August 29, 2014

2014 New Jersey Inshore Fun (Day 1)

After our last New Jersey and Pennsylvania trip, Eli said he would love to catch some of the species we found. We arranged the Labour Day long weekend for such an occasion and made the best possible plan for two days of fishing.

Michael and I left Toronto on Friday around noon and arrived in the Kingston area around 3pm. Eli mentioned he had caught some interesting micros here in the past, so we decided to check out the area for new lifers.

When we arrive at the Rideau Canal, the water was low and clear and we could see some micros among the weeds and on the surface. It took a few tries to get the shiners to bite, but we did catch some. Michael and I thought they might be Pugnose Shiner or Bridle Shiner...but once I had a better look at the pictures at home and comparing notes on various guides, I'm pretty sure these were juvenile Golden Shiner.

The micros skittering on the surface were stumping us. They would spook easily most of the time. Even when we managed to present our little flake of worm in front of the moving school, they largely ignored our bait. With some surface feeding micros, sometimes you can get them to bite by dragging the bait on the surface, as if it was an insect moving on the surface film of the water. I tried that for a little bit but it seemed to scare the fish even more.

By chance, I happened to lift the bait just as a school was passing along. The vertical movement of the bait on the surface attracted the attention of two fish and they gave chase. Eli said these fish likes to give chase, so I started dancing the bait on the surface film, trying to keep it skipping on the water held by the surface tension, but occasionally breaking the surface just a bit as if it was an insect hatching or lifting off the water.

When a school finally come around, the skipping definitely initiated an aggressive feeding pattern. A few of the fish swarm around the bait trying to attack it. A handful of attempts later, I finally hooked one...and it was a Brook Silverside!

Brook Silverside (Labidesthes sicculus) - Species #404

I saw a carp feeding very shallow. It was quite wary of us, but if I stayed low and approached slowly, I could present a bait to the fish without spooking it. Since we were micro fishing, I only took my tanago rod and the ultralight with me. The UL rod would be underpowered for this 8lb carp, but it was the only rod I had. I tied a #8 baitholder hook to the 6lb mono and sacrificed the only worm I had. Gently pitching the worm ahead of the carp, I waited patiently for the carp to find my bait. Finally, I could see the carp suck up the worm, gave it one chew, and spat out my bait just as quickly. It was a very smart carp.

Every time the carp came around again, I presented the worm to it. However, it was already smart to my approach and I could tell it was able to see my line. Eventually, we ran out of time and we had to leave. Eli was meeting us at 7pm.

We were planning to carpool with Eli so I needed a safe place to leave the car for the weekend. Thanks to my friend Shane, I was able to leave the car at his parents' house in the Prescott area. By 8pm, we loaded up the car and we were ready to head south. Michael and I volunteered to split the drive with Eli, but he insisted on driving the whole way all night. Finally, we arrived in Point Pleasant, NJ at 3:30am. I had just enough time for a 2 hour snooze.

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