Helmetta Pond ahead of a cold front.When: Wednesday, December 7th, from 12pm to 12:30pm
Where: Helmetta Pond in Spotswood
What: Trying to catch a pickerel
Weather: Snotty. Overcast, rain, 61 degrees, North wind at 7mph
Barometric Pressure: 29.71in and tanking
Moon: Waxing, near full
Water Conditions: Fairly clear, weedy
It is my firm belief that paying close attention to detail will ultimately contribute to catching more fish on a more consistent basis. Whether it's making sure your live bait is as fresh as possible, making sure you have enough line on your reel or making sure your hooks are sharp, it's these preparations that can produce more strikes and limit the number of fish lost.
And it's this kind of preparedness that I turned my back on today and...I paid the price.
My work travels brought me to southern Middlesex County on this rainy day. Seeing as these parts have some quality pickerel waters, and having just been reminded by The Fisherman that these toothy monsters will readily bite in colder water, it seemed like a no brainer. Throw in an approaching cold front, and things were looking pretty good.
After my first appointment and a stop at another prospect in Spotswood, I headed an extra mile down the road for my lunch break. The rod in my car had a reel that was equipped with 4-pound test; not the kind of abrasion resistance you need when fishing for a species with a maw full of razor-like incisors. Every muscle in body was telling me to spend 60 seconds and attach a leader with a uni-to-uni knot, but it was cold, raining and heck, I was feeling kind of lazy.
So, instead, I did what was easy, and tied a small chartreuse twister-tail grub directly to the thread-thin fishing line.
Not a great move.
After 15 minutes, I hooked a healthy-sized pickerel. And after a relatively short fight, I began to the lift the fish out of the water an up onto the dock...another "not great move." I had the time and the chance to do the right thing - walk to the shore and grab the fish with my hand, but fate had its sights set on making me pay for my laziness.
As soon as the pickerel came out of the water, it's teeth got the best of my 4-pound test line and it swam back into the weedbed I had pulled it from.
Lesson learned (or re-learned for that matter): Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.