Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fishing Inbetween Storms

If you follow River Mud on Facebook (and you should! click here!), you know that we fared pretty well during Hurricane Irene.  Meaning that we lost power for four days but suffered no actual damage to any of our property.  However, as Mike from Troutrageous! recently blogged, the storm, with its foot of rain and 30 hours of sustained 45mph winds, certainly made an impact on Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern waters.

That and a trip to southwestern Virginia have kept me off the water entirely, until I saw that the remnants from the next tropical storm were headed our way. For another 6 days of constant rain.   So, with an aching back and pounding head from several hours of interstate travel, I set my alarm for 5:45am to do a little dawn patrol on some local ponds that are public but way, way off the beaten path.  And you know what? I actually woke up and made it to the water by a little after sunrise.  I was really glad I did.

I have not done a lot of fishing in northeastern New Jersey, but I imagine that the scenery is similar.   Even at 6:45am on a federal holiday, the sky was full of the sounds of freight trains, transfer trucks, and hundreds of Canada Geese sitting on various stormwater ponds throughout the area.  At least the wind wasn't blowing.

This site was acquired by a government agency about a decade ago and designed as a wetland mitigation project.  Seeing as how the water is 6+ feet deep, I would say that the wetland has failed to achieve much in the way of "non fish" habitat. Oh well.

The hike into the spot was pretty brutal. When I first scouted it last month, it didn't seem so bad from a distance.  Unfortunately, the whole place is covered in sturdy Pennsylvania Blackberry and some ornery species of Lespedeza.  It looks like somebody took a weedeater to my legs and hands.

It quickly became clear that the bloodletting was just the fee for admission to a fun morning on the water.  The fish were there, and they cooperated with my clumsy techniques.  A rebel jointed minnow, BPS minnow, and Berkley Power Tubes were the day's big winners.

Very pale and very big female green sunfish

More typical of the day's catch

This green sunfish looks like it recently escaped a heron's beak.  

After catching about 30 white crappie and green sunfish, I started tossing a Matzuo Nano Crank (top picture), a noisy, wobbly lure that usually spooks sunfish and attracts bass.  Unfortunately, the only bass of the day came after I foul-hooked a small pumpkinseed on the Nano Crank, which was then almost swallowed whole by a bass that appeared from out of nowhere (and successfully threw the hook and the little fish).

The surprise hit inspired me to stay a little longer in the morning than I had originally planned, and I caught a few more decent fish.  But no bass.  Then, like a son-of-bitch        clockwork of my life        destiny, a vicious storm cloud rolled in at the exact time I'd told my wife I'd be home with her cappucino.  I took it as a sign to go the hell home and spend the rest of the day with my family.  And while the rain is here....again....I got to go out and enjoy the sunrise on the water.   I'll remember it fondly until the next time!

Yup. It's gonna rain.


Alex said...

Looks like a good trip. Most ponds down here are almost completely inaccessible due to high growth as well.

I would have liked to launch a kayak into that one though, maybe it would have saved your arms and legs some injury :)

T. Brook Smith said...

Top two fish are bluegill X green sunfish hybrids.

Kirk Mantay said...

TBS - you're right, I had trouble ID'ing them on the spot, but I knew they had to be greens due to the color of the ventral and anal fins. The jaw coloration on both seemed like a bad match for greenies, but I went with the fin colors. Thank you for the correction - will change the caption.

Kirk Mantay said...

Alex, I've blogged about a few beaver ponds down on the Little Patuxent River that meet that description. 50 yard kayak cart carry down a level gravel path / rail bed. Will probably give them a try via kayak when the floodwaters subside in another week or two.

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