Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Turnover Time

When: Sunday, October 27th, from 7am to 3pm
What: Musky fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Sunny and breezy. 40 to 55 degrees. Wind calm to variable at 7mph and West at 9mph, gusting to 21.
Barometric Pressure: 29.94in to 29.98
Relative Humidity: 37% at mid-day
Sunrise: 7:25am
Sunset: 6:2pm
Moon: Waning, a day after the last quarter. Major 7:19am (Overhead). Minor 2:11pm (moonset)
Water Conditions: Stained, temp n/a, but guessing between 59 and 54 degrees.

I was supposed to go away with some friends this weekend, but the powers that be said otherwise. Since Joe was looking to do some fishing on Sunday, we decided to see what we could conjure up. Both of us were pretty stoked to go back out and give the stripers a shot, but all the reports were telling us it wasn't worth the gas money.

And it wasn't.

Although we by no means had any action with the muskies, it was clear that we would have had the same result on the salt with the stripes, with a lot more aggravation and 30 or 40 gallons of gas.

But, we gave it an honest effort, like always. We played the musky hunch since the fish had been really active approaching the fall turnover temperature of 59. Here is a link to learn about turnover if you don't know what it is. However, I have found that no information online is 100% accurate and can vary greatly depending on wind, weather, the body of water and region http://www.onthelake.net/fishing/turnover.htm.

One thing that is generally agreed upon is that fishing during turnover can be a little funky. The action before or after, however, can be pretty darn good. It had been, but wasn't today, and from what I saw on the water we could have been fishing some tough conditions. Or, it could have just been that we were fishing for muskies.

We spent 8 or so hours on the water, but did not even see a fish. It was a great day out though, aside from a bit of wind. The crowds have definitely dissipated a bit and it was nice to be relatively alone on the water on a beautiful fall day.

The fall still is far from over, and I would venture to say that a big fish is going to fall before the turkey gets stuffed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

One In The Net Is Worth.......

The bigger one got away.

When: Sunday, October 20th, from 7:30am to 4:30pm
What: Fishing a Musky Tournament With Joe L....kind of
Weather: Mostly sunny. 38 to 60 degrees. Winds calm to variable to SW at 6 to W at 10 and gusting to 18
Barometric Pressure: 29.91in to 29.96
Relative Humidity: 38% at mid-day
Sunrise: 7:15am
Sunset: 6:08pm
Moon: Waning, a day after full. Minor 8:51am (Moonset). Major 2:06pm (underfoot)
Water Conditions: Partly stained, 63 degrees.

It was a tough week at the office. Joe and I had been stuck behind our desks, and the fish were biting. We got numerous texts and pics from our buddies who were having a blast moving and catching muskies, and by the time the weekend rolled around, the clouds were gone and a front had passed.

Still, we had our Chapter 22 "tournament" on Sunday, which wound up being just a bunch of guys from the club out fishing.

Fine by me.

We launched just after 7:30pm and got right to work. I was still lagging a little from waking up at 3:30am the day before to go striper fishing, but I kept at it. After a couple hours, about 40 minutes after the moonset, I tied on a 9-inch crankbait to work some shallow weeds we were fishing in 8 feet of water. I was giving the bait a couple twitches and keeping it just below the surface, and after 5 casts a fish came out and took a shot. He missed, but a few cranks later he was on it again.

This time he got stuck.


I was able to see that the fish had just nipped the back hook and was hanging by a thread. I knew it wasn't going to end well, and after a couple head shakes I got to watch him swim away before Joe even had time to get his hands on the net.

There are few things that are more disappointing than losing a good musky.

But, we kept at it. A couple hours later Joe had a good fish come out from shallow weeds and I was sure it was going to smack his crankbait. However, after a couple turns on the 8, the fish was gone. We went back a couple more times, but we never saw the fish again.

At the major we decided to visit the site of the first fish. After working the area and not seeing anything, we began to drift back towards the main lake. I made another cast with the same bait, and after finishing my retrieve I did not see anything following. Still being half-asleep, my mind wandered for a minute and I turned my head to look in the boat with the bait still sitting in the water.

That's when I heard a splash.

Very shortly thereafter, this 34 was in the net.

That was all the action we would have for the day. We stuck it out for a few more hours, but I had reached my fishing capacity for the weekend. It didn't feel great to lose a good fish, but putting one in the net is always better than nothing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


When: Saturday, October 19th from 5:30am to 4:30pm
What: Striper fishing with Joe aboard the "Tunacious"
Weather: Fair skies. 45 to 63 degrees. Winds calm to SE at 9 and S at 7
Barometric Pressure: 30.00in to 29.90in
Relative Humidity: 56% at mid-day
Sunrise: 7:15am
Sunset: 6:08pm
Moon: Waning, Full.
Water Conditions: Calm seas, temperature 61 degrees.

It's been too long since I've gone fall striper fishing. Sandy screwed things up for everyone last year and it's no secret that I've had muskies swimming around my brain for awhile now. Still, I am by no means opposed to actually going out and catching fish every once in awhile, so when Joe invited me on his vessel the "Tunacious" for some fall bass fishing, I was pretty damn stoked.

Joe had already laid out the disclaimer that this was his first trip of the fall and by all means it was an exploratory mission. We knew there was plenty of bait around, but all the reports had the bass about 40 miles North of Joe's marina, and we didn't know if any of them had made their way further South. My take on it was that if we came up empty, it would be right on par with what I often get when I am fishing for muskies.

We met bright bright an early at the marina, and after getting settled we headed out under the cloak of darkness.

On the way out of Barnegat Bay, we too a shot at tossing baits at some sod banks and jetties. Joe then started checking his normal spots, all of which had bait (sand eels) stacked on the bottom. We looked for areas where the bait was dispersed on the sonar, an indication that they may have been being harassed by predators. We found a spot and first drop with a jig.......fish ON.

However, this did not feel like a striper.

After getting the mystery fish to the surface, we had ourselves a croaker, and two more on the next two drops. It was good to bring something in the boat, but definitely not the intended species. After checking some more areas, we found similar marks and soon had ourselves into a mess of spike weakfish. We were picking them up on every drop, but they were tiny fish and that game got old pretty quick. We did, however, manage to put two keepers in the box (limit of 1 fish per person over 13-inches), and with a trio of croakers already on ice, someone had themselves a meal.

Things did get exciting for a few with some birds working in the area, but it seemed the only thing causing the ruckus was a school of snapper blues. Everything seemed absolutely perfect and we half expected the blitzes and the run to kick into gear at any minute, but in the end it was obvious that we were going to have to wait a little long for the first bass of the fall.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Releasing The Little Ones, Catching the Big(ger) Ones

The future of the New Jersey musky fishery courtesy of the State hatchery.

When: Saturday, October 12th, from 6am to 7pm
What: Stocking muskies and fishing with Matt and Joe
Weather: Mostly sunny. 57 to 73 degrees. Wind up to 10mph from the NE and gusting much higher at times.
Barometric Pressure: 30.15in climbed to almost 30.3in
Relative Humidit: 21 to 77 percent
Sunrise: 7:05am
Sunset: 6:20pm
Moon: Waxing, a day after the first quarter.  Major 7:21am (Underfoot). Minor 2:31pm (moonrise),
Water Conditions: Clear to partly stained. 63 degrees.

As members of Muskies Inc, Craig at the State hatchery asked for some assistance in stocking the year's musky hatch on Saturday.

We were happy to help.

Matt and I planned to man his boat for the endeavor, but since we were going to be stocking muskies, we figured we may as well fish for them too. The hatchery truck was coming at 8am, but since there was a 7:21am moon phase, we decided to get on the water nice and early.

And we were glad we did.

At around 7:40, during the major moon period, my buddy Matt pointed out a surface disturbance off the left side of boat. I took two casts to the area. The first cast didn't do anything, but on the second turn of a Figure 8 on the second cast, a 31 inch musky came out of nowhere and inhaled my 7-inch Big Game. It wasn't a monster by any means, but it was my first musky on Monksville. I was pretty stoked.
Shorty after that we spent an hour stocking muskies. It was an interesting experience and one I'll never forget. I've said it before, that the hatchery in our state is second to none. It was great to be able to help out, give back and be a part of the future of New Jersey's musky fishery.
And then back to fishing.
We trolled for a couple hours with no results and then started fishing again as we neared another moon period. At about 1:45, 45 minutes before the moonrise, Matt had this gorgeous 42 incher crush his 8-inch Big Game. The fish put up a spirited fight, digging under the boat for what seemed like an eternity. Matt was finally able to steer him around to the side, where I was waiting with the net. A few snips and a few pics and the fish was on its way.
So, it was a successful day on many fronts. We released 550 baby muskies to grow to the size so that people can catch them. We also caught and released two fish that might grow up to be trophies. Actually, Matt's fish was a trophy by most standards, and had probably been released a couple times along the way by someone else. That's how it works. Let 'em go, let 'em grow.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Too Crowded For Comfort

When: Saturday, October 6th, from 6am to 5pm
What: Musky fishing with Joe
Weather: Mostly cloudy and warm with a slight SE breeze.
Barometric Pressure: n/a
Relative Humidity: n/a
Sunrise: 7:04am
Sunset: 6:36pm
Moon: Waxing, 2 days after new. Major 2:14pm (overhead). Minor 8:34am (moonrise), 7:34pm (moonset).
Water Conditions: Partly stained on Marsh, no temp available. Very stained on Mercer, temps from 72 in the West End to 67 in the East End.

First of all, you can thank the ineptitude of the United States Government for the lack of information regarding barometric pressure and relative humidity. The only site that I know of to get a backlog of weather conditions is from NOAA.com. Since their website is shutdown due to the shutdown, I do not have the details.


Second, I don't care how many muskies are in Marsh Creek Lake in Pennsylvania, the absolute insanity of the number of boats out there was plenty to make me never want to go back there again....at least on a weekend. We rolled-up at O'dark thirty and within a minute there were 20 boats line-up at the launch.

It was unsettling to know that there was going to be a little too much company and not enough elbow room on the lake, but we set out anyway. Most of the boats made a left out of the launch, so we made right. After about an hour I had a small tiger musky nip my bucktail at the boat, but he didn't find any hooks.

We kept at it for a few more hours with no follows, but time after time we found a handful of boats, a kayak and a canoe to keep where we wanted to fish. We eventually had to decide whether or not to head up to the other end of the lake....and.....

We left.

Our Plan B was to backtrack to Lake Mercer where we weren't as confident in the fishing, but we were certainly confident in the lack of fishing pressure.

The water was stained, but it was nice to have the place (almost) to ourselves. We fished the East end of the lake and I did have one solid hit a on bucktail that once again did not find any hooks. Moments later, I felt a tap, set the hook...and....


I've caught a few fish in my life, and by the bend in the rod I could tell this one was a big one. I was, however, a little surprised at how easily the monster musky gave up fighting. That bewilderment quickly subsided moments later as my 50-incher turned out to be a verylarge, ass-hooked carp.

Oh well, it got my blood pumping.

We kept at it for a few more hours but no musky were to be had on this day. It was still a great time on the water. I know people catch muskies in Lake Mercer, and although there are probably a lot more caught at Marsh Creek, there's no question as to which one is higher on my list to fish again.