Monday, August 25, 2014

From Dawn 'Til Dusk

A healthy 44-inch musky to kick off the "fall" season.

When: Thursday, August 21st, from 6am to 8pm
What: Musky fishing with Paul
Weather: Party sunny to overcast with some rain around, storms later. Wind calm to variable at 3mph and SW to 7mph. 66 degrees at sun-up, warmed to the low 80s.
Barometric Pressure: 30.07in fell to 30.00in and back up to 30.04in
Relative Humidity: Low of 47%, but much higher all day.
Sunrise: 6:15am
Sunset: 7:49pm
Moon: Waning, 4 days before new. Overhead 10:03am. Set 5:17pm.
Water Conditions: Good clarity, surface temps 74 degrees at sun-up, warmed to 77.

When I woke up on Thursday morning to meet Paul, I had not caught a musky in New Jersey since June 30th. There are a lot of reasons for that, mainly that I was tarpon fishing in Key West and musky fishing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan and the Allegheny River in Northwestern PA, but the times in between it was often just too hot here in NJ.

Not anymore.

I've said this before, but aside from the risks that come along with safely releasing a muskellunge in water temperatures that are over 80 degrees, it just not fun casting huge baits for hours on end in 85- to 90-degree heat.

And although we're still gonna have some 80-degree days, all one needs to do is walk outside to notice it's a lot cooler in New Jersey. Water temps are coming down with brisk overnight lows, and as far as I'm concerned it may as well be the end of December.

And the muskies seem to be responding.

I had not seen Paul in many years, and we've been trying to find a time to go fishing for awhile. It just so happened that things worked out on Thursday and he was off work.

We put in our time on the water, and moved a bunch fish throughout the morning. This was Paul's first time musky fishing, but he was casting big swimbaits like a pro in no time. But, more than the fishing, it was very nice to catch-up with an old friend and have good conversation all day.

Right about noon, a nice fish came up to eat my Amma Bamma, and all hell broke loose. I'm going to keep the details of what followed between Paul and I, but I'm just going to say this was the most amazing fight I have ever had with a musky and it is nothing short of a miracle that it wound-up in the net.

For Paul's first time netting a musky, he could not have done a better job. Thank you for that, Paul!

The fish seemed to go quiet after that, and although we moved a couple more, none seemed to want to eat. Still, every second on the water was thoroughly enjoyed by us both.

Paul had to split around 3pm, but the weather was perfect and I decided to stick it out a few more hours.

I didn't move another fish until about 7:30pm. It was a little guy, but with light drizzle and clouds coming in, I though the fish might start chewing.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature unleashed hell, and by 8:30pm I was on my way home. It's been awhile since I've had the energy, time and peace of mind to fish a 14-hour day, but the good company earlier in the morning, the nice fish we caught, and a couple other surprises while on the water made me want to savor every last minute of this day.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Allegheny River Take III

The Middle Allegheny River, which starts at the outflow of the Kinzua Dam, will always hold a special place in my heart. It's where I caught my first big musky and where, during a December 2011 shoot for Field and Stream's "Hook Shots" with Joe C., I officially caught the musky bug. 

With water temperatures high in New Jersey these days, Joe L. and I decided to take a road trip and fish the Allegheny River for a couple days with guide, Red Childress. Red is as classy of a guide as the come and I always know what to expect from him: hard work and an intricate knowledge of the river. 

Joe and I showed up a day early to do some shore fishing, and between casting from the bank and fishing with Red, we put together a decent catch. Enjoy the pics, and if you're interested in trophy pike, musky, trout or walleye fishing on a beautiful river swarming with bald eagles, hawks and ospreys, be sure to check out Red's website and learn a little about the river and what he does up there.

Allegheny Guide Service

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back To Reality

When: Sunday, August 3rd, from 9:30am to 7:30pm
What: Musky fishing with Joe L.
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast. 72 degrees warmed to 80. Wind N at 5mph, variable at 7mph then S to SE at 7mph then calm.
Barometric Pressure: 30.12in dropped to 30.05in late in the day.
Relative Humidity: Humid, low of 56%
Sunrise: 5:54am
Sunset: 8:11pm
Moon: Waxing, First Quarter.  Underfoot 6:18am. Rise 1:17pm. Overhead 6:42pm.
Water Conditions: Partly stained. Visibility 2-feet on the North End and much less in the South End. Temps 76-78 degrees.

10 hours on the water and we didn't see a fish. Back to reality.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Beating The Heat

Joe breaking in his new boat with his first few hybrid stripers.

When: Friday, July 25th, from 7pm to 3pm
What: Night fishing for hybrid striped bass with Matt and Joe on Joe's new ride
Weather: A little cool after dark, calm wind, not many clouds. 77 degrees dropped to 59. Wind SW at 6mph then calm.
Barometric Pressure: 29.99in up to 30.02in
Relative Humidity: Up to 96%
Sunrise: 5:48am
Sunset: 8:21pm
Moon: Waning, a day before new. Moonset 7:16pm. Underfoot 12:27am.
Water Conditions: Greenish hue, 80 degrees.

I'm not a huge fan of summer.

There, I said it.

I would much rather be standing on 10 inches of ice during a string of 20-degree days than trying to figure out how to catch something worthwhile in the stagnant, weed-infested bathwater that we have here in Jersey during the "dog days" of summer.

And you can quote me on that this winter.

I don't make a habit of fishing for muskies when the water temps are over 80 degrees, carp fishing can be painfully slow, there are no decent catfish waters close to home and I have zero interest in hopping on a party boat or surf fishing for fluke or bluefish.

One thing that has become a bit of a tradition, however, is to do a night trip on Lake Hopatcong for hybrid stripers. I've caught my share of hybrids at this point, and they can still be a blast. In fact, even the mighty musky has nothing on the drag-screeching power and speed of a hybrid striper hooked on medium action tackle.

And to boot, JoeLo just got a shiny new boat, from North Jersey marine, which just happens to be on Lake Hopatcong. So he decided to pick it up from North Jersey and take it right to Lee's County Park to launch it. Matt and I met him there at about 7pm after he was done joy-riding to see if we couldn't figure out a way to put him on his first hybrid.

The boat, btw, is gorgeous. Joe got himself a beautiful new Lund that I'm sure will see a million muskies before he retires it many moons from now. Congrats buddy!!

This night had all the earmarks of a fish fest. The lake was somewhat empty as night approached, and as we set our first two anchors at dusk and dropped baits in the water, we had a rod go down immediately. It turned out to be a white perch, but the action continued and we picked away at few hybrids. Joe got to land his first, second and probably third and fourth hybrid striped bass.

Things were looking good.

Until they weren't.

The sonar had been lit up with all kinds of bait and what was most likely a school or two of perch and hybrids, but as darkness fell, they stopped eating.

We stayed at the spot for awhile before moving around several times trying to find more bait.

We did find a few other schools of bait and fish, but none wanted to eat. Persistence never paid off, and the action at dusk wound up being our only action for the evening.

Still, Matt, Joe and myself had a total blast cracking jokes, eating potato chips with chicken livers on our fingers and trying to figure out different ways to change the bite. It just wasn't going to happen.

Things are definitely looking up here in New Jersey though. As I sit here on my couch on a rainy Saturday, the rods are ready for musky fishing tomorrow. The precipitation mixed with some cool nights has brought water temps down and rumor has it a few ski's are biting. Joe and I are gonna see if we can't stave off a skunk on the new ride and hopefully put a fish in the boat tomorrow.

After that we're off to the Allegheny for a few days, two of which we'll be fishing with Red Childress for muskies.

I'll be sure to get posts up and let you know how it all goes down.