Are You Ready for Some Hard Water Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, December 18, 2014
In case you haven’t noticed, the mercury has started to look for a place to hide on the thermometer. What that means to the ardent angler is that lakes and ponds are starting to ice up and it won’t be long before it’s hardwater time. If you are contemplating taking up ice fishing for the first time or have been punching holes in the ice for a while, here’s some tips on getting your gear ready for the coming hardwater season.
One of the basic tools of the ice fishermen is the tip up. There are just too many different styles of tip ups to mention every one. However, if you are like me and prefer the old style wood tip ups, you will find out they need a little maintenance every once in a while to keep them working right. The spools that hold the line are attached to the main stay of the tip up with a metal pin on which they ride. More often than not when wood tip ups are stored the wood dries out and these pins become loose. Yow should check your tip ups and any that have loose spools should be placed in water until the wood swells up and locks the pin in place.
Braided line is preferred over monofilament for tip ups. Mono will stiffen up in the cold water which will give you problems with tangles. One trick is to save the old braided line off your fishing reels and use it on the spools of your tip ups.
Like tip ups there are just too many on the market to mention. That being said, I have always made my own jigging rods. An old ultra-light rod cut down with a small conventional reel, spincast reel or spinning reel will suffice. The same short rods (3-1/2 to 4 foot) I use for crappie jigging also make excellent rods for jigging through the ice. If you do choose to make your own jigging rod or modify an old rod for jigging through the ice, always make sure the guides you use are at least one size larger that you would find on a normal rod. You do this because ice fishing usually means a harsh climate and very cold weather and larger guides will not freeze up as fast as smaller one.
Ice Cutting tools
No matter how you cut through the ice, be it an ice chisel, ice drill, auger or power ice drill, make sure they are sharp before you take to the ice. The cutting edges on your ice tools can loose their edge while being stored. If you use an ice chisel attach a piece of rope or leather to the top of the handle so you don’t accidently drop the chisel through the ice when you make a break through. A lot of ice chisels end up on the bottom of the lake after slipping out of an ice fisherman’s cold hands.
Once you’re hole is cut you need an ice ladle to scoop out the hole for fishing. Here too you should attach a cord to the end of your ladle to keep it from slipping through the ice. If you cut a lot of holes for jigging, one trick is to attach you ladle to an old section of broom handle so you can scoop out the ice with out having to bend down, and you can use the loop on the end to let it hang from your arm while fishing.
There are many different ways of getting your ice fishing equipment to the ice. If you are going to be moving around a lot attaching a wood or plastic box to a sled or toboggan is a good choice. If you choose a sled, make a visit to a second hand store and pick up an old pair of skies and attach them to the runners of your sled. This will make it easier to handle in soft or deep show.
If you are just transporting your gear to one spot, you can get an old back pack or pack frame and attach a five gallon bucket to it. This will allow you to place tip ups, jigging rods and larger items in the bucket, and smaller items such as boxes of jigs in the pockets of the back pack.
Some last items to pack in your ice gear should include a pair of ice creepers to give you traction on the ice. Some hand warmers, and a pair of sun glasses to protect you eyes from the glare coming off the ice or snow. Some skin moisturizer to help keep exposed skin from the effects of wind and cold. Another thing ta can come in handy is an Arkansas hand warmer. This is a five gallon metal bucket with holes punched into its bottom and sides which can be used to burn wood to keep warm on a cold day.
Dressing For the Winter Fishing
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, December 11, 2014
With Oldman Winter already making his presence felt, and getting ready to take up residence for the next several months, most people with a reasonable amount of sanity are starting to spend a lot more time indoors than outdoors. However, a good many of us simply won’t allow Oldman Winter’s icy breath keep us from satisfying our fishing addiction and dressing properly during this part of the year is a must. There is an old saying that goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute it will change” and that’s a good rule to use when dressing during the winter months.
Dress In Layers
If there is one thing that I have learned over the 50 plus years I’ve spent in the outdoors its that layering your clothing is the best way to go. In cold weather layering will trap air and allow your body heat to be retained. If it should get warm you can always remove some of the layers to make yourself more comfortable. Sure you can spend a nice bundle on modern cold weather clothing, however, layering your clothing will do the same job for a lot less money.
How you layer your clothing depends on how long you intent to say in the outdoors. For short periods of time, such as sitting in your vehicle watching your tip ups while ice fishing, and the going out for a short period of time, you should dress lightly. An insulated vest, jacket, or parka will usually fit your needs for short periods in the outdoors.
Remaining in the outdoors is an altogether different matter. In this case your main consideration is are you going to be moving around or are you going to be inactive. Wind is another factor. A 30 degree temperature on a calm day can feel real toasty, however that same 30 degrees on a day with 10 mph winds can feel like 16 degrees and in a 20 mph wind will feel like four degrees.
If you are going to be out on a very cold day and moving around such as walking or wading a stream, insulated underwear, jeans and wool or chamois shirt, topped by an insulated hooded sweatshirt is a good bet. This will allow you to move around and stay warm without sweating. Sweating is your worst enemy, since once you stop moving around you will cool down twice as fast. In the case of ice fishing: you can remove a couple layers of clothing while cutting your holes, then put them back on when you are standing around and jigging or watching your tip ups.
On windy days you will need more insulation and a wind breaker to keep the wind from cutting into your clothes. Use your same first layer of a pair of insulated bottoms and a tee shirt, then add another layer consisting of a pair of jeans and a pull over hooded sweat shirt topped by a chamois shirt. It’s always best to add a zipper up hooded sweatshirt or insulated vest over you torso as an added layer on a cold windy day. Your final layer is an insulated outer suit. If you are fishing on a boat, such as party boat bottom fishing where there is a chance you might get wet, it’s best to use a foul weather suit as your outer wear. Likewise if you are ice fishing on thick ice, once you caught a hole the water often comes gushing out of the hole and on to the ice. In this case wearing a set of foul weather lowers will help keep you dry and keep the wind from cutting through your lower layers of clothing.
Your under layers should be close fitting, while your outer layers of clothing should be loose fitting. This will keep the lower layers of clothing close to your body to retain it’s heat, while
the your loose fitting outer layers will allow a layer of warmer air to build up between your inner and outer layers of clothing.
One trick you can use on a real cold day is to place several disposable chemical warmers in the pockets of my inner clothes. This will generate heat in the layer of air between the layers of clothing and really works well.
Protecting your feet is a must. If they get cold the rest of you will get cold no matter how well insulated you are. A couple pairs of insulated or wool socks and a pair of duck boots, half boots or knee high booths that are water proof are a good bet, because if your feet get wet you mind as well go home. If you are wading a pair of insulated hip boots or waders should replace your shorter boots. On real cold days you can also drop a chemical hand warmer down your boots towards the back of the boot. This will help warm the blood that is flowing into your legs and help keep your feet warm.
To protect your hands when fishing with a rod and reel I wear a pair of wool gloves with the thumb and first two fingers cut off to allow me to tie knots and bait hooks. You can also sew pockets in the gloves so I can put chemical heaters in the gloves. There are many kinds of neoprene gloves that are excellent for keeping your hands warm, however the better ones carry a hefty price tag.
Protecting your face and exposed skin
A lot of people simply don’t take measures to protect their faces, ears, eyes and noses and this can really cause you some problems. Your nose and ears are two of the most often parts of your body that get frostbite. The best way to protect your head and ears is to wear a hooded sweater and that has tie downs and draw them down to tighten up your first hood over your head and ears. You can then use an outer hood as a wind breaker and additional insulation.
When it comes to the exposed skin on your face and nose, you should use a skin moisturizer to keep the wind and cold from drying out your face. A full wood ski mask to protect your nose and skin.
Most people don’t even thing of protecting their eyes when in the cold outdoors. However, a cold wind can dry out your eyes and cause them to tear up. It is also smart to use a pair of wrap around sun glasses, or in extreme cases a ski mask, to not only block the wind but also give you protection from snow glare and help you see the bottom when wading a stream.
If you have never had a case of frostbite, take it from me you don’t want one. Dressing properly for a day of winter fishing can make the difference between enjoying a cold days fishing and cussing the weatherman for making you so cold.
December A Time for the Hardy
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Don’t pack your fishing gear away yet. The warmer then normal weather we have had this fall should provide anglers with some good fishing in both freshwater and saltwater during December. Despite the recent weather moderating temps should give us fair to good fishing till the end of the year, unless colder weather intervenes.
Freshwater Local Fishing
Fishing on the local scene will be a mix of bass, pickerel and panfish until the lakes freeze up. November was poor month because of the weather and the colder then normal temperatures. It took the crappies and bass about ten days to two weeks to adjust to the water temps, but they finally started hitting in good numbers around the first of the month. As a result anglers will be seeing some good late season crappie, bass and pickerel fishing in most local waters unless the weather closes in. Don’t over look the dam spillways, as they will produce fish even it the lakes freeze up.
Don’t look for too much fishing in the big river. It’s been a bad year in the river to begin with, and recent reports show very picky walleye fishing. Water levels have been running well below normal for this time of the year even with the last several rains we had. The one bright spot has been the crappie, perch and bass fishing in the tidal coves and the mixed bag of fish are also being caught at the power plant. This fishing will definitely get slower as the river’s waters cool down.
Largemouth fishing in the lakes in the northern portion of the state will largely be in the bigger lakes and reservoirs with deeper water, mainly in the thermoclines on live bait. In the central and southern portion of the state larger bodies of water will also be the way to go as they will hold their water temperatures longer. So far local waters are still producing some fair to good numbers of largemouth on live bait.
Because of the disease problems at the hatchery the fall and winter stockings have been well below the norm. Likewise the number of anglers trout fishing this fall left a lot to be desired. This has left a lot of trout still in the streams for die-hard trout fishermen. For the first time in recent years gas prices are decent and this should put a few more anglers on the streams. There is some good trout fishing out there if you have the time and money.
Now here is a fishery worthy of attention during the month of December. Reports this fall have been excellent so far and water temps are still above average in the Pine Barrens. This should stretch the fishing out through December and into the new year, baring any quick freeze up. Live lining killies and shiners will give you the best results, especially a waters cool later in the month.
White Perch Fishing
White perch fishing in the tidal rivers such as the Toms, Maurice, Wading and lower Delaware produced well this fall and fishing should continue to be good right up until freeze up. We got the first reports of perch being caught in the Toms last week and the Maurice River has been good all fall and the fishing should be in early and mid December.
Another fishery that should be a big time producer during December is the crappie fishing through out the state, especially in the middle and lower part of the state. While November, with the exception of the first two weeks, was a bust, fishing picked back up the first couple days of December. Most of the better waters have been yielding decent catches and the fishing has been steady. Look for this fishing to continue unless some extreme cold weather kills the fishing.
Two fisheries that are worth you attention during the month of December are the walleye fishing in Lake Hopatcong and the trout fishing in the states two top reservoir, Round Valley Reservoir and Merrill Creek. The walleye fishing in Lake Hopatcong is some of the best walleye fishing in the state, with Rapala Ice Jigs and live bait fished off the points of land serving up the best catches. While the fishing will slow down with the colder water, walleye are a cold water fish and should still provide some good fishing right through the end of the month.
Look for the lake trout fishing in the Valley and Merrill Creek to pick up, and shoreline fishing for brown and rainbow trout in Round Valley should also took a jump in the last week and should be good until the water freezes up.
Blackfishing, even with the poor conditions we have been seeing, has been very good and should continue right through December. Most boat captains I spoke with told me inshore water temps were well above normal this past month. Most also believe December will be very good unless the weather destroys the conditions. Believe it or not there are still some porgies being caught and anglers should see some decent numbers of ling, hake and some school cod this month.
I spoke with several boat captains that traditionally run offshore in December on long and mid range wrecks trips and they said December should see good action with hake, ling, cod, pollock and tilefish. The fall tuna action was killed by the weather in November.
Striped bass fishing this fall was well below the norm and the weather in November sure did not help. A good many charter boat have already shut down for the season and some of the party boat captains said unless decent numbers of fish show up in the first two weeks of December they will be shutting down by mid month.
Here too the suf action was well below the last few season and the weather really made things difficult. At best some short stripers will supply some action, mainly on clams into the holidays for dedicated sand pounders.
Eleventh Hour Pickerel Very Good
by J.B. Kasper
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Pickerel inhabit just about every type of water in the state, from the gin clear mountain lakes of the north to the dark rust colored waters of the south Jersey Pine Barrens. However, it's in the dark dingy waters of the Pine Barrens that he rules supreme. The acidic waters of the Barrens are, in many cases, too harsh for bass or trout, however, the pickerel's tolerance for hard water allows him to thrive in this region.
The Pine Barren lakes and bogs are shallow, stump filled bodies of water and boat ramps are about as scarce as an honest politician in Washington. Manual or electric car toppers and canoes are the vessels of choice in the Jersey Devil's domain.
Carefully wading is another option that many anglers, myself included choose as a way of fishing the bogs and lakes in the Barrens. Trudging around in the rust color water of the Pine Barrens is not like wading a crystal clear trout stream. You'll very seldom find a Pine Barren lake or bog that is free of stumps and other objects to trip over. Another pit fall for the wader is the numerous soft bottom springs which you can sink into very quickly if you are not careful. Because of the previously mention hazards, chest waders are a better choice than hip boots, and wearing a tight belt around the top of them is a safety must. It’s also wise to not go over your hips when you are wading.
Pickerel are active in the cold water of the late season when other fish are dormant, however, their metabolism will still be slower. This makes live bait preferable over artificials. The minnow best suited for this type of fishing and one that out produces all others is the killie. Shiners and other soft minnows will not last long if the pickerel are in a vicious mood. Killies are a hardy minnow and a common forage in pine barren waters. You can hook them through the head, cast and retrieve them and still catch more than one pickerel on each of them if they are rigged properly. Because pickerel are vicious feeders, many times I've caught pickerel on them when they were not distinguishable as a minnow.
Choosing the right hook is the first step in fishing minnows for pickerel. Two things that govern your choice in hooks are the razor set of choppers that pickerel have and the hang-up filled environment you'll be fishing. These factors make light wire, long shank hooks your best choice. Long shank hooks enable you to deal with the pickerel's nasty teeth and the light wire allows you to get your hooks off the hang ups you'll encounter. When you get hung up, all you have to do is slowly pull back on your line and the hook will spring free. Most times all you will have to do is bend it back and re-bait your hook. Your best hook sizes are #1 or #1/0 snelled on 8 and 10 pound test.
If you need to ad some weight to your line the use of strip lead is preferred over that of split shot. Stay away from split shot because as you retrieve your minnows, the line will rub up against the stumps and the split shot will get wedged in the decaying wood. This is less likely to happen with strip lead. Split shot also takes your bait to the bottom too fast and this will also get you hung up more often. Once you learn to add the proper amount of strip lead on your line, you'll be able to cast and retrieve your minnows in the same fashion you would a lure. For the best results, twist the strip lead onto the line about six inches above the hook.
The best way to hook your minnows is through the head. Most anglers hook the minnow through the lips so that they will remain lively. In this case, however, the tougher killies and colder water keeps your minnows in good shape even though they are hooked in the head. Since you will be casting and retrieving them, and putting your own action into them, you don't have to worry about them being alive. You can also freeze your leftover minnows in a plastic bag and use them at a later time.
Decaying stumps, logs, fallen timber, old stream beds, shallow flats, decaying vegetation and submerged springs are your main fish holding structures. As the water gets colder, the pickerel migrate into the stream beds and around the springs. The waters there will always be warmer and seldom freeze. Throw in some logs, stumps or other debris, and you have the makings of a late season pickerel hot spot.
The best time to fish is when it has been warm for a few days and the shallow water warms up. Throw in a mild breeze and fishing can be very good until the next cold front moves through and chills the water back down. Pickerel will be most active on the side of the lake where the sun shines on the water for the longest part of the day. In this type of fishing, sun light is the ally of the fisherman.
Cast your minnow into a likely looking spot and slowly retrieve it with a twitching motion to make it dart from place to place. This closely imitates the dace and killies that live in the cedar water and the erratic movements will catch the attention of the pickerel. Being a curious fish, pickerel will follow the minnow and then hit it, stopping your bait, then turn the bait around so they can swallow it head first. After you feel the hit, give the pickerel a few seconds and then set the hook. Waiting too long will cause the pickerel to swallow the minnow and make removing the hook more difficult.
Pickerel fishing; it's fun for the novice and veteran alike and makes a good way to end the season and a add a few fish to your total before you pack it in for the season.
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