Hello, Blog Readers!

A couple years ago I decided to write a technical fishing post on fish hibernation, since many people sent me e-mails and asked me questions about whether fish hibernated or not. After hours and hours of research and writing, I created a well balanced post with plenty of empirical evidence. Today we will be doing something very similar to that! 

--- Introduction ---

Over the years, I've received much criticism from readers and fellow anglers about "how to properly play a fish." Scientifically speaking, those people were concerned about my "angling duration" and its consequences to released fish. By definition, the angling duration would be the amount of time that it takes to play the fish and reel it in. I would assume that people watched my YouTube videos and read about my fishing preferences (i.e. lighter tackle for bigger fish), eventually starting to get worried about the fish's safety after release. 

The fact is that a huge part of the angling community nowadays practices what is know as C&R or CPR: "Catch & Release; Catch-Photo-Release." That is certainly a wonderful thing! As the famous fly fisherman Lee Wulff mentioned one day: "The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?" Indeed! If we want to maintain good fishing for future generations, catch and release is certainly the way to go. So...we go outdoors, catch our fish, take photos, put them back in the water, and we go home proud of ourselves for doing so. We are referred to as a breed of "Catch and Release Anglers." Everything sounds perfectly fine, doesn't it? However, let's think about the fish for a moment: what exactly happens to that fish after it is released? Is it really going to heal from its experience and survive, so it can be caught again according to Lee Wulff's words?

My obvious answer would be "I hope so," and truth be told: in most cases we won't know because we will not be able to see what happens to it after its release. As catch and release anglers, we can only hope that the fish will live and survive to tell its tale. Because we have no certainties when it comes to its fate, we have adopted "trends" in order to maximize the fish's chances of survival. Those trends include the basics of safe fish handling and proper CPR, such as wetting your hands before touching the fish; exposing the fish to air for as little as possible; restricting the fish from bouncing over rough structure; using barbless hooks to avoid extreme injuries; etc. It would certainly be a shame if our released fishes died because we failed to comply with those trends! If that happened all the time, we would have become hypocrites in disguise and the meaning of Catch-Photo-Release would be worthless.

Anyways...It so happens that angling duration is also a dependent variable when it comes to the released fish's survival. Therefore, the question that we will be analyzing is a very different and interesting one: should we force-play our catches and fight them for as little as possible, so their chances of surviving after release are higher? Keep that question in mind as you read through this post. :)

Fighting a fish is certainly a joy for every angler! Every second of it is pure adrenaline! However, how much does each one of those seconds damage the fish afterwards? After we release them, will they really recover from the fight and live to be caught another day?

--- Contents ---

This post will be divided in the following sections:

--- The Proper Ways of Catch-and-Release ---
--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens during the fight? ---
--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens after the release? ---
--- To Play or not to Play the Fish ---
--- Conclusion ---

Note: You may jump to certain section anytime by use of the search engine: press Ctrl+F and type the whole line in the search tab.

--- The Proper Ways of Catch-And-Release ---

As mentioned previously, C&R is not as simple as it may sound! Simply catching a fish and putting it back without any sort of consideration for its afterward health is not proper C&R. Never forget, anglers: the main objective of practicing C&R is to ensure the fish's safety after release. There is no point in practicing it if the fish dies a couple hours later. Without fish, there is no fishing. Period. 

According to the Ichthyology literature, there are five "general trends" to preserve fish populations in our waters: (A) reel the fish in as fast as possible to prevent exhaustion and lactic acid build up in fish; (B) leave the fish outside of the water for as little as possible to prevent anoxia; (C) avoid targeting specific sensitive/soft Species (i.e. Walleye, Trout, Salmon, etc) during high water temperature levels to minimize mortality; (D) use barbless hooks and lures to avoid extreme tissue damage and bleeding in fish; and (E) avoid targeting fish during their respective spawning seasons to preserve its future populations. 

I'll be very sincere with you folks: from these 5 trends, I follow 4 of them religiously (as for 04/18/15). The only one that I don't yet follow is (D), and that is about to change -- I just ordered a nice batch of barbless hooks from Gamakatsu and I'll test them to see how it goes. The problem with barbless hooks nowadays is that it's hard to find a good brand/supplier with high quality and low prices...hopefully this will change as time passes.

Regarding (A), this is the main topic for this post and I'll make sure to include my point of view at the end of it. However, just so everyone knows, I don't power-play big fish; however, I do reel the fish in as fast and comfortable as I possibly can to prevent full exhaustion. The release is then followed by proper fish reviving. The PA Fish and Boat Commission offers a really good guide on it.

Regarding (B), I time myself to keep air exposure to a minimum. Smaller Species are thrown back after a quick photo and most of my catches do not pass the 2 minutes margin for bigger fish. If the fishing environment and circumstances allow, I try to unhook the fish as closer to the water as possible (if not in it).

Regarding (C), I don't intentionally target Species of fish that have a high mortality rate under high water temperature levels. Some of our local "soft/sensitive" Species include the Walleye and Wild/Stocked Trout.  

Regarding (E), years ago I used to target spawning populations of Largemouth Bass without knowing about its consequences. After reading several research papers and consulting the law, I no longer target bedding Bass or any other bedding Species. Targeting bedding Bass is not only bad for its future populations (this will be discussed further below), but it's also illegal in PA. I'll copy and paste the entire sentence from the hyperlink that was given above: "It is not a violation of the bass regulations if a bass is immediately returned unharmed to the waters from which it was taken. It is unlawful for an angler to cast repeatedly into a clearly visible bass spawning nest or redd in an effort to catch or take bass."

Summarizing, as a conscientious C&R angler I recommend all anglers to follow as many of these trends as possible. If you truly love the sport and love the fish that you catch, I'm sure that you will be able to make a couple efforts to maximize their survival rate. After all, it's just in our human nature to do what is best for what we love.

--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens during the fight? ---

It's time for some science talk, folks. In order to explore this "angling duration" topic to a full extent, I'll have to guide you through some basic fish anatomy and physiology. After all, without knowing what exactly is happening inside of a fish during a fight, one can't possibly define the angling duration to be "too long" or "too short." 

I promise you that I'll try to keep this as informative and exciting as possible! Please keep in mind that I did take college level courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Molecular Biology; therefore, I do have an idea of what I am talking about here. Heh.

So...you got the bite and set the hook! Fish on!!! If it's a big one, soon the drag starts to scream, meaning that the fish is trying its best to swim away from you. You pump it up; start gaining ground, and soon the fish is at your disposition -- ready to be scooped up. This is exactly what I remember from all those Rapala fishing video games. As a matter of fact, most old school fishing games had a little "energy bar" for the fish at the top. Ultimately, the objective of the game would be to "tire the fish" by depleting its "energy bar," so you could bring in your catch.

If you think about it, reeling in a fish is the same thing as giving it plenty of exercise! From a video game perspective, the fish starts with 100% of its available energy (full bar). The main difference between the video game scenario and real life catching lies in the fact that by the end of the real life fight, the fish's remaining energy will actually depend on how long the fish fought for! In other words, the fish's energy doesn't necessary have to be totally depleted for the angler to land the fish (having a net always helps in this case).


Here is a screenshot of Marine Fishing by the Sega console (2000). The bar on the bottom represents the amount of "energy" left in the fish. Once the bar is depleted, the fish is "tired out." 

Now, let's convert this video game scenario to proper Biology! It's well known in the body of C&R research that angling duration is directly proportional to physiological disturbance. Therefore, the longer you play the fish, more exercise it will have to do. More exercise results in more physiological changes, such as increased heart ratio and depletion of energy stores. The main question here, however, is "what type" of exercise are we talking about. In the field of Biology, there are two types of exercises: aerobic and anaerobic

Aerobic exercises are "light" exercises where the organism can use its oxygen as a source of fuel/energy. From a human being point of view, that would be the same as walking or jogging at a pace. Your heart ratio and your breathing spikes; however, oxygen can still be carried from your breath to your muscles, empowering your cells to sustain the strain. From a fish's perspective, that would be a fish swimming in the Lake at a constant velocity. For aerobic exercises, lactic acid is not produced and built up in muscles. In other words, the organism doesn't really get "sore" the next day.

Anaerobic exercises are "heavy" exercises where the organism can no longer use oxygen as a source of fuel/energy. From a human being point of view, that would be the same as sprinting -- running at full speed for a short amount of time. At this point, oxygen alone is not enough to provide the organism the energy it needs. Therefore, glycogen -- the "storage form" of glucose -- gets used instead. From a fish's perspective, that would be a fish giving short swimming bursts in pursuit of its prey. For anaerobic exercises, lactic acid is formed as a product of glycogen depletion. Since glycogen is mainly stored in the muscles, its byproduct builds up over time. The lactic acid is actually what is responsible for the "soreness" and "fatigue" that happens the next day.

For those who are more visual, here is a nice diagram of the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle:


A nice homemade diagram of the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle. Glucose is transformed into Lactic Acid during anaerobic exercise, resulting in the production of some ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Over time, the lactic acid slowly gets transferred to the blood stream and then to the liver, where it's transformed once again into Glucose. The transformation of Lactic Acid into Glucose is called Gluconeogenesis, and it requires ATP.
  
Thus, you should know by now that those "swimming bursts" that fish do when we play them are an example of anaerobic exercise. In other words, oxygen alone is no longer enough to sustain all the strain from the exercise. The fish's swimming bursts are driven by their white muscles, resulting in the depletion of their energy storage. Every time a fish pulls your drag or bents your rod, a little bit of its Phosphocreatines -- the fish's version of glycogen/energy storage -- and ATP are depleted. The fish also suffers from lactic acid build up in their muscles. Therefore, the longer you play them, more "sore" and "fatigued" they will get afterwards.

--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens after the release? ---

Now you already know exactly what happens to a fish when you are playing it. Summarizing it, the fish goes through a stage of intense anaerobic exercise. It uses its energy storage (i.e. phosphocreatines and ATP) for short swimming bursts, which in consequences causes lactic acid build up in their muscles. In the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle diagram, that would be exactly what is happening on the right side of it.

Then, as one would expect, the left side of the diagram would be the "recovery time" for the fish: when the lactic acid gets transported from the muscles to the liver and something similar to gluconeogenesis happens (in fish, the lactic acid would be transformed once again into phosphocreatines in their liver). It's also at this stage that the fish takes its time to rest and recharge its energy storage. As bad as it may sound, this "healing stage" is really the same as having a crippled fish with low immune system during the amount of time that it takes to heal.

Since the fish is released with almost all of its storage depleted and a high amount of stress, the same doesn't really have the necessary energy to even feed after release. Can you imagine then if it were spawning season or migration season for the fish that you caught? Then, as mentioned in (E) way above, that would be extremely damaging for its offspring: in terms of migration, it would get delayed for that specific fish; in terms of protecting a nest during spawning season, the fish wouldn't even have the strength to chase away predators. If we were talking specifically about a bedding Largemouth Bass, the Sunfish would be all over its eggs and daddy wouldn't be able to do a thing until after a while.  

Therefore, ultimately, the main problem lies in the amount of time necessary for this healing process to happen. Most anglers tend to believe that the released fish will recover in a matter of thirty minutes or so and it will be as good as new! Well...it doesn't quite turn out to be that way. As a specific example, a research conducted in 2006 showed that it takes a Largemouth Bass as much as 12 hours after release to go back to its normal resting state, taking in consideration an angling duration of 5 minutes. Now, of course nobody really takes 5 minutes to reel in a Largemouth Bass. Therefore, using mathematics, we can estimate that it takes the fish as much as 2-3 hours to recover for an angling duration of 1 minute! Notice that this data can only be applied for the Largemouth Bass, as the healing time varies from Species to Species. 

The healing time not only varies from Species to Species, but also varies according to the different dependent variables that we have mentioned before -- the "trends." In other words, a fish that was exposed to air for a long time, after fighting an intense fight, miss handled, and perhaps dropped on the floor, will heal much slower than a fish that fought for a shorter time and was handled correctly. That's exactly why we want to follow these trends for proper C&R, so that the fish heals as fast as it can. Eventually, that includes reeling in the fish as fast and comfortably as possible, so that its energy storage is not completed depleted after release.

--- To Play or not to Play the Fish ---

After all this Biology talk, everything boils down to our main question: can we actually take our time and "play" the fish and still ensure that it survives after we release it? And the answer is: it depends. Before going deeper in this subject, here is a list of mortality ratios by Species from a research conducted in 1994 by Muoneke and Childress:


Table 1: mortality rate range after release for recreational fishing using a hook and live bait (not artificial lures). The dependent variables in the study were water temperature, salinity, depth, and oxygen available.  

Note that this table is not entirely accurate because each data entry was taken from a different research paper. In other words, Muoneke and Childress pretty much compiled a bunch of research papers on hooking mortality in the field of recreational angling. The dependent variables for each individual research were not the same! For example: in one research, they may have used treble hooks. In another research, they may have used j-hooks. In one research, the local water temperature may have been 60F. In another research, water temperatures were around 40F. The usage of live bait was the only dependent variable that was the same for all the data on this table. In conclusion, this table is only useful for us to see how "sensitive" a species of fish is in comparison to another. No other conclusions should be drawn from it.

From the table, we clearly see that some Species are more sensitive than others. A higher mortality ratio indicates more sensitivity. The Trout family, for example, has a natural higher mortality compared to other Species of fish. The lowest mortality ratios were from the Esox family (i.e. Pike, Muskellunge) and the Smallmouth Bass, probably because the researches were conducted in places where water temperature was low (recall: higher water temperatures result in less oxygenated water; therefore, higher stress on the fish). On the other hand, Channel Catfish came up with a pretty high mortality rate, probably because the research took in consideration the amount of fish who swallowed their hooks. Largemouth Bass and Striped Bass got a whooping 56% and 69% mortality ratio, since we were dealing with live bait and not artificial lures (for artificial lures, their mortality ratio decreased drastically).

Summarizing...As one can see, it turns out that it's not as simple as expected when it comes to caring for our fishes' survival. A person can't simply barge in and tell someone that "he is killing the fish for playing it too long." Ultimately, it really depends on what type of fish is being targeted; what type of gear and technique is the person using; what time of the year is he fishing; what is the level of oxygen in the water; if he is following proper C&R procedures; etc. Too many dependent variables!!! So, I hope you folks get the idea when I say that "it depends." Should you play the fish or force-fish it? Does it decrease its mortality rate after you release it? It really depends!

--- Conclusion ---

Different Species of fish have different sensitivity when it comes to different stressors in the field of Catch-and-Release fishing. However, one thing is certain: despite the Species, an angler should reel in the fish as fast and comfortably as possible! In other words, one should always try to minimize angling duration. That doesn't necessarily mean "force-playing" the fish -- it means to land the fish at a first opportunity without wasting any additional time. Fishing accessories such as a net should be used.

Force-playing a fish should definitely be practiced under extreme circumstances or while fishing for smaller Species of fish. For example: fighting a sensitive fish Species (i.e. Walleye) or post-spawn fish during high water temperature levels; or Micro-Fishing in a Creek. That is to prevent too much Lactic Acid build up in their white muscles and depletion of energy sources such as phosphocreatines and ATP, so that the released fish can return to normal functioning as soon as possible. Sensitive fish will be able to have enough oxygen to recover and smaller fishes will have enough energy to run away from predators.  

To maximize the survival rate of released fish, a Catch-and-Release angler should also be pro-efficient with the other trends related to safe fish handling: wetting its hands before handling the fish; keeping the fish outside of the water for a limited amount of time; constraining the fish from injuring itself; using gear that prevents the fish from swallowing the hook; etc. A proper revival for bigger and trophy fish should be practiced until the fish has enough energy to swim away on its own (the process may take up to 5 minutes).

If all of these notes are taken, an angler should have absolutely no problem playing a fish comfortably, enjoying the fight and the entertainment that angling provides, all while ensuring the fish's safety after release.


After a long and intense fight with a good fish, just putting it back isn't enough. If circumstances allow, bigger fish should not be "splashed" back in the water. They should be placed in the water and gently revived.  

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/05 - Fishing for Trout at the Pennypack with Spinners

Hello, Blog Readers!

As you all may or may not be aware of, I keep a very organized tab of all fishes that I catch every year. And by that I mean every single one of them. That's what I call my Statistical Fishing Chart. In the eyes of a Multi-Species angler like myself, every fish is unique. In other words, there is no "discrimination" when it comes to their sizes or appearances. To ensure that all these Species will thrive and survive in their natural habitats -- from micro-species to game fish -- I tend to handle them very carefully and practice CPR: "Catch, Photo, and Release."

Now...you may be wondering: "why are you telling us all of this stuff?" Well...I am telling you all of this stuff to not give away a wrong impression of my fishing style (i.e. Multi-Species fishing). If you have been reading my Blog for a while or you know me personally, then it's all good! However, if you are a first timer here and you don't know my ideology very well -- then I don't want you to have the wrong impression of my fishing ideologies. 

Anyways...recently I've posted 2 videos of Trout on my YouTube Channel and soon I started to receive interesting e-mails. People were simply curious as to why I didn't release those Trout, since I release almost everything else. The fact is that I release about 95% of my annual catch -- keeping few fish for table fare or bait. And stocked Trout is within the 5% of fish that I actually take home to eat. I just wanted to make this clear to all my Blog readers, Facebook followers, and YouTube viewers.

Therefore, overall, I do follow the practices of CPR and selective harvest. And I do believe that stocked Trout are better off in a plate. Heh. As a matter of fact, I will leave this very amusing article for those who are interested in Stocked Trout.    

And now, here's is my fishing report for April 5th: 

--- April 5th, 2015 ---

Location: Pennypack Creek (PA)
Time: 7:00-10:00 a.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 4 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
-- 1 Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

The video is about 8 minutes long. I've divided it in 2 parts: setup goes up to 1:00 and the rest is fishing! It takes a long long time to actually edit these videos and upload them in 1080p50 quality (HD quality); therefore, if you like them, please like the video and subscribe to the Channel. That would be very well appreciated. 

As mentioned in the video, my game for the 2nd day of the Trout Season was to use an in-line Spinner. Just so everyone knows, my game plan for stocked Trout never changes! Every year is the same thing: Power Bait or corn during the first day; in-line spinners and Power Bait during the season; and Gulp! Alive 1" Minnows and corn late in the season.

For the second day of the Trout Season, I decided to go with my favorite in-line spinner: a Thomas E.P. series, nickel/gold color. My setup consisted of an Ultra-light Daiwa Spinmatic rod, a Shimano Sedona 500FD, 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line, and as mentioned above, a Thomas "Easy-Spin" series in-line spinner, nickel/gold color, 1/8 oz.. 

Many people have been asking me lately why the Thomas E.P. series spinner is my favorite. First of all, I've used a lot of different brands in the market and I can say that the E.P. series spinner has a very good quality and finishing touch for its price. I've used many in-line spinners from Panther Martin, C.P. Swing, Mepps, etc, and I still prefer this particular one from Thomas Fishing Lures. After watching the video, you guys may have been aware that I can actually cast pretty far with the 1/8 oz.! Distance is very important when it comes to Trout fishing. Also, it doesn't only catch Trout, but it catches different Species of fish. For a Multi-Species angler like me, this is a very important factor. I've caught Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), Fallfish (Semotilus corporalis), Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Chain Pickerel (Esox niger), different types of Sunnies (Lepomis spp.), and even Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) on this little fella! So, I guess you guys understand now why I hold it so dear.

Of course it's not just about the Spinner! The lure is certainly important, but it will always remain incomplete without its appropriate technique. Therefore, a certain level of expertise is necessary for the lure to work. Similar to what I did in this post, there's a Microsoft Paint diagram below for the in-line spinner, for a better understanding:   

As portrayed in the diagram, the current flows to the right. Do you notice how the spinners are actually behind the fish? The ideal situation would be to tie a Spinner with very thin line (i.e. 4lbs test) and cast it over the Trout (so you don't spook them). The speed of the retrieve determines which layer your lure will be in: if the retrieve is too slow, the lure will end in the Hypolimnion and you will eventually get snagged; if the retrieve is too fast, the lure will end in the Epilimnion and you will eventually not get bites. The goal is to keep your lure inside the Thermocline, so that the fish will actually see it and bite it.

Using the technique described above, I limited out after half an hour or so. My Brother-in-Law tagged along with me in the morning, finishing his day with two Trout on Power Bait. Photos are below:

Here's a photo of the only Brown Trout of the day, also the last one caught in the video. 

My Brother-in-Law with his Rainbow Trout, caught on a piece of yellow Power Bait.

A nice scenery photo of the fallen tree below the Roosevelt Boulevard Dam. This is actually another well known spot for Trout and boy...you gotta have dedication to climb and sit on the tree! Anglers usually cast their spinners from the opposite side. 

In the end, my Brother-in-Law and I finished with 7 Trout total: 6 Rainbow and 1 Brown.

Stay tuned for more Trout reports, folks! There will be a report on the East Branch Brandywine Creek and another one on Stony Creek coming up soon. I will also be uploading a couple more Trout videos on my YouTube Channel this week -- some of them with Trout being released actually (since I caught my limit for those days).

Best of luck for all of us, 

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/04 - Fishing for Trout at the Pennypack Creek with Power Bait

Hello, Blog Readers! 


I've added 9 new photos to the Public Fishing Album on my Facebook Page. As a reminder, anyone can submit photos! If interested, you may click here for more information.

Now, here is my fishing report for April 4th -- the first day of Trout Season in Philadelphia County;

--- April 4th, 2015 ---

Location: Pennypack Creek
Time: 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 4 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
-- 1 Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

Below are the highlights of this fishing session:

The video is about 30 minutes long. I've divided it in 3 parts: Introduction goes up to 4:45; Setup goes up to 9:45; and the rest is fishing!

This was actually my 4th consecutive year fishing the Trout opening day in Philadelphia, PA. It just so happens that every year I hit the same location: the Pennypack Creek between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue. Instead of describing the whole scenery and the "chaos" of the Trout opener, here are some shots from 2011 to 2015:

Trout Opening in 2012:

Compared to the other years, the amount of people in 2012 wasn't as high. Note, however, the green scenery in the beginning of April. On April 5th, 2012, water and air temperatures were between 50-55 degrees! 
  
Trout Opening in 2013:

Here's a nice view of the "chaos" during the first day of Trout season at the Pennypack Creek. In comparison to 2012, everything was just starting to bloom. On March 30th, 2013, water and air temperatures were between 45-50 degrees.

A nice scenery view of the Roosevelt Boulevard dam -- one of the deepest spots around the Creek.

A nice collection of anglers wading a deep hole under one of the bridges between Roosevelt Boulevard and Rhawn Street.

A pack of anglers under the Rhawn Street bridge.

Trout Opening in 2014:

Moments before 8 a.m. on March 29th, 2014! Same dry branch as in the photo from 2013. Same weather. Same crowd. Same chaos! 

A nice scenery view of the Roosevelt Boulevard Dam from above the small metal bridge.

And, as always, the Roosevelt Boulevard dam was packed. Heh.

Trout Opening for this year:

Air and water temperatures around 50 degrees. This year I did a "head count" for the area around the dam: ~50 people total! Quite insane, right? 

As mentioned in the video, some folks decided to step up this year! Apart from all the BBQing and stuff, they even brought in a tent. 

Minutes after 8 a.m. :)

If you watched the whole video, you should already be familiar with all the technical information that I'm going to write here. Just in case, though, let me emphasize some of the fishing jargon. For the first day of the Trout season, I decided to go with the traditional Power Bait. My setup was very simple: ultralight Daiwa Spinmatic rod with a Shimano Sedona 2500 FD; 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line with 3 small split shots and a size #8 Eagle Claw hook. 

For Power Bait, I decided to pick my favorite color: beige. And no additional scents or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I've tested all different colors of Power Bait and I came to the conclusion that the beige, yellow, and white colors work best! And this is definitely not biased -- the fish may actually connect the beige/yellow color of the Power Bait with whatever they used to eat back in the hatcheries. Also, as an additional note, two of the Trout's favorite foods are kind of beige/yellowish: meal worms and corn. Think about it...

As mentioned in the video, I decided to use three split shots instead of one because the current was a little bit faster than usual (due to the rain from the previous day). The regular setup involves only one split shot with a small hook (#6-#12) and 4lbs test line. In other words, "as finesse as possible," as Bass anglers would say. That's usually the way to counter the Trout's top wariness.

Finally, I decided to leave a space of 6 inches between the split shots and the hook. That's because I truly believed that those 6 inches would help my Power Bait stay in the Thermocline. For those who are not familiar, the Thermocline is the water layer between the Epilimnion (a.k.a. "surface layer") and the Hypolimnion (a.k.a. "bottom layer"), and that's where certain Species of game fish hang and feed at. Different watersheds have different thermoclines, since it's based on water depth and water temperature. For a better understanding, I drew a diagram on Microsoft Paint:

As portrayed in the diagram, the current flows to the right. Do you notice how the Power Bait doesn't stay 90 degrees above the split shot? That's due to the force of the current and the amount of line after the split shots (there's a lot of Physics involved here, folks). The goal is to keep your bait inside the Thermocline, so that the fish will actually see and bite it. 

Using the technique described above, I limited out in 20 minutes or so. Photos are below:

Beautiful Rainbow Trout.

My five fish for the day. By now, they are already cleaned and ready to be smoked!

Little Brown Trout.

Stay tuned for more Trout reports, folks! There will be some additional videos coming up on my Youtube Channel as well.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Hello, Readers! 

Today I'm bringing you guys my short fishing report for April 3rd:

--- April 3rd, 2015 ---

Location: Schuylkill River
Time: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 1 Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)

Below are the highlights of this fishing session, in video form: 

Readers -- nothing too exciting happens in this video. Heh. There's actually only one fish in it. Thus, if you want to jump directly to the catching part, go to 7:50. 

Even with all the rain, I decided to do some Multi-Species fishing on the tidal Schuylkill River (around the South Street Bridge). As portrayed in the video, I set up one rod with cut American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) and two rods with nightcrawlers. Setup number one consisted of 20lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line, a 2oz. egg sinker, Eagle Claw snap-swivel, nylawire, and a Gamakatsu 5/0 circle hook. Setup number two consisted of a high-low rig with Spiderwire Invisibraid, three way swivels, different sized Eagle Claw snelled hooks and a 2oz. river sinker.


Here is a nice view of my setup: the rod on the left was hooked with American Eel. The photo portrays the tidal Schuylkill River right next to the South Street Bridge in Center City.


My original plan was to do some Multi-Species fishing around the Promenade stretch of the Schuylkill River. Unfortunately, the plan didn't go as expected: after 5 hours of fishing, I was only able to land a 1.5lber Channel Catfish! The photo of the sacred beast is below. Heh.

The only fish of the day: a 1.5lber Channel Catfish. On the positive side, I avoided the skunk. Hehe.

In reality, I had many bites throughout the day (about 6 total). Therefore, it wasn't exactly the fishes' fault. Heh. Anyways...here are a couple bonus photos that I took after my session, during the low tide:

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" A Northern Mockingbird was picking small pieces of wood for its closeby nest. Beautiful little creature! 

A scenery view of the outlet close to the South Street Bridge. The same is portrayed in the video around 8:10. When the tide is low, one can actually see some Channel Catfish and Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) swimming in and out of that outlet. Very neat. 

A scenery view of some trees right by Locust Street. The pipe on the right and the hole on the left are awesome structures for smaller Species of fish when the tide is high enough. 

A closer view of the hole on the left side of the photo above.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/02 - Micro-Fishing the Tacony/Tookany Creek in Cheltenham (PA)

Hello, Blog Readers!


Before my report for today, here are the latest updates and reminders:

-- EPF is back with its non-profit Catfish competitions: the 6th Catfish Tourney on the Banks is scheduled for May 31st, 2015. For detailed information, rules, and registration procedures, click here. I'll post a reminder for this event every couple posts.

-- I've updated my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2015 (up to 04/02). You may click here to check it out. So far, I got 9 different Species of fish for this year. The goal is to eventually beat the maximum number of Species that I got last year: 38.

-- I've updated my Fishing Log (up to 04/02). If you want to know where I have been and what I have been catching, or how many times I've been getting skunked, you may click here for it.

-- I've uploaded a couple new videos on my YouTube Channel. I'll eventually hyperlink those videos to the Blog. My new GoPro camera is performing well so far! I'm very satisfied with it. Hah.

-- Extreme Philly Fishing got featured in April's issue of the local Milestones newspaper. Once again, I would like to thank Linda R. for writing such a nice article! For those who are not familiar, Milestones is a newspaper published by the Philadelphia Corporation of Aging. According to their website, it "provides information, resources, and inspiration for senior citizens." Information for subscription is in the provided link (Page 2). Since "declining participation" is one of the main issues in our sport nowadays, let's hope for more folks -- including senior citizens -- to join us in our outdoorsy adventures. Heh. You may read the April issue here.

Now, finally, I'm bringing you my report for April 2nd:

--- April 2nd, 2015 ---

Location: Tacony/Tookany Creek
Time: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Fishes caught: 

-- 7 Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
-- 4 Common Shiner (Luxilus cornutus)
-- 8 Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
-- 2 Spottail Shiner (Notropis hudsonius)
-- 1 White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii)

Below are the highlights of this fishing session, in video form:

Be advised that this is a video on Micro-Fishing! In other words, there are absolutely no "Game Fish" on it. All fishes portrayed are below 6 inches (with the exception of the White Sucker, which is a little bit bigger)

As mentioned in the video, my original goal was to go to the Tacony/Tookany Creek to see if the Spring "Sucker Run" was on. Similar to the American & Hickory Shad and the Striped Bass, the fishes in the Sucker family also have a Spring run! In other words, they run up the Creeks and Rivers in search of their spawning grounds.

Unfortunately, I soon came to realize that there was no run at all! Perhaps I had already missed it. There were some White Sucker around, of course, but those were just the "local ones." Therefore, due to the lack of White Sucker in the Creek, I changed gears from White Sucker fishing to Micro-Fishing. 

As indicated in the video, I decided to use a very traditional setup for it: 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line on a Shimano Sedona 2500 and a Daiwa Spinmatic. Eagle Claw #8 hook and nightcrawlers. Absolutely no weight and no float. After walking for a little bit from State Avenue to the Jenkintown Road, I finally found a school of minnows. And, for my surprise, my first catch of the day was a Common Shiner, which was a Species of fish that I had never caught in the Tacony/Tookany Creek!

The Common Shiner is one of my favorite types of Micro-Fish! The red coloration on its fins is just spectacular. Another fish that has red coloration in it is the Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus), which is also very rare in Philadelphia.

I fished that spot for quite a while, finishing with the following additional Species of fish:

A beautiful Creek Chub from the Tacony/Tookany Creek. With polarized sunglasses, an angler is able to clearly visualize them aimlessly swimming around in schools,

A small Redbreast Sunfish. In the video, I actually caught a Redbreast Sunfish who was kind of "lost" among the school of minnows. In other words, a "blessed" fish. All of my other Sunfish were caught around structure and not in the middle of the Creek. 

After landing a few extra fish, I decided to move on towards Jenkintown Road. My goal was to fish the spot by the waterfall -- where the Jenkintown Creek gets dropped into the Tacony Creek. 

A nice view of the deepest portion of the Tacony/Tookany Creek. The left of the photo portrays the shallow Jenkintown Creek in Cheltenham.

I spent about 45 minutes fishing around the waterfall, around the bridge, etc; however, I ended up not having a single bite! I could see schools of big White Sucker by some structure and I aimed my bait straight at them, but they were just not interested in my nightcrawlers. I started to walk my way back towards State Avenue, but this time on the other side of the Creek (kind of made a U turn). 

For my final spot, I decided to pick the deep pool right in front of Kleinheinz Pond. Nothing new or unusual: schools of minnows and small White Sucker. Though, for my surprise, I landed a White Sucker while trying to catch minnows. Hehe.


Finally, on my way back to the bus stop, I decided to give a couple casts at my initial spot. And I was very well rewarded for it: I ended up landing something nice and different...

My last Species for the day: a neat Spottail Shiner! 

Overall, it was a very successful day of Micro-Fishing, I truly believe that there were plenty of Spotfin Shiner in the Creek; however, my size #8 hook was too big for it. Still, it was a joy to finish up with 5 different types of fish. That's not to mention that I used less than one nightcrawler for all these fish. Talk about saving bait, eh? Haha.

Tight lines, folks!

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

March Fishing Sessions: 03/20 - Fishing the Schuylkill River on the First Day of Spring

Hello, Blog Readers!

Today I'm bringing you folks my fishing report for March 20th -- the first day of Spring for the year of 2015. Heh. Before that, I would like to comment on a little something: 

As a side note and curiosity, here's an interesting article for you folks to nibble at. If you read it, you should be quite shocked! It just happened that we got super "lucky" this year: the East Coast of the United States of America is actually the only blue dotted area on the map. Everyone else in the northern hemisphere had a warmer Winter than usual. On one hand, we can say that we were extremely unlucky for that to happen. I mean...we did suffer from all the ice and sleet! On the other hand, this "warmest Winter" business is really really bad for our planet! As you may or may not realize yet, climate is changing all around the world. Think about it...

--- March 20th, 2015 ---

Location: Tidal Schuylkill River
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 2 Channel Catfish
-- 1 American Eel

Straight to the point: the first day of Spring was brutal! I've fished Philadelphia's watersheds for the past 4 years, and yet I never saw 5 inches of snow on the first day of Spring. Certainly unheard of. So, instead of writing about these "harsh conditions," here's the video from this fishing session:

This was my first video with my new GoPro camera! The interesting part is that I got to test it under harsh conditions. Did you notice the little "shooting noises" towards the end of the video? Well...those were the snow getting banged on the GoPro casing! Heh. Anyways...expect tons of videos this year (as far as I land some fish in them). 

As indicated in the video, I initially setup three rods with American Eel (Anguilla rostrata). After 40 minutes or so without a single bite, I decided to switch one of my rods for a high-low rig with small hooks and nightcrawlers. And guess what? Bang! The fish were actually biting on the nightcrawler.

Here is a photo of my second Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus): 

A nice 1.5lber from the Schuylkill River, right by the South Street Bridge. This hungry beast decided to feast on my nightcrawler.

And here is a photo of the American Eel, which was not portrayed in the video:

My first American Eel of the year. I usually CPR all my fishes; however, Eels are quite special to me. Therefore, I decided to keep this little fella as bait for future monsters.

As a matter of fact, this Eel came up quite unexpectedly! In other words, I didn't even know that the fish was hooked. I would have taken my sweet time with photos and video if conditions weren't that tough. However, my hands were already freezing after catching that second Channel Catfish! And so was my body, since 2 layers of Under Armour were already wet from the snow (I was wearing 5 layers all together). This Eel was the final deal! After unhooking it, I knew immediately that I had to pack my gear and go home...

Here is a second photo of the Eel. Note the difference in color between my hand and my wrist. The redness of my hand is actually a primary symptom of Frostbite -- something that you definitely do not want to get while fishing during cold weather. 

Thankfully, I was really fast on the packing and my hands were in my pockets in no time at all. Thus, I went only as far as the initial stages of Frostbite (no blisters or anything like that). As I mentioned previously, that Eel was the final deal: I knew by then that I had underestimated Mother Nature and I took all the necessary precautions to remain healthy. No "acting tough" for me. Hah. It's definitely not worth it! 

I gotta tell you one thing, though: the feeling of taking a hot shower after being out in the brutal cold is unbeatable! And I ended up not getting skunked! And the video turned out to be quite good (in my opinion). So, at the end of the day, everything was well! :)

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S. 

Hello, Blog Readers!

Here is my fishing report for March 17th:

--- March 17th, 2015 ---

Location: Oyster Creek/Vincetown Millpond
Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m./1:30-2:30 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- None

After hearing all the exciting things about Oyster Creek in Barnegat Bay, my brother-in-law and I decided to go down there to check things out for ourselves! According to some online fishing reports, local folks were catching some nice Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) around the power plant facility down there. Instead of going directly to the power plant, we decided to check out Oyster Creek Park first, which was located right around the corner -- on Dock Ave. 

A nice view of the Oyster Creek Park by Dock Avenue. The level of comfort there is super high: park the car, setup the rods, and wait in it! Can fishing really get any better than that? For boat and kayak owners: there's also a ramp for you fellas to put your stuff in.
  
Before setting any rods, I used a 2oz. weight to scope out the area. It turned out to be very smooth -- very few snags and a constant ~5 feet depth! Taking that in consideration, we setup 4 rods with a standard high-low rig: 2 oz. river sinkers, size 4 hooks, and shrimp. Of course shrimp wasn't our bait of preference; however, for our disappointment, no local tackle shops were opened on that day! We ended up getting our bait together with our breakfast, all at ShopRite. Heh.

That's correct, readers. Besides all that was mentioned above, that little neat park also had pre-made rod holders! Isn't that amazing? Beautiful! 
  
We fished the Park for about 30 minutes, which was about the time that took us to gulp down our breakfast. Not even a nibble. As expected, the water temperature was too low (~38F) and there were absolutely no fish swimming around that portion of Oyster Creek. We packed our stuff and headed up straight for the power plant. For our surprise, this is what we found out once we arrived there:

It turns out that the only public accessible spot at Oyster Creek by the Power Plant Facility is a bridge. The left and right sides of the bridge are private property; thus, fishing over there could result in trespassing charges.  

Once we arrived at the bridge, three anglers were fishing there. After taking a good look around, I found out that they were soaking blood worms without any success. Different than the "park side" of Oyster Creek, there was quite a current coming from the direction of the power plant. I didn't really measure the water temperature at that exact spot; however, I bet that the water there would be warmer by at least 5F. No wonder the fish like to stay around there...! :)

In the end, we decided to not even try. I mean...if those folks weren't catching anything on blood worms, chances are that ShopRite shrimp wouldn't work! We hopped back into the car and decided to explore another spot on our way back home. After studying the GPS for a couple minutes, I decided to pick Vincetown Millpond in the Southampton Township.

Here's a nice scenery shot of the Vincetown Millpond. Very beautiful watershed with a very promising spillway and plenty of slow pools!

My brother-in-law and I tried some Thomas S.P. nickel-gold in-line spinners and also some Gulp! Alive Minnows under a float; however, after one hour, we ended up without a single bite! Very tough fishing with the water temperature staying below the 40's. Regardless, I can definitely "picture" how productive that place will be during the Summer time!

A perfect spot for an in-line spinner or a Gulp! Alive Minnow. Note the island in the middle: it creates a perfect current break for fishes to hang around, specially after seasons of heavy rain!

Can't wait to go back there! As a reminder, fellas: part of fishing relies heavily on field work, meaning that the person with the passion for the sport should look for new spots to explore. Imagination is an important key in fishing. Thus, even when we get skunked, it never hurts to be a "modern Linnaeus." Hah.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.