Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Perils Of (Musky) Fishing Alone

When: Thursday, May 22nd, from 6:30am to 4pm
What: Musky fishing
Weather: Mostly cloudy, a tiny bit of sun, rain at times and an afternoon T-storm. Warm with a calm wind. Wind calm to variable at 6mph and NW and SW at 3mph. High of 72 degrees.
Barometric Pressure: 29.84in fell to 29.79in.
Relative Humidity: Low of 68% but much higher all day.
Sunrise: 5:36am
Sunset: 8:16pm
Moon: Waning, a day after the last quarter. Overhead 7:55am. Set 1:59pm. Underfoot Set 8:20pm.
Water Conditions: Partly stained. Weeds up to the top with a defined edge. Temp n/a.

I'm sure that there are a lot worse things that can happen while fishing alone than what I'm about to detail, but it really doesn't seem like that right now.

In addition to falling out of your boat and hitting your head, hooking yourself or having a fish slice your hand open, there are no shortage of calamities that can occur during a day on the water. Not having someone there to assist you can be make it worse.

Not having someone there to net your fish can be just as bad.

At least I think so.

Thursday was another one of those magic days when the muskies were on the chew. I wisely chose my fishing day to coincide with shifting weather patterns thinking it could turn the bite on.

It did, but I failed to capitalize.

Within 10 casts after launching my boat solo, I hooked a small, lower 30-inch class musky. The fish came right to the boat, and as I was reaching down for the net, it got off. There is no question that fish would have been in the net had someone been there waiting to scoop it up.

A quiet hour went by, and then another fish ate the same bait. This one was not so tiny, easily a 42-plus inch fish. Once again, it came to the boat without too much trouble. I reached behind me for the net, and I was about to dip it in the water when... the musky shook the hook. I could have sworn I saw it wink at me as it swam away. Just as before, this fish would have been caught with a net man.

And it was a very nice fish.

It was a little harder to recover from that one, but I kept casting and tried to refocus, which I did. I moved a half-dozen additional fish, but other than a couple that put their noses right to my bait, none would open their mouths.

The window closed as quickly as it had opened.

I gave it hell for a full day, but the Musky Gods would not smile upon me. You certainly can't win them all, but you can win a few more if you have someone holding the net for you.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bunker Dunking

When: Sunday, May 18th, from 6am to 1pm
What: Striper fishing with Joe C. aboard the "Tunacious"
Weather: Clear skies, warm with a slight breeze. High of 64, mostly sunny, wind calm to NW at 6mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.19in to 30.20in.
Relative Humidity: 40% at mid-day. 
Sunrise: 5:39am
Sunset: 8:07pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days before the last quarter. Set 9:25am.
Water Conditions: Good clarity, temp 54 degrees. Low tide 8:54am. High tide 2:32pm.

Not to be dissuaded by an early morning wake-up and long day on the water on Saturday, I accepted an offer from Joe to go dunk some bunker off of IBSP on the Tunacious on Sunday.

We had both been following reports, and although striper fishing is going off in Northern New Jersey, the migratory fish have still yet to show-up in the Southern part of the state. We knew there were hoards of moss bunker around and apparently some huge schools of bluefish, but we weren't sure if we were going to run into any stripers. With all the bait around, it's a matter of time before the bass show up en force and we thought this might be the day.

It wasn't.

Not only that, but the massive schools of bluefish that had pretty much overtaken the posting on Facebook did not seem to be where we were fishing.

Still, I had a blast.

The fact is, that after having spent a few too many years chasing catfish, carp and muskies, I hadn't snagged a bunker in probably 25 years. Yeah, it's been awhile.

We had no trouble making bait, but as we live-lined the freshly caught menhaden, nothing wanted to eat them.

I did stave off the skunk for us though when a small bluefish decided that the snag hook looked like a tasty meal.

I guess it's a catch.

Anyway, Joe and I did our best, but there were just no bass around.

And apparently no bluefish.

Any day the fish will arrive, and hopefully we will be there.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Call It A "Comeback"

"Just shy" of 40 inches.

When: Thursday, May 15th
What: Musky fishing with Jim
Weather: Foggy, cloudy and breezy and rainy at times. Wind calm to variable and SW at 7mph and gusting to 20mph at times.
Barometric Pressure: 30.18in fell to 30.08in.
Relative Humidity: 80-100% all day.
Sunrise: 5:41am
Sunset: 8:09pm
Moon: Waning, just after full. Set 6:25am. Underfoot 1:49pm. Rise 9:14pm.
Water Conditions: Partly to moderately stained. Main lakes temps 60-61 and as warm as 65-66 in the shallow.

First off, thanks to Jim D for a great day of fishing. We tried to figure out what the muskies were doing for our big event (Musky School) on Saturday, but we only found out what one them was doing.

This was one of the cooler fish that I have caught solely based on how it all went down.

After a long day quiet morning, Jim and I were just about to make another move when, just like two weeks earlier, a decision was made that changed the outcome of the day.

We had struggled finding weeds to fish, and thought that the ones we were sitting on deserved one more drift. The fact that the wind was pushing into the area that we were fishing made us even more confident we should give it some more time.

So we did.

And we scored.

I was in the process of telling Jim a story when this fish interrupted me mid-sentence. Unfortunately, it didn't succeed in finding any on the hooks on my crankbait, and although I would have liked to keep working my lure to see if it would hit again, the lure was fouled and all I was able to do was skim it over the surface.

I politely asked Jim if I could continue the story in a moment, I took the lure out of the water, unwrapped the braid from around the hooks and took another cast to the same spot.

Then.......twitch, twitch....bang.

This time there was no question it had found the hooks. The rod doubled over and Jim reached for the net. After a little maneuvering, we had the fish.

A couple of friends were on the water too and it seemed to be very slow, so it was great that Jim and I were able to team-up and score a musky.

Hopefully we can score again on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Slow Day And A Mystery

Could this be a human bone?

When: Monday, May 12th, from 5am to 2pm
What: Carp fishing with Matt J.
Weather: Warm. Fair skies with increasing clouds. High of 84, wind calm to variable at 3mph and South to 8mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.09in rose to 30.11in the fell to 30.05in
Relative Humidity: Low of 38% at midday 
Sunrise: 5:44am
Sunset: 8:04pm
Moon: Waxing, 2 days before full. Set 4:22am.  Underfoot 11:07am.
Water Conditions: High tide was at 7:11am, low at 1:41pm. Gauge 10.5 (low) to 11.5 (high) in South Amboy.

On Monday I had the privilege of fishing with another of New Jersey's carp sharpies. There are few, if any, who catch more and bigger carp in New Jersey than Matt "SaxMatt" Janiszewski. Matt has caught and released a carp that would have bested the state record by over 5 pounds.

And that's no joke.

The same fish has actually been caught and released twice again, each time growing in weight. I've seen the pics, I know Matt well, and anyone else who does knows that the New Jersey state record carp belongs to him and his close circle of friends.

As I was driving home from my parent's house on Mother's Day, I started getting pics from Matt who was fishing the spot we'd be at the next day.

He was on fire.

He landed seven fish in a few hours, including a handful over 20-pounds and a personal best mirror carp that weighed in at just over 37 pounds. I had half the mind to go and join him.

I should've.

Because Monday was a different story.

Although Matt had baited the area well before he left on Sunday, the fish seemed to have vanished. We did see some carp breaking the surface and our lines kept getting bumped, but nothing wanted to run-off with our baits. I did catch a trio of channel catfish, but no carp.

Matt did have one run-off and hooked what was most certainly a carp, but it ran him into a snag and that was that.

As the day wore on, we got the feeling that we were going home without any carp.

While we were preparing to leave, we let the rods soak for a few and took a hike up the shore so Matt could show me another spot. On the way back, I halted him to check out a crawfish in the water, but then noticed something else. The crawfish was hiding under what very well could have been a human bone.


Matt snapped a pic to show to some friends who hunted deer. The consensus was that it was not a deer and may be a human femur. Matt has the bone hidden at his fishing spot, and will be contacting local authorities the next time he is there.

After that little adventure, we packed it in. Even though we came up carpless, I learned a lot from Matt. Between the knowledge I picked up from him and Frank Heater, I'm really blown away by how much goes into carp fishing. Thanks to both of you guys for taking the time to take me out.

Also, there was a time when 3 channel catfish in a day's work on that river would have had me stoked. I guess I'm getting spoiled.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


A new personal best carp, courtesy of Frank Heater. Photo courtesy of Joe Cermele.

When: Saturday, May 10th, from 9am to 3pm
What: Carp fishing with Frank and Joe
Weather: Very nice. Warm, but not too warm. Breezy, but not too breezy. Rainy, but not too rainy. Clear skies to partly cloudy. A few showers and t-storms in the area. Wind W to SW up to 10mph and gusting to 20mph at times. Highs in upper 70's.
Barometric Pressure: 29.95in fell to 29.88in
Relative Humidity: Low of 49%, but much higher most of the day.
Sunrise: 5:48am
Sunset: 8:03pm
Moon: Waxing, 4 days after the First Quarter. Underfoot 9:35am. Rise 3:56pm.
Water Conditions: Mostly stained with some lily pads.

Some days things go your way, some days they don't.

Today they did.

I really didn't know what to expect as I drove past the tin man on Route 1, heading towards Trenton to fish with carp sharpie Frank Heater. I'm working on a project and was in need of some information, so my mission was to pick Frank's brain, and hopefully catch a couple of fish.

Mission accomplished.

The first couple of hours were slow, but we could see big fish hanging around the area we were fishing. Joe joined us a little after 11am, and not long after that a rod went down.

And it was a big fish.

I had the honor of taking the first fish, and it wound up being the biggest carp I've ever caught. I was totally stoked.

We got a few more knocks after that, and Frank landed his first ghost carp and Joe put a fish in the net as well. Everyone went home happy.

We didn't get an exact weight on the fish, but I'm certain I have never caught one bigger.

Thanks to Frank for showing me the ropes of Euro-style carp fishing. Looking forward to learning some more and maybe even trying this on my own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slow Day In The Fog

When: Friday, May 9th, from 10am to 5pm
What: Fishing with Charlie
Weather: Foggy and warm (kind of). High of 63, foggy all day. Wind calm to variable at 7mph and SE to S at 5mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.16in fell to 30.05in
Relative Humidity: 84% to 90%
Sunrise: 5:46am
Sunset: 8:04pm
Moon: Waxing, 3 days after the First Quarter. Underfoot 8:50am. Rise 2:56pm.
Water Conditions: Party stained on the main lake and south end and muddy up in Woodport. Main lake temps 55 and as warm as 60 in Woodport.

Charlie and I thought this was gonna be our day. After a slow day with the bluebird skies the last time we were out, we figured the pea soup fog was exactly what we needed to get the bite going.


We launched from Lee's with high hopes and immediately set out to catch some fish. True to form, Charlie targeted Hopatcong's black bass population while I threw my musky lures. Charlie scored the smallie above pretty quick, and I kind of expected things to take off after that.

After having a stocked rainbow trout follow my swim bait around for awhile, we proceeded to make our way down the lake. About 2 hours into our day, I got swiped by a musky, but it missed my lure and didn't come back.

That would be my only shot at a musky all day.

Charlie and I both added a bass to our tally, putting two fish in the boat for him and staving off a skunk for myself.

Like always though, it was a great day on the water.

The lake temperature is still pretty cool at a measly 55 degrees, and the weeds have yet to come up. This makes musky fishing a little tough, and although by no means impossible to catch them as we proved last week, conditions could certainly be better.

Muskies Inc is holding Musky School next week, and we're hoping for a few warm days this week to get the fishing going.

I'm hoping that Spring gets here before summer.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

And The Winners Are..........

Thank you to everyone who entered the Catfish On The Lake raffle at the Westfield Spring Fling!

Due to such an overwhelming number of entries and interest in fishing lessons with Catfish On The Lake, we decided to award two free fishing lessons in addition to the winner of the rod and reel.

The winners of the free fishing lessons with Mark are:

JAMES K. of Westfield

And the winner of the rod and reel goes to:

PAUL S. of Clark

Thank you everyone for stopping by the Catfish On The Lake booth and we look forward to fishing with you in the near future.

Be on the lookout in your email for specials and upcoming events where you, your family, your friends and co workers can all learn to fish with Catfish On The Lake!

Email us at catfishonthelake.com or call 914-433-9926 for more information and to book your next lesson.

See you On The Lake!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Who Is The Winner?

Hey Everyone! 

Thanks for visiting Catfish On The Lake at the Westfield Spring Fling and entering to win a free one-on-one fishing lesson with Mark, or fishing rod and reel!

We’ll be posting the winners on Thursday so make sure to check back and see if you’ve won!

In the meantime, check out some of the recent fishing trips and pictures and get some ideas about what you’d like to learn to catch at our lessons.

See you On The Lake!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Westfield Spring Fling

Be sure to visit us at the Westfield Spring Fling 
from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Come meet Mark, talk fish, learn how you can get "On The Lake," 
and enter to win a free fishing rod 
or personal one-on-one* fishing lesson with Mark!

Check out the Westfield Spring Fling website for more details.

* Winners under 16 must be accompanied by an adult 

Here We Go.......

"Let 'em go, let 'em grow."

When: Thursday, May 1st
What: Musky fishing with Brian
Weather: Warm, overcast to partly cloudy and breezy at times. High in the mid 70's. Wind S to SW from 5 to 15mph.
Barometric Pressure: 29.79in fell to 29.65
Relative Humidity: 39% to 64%
Sunrise: 6:04am
Sunset: 7:37pm
Moon: Waxing, 2 days after new. Moonrise 7:58am. Overhead 3:05pm.
Water Conditions: Partly to moderately stained. Main lakes temps 54-55 and 56-57 in the shallows.

It wasn't too many years ago when I used to wonder, "will I catch my first musky this year?"

Nowadays, it's a matter of "when will I catch my first musky of the year?"

In past years, I've been able to catch musky in January, February and March. But I haven't been out that many times this year because there was still ice on most of the lakes until I got back from Costa Rica a month ago. I've said it before that April is a tough month to catch muskies, but could May 1st be all that much different?

Apparently, yes.

There had been a monsoon the previous night. Rivers and roads were flooded, the lake was high, and I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic trying to go fishing, I started wondering if this was such a hot idea. Even a couple of my buddies who are as die-hard as I am were questioning my sanity.

That being said, when I left my house Thursday morning and saw on the weather map that a front would be passing us all day, the thought stuck in the back of my mind that something good could happen.

It did.

Brian and I started casting lures not long after 10am. About two hours in, I had a follow on a glider by a beat-up looking, post-spawn musky that didn't want to commit. I looked at the sonar and saw that we were in 6 feet of water.

Duly noted.

We didn't see jack for awhile and had spent a couple of hours plying another part of the lake. We were just about to pick-up and move, and someone had the brilliant idea to stick it out a bit longer. I honestly don't recall if that was mine or Brian's decision, but it turned the day.

We moved maybe 50 yards and continued to drift into a shallow cove that was getting pounded with wind. As I was daydreaming about what I had to do that weekend, I heard a shout.

"Fish on."

And then.

"Fish off."

And then.....

"No, he's still there, he's swimming towards the boat.

Moments later, I scooped-up Brian's 35-inch musky. Awesome. The skunk was off and we now had some life back in us. We took note that the fish was in shallow water, and we also now had a pattern.

By this time it was after 5 o'clock, so we had some daylight left to target similar areas. I switched lures, and 30 minutes after Brian caught his fish, I felt a thump.

"Fish on."

Within seconds, I had a good-sized musky to the boat and watched intently as it thrashed its head beneath me. Unfortunately, it didn't give Brian very much time to get the net, and as I sat there saying a Novena, I watched my bait pop free and the 40+ inch musky swim to freedom.

I was crushed....to say the least. And I let anyone within earshot on the lake know it.

Still, even with a loss like that, I now had a bait I knew they'd bite and we knew where the fish were. I told my lovely wife I might be a bit late, shook off the bad vibes and started casting with even more purpose.

Probably not 30 minutes later, in the same area on the same bait, another one struck. And this one wasn't going anywhere. The fish gave its best, even pulling a couple feet of line from my dialed-down drag, but I was able to steer it into the net after what seemed like an eternity.

The boat erupted, and I had my first musky of 2014. It measured 40 inches on the dot.

Now feeling pretty good, Brian and I stayed in the same area, and I, of course, had on the same bait. The bait wasn't even running right, but it seemed like a high percentage of the casts that I could get it working, I got bit. So I stuck with it.

At 7:20pm, Brian and I made a decision to give it another half an hour. We figured that with the action the way it was, every minute counted.

Less than 15 minutes later, I put another one in the net. For a second we thought it was the same fish, but after seeing that it had some spawning scars and a thicker belly, we knew it wasn't. The fish was a little longer too, measuring just over 40 inches.

What a day.

We stuck it out for a few more minutes, but both of us needed to get home. We had hooked 4 fish, landed 3 of them and moved a couple others. One of the best days I've had on the water.

And May has only just begun...........

Friday, May 2, 2014

Passaic River Pickerel

Awkward pose, big pickerel.

When: Tuesday, April 29th, from 2pm to 4:30pm
Where: The Passaic River
What: Fishing Joe L.
Weather: Cold, overcast, windy with a slight drizzle. Wind SE at 17mph and gusting to 22mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.37in
Relative Humidity: 82%
Sunrise: 5:58am
Sunset: 7:51pm
Moon: New
Water Conditions: Gauge height 3.90 feet at Chatham. Water was very stained, more than normal.

Well, I caught a fish this week. Good thing, I thought I was starting to lose my touch.

Tuesday night was the Muskies Inc meeting up in Denville, so Joe and I drove up together and decided to hit the Passaic for a few hours on the way.

It was raining a bit when we got there, the banks were muddy and the river was a little high, but it was still fishable and we were sure as heck going to fish it.

We didn't land any of the pike that were were hoping for, but this nice pickerel did smack my spinnerbait.

There really isn't much more of a report. It was a short trip.

Have a great day!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Urban Carp Hunting

Brian showing off our catch for the afternoon.

When: Monday, April 28th, from noon to 3:30pm
Where: Woodcliff Lake in North Bergen
What: Fishing with Brian
Weather: Warm with a light breeze, mostly sunny to partly cloudy. Wind variable at 5mph to East at 9mph. 63-65 degrees.
Barometric Pressure: 30.06in fell to 30.03in
Relative Humidity: 31%
Sunrise: 5:58am
Sunset: 7:49pm
Moon: New
Water Conditions: Murky

For those of you who don't know, Brian works in Africa. Because of this, I don't get to see him very much.

When he does come back stateside, we always find time to do fishing.

Brian being a trout and fly enthusiast, a lot of those adventures take place on picturesque trout streams in Hunterdon County. But on Monday he just happened to be in Jersey city staying with his brother and one of my other fishing partners, Chris.

Chris was at work, but I took the ride to JC so Brian and I could check out Woodcliff Lake in North Bergen. It had been freshly stocked with trout, and also has what I was looking for.....carp.

By the time we got done having a quick lunch, we arrived at the park around noon. I immediately got to carp fishing and Brian tried a handful of ways to entice trout, but we never got a bite. Actually, I got two bites, but snapping turtles don't count. Snapping turtles love corn. Remember that if you ever try to woo one.

Some trips are less about the fishing and more about the company. Sure we could have taken a longer drive and upped our odds a bit, but the fact is that I hadn't seen Brian nor wet a line with him in a very long time and was just happy to be hanging again.

He's home for a bit, so we're gonna see if we can actually catch a fish next time.