The Passaic River was much lower than it's been in recent past.
When: Sunday, February 19th, from 11:30am to 1pm
Where: The Passaic River
What: Fishing for pike
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 41 degrees, E wind at 7mph
Barometric Pressure: 30.08in and steady
Moon: Waning, just over a day before new
Water Conditions: Somewhat low and milky
Rewind back to one of the first blogs of 2012 when I set my "goals" for the year. One was to land a 35-plus inch northern from New Jersey waters.
Well, I saw her today, but she didn't bite.
I woke up a little late after Mindy, Lindsay and I were up 'till the wee-hours after a high-school hockey game and some midnight burgers. I was going to get right into writing, but thought the day would work-out better if I got my fishing out of the way. There was no way I was going to fish a Union County hole and I didn't have the time drive too far, so my best options were the quarry pond and the Passaic. After checking the water data online, it looked like the Passaic was going to be fishable. Off I went.
I've been to this spot a handful of times over the last few months and today was by far the best I have seen it. The river has finally receded from the trees and once again sits nicely between the banks. I tied on a big Husky Jerk, and started my 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, by some bizarre and sick twist of fate, I forgot my morning coffee. This may not seem like a big deal, but this spot is littered with snags and requires a lot of focus. Getting stuck in brush piles and trees happens a lot more often when your mind isn't sharp and it's incredibly more frustrating to do so when you're tired.
But I persisted.
After losing the lip on my first husky jerk to a blowdown, I tied on a second. I continued to work it through the center of the river, but the lack of caffeine was wearing on me and my confidence was shaken. I was actually contemplating if I would ever start catching fish again when what was easily a 35-inch northern pike followed the bait right back to my feet.
And then disappeared.
Half-stunned, I continued to fan cast the area, but the brute was not to be moved again. Shortly after that, I donated that bait to a maple tree.
Although disappointing, the event gave me a little life. At least now I knew I was fishing around fish and that one of them was willing to move. There had to be another.
I should have been heading home to get my work done at this point, but I was now on a mission. Thirty minutes was not going to be enough on this day.
After more snags, more tangles and still no coffee, my resolve once again began to weaken.
Just as I was about to head home, I felt a slight "tick" while working an X-Rap through the center of the river. Quite sure it was a snag, I let the lure drift and hopefully wash free, but to my dismay this was no snag. With slack in the line, I felt a huge head shake. I pulled back, but it was too late. The shake rattled my fishing rod, but by the time I realized it was a fish my lure was already free. After the initial shock, I figured out that the slight "tick" was a fish gently eating my bait. As I was waiting for my lure to float out of the "snag," the fish must have realized my offering was not food and shook it out its mouth.
But, at least I got a little action. It was fantastic too see the river was fishable again and I was pretty stoked to see that fish were willing to bite. This spot still has fish, and big ones at that.
I'll be back.