Friday, June 10, 2011

Delaware and Raritan Canal Near Manville

The Delaware and Raritan Canal, in my experience, is best in fall and winter when pickerel respond to crappie jigs or shiners live lined next to and among deadfalls and brush. But largemouth bass--even rare smallmouth bass--exist, along with uncommon walleyes at the locks (nine locks, I think), muskies that have either entered from the Delaware, or are among those stocked by the state and in some places stocked trout. Of course, carp, bullheads, and channel cats are present and the one-time state record grass carp came from the canal, not to mention panfish, crappies and I've heard of a northern pike caught that either someone placed in the current or a great flood like Hurricane Floyd's transferred from the Raritan or Millstone River. During the summer I tend to find fishing slow.

Today I snapped a Senco off on a submerged branch not having a weedless hook, determined to fish Wacky-rig. When the branch swooshed back, I saw a good sized pickerel had followed my worm and dashed off leaving a boil. What I didn't see was the tip section of my six foot Ugly Stick slipping into the canal just as the line snapped. I used the remaining fastened sections to sift among thick poison ivy and see if it had fallen there. I searched the area meticulously until satisfied it went into the canal where I couldn't see.

I've noticed dingy, turbid water recent weeks driving by. Not thick-muddy, but pretty bad and I don't know why. Fish have to feed, however, and I feel confident I could have caught at least one during this search for a truly large fish--including pickerel (my worm rattles left in a tackle box at home). 

That rod went a long way with me. We don't know how much we value something until it's gone. I got over it quick enough, but it stimulated some thought on the necessity of loss, loss not just being an inconvenience, but ultimately productive for human life, however painful. We die and make room for new lives. That's the ultimate end. And look how some of the greatest contributors to the human race are not appreciated until after their deaths. It's terribly unfair to them, but they did not want to be forgotten. 
They wanted to be remembered because the value of their lives could at last be realized to a degree much greater than others knew while they lived. And in some respects greater than they themselves knew.

Got a photo of two sliders with 15 inch shells.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mount Hope Pond Anticipations

Nearly all the bass I've caught on the Chompers worm I keep mentioning have taken it on the initial drop. This afternoon's first bass, about a pound a half, hit as I retrieved it with interspersed jerks, intending to get it in--though rather slowly--for its next descent. Right in close, inside the shadow line, the bass engulfed it.

The next measured 17 1/2 inches, well over three pounds. I casted the worm about two feet outside the shadow line, in about 10 feet of water; the bass hit on that initial drop. Accuracy is often very important at Mt. Hope, but this was an easy cast.

Since this largest bass here yet hit in deeper water, I switched to a Senco. At least with this type of worm I can tell when it reaches bottom even without added weight, and as I've stated before, it sinks faster. The line goes slack on bottom contact. I wait a moment, then begin a slow retrieve with occasional pulls to make the worm flutter, rigged "Wacky." Nothing.

Nonetheless, I feel closer to that possible truly large bass. I hear enough stories out and around and think that most of them are lies. Like the guy that drove up today. He looked at my Wacky worm and said, "You catch them on that!?"

"Yeah." I knew instantly I didn't care to speak to this guy.

"I fish spinnerbaits!" He said. "Last year I got no bass here less than four or five pounds."

"They're big here," I said, walking by him without stopping. Only fools catch no bass less than four or five pounds in New Jersey. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Party Boat Fluke Fishing (and Lakehurst Largemouth)

If you go for fluke on a headboat this time of year, bring a surf rod and bunker snag. I felt I was close to hooking a striper in the 40-pound range. Someone in a boat next to us caught one this large.

Follow my vignette and get psyched. Just as important as technique. But when you hook up, don't let line rub against the boat. Better to fish behind the drift, not underneath the boat. My son lost something really big that cut the line on boat bottom. Fluke hit squid (don't set immediately, feel into the hookset), but I caught one of mine on a three-ounce bucktail not tipped with any bait.

Boy Scouts has its priviledge, and I have to say I'm pleased once again to be involved in the organization after camping on the 7430 acres of Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station this weekend. I have never heard so many whip-poor-wills calling all at once in all my life as they did very early this morning. I'm not sure I've ever heard any in New Jersey before.

We began with a fluke charter on the Suzie Girl out of Belmar. Everyone caught fish. But out of a group of maybe 30 of us, we brought back about a dozen keepers, the largest at five pounds. My largest went maybe an eighth of an inch under 18 inches, quickly tossed over the side unceremoniously. 

What else can you do but refuse to fret when things get real edgy with big possibilities? I caught a bunker on a two-ounce bucktail tipped with squid. Quickly, I tied on a 7/0 steel hook, put it through the lively bunker's back, heaved it out with my 11-foot surf rod, and let it swim off. This way I got in a half hour trying for a big striper, which the head mate thought definitely cool, but it didn't work, even though big fish definitely swam down under nearby.

At the naval base, Bass Lake, again not a lake, but a pond of about 10 acres, actually looked very promising with its large stand of dead timber in the water, although almost all of this lay out of casting range. I caught two bass, one of them at least a pound, within a couple of minutes of getting to the site. The first thing I did, I tied on a Senko-type worm and started casting. I ended up catching six more bass yesterday evening, the largest just over a pound. Brian Shultz, one of the Scouts, caught a 13-incher from the dock.

I resolved to let those eight bass be it for me, and to let one of the boys borrow my rod the next day. Sure enough, just as I got out of my tent, I heard a lot of commotion, looked, and saw a very good-sized bass flopping in the sand on the small dike. I ran for my camera and measuring tape. That's a nice bass a sliver under 19 inches for Anderson Matinho. Anderson caught another close to a pound, and lost one the boys asserted was larger than his first.