Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Not Over............

December carp, on a Binksy. Merry Christmas!!!

When: Sunday, December 22nd
What: Shore fishing with the Chris, Brian and Lido
Weather: Very unseasonably warm, foggy and overcast with a light rain at times. High in the mid-60's, wind S to SW at 17 and gusting to 24, although much calmer for most of the day.
Barometric Pressure: 29.94 and fell to 29.89 
Relative Humidity: Low of 78%
Sunrise: 7:21am
Sunset: 4:36pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days before the last quarter. Moonset 10:15am. Underfoot 4pm.
Water Conditions: Clear and cold. Gauge at 4.25 and rising.

Brian is home for the holidays and like always, he was ready to do some fishing. I was pretty darn sure that it was time to do some ice fishing, but Mother Nature threw us the wickedest of curve balls with some incredibly warm weather. There may have been a chance to get out on the ice on Saturday, but we were going to be fishing on Sunday.

With record setting highs.

Even if there was some borderline safe ice somewhere, I wasn't about to be standing on it with temps inching near 70 degrees and a warm rain coming down.

Neither was anyone else.

So we decided to do a little river fishing where we knew there would be no ice. I got there early to make sure the river was not too high and that no one was at our spot.

Good on both fronts.

I had lugged some bait down and started bait fishing, and immediately got bored. So, I started tossing the Binsky, but the correct way that my buddy Steve details in his video.

After about 10 minutes, I made a cast towards shore and was thinking I had sent it too far into shallow water. I let it fall anyway, and after resting it on the bottom for a couple of seconds, I engaged the reel and lifted the rod only to feel dead weight. I thought the lure had snagged a rock for a second, but it was giving a little. After dragging in dead weight for a few feet, I was then fairly certain the hooks were clinging to a tree branch.

And then it started moving.

When I saw the rod pumping ever so slightly under the stress from a big fish, my mind started racing with visions of a musky or a monster walleye. The fish pulled hard but took very little drag. When I first saw the deep gold when it surfaced, I thought it was a huge walleye, but after bringing it closer, I realized my prize was a nice-sized carp.

Whatever, it's December, and I'll take a 10+ pound fish any day.

Normally when I catch carp on lures they are foul hooked. However, this fish was hooked right in the lips it and it took the bait while the Binsky was sitting on the bottom. There is no doubt that this fish fully intended to eat it.

I unhooked it, set up my camera and my tripod, set the timer and took the pic. I then put the fish back in the chilly river, where it swam away healthy and strong, no worse for the wear.

The boys showed up shortly thereafter and it was great to see Brian. I had not seen in a little over a year, and it's always good times when we get together. Surprisingly, for a winter day, everyone caught a fish. Chris caught a nice channel cat on a jig, Brian got himself a nice smallmouth and the birthday boy Lido took the high hook by catching a small channel cat and a walleye to break-in his new walleye rod he got for his birthday less than 24 hours earlier.

It was a great reunion on the water, and it's always nice to see a fish caught. Especially in such cold water, even though it felt like Spring.

Not sure if I'll be out again until 2014, so once again, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a very special "thank you" to everyone who continues to read this!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another End, Another Beginning

When: Sunday, December 1st
What: Musky fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Cloudy and a bit warmer, light wind.
Barometric Pressure: n/a 
Relative Humidity: n/a
Sunrise: 7:03am
Sunset: 4:29pm
Moon: Waning, less than a day before new. Moonset 3:38pm. Overhead 10:31am.
Water Conditions: n/a

Every so often I hear someone say "when is fishing season?" The answer to that question is simple, it's always fishing season. There is really no time of year that you can't fish, but as the seasons change, anglers must alter their approach. Most winters, we have at least some period of time where the lakes in Northern New Jersey are frozen. That period seems to be coming early this year.

Although many rivers will remain free of ice, most boat owners will pack their boats away as the rivers are low and unsafe for boating and ramps are covered with ice. My boat is not designed for river fishing, so I fall into that category.

So, when I headed out on my boat with Joe for some musky fishing on Thanksgiving weekend, I knew in my heart of hearts that it would be the last time I had my boat out in 2013. The day was exactly one year since I Lindsay bought her for me as an early Christmas present, and it could not have been a more fantastic season.

This trip was a few weeks ago at this point, but since I knew I was about to go on a dryspell with fishing time, I figured I'd save report to put out at later date.

As I sit here writing this, it is bitter cold outside. We've already had our third dose of snow, and temps aren't coming much above freezing over the next few days.

Before I owned a boat, I would take my ice fishing gear out in October. It was my most favorite time of year. I guess now I'm a little sad that I won't be using my boat or musky fishing for a few months, but I shook that off this weekend and started to get a little excited for the hardwater. I put my boat trailer on cinder blocks this weekend to keep my tires off the ground all winter, I replaced the gas lines on my power auger, ordered new blades for my hand auger, dug out the tub of tip-ups and even put my sled in the back of my truck.

I'm ready.

Well, almost.

Brian will be home this weekend, and a reunion is shaping up for this weekend. I'm hoping it will be on the ice, but we'll find a way to do some fishing one way or another.

Although it doesn't always line up with the calendar, my first ice fishing trip marks the end of one fishing year and the beginning of another. For the last 3 or 4 or 6 years, I have kept saying that the next year could not possibly be any better, and once again it was. It was a fantastic year of fishing, and I could not have been happier about having a boat and the amazing fish I caught.

My goal was to catch 6 muskies this year, which would have been one more than I caught in 2012. My "outside" goal was 10. This year I caught 12 and missed and saw many more. My biggest fish was a 47 inch true strain that was over 25 pounds, another trophy in my rather short career as a musky angler. I caught tiger muskies of 42 and 44 inches, both big fish, especially for hybrids. Those three fish were all caught in my boat. In total, half of my 12 fish were 39 inches or better.

It wasn't all about the muskies though. I had the best ice fishing trip of my life this past winter, caught my biggest northern pike ever, my biggest smallmouth bass ever, a bunch of nice walleye, had a fantastic trip for hybrid stripers on Matt's birthday, had an epic battle with a 50-pound tarpon on medium action tackle while in Aruba with Linds and a lot of other wonderful outdoor adventures with Lindsay, my sister and my friends.

This was truly a memorable year, and once again I am going to say how I don't see how next year can be much better.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a BIG PIKE!!!!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Tiger For Our Efforts

A beautifully marked tiger musky caught on Thanksgiving weekend.

When: Saturday, November 30th, from 9:30am to 4:30pm
What: Musky fishing with Matt
Weather: Clear skies and cold with a few clouds in the afternoon. Did I mention it was really cold again?? Temps 21 to 32. Wind E turning to S up to 5mph.
Barometric Pressure:30.69 and noon then started falling gradually to 30.55 when we left.
Relative Humidity: 44% at mid day
Sunrise: 7:02am
Sunset: 4:29pm
Moon: Waning, a day and half before new. Moonset 2:53pm. Overhead 9:35am.
Water Conditions: Temps flirty with the 30's. Slightly stained.

I told one of my coworkers when I left the office the day before Thanksgiving that I was going to "fish my face off" over the weekend.

And fish my face off I did.

After a long-day of plying the ocean and Barnegat Bay for stripers with Jimmy and Joe on Friday, I came home to gather my musky gear and go fishing with Matt the next day. Once again, it was absolutely bitter
cold, but the rough weather makes for a lot of room on the water. When we arrived at the marina, there was a fair amount of skim ice in the small cove where it's located, but a few boats had already been out and chopped through it. There's something that just feels pretty cool about navigating through ice to go catch a musky. It makes you feel like you're really fishing.

I've never been a huge fan of trolling for muskies, mostly for no better reason than the fact that I can't sit still for that long. There's absolutely no denying that it is a proven method for catching fish though. Trollers will often, and maybe even under most conditions, outfish musky anglers who are casting. I could probably catch more muskies if I stuck the rods in the holder more often, but it's just not my style.

Regardless of that, I'm down to try it from time to time. Especially when a bunch of my buddies have been doing well trolling and I'm a little tired from fishing the day before. This was the perfect scenario.

Matt and I trolled for 4 hours without a touch. Actually, the line did rip out once, but it was mostly likely from a snag.

As it neared 2pm and the moonset, we decided to do some casting. Within an hour, I had the pretty tiger you see above nail my 8-inch Hughes River Shaker about 15 feet from the boat. The fight was short and the fish was quickly unhooked, photographed and released. I normally don't disclose the lures I use, but I don't envision too many people going out and spending $70 on a Hughes River Bait, if you can even find them. Fall is the time to work big gliders like the Shaker, and it's one of my favorite ways to fish for skis.

Winter is definitely approaching and soon there will be ice. I have one more trip to report for 2013, but it may be my last for a few and I have probably caught my last musky this year. The water is cold and any ice you find is probably not safe yet, so be careful out there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Day Late And A Few Inches Short

One of three short stripers caught on the Tunacious on Black Friday.

When: Black Friday, November 29th
Where: The Ocean
What: Striper fishing with Joe C. and Jimmy aboard the Tunacious
Weather: Clear skies but cold. Wind calm to N and NW at 6mph. Did I mention is was cold? 21 to 40 degrees. Felt a heck of a lot colder.
Barometric Pressure: 30.58in and steady
Relative Humidity: 40% at midday
Sunrise: 6:57am
Sunset: 4:32pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days before new. Moonset 2:15pm. Overhead 2:15pm.
Water Conditions: High tide 7:12am, Low Tide 2:08pm. Water temps 43 degrees and slightly stained.

It's been a long weekend and this trip with Jimmy and Joe seems like it was weeks ago at this point. Black Friday is normally a good day to be striper fishing in New Jersey, but we had no keepers to put in the box. The birds that were chasing down bait just a week ago seemed to have all but vanished, and it left us scratching our heads and fearing the cold snap may have sent the bigger fish packing until the Spring. The fall run was not as Joe would have hoped, but there were no shortage of laughs and good times on the Tunacious while people were beating each other over the head to get hot Black Friday deals in every store in in America. It was much more peaceful on the water.