away from the shoreline.
During the fall migration the same pre-mentioned conditions can really have an impact on the surf fishing. On years when weather pattern produce a lot of winds from a westerly direction, bait fish populations will be pushed out to sea and this will cause the stripers and bluefish to go with them. On the other side of the coin easterly winds will usually push bait fish up on the coast bring the game fish with them.
Likewise nothing can bring good fishing to a halt faster then a hurricane or bad storm. Many a good fall run has been destroyed by a series of bad storms. Storms will change the forage that the bass and other fish are feeding on. Mild northeast storms will wash up clams and sand bugs into the wash and onto the beach and just after a storm these forages will take most of the fish.
Another effect that the weather has on the fishing is to rearrange the structures in a river or stream or the beaches along the coast. In the first instance poor weather patterns which cause excessive rain fall can flood rivers and streams. The heavy amounts of water and the swift currents they produce can move bars, gouge out deep holes, wash away structures, and in general change the landscape of a river or stream. This intern has a direct effect on where you will find both the bait fish and the fish that feeds on them, while the water is high and after it recedes.
Server storms that force their wrath on coastal regions, cause beach erosion, move bars and other structures and in extreme cases damage inlets that are in the path of the storm. One look at the damage done by the December storm of 1992 will illustrate our point, not of mention that we are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Even storms that don't hit the area you live in can have an effect on the fishing in your area. Many biologist believe that the storms that ravaged the Mississippi River had a direct effect on the fishing we found along the east coast in 1993. The heavy amounts of fresh water that were washed into the Gulf from the Mississippi found its way into the Gulf stream. This intern caused
huge algae blooms that kept the bait fish feeding on these blooms in the gulf stream miles away from the beach. This is similar to what happened with Hurricane Katrina. As a result the bait fish did not move into area along the beaches to feed. Thus the bass and blues that normally move along the beaches in the fall stayed out on the edge of the Gulf Stream, leaving only the local fish for us to fish for last fall.
Because weather patterns are so important to the angler, many serious fisherman include weather information in their fishing logs and monitor current weather patters on weather radios and the weather station on Television. Taking advantage of low pressure systems and other weather
conditions that produce good fishing can increase you catch in leaps and bounds. Thus learning how to cope with weather patterns is a must for the serious fisherman.
September Starts The Change
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, August 28, 2014
This year continues to be anything but normal and it will be interesting to see how the month of September plays out. Water temps both in freshwater and saltwater never reached their traditional summer levels and have already dropped into the 70s which is ten degrees or more below the norm for this time of year. With day growing shorter and nights getting longer we are unlikely to see water temps back in the 80s. Our best hope for a good fall season is an extended warm fall. If the weather keeps n going the way it currently is it looks like we will be looking at and early start to the fall fishing.
On the local scene, lakes and ponds have already started to cool down, and thanks to the cooler than normal summer we had thermoclines in most lakes have already dissipated. While this process is usually slow, heavy rains could hasten the process. The cooler water temps left lakes and ponds with a lot less vegetation than is normal. So look for holes to start opening up in the vegetation in the lakes, giving surface fishermen some excellent targets and fishing. Here, too, this process could come about a lot quicker if heavy rains cause water levels to rise. Look for bass and pickerel fishing to be on the upswing, and good catches of crappie should give anglers good action right around dark. Look for a lot more fishermen fishing on the local scene this fall, as those who want to fish will be fishing a lot closer to home because of the economy and gas prices.
Fishing in the Delaware left a lot to be desired this summer, especially in the non-tidal river north of Trenton. What there is of the fall fishing will depend on how the rains affect the water levels. September is usually the month when the river slowly switches over from artificials to live bait. High water conditions will hasten the change. Smallmouth fishing, which has been poor for the last several years because of the loss of fish to the Colamrius disease, will be well below the norm from previous years. Hopefully we will see plenty of small fish in the next few weeks, which would mean they had a good spawn, something they have not had in the Delaware for the past couple of years. Look for the small stripers that have been in the upper river most of the summer to make their way down river, and serve up some good fishing for a few weeks. The one thing that might help the fishing is the large amounts of small shad in the river from another good spawn by the shad. Walleye fishing, which has been above average this year, should kick in, in the evening sometime this month.
On the largemouth fishing front, look for the fishing in the northern portion of the state to heat up first, and this has already started in many waters. Norther waters cool down sooner and we should see the fishing really come into prime time by the middle of the month. The bass fishing in local waters has also started to heat up and should be very productive this month especially for line-liners. We have already seen pre-fall feed patterns in many waters and unless we have some warm weather that brings the water temps back up we should see and early fall feed. Thermoclines in most of the deeper lakes have already started to dissipate and the bass are in a pre-fall feed mode, holding in 10 to 15-feet of water and vertically moving to two to three feet under the surface to feed in the morning and late afternoons. Look for this pattern to continue until the bass go on the fall feed and push baitfish around pouncing on them.
Stream fishing for smallies also left a lot to be desired this year. The hard winter scraped the vegetation away in most streams and rivers and fishing was very poor in the South Branch, Raritan River, Neshaminy River and Schuylkill River. Even the rock bass and bluegills were not as plentiful in the streams as previous years. Your best bet for catching the smallies is to live-line minnows.
In the state’s larger reservoirs, look for the trout to start moving around as the thermoclines start to move as the waters cool. This is already happening in Round Valley and Merrill Creek reservoirs as both already have surface temps in the mid 70s. Reports from both reservoirs tell of lakers already shifting into the spawning mode.
The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife has announced that there will be a Fall stocking.:During the 2014 fall trout stocking season the Division of Fish and Wildlife will stock more than 25,000 trout in the state's major trout waters. The fish will be stocked from the Pequest Trout Hatchery from October 7-15.
As a result of a disease issue at the hatchery this past spring, yearling brown and rainbow trout approximately 7-9 inches in length, will be stocked this fall as the hatchery works to rebuild fish stocks lost to the disease. (A return to the stocking of larger fish is planned for next fall, 2015, as well as a return to a full stocking schedule in spring, 2015.)
The trout will be stocked in 17 streams and 14 ponds over the two-week period. As in past years, streams are stocked the first week, and ponds and lakes are stocked during the second week.
In addition to the yearling trout, up to 500 broodstock rainbow trout will also be stocked. These broodstock, averaging 18 to 24 inches, will be stocked in lakes and ponds during the second week of stocking with each lake receiving more than 30 of these trophy-sized fish.
As the majority of streams stocked in the fall support holdover trout fisheries these waters provide anglers opportunities for larger trout to be caught.
Farrington Lake has been removed from the Trout Stocking Program and will no longer be stocked with trout.
Pickerel fishing in the Pine Barrens will start up quickly this year because of the all the rainfall that hit the area, which kept the waters above normal all summer. Here too water temps stayed well below normal this summer and vegetation was not as dense as it usually is. Most south Jersey waters are usually heavy with vegetation and will become fishable this month and the fishing should continue to be very good well into the late fall.
Panfish and Crappie Fishing
Look for the panfish and crappie fishing to really start turning on as the month progresses and the days get shorter. The best action will continue to be late in the afternoon and right around dark with jig-plastic bait combinations scoring better numbers as the month progresses. Also look for some continued good carp and catfishing through out our area.
Hybrid bass fishing in the state’s reservoirs will be in prime time most of the month with the fishing being close to the surface during the early evening. Walleye fishing will get better as the month progresses, with most of the fishing being after dark in the evening. Northern pike and musky fishing will remain picky unless the water cools down quickly.
Another fishery that will cone into prime time in September and is worth the trip is the salmon and steelhead fishing in the Lake Ontario tributary streams. The fishing started up in mid August, once again several weeks ahead of the norm thanks to a cooler than normal summer in the north country. Fishing is in prime time right now and should remain good though the end of the month.
This year sea bass fishing will reopen on September 1 through September 6, then will close until October 18. Once again the Fed will be sticking it to the sportsman to appease the environmental wackos. Sea bass numbers are excellent, and there is no reason why the fishery should be shut down. It will leave saltwater bottom fishermen, as well as party and charter boats with very little to fish for once the fluke fishing closes down on September 27.
Porgy fishing has been spotty so far this year, while ling fishing has been very good. The month of September normally sees the best ling and porgy fishing of the season. Whether or not this will be the case this year has a lot to do with how the weather and storms affect the inshore waters.
September is the prime month for offshore tuna fishing. So far a mix of longfin, bluefin, yellowfin, mahi mahi and white marlin are making a good showing in all the offshore canyons. Here too the weather will be the deciding factor as to wether the fishing is good or poor, and how much tuna fishing anglers will be able to get in will depend on how much good weather Mother Nature blesses us with. As of this story the fishing is very good when the boats have been able to sail. There also has been some excellent shark fishing being seen along the inshore waters with big threshers, brown sharks, blue sharks and a few makos being caught.
The best of the fluke fishing this summer was late and fluke fishing is now in prime time. Look for the fluke to begin moving out o the bays in early September. Some of the best fluke fishing will be outside in 40 to 70-feet of water. With the season closing on September 27 anglers have about three weeks to get in on the fluke action.
Weakfishing this year has been spotty at best. Last season saw very good weakfishing in September, however there is no sign that this will repeat itself this year. What ever weakfishing action there will be will be in September in the inlets and mouths of the rivers as the fish start to migrate.
It’s all night fishing right now, but storms and rough weather could stir up the fishing and bring the fall run on a lot sooner. Most of the stripers that will be caught in September will be local fish that are starting to feed on the schools of baitfish that are moving out of the bays and rivers. In the next couple of weeks the mullet will start moving out of the rivers and bays and this usually triggers the start of the striper fishing. This year’s fall run of stripers will more than likely start up early because of the cooler than normal water temps which has started most fall migrations early. However, should we have a warm fall and ocean temps remain warm, the fishing could be delayed.
Bluefish action begun heating up about three weeks back and is in full swing. September should see some heavy duty fishing off the Jersey coast especially in the northern portion of the state. Look for the fishing to continue to be good through out the month with the slammers zeroing in on the schools of baitfish and moving in on the beaches at any time now.
The September non-migratory goose season is open and there sure is no lack of birds. Look for the goose hunting to get tougher as the month progresses, as the birds move away from hunting areas and into places where hunters can’t get at them.
Some of New Jersey and PA’s deer management zones open up in September for fall bow hunting. There are plenty of deer around and September should be the start of a good fall season, especially if the weather cools down to below normal temperatures. If September becomes warmer than normal, hunters will spend a lot less time in the field. However, current weather trends point towards and early cool down this fall and this should mean good hunting.
BASICS Give You Better Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, August 22, 2014
PART 2: WATER LEVELS
No matter what type of water you fish, be it a lake, reservoir, pond, stream, river or bay, water levels greatly affect the fishing found there. A good many anglers overlook this very important element in fishing and most pay the price of not catching fish because they do.
The one thing that a fisherman and a fish have in common is that they are both at the mercy of the environment. Since man can adapt to his environment he is better off than the fish he seeks. Just as man must adjust to his surroundings, a fish has to compensate for water conditions.
Water temperatures and water levels go hand in hand. Because water levels have a direct bearing on how fast or how slow a body of water cools down or warms up, often it's the combination of the two that spells success or failure at any given time. Since water temperatures are greatly affected by the time of the year in which we find them, water levels will play a major role in determining how much the weather conditions affect the water temperatures.
In large reservoirs and lakes, water levels can make a big difference in fishing during the spring time. Normal levels, those that are the rule rather than the exception, are what establish the traditional fishing patterns on which most fishermen rely to fish a body of water year after year. If you are a serious fisherman and do your homework by keeping a fishing log, these patterns will show up quite distinctively over a period of time. A log will enable you to predict on a normal year when the first good fishing will occur after the ice off. That's the easy part.
It would be nice if weather patterns were consistent and the amount of rain we got was the same each year. Since this is not the case we will have to cover two different scenarios.
On years when water levels are low in the spring, flats and shallow areas that we find productive during a normal year could very well be high and dry. As water levels draw down, banks become higher and in many instances they will block the wind from warming up the water with it's warm breezes. In this case the angler has to seek out shallow areas caused by the receding water that are
exposed to the sun and wind as much as possible. These areas should be close to known deep water wintering spots and should have a gradual slope into the deeper water.
If we look at the flip side of the coin, a year when rain falls are well above normal and water levels are higher than normal, we will find that the fish will move in closer to the shoreline and tend to be more spread out. Dead grass and other shoreline vegetation will become flooded, and the fish will move into this cover if the water remains high enough to keep them covered for
any length of time. If the shoreline becomes flooded for only a short length of time or during the first days of a long period of shoreline flooding, the fish will usually only move up to the normal shoreline, with excursions into the flooded area being sporadic. Your best bet is to concentrate your fishing in the normal shoreline with shallow running plugs, spinners and spinnerbaits and jig combinations. The fish will use the old shoreline as a break when they are moving from deep water to shallow water and will often concentrate along it.
Once the spring is behind us and the warmer waters of summer are at hand, vegetation becomes a key element in fishing the different water levels that might avail themselves to the angler. We will have to further divide the possible conditions into two different categories. The first includes the conditions that might present themselves on a long term basis; the second concerns the conditions that will occur on a short term basis. Both categories have very different effects on the fishing because they will determine how heavily congested a body of water will become with vegetation.
Years when the water is constantly low are usually accompanied by drought and very warm air temperatures. This combination of the elements causes vegetation to grow rapidly. It can cut off oxygen to a lake, thus slowing down the fish's feeding, despite the higher water temperatures, and make fishing very difficult. A good sized lake will have open water in it's deeper sections and in most cases the wind will be able to keep oxygen levels within a safe zone. Concentrate your fishing along weed lines and edges that have the wind sweeping up against them. These areas contain better oxygen counts and forage, thus attracting more fish. Another place where the fishing will be productive is among any holes that might be found in the vegetation. These areas will be productive for the same reasons that we have just mentioned and make excellent places for the use of surface lures and plastic worms.
Low water levels can spell real problems for small ponds, especially shallow ones. Unless they are spring feed or well exposed to the wind, they can become weed choked and stagnant. This can get really bad if the vegetation has had time to take hold prior to the falling of the water levels. If you are forced to fish this type of pond, your best bet is to fish the areas that are thinnest in vegetation by casting buzz baits, pork frogs, weedless plastic worms, etc. into the vegetation and working them over it, creating as much commotion as possible. You can increase your chances by taking a small boat and using a rake to create holes in the vegetation. Within a few days of doing this, these holes can really become hot spots.
A year of consistent high water is usually the result of above average rainfall and is accompanied by cooler temperatures. This translates into cooler water temps and a decreased amount of vegetation to fish. When this happens, surface fishing usually suffers, but spinnerbaits, swimbaits and plastic worms can provide some excellent action in the less dense vegetation. Fish also tend
to be found in closer to the shoreline and tend to be more active throughout the day. This is due to the lower barometric pressures and more numerous over cast days that are found in a year such as we have just described.
Now let's take a look at how quick changes in water levels affect the fishing. One thing that is common during the summer months is the often heavy thunder storms that can dump large amounts of water on a small area in a short period of time. This type of situation can give the angler some of the most fruitful conditions to fish. In lakes that have become overrun with vegetation and are hard to fish, the sudden rise in water levels puts a layer of open water above matted vegetation, creating an excellent killing zone for bass, pickerel and other fish. Minnows, frogs, snakes and insect life that venture into this open layer of water attract the predators in good numbers. This is prime time for such lures as the buzzbait, surface plug, floating swimming plug and swimming type rubberbait.
Another situation that manifests itself as the water levels rise is an expanse of water that is found between the shoreline and the vegetation. Never overlook this when it presents itself. Bass, pickerel and other fish gather in this zone, especially in the early morning and late afternoon, to feed on frogs, snakes and insect life that starts to prowl in the twilight. Constant motion surface plugs such as a Jitterbug or buzzbait and spinnerbaits are your prime tools for fishing this type of situation. One mistake that many anglers make when fishing this prime condition is that they make the longest cast they can along it; if they hook a fish he will spook the other fish that are laying between where he cast his lure and where he is standing. Always start in close and work your way down it with each successive cast. This allows you to take a fish without alerting the others along the shoreline.
Last but not least we come to the fall season. This is the one time of the year that the effects of water levels are easiest to predict. During years when the levels are low in the fall, a cool autumn will bring down the water temperatures quicker, thus slowing up the fishing earlier. If we have a mild fall with warm temperatures, then the fishing can last longer into the season. It will suffice to say that constant high water levels during the fall take longer to cool down the water temperatures and this extends the fishing.
The real bug-a-boo is the rapid increase in water levels during the fall which are caused by heavy rains. The cooler rain water will cause water levels to rise and water temps to drop quickly, and this can really put a damper on the fishing. If this happens when a lake is in the process of turning over, it can really hurt the fishing because the change is too quick and does not give the fish a chance to adjust. Many a fall fishery has been destroyed by this scenario. Your best water levels in the fall are ones that remain stable throughout the autumn season.
As we mentioned, water temperature is considered one of the most important factors in determining fish movements. Water levels can predicate how fast the water temperature change either for the better or for the worse. As in sports, an overlooked team can be the king maker or the spoiler for a contender, and this is a valid comparison for the relationship between water levels and the fishing.
BASICS GIVE YOU BETTER FISHING
by J.B. Kasper
PART 1: Water Temperature & Oxygen Levels
When I began fishing some fifty-five years ago, I was fortunate to begin my life as a fisherman with none of the modern day frills that anglers now enjoy. Most anglers in this day and age might consider that to be a handicap, however, it educated me in the basics of fishing, which translates into a basic knowledge of how a fish lives and the things that affect him, as well as a basic understanding of the elements of nature. Of course many of the things we take for granted today were not even invented. My mentor, Sam, used to say "if you want to catch fish you have to think like one." He was also a big believer in keeping a fishing log and taught me how to keep one. The more time I spent fishing and recorded it in a log, the more I realized a fish is a creature of habit, as well as a creature of his environment and the elements that effect it.
Two of the most important elements that affect fish and the way an angler fishes for them are water temperature and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. Water temperature controls every basic function of a fish. It dictates how often he feeds, when he spawns, when he will move on certain structures, how long it will take him to digest his food and even the type of forage he feeds on and more.
The first thing a fisherman should understand is how water temperature affects the way a fish feeds. Although this is relatively simple it can get complicated when you add in the effect of the oxygen levels in the water. The warmer the water gets, the more a fish will have to feed. When the water temperature gets real warm a fish will burn up the calories he gets from his food faster, therefore he will have to eat more to maintain his higher body metabolism. Likewise, the cooler the water gets the less often a fish will feed and the longer he will take to digest his food.
You might think "that's easy enough!" Well, now let's add fuel to the fire so to speak, and see what happens when the water has different levels of oxygen in it. The best way of seeing the effects of oxygen on a fish is to compare a fish to a car engine. A car engine takes in fuel in the form of gasoline just a fish takes in forage. The faster a car engine runs the more fuel it uses and the more oxygen it needs to burn that fuel. In the case of a fish, the warmer the water gets the more forage he eats and the more oxygen he needs to burn up the calories he gets from the forage. In cooler water a fish eats less and takes longer to digest his food, thus he needs less oxygen.
Now let's see how oxygen levels can affect water temperatures. There are two ways water receives oxygen. The first way is through movement of the water. A stream or river gets its oxygen supply through eddies, ripples, rapids and other structures which act as circulators, mixing the oxygen with the water. During times of high water temperatures fish will seek out areas such as we mentioned because they need the heavy amounts of oxygen found there to convert the forage they eat into calories to fuel their body. Because of this fact, fishermen should fish areas that have good oxygen supplies when the water temperatures soar.
The other way that a body of water receive its oxygen is through the wind. This is the chief way a lake or reservoir's water gets it's oxygen. Wind blowing on the surface of the water is infused into the water and the current created by the movement of the water by the wind mixes the oxygen with the water. When we have an extended warm spell that drives the water temps up and there is no breeze accompanying it, the water can get oxygen deprived and make the fish sluggish. In extreme cases where the water temps are very high and there is no breeze for an extended period a fish kill can occur, especially in smaller bodies of water.
Water temperatures and oxygen levels can affect fishing on a seasonal basis as well. During the spring, eddies and pockets of water that are preceded by ripples or rapids will warm up faster and are the places to look for some early season fishing. Warm air is mixed with the water in the areas we mentioned and thus the water is warmed up, making the fish found in these areas more active. After a few days of warm air the fishing can get very lively.
On the opposite side of the coin, a few days of cool air can have the reverse effect. During the spring, a body of water will be turning over from cold water to warm water. When the fish are forced out of the shallows by a few days of cold air temperatures which will cool the water in these areas more quickly than in deeper water, they will move back into deeper water which
is still cold. This will cause them to become sluggish during the early part of the spring.
In a lake or non-moving body of water, warm winds will mix with the surface water. It's best to fish shallow water areas because the oxygen will reach down to the bottom quicker and get the fish moving sooner than in deep water areas. A simple rule to follow is to fish the shallow water areas where the sun is on them the longest and the wind is blowing up into them. The wind will
push the warmer, better oxygenated water into these shallows, warming them up fast and making the fish found there active.
During the fall, the water will be turning over from warm water to cold water. If cold weather should hit and the shallows are cooled down it will force the fish into the deeper water which is still warm from the summer. This will keep the fish hitting since they will be moving back into warmer water. This will hold true as long as the deeper water remains warm.
In a tidal river or bay, wind driven warm air will unite with water that is pushed into the shallows by the incoming tide. This water is then carried out of the shallows with outgoing tides, gradually warming up bays and rivers sooner than ocean temperatures. This will cause winter flounder and other species of fish that have wintered over in the bays and rivers to start moving out and other species of fish such as weakfish, fluke, etc. to begin moving in to spawn and spend the warm water season there. The reverse happens in the fall when a change over from the warm water season to the cold water season happens.
Water temperature in the ocean along the coast is not only affected by the weather but also by the movements of ocean currents along the coast. How soon the water warms up in the spring and how soon it cools down in the fall depends on weather patterns and wind directions. Water temperatures in the ocean along the surf can stay warm well into the late fall if weather patterns
and wind directions push the ocean currents up against the shoreline.
During the summer months, southeasterly winds can cause the water temp along the surf to cool down and slow down fishing. In general, during the summer months, winds blowing off the mainland are warmer than those blowing off the ocean; the reverse is true during the late fall, winter and early spring.
Water temperature and oxygen levels go hand in hand since winds, tides and moving water supply oxygen to the water and this, in turn, is what raises and lowers the water temperature. No matter what type of fishing you do, both of these elements play a major role in your fishing and the more knowledge you have of them and their effects on fish, the better your success rate will be.
August Is A Very Wadeable Month
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, August 5, 2014
How would you like to save some money on your fuel bill, get some exercise and an get into some good fishing at the same time? August is the prime month for wading when river waters are at their lowest and stream conditions in some of the smaller rivers in the state are excellent and their waters are full of smallies and panfish just ripe for the taking. Heck it’s a good way to cool off in the summer heat, it’s great exercise and it gets you into places and fishing spots that you can’t get into in a boat. So here are some tips on how you can enjoy all the benefits of wading, put some fish on the end of your line and some prime spots for wading.
Leave the waders home! A pair of shorts, a tee shirt, a hat and a pair of Polaroid sun glasses and you’re in business. As you can see there is nothing special in our wading attire. However, one thing you should pay special attention to is your wading footwear. First off you should purchase a decent pair of wading shoes. These are specially designed shoes that have felt soles or cleated soles and are made for barefoot or stocking foot wading. Be sure that when you purchase them you try them on with the socks you are going to wear when you wade so that they fit snug, but not too tight. A decent pair will set you back anywhere from $50 to $100 dollars depending on the brand, were you buy them and how well they are built.
It’s always wise to wear a pair of knee high socks with your wading shoes, as they will keep your legs from getting scratched up when walking along the shoreline and also give you some protection from poisonous plants. Be sure to place any perishable items such as your wallet, cell phone (if not water proof), etc. in a water tight plastic bag or container to protect them. There are several companies making water proof containers that are ideal for waders and worth the cost. Likewise many ites such as cameras, cell phones, etc are now produced in water proof models and if you do a lot of wading they make a good choice. I have boht a water proof camera and cell phone since I do a lot of wading.
Another tool that a lot of waders use especially when wading in in faster currents is a wading staff. Several are made commercially, however an old broom stick with a cord attached to it and a clip on the end of the cord to attach to your belt, vest or wading bag makes an excellent wading staff.
Many anglers prefer a wading vest to carry their tackle and extra gear, however, my personal preference is a wading bag. The wading bag I use has been doctored up to hold all the tackle I need, as well as such other items as a water temperature gauge, pair of forceps for taking hooks out of fish, a leader wallet for holding pre-tied leaders and teasers, a small squeeze bottle of oil to keep my reels in tune, a rag for wiping my hands and a rod holder for holding a second rod when wading. The bag hangs on one shoulder with a cross strap that goes around my chest to hold it in place. I prefer a wading bag because it keeps all my gear in on place and you don’t have to search through pockets to find it.
I personally prefer the use two rods while wading. Being able to carry two rods with different actions allows me to use one type of lure for one type of water and then simply switch rods when I want to cover the water with a different type of lure without having to take one lure off and replace it with another on the same rod.
Wet foot wading a stream or river during the summer time can be done in two different ways, either wading upstream or wading downstream. Remember however far you wade into a stream is the same distance you will have to walk or wade back. A lot of times you can wade up or down a stream or stretch of river moving from hole to hole catching fish and before you know it you are one or two miles from where you started. So it’s best to know the water you are wading and know your limits. Quite often I will wade a stream and fish it, then walk the bank back when I’m done fishing, if possible.
If you wade with a partner you can use two vehicles and ride to the place you want to start wading with both vehicles. Then drive one of the vehicles downstream to a second spot where the second person parks the vehicle and wades downstream to a third spot while the first anglers wades down to the second vehicle. Once there he can drive down to the point where the second angler gets out of the water. They can then drive back to the first vehicle when they are done fishing. This works especially well on smaller streams where only certain holes are productive during the low water period of the summer.
Some of the best wading in our area is in the Delaware River. Route 29 runs along the river as far north as Frenchtown, and then Route 627 runs along the river north through Milford. You can park anywhere along Route 29 or 627 that it is not posted and walk down to the river and find some good wading. A couple of my favorite spots are the section just north of Bulls Island, the section of river from the mouth of the Whicheoke Creek to the Stockton Bridge, the section of river in back of the ball fields in Frenchtown and the section of river that lies just north of Milford along the cliffs.
If I had to choose one stream other then the Delaware as the best stream smallmouth fishing it would have to be the South Branch. Not only is there good numbers of smallies, but some excellent size fish as well. So far this year a couple of fish topping the 5-pound mark have been caught from the river. One of the best sections is that which lies between Clinton and where Route 31 crosses the river. The section is a combination of flat stretches that are excellent for surface fishing, occasional deep holes that make for some good jigging and crankbait fishing and plenty of shaded water that is ideal for mid day fishing. A mix of gravel and rocky bottoms, along with gentle currents makes it easy wading.
Lower Musconetcong River
You will also find some excellent smallmouth fishing and summer wading in the lower portion of the Musconetcong which lies from where Route 519 crosses the river in Warren Glen to it’s confluence with the Delaware at Reiglesville. The lower Musconetcong is a lot rockier then the South Branch. The river in this section is a combination of pools, ripples and deepwater pockets that makes for some early morning topwater fishing, along with good small spinnerbait and swimming plugs fishing.
Main Stem Raritan River
The main stem of the Raritan River from the juncture of the South Branch and the North Branch at Duke Island park to it’s confluence with the Millstone River just east of Manville is an excellent smallmouth stream. Here too plenty of average size fish with some real bruisers. The difference between the main stem of the Raritan and the north and south Branches is that there are a lot more deep holes to fish. Crankbaits, swimming plugs, jig combinations and topwater plugs will give you some good results.
One foot note to our story. Sometime in late August or early September usually sees a crayfish molt and the smallies will go bonkers on the soft shell crawdads. This is when small plastic crayfish and plugs with crayfish finishes will really produce. Likewise, the streams we mentioned are some of the first places to cool down during the fall. A such they are excellent best for live-ling and jigging minnows. With water temps already cool look for the crayfish mold and the use of live bait to occur during the next few weeks.
August Fishing is A Question Mark
By J.B. Kasper
Thursday, July 31, 2014
As the month of August dawns on us we are still feeling the effects of the harsh winter, cool spring and a so far cooler than normal summer. Likewise an above normal amount of rainfall has kept water levels above normal and cooler than normal with lakes having less vegetation then is normal for summer. These things have combined to give anglers some erratic fishing so far this summer in both fresh and saltwater. So far we have not seen a reset to normal summer conditions and fish patterns. This makes August a crucial month in determining how the fall fishing will go. Should we have a cool August we could have an early start to the fall. After that it will depend on wether or not we have an extended warm fall, if we are to see good fishing through the end of the year.
Water temps in local lakes and ponds have been in the low 80s since the end of June and many lakes are in the upper 70s in the morning and the low 80s in the late afternoons. This has relegated topwater action in lakes like Mercer, Assunpink, Plainsboro, Prospertown and Carnegie Lake to an early and late day bite with spotty nighttime activity. Should August remain cooler than normal it could mean an early start to the live bait fishing. If August should turn warm we could have a delayed start to the fall fishing. My money is on a cool August and an early start to the fall fishing, however this has been one of te most inconsistent season we have ever seen.
Water temps in the Delaware have been below normal most of the summer, and water levels have been above average, thus serving up inconsistent fishing with no sign of any change in the near future. This has made the smallmouth fishing, which has been very poor because of the disease problems, even worse and we are in the midst of one of the worst smallmouth season on record for the river. Sorry folks there is no other way of putting it and the future looks bleak for the smallmouth fishing in the river. In the tidal river conditions have produced some good carp and catfishing, and there are still a fair amount of small stripers being caught as well. Backwater areas are seeing sporadic largemouth fishing and it remains to be seen what has happened to the excellent numbers of bass the spawns have produced for the last two seasons. Largemouth fishing in the tidal river has been spotty at best so far this summer.
The month of August should see decent bass fishing throughout New Jersey, Delaware and Eastern PA. However, should the weather remain cooler than normal, water temps could drop quickly in the fall an dictate the use of live bait a lot earlier then normal. Smaller lakes and ponds are producing better fishing than larger bodies of water, mainly because they are a few degrees warmer and closer to normal summer water temps. Look for the better surface fishing to be late in the day, with swimbaits and weedless rigged plastics producing the rest of the time especially in areas that have the wind blowing up into them.
Rivers like the South Branch, North Branch, Rockaway and Raritan are also seeing below normal smallmouth fishing. The heavy ice conditions we had this past winter destroyed a lot of river structures and destroyed a lot of vegetation by scraping the roots right out of the river bed in a lot of places. Ths spring did not produce a good spawn for smallies, rock bass and other fish as well. This has combined to make smallmouth fishing real spotty in rivers and streams. Look for small jig combinations and swimming plugs to be your most productive lures. The one thing to watch for in these streams during August is a crayfish molt which will really turn the smallies on, along with plenty of rock bass.
Reservoirs and lakes such as Round Valley, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Lake Hopatcong, Culvers Lake, Split Rock Lake and Canisteer Reservoir should continue to produce good smallmouth bass fishing on live bait and jig combinations. Smallmouth fishing should continue to be excellent in the Thousand Islands as well. However, smallmouth fishing is also below normal in the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers.
Forget about trout fishing thanks to the disease problems at the hatchery and the poor spring stocking they produced. Even the state’s top streams the fishing has been very poor this summer and there are no signs of it improving anytime soon. Both Round Valley and Merrill Creek reservoirs should continue to produce good fishing, however most of the lake trout fishing is in 75 to 100-feet of water, while the rainbows and browns are being caught in 10 to 30-feet of water, mainly on bait.
One fishery that usually is in the summer doldrums is the pickerel fishing in the lower part of New Jersey. However this year’s above normal rains and cooler than normal temps have kept the water pickerel producing waters cooler than normal with less vegetation. This has kept the pickerel fishing better than normal. Should we have a cool August look for the pickerel fishing to remain good.
What crappie fishing there will be in lakes is mainly a late day early evening bite just before and after dark. Crappie fishing has been picky this summer, however as the days start growing shorter the late day action usually picks up. Your best catches will be on jigs fished under floats as the crappies come closer to the surface in the late day.
Look for continued good hybrid bass, pike and walleye fishing in the waters where these fish are present. Anglers should also see some good carp and catfishing, especially in local waters.
So far this summer bottom fishing has been decent with sea bass, tog, winter founder and ling proving excellent fishing along with some cod, pollock and triggerfish. This fishing should continue through August.
August is the traditional start of the tuna fishing, along with albacore and bonito. The offshore tuna fishing will depend on the weather and whether or not the hurricane season is an active one. So far reports have been very encouraging with bonito, albacore and Spanish mackerel already being caught mixed in with the bluefish, and yellowfin and mahi mahi being taken offshore in decent numbers.
So far fluke fishing has been a mix of small fish and fair numbers of big fluke, some topping te ten-pound mark. A 12-pound fish was caught last week and every week we get reports of 10-pound plus fish. The month of August should see the best of the fluke fishing, with water temps finally coming into a more summer range. With the season closing on September 27 you have got only a limited time to get in on the fishing.
Weakfishing so far has been very spotty and so far there are no signs of any fish moving into Jersey waters. So don’t look for too much in the way of weakfish action in August, however last season the weakies moved into Jersey waters in good numbers and we will just have to wait and see if this happens again this year.
Occasional big stripers are still being caught in north Jersey waters, thanks to the cooler than normal water temps. Wether or not August will continue to see stripers being caught will depend on which way water temps go. Should they get warmer fishing will be slower, should they remain cool fish will continue to be caught.
While bluefishing has been better than last season so far this summer, most of the blues now being caught are smaller fish in the one to three-pound class. Increasing amounts of baitfish have moved into bays, rivers and inshore waters in the last couple weeks and this should stoke up the bluefishing. Albacore Spanish mackerel and bonito have started to show up along the inshore waters, and hopefully they will ad to the fishing in August.
Power Drift for Tough Fluke
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, July 24, 2014
If you think the crazy weather conditions have made the fishing tough in freshwater, it will come as no surprise to find out that the cool water temperatures and rainy conditions have not made fishing in the brine much better. The influx of freshwater from rivers into the bays often makes fluke and other fish less aggressive, and drops in water temperatures add to the problem. Likewise, storms moving up the coast can change ocean currents and push cool water against the beaches and into the inlets and rivers with the incoming tides. Some of these changes can drop the water temperature as much as ten to fifteen degrees on the incoming tide and really turn the fish off. As a result, knowing which tide that the fluke are feeding on is a key factor.
Another problem that the abnormal weather conditions create with the fluke fishing is causing the winds to blow against the tides. No other condition is more difficult to deal with when fluke fishing than having the wind blowing against the tide. One of my favorite places to fish for fluke is the Manasquan River. During the season I try to fish the river at least two or three times a month and this season has been a real tough year. All three of my most recent trips to the river have had the wind blowing against the tide and this really cut into not only the numbers of fish we have been taking, but the size of the fluke as well.
One of the methods that has kept us catching fluke when most other boats are drowning bait is to power drift. There is no question that some of the best fluke fishing occurs when the wind and the tides are moving in the same direction. When the wind is working against the tide, you can often find your boat sitting still. This leaves you with two choices: you can cast and retrieve your baits slowly along the bottom or power drift. If you choose to cast and retrieve your baits you will be limited to fishing an area of your farthest cast. Power drifting will allow you to move your baits along the bottom and cover a lot more water.
Fluke will often bunch up in certain areas, and concentrating your fishing in these areas, once you find them, will often give you more fish than if you keep drifting over long distances which have a lot of dead water. One trick is to power drift to find the fish, then cast and retrieve your baits once you have located the fluke. You can also power drift back and forth over the area until the fish either stop hitting or move.
Like any other method, power drifting must be done properly if it is to be successful. Fluke will face the tide looking for a meal to come their way. When the tide is coming in the fluke will be facing the incoming water which will bring them food. In this case you should power drift with the tide so that your baits are coming at the fish. The reverse is true if the tide is going out; you will want to power drift into the outgoing water.
Getting the Bait Down
How much weight you use to hold bottom will be determined by the strength of the current and the depth of the water you are fishing. Many times even when the wind is against the tide, and your boat will be standing still, the current along the bottom will be moving. Fishing deep water will also require the use of more weight to hold bottom. The best rule to follow, whether you are using a jig or bottom rig, is to use as light a weight as you can get away with.
The length of the leader you use on a bottom rig is also an important factor when power drifting. If you are fishing shallow water or a slow current, don't use a long leader. A long leader will cause the bait to ride too high and out of the strike zone. Twelve to 18 inches is the preferred leader size for use in shallow water. In deeper water with slower currents, a longer leader will allow your bait to drift more freely along the bottom and this will cover more area.
Spinner & Float Rigs
Many veteran fluke fishermen who employ power drifting as a method of dealing with slow drifts use a floater or spinner rig. Floater rigs are especially effective in deeper water where you will want to keep your baits about six inches to a foot off the bottom. Spinner rigs (a couple of beads and a spinner blade placed above the hook) will giving you some good results in shallow water when the flash from the spinner blade will act as an attractant.
When it comes to motors, the angler has several choices. Many fishermen who own a large boat usually have a smaller motor to use for power drifting. Smaller boats, on the other hand, can usually use their motor to power drift. I most often fish for fluke out of my 16 foot boat and have a saltwater model electric motor which is ideal for power drifting. It saves on gas and can move the boat a lot slower than a gas outboard. If you are forced to use a motor that moves your boat too fast, back trolling is a good way of slowing up your boat on the power drift.
Keeping your boat moving is often the key to good fluke fishing. Ask any veteran fluke fishermen and he will tell you a moving boat will catch more fluke then an anchored or sitting still boat. So the next time you find te fluke fishing slow because your boat is not moving because of wind against tide or slow currents, turn on that engine and keep your boat moving. You’ll be surprised to find out what a big difference it makes in the number of fluke you catch.
Thousand Islands: Scenic Beauty and Great Fishing
By J.B. Kasper
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Being addicted to fishing for the better part of 60 years one often spends most of your on water time chasing bass and other finned creatures in the same waters. As a result every once in a while you get the yearning for a change in scenery. One place you can really get a change in scenery, especially if you chase Ol’ Bronzeback, is the Thousand Island region of Canada. I’ve fished up and down the east coast, both in freshwater and saltwater, and have scene some of the most pristine fishing waters in the country. However, nothing is more stunning than the Saint Lawrence River in the Thousand Island region. Once you visit the area you’ll become addicted to it’s beauty. And much of the same can be said for the smallmouth and largemouth fishing in the region as well.
I have been fishing the region at least once a year for the past 25 years and can honestly say that I never had a bad trip for smallmouth there. Over the years I have met plenty of anglers from our local area that also make the trip to the Thousand Islands on a yearly basis as well. To the man none have ever had a bad word for the region. However, some of the fishing tales might seem far fetched, if I did not known the how prolific the smallmouth population in the river is first hand.
couple of weeks back we spent a week in the North Country fishing and camping, with a three day stay at Caiger’s Country Inn in Rockport in the Thousand Islands. The first three days we stayed at Pleasure Park campgrounds where we fished Graham Lake. While the largemouth fishing was excellent severe thunder storms knocked us off the water keeping our numbers down. We did manage better than 40 bass to 4 pounds before the storms pushed us off the water.
The last three days we spent at Caiger’s Resort in Rockport fishing the Thousand Islands section of the Saint Lawrence River. While we caught mostly largemouth on the first day, Thursday and Friday saw super smallmouth fishing. All week long the weather was excellent with temperatures during the day in the 80s, and in the 60s to low 70s in the evening. The major difference was that we were storm free all three days.
Each night we averaged about 10 largemouth to 3 pounds and 40 to 50 smallies to 3 pounds along with plenty of rock bass and panfish. Excellent fishing and since the smallmouth fishing has been so poor in my home waters of the Delaware for the last several years due to the disease that struck the smallies, it was refreshing to find a healthy smallmouth fishery that was eager to do battle. Smallmouth numbers in the Saint Lawrence rival those of the Delaware when it was hottest in the 80s and 90s till about five years ago when the disease struck.
One of the things that stoked up the fishing in the Thousand Islands was a stiff breeze that was blowing during the day all three days and seemed to calm down about a couple hours before dark.
When it comes to the bass fishing two types of lures did the trick for us. Most of the largemouth were taken from the shallow bays around the vegetation on topwater plugs, mainly poppers in the 2-1/2-inch size with a frog or black and sliver finish.
The second type of lure was a jig-swimbait combination. Jig-swimbait combinations such as Swimtails, Paddletails, Fin-S-Fish, Zoom Flukes and Bass Assassins proved deadly in 10 to 20-feet of water, while fishing rocky bottoms and the fronts of islands that had currents moving over them. Allowing them to sink to the bottom and swimming them close to the bottom with a stop and go retrieve provided us with a steady bite of smallies. When the smallies stopped hitting in one spot all we did was move to another spot with similar terrain and depth and started catching them all over again.
There are plenty of places to stay in the Thousand Islands, however, one of the best locations is Caiger’s Resort in Rockport, Ontario. The inn is located right in the heart of the best fishing in the Thousand Islands only about a 20 minute ride east of the Thousand Island Bridge. Caigers has been part of the vacation and fishing lore for better than 60 years and countless numbers of fishermen have returned to her docks after fishing the Saint Lawrence with great catches, and even greater stories of the big fish that got away.
The resort underwent massive renovations a couple years back and is now in the best shape it has ever been in. The rooms have been renovated and now have wide screen TVs capable of supporting DVD players, computers and games. The inn also offers wireless ineternet for those who want to stay in touch via the computer or have business obligations. Renovations on the main lodge include a new dinning room, recreation room and bar on the first floor, and a bar-lounge on the second floor. Both dinning areas are adjoined by an outdoor terrace for outdoor dinning.
Mark Janusz, who owns Caiger’s told me the resort has been in constant operation for a long time (since 1946 when it was opened by Frank Caiger) and much of the renovations were to bring the resort into the modern age without losing its rustic nature. Caiger’s has always been known for fine food and good service, and that hasn’t changed there’s just more of it. The new bar which takes up the second floor of the main lodges not only serves drinks and food, it offers several nights of live music giving fishermen and divers a great way to relax after a day on the water. The inn is now open for weddings, reunions and other functions, and the bar and catering facilities are open the year round.
In addition to all the amenities the resort has a boat launch and plenty of dockage and numerous fishing contest are run out of the resort each year. The section of the Thousand Islands the resort is located in offers anglers a variety of water to fish. Numerous large and small islands, which are studded with docks and boat houses, are within a few minutes ride from the resort. To the east of Caigers plenty of marshes and reeded flats make for some excellent surface fishing for largemouth and pike. Waters with depths of 100-feet and deeper are with in a few minutes of the inn and several sunken wrecks are also on close proximity of the inn. To the west of the inn tightly grouped islands with plenty of small bays and backwater areas produce some good pocket fishing.
Plenty to do for the whole Family
When you're not fishing, there are plenty of sights to see and places to go. The first thing you notice when crossing the bridge and traveling along the Thousand Islands Parkway is the paved bicycle path that runs parallel to the highway. It runs for miles along the highway and links campgrounds, lodges and other places together, offering a safe bicycle path to travel. If you are into biking you can ride for miles through the Thousand Islands.
Several old forts are located along the Thousand Islands Parkway, the most notable of which are Fort Henry in Kingston and Fort Wellington in Prescott. Both offer you a look into the areas past. Another interesting place to visit is Boldt Castle on Heart Island. George Boldt, an immigrant from Prussia who worked his way up from a dishwasher to a multimillionaire, spared no expense in building the castle, patterned after those found in his native land. Sadly, the castle was a year away from it's completion when his wife took ill and died. All work was immediately stopped on the castle and it was never completed. You can take your own private boat, as we did, or one of the many tour boats that travel to the island, and spend the day visiting the castle and surrounding grounds. Scattered throughout the Thousand Islands are a multitude of small towns, antique stores, outdoor markets and historical sights you can visit There is also the Thousands Island Casino in Gananoque.
If you looking for a place to vacation, especially this coming fall when the nature’s autumn foliage goes on display and smallmouth and pike fishing gets even better, you won’t find a better place to visit than the Thousand Islands. Fishing this year has been excellent and because of the warm summer should remain so well into the fall. Likewise, if you are looking to do some sweetwater diving the gin clear water of the Saint Lawrence are just what the doctor ordered. And there is plenty of fun for the entire family at the inn.
Caiger's Resort, in Rockport in the Thousand Island- 613-659-2266 or www. vacation1000islands.com/caigers.
Tips for Fishing Evolving Structure:
Being In the Right Place At the Right Time
by J.B. Kasper
All too often anglers get into a good pocket of fish and just pass it off as luck. The truth is being in the right place at the right time is one of the basic elements of good fishing. Likewise, all too often anglers who fail to score when they are fishing blame it on a lack of luck, when in fact they were more then likely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The serious fishermen, however, knows all to well that being in the right place at the right time is no accident most of the time and that there is a method to the madness so to speak. The more time you spend on the water the more it becomes evident that, under normal conditions, fish are found in different places at different times of the day. This is what Evolving Structure is all about and there are certain precepts that you can adhere to that will make your time on the water more productive. So by now you are probably saying "what's the secret on being in the right time at the right place." To quote the father of structure fishing E.L."Buck" Perry "most fish live in deep water and move into shallow water to feed. What this means to the angler is that he must know where the fish are on a structure at different times of the day and fish accordingly.
Remember we are taking about the summer season when conditions are relatively stable. It must also be remembered that every rule has it’s exceptions, but knowing how to follow the fish’s movements on evolving structure can make a big difference in the number of fish you catch in the summer.
Typical evolving structures during the summer months are ones that gradually taper off into deeper water or have some type of cover located near by. Because the summer sun is at it’s brightest, and fish can’t close their eyes, they usually retreat into one of two places. They will either move into deeper water or move under some type of cover (ea. weed beds, shadows, rocks, etc.) to get away from the direct rays of the sun. It's for this reason that a fishermen must change the way he fishes and use different types of lures and methods that will enable him to cover those areas.
Most fish will move into shallow water to feed during the dark hours of the night or first thing in the morning. What this means to the fishermen is that surface plugs will be most effective under these conditions and thus are his top choice to fish these shallow waters. Surface baits such as poppers, darters, constant motion plugs and buzzbaits will score their best catches before the sun gets on a structure and moves the fish off into deeper water.
When it some to morning fishing, the position of the structures you are fishing can make a big difference. As the sun moves on to the water, structures that come under the influence of trees, mountains and other shade producing objects are the ones where the surface action will last the longest. The reverse is true in the afternoon and early evening, in that the structures that have shallows cast on them the earliest in the afternoon, will be some of the first places where fish movements will begin. As you will see shadows can have a big effect on where you fish during different times of the day.
Fish being found in shallow water, in most cases also means that they will be found closes to the shorelines in the early hours as well. When fishing early and late in the day concentrate your surface fishing in these areas while the sun in off the water. Many times bass and panfish will be found in only a few inches of water, having pushed baitfish into the shallows to feed.
This is also the time of the day when the fish are at their spookiest and anglers must be as quiet as possible whether fishing from a boat, wading or walking the shoreline. Your best bet is to start by casting close to your position and gradually working your lures farther out with each successive cast. Making a very long cast and hooking a fish can often spook fish that are between you and where the fish hit. Starting in close and working your way out will help you keep from spooking fish that are further away from your position.
Once the sun begins moving on to the water, keep fishing in the shadows that cover shallow water as long as the fish are hitting. If the bite starts to slow down or stops, more then likely the fish have moved further out into deeper water or into some type of cover, and you’ll have to move into these areas and change your lures and tactics.
In lakes and pounds this usually means deeper water or vegetation. In rivers or streams it usually means deeper water or whitewater. In a lake the better summer structures are more gradual sloping in nature. After they start moving out of shallow water and into deeper water they will follow a migration route, moving from break point to break point until they get into their deep water haunts. As they move down the structure, depending on the depth of the water, using crankbaits and spinnerbaits, will take the fish in moderate depths. If their movements are into deeper water, say 10-feet or deeper, jig combinations will make a better choice. Once the fish have moved into their deep water haunts, your best bet will be to dig them out with jigs and plasticbaits.
If the lake you are fishing is not deep and the bass move into cover your tactics are different. In this case you will find better fishing on weedless rigged plasticbaits when you are dealing with vegetation and fallen timber. If the bass move into cover such as pilings, rip rap and docks jig, swimbaits, creature baits and plastic worms will be your top choices.
When fishing the moving waters of a river your tactics will be quite different after the fish move out of the shallows. If they move into a deep water eddy or pool, the best way to dig them out is with jig-plasticbait combinations or deep running crankbaits.
More often then not, smallmouth and other fish will move into whitewater or ripples, especially in the summer, for the oxygen that is found in those areas. Since the rich oxygen levels in these areas makes the fish very aggressive, you will have several options. Single jigs, swimbaits or double rigged jigs, dressed with plasticbaits make an excellent choice because they are excellent control baits in the swifter currents. Another good choice is a sinking swimming plugs such as a Rapala Countdown. Here too this type of plug is a good control lure. Last but not least small spinnerbaits fished across the current slowly will also give you good results.
One last tip for fishing evolving structure. The color of the fish you are catching can tell you a lot about the movements of fish on an evolving structure. Fish found in shallow water are usually light in color. So if you are fishing in morning and catch a fish that is light in color off the shallows or in deeper water, it’s a good bet he has migrated from the shallows and you should start fishing deeper water or the nearest cover.
On the flip side of the coin, if you are fishing in the shallows and catch a dark color fish, it’s a good bet the fish are starting to move into the shallow water to feed. In this case you should stay where you are fishing and work the shallow water to pick up the fish as they move into the shallow water.
There you have it a look at how to fish evolving structure during the summer months.
Basic Eddy Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Wether you fish a river, stream or any other moving body of water, one of the most basic of structures you will have to deal with is an eddy. Eddies are formed when an object impedes the flow of the current. There are two basic types of eddies: a single current line eddy and a double current line eddy. Both have the same four basic components: an object that breaks the current; a current line or lines that are formed as the water goes around the object; a downstream dead water pocket and a shallow area down from the eddy. The only difference between the two is that one has a lone current line and the other has two, a deep current line and a shallow current line.
When fishing an eddy always position yourself, wether fishing from the shore or in a boat, along side the eddy downstream from the object that forms the eddy. When you are fishing from a boat never anchor your boat right in the eddy. When fishing a two current line eddy, such as those located below a rock, island, bridge piling, etc you will be able to use the current to move your baits or lures along the opposite current line and sweep your lure into the strike zone. Fish such as smallmouth, walleye, etc. will hold in the deadwater pocket or eddy when resting. When they go on the feed they will line up along the inner edge of the current line and look to the current to bring them food and oxygen.
When fishing an eddy in the morning work it first right over the surface of the eddy with a surface bait or swimming plug. After you have checked out the surface cast a jig-plasticbait combination or a sinking swimming plug and allow the current to move the lure down the current line and into the back of the eddy, the slowly retrieve it with a stop and go motion back to your position. When fishing the mid day hours cast your jig combination and plugs right into the top of the eddy along the inside of the current and work them in the deeper part of the eddy. This is where the fish will retreat to during the mid day hours to get out of the direct sun light.
One other spot to fish is the shallow water upstream of the object that causes the eddy. In the case of a single current line eddy such as a point of land, this up side will be a dead water pocket that will hold fish early and late in the day.
In the fall and spring eddies make an excellent place to live line minnows or hellgrammites or fish them as dressing on a jig. Speed and depth control are crucial in fishing an eddy, thus making jig combinations one of the best methods to fish an eddy. When working a current line with jigs or plugs cast your lure to the top of the current line right below where the current comes around the object and use the current to move the lure by holding your rod tip high and gradually lower the tip as your lure moves down the current line. This will keep your lure along the edge of the current line and in the strike zone. Once the lure is downstream keep your rod tip down along the water while you retrieve your lure back to your position.
Eddies are good places to look for fish the year around, however they come into their prime time during the summer months when the water is at its warmest and the oxygen rich waters of the eddies keep the fish active all day.
July Fishing: A Big Question Mark
By J.B. Kasper
Thursday, June 26, 2014
With the weather continuing to play the devil with both fresh and saltwater fishing, the action in July is full of questions. So far inconsistency has been the rule with the weather. Hopefully the weather will stabilize as the summer progresses.
Local waters saw up and down water temps in June which made the fishing erratic. Water temps need to come up into the 80s on a steady basis for the real summer fishing to start. Should this happen look for the better fishing to be early and late in the day. Once the sun gets on the water weedless rigged plastic baits and swimbaits will be your top choices. Should the water stay cool fishing will remain erratic look for live bait, jig combinations and swimbaits to be your top choices.
Up and down water temps have also been the problem in the big river as well. However, smallmouth fishing in the river north of Trenton has been extremely poor. I fished the river several times during the last two weeks of June and not only saw very little smallmouth action, but very little life of any kind as well. Should water temps remain below normal in the low 70s look for live bait and jig-plasticbait combinations to work best. Should the water temps reach their summer levels in the 80's, anglers should see small spinnerbaits, swimming plugs, topwater baits and jig combinations take fish. However, with the poor numbers of smallies now in the river fishing is looking very dismal for this summer and fall.
Largemouth fishing started to pick up about mid month and is showing steady improvement. Here too some warmer water temps will go a long way toward putting the bass in a summer mode. Topwater fishing has been fair, however swimbaits fished just off te spawning areas have been very productive. Should water temps come up into the 80s weedless rigged plastics will produce better. Look for some good nighttime bass fishing should we have a hot July.
Smallmouth fishing in the state’s larger streams has also taken a hit from the weather. Cooler water temps and high waters have delayed the crayfish molt and hatch which usually occurs in June and early July, and triggers the summer fishing. Smallmouth fishing in streams like the main stem of the Raritan, South Branch, Musconetcong and Passaic rivers all took a hit this past winter from the extreme cold and heavy ice floes. The ice foes rearranged a lot of real estate in all streams and this is going to impact on the fishing this summer. Smallmouth fishing has been poor so far but should improve if water temps go up. The smallmouth action in the bigger lakes and reservoirs has been more consistent, so give Merrill Creek and Round Valley reservoir a try, as well as Union Lake and Lake Audrey in South Jersey.
Normally trout fishing would have benefitted from the cooler water temps, however because of the problems at the hatchery and the reduced stocking that resulted, trout fishing has been and will be very poor this summer. Trout fishing in Round Valley and Merrill Creek reservoirs has been very good and should continue to give anglers good fishing through out the month, making the bog reservoirs your best bet for some trout in July and through out the summer.
Most of the better fishing will be in the early evening right around dark in most lakes. In the bigger lakes and reservoirs, most of the crappie will be suspended and you will have to dig them out with jig combinations. Crappie fishing was very good in June because of the late spawn and the good post spawn bite in most waters, and this should continue into the early part of July.
Mercer Lake should produce some muskies on big swimming plug and spinnerbaits. Walleye fishing has been good and should remain good in Lake Hopatcong, Monksville Reservoir and Swartswood Lake. Hybrid action should continue to be good Spruce Run and Lake Hopatcong. Catfish and panfishing has been good through out the state should continue to be good right through July.
Sea bass fishing was good in June, however the bag limit goes down in July and even though the fishing should be good anglers will be hard hit by the regs when it comes to taking fish home for table. In addition, there should be some good ling fishing along with some cod being caught. Porgies, croakers and kingfish have yet to show up in Jersey waters, as these fish, like most other fisheries more than likely are three to four weeks behind schedule because of the hard winter we had. Once these fish show up look for some decent fishing.
This summers fluke fishing has been very picky so far, mainly because the fluke have been slow to move into the bays and rivers. Here too the reason is the hard winter we had which has put the fluke migration several weeks behind. It’s a good bet we will see good movement on the fluke in July so if you are looking to getting on some good fishing July will be a hot month for the flatfish through out the state.
So far weakfishing has been non-existent, however the fishing was very poor in the first part of the season last year, but really turned on in the late summer and through out the fall. So keep you fingers crossed that we will see the same type of fishing this summer.
Striper fishing in Raritan Bay has slowed up, however cooler inshore water temps kept the fishing good just off the beaches in the northern part of the state until this past week. Look for the bass action along the inshore waters to become more spotty as July progresses and the bulk of the fishing will be over by mid month unless we have a very cool July.
Bluefishing has been excellent this spring, however the slammers are now going on the spawn. This normally slows the fishing in July, however, hopefully we won’t see a complete collapse like we did lat year. Look for 1 to 3-pound blues in the bays, while the bigger fish will be caught in the ocean at the Mud Hole, Farms and 17 Fathoms in the north and the Klondike and Manasquan Ridge in the middle of the state.
Bass In the Grass
by J.B. Kasper
One thing that all waters have in common, be they lake, pond, reservoir, stream or river, is vegetation. You know, that salad type ingredient in a lake that keeps getting stuck on your lures. Vegetation is to a bass what a house is to a person. It's shelter from the elements, a sanctuary from predators and a place to enjoy his meals.
Bass are cold blooded creatures and are at the mercy of their liquid environment. Since he cannot close his eyes, the major element from which he needs shelter are the rays of the sun. Weed patches such as lily pads, hydrilla, candocks, etc. offer him a shaded place to stay and escape the heavy light penetration that covers a lake during the daytime. This makes it a prime target of the bass fisherman during the midday hours. After all, the only fish that I ever saw wearing a pair of sunglasses is Charlie the Tuna. So he does what comes naturally and uses the vegetation as a shield.
Most anglers don't think about the vegetation that is found in a stream. In a river or stream it not only offers cover from the sunlight but a haven from the current as well, and many a good largemouth and smallmouth come from behind plots of vegetation growing along the bottom of a river or stream.
Since the day he is born, a bass uses vegetation as protection from his predators, and anytime he feels threatened he is likely to head for the friendly confines of the closest weed patch. A bass is a creature that relies on his instincts to survive, and those that are developed when he is young remain with him throughout his life.
Likewise, the first forage he feeds on is the insect life that is found in and around weed patches. Small minnows, crayfish, grass shrimp and insect life in various stages all call weed beds home, not to mention forage such as frogs who feed in these areas. As a result, from the time he is born until he is finally seduced by the charms of some fisherman's pet lure or dies of old age, a bass will spend much of his time in weed beds.
As we have pointed out, vegetation plays a big part in a bass’s life. It provides the basic elements of food, shelter and security, and the fisherman who knows how to pry him from these regions will have that much more working for him. So let's take a look at how we can unlock some of the green doors that conceal him.
Water levels have a lot to do with how productive vegetation in a lake or pond will be. During the summer, many lakes and small ponds are often over grown with vegetation, making them difficult to fish. Dropping water levels in the summer can greatly compound this problem. Another thing that is common during the summer months are afternoon or evening thunder storms that give small areas heavy amounts of rain. If these storms occur in the area around a small pond they can sufficiently raise the water levels to put a few inches of water between the vegetation and the surface. This will cause insect life and other forage to gather in these areas and gives the bass plenty of forage on which to feed, and surface plugs, buzz baits or other surface lure can give you some excellent action.
Don't overlook the use of live bait in this type of situation either. One method that can give you some spectacular results is to dress a minnow on a floating jig head so that it stays on the surface. The commotion that he produces trying to take the floating jig head down draws bass like a magnet and they will really pounce on it. Surface fishing allows you to get away with using heavier lines, since the fish will see very little of the line. This makes the bass easier to handle when he dives into the cover below.
Water levels also affect how you fish weed beds in a stream or river. During the average summer, rivers and streams will draw down. This causes the vegetation to float on the surface, leaving numerous pockets of open water. Since this water is oxygen rich, the bass that are found there are constantly feeding and this creates an ideal situation for the fisherman. Some of these weed patches can be as long as ten feet in length. They are anchored to the bottom by their roots and the vegetation will flow with the current. This creates a place for bass to get away from both the sunlight and the current in the eddy that lies below the weed patch and they will wait in ambush for any tempting morsel that has the unfortunate luck to come floating by.
This situation can be fished with a surface lure but is better fished with a small jig/plasticbait combination, which can be maneuvered in and out of the pockets and along their sides with the current. Small twisters and crayfish imitations will be your top artificials, with hellgrammites and minnows tops in the live bait department. The fly fisherman can will find good action on streamer flies and popping bugs in these areas.
Another trick for fishing these places with plasticbaits is to snell a hook on a length of line and then sew it through the plasticbaits, adding some strip lead to the shaft of the hook to get it down along the weed patches. It can then be drifted with a twitching motion along the weed patches.
Heavy but loosely matted vegetation is another place which holds many good sized bass in the summer. Buzz baits and spinnerbaits are good choices, and the colors of these lures can play an important part in their productivity. During the daylight hours, frogs and bait fish will have light but distinct markings and colors. This will be the time to use bright colors. The dark hours are a prime time to fish in this type of vegetation and the forage that will be present will be dark in color. Small field mice, snakes and even the bait fish, which come out to feed at this time, will be dark in color since Mother Nature gives them this type of camouflage to help some of them survive. This is the time to use black, purple and other dark colors.
Pork frogs and pork strips have been around for a long time and before the advent of the plasticbait they were the favorite bait to use in this type of situation, and are still very deadly today. Pork frogs dressed on a weedless hook and retrieved through the vegetation with a twitching motion will cause them to dart from place to place just as a frog would, and will produce savage strikes from the bass right through the vegetation.
When it comes to pork strips, they are best fished dressed on a weedless spoon and fished in the same manner. Modern pork strips come in a variety of shapes and colors, giving you a good selection from which to choose.
Rubber baits, especially the swimming tail plastic worms, make an excellent choice in these areas. You can make your worms weedless by using a hook with a wire weed guard or a worm hook that has it's point embedded into the worm. Plastic worms are best fished with a constant slow twitching motion that will give them the appearance of a small snake travelling through the water. You can also dress them on a spinner rig to give them extra action.
Many lakes and ponds are over run with vegetation and you will have only a few open water pockets to fish. One thing you can do is to go out in a boat and rake holes in the vegetation to be fished at a later date. It is a little bit of work but usually pays off handsomely a few days later.
Most anglers think in terms of fish migration as being horizontal. In cases such as the holes that are found in heavy vegetation this may not be true. During the early morning and late evening, many bass will move vertically and feed on the surface of these open holes. They then migrate towards the bottom or into the weeded areas once the sun gets on the water. When this happens, the use of a surface plug is a deadly and exciting way of taking them. One of the best surface methods is to use floating minnow type plugs as surface lures, even though they are really crank baits. Cast them into the open water pockets and allow them to go motionless, much the same way a minnow would play opossum as a bass eyes him up. A good twitch of the rod tip and the plug will be sent diving into the open water. If no hit occurs it should be allowed to float back to the surface. Pay close attention to your lure, as many hits come when the lure is floating back to the surface. This type of retrieve is designed to imitate a dying minnow, which is an easy target for the lazy bass found in these areas.
Weed lines are another prime form of bass cover. These are edges of the vegetation which drop off into somewhat deeper water. Bass will lay in the vegetation with their heads facing into the open water, awaiting an easy meal. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plasticbaits are the prime lures to use for this type of fishing. The mistake most often made by many fishermen is to make a long cast along the weed line. If the angler hooks a fish on the first cast he will usually spook the fish that are in between his cast and the spot from where he is casting. The best way of fishing them is to make short casts to start with and then increase the distance of your casts by a few feet with each successive cast. It's like duck hunting; the best way is to pick off the last one first without alerting the ones ahead of him. The same is true in fishing weed lines.
You should never overlook any holes or depressions in the weed line, as these will be fish holding places. Always throw a few extra casts into these areas from different angles; sometimes a change in the angle of a cast will make all the difference you need to take a fish.
Fishing vegetation can be challenging as well as very rewarding. To a bass, weeded areas mean food and shelter, two of the prime ingredients that hold bass. So this summer give them a try, after all, a bass in the grass is better than none in the net.
Bluefishing Turning Hot Along Jersey Coast
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, June 12, 2014
It’s amazing what some warmer weather and warmer water can do for the fishing, especially along the Jersey Coast. The last several weeks saw the annual migration of bluefish into Jersey waters, and the slammers have been beating up everything that gets in their way. This past week I got reports of blues in the three to six pound range moving in and out of the inlets along the coast and invading the bays. Likewise, some of the bigger choppers in the five to 18-pound class have taken up residence along the inshore waters at the Mud Hole, the Farms and even the Klondike.
On average I speak with 15 to 20 boat captains a week who’s vessels target the slammers on a full time or part time basis. To the man they have told me that the numbers of bluefish that have been moving into our coastal waters in the last month are some of the best they have seen in more then a decade. The slammers first started showing up the last week in April and their numbers have been steadily building since then. As one boat captain from the Atlantic Highlands told me, “there is so much bunker in north Jersey waters that once the bluefish move in and come in contact with the bunker they go on a binge and smash at anything that moves.” Likewise I spoke with several tackle shops along the coast that cater to beach fishermen and they too said the numbers of blues that have been moving in an out of the surf and inlets is huge. Bluefish have already started to move into the Mud Hole, Farms, 17 Fathoms in the northern part of the coast, and the Klondike and Manasquan Ridge along the middle section of the coast which is early for this time of the year. So if you are looking for some heavy duty fast pace fishing break out the heavy tackle and get ready for some heavy duty rod bending action.
A foot note to this years excellent bluefishing is the recent Governors Cup Surf Fishing Tournament, which was moved from October to May, was dominated by bluefish giving a whole new meaning to the term Jersey Slammer.
Small Boat fishing
If you are like me and prefer to fish out of a small boat, there is plenty of action in the bays and tidal rivers along the coast. In the last couple of weeks mixed size bluefish have been moving in and out of the Inlets and into the bays. Some of the better fishing has been in Barnegat Bay, the Manasquan River, Raritan Bay, and the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. All you need to get in on the small boat fishing is some medium action spinning tackle, eight or ten pound test, and some spoons, swimming plugs and poppers. Most of the better fishing will be first thing in the morning and just before dark, however even a change in the tides can bring the slammers in during the mid day hours.
While most of the bigger slammers will move out of the bays and into the inshore waters as the waters warm, there will be some good cocktail and snapper action in the bays and tidal rivers. If you enjoy light tackle fishing, the 12 inch to three pound bluefish can give you some of the best action of any fish. Some of the top spots for this type of action close to home are Shark River, Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay. All are within an hours ride from this area and all offer plenty of shoreline and boat access.
One of the most important things to consider when fishing the bays and tidal rivers for bluefish is the movement of the tides. In most cases the slack tide will be the slowest fishing. Nine times out of ten the top of the outgoing tide will give you the best action, as the bluefish
will feed on the baitfish that are moving with the tides. This is especially true if the top of the tide occurs early or late in the day.
So far this month surf and jetty fishermen have been seeing some good fishing with the slammers as well. Depending on the conditions that are present this summer and how the weather patterns go, this action could continue on and off throughout the summer. Steady weather patterns will produce steady fishing, especially after dark, however the last several season have seen a lot of up and down weather conditions and storms. If these types of weather patterns persist this summer, the bluefishing in the surf will be sporadic once again, however, should the weather patterns be more consistent anglers could see some good bluefish action in the suds. Some of the better action will be around the inlets where the bluefish will feed on the baitfish that move in and out of the inlet with the tides. Most of this fishing will be early or late in the day when the boat traffic is at is lightest.
If you are looking to get in on the party boat fishing in May or June for bluefish, here are some of the boats that are currently targeting bluefish along the Jersey coast:
Golden Eagle - Capt. Rich Falcone- 908-681-6144 Days and evenings
Miss Belmar Princess- Capt. Al Shinn- 732-681-6866 Days & Evenings
Suzie Girl- Capt. Jim Hull 732-988-7760 running open when not chartered.
Jamaica- Capt. Howard Bogan- 908-528-5014 Days and evenings
Cock Robin- Capt. Jim O'Grady- 732-892-5083 Days and evenings
Queen Mary- Capt. John Brackett- 732-899-3766 Days and evenings
Miss Barnegat Light- Capt. John Larson 609-494-2094 Days and Evenings
PA’s Grand Canyon
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday Friday, June 5, 2014
How’s a trip to the Grand Canyon sound? One that don’t entail a long, costly plane flight and a Big credit card. Well about to 4-1/2 hours to the northwest of us is a Grand Canyon. Not the one most people thing about when they year the tern Grand Canyon, however, its stunning natural beauty and seclusion makes the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon an excellent destination for the outdoor oriented.
This past week I spend several days camping and hiking the region and found the scenic views breathtaking. The Pine Creek Canyon (PA Grand Canyon) is a 47-mile long (160,000 acres) winding deep gorge with mountain crests as high a 1880 feet. The canyon is part of the Tioga State Forrest. It begins south of Ansonia, near Wellsboro and winds its way along Pine Creek to and Route 6 finally flowing into the Susquehanna River. It was formed ages ago by erosion from the ice age and continuous erosion of Pine Creek.
First settled by the white man in the late 1600s. By the time of the American Revolution its hardwood forest had started to be harvested. It became the center of the timber industry with its trees providing wood for construction, furniture, and barrel making. In addition the wood was used for fuel for iron furnaces, and tannin for tanneries. By the 19th century the Eastern White Pine and Hemlock was widely used in the ship building industry and the area became the center of the timber industry. The Pine Creek was used to float lumber to sawmills, tanneries were built and the area was thriving. Once the railroad replaced the creek as the preferred method of transporting he cut trees in the 1880s the mountain sides were defoliated and a series of forest fires completed the job of destroying the landscape.
By the early 1900s the timber industry had died along with the tanneries, and Mother Nature, with a little help from man began to reclaim the mountain sides. Little by little the state acquired the mountains and forest along the gorge and creek, turning the lands into state forest and parks.. The railroad tracks were picked up and the old railroad right of way is not a biking and hiking path.
Today the canyon is rimmed by state parks, campgrounds, hiking trails and bike paths, and is used for a variety of outdoor recreation the year around. The two largest state parks are Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park. A lot of the structures in the parks and canyon were build during the depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are still in use to day. Several marked trails give you excellent scenic views of the canyon, waterfalls, cliffs, the creek and other natural wonders. One of the most popular trails is the Turkey Path Trail. We hiked this trail which starts at Leonard Harrison State Park and winds its way down a mile to the creek some 1880 feet below.
Camping is permitted in the State parks from April through October. Tent camping to sites with electric are available and there are plenty of group sites as well. There are also several private run campgrounds only a short distance from the canyon. We stayed at Stony Fork Campgrounds which had all the amenities. One thing that was nice about the campgrounds that we looked into is that they were all reasonably priced.. Our stay cost us $30 a night or a site with electric.
Wellsboro, the closest town to the canyon has several of fine dining spots, antique shops and historical sites.
One of the only drawbacks to a trip to the canyon is that the fuel prices are as much as $.40 a gallon higher. However, from our area you wont see a traffic light unless you opt to go into Wellsboro. The PA Turnpike, Route 180, Route 287 and Route 414 are all roads without light. Travel time is about four hours from our area.
So if you are looking for a trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s only four hours away in PA that is.
June Starts the Summer Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, May 29, 2014
So far the spring weather has kept water temperatures well below normal and water levels in most waters above normal.
Freshwater Local Fishing
Local lakes, ponds and streams have really taken a beating from the excessive rain fall that we have had this spring. Water temps have remained cooler than normal and rising and falling water levels have pushed the bass and crappies in and out of the spawning areas.
What’s needed on the local lever is some stable water levels and conditions. If current conditions persist the bass will be spawning well into July. Look for most of the bass fishing to be around and on the spawning areas on topwater baits, plasticbaits and jigs. Look for good panfishing and catfishing in June, and a few musky to be caught out of Lake Mercer.
This year saw one of the best spawning runs for shad in the last ten to 15 years. Likewise the numbers of herring that made it into the Trenton area have been some of the best in recent years. Both fisheries have been on a well documented decline and this is the third year that we have seen better numbers of shad come up the river to spawn. Hopefully this will hold true for the next two years and the shad will be well on their way to the kind of numbers we used to see in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Look for the shad fishing to continue into June as the high water and cool water temps are sure to push back the spawning time table. Most of this year’s had spawning will take place in the mid ranges of the river. Likewise, herring should be caught into the first part of the month. This years striper fishing was well below normal when compared to recent years and we should see some striper fishing well into June, however bigger fish will be scarce. Smallmouth fishing in the river has been dismal so far this spring and the outlook for the summer and fall is not good. Disease problems in the river smallmouth are taking most of the younger fish and we are running out of older year classes. On the upside walleyes continue to supply some decent numbers and this should continue in June.
Look for the better largemouth fishing to be on and around the spawning areas until the end of the month, thanks to the cooler than normal water temps. Topwater plugs and plasticbaits will be your ticket to the fish there should the water temps come up. Once the bass move out of the spawning areas, the better fishing will be early and late in the day. Some bass could be spawning well into the end of the month, especially in the northern portion of the state. Remember, bass fishing is catch and release until June 16, so you should take extra care in returning the bass to the water during this time of the year
Smallmouth fishing, especially in the Delaware, is a big question mark. Last year’s smallmouth numbers were poor in the Delaware but good in the South Branch and other streams. However, the hard winter we had is sure to have an impact on the smallmouth fishing in the small rivers, streams and Delaware. So far this spring’s water conditions have left a lot to be desired as well.
Colder water has also delayed the crayfish hatch in most waters, and once the hatch happens the fishing should pickup. Look for topwater, jig-plasticbait combinations and fly gear to produce the best fishing. It remains to be seen how good the fishing in the South Branch and lower Musconetcong River in northern New Jersey will be. In the lakes, look for the best smallmouth fishing in Round Valley, Split Rock Reservoir, Lake Audrey and Merrill Creek Reservoir.
Not worth the effort in most cases in New Jersey because of the disease problems at the hatchery. Notable exceptions Are Round Valley, Merrill Creek and the TCA’s. Trout fishing in PA should continue to supply some decent fishing in June in the Lehigh Valley and Poconos. The Little Lehigh, Jordan and Monocracy creeks and Lehigh River in the Lehigh Valley and the Bushkill and Brodhead in the Poconos are some of the top spots.
It’s been a good spring for pickerel in the bogs and lakes in south Jersey’s Pine Barrens thanks to above normal water levels. Water levels remain fair to good, and while pickerel fishing is winding down there should still be some good action through the end of the month. Live baits, surface plugs and buzzbaits will give you the best action.
So far crappie fishing has been well below a normal year, and this is more than likely due to the rough winter we had. June will see the crappie spawning wind down and the crappie taking up their summer patterns. Your best fishing will be in the early evenings on jigs, small spinners and small poppers. Crappies usually go on a feeding binge for a week or so after they are done spawning, however, because of the erratic weather and water conditions we have been having fishing will be sporadic.
The month of June sees some good hybrid striper fishing in Spruce Run and Lake Hopatcong. Muskies will give you some good fishing in Lake Hopatcong, Lake Mercer, Monksville Reservoir, Mountain Lake and Greenwood Lake. Walleye fishing should continue to be good in Lake Hopatcong, Monksville Reservoir and Swartswood Lake.
Ling fishing, which has also been late because of cooler than normal water temps, has been on the increase and should be very good in June. Cod catches should wind down, however sea bass fishing should provide some good action as their spring migrations is also late.
The fluke fishing got off to a fair start in the bays and tidal rivers, even with cooler than normal water temps. The numbers of fluke moving into the bays and tidal rivers is on the increase by the day and fishing should continue to improve during June. Once again gas prices and the economy will determine how much pressure is put on the fluke fishing. The change from a state quota to a regional quota which lumps New Jersey in with New York is sure to have an effect on the bag and size limits for next season, so get in on the fishing this summer.
So far a few weakfish have been caught. Last season’s numbers were a big improvement over those of the last few years and hopefully this trend will continue this season, stating with June.
This year’s striper fishing has been as good as last season. However, so far bigger bass were not as common as last season, even with the good numbers of fish we have been seeing. Striped bass fishing, especially in Raritan Bay, usually peaks in the month of June. One of two things will happen with the striped bass: either continued cool water temperatures, which may have held the heavy fishing back, will keep the fishing hot in June, or warmer water temps will see the fishing wind down as the month progresses.
Bluefish numbers are already a huge improvement over those of last spring, in Jersey waters and the good fishing should continue throughout June. This summer is shaping up to be a good one for bluefishing and heavy amounts of slammers.
Memorial Day & the Outdoors
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, May 23, 2014
Memorial Day is this coming Monday. I know this is an outdoor site, however with out the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who paid he ultimate price to give us the American way of life, we would not have hunting, shooting, fishing, camping, boating and all the outdoor activities we have the opportunity to partake in. One look at all the other countries in the world that have less free societies, and poorer economies show us just how lucky we are when it comes to the outdoors. Likewise no other country in the world can boast the outdoor heritage that America has. Our country was tamed by outdoorsmen and women, like Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, Rogers & Clark, etc. and our society was kept free by the worlds strongest military that paid the price in the outdoors in places like Valley Forge and Bastone. It was their knowledge of the outdoors and training that enabled them to survive.
Memorial Day observances began in the years following the Civil War and was originally known as Decoration Day. In the south it was called Remembrance Day to honor the confederate fallen and by the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war's fallen soldiers by decorating their graves and with flowers and flags. Union General John A. Logan is considered the father or Memorial Day, as he is credited with calling for an official nationwide day of remembrance on May 30, 1868. After World War I, the holiday evolved to commemorate fallen military personnel in all wars as it does today.
This past weekend while returning from a Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers convention we stopped at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center that is located just outside Carlisle, PA, which was hosting their annual Heritage Days Event. If you have never been to the center it’s well worth the ride to spend the day walking though out country’s Army past. The facility is simply amazing. Being a Civil War Re-enactor for 38 years and a student of history all my life, it was almost like returning home after a long journey. The center is a military park that encompasses every conflict our country has been in from the French and Indian war to the Gulf. It does so through the use of trails that transverse the landscape starting with blockhouses from the French & Indian war, through redoubt #10 in the Revolution, to the war of 1812, the civil war, Spanish American War, a reproduction of trenches from World War One, foxholes from world war two to hooches from the Vietnam War. All spiced in with tanks, trucks and vehicles from all the wars. The complex’s motto “Telling the Army Story One Soldier at a Time” is highlighted at the Soldier Experience Gallery, an inter active museum that tells the story of the American soldier through out our country’s history. The center is an outstanding memorial to those who have so unselfishly served our country and give so much through out history.
I believe it was a roman philosopher who once said “forsake you religions and heritage and you will loose your identity as a people.” One of our biggest problems with our country today is that we do not teach history in our schools. Simply put, “if you don’t know where you came from, how the hell do you know where you are going.” With each passing year our children are losing more and more of the moral compass that our founding fathers gave us. Just ask a teenager ten questions on American history or ask him to name five amendments in the Bill of Rights and I guarantee nine out of ten won’t have a clue. However, I bet if you ask the same ten teenagers who is the latest freak to jump around on stage, scream in a microphone and twang a guitar they will know the top ten.
When I was growing up our heros were real people from history, Davy Crockett, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. Now kids have musicians and movie stars they treat as Gods, even worst many of our kids live in a virtual reality word of computer games and face book. My father as a veteran of WW II in the pacific and on memorial day before we had our picnic and festivities, we would always attend the memorial service at the American Legion up the street from where lived. God help you if you did not stand at attention when taps was played and the volley was fired, or you did not stand at attention and salute the flag when the national anthem was played. But back then we did not have to be told to do that, it was just something we were raised with. Not so today.
When I got older and joined a civil war re-enactment group I became even more a part of a Memorial Day service. Every year for the last 36 years my group has gone to Fort Mott State Park where Finns Point National Cemetery is located. We put on our uniforms in the parking lot and march down the isolated road to the cemetery. Once there we place flowers and flags on the graves and at the monument, play taps, fire a volley and offer prayers of thanks to those who are buried there, both union and confederate. Memorial Day was originally started when relatives and survivors of the civil war in the south took a day to honor those who died in the war and this is one of the reasons my unit keeps this tradition alive. While I can’t speak for every re-enactor, the majority of those that I have been associated with during the 38 years I have been involved with re-enactments, wear their uniforms and re-live history to keep alive and honor the past and those who lived it. It’s been said that a re-enactors heart was born in the past, but his body is stuck in modern times and soon or later if you stay in re-enactments you will find your connection to the past. This I can attest to.
The point of this story is simply this: We as Americans have a duty to honor and keep alive those from our past, especially for our children. Our kids as sure as hell are not going to learn those lessons in school. Having raised five kids and fought those battles, I can attest to that also. I have nothing against holiday picnics and festivities, however we should keep them in the proper prospective. If you don’t participate in a Memorial Day Service, take your yourself and your family to a memorial day service, teach them the meaning of taps and the volley, and above all teach them to respect the flag and the national anthem. For many of us it is a way of cleansing our soul and it’s a good way to renew our belief in the American way of life. Teach them their history and heritage and instill in them the pride they should have for the exceptional people who came before us and gave us the life we have. Because my friends, if you don’t know one else will!
Jigs, Floats and Spawning Crappie
By J.B. Kasper
Friday, May 16, 2014
For most anglers spring time is the time for trout, stripers, and shad, however if you are looking for change of pace you will find some excellent fishing for crappies during April and early May. This is the time of the year when the slabs head for the spawning grounds and if you enjoy panfishing with light tackle, now’s the time to get the big ones and plenty of them. This year because of the harsh winter we had and the colder than normal spring most of the crappie spawning will be late and will occur in May and in some places early June.
Crappies are the first member of the sunfish family to head for the spawning grounds in the spring. One of the biggest tip offs to their spawning is that the males will turn a darker color. In some cases they will be almost black when they are spawning. In most lakes and ponds that means shallow water from two to six feet deep. The main exception to this rule is in gravel pits and big reservoirs where shallow water is at a premium. In this case they will usually hang around tree tops or drop-offs, however, they will still be found in relatively shallow water when compared to the over all depth of the body of water you are fishing.
No matter where you find them they will usually move toward the surface of the water in the morning or early evening to feed on insects. This means a couple hours after sun up and the last couple hours before dark and right at dusk, when water is the warmest and insect hatches are most common, will be the times you want to concentrate your fishing.
Since the crappies are in shallow water one of the best ways of taking them is through the use of small jigs(1/32, 1/64, 1/80 an 1/100 ounce) fished under floats. Hair bugs tied by using some strands of crystal flash or fish hair with a body of chenille, or hair or Marabou jigs are your most productive jigs, Some anglers also use tinny twister tails and Trout Magnets fished under the floats. Crappies like bright colors so orange, fluorescent pink, red, white and chartreuse are some good colors. In any case small is the key to taking the slabs.
When it comes to the floats you use, keep them small. One of the tip offs to knowing the crappies are feeding in shallow water or close to the surface is that they will often snap at the small floats you will be using. Some of the best ones are the small Styrofoam floats used to make bottom waling rigs. Simply place them on your main line and use a piece of wooden took pick to hold them in place. This will allow you to move them up and down the line to change the depths at which the jig rides. Most often you will only be fishing the jigs about 18 inches to two feet under the float.
Sometimes, especially when you are fishing from the shoreline, you will need to get some extra distance, or you will have a breeze blowing the wrong way. In this case substituting a small weighted float for the un-weighted float will be needed. These floats clip onto your line and can also be moved up and down depending on the depth you need for your jig.
Because the jigs and floats you are using are small and light in weight, the use of ultra-light gear and two or four pound test is a must. Some anglers also fish them with a fly rod with good success.
Crappies are a curious fish, however they can also be spooked easily. This is why you should cast your jig-float combination past the area you want to fish and retrieve it through the area with a stop and go motion. If the crappies are feeding close to the surface and start snapping at your float you should shorten up the distance between the float and jig. The float will often get the attention of the crappie and he will hit the smaller jig. In other words you will be using the float to bring the crappie to the jig.
Crappie fishing can be some real fun when they are on the spawn. They can often be found in good numbers in a spawning area and this means you can have some steady fishing for several days or longer. So next time you want a change of pace from the bass and other glory fish give the Calico bass a try when they are on the spawn.
Top Water Linesiders
by J.B. Kasper
If you enjoytop water fishing, your main targets are probably freshwater smallmouth and largemouth bass. It's true these fish offer some excellent action however, those who frequent the brine will tell you striped bass can more than hold their own when it comes to pouncing on a surface bait. Well I know a place where you can combine freshwater fishing with the explosive punch of the striped bass.
In recent years the Delaware River, has become a haven for linesider chasers. With the closing of the herring fishing in the river and the outlawing of the use of herring for bait, a lot of anglers simply have stopped fishing for stripers in the river. I guess if you can’t sit on your duff and drown herring it’s time to quit fishing for stripers! Not so. Some of the most exciting fishing for stripers in the river is with the use of surface baits. Of course you are going to have to work for the fish, not sit on your duff and wait for the stripers to come to you.
Surface fishing for stripers got its start in the 80s when largemouth fishermen begun taking hits on the surface from stripers as the striper population begun to expand. It didn't take long for anglers to realize that stripers hit a surface lure a lot harder then a largemouth.
Water Temperature the Key
The most important element in surface plugging for stripers in the Delaware is water temperature. Surface fishing starts when the river reaches 60 degrees on a daily basis. This usually occurs in late May or early June. When surface water temps are below these levels, surface action will be sporadic at best.
Rods and Reels
When it comes to rod and reel combinations for throwing surface lures, medium action rods with a soft tip, such as a fiberglass popping stick, will make the surface lures dance nicely. Choose a suitable weight reel, preferably one with a large spool, that'll give you better casting distance. One type of lure that requires a stiffer rod is the buzzbait. The stiffer action rod is needed to give you better hook setting power.
Choosing the Right Lures
Four to six inch plugs are the overall favorites. Since stripers prefer to feed on herring in the Delaware, silver and black is the most popular color scheme. Much of the better action will turn to night fishing, especially during the dead of the summer, and this is when dark color plugs will come into their own. Some of the top producers on the Delaware are Striper Swipers, Boy Howdy's, Zerra Spooks, Pencil Poppers, large popping plugs and good sized buzz baits all of which are used with a steady but erratic retrieve.
The aggressive nature of the striper when he is surface feeding often causes him to get hooked with more than one hook. Since this can cause permanent damage to the fish, many serious anglers remove the triple hooks and replace them with double or single hooks. You'll miss a few more hits but in the long run it cuts down on the mortality rate.
Use a Leader
Because striped bass have nasty tempers when they are surface feeding it's best to use a heavy leader ahead of the plug. A length of twenty or thirty pound test with a snap tied at one end and a swivel tied to the other will do the job nicely. Besides absorbing the shock of the striper's hit it also helps keep his sharp gill plates from cutting the line as he twists and turns when you attempt to bring him to the boat. In addition many prefer to use a teaser ahead their plugs. When tying teaser rigs, a heavier leader line helps keep the two from getting tangled and gives the rig extra strength if you should hook up with a double header, which is common when the bass are schooling.
Like striped bass found in the brine, Delaware stripers prefer a walking bait. The best way of retrieving your surface lure is to hold your rod tip up high, keeping as much line out of the water as possible, while jumping the tip of your rod to give the plug a steady stop and go motion. The sight of seeing a good sized striper smashing at a surface lure and missing it can often cause an angler to slow up his retrieve in order to give the striper a better chance at taking it. This may work well with largemouth, however when it comes to stripers in a river the reverse is often true. Speeding up your retrieve gives the striper the impression of a baitfish trying to get away and often triggers a more violent hit.
The tide water Delaware is chuck full of tidal flats that provide prime terrain for late May and early June surface action. Flats are found near islands, points of land, river bends and the mouths of the small streams that enter the river. As a rule the prime time for fishing these structures is
early morning, early evening and after dark.
Play the Tides
Rules however, do have their exceptions and it must be remembered that the tides have an effect on the fishing as well. Stripers more often then not will hit on a certain portion of the tide. It's a good bet if you hit the bass on a certain portion of the tide in the morning you will also hit them in the evening on the same portion of the tide. In most cases the bass will hit on the same portion of the tide the next day however it will usually be an hour later because of the natural progression of the tides.
Prime Moon Phases
After keeping tabs on the striper fishing in the Delaware for the past 30+ years in my computerized log one thing has become very evident. The biggest striper movements occur around the full and/or new moon in May. This is when the stripers move into the flats to spawn and once the water temperature hits the prime zone the bass will began feeding on the surface.
Once the stripers start feeding on the surface you'll be able to spot them and concentrate your fishing on the feeding bass. Many fishermen simply cruise the river looking for feeding fish. After you have located the surface feeding bass you have two choices: your first option is to position your boat up tide from the fish and drift through them, casting at the breaking fish.
Your other option is to quietly anchor your boat away from the feeding fish and cast at them. In 9 cases out of 10 the bass will remain on the same structure day after day so anchoring your boat near the structure and awaiting the bass to start feeding often gives you good results.
Fishing for surface feeding stripers on the tidal Delaware can put you into some fast a furious action. Just watching the bass boil on the water feeding on the baitfish can start your blood boiling. So the next time your are looking for some exciting fishing why not give the stripers of the tidal Delaware a try with some top waters.
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, May 2, 2014
Of all the instincts that a fish has, the most dominant ones have to do with survival. Feeding and spawning are probably the two most important, for without them a bass would cease to exist. Unlike fish such as shad and salmon, who die after the spawning ritual which replenishes their species, the largemouth bass lives on to hopefully spawn again and again.
Many serious bass fishermen consider the time before, during and just after spawning to be some of the most productive times to take good numbers of bass, and some of the bigger ones at that. Before we get any further into out story on spawning largemouth, I would like to point out that there are several cautions that should be exercised when pursuing old Bucket Mouth during the spawning season. First and foremost, the fishing should be done on a catch and release basis only. The fish that you catch could have or not have spawned, and damaging either the fish or their spawn will only hurt the fishing in the long run. It should be further pointed out that the utmost care should be exercised when handling and releasing these fish to insure that they will get a chance to spawn.
Most bass will spawn in a shallow area and these areas should not be waded into during the nesting time. Doing so at this time could damage the nest as well as the young fish. Micropterus salmoides as he is know to the scientific community, or largemouth bass as he is known to the angling brotherhood, will spawn during the months of May, June and even into the month of July in some of the more northern climates. His spawning habits have been well documented over the years and his preferred spawning temperature is 60 degrees and above. This does not mean to say that he will not begin his spawning process when the water is cooler. In our part of the country the peak spawning periods will occur during the month of June and last into the first part of July. During the month of May, the largemouth will begin migrating into and around the areas where they traditionally spawn. Good numbers of fish can be found in areas such as the edges of flats, mouths of streams and shallow water humps. The bottom make up is usually sand or silt. When fish are found in these areas during the pre-spawn period they make excellent targets for the spinnerbait and crankbait.
As the water begins to get warmer, the bass will make their way into the spawning areas to stay and start building nest. The bass will use their fins to fan out circular areas free of debris. This will cause the bottom of a spawning area to look like a lunar landscape, as the nests will look like craters pock marking the sandy bottom. Although the largemouth will spawn in the same areas as panfish such as crappie, bluegills and sunfish, it's easy to tell the bass nest from the panfish nest by the size.
Once the bass have begun to spawn actively they will spend most of the day time on their respective nests. As a result of the spawning urge and the time that they spend on the nest, they will feed very sparsely, doing so for the most part during the dark hours and in the early morning or evening. Even during this time they will not stray far from the nest unless cool water temps push them back into deeper water.
Once the active spawning period is over the bass will begin spending less and less time in the nesting area. Little by little they will start heading for their usual summer haunts. The time when they start coming out of the spawning areas is one of the times when they are most susceptible to a properly presented lure. By nature they have fed very little during the spawning period that they have just went through and must feed to regain some of the weight they have lost.
One last thought on spawning bass before we go into how to take them during the spawning time. It has been observed over the years that the warmer the water is during the spawning period, the shorter that period will be. If there are a lot of cold fronts that occur during a given spawning season that adversely affects the water temperature, the spawning period will stretch out later into the summer months. This may keep the bass in spawning areas well into late July.
When the bass are actively spawning and are spending most of their time on the nest, they can become very stubborn, and it can really take some effort to get them to hit. One of the favorite tricks of many of the bass fishermen who fish this time of the year is to cast a weightless rubber worm into the nest and let it float to the bottom. When they are spawning, the largemouth is a very neat fish and will keep the nest free of any debris that might float into it. Bass will quite often pick up the rubber worm with their mouth, not inhaling it as they usually do, and deposit it outside of the nest. Sort of taking out the trash, if you will.
When using this trick to fool old Mrs. Bass, you will get the best results by rigging your plastic worm with a stinger hook. This is a second hook snelled onto a length of line and sewn through the worm, so that only the business portion of the hook is showing; you should use plain hooks instead of weedless hooks.
Since you will be fishing the nest which are free of weeds, twigs and other hang ups, a weedless rig is not necessary. Bass will pick up the bait very tenderly, as was mentioned earlier, and the exposed hook will give you better striking power. One of the things that can goad a bass into striking is a lure that really messes up it's nest. There are two types of lures that can really get under a bass's scales. The first type of lure, a jig, uses more of a direct approach. You cast it into the nest and start bouncing it up and down on the bottom. This will stir up sand and silt and cause the water in the nest to get cloudy. It's sort of the equivalent of walking into your living room with a pair of dirty boots on. I don't know about you, but my wife would not take too kindly to it. Likewise, old mama bass is likely to get real nasty. More than likely she will smash at the lure with her tail or her nose, and if she is really ticked off she might try to crush it in between her jaws. Some of the best jigs for this method are also some of the ugliest. Rubber hair jigs, maribou jigs and ones with multi-legged rubber bodies are among the best.
Another way of producing the same desired result is through the use of a deep running crankbait. Since you are fishing shallow water during spawning time, a deep running crankbait will keep bumping into the bottom and stirring it up. Once you have located a bass crater you simply cast the lure past the nest and work it to the bottom. Once you start hitting the bottom you maneuver the lure into the nest and keep it there as long as you can or until ol' mama bass decides to remove it herself. Crankbaits that have rattles in them are especially suited for this type of work, since they not only stir up the bottom, but also make a lot of noise doing so.
Another lure that, over the years, has become very effective for spawning largemouth is the buzz bait. Having one of these noisy miniature motor boats passing over a shallow water bass nesting area is the equivalent of turning a radio on full blast in a maternity ward. For that matter, just about any noisy constant motion surface lure such as a Jitterbug, Crazy Crawler, Sputter Bug, etc. will produce the same effect. Bass have been known to really wallop the baits as they create a commotion over their nest. It seems like the more noise they create, the more effective they are. Once the bass have finished spawning they will go into their post spawn patterns. This is to say that they will move off the beds for longer periods of time and start moving into their summer haunts. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits and crankbaits are some of the most effective tools that the fisherman has at his disposal. You should concentrate your fishing in the areas just off the spawning grounds in the early morning and late afternoons using these lures. As the spawning period comes to an end, the bass’s instincts will turn from reproduction back to survival and he will begin to feed more often and will develop more definite feeding patterns.
Fishing for bass during the spawning season can be a real exciting proposition. If you choose to partake in the pleasures of this time of the year, than you should also accept the responsibility of making sure that the fish are handled with care. Always try to keep the bass in the water while removing the hook if it is possible. If you do have to remove the bass from the water, do so by holding him by the bottom lip, and keep from handling the fish more than is necessary. When he is placed back into the water make sure he is revived and free swimming. It goes without saying that bass caught during this time of the year should be put back no matter how big they are, after all, when you kill a fish during the spawning season you are not only killing the one fish but also those who she would have spawned. Take a pic and put them back because conservation and caring are part of the spawning season as well as catching. You might say they are the three C's of the spawning season; catching, caring and conserving.
May Fishing Looking Good
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, April 27, 2014
Despite weather problems this spring has produced some decent fishing both in the brine and the sweetwater.
May not only sees the bass head for the spawning grounds, a normal year will also see water temps approach their summer levels and vegetation starts playing an important part in the fishing. This year there will be no trout stocking in May in Mercer County. By mid month bass fishing will take over top seed in local waters. Look for swimbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs to be your top producers for the bass that are in the spawning areas. May will also see topwater fishing come into its own.
So far the spring shad run has been above average in the lower river thanks to the rains which brought water levels up and slowed the movement of the shad upriver. Catches this spring are proving better than last year and this is a good sign for the future of the fishery. Look for the fishing to be good for at least the first half of the month, longer if the numbers of shad moving up river are exceptional. .
Likewise striped bass fishing has also seen some good in the lower river south of Trenton. It’s too early to tell how this year’s run will stack up against other years, but so far the indicators are good.
Herring catches in the river have also been decent and here too this bids well for the river’s future. While the numbers of herring will not be as strong as the 80s and 90s, a strong run could mean that this fishery is also turning around.
With the bass on the spawning beds some of your best fishing will be on the surface over the spawning areas early and late in the day, and by fishing plasticbaits through the spawning areas. Remember the season is closed till mid June and any fish you catch should be put back in the area your caught them from as quickly as possible.
After another poor year for smallmouth on the Delaware last year, the month of May will be an good indicator of how the fishing will be the rest of the year. With the smallies on the spawn fishing should be picky in places like the Delaware and Raritan rivers. Smallmouth numbers are very low and the older year classes that have been providing the fishing for the last couple of years are running out. So keep your fingers crossed that we have a good spawn this year.
A couple weeks back I wrote a story about the spring trout stocking and the problems the Division is having. I alluded that the problems at the hatchery were a lot worse than was made public and said trout fishermen should be ready for a real short season. Unfortunately what I wrote was right on the money. This past week the state destroyed another 90,000 trout and cancelled the trout stocking in a lot of waters. Trout were not stocked in the local waters and they will not be stocked again this spring. Here are the waters that had their stockings cancelled: Assunpink Creek, Amwell Lake, Colonial Lake, the D & R Canal, Prospertown Lake, Rosedale Lake and Stony Brook. In short no waters will be stocked in Mercer County the rest of this spring. If the Division thinks the trout stocking will be back to normal next spring they are delusional.
This spring has seen some very good pickerel fishing in the south Jersey Pine Barrens. However as the water warms up and the vegetation starts to thicken up in the shallow waters of the Pine Barrens, pickerel will get a lot more cautious. Look for the best fishing to be early and late in the day during the first part of the month.
This spring has been one of the poorer springs for crappie fishing. Numbers have been down over those of the past few years and only time will tell if it is because of the harsh winter or for some other reason. There was no ice out fishing ad the crappies went right to the spawning areas without a spring bite. By the end of the month the crappies will be done spawning, and they will start to take up their summer patterns with the best fishing being to be around daybreak and just around dusk.
Look for some good musky fishing in Lake Mercer on big stick baits and spinnerbaits. Likewise some good walleye and hybrid striper fishing will be found in bodies of water where these fish have been stocked.
Anglers have already started seeing bluefish in Jersey waters. Look for the heavy fishing to begin by mid month. The slammers started moving into state waters this past week and we should see some good bluefishing along the inshore waters by mid month as long as the water temps climb into the upper 50s and low 60s.
May is prime time for stripers in the bays, rivers and along the inshore waters off the Jersey coast. Last season saw good numbers of bass in May and this season is running just about the same as last season. Striped bass fishing broke open the second week of April and fishing continues to improve both in the bay and in the Hudson River. There is plenty of baitfish in the bays and along the coast so if you are looking to get in some striper fishing May will be the month to do it. Likewise herring are moving up into the Hudson River and the heart of that fishing is also just around the corner.
Weakfish showed strong numbers in Jersey waters last season and hopefully this trend will continue this season. We have already got reports of some front runners making their way into Jersey waters and May will give us a glimpse into what we will see the rest of the year with the weakfish.
Flounder & Fluke Fishing
Winter flounder fishing is what it is with a 2-fish bag limit and spotty catches being seen this spring. The bright spot this year is that the winter flounder season will remain open the entire year giving anglers an opportunity to keeper a few winter flounder should they catch them later in the year as well as the fall. Fluke season will open on May 23 and close on September 27 with an 18 inch size limit and a five fish bag limit. What fishing we will have in May will largely depend on how soon the water temps warm up.
Sinker bouncers sw a tough winter due to the extreme weather conditions we saw. Blackfishing has been on the increase for the last couple of weeks, however with the season shutting down on May 1. Should water temps rise quickly look for the sea bass (sea bass fishing opens up on May 18) to move in quickly. Should they stay cool fishing will take longer to build.
Big “D” Stripers: Playing the Tides
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, 18, 2014
There is a saying that "time nor tide waits for no man". The person who said this was obviously waiting for his spouse to finish getting dressed for a dinner engagement, however it does have it's applications for the angler. In particular those who ply the waters of the Delaware for it's tidal inhabitants, specifically that line sided killer the striped bass.
Striped bass are not only creatures of their environment but also creatures of habit. In both cases the tides play an important part in their movements on a daily and seasonal basis. The effect that the tides have on striper movements are influenced by external factors such as water temperature and moon phases and no story about the effects of the tides on the stripers in the river would be complete without including them.
In order to understand the effects of the tides on the stripers in the river we should first understand what makes the tides work. In technical terms when the moon is in Apogee it is at the farthest distance from the earth. Perigee on the other hand is when the moon is closest to the earth. For our purpose the full moon and the new moon is when the moon's influence on the tides is at their greatest. The last quarter and first quarter is when the moon's influence is at it's lowest. The best fishing usually occurs between two to four days after the full and new moons.
Stripers like rough water even when they are found in the ocean. A good example would be the good fishing that is found in the rips along the beach and in the many inlets where the currents are very swift. The same is true of the stripers found in the Delaware and since the full and new moon's exert the most force on the rivers tidal flow, this is when the fishing will be best.
During the spring and fall certain tide are what start migrations into rive systems and bays. As of an example during the spring its usually the full or new moon in April that see the biggest movements of stripers into the Delaware River. On the flip side of the coin in the fall its usually the full or new moon that start the fall migrations of stripers along the coast.
During certain times of the year certain tides will be more productive and this has to do with the water temperature. During the early and late season when the water temperatures are on the cool side (50 and below), the outgoing tide will be the preferred tide. This is because the lower water temperature will cause the striper's metabolism to be sluggish and the bass will not feed as often, nor will they travel as far for a meal. In this case they will hold up in deeper water and wait for the forage fish to come to them with the out going tide. This is when trolling diving plugs and jigging plasticbaits will take their share of the stripers.
During the warm water season the reverse is true. The warmer water causes the stripers metabolism to rise and he will burn up calories faster and be more aggressive. In this case he will feed on both the in coming and outgoing with the in coming being the more productive tide. This is because he will move towards shallow water to feed and in most cases when the tides are low there will be very little water in places like flats, bars, reefs, etc. The incoming tide will pour water into these places and the baitfish will come with it. This is especially true when the river is full of spawning herring which will move into the shallow water to spawn. This is where you shallow running swimming plugs and surface baits will be effective,
Another time when you will find the in coming tide more productive is during the summer months when the stripers take on their nocturnal qualities. This can cause you to loose plenty of sleep because some of the best fishing will be when the in coming tide occurs after dark. You will want to start fishing just after the tide turns and starts coming in just off the channel edges and gradually work your way into shallow water. Many of the bars that are located at the mouths of tributary streams where the water from the streams will collide with the moving water of the river. Swimming plug-teaser combinations make some of te best tools for fishing this condition.
One structure where the tides have a definite effect on the fishing are bridge pilings. Striped bass will hold up behind bridge piling and the bridge pilings that are located in the tidal river have their eddies shifted with each change of the tides. On the incoming tide the stripers will be found on the up streams side, because this is where the eddy will be located. On the out going tide the opposite is true since the down stream side of the piling is where the eddy will be located. In this case fishing jig-plastic bait combinations and sinking swimming plugs are your lures of choice.
There you have it a look at how the tides effect the striped bass fishing in the Delaware River. Choosing the proper tides can make all the difference between a days fishing and casting to dead water, so pick up a tide chart and make playing the tides a part of your fishing.
Islands & River Bends : Prime Spots for Shoreline Fishermen
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, April 11, 2014
Each spring the shores of the Delaware river acts like a magnet drawing countless numbers to it's waters all for one specific purpose, that of pursuing the American shad as they make their way to their maternal spawning grounds. While the last 10years has seen a decrease in the number of fishermen fishing for shad because of the over all decline in the shad population, the last three season have seen this downward trend start to reverse itself as the numbers of shad migrating up river has started to increase.
There are two main strains of the fever known as shad fishing, the first is that which is known as boat fishing for shad and the second is better known as shoreline fishing for shad. Both can be highly addictive and each has it's own special needs to off set the symptoms. Since much has been written about the use of a boat to pursue the shad we will concentrate our story around the shoreline fishing that is available for this excellent game fish and the tools you will need to take them.
Shad have always been considered a light tackle fish due to the tender nature of their mouth. Heavy tackle can cause the lure to tare out of their mouth and a light action rod with plenty of spring in it is the preferred choice of most veteran shad buffs. There are several schools of through when it comes to light tackle, ranging from short ultralight rods to long whimpy noodle sticks which are use to take salmon. Current trends for rods among shoreline fisherman have been changing towards long supper light action noodle sticks in the eight to ten foot lengths. These rods when combined with modern graphite reels with large spools and light line permit the shoreline shad fisherman to cast light darts and other shad lures supper distances. This enables him to put his offerings into distant current lines along which the fish move as they make their way upstream. The soft action of the rod will keep the darts from tearing the delicate tissue of the shad's mouth and pulling free.
There is other equipment the shoreline angler will need in order to be successful as well as fish the river in safety. Since the shad fishery takes place during the spring season the river can often be higher than normal and is always on the cool side. Average water temperatures range from the low 40s into the low 60s and cool water such as this can be dangerous should an angler loose his balance and fall in.
Footware for the angler who chooses to fish from the bank or wade the river should be insulated and both hip boots and chest waders are commonly used. Waders verses hip boots in most cases is a matter of personal choice and both will do the job. Which ever you choose they should be augmented with a pair of spikes or felt soles to give you the traction you need on the slippery rocks. A wading staff is another item that the angler will find useful and the combination of spiked shoes and a wading staff will make getting around the river a lot easier.
Another item that you will find handy when fishing form the shoreline is a good size net. Just as in a boat a net is a must, so too will it be a necessary when it comes to landing a feisty shad from the bank or while wading. There are several nets currently on the market with telescoping handles that are ideal for the shoreline fisherman.
There are certain tip offs to finding productive water for the shoreline fisherman or the wader. The most important of which is the current. Shad are a current fish in that they follow the river's current up stream in order to reach their spawning grounds. This is very important to the angler in his quest for the shad since the active fish will be found moving in the current. Anywhere the angler can find a section of river where the river's main current comes close to the shoreline will be a place worth concentrating his efforts on. Likewise a section of the river that is narrowed down by islands, dams or for that matter any other reason will be productive. In this case the less water the fish have to move through the more concentrated the fish will be when they move through the area. This in turn gives the angler less water to cover and makes the fish easier to get at.
Another aspect the shoreline angler should consider when picking an area to fish, is to look for structures that will allow him to get at the river's main current such as points of land, finger structures, etc. You can even stack the deck in your favor more by choosing places along the river that combines a place where the current sweeps up against one side with a narrow section of river that which has structures that will give him better access. Now lets take a look at some specifics and why they are productive.
Before we go any further it should be remembered that shad do not move at night and will seek out a quiet stretch of water and remain there during the dark hours resting for the next days journey. What this means to the fisherman is that the areas we just mentioned will be greatly enhanced when there is an area of quiet or slow moving water either adjacent to or close by them. The fish will rest here before moving into the current lines to travel upstream and these will be areas of high concentrations of fish.
There are many river bends that have become synonymous with good shoreline fishing for shad. Wallpack Bend and the Easton overlook are but two of the best known ones. As the river twists and turns it's way through the mountains it forces it's currents to sweep up against one shoreline and away from another. As a result the shad will follow these currents and bring them close to the shoreline, in many cases only a few feet from the bank. This is especially true during times of high water, which is usually the case during the spring run. One look at a fishing map of the river will reveal these areas and one look at the numbers of fisherman fishing them during the season will prove our point.
A good many river bends have points of land jotting out from their sides. These points of land have usually been formed by small streams or drainage runs flowing into the main river, which over the years have built up rocks, silt and other debris and formed the point of land. A point of land has several things in it's favor for the shoreline angler. First off the currents of the river bend will push shad into the area of the point of land. Secondly the point of land will have a quiet water pool or eddy located below it which will serve as a resting place for the shad. This pocket will have good concentrations of fish in the early morning and evening hours as they move in and out of it to rest for the night. Third the current line that sweeps around the point will be a prime zone for taking shad as it is where they will be the most active. Lastly the point of land will allow the shoreline angler access to this current line making it a prime spot. So we have four good reasons for the shoreline fisherman to concentrate his efforts on points of land located on a river bend.
The Delaware river abounds with islands both large and small and these islands make excellent places to ambush the shad as they move up river. Since an island narrows down the river it forces the shad to move through certain areas. These runs as they are commonly referred to are usually the swiftest currents during times of low water and the slower ones during times of high water. This may sound a little confusing but there is a reason for it. During times of low water shad will seek out the deepest runs that will allow them to pass through such an area as it is easier for them to navigate these runs. When the water is on the high side, these current lines are usually very fast and since there is no lack of water the shad will seek out more moderate one to travel through.
An island is a rise in the river's bottom where rocks, silt and other debris has built up over the years and vegetation has sprung up creating a land mass. The mere physical nature of an island in a river dictates that the waters along side of it will be shallow in nature and this in turn means that there is usually other smaller structures located close to it. These structures can be points of land, finger structures, rocky areas, etc. all of which can benefit the shad fisherman. What the shoreline angler must do is learn how to take advantage of them.
First off, all of them will help narrow down the water as it flows through the portion of the river which has already been narrowed down by the island. Secondly, they will create pockets of quiet water for the fish to rest in, which will help concentrate the shad. Thirdly, the most important factor to consider for the shad fisherman is how they change the current lines. It's these current lines and runs that will be the most productive spots for the shad fisherman. Shad which hold over in the quiet water pockets will move through them as the make their way upstream and the shoreline angler can use the structures available to him is such an area, to get at them.
One of the most productive spots for the shoreline shad fisherman to fish is a combination of all the places we mentioned. This would be an island located on a river bend with secondary structures along side of it. There are several of these in the non tidal river and all of them are well known shad fishing spots. Some of the better ones are the islands located in the Scudders Falls Area, Hendricks Island, Lynn Island, Raubs Island, Kiefer Island, Dildine Island, Shawnee Island and the island located above the Water Gap and Minisink Island. All of these are prime spots for shad during the spring run and offer the fisherman good access. In each case the island or islands are located on a bend in the river which will cause the majority of the shad to move along the side that the current swings up against. All of the have adjacent secondary structures. In some cases the structures are points of land, finger structures, wing dams and bridge pilings. All of which create ideal areas for shad to hold up or move through.
Picking the right spot to fish for shad from the shoreline is ninety percent of the game. River bends and islands bring the shad closer to the shoreline fisherman and offer the bank bound angler the best chance to get at them. So if you find yourself boat less or just plain enjoy fishing from the shore better, concentrate you shad fishing this spring in and around islands and river bends and you'll see a big difference in the amount of fish you catch.
New Jersey Trout Season Opens April 5
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, April 4, 2014
A good many of this sites readers have e-mailed me and asked me what is the story with the trout fishing in New Jersey this spring. Normally this time of the year I would be listing all the major stocked streams and waters and giving readers a run down on the numbers of trout and when they would be stocked in those waters. A while back the state put out the following statement and a list of waters that would be stocked and some of the waters that won’t be stocked this spring.
The NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2014 spring trout stocking program has been
modified due to the outbreak of a fish disease (furunculosis) at the Pequest Trout Hatchery. The Division has implemented a plan to control the disease at the hatchery, but it is necessary to modify the trout stocking program this spring in order to conserve and protect our wild trout resources and other year round trout fisheries. In order to protect priority trout resources, no trout will be stocked in Trophy Trout Lakes, Holdover Trout Lakes and certain trout production streams, or waters directly connected to them.
These year round fisheries will still provide anglers excellent trout fishing opportunities this spring. Trout waters still scheduled to be stocked will be allocated the hatchery’s supply of negative trout (never documented to have the bacterium). As there is a limited number of negative trout the traditional seven-week in-season stocking season has been shortened to four in-season weeks.
Other waters traditionally stocked with trout that do not support trout year round (non- trout waters primarily lakes and ponds in thee astern, central, and southern areas of the state) have been allocated more trout than usual this spring as trout treated for furunculosis cannot be utilized in waters with existing trout populations. These waters will receive an additional allocation of trout prior to opening day and an additional stocking the week following opening day. In addition, several other waters not typically stocked with trout will be stocked with trout this spring which provide additional trout fishing opportunities.
The Division reminds anglers that there are no human health risks associated with the
bacterium, Aeromonas salmonicida, that causes this disease and recommends anglers
consult Division’s website for any additional changes to the 2014 trout stocking program.
Scheduled Changes Include : In order to protect existing trout population present the following waters will not be stocked in Spring 2014. Anglers are reminded these waters support year round trout fisheries and still provide anglers trout fishing opportunities.
Trophy Trout Lakes
Round Valley Reservoir
Holdover Trout Lakes
Reservoir Clinton Reservoir
Trout Production Streams Hackettstown Hatchery(connected)
Beaver Brook (Hunterdon)
Trout Brook (Hacketttstown)
Franklin Pond Creek
Little Flat Brook
Rockaway Creek S/Br
S/Br Raritan River – upstream Lake Solitude Dam
Spruce Run Creek
Trout Brook (Middleville)
Wanaque River - Lower
Directly connected to Trout Production Streams
Blue Mtn. Lake
Beaver Brook (Morris)
Green Turtle Pond
Mountain Farm Pond
Passaic River – White Bridge Rd
to Rt 24 Bridge, Chatham Borough
Saddle River (Upper/Lower)
Silver Lake (Sussex)
The following waters, not typically or scheduled to be stocked with trout during spring, will be stocked this spring only:
DOD Lake- 4,000
Farrington Lake- (Middlesex) 8,000
Hackensack River-(below Oradel Reservoir dam)12,000
Hockhockson Brook- (below Tinton Falls) 4,000
Mercer Lake- (Mercer) 8,000
Passaic River - (below Great Falls to Dundee Dam) 24,000
Raritan River- (below Duke Island Park) 24,000
Rahway River- (St George to Lawrence) 3,000
Shadow Lake- (Monmouth) 4,000
Over the winter the state had to destroy over 100,000 trout and a couple weeks back they destroyed another 114,000 brook trout slated to be stocked this spring. According to the Division they will be stocking around 450,000 trout. Since the state will only be stocking four weeks, it’s going to be a short trout season this spring.
The Division knew there would be severe cut backs in the spring trout stocking last fall when they found the problems and there were problems with the fall stocking. It wasn’t until late February that they issued the previous statement and lists. No matter what the state says, the truth is the Division is on such a tight budget that they could not afford to loose the money from the trout stamps and license sales that are derived in January and February.
The Division is run on a shoestring and has been since the likes of Bradley Camble and Lisa Jackson ran the DEP and used the money earmarked for the division for things like bear education and bear proof garbage cans. Just like with the rest of New Jersey the socialist, oops I mean democrats (it’s easy to get the two confused) have run the division and state into financial ruin. The division used to run off dedicated funds from fishing and hunting licenses. Once they had to be bailed out with several million dollars from the state, because of mismanagement by the previously mentioned DEP commissioners they lost their autonomy. As a result politics, which has no place in fish and wildlife management, came into the mix.
I did some research and talked to a few biologist I know and was told that the only way to get rid of the disease is to drain the hatchery, scrub and disinfect the raceways and allow them to dry out completely, preferably for a couple months in the sun. Even if that is done, there is no guarantee the disease will not show up again. In short, even barring anymore problems at the hatchery, unless the state buys trout from the feds or elsewhere to keep it’s trout stocking program going, it’s going to be a while before the division has the trout production to support the spring, fall and winter stocking that anglers are used to. While we are all hoping they are right when the say everything will return to normal next year, we will just have to wait and see.
Here are some of the waters to be stocked and the number of fish they will receive off the stocking list release by the Division this past week highlighting Mercer County waters and some of the more popular waters through out the state:
Mercer County Waters
The D & R Canal
The D & R Canal is the Mercer County's largest and heaviest stocked body of water with a portion of it lying in Hunterdon County. Total stocking for the 2013 spring will be 22,450 trout.
(40 trout fewer than last season) of which 13,210 will be stocked before opening day. The canal is broken up into two sections: The Feeder Canal in Hunterdon County from Bull's Island in the Hunterdon to Upper Ferry Road in Mercer County, and the D & R Canal, from Mulberry Street to the Alexander Street Bridge in Princeton.
The Feeder Canal will get 16,640 total trout. Pre season stocking will be 9, 800 trout. During the season 1,790 trout will be stocked the second, third, fourth and fifth weeks and 1,040 trout the sixth and seventh weeks. Stocked on Monday the 1st week & Wednesday 2nd week; 1630 trout Monday 3rd week and Wednesday fourth week.
In the D & R Canal, 5,810 trout will be stocked. Pre-season stocking will consist of 3,410 trout, with 630 trout on Thursday the 1st week and Wednesday the second week; and 570 on Wednesday the 3rd and 4th week.
Specific stocking points are hard to determine since the stocking truck can ride up the tow path along the canal, stocking trout as it goes. Most bridges usually get extra fish because of their accessibility.
Assunpink will receive 2,160 trout this spring, with 1,030 trout stocked pre-season. The creek is stocked from below Dam Site 130 off Route 130, Old Trenton Road, Quakerbride Road and Carnegie Road in Lawrence Township. In-season stockings consists of 230 on Thursday the first week and Wednesday the second week; 210 on Wednesday the 4th and 5th weeks. The main stocking points are Dam Site 19 and the Route 130 Bridge, the Old Trenton-Edinburg Road Bridge, Mercer County Park Pedestrian Bridge, Quaker Bridge Road, Lawrence Station, and the Carnegie Road Bridge. Assunpink will be stocked on Wednesdays.
Stony Brook, the most heavily stocked stream in Mercer County, will receive 3, 580 trout, 2,220 prior to opening day. A total of 480 trout will be stocked on Wednesdays the second, third, fourths of the season. The brook is stocked at Stony Brook Road and Johnson Park.
Rosedale Lake will receive 2,340 trout this spring. Of these, 1,260 are pre-season stocked trout. In season stocking will consist of 370 trout being added the on Thursday the first and Wednesday the second week and 340 on Wednesday of the third week.
Colonial Lake will be stocked with a total of 1, 930 trout with 1,030 trout before opening day. In-season stocking will consist of 310 trout on Thursday the first week and Wednesday the second week, and 280 on Wednesday of the third week. Main stocking points on the lake are by the US 1 Bridge, the mid portion of the lake along the south side and by the dam. Colonial Lake will be stocked on Thursday the second week and Wednesdays the third and fourth week.
Located off Route 31 just outside of Ringos, Amwell Lake will be stocked with 1,930 trout of which 1,030 will be stocked pre-season. In-season stocking will consist of 310 trout on Thursday of the First week and Wednesday the Second week and 280 on Wednesday of the third week.
Located off Route 29 north of Lambertville the creek will receive 1, 190 total trout with 520 being stocked prior to opening day. The creek will be stocked in it’s lower section off Alexhauken Creek Road. Access is sporadic but adequate. The creek will receive 300 trout stocked on Monday of the 2nd week and 270 on Wednesday of the fourth week.
***Mercer Lake will get 8,000 trout this spring.
Closed Date Streams
Big Flat Brook will receive 14,260 trout- 13,320 trout in its lower portion and 940 trout in its upper regions. Pre-season stocking will consist on 8,020 in its lower half and 640 in its upper waters. Key spots include: High Point State Park to the Route 206 Bridge; the four mile "Fly Fishing Only" down from the Roy Bridge; the Blewett Track and the Junction Pool. The Big Flat Brook will be stocked with 1,910 trout on Friday the first week: 1,700 the second week and 1690 the third week.
The Musconetcong River will see a pre-season stocking which will consist of 13,980 trout and a total allotment of 22,770 trout. The Musky will be stocked with 3,040 on Friday the first week; 2,700 the second week and 2690 the third week.
Top sections include: the section which lies between Route 31 near Hampton and Mowder Hill Road, off Route 57; the park in Hackettstown; Saxon Falls; below the dam in Pennwood; and the Warren Glen section which lies between Route 519 and the Delaware River.
The Pequest River will receive 20,250 trout this spring, with 8, 720 fish stocked prior to opening day. The river will be stocked with 3,3800 trout on Friday the first week; 3,010 trout the second, third and fourth week.
Three of the top sections on the stream are the river just down from the hatchery (which is a special regulations stretch); the section between Route 31 and Route 519 Bridge; and the river above and below the dam in Belvidere.
The Raritan River will be stocked with 45,110 trout. The Raritan River will get 3,340 trout, 1,240 pre season and 550 trout on Wednesday of the first week and 500 trout on Monday the second week; 500 on Wednesday the third week and 500 on Thursday the fourth week. The River will also be stocked with 23,400 trout below Duke Island Park with 10,050 pre season and 13,400 trout on Thursday of the Second week. The North Branch will get 7,420 trout, 4,610 trout preseason and 1,010 trout on Wednesday of the first week and 900 trout on Wednesday of the Second and thirds week. The South Branch will receive 10, 950 trout, 6,790 trout pre season and 1,500 on Tuesday of the first week and 1,330 trout on Tuesday of the Second and Third weeks. The Gorge and the South Branch above Lake Solitude will not be stocked.
The Pohatcong Creek will get 5,280 trout, with 4,880 being stocked pre-season. A total of 8,030, 4,470 preseason trout will be stocked from the Route 31 Bridge downstream, while 540 trout will be stocked upstream of the Route 31 Bridge, 410 trout prior to opening day. The Po will be stocked with 1,090 on Tuesday the first week; 1,090 the second week and 970 trout the third week. Top sections include the portion which runs through a small gorge located along Ravine Road; Edison Road and the waters up and downstream of the Route 57 Bridge.
This year the Black River will receive 2,620 trout, 1,620 being stocked before opening day. The river will be stocked with 360 on Thursday of the first week and 230 trout on the second and third weeks. The most popular section of the stream is the Hacklebarney State Park section.
Stocked from the Route 9 Bridge to the Manasquan Wildlife Management Area, the Manasquan will get 10,240 trout, with 6,2600 trout being stocked pre-season. The Manasquan is stocked on Mondays with 1,130 the first week; 1,010 the second week and 920 trout the third week.
Top sections include the Manasquan River Wildlife Management Area; up and downstream from the Hospital Road Bridge; and above and below the Squankum Dam.
The north and south branches of the Metedeconk River will receive 8,610 trout, 5,270 prior to opening day, with 2,270 trout going in the north branch and 5,240 trout in the south branch. The Metedeconk is stocked on Mondays with the North Branch getting 370 the first week; 330 the second week and 300 the thrid and fourth weeks. The South Branch will get 580 the first week; 520 the second week and 470 the third and fourth weeks.
Some of the better spots on the north branch are by the Aldrich Road bridge; the Route 9 Bridge and Route 547 Bridge and the Ridge Avenue Bridge. On the South Branch the tops spots are below the Bennetts Mills Dam; Brewers Bridge Road; and the park upstream from Lake Carasaljo.
The Toms River will get 6,870 trout, 4,180 pre-season. The river is stocked on Mondays getting 620 trout the first week; 870 the second week; 700 the third week and 500 the fourth week. Top sections of the stream include: the Route 528 Bridge, Don Connor Blvd and the Bowman Road Bridges; Riverwood Park and the Route 571 Bridge (TCA).
The Rockaway River will be stocked with 9,950 trout, with a pre-season stocking of 6,180 trout. The river is stocked on Mondays with 1,350 the first week and 1,200 the second and third weeks. The Boonton section is the top section on this stream.
The Ramapo will be stocked with 7,030 trout, 4,360 before the season opens. The Ramapo is stocked on Thursday getting 960 trout the first week; 860 the second week and 850 the third week. The Ramapo Reservation section of the river is the most popular sect of the stream.
The Wallkill will receive 3,790 trout during the spring. A total of 2,350 trout will be stocked before opening day. The wallkill is stocked on Mondays with 520 the first week and 460 the second and third weeks.
The Wanaque will receive a total of 1,740 trout, of which 1,080 trout will be stocked before opening day. The river is stocked on Fridays with 240 the first week and 210 the second and third weeks.
This year the Paulins Kill will be stocked with 13,910 trout, with 8,620 trout being stocked prior to opening day. The Kill will be stocked on Thursdays with 1,910 the firstw eek; 1,700 the second week and 1,680 the third week. The waters around the Route 610 Bridge and Blairstown are two of the tops spots to fish.
Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes
Ten lakes will receive an additional number of broodstock trout prior to opening day. An additional 370 trophy trout will be stocked in the following waters: Amwell Lake; Birch Grove Lake; Burnham Park Pond; Crystal Lake; Dahnert’s Lake; Franklin Lake; Lower Echo Park Pond; Shaws Mill Pond; Verona Park Pond and Woodcliff Lake will each het 30 trophy trout.
April Is Start Up Time for Anglers
Friday, March 28, 2014
After a hard winter and a cold month of March look for some decent fishing should the weatherman cooperate in April. Water levels so far this spring have been below normal and this is sure to have an effect on the April fishing.
What local trout waters will receive this year is anyone’s guess since the state is not releasing the numbers of trout to be stocked, and severe cutbacks in the stocking due to the disease problems at the hatchery. Most lakes in the county are already starting to see vegetation sprouting up and the weather in April will be a big factor in the fishing. Crappie fishing was poor in March, and bass fishing has also been spotty at best. This past winter, along with the month of March were some of the worst fishing in recent years, mainly due to the hard winter and the weather problems in March. Look for both bass and crappie to start heading for the spawning grounds by the middle of the month.
So far it’s been a low water spring on the big river. Walleye fishing started up and has been picky at best. There will be a lot of questions to be answered in regards to the river this season. The first of which is will there be a good shad run this year, especially with the hard winter and cold March we had. The herring fishing continued to decline last spring and there is no reason to believe that it will improve this year. Striped bass fishing was good in 2013, but poor in 2013 so this years run will also be a question mark.
With PA trout season already open and New Jersey opening up on April 5, trout fishing is taking center stage for sweetwater anglers. Checks last week’s story for the run down on eastern PA trout waters and stockings in April and May in the Keystone State. As to New Jersey’s trout fishing, it will suffice to say that Garden State trout anglers will see an off year because of the disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery which has caused the Division of Fish and Wildlife to Destroy thousands of trout. I’ll have more info on the Jersey fishing in next weeks Weekly Story. I’m holding back hoping the state will at least tell us which streams and lakes will be stocked this week. With trout only being stocked in April the spring season is sure to be a lot shorter in the Garden State.
Once again the largemouth fishery is looking good locally and through out the state. Water temperatures are starting to climb and fishing has been poor so far this spring, should pick up with the warmer weather. Last fall was one of the best in recent years and can be attributed to another good spawn in 2013. Look for some decent bass fishing on spinners, spinnerbaits and swimming plugs during the first part of the month and then a turn to plastic baits and swimming plugs by the end of the month, especially in local waters, especially around the edges of the spawning areas.
It will be interesting to see how the spring run of shad will play out i the Delaware. So far we are looking at a ow water river and this will have an effect on shoreline fishermen. Last year we had low water conditions and fishing in the lower river was tough. Cold waters and low water levels sent the buck shad speeding up river in March and early April and the cold water kept the fishing down in the lower river. Likewise the number of roes that came up river last spring was lower tan expected. Low water years tend to see the shad move upriver quickly and msot of the fihsing is in the upper Rivr from Phillipsburg north. Unless we get soe rains that pick up water levels in the river and slow the run down, or we see a huge number of shad move up the river, it will be short shad season in the lower river.
Last season’s smallmouth fishing in the Delaware continued to be very poor. Reasons are being debated, but it will suffice to say there is no reason to expect a significant improvement this year. Should we have a another bad year it will confirm there is an on going problem wiyt the smallies in the river, most likely poor spawning due to the loss of so many fish from the disease. The fishing in the Raritan River, Round Valley and other waters was very good and there is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue.
Pickerel action in the Jersey Pine Barrens has been good this spring and will peak during the month of April. With higher tan normal water levels , look for the fishing to remain very good as long as the water temperatures stay cool. Live-lining minnows, floating swimming plugs and spinners will be your best bet.
White Perch Fishing
Light tackle fishermen are enjoying some good white perch fishing in the streams along the coast. The Maurice, Cohansey, Toms, Wading and, Mullica rivers will see the white perch fishing peak during April. Your best action will be on small spoons, spinners and tinny jig-plastic bait combinations.
So far crappie fishing has been very poor this spring. To say this has been an off year for crappies would be an understatement, especially after the great December we had and the excellent fishing that took place the first two weeks of January. By mid month the crappies will start heading for the spawning grounds, so the better fishing will be during the beginning of the month while the waters are still cool. The spawn more than likely will be late because of the hard winter and a lot will depend on what type of weather we get in April. Look for some of the better fishing to be in and around the spawning areas on tinny jig and plastic bait combos and hair jigs fished under floats.
Walleye fishing in Lake Hopatcong and other lakes where the marbleyes have been stocked are already seeing good catch & release fishing and this should continue well into April. In addition musky fishing in Lake Mercer and other musky waters will also see some decent action. Big spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and swimming plugs will serve up the best fishing.
There is no question that bottom fishing was tough this past winter because of the weather. Cod catches were down from the last couple of years, and hopefully cod and ling fishing will pick up in April. Another bog question mark is the spring mackerel run. If they show up and how long the fishing will last will have a lot to do with the weather patterns when the make their way into local waters.
Winter flounder fishing usually peaks during April. So far the reports we got on the fishing have been spotty, but good. It’s a good bet that anglers will start seeing some fluke start moving into the bays by the end of the month. Regulations on the fluke fishing will be decided at the April Marine Fisheries Council meeting.
Striped bass fishing has been slow to start up this spring because of the hard winter. Look for the first of the striped bass fishing to start showing up along the lower side of Raritan Bay. If you are looking for some good bass fishing and some trophy bass now’s the time to book a charter or fishing trip for the linesiders.
More than likely anglers will see the first slammers make Jersey waters by the middle of April. By the end of the month some of the party boats will start sailing for the slammers and we should see some beach running fish by the end of the month as well. This could be pushed back unless we get some warmer weather to put the fishing back on a more normal schedule.
PA Trout Season Opens March 29
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 21, 2013
Trout fishing in the eastern portion of the Keystone State will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 29 and includes the counties of Schuylkill, Northhampton, Lehigh, Berks, Landcaster, Chester, Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks. The rest of the state opens up two weeks later on March 12.
Many area residents will be fishing Keystone waters on opening weekend. So here is a look at some of the more popular waters close to home. The PA Fish Commission will be stocking a total of 3,924,400 plus trout this spring. Of these, 506,970 will be brook trout, 835,730 brown trout and 1,844,700 rainbows. The state stocks a total of 857 waters (733 streams & 124 lakes). Cooperative Nurseries will provide an additional 737,000 trout and there will also be 8,575 trophy trout stocked, with 7,240 trophy trout being stocked in the streams and 1,335 trout being stocked in lakes.
**** As a footnote to our PA trout season story it should be pointed out that eastern PA trout waters will give Garden State fishermen a good option when it comes to trout fishing this spring. With the spring stocking in turmoil in the Garden State because of the disease at the Pequest Trout Hatchery, which has forced the destruction of over 200,000 trout slated to be stocked this spring, a jump across the border to the Keystone State is a very viable option for Jersey trout fishermen.
Bucks County Stocked Waters
Seven bodies of water (2 lakes, 4 streams and the canal) are stocked in Bucks County that are only a short ride from the Trenton area. The two most heavily stocked bodies of water are
Levittown Lake and Lake Luxemburg. After being stocked in the pre-season in March, Lake Luxemburg will be stocked on April 3 and Levittown Lake will be stocked again on April 1 and April 16.
The Delaware Canal’s upper section of the canal (Washington Crossing) in addition to the pre-season stocking will be stocked on April 3. The lower section of the canal (Washington Crossing State Park to the Maple Street Bridges in Morrisville) in addition the pre-season will be stocked on April 3 and 16.
Neshaminy Creek will be stocked pre-season only in the stretch from Valley Road (Route 328) downstream to Mill Road (Route 381). The lower section from the base of the Dam above Tyler State Park Causeway to the Richboro Road Bridge (Route 332) which is closer to our area will be stocked pre-season and on April 3.
The Perkiomens East Branch will be stocked Prior to opening day, with in-season stockings on April 14 and April 22. The creek is located in the middle of the county and is stocked from Branch Road Bridge (Route 431) downstream to it’s confluence with Mill Creek in Sellersville.
The Tohickon Creek is another nearby stream that quite a few anglers from the Trenton area fish. It is not stocked before the season. In season it is stocked from Dark Hollow Road Bridge to Point Pleasant just upstream of its confluence with the Delaware. Tohickon Creek passes through Russell Stover State Park and Tohickon Valley Park. The creek will be stocked pre-season and in-season on April 22.
The last stream in Bucks County that is stocked is the Unami Creek, which is located in the far northwestern portion of the county. This creek has some excellent water and is stocked from the Milford Township Park downstream to Trumbauersville Road (route 405). It will only be stocked prior to opening day and on April 21.
Lehigh Valley Streams
Coplay Creek will be stocked from the Dam at Hill Street Bridge, Ormrod to its confluence with the Lehigh River. In addition to the pre-season stocking it will be stocked on April 25 and May 3.
Jordan Creek is stocked in 4 sections with all getting preseason stockings: (Section 2) from the Route 309 Bridge to Mill Creek Road Bridge will be restocked on April 14. (Section 3) Mill Creek Confluence to the Jordan Road Bridge, stocked on April 3. (Section 4) Jordan Road Bridge to Ceder Crest Blvd Bridge, restocked on March 31and April 21. (Section 6) Mauch Chunk Road to the Confluence with the Little Lehigh Creek, restocked on April 5 and 29.
Leaser Lake- stocked pre-season and on April 3.
Little Lehigh Creek will be stocked in five sections: (Section 2) Longswamp Road Bridge to Smith Lane Bridge, will only be stocked pre-season. (Section 4) Spring Creek confluence to Wild Cherry Lane Bridge, stocked pre-season and on April 30. (Section 5) Wild Cherry Lane Bridge to Mill Race Road Bridge, stocked preseason and on May 7. (Section 7) County Club Road Bridge to UPS Fish Hatchery Road Bridge, stocked pre-season and April 3o. (Section 9) Schoenersville Road Bridge to its confluence with the Lehigh River, Stocked pre-season and on April 24 and May 7.
Monocacy Creek will be stocked from Schoenersville Road Bridge to its confluence with the Lehigh River preseason and on April 16 and May 6.
Bushkill Creek just north of the Water Gap that are favorites of many anglers. In Northampton County the Bushkill Creek is broken up into sections four stocking. (Section 2) Bushkill Center Road Bridge to Filetown Road Bridges, stocked preseason and April 21. (Section 5) Private Bridges off Bushkill Drive to Dam at Binney Smith, stocked preseason, April 23 and May 14. (Section 7) 13th Street Bridge to Confluence with the Delaware River, stocked preseason, April 23 and May 14. In Monroe County (Section 4) Upper Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation to Lower Resica Falls Boy Scout Reservation, stocked April 4 and 24. (Section 5) Lower Reservation to Creek Road Bridge, Stocked Preseason and April 24. (Section 6) Creek Road Bridge to Confluence with the Delaware River, stocked preseason, April 22 and May 15.
Another popular Pocono stream is the Broadhead Creek, which is just across the Route 80 Bridge in the Water Gap. The Broadhead is broken up into three sections. (Section 2) Cherry Lane Bridge to Stroudsburg Water Company Property, stocked pre season, April 24 and May 13 (Section 3) Water Company to the Confluence with MicMichael Creek, stocked preseason, April 24 and May 13. (Section 4) Confluence with McMichael Creek and the I-80 Bridge, stocked preseason, May 21 and May 13.
Ropes and Anchors Made Easy
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 14, 2014
A couple items that are essential on every boat, no matter what type of boat, big or small, are anchors and ropes. Being an essential part of every boat, knowing the different types of anchors and how to use them, as well as how to use ropes are an important part of safe boating. So here are some tips on choosing the right anchor and ropes, as well as using them and taking care of them.
Storing Anchor Ropes
Taking care of your anchor lines goes hand in hand with getting the most out of your boat. Sure you can stow your anchor lines in a forward hold if you have one or push in under you front seat, but when it comes time to use it you are more likely to find a snarled mess of rope and you’ll have to untangle it before you use it. Even if you place it in your forward hold in a neat manner it will get tangled up with any other items you might also store there. The purchase of a pair of rope cleats will solve this problem. You can attach them to your forward deck or gunnels about eighteen inches apart and then wrap the excess rope that you are not using around them. You can also store extra sections of rope for your anchor around additional cleats secured to your port and starboard gunnels. This will keep them out of the way but still handy when you need them.
Securing Your Anchor Ropes to Your Boat
Since I use several different types of anchors on my boat and often attach them to the same anchor line, the use of a sturdy clip is a necessity. It’s also necessary to secure your anchor rope to a sturdy section of the boat.
First, choose a galvanized steel shackle to secure your ropes to the boat, the type that uses a set screw to lock the shackle. For all other catch lines use brass or steel clasps and clamps. Be careful of what you buy and make sure the clips you choose are not bronze, which will break much more easily. You should also make sure that the cleat you attach the anchor rope to is sturdy enough to handle the anchor rope, especially if you do a lot of anchoring in a strong current.
Taking Care of Your Anchor Ropes
Taking care of the ends of your anchor ropes is also very important. If you choose to use nylon ropes, it’s always best to fuse the ends with a match or cigarette lighter to keep them from fraying. This will also work with most poly ropes. Certain types of poly ropes can also be threaded back into the rope to secure your clamps and clips to. If you choose to use cotton or hemp ropes, it’s best to whip the endings and/or wrap them with tape.
Fishing with Your Anchor
Speaking of anchor ropes, the use of an anchor can be a precise way of covering a structure. Letting out more line and increasing the distance between it and your boat is easier than lashing and lowering your anchor every time you want to move a few feet. This can be made easier by tying loops on your anchor line every 25-feet or at regular intervals and having several extra sections of line to add to your anchor rope as needed, stored in the manner we previously described.
Another handy item to have around a boat is a set of anchor chalks which are placed one on the port side and one on the starboard size. This allows you to place your anchor rope in a chalk to keep it from moving around the deck in a wind or current. They also make a great way of stabilizing a drag anchor line while it’s bouncing along the bottom. You can also use them to position your boat when anchoring in a current. Chalking your anchor line to port will cause your boat to drift to the starboard and vice versa.
Choosing the Right Anchor for the Job
If you use your boat for all different types of fishing, you will find out that different anchors work better for different jobs. If you fish the fast currents of a river, a grappling type anchor will serve you best. For anchoring in a lake or currentness body of water, especially those that have a lot of vegetation, a mushroom anchor will be a better choice. For use on sandy bottom, a Dansford or other type of anchor with flat blades will do the job best. Since I use several different types on a regular basis, I have them secured to the front of the boat and ready for use.
If you have ever found yourself trying to drift a section of water only to be pushed too fast by the current or wind, you will know the value of a drag anchor. A lead ball, such as the type that is used with down riggers, window sash weights or a lead bell anchor with the edges cut off can be used. You can also make your own by taking a tin can and implanting it into the ground to make a mold. Then place a long U-bolt in the cavity and fill the cavity with lead. When attaching it to the anchor rope, always use a short length of chain or cable about a foot long to prevent the rope from becoming worn through when it bumps along the bottom.
Being around boat ramps day in and day out can provide some interesting entertainment on how not to launch a boat. Take, for instance, the guy who unhooks his trailer strap and hook and backs down the ramp and into the water, only to find that the boat was not attached to anything and is floating away from the ramp. A simple catch line can be made from a length of rope with clips attached to each end. It can then be attached to the trailer rope and the boat hook so that when you back your boat in it is still attached to the trailer. It can then be un-clipped and put inside the boat. When retrieving the boat it can be attached to the stern to hold the boat in position on a windy day or to the front for getting it in position for the trailer. One tip when building your catch line is to make sure the clips you use are made of marine brass or steel for durability. Also make sure the length of the cath lines is on and a half times that of the trailer. This will allow you to attach the catch line to the boat and push the boat back out into the water and back onto the trailer when you are picking the boat up.
There you have it- a look at anchors and ropes on your boat. Take care of them and they will last a long time and serve you well.
Fun with Early Season Crappie
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, March 7, 2014
Crappie are one of the first fish that become active after the lakes and ponds lose their icy coating. For the angler looking for some fast fishing to open the season with, be you veteran or novice, young or old, they are just what the doctor ordered, and local waters are rich with this big member of the sun fish family.
One of the keys to successful crappie fishing in the spring is to keep your offerings small. Jigs should be kept in the 1/32 to 1/100 ounce range. When it comes to plasticbaits, the most productive ones are two inches and under, and in recent years manufacturers are offering more small baits than every before. Likewise, the colors most plasticbaits now come in has also increased, and some of the newer lifelike patterns are the most realistic ever made. Some of the more popular ones are Panfish Assassins, Fin-s-fish, Twister Tails, Sassy Shads, Tubes, Power Nymphs, Baby Beavers and Trout Magnets.
One trick you can use to spice up your plasticbait collection is to mix the colors on your baits. Commonly known as bleeding, it is done by placing different color plastic baits together and allowing their colors to bleed into each other. I’ve seen some really weird concoctions that have been put together by successful crappie fishermen. One fisherman I know takes a plasticbait and puts their tails into a different color plastic bait for a couple days, which will give the plastic bait a different color tail. He has done this a lot with red to give the tails of his plasticbaits a red tail and has had a lot of success with them.
Another type of jig that is really productive is the hair jig. Hair jigs are not a new item, however, in recent years the modern materials that have come on the market have changed the way most of them are made. The ones we used to use in the late ‘50's and ‘60's were mostly made of marabou, chenille and squirrel or deer hair. Jig tyers now have Mylar, artificial hair (fish hair), glow in the dark materials and ultra-thin hairs to work with. Most serious crappie fishermen tie their own hair jigs, however, more and more are being produced commercially.
The use of fish scents is very common among veteran crappie fishermen, especially when the fish are picky in the spring. There are two basic types of fish scent, liquid and gels. Liquid scents work best with hair jigs, as the chenille, hair or feathers that they are made from will absorb the scent. With rubber baits, gels such as Smelly Jelly will work best because they will stick to the plastic baits and will last longer. Most veteran crappie fishermen use the scents when they first tie a jig on the line to get the first few strikes. Once you have caught a few crappie or panfish on your jig, the scent of the fish will adhere to the jig and give it a natural scent, however, it doesn’t hurt to put a little scent on your jigs every once in a while to spice them up.
Catching Them on the Fall
Shallow water coves, the mouths of creeks and small streams that flow into a lake and the headwaters of a lake are some of the top places to look. These areas generally warm up earlier and thus are some of the first places to produce good catches. The fish will often suspend a few feet off the bottom in these areas and there are two primary methods of taking them with jigs.
The first is to cast your jig and allow it to fall naturally to the bottom. The crappie will often grab the jig as it falls through the layer of water they are holding in. When fishing this way, it’s very important that you watch your line very carefully and set the hook at the slightest twitch or movement in your line that is unnatural. Most often the only thing you will detect will be a slight twitch in the line, or the line will start moving slowly to the side.
If your jig hits the bottom you should reel in some line and raise your rod tip to a high position to pull the jig off the bottom and then allow it to sink again. You can also hold your rod tip high and reel you line in very slowly, causing the jig to slowly move through the suspended fish. The longer you can keep your jig in the layer of water the fish are holding in, the better you chances of taking the crappie.
Using A Float
Floating a jig is one of the most popular ways of fishing for crappie. At times crappie hit very light, and using a small float is one of the best ways of detecting the light hits, however, most veteran crappie fishermen also use a float for fish that are tightly suspended. Sometimes the crappie are suspended, and a few inches up or down can make a difference in the number of fish you catch. Also, quite often crappie will suspend above perch but below bluegills in the same area, and the use of a float to hold the jig in a certain layer of water, instead of working your jig without a float, will keep the jig away from the other fish.
Some of the best floats to use are the inexpensive small Styrofoam floats used to keep baits off the bottom while walleye fishing. You simply pull your main line through the center of the float to the depth you want and then peg it with a toothpick. You then attach the jig to the bottom of the line and you are in business. Carry several sizes of floats so you can use the proper float for the weight jig you are using.
There you have it a look at crappie fishing in the early season just after ice off. If you are looking for some fun fishing before the heavy fishing for bass, stripers and other bigger game fish starts, crappies make an excellent way to start off the open water season.
March Is Going To Be A Crazy Month
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 28, 2014
Two thirds winter and one third spring, the month of March is a time of change on the fishing scene, and after the winter we have had, this is one time change will be a welcome event. So here’s what you can expect to see as the winter comes to an end and the spring starts (maybe).
After six straights weeks of ice on the local scene, the ice will still be around for the first couple weeks of March. Some waters like Carnegie Lake, the Millstone River, the D & R Canal and Gropps Lake started to iced out but were sent back into the ice age by the recent cold weather. It will take at least two weeks or more to clear the ice from the lakes and bring water temps into the range for ice out fishing. As of this story it will be mid month for this to happen even if it got warm right now, and the long range forecast is for more below normal temperatures. Once the thaw starts look for the bass, crappie, panfish and pickerel to move into the shallow waters, which will warm up sooner then the depths. Also look for some of the better fishing to be in the mouths of tributary and feeder streams, especially after a warm spell through out the month. As a post script the month of February was one of the worst months fishing wise we have seen in a long, long time.
Look for the tidal river south of Philly to see the first striped bass fishing on the flats around the Commodore Barry Bridge and the mouth of the Schuylkill River about mid to late month should we see some moderating weather. Crappie and bass action in tidal coves such as Dredge Harbor, Tulleytown and Penn Manor should also start in the same time frame and should come into its own by the end of the month, with jig combinations and live bait being your best bets.
Because of the problems with the smallmouth in the non-tidal river don’t look for any decent early season smallmouth fishing. Also the last couple of seasons have seen the bulk of the buck shad move up river in March. Whether or not this will happen this March remains to be seen. However, its for sure that water temps will be no where near the zone that will make the fish active for fishermen. So don’t expect too much from the shad in March except in a warm water discharge that is pumping warm water.
Walleye fishing is also a big question mark. March usually see the walleye in the spawning areas and this year should be no different, however look for this to happen late in the month.
When it comes to the largemouth fishing you will find the best action in the southern portion of the state, with the fishing gradually getting better further north a little at a time. But here too it won’t be until mid month at the earliest before this starts. You will find the best fishing in the shallow water on spinners, spinnerbaits, floating plugs and live bait fished in the late afternoons on days when warm weather has been present for several days, especially if the weather is breezy.
With most trout stocked waters closing the third weekend of the month, you will have to concentrate your fishing during the first three weeks. This past winter saw plenty of trout left over from the fall stockings and a combination of the very poor weather and the economy helped cut down on the number of anglers fishing for them. However, with the disease at the hatchery which has claimed thousands of trout, the outlook for trout fishing this year is very poor. So trout fishing in the streams should be fair barring any weather problems. You will also find decent trout fishing in Round Valley both in boats and from the shoreline, as well as Merrill Creek Reservoir, once the ice gets off the water. The state will be holding a Public Trout Stocking Hearing on Saturday, March 8 to release the final verdict on this spring trout stocking.
It was a tough winter in the south Jersey Pine Barrens. Many waters are still iced up and if the cold weather continues skim ice will be a big problem for at least the first part of the month, and maybe longer. Live-lining minnows, spinners and swimming plugs will pout you into the chainsides in the open water. As of this story some pickerel were being caught in the spillways below the dams of some of the bigger lakes.
White Perch Fishing
Everything points to another good spring for perch in the tidal rivers and streams along the coast. Look for good fishing in the Toms River, Mullica River, Wading River and tidal streams along the lower Delaware on small spinners and spoons along with jig combinations and live bait. Some of the fishing has already started in the Maurice and Cohansey rivers along the Delaware.
March can produce some good spring fishing and the fishing in each body of water will peak at different times. Knowing when the fishing is peaking is a key to fishing crappies in March. Here too most of the better crappie fishing waters are ice up and will take at least two weeks to come into the prime range for crappie fishing. This puts the start of the crappie fishing at mid month or later depending on the weather. Look for the fishing in most lakes to shift into the main portion of the lakes and reservoirs just off the spawning areas. Crappies are some of the first fish to move into the spawning areas, and you will find the best fishing in the late afternoons around the edges of the spawning areas on small spoons, small spinners and jig combinations.
Ling, cod and other bottom fishing has been on a roller coaster ride most of the winter thanks to the weather and cold inshore water temps. Only a few boats are currently sailing and even those boats have only been able to get out a couple times a week. Boats currently sailing include the: Ocean Explorer; Paramount; Jamaica; Jamaica II and Dauntless. Look for the ocean fishing to start picking up by mid month as long as the weather settles down.
There are big time changes in the winter flounder fishing this spring. The fed has eased restrictions on the fishing and the season will open in March and remain open till the end of the year with the same size and bag limits as last season. Anglers have been catching and releasing flounder for several weeks now and fishing should be decent. Shark River (Tennis Courts, Gas Dock and north channel), Manasquan River (around the party boats, the Glimmer Glass and the mouth of the canal) and Barnegat Bay (Island Heights, mouth of Oyster Creek and the mouth of the Toms River) are normally the first places to see some flounder fishing.
How early the spring striper fishing will start up is determined by the weather on any given yea, and this year fishing is going to be late. Look for the first catches to start showing up mid month or later. In Raritan Bay area look for the better fishing to be seen along the lower side of the bay in spots such as the Cliffwood Rock Wall, Spy House, Monmouth Beach, Union Beach and Cliffwood Beach.
In the middle of the state look for some bass to start mixing in with the winter flounder in Barnegat Bay, the Point Pleasant Canal and Garveling Point. Clams and worms will be your top choices in baits.
2014 Delaware River Outlook
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 21, 2014
As February comes to an end most serious fishermen starting to think about what fishing is going to be like in 2014. If you fish the Delaware River the outlook is quite foggy. Lets face it the fishing on the river for the last four or five years has been anything but stellar. The loss of 70-percent of the smallmouth fishery to disease, along with declining rock bass, and panfish populations in the non-tidal river the river, coupled with an unstable striped bass fishery and closed herring fishery on the tidal river doesn’t make for a bright picture for the 2014 season.
There is no doubt that the river has been having it's ups and downs since the turn of the century, and some of its fisheries are in trouble. So much so that we are now seeing the fed step in and mandating harsh regulations on the shad and herring. Herring fishing is closed on the river and the same is more than likely coming for the shad in the near future. Likewise there are sure to be regulations changes on the striped bass fishery if that fishery continues to see an over all decline along the coast. While the outlook for 2014 is not bright there are some fisheries that are on the upswing in the river, so anglers will more than likely see mixed results. Likewise, a lot will have to do with what kind of weather tantrums Mother Nature will throw at us this year.
While lecturing at some outdoor shows this winter, several anglers asked me what the effects of the harsh winter we have been having will have on the river and it’s fisheries. To be honest, the effects could be positive or negative and only time will tell. On the positive side, the river has been in need of a good cleaning for several years and hopefully the big ice floes that we experienced this winter will scrape the bottom and put the river in good shape. Since scientist don’t know what causes the columnaris disease that sent the once world class smallmouth fishery reeling for several years, it’s not know if, and or/what kind of effect the ice floes will have on the disease. I personally hope the harsh winter will wipe out the disease once and for all in the river. However, because the ice floes scrapped the bottom, there is always a chance that they will put what ever activated the disease in the river back in the river and cause more problems. Truth is, we simply don’t know, and it is a wait and see thing.
After a good year in 2012, the spring of 2013 left a lot to be desired and numbers were way down from the 2012 season. While some big fish continued to be taken between the Tacony and Burlington bridges, numbers in the Trenton continued to decline. Likewise the numbers of adult males spawning on the flats in the lower river has declined to a fraction of what they were in the late 90s. Statistical information shows a decline in spawning waters along the Atlantic coast and the Delaware is no different. It will be interesting to see how the 2014 season plays out for the stripers. The spring run of stripers was hampered by low water conditions, and this more than likely impacted on the numbers of fish that moved up river. If we have a good year for the linesiders, the 2013 numbers may have been due to the low water conditions. If we see poor numbers of stripers this spring we could be in for a further decline in river’s striped bass spawning population.
The last several years saw an increase in the number of shad in the river. The spring run in 2013 saw low water conditions and the shad moved up river earlier. Once again most of the better fishing was in the upper river. The lower sections of the river from Upper Black Eddy downriver saw only spotty action as the bucks moved through in March and very few anglers were fishing for them. Low water conditions hampered shoreline fishermen, while boat fishermen saw decent fishing when the roes made their run. The Lewis Fishery saw a very good year which means the fish were moving through the river in decent numbers.
There is no question that the shad populations is no where near the size it was in the 90s, however, numbers are on the increase and hopefully 2014 will be another good year for these fish which are so important to the river’s over all health.
Indiscriminate netting by trawlers in the north Atlantic continues to be the biggest problem with the shad recovery. The Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s Association will be rasing juvenile shad in tanks and restocking them in the river for the third year this spring. Decreasing the catch limit for recreational fishermen is not the answer. Stopping the indiscriminate killing for the fish in the north Atlantic is.
The river fishery has been closed for several years and don’t look for the herring fishing to open up anytime soon. It’s problems are closely related to those of the shad fishery. Over harvesting in the ocean continues to be the biggest part of the problem, and an out of control cormorant problem continues to plague the river. Biologist have reported a increase in the number of herring in the lower tidal river for the past two years and this should bid well for the 2014 season.
Smallmouth fishing continues to be a big question mark and numbers have never been the same since the record years of 2007 and 2008. The spawn in 2009 produced one of the smallest ever on the river and the 2011 year class was also very poor. Enter the columnaris disease that ravaged the population in 2010 and 2011, and the fishing in 2013 was the poorest I have seen in the 50-plus years I have been fishing the river.
While biologist told me they did not find the disease in the fish in the last two years, the simple truth is that we did not see any decent numbers of smaller fish. This means what ever triggered the disease might be gone for the time being. It also means that we have been fishing on the older year classes for the last two years and this is why the average size smallmouth seems to be bigger. With each passing year the numbers of bigger fish decline and unless we have significant numbers of smaller fish we will not see an up tick in the fishing. For the last two years the smallmouth spawning has been poor and we have not see any number of young-of-the-year fish in the fall. We can only hope the disease won’t show up again and we can only wait and see how the fishing pans out in the next couple of years and hope it builds back up to the levels it once was.
The walleye fishery continues to build in the river. With the smallies in decline for the last several years, there has been plenty of forage for walleyes and this has made for a healthier and bigger walleye fishery. The last three years saw an up tick in, not only the numbers of walleye being caught in the river, but in the spawning as well. This past season saw some decent walleye fishing, that was only limited in the spring by the low water conditions and there is no reason to believe that this trend will not continue as long as nothing drastic happens to the fishery. So look for some good walleye fishing in the river in the coming year especially is we have a high water spring, which sure looks like the case as of this story.
Largemouth fishing in the tidal river from Trenton south has been on the upswing for several years. This past year’s fishing was well above average, and for the last two falls the numbers of mixed sized largemouth that moved into the tidal creeks has been exceptional. From the full moon in September through the full moon in November the backwater areas were full of mixed size largemouth and the fishing lasted into mid January when the cold weather shut everything down. Spawning was also decent as the huge number of yearlings moved into the backwater areas of the river during the fall. The fishery is very healthy and increasing numbers of largemouth are also being found in quieter sections of the non-tidal river from Trenton north. Look for some decent largemouth fishing in 2014 unless weather and water problems cut into the fishing.
Here too the bulk of the fishery is in the tidal coves and backwater areas of the lower river from Trenton south. Crappie numbers this past spring and fall were exceptional and with three to four year classes providing the fishing the outlook is very good for the next few years. The fall fishing lasted into the first part of January and spawning continues to be very good in the lower river. The outlook is good for the fishery and we should see another good year in the tidal river. Like the largemouth the crappies have also made some good inroads into the deeper sections of the non-tidal river.
The last few years have seen a resurgence in the perch fishery. Tide water fishing produced some of the best numbers of perch in recent years with the fish providing good fishing through out the year. Likewise numbers were also very good in the tidal streams that flow into the lower river and as of this story perch are already being caught in the Maurice and Cohansey rivers. Here too the white perch have also made their presence felt in the non-tidal river north of Trenton as far up river as Bulls Island. There is no reason oto belive that the fishing won’t be good this coming season and anglers should see some good light tackle fishing both in the tidal and non-tidal river. Catfish
Catfishing was very good in both tidal and non-tidal sections of the river through out the year. Some of the best fishing during the summer and fall was in the Trenton and Bordentown areas. The 2012 season was a good year for channel cats and the 2013 season was even better. Here too there are several strong year classes with fish from a few inches to as big as 15 to 18 pounds being caught in the tidal river. So look for some good cat fishing in the 2014 season.
Flathead catfish continue to increase in numbers in the river. Flatheads are not native to the river, and are voracious feeders and spawners. Biologist consider them a big threat and are telling anglers to remove any they catch from the river, however many anglers consider them excellent sport and a big fishery has developed in the Susquehanna River.
Another invasive species of fish that is making inroads in the river is the snakehead. This past year saw confirmed reports of snakeheads being caught as far up river as Trenton and unconfirmed reports of fish being caught as far up river as Phillipsburg-Easton. These fish are a particularly dangerous threat to the river for two reasons: their ferocious feeding habits and their ability to move over land.
With some fisheries seeing improvement, while others are in well documented decline, it looks like a year of up and down fishing in the big river. So far this year has seen a lot of precipitation and if this trend continues we could be fishing a high water river. While this will bid well for the spring fishing, it will present a tough river for fishermen during the summer months. The fishery with the biggest problem is the smallmouth fishery and hopefully we will see a good spawn and better numbers of smaller fish this year.
Choosing the Right Reel for the Right Rod
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 14, 2014
Statistics show that four out of five fishermen prefer the use of spinning tackle, and striking up the proper match between rod and reel is one of the most important elements in getting the most out of your spinning tackle.
One the most important elements in choosing a spinning rod and reel is balance. Too heavy a reel for the rod will impair your casting distance and accuracy. It will also decrease sensitivity resulting in more missed fish. Too light of a reel will offset the balance in the other direction and also cost you fish. A proper balanced rod and reel combination on the other hand will give good casting distance and accuracy, as well as good sensitivity.
There is two ways of achieving a good balanced spinning rod and reel: you can choose the rod you want first and then match a reel to it, or, if you are like me, build a rod to match the reel. When balancing a rod and reel you have purchased you should hold the stem of the reel between your middle finger and ring finger or between your ring finger and small finger, which ever is more comfortable. The balance point will be where your index finger rests on the rod. If the outfit is balanced properly you will be able to place it on your finger and have the rod rest level without tipping either way. This will work with the majority of spinning outfits with the exception of some of the heaviest combinations.
If you choose to guild a rod for a reel, your first step is to secure the handle to the rod blank. You can then put the reel on the rod and tape the guides on the blank to see if they balance out. Since you are taping your guides to the blank you can adjust the positioning and spacing of the guides to balance the outfit. Once you have the guides in position to balance the rod and reel, you can then wrap the guides permanently on the blank.
Another important consideration is guide sizes and how they are placed on the rod. When a rod's guides are too small for the reel it will cause the line to slap against the first guide and cut down on your casting distance. If the guides are too big the line flow will not be cut down and this cuts down on your accuracy. Your first guide on a rod should be three quarters the size of the outside diameter of your reel spool which will give you an even line flow.
Both spool mounted and internal rear mounted drag systems on most modern quality reels will do an adequate job, however, most veteran anglers prefer to combine a good drag system with back reeling techniques. Back reeling is far more efficient and smoother than any drag system and no matter how fast a fish runs, you can always compensate by back reeling. If you intend to employ back reeling, choose a reel that has an easy to get at anti-reverse lever where a flip of the finger can turn it off to combat a running fish and then turn it back on when it comes time to hold him in place.
The modern fishermen has all different materials for fishing rods: fiberglass, graphite, boron, etc. along with all kinds of composites. Contrary to what manufacturers will tell you no one material is good for all types of fishing. For ultra-light fishing I have found fiberglass or a fiberglass-graphite (60-40) composite is preferred. When using 2 or 4-pound test high percentage graphite rods tend to snap to many lines. Fiberglass rods on the other hand have a lot more give and give you a better chance to land a bigger fish. Fiberglass or a composite are also better for fishing a popping or darting surface lure. Some of the best surf sticks for casting topwater baits in the surf are know as fiberglass popping sticks.
Graphite or boron on the other hand make a good choice for fishing spinners, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Because these lures are constant motion lures graphite or boron will give you better hook sets.
Graphite-fiberglass composites can be found with different amounts of each material. A light percentage of graphite as 60 or 70-percent fiberglass to 30 or 40-percent graphite make better rods for fishing swimming plugs, spoons and swimbaits that you will fish with a stop and go retrieve. The flex of the fiberglass will give you good action when you are working the lure and the graphite will give you good striking power.
A heavier percentage of graphite on the other hand will give you better results when fishing plastic baits and other lighter lures, especially when fishing deeper water or in heavy cover.
Matching the right qualities of both spinning rod and reel will go a long way to giving you the best results. So take your time and match your rod and reel up properly when buying it or building a rod.
Philadelphia Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show Next Weekend
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, February 7, 2014
The 2014 edition of the Philadelphia Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show will embark on it's annual run at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at the Oaks this coming weekend, Thursday, February 13th to Sunday, February 16th.
Guides, Charter Boats, Outfitters and Lodges
If you are looking to book a fishing or hunting trip, charter boat or a lodge for your vacation, the Fort Washington Show will have on hand fishing and hunting guides, charter and party boats, outfitters and lodges and travel destinations. New Jersey, Delaware, New York and New England party and charter boats will be well represented at the show, and hunting guides from the East Coast, Mid West, Alaska, and Canada will give you a look at what's in store for the North American hunter.
Timber Tina's World Champion Lumberjills
Timber Tina's World Champion Lumberjills are the premier in Logging Sports Entertainment. They travel all over the world performing at fairs, festivals, exhibitions, private functions, corporate events, and more. Founded by 'Timber' Tina Scheer in 1995, the Lumberjills are the first and original all women group of logging sports entertainers.
The Show consists of taking the old time skills of the lumberjacks and turning them into a modern day competition. The family friendly shows are high action, fast paced, educational, historical and TONS OF FUN!
Cheer on your favorite Lumberjills as you watch these highly skilled athletes compete in: Crosscut Sawing, Underhand Chopping, Axe Throwing, Power 'Hot' Sawing, Chainsaw Carving, and Log Rolling!
Gun Dog Retriever Demos
Professional dog trainer, Pat Fenstermacher will be presenting daily retriever demonstrations with her award winning labs. Pat's demos are known to be both educational and entertaining.
Baywings Falconry will present the beautiful world of raptors. Cheri Heimbach, a Master Falconer and licensed Conservation Educator, will show live raptors and present educational lectures on the life and world of raptors.
Baywings Falconry is a small private enterprise in Central Pennsylvania specializing in all aspects of bird of prey management and education.
Exclusive! American Fly Fishing School
The experts from the American Fly Fishing School will have a casting pool right on the show floor offering continuous fly casting instruction. Also, they’ll have a learning center staffed by expert fly tyers and fly anglers. This is your opportunity to learn the quiet sport of fly fishing.
Trophy Buck Contest
Bring in your record mount! Prizes awarded in all categories!
RULES: Heads and antlers will be scored during public show hours Thursday through Sunday.
Antlers do not need to be mounted. Trophies already OFFICIALLY scored will not be rescored. A score sheet must accompany an already scored entry. Award ceremony will take place at 12:00 noon on Sunday, February 16, 2014. All heads and antlers entered in the Trophy Buck Contest must remain on display until after the awards ceremony.
Best gross scoring buck bow or muzzleloader typical.
Best gross scoring buck bow or muzzleloader non-typical.
Best gross scoring buck rifle or shotgun typical.
Best gross scoring buck rifle or shotgun non-typical.
Entry Fee: There will be a $10 entry fee for all antlers and/or heads entered. For $25, the entry entitles the owner for full membership in the Northeast Big Buck Club. This includes the antlers/heads being registered with the Northeast Big Buck Club and an annual membership which includes patches and an annual magazine subscription.
Prizes: A $100 gift certificate for Weaknecht Archery will be awarded to the winner in each category.
Note: A show ticket must be purchased at the box office or in advance at www.sportshows.com to enter the show and then enter into the Trophy Buck Contest. For all entries remaining until the awards program on Sunday, at the time of registration, a re-entry ticket will be given the owner of the head to allow for pick-up and awards ceremony on Sunday.
Exclusive! Kids Fly Casting Competition
Mike Corblies, national fly fishing personality and Director of American Fly Fishing Schools, will Emcee a Kids Fly Casting Competition sponsored by Wild Water Fly Fishing Products and Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine at the A.F.F.S. "Simul-Cast" Pond.
It's a fly casting accuracy tournament for kids 10 to 17. No previous fly casting experience is necessary to participate and all the equipment is provided. This contest for young anglers is to demonstrate and improve their fly fishing skills, have fun and maybe win some great prizes.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday - Kids can Pre-Register and practice with Capt. Mike.
Competition: Sunday: 10:30 am - 2:00 pm
Prizes: to be announced
Deer, Turkey & Big Game Expo
The Deer, Turkey & Big Game Expo brings you aisle after aisle of archery, guns, gear and hunting guides for deer, bear, turkey and big game.
The Hawg Trough
Check out our 5,000 gallon fish tank loaded with monster large mouth bass. The nation’s top pros will be demonstrating the latest and the tried and true lures. The BEST way to see how a lure acts in the water is to see it firsthand. Let our pros show you how!
The Sportfishing Supershow
The Sportfishing Supershow delivers more fishing tackle manufacturer’s displays than any other show in PA. Local retailers offer low show pricing on tackle for the upcoming season. Plus, fishing guides and lodges.
Bobbing For Trout
Join WXTU on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5pm and see contestants "Bob for Trout" to try their luck at winning a trip for four to Trade Winds Island Resort on St. Pete Beach, includes a half-day fishing from VISIT FLORIDA! Go to WXTU for more details and to register!
Adventures in Climbing brings their indoor climbing wall to the show. Kids of all ages love to climb this four-station, 24 foot rock wall. Participants are harnessed to an auto belay system and then begin their adventure. Each of the four sides offers a different skill level, from novice to expert, providing a thrilling challenge.
Here is your chance to get up close to a live deer. Rolling Hills Red Deer Farm raises over 400 red deer on their farm near Bloomsburg, Pa. Bring your camera! Pet and even feed this big guy and learn more about this red deer.
Plenty of Seminars and Workshops
The show also offers you a chance to pick up some tips on hunting and fishing from local and national pros. Doing workshops at the show will be: Shaw Grigsby; Roger Raglin; David Dudley; C.J. Winand; J.B. Kasper; LouConsoli; Paul Fuller; Mike DelViscoLane Benoit; Peter Fiduccia; Brian Immekus; Mark Wolfskill & Karen Shannon; Jack Montague; Kate Fiduccia; Tom Tatum; and more.
Thursday - 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday- 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday- 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission prices are $12 for adults and $3 for children (5 to 11 years old); children under 5 are admitted free of charge.
February Fishing Will be Unpredictable
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 31, 2014
So far this winter its been a mix of good open water fishing in early January and good ice fishing in the northern part of the state as well as locally for the last week to 10 days. Whether or not the ice fishing continues into February remains to be seen. So far this year we have had a roller coaster ride of hot and cold temperatures. As such, predicting what kind of fishing we will find in February is not an easy chore, and for the most part it will depend on how the month goes in the weather department.
As of this story, lakes and ponds are iced up and being fished on. However, with warm weather and rains predicted for the first week of February, fishing conditions could change rapidly. Should the weather turn cold and we get safe ice again, anglers should get a chance at bass and pickerel on tip ups baited with shiners, while jig fishermen should find some crappie, perch and bluegills. However, it sure doesn’t look like this will happen, or if it does it will only be for a short time. Should we have moderately cold weather casting and slow retrieving spinners and spinnerbaits, as well as live bait, in the dam spillways will be a good bet. Should the weather once again become warm and the lakes start to thaw out, the first few days after ice out should give anglers some good fishing in the small creeks that flow into lakes and ponds.
As of this writing the river was still jammed with ice. However, if we get the predicted warm weather and rains we are sure to see some high water conditions. As long as we don’t have another heavy freeze up look for the fishing to get better towards the end of the month as the walleye start heading for their traditional spawning grounds. Jigging livebait and fishing worms and shiners on bottom walking rigs will serve up the better catches, however, as the walleye move into the spawning areas trolling Rapala Countdowns and other swimming plugs will also take fish. Here, too, the weather and rainfall will have an effect on the fishing. Likewise, look for suckers to start gathering around the mouths of the tributary streams as they, too, began to move into their spawning areas.
How soon the largemouth fishing starts to heat up will depend on when lakes will be ice free. Look for some fair fishing through the ice should we get safe ice in February. Should February be mild, look for good fishing with a few days of the ice leaving the water. Plugs, spinners and live bait will be your ticket to the bass.
Trout fishing this winter has been spotty because of a combination of weather and lack of fishermen, not to mention the disease problems at the hatchery which effected the fall and winter stockings in New Jersey. Anglers are reporting some decent fishing when they have had good conditions. There are plenty of trout left in the fall stocked streams and with some mild weather, February should produce some decent trout action, barring any heavy rains that would damage the conditions. PA trout fishermen continue to see excellent fishing in the Little Lehigh thanks to heavy stocking this past fall. Round Valley Reservoir is producing some decent rainbow and brown trout fishing from the shoreline and boat fishermen have been into rainbows and lakers, mainly while jigging.
Ice, mostly unsafe to fish on, in the Pine Barrens in cutting into the open water fishing, however, fishing has been very good when you can find open water. Look for the fishing to really turn on once the weather begins to moderate and unless we have continued below freezing weather, which would make skim ice a problem, fishing should break open by the end of the month. Live-lining minnows, spinners and floating swimming plugs will be your ticket to the chainsides.
Perch fishing is usually picking up in the tidal streams and rivers by the time February rolls around, however ice jams have put the fishing on hold. Once the water temperatures climb into the upper 40's, fishing should be very good as the white and yellow perch move into the tributary streams to spawn. If current conditions stay the same, this will not happen until later in the month. Look for the perch fishing to pick up sooner should the weather turn warm.
January crappie fishing was super the first two week of the month. As of this report most lakes in our local area are iced up, and crappie fishing through the ice has been slow. Should the lakes thaw out, look for some good fishing in the tributary streams right after ice off when the water temperatures in the streams will be warmer than the lakes. Hair jigs, jig-plastic bait combinations and small live bait will be your top producers.
After a couple of weeks of good bottom fishing in early January the cold weather ko’ed the fishing. The mackerel fishing never materialized to any degree and boats have discontinued trying for the macs. Should the weather turn mild look for the blackfishing to be in deeper water. Ling, cod and pollock catches should also pick up. As of this story the Dauntless, Jamaica II, Paramount, Mohawk and Ocean Explorer are still sailing. However, because of the unpredictable conditions this time of the year anglers should call the boats for their current sailing schedules.
So far offshore fishing has been tough because of the weather which has been limiting sailing time for the boats still fishing. Some mild weather would go a long way to jump starting the offshore fishing.
Winter striped bass fishing has been a real bust in both Raritan Bay and in the surf. Look for some activity in the lower Delaware south of Philadelphia should water temps climb back into the 40's, which more than likely not happen until the later part of the month.
2013 Was An Interesting Year for Fishermen
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 24, 2014
Makes no difference whether you are a freshwater fishermen or a saltwater fishermen, the year 2013 was a very interesting year with plenty of ups and downs. With a roller coaster ride of weather conditions ranging from too much rain to, too little rain and everything in between fishing was very unpredictable this past year. So here are some of our observations for the 2013 season see how they compare to your fishing in 2013.
Freshwater fishermen in particular saw a wide range of conditions and this produced hot and cold fishing during of the first part of the year. However, the fall fishing exploded after the full moon in September and produced some of the best largemouth fishing in recent years for live bait fishermen. Likewise, crappie fishing which was off most of the year because of inconsistent conditions, exploded during the month of December and remain solid till the end of the year and into January.
Fishing in the Delaware River continued to be sub-par. After an above average year for striped bass in the river in the 2012 season, the fishing was poor during the 2013 season. This was more than likely this was due to low water conditions which we saw during the spring. On the smallmouth fishing front once again the fishing was well below the norm. For the third straight year the numbers a small fish that were caught was very poor, more than likely do to the Columnaris disease that wreaked havoc on the fishery from 2008 to 2011. While some nice smallmouth were caught overall numbers are at least 60 to 70% of what they once were. It looks as though it will take from 3 to 5 years before we see significant amounts of smallmouth in the river once again barring any further problems and given we have successful spawns for the next several years.
Walleye fishing was decent in the spring but for the fall, catfish and carp fishing was decent most of the year.
Fishing in the tidewater fared a bit better. Both largemouth and crappie fishing was very good in the tidal coves especially in the fall. By the looks of the numbers of small fish which are found below the dams of tributary streams and in the backwater areas during the fall, the largemouth once again had an excellent spawn. Likewise crappie fishing was very good in the tidal coves and backwater areas during the fall. Hereto catfish and carp fishing was very good throughout the year.
Bass fishing was a real hodgepodge of hot and cold fishing. Spring bass fishing was picky, while pre-spawn bass action was decent however, the spawn was delayed because of rainy conditions which effected water temperatures. Post-spawn bass action started off good in most waters. In deeper waters bass stacked up in thermoclines just off the spawning areas. However, here too rainy weather broke up the thermoclines and scattered the bass. Most lakes and ponds saw fair to spotty surface fishing most of the summer, mainly because of inconsistent weather patterns.
Bass fishing was average at best until the full moon in September when live lining minnows produced excellent fishing into the end of October. Bass action gradually tapered off in November and finally slowed up in the beginning of December in most waters.
As a rule smallmouth fishing was average in most streams and decent in some a larger reservoirs. The South Branch continued to provide some of the best smallmouth fishing in New Jersey, while the Lehigh River served up some of the best smallmouth fishing in eastern Pennsylvania. Most of the better fishing was on jig-plastic bait combinations and small surface plugs. Stillwater smallmouth fishing was very good in Lake Hopatcong, Round Valley Reservoir and Split Rock Reservoir in New Jersey. Lake Wallenpaulpack was the top lake in eastern Pennsylvania.
Trout fishing in the Garden State really had its ups and downs in 2013. Spring fishing was fair with most of the better fishing being in the larger closed date streams. The state continues to cut back on the places listed for stocking on the smaller streams and once again fishing in the smaller streams was well below par. Enter the disease at the hachery which killed thousands of trout and cut into the numbers of trout that were stocked in the fall, and the fall fishing, which has been which has been on the decline for the last several years, was very poor in most waters in 2013. It will be interesting to see what effect the disease will have on the stocking numbers in 2014.
Keystone trout fishermen also saw a below par year in most waters. Here too stocking numbers are down from what they were. The best fishing was in the Little Lehigh in the fall which was heavily stocked in the fall.
Spring crappie fishing was average at best. Likewise summer crappie fishing was also average in most waters. Even early fall crappie fishing was not as good as it usually is. There were some reports of very good crappie fishing in northern lakes and ponds in New Jersey and in Pocono lakes in eastern PA. However, because we had a mild weather crappie fishing was very good during the month of December.
Spring pickerel fishing was decent in the South Jersey Pine Barrens thanks to decent high water conditions. Good numbers of chainsides continued to be caught into the early summer however once the rain stopped and low water conditions took over fishing was spotty. Pickerel action picked up during the fall and was good white through the end of the year.
One fishery the produce good results was the walleye fishing in several lakes. Some of the best catches came from Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake and Monksville Reservoir in New Jersey, and Lake Wallenpaulpack and Beltsville Reservoir in PA.
Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing
Anglers fishing for hybrid stripers saw some good results during the 2013 season. In the Garden State Lake Hopatcong, Spruce Run Reservoir and White Lake produced very good action. In the Keystone State Lake Shohola and Blue Marsh Reservoir were the top spots for hybrid fishermen in eastern PA.
Fishing for shad in the Delaware River saw mixed results. Anglers fishing the lower river between Trenton and Upper Black Eddy was sporadic fishing at best. While the Lewis Shad Fishery enjoyed an excellent year, and boat fishermen did fair in the Lambertville and Byram sections, fishing was poor for shoreline fishing because of low water conditions. Anglers fishing the Phillipsburg to Water Gap section of the river saw decent action. Overall the fishing was better in the upper sections of the river then in the lower river because of low water conditions when the bulk of the fish were moving through the lower river.
Catfishing & Carp Fishing
As a whole fishing was good throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. In particular lakes stocked with channel cats produce some good size fish. In addition rivers such as the Delaware, Schuylkill and Raritan River produced good catches of catfish throughout the year. Carp fishing was also decent throughout the year. In particular some big carp were shot by bow fishermen in the Delaware River once again this year.
As with freshwater fishing, fishing in the brine saw it’s ups and downs. The Jersey coast was still reeling from the effects of hurricane Sandy, which change the bottom and currents along the Jersey shore. This in turn had an effect on the spring and fall migrations, as well as the species of fish which moved into Jersey waters.
Striped Bass Fishing
Linesider action was fair at best during the spring run. While fishing was very good at times it was sporadic at other times. The spring run up in the Hudson River was well below the average, as was the spring run in the Delaware River. Inshore fishing was decent, but here also it was below average, however some big black drum were taken once again this past spring. Surf casters also saw sporadic fishing during the spring, as well during the summer months. The fall run of stripers, while much better the spring fishing, was dominated by a lot of short fish. While some fish in the 30 s and 40s were caught, shorts outnumbered the keepers by as much as 10 or 20 to 1.
Don’t be surprised if we see more restrictive striped bass regulations in the not-too-distant future.
Some of the most erratic fishing was seen by anglers fishing for bluefish. After making an appearance in April and May, the slammers disappeared for over six weeks during the summer. More than likely the changes to the coastline caused by Hurricane Sandy pushed the fish father offshore, as schools the bluefish where found as much as 20 miles off the Jersey beaches. When the slammers returned in late fall some mammoth size fish were taken with plenty of fish in the 20 pound plus class being weighed in at tackle shops.
Anglers fishing for flatfish saw a decent season, however hereto the catch was dominated by sub-legal fish. Mixed in with the scads of smaller fish where a decent number of fish topping the 10 pound mark. Overall fluke numbers were good this year, however the fishing fizzled out in early September. Look for more restrictive fluke regulations this coming season.
Blackfishermen saw some excellent fishing both in the spring and in the fall. The blackfish fishery is one fishery that is in excellent shape long the Jersey coast. Fish topping the 10 pound mark regularly took pools on party and charter boats. Warm water temperatures in the fall kept the fishing good till the end of the year in relatively shallow water. Only the insane regulations for blackfish kept anglers from seeing a more productive year.
Another bright spot along the Jersey coast was a return of good numbers of weakfish to local waters. A solid mix of sizes were seen by anglers fishing from Barnegat Inlet north into Raritan Bay. Only the one fish bag limit kept anglers from enjoying these fish even more. It remains to be seen if good numbers will once again return to Jersey waters this spring.
Another bright spot this past year was the influx of good amounts of croakers, kingfish, porgies and spot. While hurricane Sandy had a lot of negative effects on the fisheries along the New Jersey coast, the changes in the bottom along the inshore waters and in the bays seems to have given the aforementioned fisheries a big boost. For the first time croakers and kingfish are found in good numbers as far north as Raritan Bay. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the 2014 season.
One of the downsides along the Jersey coast this past season was the offshore fishing for tuna. Boats sailing this fall did not see the numbers a tuna that have been the norm along the coast. Here to the effects of hurricane Sandy could have had something to do with this fishing.
However, cod, pollock and ling fishing produced some good action for bottom fishermen. Another fishery that saw inconsistent fishing was a mackerel fishing. Both spring and winter fisheries were sporadic at best.
Foot Prints in the Snow
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 17, 2014
As I was looking out of my kitchen window and watching the birds feed in the feeders while the snow was falling from our first snowfall of the season, my mind drifted back to my parents house when I was a youngster. I was watching the birds in the feeder hanging from the willow tree when my father pointed to the tracks the birds were making in the snow. After the snow had stopped, my father took me for a walk along the canal which was down the street from our house and pointed out all the animal tracks that were in the snow. It was his way of teaching me about nature and the outdoors, and it stuck with me the rest of my life.
My father taught me many things about the outdoors and I was fortunate to have mentors who were what the modern world would call in tune with nature. To them it was just the way things were, it was something they respected and chose to pass on to the younger generation. In today’s world of fast paced life, computer games, the internet and all the other modern wonderments, we tend to forget the simple things in life. There is a world out there that many kids never see even though they are looking right at it. One of the best ways of teaching kids about the outdoors and nature is through the simple things, such as foot prints in the snow.
Foot prints can be an adventure for the young because sometime following the foot prints will give the youngsters a look at the creature that made them. Finding the animals that made the foot prints in the snow can give youngsters a look at wildlife in a natural setting which is quiet different from what they might see on the internet, TV or in a zoo. When I was younger, I was a trapper and a hunter, and learning how to follow foot prints and read signs was a way of life to me. Even now they are a great way of getting some excellent snapshots of wildlife in the snowy white setting of the freshly fallen snow.
Animal and bird foot prints are everywhere. A look in your backyard will put you into footprints from birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, etc. A walk in a park will bring you a bounty of footprints such as foxes, skunks, ground hogs, water foul, birds and more. A walk along a lake or small stream will give you a looks at footprints from deer and other animals that come to the body of water to drink.
Another fun thing that the youngsters can do is keep a journal on the things the foot prints lead them to. I have taught my sons, who were in the Boy Scouts, how to keep a journal when we are in the outdoors and the things they saw and found. This gave them plenty of information for the merit badges and some of the projects they has worked on in school.
Just as my father taught me the secrets of the foot prints in the snow, so too have I taught my sons and daughter to read the foot prints in the snow. Hopefully they will teach my grandchildren and keep the tradition alive. So the next time it snows, instead of sitting at the computer and playing games or watching the boob tube, why not leave the virtual reality world for a look at the real world, and take you children for a walk and look for the foot prints in the snow. You might be surprised how much closer it will bring you to your children and nature as well.
Playing it Safe in the Outdoors During the Winter
by J.B. Kasper
Friday, January, 10, 2013
Boy what a crazy ride we have been on so far this winter. Record low temps, record high temps, snow, ice, etc. you name it we have had it. For one I sure can’t wait to see what the rest of the winter has in store for us. That being said, it is for sure if you are going to engage in cold weather outdoor activities this winter, laying safe is paramount. This means not only keeping warm in outdoors, as recent weather spasms have dictated, but also being safe in the outdoors. The cold weather season brings with a whole host of dangers that those of us who spend a lot of time in the outdoors during the winter, should be aware of. So here are some dangers to look out for during the cold weather season and how to deal with them so you can have some safe fun this winter.
One of the biggest problems in the outdoors during the cold weather season is hypothermia. This occurs when body temperatures drop well below the norm. While hypothermia can occur any time of the year, winter is when it is most prevalent. Hypothermia is considered serious when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees and is considered life threatening when the body’s temperature drops below 90 degrees. Hypothermia can occur quickly, such as a person falling into ice cold water, or gradually as when a person is exposed to cold air for a long period of time. The wind chill factor can greatly step up this process. Likewise, intoxication and personal health factors can also hasten hypothermia.
Symptoms include: constant shivering; shallow breathing; a lack of coordination; slurred speech; mental confusion; drowsiness; low energy; weak pulse and a progressive loss of consciousness. Most victims of hypothermia are not even aware of their condition. You should seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who shows the previous symptoms.
First aid: Be gentle with the person and don’t massage or rub the person to warm up. Move the person out of the cold or shield them as much as possible. Remove wet clothing and replace with dry clothing, and if possible insulate the person from the cold ground and cover the person with dry blankets. If need be share your body heat with person. Provide warm non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t apply direct heat, however you can apply a warn dry compress to the neck, chest wall or groin. For more information on hypothermia go to www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothermia
Frostbite occurs when skin tissue freezes. The most often effected parts of the body are the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes. There are three degrees of frostbite: 1st degree is when the skin is irritated. 2nd degree is when the skin has blisters but no major damage and 3rd degree involves all layers of skin which cases permanent damage. The first two degrees of frostbite have symptoms of burning, numbness, tingling, itching or a cold sensation in the area effected. Symptoms of deep frostbite include swelling and blood -filled blisters over white or yellowish colored skin which may look waxy and turn purplish blue as it re-warms.
First aid: Keep effected parts elevated to prevent swelling; move person to a warm area, but avoid walking if the feet are effected; check for hypothermia; remove wet clothing and restrictive jewelry; give person a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage; do not rub effected areas and re-warm effected areas as quickly as possible.
For more on frostbite see www.emedicinehealth.com/frostbite Water Dangers
Water in the form of a lake, pond or stream are the cause of many winter accidents. Never go out of ice without checking the thickness first. While two inches is strong enough to stand on, ice of that thickness is usually not uniform. Four inches of ice is the standard for waking on or for ice fishing and skating. If you are ice fishing or skating on a body of water always have a throwable floatation device such as a lifesaver, buoyant cushing or buoy attached to a length of rope close by. It is always safest to skate or ice fish with a partner. It’s also wise to place your cell phone in a plastic bag and keep it in an outside piece of clothing. Stay away from dams, stream confluences and springs, as well as any posted areas, where ice maybe thinnest. It’s also wise to carry a sheathed knife or ice pick in an accessible place on your outer clothing. Should you find yourself on thin ice lay flat and spread your weight out. Should you fall through the ice you can use it to pull yourself up on the ice and out of the water. Should you come upon someone who has fallen through the ice do not go right to the person. Getting too close can cause you to go through the ice. Talk to the person and try to calm him or her down. Lay flat on the ice and use a rope, branch, jacket, or other object to reach out to the person.
When hiking along a stream or river always stay at least a couple body lengths from the water or icy areas. So if you take a fall you will have a reasonable amount of dry land between you and the water. The PA Boat and Fish Commission has an excellent site for water and ice safty at www.fish.state.pa.us/water/ice_thickness.pfd
Wind Chill Factors
The wind chill factor can be a chief element in frostbite and hypothermia. A thirty degree air temperature combined with a 25-mile per hour wind is equivalent to a 1-degree air temperature with no wind. Always protect exposed parts of your body such as ears, nose, fingers and face.
Proper foot wear is often overlooked, especially by the younger generation. Leave the sneakers home. Water proof boots and boots that are wind resistant are the best way of avoiding problems. Any boot or shoe that will allow water to penetrate into your socks is worthless in the outdoors during the winter months. Likewise always protect yourself with an outer layer of clothing that will block the wind. For a Windchill Chart go to www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/index.shtml
Special Medical Needs
People with special medical needs such as diabetes, circulation problems, etc. should take extra care when in the outdoors in the cold weather. Symptoms of some medical problems can mimic frostbite and hypothermia. Likewise people with medical conditions are often more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, which means they should be extra careful and take extra care to protect themselves. The cold weather puts the body under more stress and this can exasperate diabetes and other medica conditions. I have been a diabetic for 10 plus years and know first hand that low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can mimic symptoms of hypothermia. For more on diabetes and cold weather go to www.idea2000,org/moreinfo/docs/diabetes_cold_tips.html
Last but not least: Keep a winter kit in your vehicle with such items as: first aid kit, blankets, changes of warm clothes, and warmers, matches and fire starter, length of rope and throw buoy, flares, flashlight and other items that might come in handy during an emergency. Ice fishing, skating and other outdoor activities are a lot more fun and a lot safer when they are done with a friend. So take a friend, play it safe and get out and enjoy what the cold weather outdoors have to offer this winter.
The Tip Up and How To Use It
By J.B. Kasper
Friday, January 3, 2014
Now that the holidays are behind us and Old Man Winter has taken up residence in our area for the next several months, it’s time for some good old fashioned hard water fishing. I know the thought of standing on a frozen lake or pond and drilling holes in the ice to catch a few fish sends shivers down the spine of a good many fair weather fishermen, but heck, sometimes it’s the only game in town. One of the oldest and time tested ways of ice fishing is through the use of the tip up. The sound of “Flag Up” is music to an ice fisherman’s ears, so here are some tips to get the most out of your tip up fishing this winter.
Tip ups are nothing fancy. Simply put, they are a pair of legs and a main shaft which holds a spool full of line below the water that triggers a flag on a piece of spring steel that alerts the fishermen to a fishes bite when the fish takes the bait and pulls line off the spool. Well, they used to be that simple, but like everything else in today’s world of technology, fancy gadgets and gizmos have dolled them up and some now light up when a fish triggers the flag and some even automatically set the hook in the fish. However, a tip up by any other name is still a tip up and there are some tricks that can really make a difference in the number of fish you catch no matter what type of tip up you use.
Use the Proper Line
One of the most important factors in using tip ups is using the proper line. All too often anglers try to use monofilament on the spool of their tip ups, much the same as they would when fishing with a spinning reel. Mono is too stiff in the cold water and will coil up when you pull in a fish, which can cause you some real problems, especially on a windy day. Braided Dacron line is the top choice for tip ups. It will last for years, is very limp, will not give you any problems in the cold weather and allows you to do things with it that you can’t do with monofilament. There are also some tricks you can play with braided line that you can’t do with monofilament.
Dacron line at one time was available in just about every tackle shop, however, it has become less and less common. One thing you can do is save your used modern braided line and use it on your tip ups. It’s best to use heavier line, as the very thin line can cut your hands when pulling in a heavy fish.
One thing you can do with braided line that you can’t do with mono is mark the line to measure depths. Sometimes, especially when fishing deeper water, you will be fishing for suspended fish and need to get your bait down to a certain depth time after time. What you can do with several of your tip ups is to measure out the line when you are putting it on the spool and tie a knot every ten feet in your line. Single overhand knots tied in your line will not interfere with the line coming off the spool, but will allow you to measure depths as you are lowering your baits into the water by counting the knots.
One of the problems you have with wood tip ups is that after a few years some of the hardware can come loose as the wood drys out. There are two ways of dealing with this problem. In the case of the U shape staples that hold the triggering device you can put a little glue in the staple holes and then push the staple back in. When it comes to the shaft that holds the spool, which can dry out in the off season, you can soak the bottom of the tip ups in water for a week or so before you start fishing. This will cause the wood to swell and lock the shaft the spool rides on in tight.
Positing Your Tips Ups
One thing many anglers over look is the proper positioning of their tip ups. For this the angler should do a little homework during the regular season. If you fish a lake or pond on a regular basis during the open water season, you more than likely have an idea of when the fish hold up during the cold water season. Often some of the places that you caught fish right before freeze up will be the places you will find the fish once the ice is on the water. These are the places you will want to fish. If you take land sightings while fishing from a boat during the open water season, you can use the same land sightings when you are on the ice.
Another place that is usually a hot spot during the hard water season is an old stream bed or channel. Here, again, locating the channel or stream bed during the open water season and taking land sightings will give you an edge during the hard water season. Placing your tips ups in a line along the channel can often give you some good results.
Another spot that produces well during the hard water season are the submerged weed beds in a body of water. These weed beds act as a dinner table for baitfish and gamefish that will feed on the aquatic life in the vegetation. Most often the best way to fish them with tip ups is to place your tip ups around the edges of the weed beds to ambush the bass and pickerel as they hold there picking up the baitfish and panfish that feed on the insect life.
Dealing With the Wind
A windy day and produce plenty of false alarms as a gust of wind dislodges the spring wire that holds the flag. Positing the tip up properly in relation to the direction the wind is blowing from will help keep this from happening. Always try to position your tip up so the wind is blowing against the main shaft of the tip up and not directly on the triggering mechanism. Likewise position the tip up so that the side the spring wire slides off had the wind blowing against it not away from it.
Adding A Weight To Your Line
Last but not least, there are all different ways of placing a weight on the line of your tip ups. However, the best way is through the use of an egg sinker. Use the weight egg sinker that gives you just enough weight to keep your bait down and not trigger your tip up. Loop the main line from the spool of your tip up through the egg sinker twice, then tie a swivel to the main line and attach the hook and leader to it. When the egg sinker is attached in the manner we described, you can slide the weight up and down your line, thus increasing the distance from your sinker to the swivel. In open water you can increase the distance and allow your minnow to swim around a greater distance from the sinker. If you are fishing close to a structure and want to keep the minnow close you can shorten the distance by sliding the sinker closer to the swivel.
There you have it- some tips for getting the most out of your tip ups this hardwater season.