Winter Spillway Jigging for Panfish (01/15/17, New Britain, PA)

What's up, fellow Blog readers?

Here is my fishing report for January 15th, 2017. The statistical fishing chart was updated as well.

Location: Pine Run Creek
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 9 Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
-- 9 Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
-- 5 White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
-- 4 White Perch (Morone americana)

Video:

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

--- COMING SOON ---

Summary & Photos:

After checking the weather in the morning (25F-40F), I figured that some of my most productive Winter spots still had a chance of being frozen! Therefore, just to be on the safe side, I decided to hit a spillway. To be more precise, I decided to hit the Pine Run Dam spillway, located in New Britain Borough.

I arrived at the Covered Bridge park around 12:30 p.m.. As soon as I crossed the entrance, I realized that the Pond there still had a thin sheet of ice on it. For my luck, the Pine Run Creek seemed to be just fine! Heh. And even better -- as I scouted the Creek, the spillway, and the Reservoir, I came to realize that the water levels there had risen! :) I promptly did the smart thing to do: I secured my spot at the spillway before anyone else could do so. As cold and windy as it was out there today, I was ready for some fishing, folks. Hah.

A view of the Pine Run Dam spillway. One of my productive Winter spots for Panfish

I setup my ultra-light rod with a 1/64 oz. tungsten jighead, under a weighted float. The plan for the day was to do some suspending jigging with pieces of nightcrawler and waxworms. I gave the first cast right towards the spillway. A little bit over ten seconds, I got my first bite! I set the hook: no fish. And the same happened for another dozen waxworms or so! 

It was about then that I realized that the fishes there were really really finicky and lethargic due to the temperature of the water. I was getting bites, alright? But they were far from aggressive! Most of the times, the float wouldn't even go down. According to the angling language, the fish "were nibbling at my bait.

To solve this problem, I decided to lay down the waxworms and go for the nightcrawler. I put small pieces of nightcrawler on the jighead -- small enough to just hit the end of the hook. I cast again; waited for the bite. Once it came, I set the hook. This time, there was a fish on the other side! It was a Bluegill indeed. :)

Fish #81. A Bluegill

I started casting towards the same spot, over and over again. I just knew that the fishes were stacked there! However, as I had mentioned previously, every time the bite was extremely subtle. I would say that out of five bites, I would hook one or two. Needless to say, even with the low hooking ratio, it was only a matter of time for them to start coming up. Haha. And a White Crappie came up on my hook indeed:

Fish 82. A White Crappie.

And soon after came its cousin, the Black Crappie:

Fish #84. A Black Crappie

Lots of people usually ask me about the differences between a Black Crappie and a White Crappie. Since both of their photos are above, let's use this opportunity to clarify it! A White Crappie has a distinguished pattern in its body -- vertical bars. Also, it tend to have a body that is slender and not deep. The Black Crappie, on the other hand, has no definite patterns on its body. Its markings are usually scrambled. The body is slender as well; however, as one can see, it is way deeper than a White Crappie's. Let me remind everybody here that the faintness of a Crappie's colors is not an indicator to determine its Species. :)

Anyways...the rest of the day was pretty much jigging and getting frozen to death out there. The action at the spillway stayed hot until 2:30 p.m. or so. Among the Bluegill and Crappie, a few White Perch showed up:

Fish #90. A White Perch

I finished my day with 107 fishes for the year of 2017, 27 caught at the spillway! Overall, a very productive day. :D

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Tight lines!

Sincerely,

Leo S. a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing

What's up, fellow readers?

Here is my fishing report for January 14th, 2017. The statistical fishing chart was updated as well.

Location: Pennypack Creek
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- Nothing

Video:

Since I got skunked, there is no video for this fishing session. :)

Summary & Photos:

Taking my hectic day in consideration, I decided to hit the Pennypack Creek at Verree Road for a few hours in the afternoon. The weather wasn't really "good" -- 32F with some rain/snow. On the other hand, it was a chilly, but windless day! Thus, I had hopes of catching some stocked Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) without freezing to death. Heh.

I set up camp right above the Verree Road dam -- three rods, all with small split shots and Berkley Powerbait. Since it was a cold winter day, I decided to use my personal MCGS technique ("Maximum Coverage Grid System") to find those lethargic stocked Trout.

A view of the Pennypack Creek right above the Verree Road Dam. One of the deepest portions of the Creek, around that area.

The good news -- I was able to find two Trout in the Creek, since I had two bites. Both bites were Trout bites: line slack at first, then a faint pull. The bad news -- I wasn't able to land a single fish! Every time I saw the bite, my impatience got the best of me. In other words...I ended up setting the hook too early on both fish. :(

As they say, folks -- "Impatience is the rood of all injuries." On the positive side -- I know for a fact that there are still a few stocked Trout in there. Thus, my hopes for catching a Trout in the near future haven't perished yet.

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights! 

Tight lines!

Sincerely,

Leo S. a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing

Winter Micro-Fishing w/ Live Bait: Shiners, Waxworms, Nightcrawlers (Somerset, NJ)

What's up, fellow comrades?

Here is my fishing report for January 12th, 2017. The statistical fishing chart was updated as well.

Location: D&R Canal / Tenmile Run / Sixmile Run
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. / 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. / 12:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 23 Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
-- 19 Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
-- 1 Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
-- 5 Fallfish (Semotilus corporalis)
-- 2 Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
-- 5 Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)
-- 1 Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
-- 2 Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)

Video:

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

My 3rd outing of 2017! Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080p60)! If you enjoy watching my videos, please support my YouTube Channel by subscribing to it. More likes and more subscribes = more time to make videos .:)

Summary & Photos:

Since the weather for today was unusually nice for the Winter season, with a minimum of 46F and maximum of 66F, my friend Mike Caruso and I decided to go out and explore! After tinkering with Google Maps for quite a bit, we finally decided to choose the D&R Canal in New Jersey, which stands for the "Delaware & Raritan Canal." Our decision was based on a few factors: (1) considering two days of warm weather (>32F), we weren't entirely sure that all watersheds around us would be thawed; and (2) spillways and locks are amazing fishing spots for the Winter time. ;)

Now...truth be told, I have fished the D&R Canal one time in the past! Back in May 29th, 2014, my father and I went to the West Trenton portion of the canal for a day of Multi-Species fishing. We ended up catching a few Bluegill and Redbreast Sunfish. My father caught one Pumpkinseed, and a very unexpected Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Thus, when I say that my friend Mike and I decided to "go out and explore," I mean that we went to portions of the canal that both of us had never been to before. 

So, our quest started...

We met around 6:15 a.m.. Then, we went to our local tackle shop. We grabbed four dozens of shiners and a 24-pack of waxworms. We didn't need to buy nightcrawlers or corn because we already had them. Yes, sir -- as you probably deduced already, we were 100%  ready for a full day of Multi-Species fishing. So, after a whole night of research (a.k.a. googling and online articles), we set our GPS to the lock 10 location of the D&R Canal. According to many different "credible sources," a "very productive fishing spot."

Upon arrival (after an one hour drive), those credible sources disappointed us right away. What the NJ Parks and Recreation classified on their website as a public parking lot by the D&R trail turned out to be an abandoned private lot with "no parking signs" everywhere. Damn son...we were certainly frustrated for about five minutes or so! Thankfully, we had a back up plan (6-7 back up plans, actually)... 

Our backup plan was to drive further North for 6 miles and hit the Lock 11. We arrived there around 8:00 a.m.

A front view of the Lock 11, at the D&R Canal. Parking lot to the right.

A back view of the Lock 11, at the D&R Canal. Parking lot to the left.

I am not going to sugar coat it, fellas! The spot looked really neat. 7-8 feet deep above the lock, 5-6 feet deep below. Strong current right below the lock, with eddies at the end of the wall. Talking from a textbook perspective, that spot just had to hold fish!!!

Mike and I wasted no time. We immediately setup two rods each -- one with live shiner and one with jigheads. Our initial plan was to catch some Chain Pickerel (Esox niger) on the live shiners and some smaller Species of fish on the jigging rod -- Crappie, Panfish, Perch, etc. We stayed there for 90 minutes, and I will tell you one thing, reader: with each minute that passed and no bites whatsoever, our hopes and expectations diminished a bit. Hah. Once our watches hit 10:00 a.m., we were entirely burned out. "Screw those Chain Pickerel!" We decided to hit the road once again and try our luck elsewhere.

Our third pick of the day was a weird spot on Google Maps. From a satellite view (above), the location looked like a pond that connected to the canal. The problem was that the spot itself was located in the middle of the D&R trail, two miles away from the closest road/parking lot. In other words, we were talking about 30-35 minutes of walking to get to a spot that could be good or could be bad! Back and forth, that would mean spending 60-70 minutes just for that single place. I briefly mentioned to Mike that a satellite view was very little information to rely on; however, I also mentioned that I wanted to take a bet and check the spot out. We started to evaluate the pros and cons of hitting the place:

Pros: 
-- the place was far away from any parking lots and roads. Therefore, less people would hit it. Less people = less fishing pressure = more chances of catching fish.
-- from above, the spot looked like a little pond connected to the canal. Textbook fishing indicates that a watershed's inlets and outlets are often productive spots for fishing! 

Cons:
-- the only image that we had of the spot was from Google Maps, which is never a very accurate source for finding watersheds. The database itself is usually not up to date as well. In other words, there could be a possibility for the spot to be extremely shallow or even dry. 
-- from above, the spot looked very small in comparison to the canal. Smaller (and possibly shallower) watersheds tend to thaw slower when temperatures rise. In other words, the place could still be frozen and unfishable.

Thus, we were in a dilemma. Heh. But after much thinking, we decided to take the risk! And 35 minutes and 2 miles later, this is what we found:

A view of the Tenmile Run, which passes below the D&R Canal

For our surprise, the "pond in the map" actually turned out to be an entire different watershed! And even weirder -- one that passed below the canal. Summarizing -- the run didn't have any connections with the canal whatsoever. The curse of having a 1-dimensional image, folks. Haha. On a positive note, the place was almost all thawed out; therefore, it was fishable (YAY). So, once again...my friend and I did not waste any time!

As soon as I cast my first rod in the water, with a drop-shot/nightcrawler setup, I got a hit! Set the hook. Fish was on! The first fish that came up for me was a Largemouth Bass.

Fish #23 and my first Largemouth Bass of the year.

Many nightcrawlers, shiners, and waxworms later, Mike and I ended landing a few more Largemouth Bass, as well as a few Bluegill and Fallfish.

Fish #25 and my first Bluegill of the year.

Fish #26 and my first Fallfish of the year.

After landing more than a dozen fish, we truly started to realize the power of the small Creeks that passed under the D&R canal! I mean...we never really expected so many fish to be stacked there. And guess what?! The Tenmile Run wasn't the only Creek under the canal around those areas. A few miles from us was another similar watershed -- the Sixmile Run. Thus, once the action slowed down, we walked to the Sixmile Run for a little bit more of Creek Multi-Species/Micro fishing. Heh.

A view of the Sixmile Run. Very similar to the Tenmile Run, but wider and deeper.

Once we arrived at the Sixmile Run, we didn't really get any bites there for our first 30 minutes. I had one rod cast about 15 feet straightforward, high-low rig. Another rod with a float and a jighead. Mike had similar setups as well. It was around 1:30 p.m. that I decided to change strategies: I took my float out and jigged along the concrete walls of the Run. That is when I had a little surprise...

Right after dropping my jighead, I got a bite on the bottom! A Bluegill came up almost instantaneously:  

Fish #33. A Bluegill on a 1/64 oz. jighead, tipped with a piece of nightcrawler

I took advantage of the bite and dropped my jig once again in the same spot. Another Bluegill came up! I dropped my jig once again, and this time a Black Crappie came up:

Fish #35. A Black Crappie. Caught on the same setup described above.

The rest of the day was pretty much robotic, folks! After deciphering the pattern of the day, Mike and I caught fish after fish along the concrete walls of the Sixmile Run. Two and a half hours of packed action! Species included the Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), the Largemouth Bass, the Pumpkinseed, the Green Sunfish, the Fallfish, the Redbreast Sunfish, and even a hungry and feisty Common Carp that found its way to my jighead. :)

Fish #36. A Largemouth Bass.

Fish #40. A Pumpkinseed.

Fish #43. A Green Sunfish.

Fish #52. A Fallfish.

Fish #59. A Common Carp.

Fish #70. A Redbreast Sunfish

After 7:30 hours of fishing and a nice gamble, I ended my third outing of the year with 8 different Species of fish and a total of 58 fishes caught! Mike caught much less; however, he did end his day with a total of 6 different Species of fish, including two Golden Shiners that never showed up on my line today. :)

Overall, a very productive and blessed day!

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights!

Tight lines!

Sincerely,

Leo S. a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing.  

What's up, fellow anglers?

Here is my fishing report for January 11th, 2017. The statistical fishing chart was updated as well.

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. / 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- Nothing

Video:

Since I got skunked, there is no video for this fishing session. :)

Summary & Photos: 

Taking the warmer Winter weather in consideration -- 40F min/50F max, I decided to hit one of my favorite winter holes for fishing: the Kirkwood Lake in Lindenwold, NJ. Since I always did well in that spot during the Winter, I was actually pretty confident that I was going to catch something today. Boy, was I wrong...

After arriving at the spot, I wasn't too surprised to see that the Lake itself was still covered in ice. I mean...the weather was great around noon (~45F), but one day of warmth just wasn't enough to thaw a whole watershed. Especially one of that size, and one without any current in it! 

A view of the Kirkwood Lake (main Lake section). Even with the short warm weather, still unfishable. 

Thus, as always, I was forced to fish the portion below the Lake. The locals usually refer to it as "the culvert." I like to call it "the pipe." Heh.

One of my old YouTube videos, where I introduce my viewers to the spot known as "The Pipe." Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080)! If you enjoy watching my videos, please support my YouTube Channel by subscribing to it. More likes and more subscribes = more time to make videos.

A view of "The Pipe;" January of 2017.

The fact is that I never really did bad at that spot. That is why I decided to return, and why  I was so confident that I was going to catch some fish. Every past fishing session there, I caught at least a few Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). Or a few Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus). And sometimes an occasional Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). But not that day...That day, the water was crystal clear. Not only that, the water level was extremely low! Consequently, the water was really shallow (~2 feet deep)!   

So, you guys get the idea, right? Shallow and clear water during the Winter season = no fish. After spending two hours there without a single bite, I finally made my mind to hit another spot for the day.

I took the PATCO train back to Philadelphia. Hopped on Septa's Market-Frankford Line. Got off at the 30th street station. Ate some halal food for lunch and headed over to the Schuylkill River for some good old "whatever bites" type of fishing.

The "whatever bites" fishing style is often tricky. Here is a photo portraying how one should not fish on the Schuylkill River.

Needless to say, I was completely unprepared. I didn't have a net with me to land my fish from the Schuylkill River's brutal ten feet drop. I didn't have a rod holder for my single ultra-light rod, to keep it in place. And you guys just read it -- ultra-light: I had 4lbs KastKing fluorocarbon test line for whatever bit on it. Hah. 

Thankfully (or sadly), I didn't have to worry about any of that in the end! After all, after three brutal hours on the River, I ended my day without a single bite...A day full of promises, but not with fish!  

Best of luck to all of us! 

Long Days and Pleasant Nights!

Tight lines!

Sincerely,

Leo S. a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing 

I Caught my FIRST 2017 Fish! (01/10/17, Haddonfield, NJ)

What's up, fellow readers?

Here is my fishing report for January 10th, 2017. The statistical fishing chart was updated as well.

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 16 Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)
-- 3 Spottail Shiner (Notropis hudsonius)
-- 3 Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens)

Video:

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

My first outing of 2017! Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080p60)! If you enjoy watching my videos, please support my YouTube Channel by subscribing to it. More likes and more subscribes = more time to make videos.

Summary & Photos:

With the objective of catching my first fish of 2017 in mind, I decided to hit the spillways and the over-saturated waters of the Upper Cooper River in Haddonfield, NJ. After all, everyone knows that those places are the last ones to freeze over when Mother Nature is not so forgiving. Heh. With a minimum of 19F (-7ºC) and a maximum of 32F (0ºC), I really decided to give the place a shot.

I started my fishing adventure at the spillway that connects the Wallworth Lake with Evans Pond. With the exception of the little spillway, everywhere else was pretty much frozen solid. I set up two rods with slip-sinker setups, chummed the spillway with sweet corn kernels, and waited for some Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) action. Last but not least, I set up a third rod -- an ultra-light -- with a small 1/64 oz. ice fishing jighead, tipped with a small piece of nightcrawler.

A view of the Evan's Pond spillway. Still-fishing with two rods for Carp.

A view of the Wallworth Lake. Don't let your eyes fool you -- 95% of the photo here
is solid ice
  
I jigged and I jigged, and I jigged some more. I jigged the fish ladder. I jigged the pieces of structure around the area. I jigged on the bottom. I jigged one feet above the bottom. I jigged two feet above the bottom. And in the end, not a single bite. Once I realized that the jigging wasn't doing me any good, I added a float and jigged some more. :) After three hours of still-fishing and jigging, and not a single bite, I finally decided that it was time to move on. I decided to scout the Upper Cooper River below Driscoll Pond for some open water. On my way there, I wasn't too surprised to see the tundra at Hopkin's Pond. 

A view of the frozen Hopkin's Pond. Dead, folks. Dead.

After arriving at the Upper Cooper River, I was very pleased to see some open water. I wasted no time! Once again, I set up two rods with slip-sinker setups; however, this time, I baited both of them with pieces of nightcrawler. As for the third rod...the jigging remained.

A view of the Upper Cooper River, below Driscoll Pond. Due to its saturation level,
the River rarely freezes over entirely during the Winter

It was one hour after setting camp there that the first bite came. By then, I had grown tired of the jigging. Consequently, I had placed a float above the jighead, in hopes that some lost fish would hit my dead-sticking presentation. For my surprise, the bite was subtle! The float wobbled only a little bit. And then, the fish was gone...I was seriously pissed at my own laziness at that point! Hahaha

Thankfully, I got another hit seconds after the first one. I set the hook. Fish on! And as I was reeling in my first ever 2017 fish, my other rod was also getting a hit! That's right, folks...after four hours of no signs of fish whatsoever, the action was finally heating up! Sooner than I realized, I was reeling in Golden Shiner after Golden Shiner.

My first 2017 fish: a Golden Shiner! Greedy creature attacked my nightcrawler with a revenge 

I seriously thank the fish Gods for sending me that school of Golden Shiner. Heh. And on a serious note, being a Multi-Species angler paid off. After all, a Multi-Species angler is satisfied with anything that bites, regardless of sizes or Species. :) Among the Golden Shiner, I was also able to land a few Spottail Shiner and Yellow Perch.

A typical Yellow Perch from the Upper Cooper River. Typical = full of parasites. :)

A Spottail Shiner from the Upper Cooper River. Very strong colors during the winter.

And that is how my first fishing session of 2017 ended, folks. 22 fishes caught. 3 different Species of fish. Plenty of Golden Shiner! I couldn't ask for more! :) Even as I was leaving, the school of minnows was still there. And it may still be there for a while...So, if you are up for some fishing, why not hit the good old Upper Cooper River for some micro-fishing?! :P 

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights!

Tight lines!

Sincerely,

Leo S. a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing

Statistical Fishing Chart for 2017 (Last Update: 01/15/2017)

That is right, folks! The "Statistical Fishing Chart" is a feature that is back on the Extreme Philly Fishing Blog! Though, there will be a few changes to it, all of them noted below. :)

This will be my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2017. Every catch that I perform will be registered in terms of number, photo and Species. This will help me create a little "fishing diary" and keep scores and data along the year. This post will be updated regularly.

Before you read any further, here are a couple notes that you will want to take in consideration:

-- All fishes in this post were identified by Extreme Philly Fishing with the help of many primary sources and peer reviews. Primary sources include fish identification guides (i.e. Peterson, North America Freshwater Species, etc.) and peers include experts in the field of Multi-Species angling, all with a list of 200+ species under their name.

-- Some Species of fish here are identified using special methods. Those include microscope analysis for micro-fishes and special analysis of their physiology (i.e. anal fin count). The microscope that I use is a M500 series from AmScope.

If you want specific data on a certain Species, location, bait, or time of the catch, shoot me an e-mail: sheng12182527@gmail.com. If you believe that there are inconsistencies in this post, shoot me an e-mail as well. :)

Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2014
Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2013.
Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2012.

Last update/fishing session: 01/15/17

Days fished this year: 5
Maximum number of fish caught in a day: 58 (Tenmile Run/Sixmile Run - 01/12/17) 
Number of different species caught this year: 13
Number of NEW species caught this year: 0
TOTAL # of Fish caught in 2017: 107 (as for 01/15)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

Legend:

# = Number of fish of certain Species caught in 2017
Location caught = Where the portrayed fish of certain Species was caught (usually the biggest or most unusual of the year)
Date = When the portrayed fish of certain Species was caught

Format:

"-- Name (Species) -- #
Location caught - Date caught

Photo"


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) -- 32
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) -- 28
Tenmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) -- 1
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Fallfish (Semotilus corporalis) -- 5
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--
Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) -- 16
Upper Cooper River - 01/10/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) -- 2
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) -- 5
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) -- 1
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus) -- 2
Sixmile Run - 01/12/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Spottail Shiner (Notropis hudsonius) -- 3
Upper Cooper River - 01/10/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) -- 5
Pine Run Creek - 01/15/17



------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
White Perch (Morone americana) -- 4
Pine Run Creek - 01/15/17


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- 
Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) -- 3
Upper Cooper River - 01/10/17


The Fish Kill at Wehrspann Lake (Omaha, Nebraska)

Hello, Blog Readers! 

It has been quite a while, hasn't it? Anyways...

My thoughts today go to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for doing one of the most atrocious things that I have seen in the fishing media recently: an entire induced Rotenone fish kill in Wehrspann Lake, Omaha, Nebraska. And to emphasize: not to kill an invasive Species of fish, but to kill your regular Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum). 

Please read the original article here to get their point of view on this story. If you read the entire article, you already know what we are dealing with here: a governmental agency that believes that it did the right thing for the environment. But did they really evaluate all of their options?

Hundreds of dead Gizzard Shad on the shores of Wehrspann Lake, Omaha, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Dylan Patterson

The main question here is: "is poisoning our watersheds really the most plausible solution available to us when it comes to eradicating certain Species of fish?" Apparently, Nebraska thinks so. The Nebraska Game & Parks points out that rotenone treatments have worked well for them in the past. They continue their argument by giving an example of a past rotenone induced kill for the Goldfish Species (Carassius auratus) -- an invasive type of fish in the state of Nebraska. Thus, due to the success of their past poisonings, they truly believe that Wehrspann Lake will once again flourish in the long term future.  

Now, here is a fact for all folks out there. Sadly, when it comes to applying rotenone to a certain watershed, results truly vary from environment to environment. Fishery Biologists and Ichthyologists can only predict, but even the best predictions still result in uncertainties. The reason for that is simple: when it comes to the science of poisoning a specific area, there are too many dependent variables involved. For example: the size of the watershed, the total number of biomass, etc. So, as one can see, the damage of chemical agents such as the rotenone is truly unpredictable. 

As a matter of fact, rotenone worked a little bit too well in Wehrspann Lake. Not only the populations of Gizzard Shad were reduced, other fish Species suffered as well. In the end, bigger game-fish started to eat poisoned Gizzard Shad, dying in the process. That included good sized Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), Walleye (Sander vitreus), as well as Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), among other Species. But worry not, fellas -- according to the NE G&P Commission, that was all within their calculations. In other words, "a small sacrifice for a greater good."

A beautiful Walleye, dead due to the consumption of poisoned Gizzard Shad. Photo Credit: Dylan Patterson

This is a type of mistake that society has been doing for a long time: to not fix the problem at its root. And it is time to stop. 

To exemplify, take the Crofton Pond incident in Maryland, back in 2002. That was when the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) fever truly began in the United States of America. Governmental agencies were terrified of this new Species of fish that made its way all the way from Asia. Mass hysteria surfaced among local communities, and then, spread to a national level. According to the government, their propagation had to be interrupted; therefore, their extermination was imminent.

A typical Northern Snakehead -- an invasive Species of fish in the United States of America 

To eradicate the Northern Snakeheads from the face of Maryland, the local Game Commission decided to poison the whole Crofton Pond with rotenone to kill them. Did they die? Absolutely not. It was quite ironic, as a matter of fact. Every other Species in the Pond died, with the exception of Snakeheads. Ultimately, they had to dredge the Pond to kill the Northern Snakeheads, killing the entire local ecosystem as well. Another "small sacrifice for the greater good."

Was that the solution? Northern Snakeheads were indeed eradicated from Crofton Pond, among everything else. However, the mass hysteria did not cease. And anglers didn't learn. In other words, people still illegally introduced the Northern Snakehead to their local watersheds and people still feared this Species of fish. A little bit more than a decade later, it is known that this Species of fish has propagated to open bodies of water, meaning that they will never be entirely eradicated within the United States of America now. They can be found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., among other states as well.

Another example is Newton Lake in New Jersey -- one of the many lakes that get an annual dose of Captain algaecide. Comes the summer of every year, the green layer of algae can be seen throughout the entire watershed. The government solution? Apply the algaecide and kill it all. Year after year, the local government agency has spent thousands of dollars to control the algae population in numerous ponds and lakes in New Jersey, with little to no avail. Year by year, the problem seemed to worsen.    

Newton Lake during Summer of 2012

My question for all those governmental agencies is: "Where is the greater good?" Instead of educating a whole generation of anglers on the consequences of releasing invasive Species of fish, they go and kill entire ecosystems. Instead of educating society on how to avoid using chemicals on their lawns that produce algae blooms or flushing down liquids through their toilets, they go and waste thousands of tax payer dollars on temporary solutions that don't work. Similarly, with Wehrspann Lake, instead of using methods that would spare other Species of fish and target the Gizzard Shad specifically, they go and consciously waste precious resources that we -- anglers -- could all have used.    

Ultimately, poisoning watersheds is never the ultimate solution to a problem.

So, what exactly could the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission have done instead of applying the rotenone agent in the Wehrspann Lake? Well, here are just some of the ideas...

1. Use an extensive netting system to reduce the population of Gizzard Shad from the Lake. It is well known among anglers out there that Gizzard Shad can be caught in nets. As a matter of fact, many Catfish charters and guides in the market know that nothing beats a good cut fresh Shad for trophy Catfish. Therefore, during the mornings, they tend to net their bait first -- a single man operation. If they are able to do that and catch a few Shad as bait, the Game and Parks Commission could have hired people to do some major netting in the Lake, targeting specifically the Shad. No other Species would have died in the process. Netting is a lengthy and time consuming process with no major side effects, and yet it was completely disregarded as an option.

2. Stock the watershed with "numbers" of predatory Species to thin out bait fish. An expensive way (note on the expensive) of getting rid of huge populations of baitfish within a watershed is to stock the same with bigger fish -- predatory fish -- that will eventually eat out smaller Species of fish. In this case, the Gizzard Shad. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission could have stocked some extra Largemouth Bass or Walleye into the Lake and just let the time pass, constantly checking on the population number of Gizzard Shad. This would be a very expensive and extensive program, since fish stockings require a lot of money. However, again -- no other resources would have been wasted.

3. Nothing. That is correct, folks. Another option for the NE G&P was to do absolutely nothing. Nature just functions properly without the interference of human folks. A huge population of a certain Species of fish usually ends with stunted populations, since food supply is on demand. After the spawning of each year, more fish die due to starvation. Those that survive become stunted, which then become prey for bigger Species of fish. 

So, why didn't they do any of these three? These next paragraphs are only an assumption (subjective), of course. So, you may draw your own conclusions from it. Personally, I believe that they didn't do option (1) and (2) because they didn't want to spend too much money and time in the eradication of Gizzard Shad. In other words, they went with the most efficient, but also the most destructive method to save cash and save time. Therefore, the excuse of "small sacrifice for a greater good." As for option (3), they clearly did something because they wanted the ecosystem to change. It seems to me that they really wanted to favor the populations of Largemouth Bass in the Lake, according to their own writings and responses on social media. That is exactly why they didn't care much about the death of Catfish and Walleye in the Lake, which are two sought after game-fishes in the country. Sadly, option (3) has more to do with local fishing culture; after all, the Bass angling is a fever in the United States of America. 

Anyways...what is done is done. The damage is already here and the rotenone is already in the water. Personally, I think that even with the poisoning, the NE G&P could have done a better job. They could have asked us for our advice instead of keeping the project in secrecy. They could have introduced slot limits for each Species of fish and encouraged anglers to catch and take, since many of them would die anyways. They could have hired people to fish and transport more fishes from Wehrspann Lake to another Lake, instead of just salvaging a mere 170 adult Walleyes. And so on.

Let this event at Wehrspann Lake be a wide example to other government agencies across the country, so that this mistake is not repeated. And finally, let it be understood that although poisoning a watershed is an effective way of killing a certain target organism, there exists other options out there with less side effects.

Now, this below is just my personal rant...

From a Multi-Species angler's and sportsman's perspective, this whole rotenone poisoning at Wehrspann Lake was a waste of money and resources. The goals of eradicating the Gizzard Shad for the sustenance of certain targeted Species of fish make it a disrespectful and selfish act towards those who enjoy catching different Species of fish. Let me remind all government agencies out there that we -- the anglers and sportsmen of this country -- are the ones who support the overall sport of fishing. We fish legally by supporting our state and purchasing a fishing license. We support the fishing market with our fishing gear and our fishing trips. Therefore, we would also appreciate if government agencies enlightened us with their projects and plans before doing so. This is not only for Nebraska, but for every state out there. 

If frustrates me when I see this kind of stuff on the media, mainly because I am always teaching others about how valuable our resources are. I teach kids and adults alike about the concepts of selective harvest and catch-and-release. I talk to people about releasing trophy fish instead of eating them or stuffing them, so that those fish can pass down their wonderful genetics for possibly bigger fish in the future. I always encourage anglers to follow the rules and regulations of their state, so that they can be role models for future generations to come. 

What is Extreme Philly Fishing going to say when someone comes to it and says: "I have released trophy fish for 5 years, followed your advice on selective harvest and not littering, and the government just poisoned and killed a bunch of trophy fish in my local watershed in one day." 

So, please, government agencies out there...live up to your reputation.

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S. (a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing)