Monday, June 30, 2014

Keeping It Going

Another nice muskellunge.

When: Wednesday, June 25th, from 5am to 1pm
What: Musky fishing
Weather: Warm and humid, overcast to mostly cloudy. Cleared in the afternoon a bit. High 60's warmed to high 70's. Wind from S to SW up to 4mph and gusting to 7mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.00in to 29.94in and falling.
Relative Humidity: Low of 57%, but much higher all day.
Sunrise: 5:29am
Sunset: 8:35pm
Moon: Waning, a day before New. Rise 4:19am. Overhead 11:42am.
Water Conditions: Clear on one pond, brown on the other. Temps in the mid-70's.

Either I'm getting better at musky fishing or the fish are getting dumber.

I'd like to think it's the former.

I met Mark Lowrie through some friends. Mark is the North Jersey Chairman for the Carp Anglers Group and one of the most respected carp anglers in the state. I love carp fishing and Mark was generous enough to agree to take me out and show me how it's done, but that was going down on Friday.

When he expressed interest in doing some musky fishing, I offered to show him what I've learned.

We hit the water in the VERY early AM as I'm not a huge fan of tossing huge baits and cranking double-10 bladed bucktails in 90-degree heat. Musky trips of late have had me on the water early, fishing for 8 or so hours and then home by mid-afteroon.

This timing has been working really well for me when it comes to catching 'skis.

Although I've only been musky fishing for a few years, this has, by far, been my most successful year. I seem to be hooking fish almost every time I go out and I can only attribute this to practice and study. The more work I put into learning about musky fishing, the more fish I seem to catch.

That being said, the morning started off quiet. We moved a few fish, but overall it was a low key day. After about 6 hours on the water, with the boat sitting in 14-feet of water, I cast my hefty bucktail towards the weedline. A few cranks in, and it got whacked.

I immediately knew it was a musky. And if I had any doubt, the fish let me know by going completely airborne moments after I hooked it. It then took two deep runs under the boat, but I was finally able to pull it up and steer it into the net.

I could see when it came to the surface that the fish was barely hooked, and the bucktail did indeed shake free the second the fish was in the net. Mark only had one shot to net that fish before it got away, but he made it count.

Thanks, buddy!

That would be all the action for the day. It was great day on the water with a new friend, and we have some pics of a beautiful fish to show for it. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Testing The Water

When: Sunday, June 22nd, from 6am to 11am
What: Musky fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Cooler and partly cloudy to overcast. Wind calm to E at 3mph.  High of 73.
Barometric Pressure: 29.93in rose to 29.97in.
Relative Humidity: 86% down to 56%
Sunrise: 5:30am
Sunset: 8:32pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days after the Last Quarter. Overhead 9:11am.
Water Conditions: Crystal clear, between 75 and 76 degrees.

You definitely can't win 'em all, especially in musky fishing.

My musky outings have been very successful of late, so I guess I was due for a fishless day. Even at that, and even on a new body of water, Joe and I had high hopes we could get bit.

And we almost did.

Well, we did, but we didn't catch any.

I scooped Joe up in the AM and we headed not too far from his home in PA to a deep, gin-clear lake that is supposed to have some not too tiny tiger muskies. We knew that not many people fish this lake for skis, and with less fishing pressure, the muskies can be more willing to bite.

The one huge drawback of this lake was the lack of structure. I had done some research and knew what to expect, but was still surprised at the complete lack of weeds in the lake. Muskies love weeds, and without them, they can be tricky to find.

And they were.

The main "structure" in this lake was steep break from 3 feet of water down to as much as 30 feet. With this being the only thing to go on, we kept the boat positioned within casting distance of the drop-off and proceeded to cast towards it. I started off with a glider that I let fall through the water column, and Joe tried his luck with the fly rod.

This game was well out of my norm for musky fishing, but I still felt confident.

I felt even more confident when a small tiger musky crunched on my lure in the first 30 minutes of fishing. Unfortunately, it didn't find any hooks. Small fish are hard to stick sometimes.

A few hours later, Joe had a follow from a good fish on the fly. We hit that same area a couple more times, but it never came back.

Unfortunately, except for some surface activity on the way back to the launch, that would be all the action for the day.

We both had some stuff to do, and this was a planned "short session."

Even without any fish, we were pretty intrigued by this place. There is something to be said for moving 2 muskies on a brand new body of water in just a few hours, and even without any weeds, Joe and I put a pretty good idea together of where to look for fish.

We will definitely be back.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Another Fine Tiger

Another fatty tiger.

When: Friday, June 19th, from 5am to 11am
What: Musky fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Front passing, just after a line of T-storms. Overcast to mostly cloudy with light showers at times. High 60's, wind calm to NE at 5mph and variable at 6mph.
Barometric Pressure: 29.97in rose to 30.04in
Relative Humidity: Over 90% all morning.
Sunrise: 5:28am
Sunset: 8:34pm
Moon: Waning, Last Quarter. Overhead 6:43am. Set 12:58pm.
Water Conditions: Good clarity to mildly stained. 75-76 degrees. Brown weeds, may have been nuked.

Although Joe and I started off our musky adventures together with a successful trip to the Allegheny River in December of 2011, we haven't had much to show for it since then. Joe has joined me on probably a half-dozen musky hunts in the last year, and the fish never seem to want to cooperate when he's with me.

As if musky fishing wasn't complicated enough, we decided to get try to get Joe a musky on the fly. While I casted plugs and bucktails off the front of the boat, Joe was hammering away with huge musky flies off the back. Scoring a musky on the fly is no easy task, but the reward is well worth the effort.

Joe didn't score a musky on the fly on the adventure, but we did manage to break our bad our luck streak.

Tiger muskies are special fish. For those who do not know, a tiger musky is a hybrid cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge. They rarely occur naturally in the native range of pike and muskies, but are bred by state fisheries for stocking. Tiger muskies are known to grow faster than true strain muskies, they cannot reproduce, they die younger and do not ultimately reach the lengths of pure muskies.

Because of their somewhat limited growth potential, a tiger musky in New Jersey over 40 inches is a special fish, and a tiger musky of 42 inches or over can be somewhat of a rare occasion. So the fact that I have now put tiger muskies of 42, 44 and 44 inches in my boat in just over a year is pretty damn cool.

Joe and I didn't move a fish for 90 minutes on Friday. Then almost the minute to the major, I noticed something behind my bait as it was nearing the boat. Since it was overcast, still early morning and because my vision stinks in low light, I couldn't tell it was a musky until it was right at the boat. I went right into a Figure 8 and the fish crunched it boat side on the first turn.

Fish on.

The fish took 3 deep runs, each time peeling a few yards of 80-pound braid from my cranked-down drag, but I was able to steer it around the boat in short order where Joe was waiting for the net. The second the fish hit the bag, I immediately saw the coloration and the size and knew we had just bagged a very big tiger musky.

It was an incredible fish.

We kept at it for awhile after that fish, but things didn't seem to be moving. As we were thinking about calling it a day, I had another fish come in hot and eat on the Figure 8. I only had it hooked for a second and it shook the bait right at the side of the boat. It would have been nice to get that one too, but I wasn't going to complain. The fish I lost was probably 10 inches shorter and 15 pounds lighter than the one I caught, and it wasn't a tiger.

This time, the big one didn't get away.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting It Done

Joe with a beautiful fish.

When: Thursday, June 12th, from 5am to 3pm
What: Musky fishing with Joe
Weather: Overcast and foggy with misting and light showers. High of 66. Wind calm to variable at 3mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.03in to 30.07in to 29.99in
Relative Humidity: Low of 87%
Sunrise: 5:28am
Sunset: 8:31pm
Moon: Full. Set 5:07am. Underfoot 12:33pm. Rise 8:00pm.
Water Conditions: Lakes partly to mostly stained. Close to 70 degrees.

In almost a month to the day, Joe and I will be heading to the Mecca of musky fishing, Lake St. Clair. We're both getting pretty stoked to go, but there's still musky to be caught here before that happens.

I've been able to get out on the water a lot more than Joe so far this year, so I was all about seeing him bag a "ski" when we met to do some fishing on Thursday.

Turns out we both got one.

I hit the water at 5am and Joe joined me an hour later. In the hour before he got there, I didn't see many signs of life except for one musky porpoising. I urged Joe to take the front of the boat to get the first shot at the fish, but at first he insisted that I stay up there.

But only at first.

After only 30 or so minutes of fishing, I put one in the bag.

After that, Joe was a little more receptive to hopping up front.

We had a ton of follows over the next 4 hours, but we couldn't get one to eat. We were also getting a little tired of casting to the same water, and started talking about making the move to another locale.

We did, and it paid off.

It was the same story at first, moving fish but not getting them to commit. Joe needed to hit the road at 2:30pm, and by 2pm we were hitting our last bit of shoreline heading back towards the ramp. That's when I heard...........


This wasn't a follow, Joe was up on the deck with his rod doubled-over and a musky was thrashing at the side of the boat. I wasn't in a position to net it from the port side, so Joe let me know he was bringing it around the other side. As he dragged the fish around the bow, the net was waiting for him and I slipped his first musky of 2014 into the bag.

Needless to say Joe was pretty stoked.

It always cool to see your friend get a fish, it's always nice to catch one yourself and it's great when one of those things happens on your own boat. So this day was a banner day, to say the least. Good times JoeLo, let's do it again soon.

Here's one last parting shot of Joe's fish for you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Another Fishing Farewell

Where's Brian?

Brian has been home for a few weeks since we fished over a month ago, but with him traveling to California and DC and me to Key West, we haven't had much time to get together.

And Monday was his flight back to Africa.

I took the ride to Tewksbury to visit him, and we spent a few hours messing around the trout streams like we often do when he's in town. Brian had a couple of small brown trout hit his fly, and I had a quick release on one that ate a worm we dug up in his parent's backyard.

It was a rainy day, but it's always good to be outside.

I was about to head home after I left Brian so he could finish packing, but knowing that I had my carp rods in the car, I decided to try a pond in the area that I know has some big fish. I didn't have much time or even much bait with me, but I gave it a shot.

I mixed up some of Matt J's oat pack and fished one rod with a puff and one rod with piece of PCF (Pete's Carp Food) Pineapple Corn.

In the hour or so that I fished, I had a nice channel cat eat the puff and landed this carp on a hair rig with the Pineapple corn. 

Not bad for a Monday morning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

So Much To Tell, So Little To Tell

If anyone has seen my Facebook page, you probably know that I caught some incredible fish last week. If you haven't seen my page, all you need to know is that I spent a few days tarpon fishing down in Key West. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and I crossed off one of my "bucket list" fish in a big way. Unfortunately, the story is not mine to tell. You're just going to have to wait a couple of weeks until a good friend does his magic with the video editing. I promise to post it on my site once it's live.

What I can tell you is that if you're ever looking for a charter in Key West, I would HIGHLY recommend contacting Captain Mike Weinhofer of Compass Rose Charters. I have fished with dozens of captains and guides, and I can say without hesitation that Capt. Mike is in league of his own. He has 5 vessels including two immaculate Sea Hunters, a bay boat and a gorgeous flats skiff. His 25 years of fishing Key West have made him an expert from catching anything from sailfish, mahi and tarpon to permit and sharks. Without his guidance, network and expertise, the outcome of our trip could have been very different. A special thank you to Mike, Joe and the powers at be at F&S for allowing me to be a part of this most excellent adventure.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Last Minute Musky

Another musky with battle scars from spawning.

When: Saturday, May 31st, from 11am until 7pm
What: Musky fishing with Matt
Weather: Sunny with a few clouds at times, warm but breezy. Wind N to NE at 14mph and gusting to 21mph. High of 74 degrees.
Barometric Pressure: Rising. 30.17in to 30.22in
Relative Humidity: As low as 36%
Sunrise: 5:27am
Sunset: 8:23pm
Moon: Waxing, 4 days after new. Rise 8:03am. Overhead 3:23pm.
Water Conditions: Partly stained with pollen on top. Greenish hue. 70 degrees.

I woke up on Saturday morning after an exhausting day (of fishing) on Friday, and really didn't know what to do with myself. With Lindsay away on business and a whole day ahead of me, I wanted to do some fishing before I spent the whole day on Sunday getting ready to leave for Key West.

I didn't feel much like getting everything together to take my boat out, but surely did not want to sit home all day.

I called Matt to see what he was up to, and he had been musky fishing since 6am. I asked him if he wanted some company, and he obliged.

I talked to him just about 9am, and I was on his boat at 11am.

As I drove up to the lake, I had a thought that doesn't normally cross my mind. I tend to be an optimist when it comes to musky fishing, and am usually the guy who will say they're gonna turn on at any minute after not having a bite for 10 hours.

But I must admit I didn't have much confidence.

The sky was high and blue, I checked the NOAA site to see the high barometric pressure and the wind kept picking up the closer I got. I was still looking forward to catching-up with Matt and tossing some baits around, but I actually said out loud to myself in the car, "there's no way we're catching a fish today."

Luckily, I was wrong.

Matt and I started off casting, but the wind picked-up and made it difficult. Since Matt knows a thing or two about trolling, we decided to put the rods out. I have never caught a musky trolling, mostly for lack of trying, so we picked baits and Matt insisted the first fish was mine.

After only 15 or 20 minutes, the clicker started ripping.

I took the rod out of the holder while Matt kept the boat steady in the wind. After a short fight, I put a 39-inched in the net.

We were pretty darn stoked.

After a little hootin' and hollerin', we got back to trolling. Then did some casting. Then some trolling. I did have one other follow on a bucktail, but no other fish.

Oh, and I fell in the water. That was fun, but you kinda had to be there.

Stay dry everyone!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

End Of A Dry Spell

A "mid-teen" carp caught close to home.

When: Friday, May 30th from 5am to 6pm
What: Striper fishing with Joe, carp fishing alone
Weather: Kinda warm and partly cloudy.
Barometric Pressure: 30.11in fell to 29.97in
Relative Humidity: As low as 40%
Sunrise: 5:28am
Sunset: 8:22pm
Moon: Waxing, a day and a half after the new moon. Rise 7:10am. Overhead 2:35pm. Set 9:55pm.
Water Conditions: Ocean temp 57 degrees, river low-tide was 4:20pm

I hadn't caught a fish in two weeks.

While that might seem like not such a big deal for some people, it is for me. Especially when I've been fishing a whole lot lately. I was beginning to think I was cursed. Heck, I even washed my hat thinking it might have some bad vibes on it.

Joe and I broke Barnegat Inlet at 5am on Friday. So I've been up since 1:30am. We scoured the sea from Harvey Cedars to Seaside Heights in search of bunker, but found none. After trying some trolling, we were back at the dock at 10am.

On our way in, we found out the bite had gone off 5 more miles to the north in Lavalette. We would have easily taken the ride had known that in the morning, but alas, we did not.

Determined to break my bad luck streak, I made the trip back up the Parkway and stopped home for my carp gear. I then hit a spot I found the day before in hopes of catching one of the 40 million carp I saw there.

But of course, the carp were gone.

Or at least it seemed that way.

I sat it out for two hours, but only saw a few fish swim by. As I was starting to contemplate how I chalked up another failure, and tried to figure out why I could not catch a fish, I heard a delicious sound.

My baitrunner was screaming as a carp had picked-up my offering off the bottom. I lifted the rod from the holder and set the hook.

Fish on.

The small carp gave a spirited fight, and although it was small (7 or 8 pounds) I was happy just to have a fish.

Thirty minutes later the other rod went off, and this one was not so tiny. After an even better fight, I slipped the net under a 15-pound fish and laid it on the mat on the shore.

Repeating the same process as the first, I unhooked it, did a couple quick self-timed photos with my camera on the tripod and let it go.

The last two hours were quiet, but I had my victory.

It's good to know I'm not cursed heading into a big week next week. Let's hope this streak continues and not the last one.