Saturday, August 3, 2019

Bald Eagles

Cool press release I got from Fish & Wildlife. Bald eagles are as free as the air we breathe, and they better be, if we are. But it's fascinating to take interest in our interactions with the recovering population. It doesn't make them any less wild. But it does mean we're part of the picture ourselves, and I would say, ultimately as wild as they are. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Trolling for Pickerel

 Oliver's biggest bass--from anywhere--yet.

The thunderstorm came. During one of my breaks at work, Oliver & I texted about the river level coming up. Later last night, it was coming down as fast as it went up, but how could we tell if the water color would be good this morning? 

So, Plan B. Tilcon Lake. Oliver suggested saltwater before we decided for certain, but I hate going all the way over there, only to infer that no fish are in the surf. I guess some kingfish would be around--I guess--but I didn't feel them worth the drive.

We met at Brian's about 4:45, loaded the squareback. We were on the water at 6:00 sharp. Fog enclosed us. I soon caught a small bass on a Dalton Special up top. It was another very slow morning bite like last year with my son. I switched to a worm, lost a nice bass, caught another small one. Oliver teased sunfish with flies and a popper, hoping a bass would take. My worm rigged with an inset hook, I riled up a pickerel from a foot of water on top of an island among weeds. It took the hook deeply, having savaged that worm, but I released it in good shape. 

All told, I caught two more small bass on the worm. I very much enjoy worming, as if you don't know. A lake threatens to overwhelm me as too much water to cover by fishing that slowly, but by selecting every cast, it's a meditation and a sport. A sport because getting casts exactly right as I foresee them does tend to yield results. 

Oliver wormed too. And caught his biggest bass yet, about 19 inches.

But today's fast action came by trolling. The only plug that worked was the larger of two chrome-finished Storm Hot-N-Tot's. It dives about 15 feet. The shallower running version didn't draw any strikes, and we missed some on the bigger plug. I tried to get Oliver to take that plug away from me, as I hooked pickerel after pickerel, catching four, the largest 23 inches, losing another boatside, missing a couple of jolting strikes. Finally, he conceded. He caught one about 20 inches.

The biggest was the first caught, and my first thought, "Maybe trolling is the key to finding the big ones," played out. Another of mine was 21 inches, another 20 inches, and the other about average, 18 inches. Until today, all the pickerel we've caught here have been 17 inches, 18 at most.

We moved over bottom as deep as 30 feet and got whacked. I can't tell how deep vegetation goes, but the water is clear, and only 15 feet down or so, that chrome finish on the plug surely reflected sunlight. 

 The wooden Dalton Special was my favorite topwater plug. Then the Torpedo. Now the Pop-R. But I felt a desire to try the old Dalton this morning.

Oliver got some interest with his flies and bugs. 

 Wild Man with his biggest Tilcon pickerel yet.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

South Branch Raritan Flemington

Drove to the South Branch at Flemington to check and see if the flow is muddy. It's not. And so long as thunderstorms later today don't raise the level, Oliver Round and I are floating the river further north tomorrow. Water often gets released from Spruce Run Reservoir, raising the river level and muddying the water just enough to make fishing unproductive.

I brought a bucket with some leftover killies in it. I used some more than a week ago, when trying for fluke in the surf; the water they're surviving in is brine taken straight from the Atlantic. I thought I would have the change the water, but the fish are doing fine.

First cast to this long slow stretch behind a dam resulted in a little largemouth about nine inches long. I caught a longear sunfish, besides. I tried to access the river below the dam, but No Trespassing. Then I drove further above and found a nice hole below a rusted railroad trestle, but couldn't get a hit. I put a split shot on the line, too, after covering the area with a killie weightless.