Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 244: I'll Take It

A small winter chain pickerel from Middlesex County.
When: Wednesday, January 11th, from 12pm to 12:30pm
Where: Helmetta Pond in Helmetta, Middlesex County, New Jersey
What: Pickerel fishing
Weather: Clear skies, 46 degrees, SE wind at 5mph
Barometric Pressure: 30.06in and falling
Moon: Waning, a couple days past full
Water Conditions: Cold and clear with a little skim ice

Dan Pittman wants to know when he's going to see a blog where I'm cursing at the fish. Today was almost that day.

Almost.

It's not every day that I become noticeably angry after losing a fish, but today was one. It wasn't even big, it was just the circumstances. I like to have pictures of actual fish for the blog, not just scenery and signs, and this is becoming increasingly more difficult to do. I'm lucky if I hook a fish a week at this point, so having one get away after planning how I was going to land it before it even bit was incredibly frustrating. Luckily, in typical Fish God humor fashion, I got the consolation prize you see above.

Ha ha.

My travels today brought me in contact with one of the pickerel-rich waters of Middlesex County. Although there was a little skim ice on it, there was plenty of room to cast. I had pickerel on my mind and I was dead-set on catching one. Compared to where I fish closer to home, I knew the weedbeds in this lake were holding some toothy critters that were willing to bite. Not wanting to take any chances, I immediately tied on my #1 all-time pickerel killer: the 4 1/2-inch, pearl flake, Yum Forktail Dinger.

Yum actually stopped making these bad boys about a year ago, but I got wind and immediately found a tackle shop in Alabama that had plenty of them. I bought every one. Yum still makes a plain 'ol Dinger without the fork, but I've disenchanted with their new plastic and new price and have switched my allegiance to the Wave Tiki-Stick.

In any event, even the Forktail Dinger wasn't producing at first. So, after 20 quiet minutes without a bite, I made a plea to the Fish Gods. I could have gone to another spot, but that would have wasted time. Instead, I told the Fish Gods that if I got one picture of pickerel that I would call it a day. Moments later, I started casting from the dock that I had lost a fish off of a couple months ago. Vowing to not make the same mistake, I made a plan for what to do if I hooked a fish. I would walk the pickerel down to the shore instead of trying to haul it up to the dock...which would hopefully prevent it from breaking off.

The best laid plans...

Of course, I did hook a fish. It was a nice pickerel and I immediately started walking towards shore to land it. Since the dock is "L" shaped and I was casting off the end, I needed to turn a small corner to make it to shore. When I did this, the fish got some slack and disappeared.

Impossible.

I prayed to the Fish Gods for a picture and they gave me a fish, but no picture. How could this be?

I ultimately decided that my job was more important than a picture. Plus, I had a good enough story. I made up my mind to pack it in after rounding out my 30 minutes with a few more casts.

Moments later, I got my picture.

And the Fish Gods got their laugh.

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