Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homemade Strawberry-Flavored Carp Bait

A fresh batch of carp bait.

I've never been much of a trout fisherman. I'm not sure why that is, but for some reason I don't find them all that appealing. I know part of this has to do with my ineptitude at catching them in my younger years, but even now that I've had a few good outings and have even caught some decent-sized fish, I'd still rather for fish for something else.

Anything else, except sunfish.

This time of year, most New Jersey anglers are counting down the days until the opening of trout season. I, on the other hand, have decided that I'm going to spend most of my time this early-spring trying to catch some of the biggest fish that swim in the freshwater of the Garden State.

Carp.

For some reason, carp are not sought-after by an abundance of fisherman. Part of this is probably because they are not deemed table-worthy and part of this is probably because a lot of people think of them as nasty, dirty, bottom-dwelling fish. That part is true I guess, but they also get really really big, and that makes me want to catch them.

Since carp are herbivores, commonly used baits such as worms and shiners have very limited success. Traditional carp baits include corn and dough-balls made from bread or bagels. These often-hefty fish have developed a sophisticated palate and quite a sweet tooth, which is why many anglers flavor their baits with anise, vanilla extract and syrup. Furthermore, because some anglers like to go above and beyond the call of duty, one will find no shortage of "carp bait recipes" online or in books.

Now, although I have had some success catching carp, I have yet to find a bait that I truly love. Corn stays on the hook great, but for all the times that I've used it, I've only caught a handful of fish. Dough-balls made from Wonder Bread seem to work better than corn, but they can often fall off the hook.

Since I'm planning on spending a lot of time carp fishing over the next couple months, I figured I was going to need a better bait, and I think I've found one.

Strawberry Flavored Carp Bait

-Mix one cup of cornmeal with two cups of flour and set aside.
-Boil one pint of water then bring water down to a simmer.
-Add one small package of Strawberry Jello, one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of vanilla, stirring constantly.
-Slowly add flour/cornmeal mixture until all liquid is absorbed and continue working the blob for 2 minutes.
-Remove from heat, roll into a lump, wrap in foil and refrigerate, not freeze until ready to use.

I tried this recipe out the day after I made it. It stayed on the hook incredibly well, but it's going to need a few more field tests before I can report on how well it works. The water temps still need to be a little warmer, but I did get one bite. How many fish this stuff will catch remains to be seen.

Next Up: Fishing with Niles and Lido this weekend. Most likely on Round Valley.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Walk In The Park(s)

A view from the shore of Lower Echo Lake: just a hop, skip and a jump from our new digs in Union County.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring Cleaning

My collection of reels that are all going to get new line and a few dabs of oil in the coming weeks.


I usually try to get my blog post up by mid-week. I'm not sure why this one is late, but I can tell you that as I am writing it, my sister in on the way over to my new home in Union County to join me for what will be the subject of the coming week's entry.

I did not venture into the great outdoors last weekend. 

Anyone who has been following this knows that I recently relocated and that endeavor has taken up every second of my free time since my last trip on the ice. I am happy to report though, that Lindsay and I are 100% out of Jersey City and besides for some furniture shopping, my weekends should be opening back up to get outside and enjoy the coming of Spring.

If there are two times of the year that are not as exciting for me, one is in December when I'm waiting for safe ice and the other is now when the ice is melting and water temps still need to come up a bit in the rivers and streams. I will do some river fishing this time of year and try smaller ponds where the ice is already gone, but I have to admit that the first half of March is not the best time to be a freshwater angler in northern New Jersey.

Now, although my fishing season never really ends, it does for a lot of other anglers. These anglers use this time of year to prepare for the coming season. While I'm out hiking on the weekends and standing in 40-degree rain like a moron trying to catch a carp out of a 7-acre lake, more reasonable people are inside their dry, warm homes, respooling and lubing their reels and organizing their tackle. Since I'm a little neurotic about my tackle, it stays pretty well organized all winter, and since I have too many frickin' reels, I will never sit down to respool all 30 of them at once. Instead, I respool them as I need them, like I will do tomorrow, when I'm standing in 40-degree rain like a moron, trying to catch a carp out of a 7-acre lake.

Next Up: Janel is on her way to scope out some of the local parks, ponds and rivers near the new digs. Tomorrow, I'm going to kick-off the "Spring Carp Quest 2011" with a couple hours of morning fishing in the rain.