Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some Days You Just Know

When: Thursday, September 11th, from 6:30am to 2:00pm
What: Musky fishing.
Weather: Cloudy. S to SW wind up to 10mph and gusting to 18mph. 68 degrees warmed to 80.
Barometric Pressure: 29.91 fell to 29.84
Relative Humidity: 70 to 80% all day.
Sunrise: 6:34am
Sunset: 7:14pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days after full. Set 9:32am, Underfoot 3:15pm, Rise 8:50pm.
Water Conditions: Good clarity and weed growth. Temps between 70 and 71 degrees.

You can never really tell when fish are going to bite, especially muskies.

But, there are times when you can take a pretty good guess.

When I saw Thursday's weather report at the beginning of the week, I was chomping at the bit. With an approaching front and plenty of cloud cover, the day had all the earmarks of the kind of conditions I associate with good musky fishing. You can never be too confident, but I had it in the back of my mind as I was launching my boat that I had a decent shot at boating more than one fish.

And I did.

I was supposed to have some company, but things happen and it was just me. Nevertheless, it's enjoyable to fish alone sometimes. I had the lake to myself when I launched, and I began casting bucktails in complete solitude.

On the third cast, I felt a bump and I knew it was not a weed. As my bucktail reached the boat, sure enough there was a musky behind it, but it turned away. That would be all the action I'd have for a few hours, but the next sign of life was a little more exciting.

I was fishing the same area where I got the bump earlier, and this time the bump was a solid strike and a hook-up.

For anyone who has never attempted fighting and netting a musky by yourself, it's tricky, and takes quite a bit of practice. I still have not perfected it, and to be honest, it's a miracle the fish actually made it into the net. My first attempt got the bucktail stuck on the outside, and I had to flip the net over to scoop-up the fish.

But I got it.

After unhooking her, I placed my camera/tripod on the back deck, set the timer, posed with the fish and hoped for the best before letting it go. I got a quick measure of 41-inches, and sent the musky on its way.

Feeling good after boating a musky, I got right back at it. However, I didn't see anything for another couple of hours. Then, as I moved back to the mouth of a cove with the wind pushing the boat into a shallow weed flat, the scenario looked too good think I wasn't going to get bit. I was half expecting to hook-up on any cast...

And I did.

I immediately knew this was a better fish, and it was putting up a good fight. I got it to the boat in short order and had moved the net close by so I could deploy it once the fish was close enough. When the fish was boatside I reached for the net...which was now entangled in my trusty rod holder.

My rod holder is for trolling. Did I mention that I never troll? And because of this, I never use the rod holder. Well, except for entangling my net, that is.

As I worked to free the net, the fish dove under the boat and I had to set the net back down. When I got the fish back to the surface, the net was tangled again. This time, it was even worse.

But the story had a happy ending, and fish Number Two measured 44.5-inches, my largest New Jersey fish of the year so far.

Now I was really stoked, and started having thoughts of a three-fish day. But all was quiet after that. I left the lake a few hours later, having had one of my life's most memorable days on the water.

When I got back to the ramp, my buddy Brian was there taking his boat out of the water.

He got a great deal on a rod holder.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sweetwater Reunion

Mike A. with a nice bass.

When: Wednesday, September 10th, from 6:30am to 4pm
What: Fishing with Mike A.
Weather: Mostly sunny, bluebird skies with some clouds in the afternoon. 59 degrees warmed to 76, winds calm to variable to NE at 5 and SW at 5.
Barometric Pressure: 30.14in fell slightly to 30.08 in the afternoon.
Relative Humidity: Low of 52%
Sunrise: 6:33am
Sunset: 7:16pm
Moon: Waning, 2 days after full. Set 8:21am, Underfoot 2:21pm.
Water Conditions: Good clarity, temp n/a, healthy weeds.

Life has been a little busy, and although it's a good busy, I've been a little slow in getting reports up.

Mike is my closest and longest childhood friend, and although life took us in different directions, we reconnected about a year or so ago when he was looking to move from Hoboken to Lake Hopatcong.

I hadn't seen Mike in a couple years when we sat down for babaganoush at Ali Baba's last summer and it was good to get caught-up. Lately, we've been doing a lot more catching up. I've made the trip to Hopatcong a few times since he landed at The Big Lake and been lucky enough to watch him do something remarkable - get his Dad's Ranger cleaned-up and running. There's no doubt in my mind that Mr. A is looking down and smiling now that it's getting some consistent use again.

But Mike and I still hadn't done any fishing together in probably 15 years and that was too long.

We finally pinned down a day and when I met him at Lee's at 6am on Wednesday, the boat was already in the water and Mike was ready to go.

Weather conditions were not what I considered optimal for fishing, but we sure gave it hell.

Between what Mike had already figured out on the lake and the couple spots I showed him, he put together a bag that probably would've won a tournament had there been one.

The only thing that found the hooks of my musky lures was a kamikaze pickerel, and since I hadn't caught a fish in a couple weeks, I was happy to have it.

We kept at it for awhile, but as conditions seemed to be improving, I had to head to class.

This was one of the cooler fishing experiences I've had in awhile. Mike did an amazing job with his father's boat, and it is in stellar condition, despite possibly being older than I am, or at least pretty close.

Most of all, it was nice to finally wet a line with my buddy again.

I think we'll be doing that plenty more times.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Slow Day Under Bluebird Skies

When: Saturday, August 29th, from 6am to 7pm
What: Musky fishing with "El Presidente" Cal
Weather: Bluebird skies, wind calm to variable and SE at 3mph. High close to 80.
Barometric Pressure: 30.21in dropped slightly to 30.17in
Relative Humidity: As low as 45%
Sunrise: 6:23am
Sunset: 7:37pm
Moon: Waxing, 4 days after new. Rise 10:12am. Overhead 3:55pm. Set 9:31pm.
Water Conditions: Mid 70's partly stained

Not too much to tell today.

It was a great day to be fishing, but not to be catching fish. I managed to hook and lose a small musky early in the day and move a couple others, but by all means the action was near non-existent.

Still, Cal and I had a blast.

We had some good laughs, ate some of the best tomatoes I've ever eaten, tried to find a missing fishing rod on the bottom of the lake and I even got to watch Cal jump into the drink.

We did our best to try different lures, different depths, tactics, location, colors, blah, blah, blah, but when I see high blue skies and high pressure, my expectations are low. There are exceptions to every rule and you really never know when a musky is going to bite, but the law of averages had the odds stacked against us.

Regardless, the best time to go fishing is always whenever you can, and it's always good to have some good company when the fishing is slow.