Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 232: Pickerel In The Pines

Mark with a nice Pine Barrens pickerel.
-thanks for the photo Joe
When: Friday, December 30th
Where: The Pine Barrens
What: Pickerel fishing with Joe and Mark
Weather: 30 degrees, warmed to 50, partly cloudy to sunny, wind calm to S/SE 7mph
Barometric Pressure: 30.03in and steady all day
Moon: Waxing, almost to the first quarter
Water Conditions: Tea-stained and cold

I've caught a few pickerel in my life, I've spent spent a few days down in the Pine Barrens in my life and have even caught a few pickerel in the Pine Barrens. However, up until today, I've never had the pleasure of the full Pine Barrens pickerel fishing experience.

For anyone who doesn't know what the Pine Barrens is, it's a vast expanse of sand and pines in the southern part of the Garden State where the New Jersey Devil lives. Also, it's rumored and highly likely that scores of Satanic cults take advantage of its remote locations and confusing dirt roads to conduct their rituals and bury bodies. Anything you've ever heard about the Pine Barrens, no matter how far-fetched, is almost certainly true.

Including its phenomenal pickerel fishing.

The "cedar water" in the Pine Barrens is stained and acidic, and although many species of fish cannot tolerate the conditions, the chain pickerel thrives and is top dog. Although populations and sizes of Pine Barrens pickerel have dwindled since the 'ol days, there are still plenty of them and some big ones too.

On Friday, I had the privilege of having Joe and Mark take me off the beaten path, through the confusing roads, detours, puddles and downed trees and catch a few of these toothy bastards.

We had ball.

The action was not fast and furious, but we did manage a half dozen fish or so, including Mark's bad boy that you see up top. Plus, if you've never fished ankle deep in a cedar swamp in late-December in the Pine Barrens, you really out to give it a try.

If you dare......

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