Monday, February 24, 2014

Dead Valley

Matt taking a look below with the Marcum on a slow day on The Valley.

When: Monday, February 17th, from 7am until noon
Where: Round Valley Reservoir
What: Ice Fishing with Matt and Joe C.
Weather: Cold, sunny and a little breezy. Bluebird skies. 17 degrees warmed to 29 at noon. Winds NW up to 13mph and gusting to 34mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.34in and rising
Relative Humidity: 30% at mid-day
Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 5:36pm
Moon: Waning, 2 days after full.
Water Conditions: Frozen on top. 11 inches including the frozen snow and ice. Water was crystal clear and 34 degrees off the bottom.

There are two highlights of every winter for me.

The first is taking my sled and tip-ups and out, usually sometime in December, in anticipation for the upcoming ice fishing season.

The second is putting them away.

At this point, I've had my fill of ice fishing and I'm ready to go back to chasing muskies. I don't generally target them through the ice because first off, it can be incredibly boring. Secondly, I prefer to catch them on artificial lures instead of live bait.

That being said, I tried to keep things interesting and hit Round Valley on President's Day with Matt and Joe. I had never ice fished "The Valley," and the thought of getting some underwater footage in the gin clear water sounded like a stellar idea. It was indeed pretty cool checking out the camera with the incredible water clarity, but we just didn't see any fish.

Not one.

Not even a perch, or a rock bass, or even a sunny.

The Valley was dead.

Joe and I were in the same boat, and after 5 hours without a flag or a tap on the jigging rods, we headed for the barn. My previous two trips were painfully slow, and I wasn't about to go turning this into a long fishless day on the ice.

Matt was a trooper and stuck it out, but the action didn't improve.

It was my first skunk of the ice fishing season.

So as I sit here on a Sunday, having not fished in 7 days and with February coming to a close, I'm faced with a decision. Another cold blast seems to be in the cards this week and open water seems weeks away. I can stick it out and do some more ice fishing or I can try to find another way to wet a line.

Not fishing really is not an option, but I just don't know what to do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow Fishing And A Long Walk

Joe with his first fish through the ice, 
and the only worthwhile fish of the day.
When: Sunday, February 9, from 7:00 am to 1:30 pm
Where: Amwell Lake near Ringoes and a random pond in the middle of nowhere near Clinton
What: Ice Fishing with Joe L. and Dieter
Weather: Cold, mostly sunny to overcast and a little breezy. 21 degrees up to 28. Wind calm to N at 8, NW at 10 and SW at 6.
Barometric Pressure: 30.18in dropped to 30.07in
Relative Humidity: 65% down to 46%
Sunrise: 7:00 am
Sunset: 5:27 pm
Moon: Waxing, 3 days after the First Quarter. Underfoot 8:05am. Rise 1:05pm.
Water Conditions: Frozen on top. 10 inches including the frozen snow and ice. Water was very muddy and murky.

After starting off my year on fire, it was another slow day on the ice. Unfortunately for Joe, this was his first time out in 2014 and the action was pretty slow.

Since Dieter was joining us from PA, we decided to head west and try Amwell Lake for a shot at a winter stocked trout or a channel catfish. I even baited a couple tip-ups with chicken liver in hopes of pulling a kitty through a hole.

We had a flag right off the bat, and it led to Joe pulling in his first fish through the ice, a very respectable white crappie.

Sometimes an early flag can be a good sign. More often than not though, as my buddy Nick will tell you, it's the kiss of death.

That would be the only flag of the day.

We jigged-up a few bluegills, but with no flags flying and only tiny sunfish being caught on the jigging rods, it was time to make a move. It's not something I often like doing since there's a lot of gear to be packed-up and unpacked only to be packed-up again, but after a slow day the previous day, I wanted to catch some fish. And more so, I wanted Joe to catch some fish.

That being said, we should have stayed.

I called a couple buddies who told me about a small lake that sounded very appealing. It was a bit of a drive and a bit of a walk, but the prospect of catching fish made it seem worthwhile.

Bad idea.

We finally found where we needed to park, and proceeded to lug our gear down a path that had a good 10 inches of snow covered by a thin layer of ice. We probably should have turned around, but we trudged slowly and painfully towards our promised land.

After what seemed like an eternity, with all of us sweating and exhausted, Joe climbed a small hill to take a look at our fishing spot.

When I asked him how it looked, he replied "I hope you brought the spinning tackle."

It was open water.

There did seem to be one end of the lake that had ice, but between it being private property, us feeling exhausted and having to take another hike not knowing if the ice was safe, we decided to cut our losses.

Oh, and we still had to hike back.

That part was not fun, nor was it the best day of ice fishing that I have had. I really wanted to sell Joe on the sport, but we didn't get off to a good start.

Still, it beat being on the couch, although barely. I also managed to stave off the skunk, even it was only by a couple of tiny sunfish.

I may hit the ice again this winter, but its starting to lose its luster. I really want to throw a lure and catch a musky.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Attack Of The Killer Tiger Musky

The video is a little long, but you get the point.

When: Saturday, February 8th, from 7am to 3pm
What: Ice Fishing with Chris M. and Nick N.
Weather: 7 degrees, warmed to 26. Partly cloudy to overcast. Light wind calm to SW at 3.
Barometric Pressure: 30.29in fell to 30.20in
Relative Humidity: 84% to 29%
Sunrise: 7:02am
Sunset: 5:26pm
Moon: Waxing. 2 days after the first Quarter. Underfoot 7:17am. Moonrise 12:17am.
Water Conditions: Frozen on top, 40 degrees on the bottom. 13 inches of ice including the white slushy stuff on top.

It was a slow day on the water. We had a very slow pick of panfish and only a handful of flags. One was a bass caught by Chris, and one had all the right signs of a musky, but the hook popped free shortly after I set it. It was right during a half hour period when 3 muskies were caught on a nearby lake, immediately following the moonrise.

Highlight of the day was undoubtedly having this tiger musky take a few shots at my camera. Watch the video until the end, you'll get another good look at it.

Starting to look forward to open water.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Follow Up From Bob......


I received an interesting email the other day.

Back during my stretch of fishing for 365 days in a row, I met Bob on Farrington Lake on Day 74. I told Bob what I was doing, and he told me that he was retired and gets to fish almost 300 days a year himself. Bob also keeps meticulous notes of where he fishes, and how many fish he catches each year. On that day, July 25th of 2011, he had already caught over 1,500 crappie (15 of them while we were talking), 147 bass and 143 pickerel, all from local lakes in Middlesex County.

I asked Bob if I could take his picture and put it up on my website, and he obliged.

And, the other day, over 2 and a half years later, I received this email.

My name is Bob, I'm the guy on your web site from farrington Lake (Yellow rain coat).  I'm not one for social media or computers except to send jokes to my friends.  A friend of mine found my picture and sent me your web site.  I guess that picture is from 2011 if I read it right.  I'm still fishing a lot but now I'm down to about 200 days a year due to babysitting my granddaughter.  That year I ended up with 1929 crappies, 220 bass and 213 pickerel.  To tell you the truth I forgot all about meeting you that day.  Actually I can't even remember who I wake up with in the morning and I'm married to her for 44 years.  Fishing has been a little slow the past few years due to the drought, very low water.  However I also fish the Delaware and Raritian canal which runs from New Brunswick to just outside Trenton.  This is a spot you would like, except you should have a boat of some kind as most of cannot be fished without one.  You can return my e-mail if you want more info.

I thought it was pretty cool of Bob to reach out, so when I returned his email I asked him if I could put his email on my blog. He obliged, and wrote me back with some more information.

Just a follow up on my fishing log, in 2012, I made 273 fishing trips and caught 1027 crappies, 678 bass and 379 pickerel.  In 2013 I had 240 trips and caught 1278 crappies 384 bass and 305 pickerel.  So far in 2014 I only had 12 trips and caught 8 crappies 2 bass and 6 pickerel.  The reason for the fishing log is it tells me what fish are being caught and where they are.  It saves me a lot of time trying to find fish.  I'm glad you like the D & R canal, I been fishing it since I was 10 years old and I'm still fishing it just not as much as I use to.  I'm 70 years old now so that gives me 60 years on the Canal.

Thanks Bob! It was once again a pleasure meeting you!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Life Aquatic

When: Saturday, February 2nd (Super Bowl Sunday), from 7am to 2pm
What: Ice Fishing with Matt and Joe C.
Weather: Comfortable, 25 degrees warmed to 43. Light wind from calm to SW to 8mph. Partly cloudy turning overcast with a slight fog, mist and light rain.
Barometric Pressure: Fluctuated between 29.92in dropped to 29.96in.
Relative Humidity: 92% to 65%
Sunrise: 7:07am
Sunset: 5:16pm
Moon:Waxing a few days after new.
Water Conditions: Frozen on top. Almost 8 inches of ice covered with snow and slush. Fished between 6 and 10 feet of water.

I waited a couple of days to get his post up so that my buddy Joe could work his magic with the video we shot.

It was well worth the wait.