Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 247: GO BIG OR GO HOME!!!!

ERC's "Squirrely Hellhoud"
When: Saturday, January 14th, from 1pm to 2pm
Where: The Garden State Outdoor Show and the D & R Canal near Zarepath in Somerset County, New Jersey
What: Hangin'...and fishin', with Chris Martalus
Weather: Overcast, 32 degrees, W wind at 9mph and gusting to 21
Barometric Pressure: 29.93in and steady
Moon: Waning, a couple days before the last quarter
Water Conditions: High and dirty

Although we're normally ice fishing this time of year, Chris and I did the best we could today. The Garden State Outdoor Show is going on this weekend, so we decided to check it out before wetting a line. I usually don't give up my weekends for outdoor shows, but without any ice to keep me busy it wasn't such a bad idea. Plus, it was nice to see a few people I don't get to see often, renew my membership for the Knee Deep Club and buy a lure.

Yes, only one lure.

It's pretty evident that I have way too much stuff when I'm spending more money on beef jerky than I am on tackle.

But anyway. Chris and I got to the show by 10am. We immediately saw Chris Lido manning The Fisherman booth and shortly thereafter met Mr. Niles at his uncle's venture, Reel Life Bait and Tackle from Point Pleasant. After that it was strolling, browsing and chatting. We weren't there all that long, but it was definitely worth the price of admission.

After that it was on to the D & R Canal. Chris was ready to catch a few crappie while I decided to continue the difficult endeavor of catching a musky in this body of water. I've never heard of anyone fishing for musky in the canal and have heard only a couple second-hand stories of them being hooked, but I know they're in there and have no reason to think one can't be caught with time and effort.

Our spirits were high...until we saw the canal.

There's been lots of rain in the past few days, but the canal normally doesn't get as messy as the nearby Millstone and Raritan Rivers.

It did today.

The muddy, high water conditions were not great for catching crappie or musky. Throw in the fact that it was 32-degrees and oh, January 14th, and you can say the odds were stacked against us.

I did take the opportunity to practice fishing jerkbaits. This was only the third time I've tried tossing these big heavy lures for musky and it's something I need to continue doing. Jerkbaits are the perfect choice for cold-water musky because they can be worked slowly and have a big profile. The metabolism of a fish slows considerably in cold temperatures, making them less likely to move far or fast to chase a bait. Therefore, a slow-moving, perch-colored Hellhound could be a prime target for a musky looking for a big meal and not wanting to expend too much energy getting it.

Aside from smaller Rapala Subwalks, the only jerkbait I have used is the Phantom I was throwing up on the Allegheny with Red Childress. It was quite easy to get the desired action from the Phantom, but I have to say it was even easier to get the seductive side-to-side motion out of the ERC Squirrely Hellhound I was using today. The bait was similar in size and weight to the Phantom and was incredibly easy to "walk" below the surface.

However, not surprisingly, no fish today. The weather wasn't great, especially seeing as we weren't ice fishing. The high, dirty water conditions really made our situation more difficult. It was great to get outside, but we probably would've had better luck in the trout pond at the outdoor show.


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