Fishing Gear, Skills, and Data!

Choosing the appropriate fishing gear is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of an angler, the expertise of the same, and how successful that angler is when it comes to landing fish. Also, in order to be a good fisherman, the same needs to know his/her own pieces of equipment - one by one. In order words, that person should know the function of each piece of his/her equipment; the advantages and disadvantages of each different piece of gear; when and where they should be used; etc.

Although the gear is important, it cannot be forgotten that skill and experience are also very important. A fisherman may have experience and knowledge to fish a certain species of fish, but the same may end the day performing poorly because he/she lacked the appropriate equipment in that instance. On the other hand, a fisherman may have the best available equipment in town, and do poorly at the end of the day because he/she didn't have the necessary skills/knowledge to fish a certain species at that instance.

If the person is new at the sport, my personal advice would be: buy the "cheap to moderate" equipment available. It's good to build a good base for knowledge and experience before having extremely good gears. Otherwise, the person can ignorantly damage the equipment and even hurt himself/herself. After a couple experiences and experiments, then it's advisable for that person to buy moderate to high quality equipment.

It may be obvious to state the following subject in this post, but I find it so fundamental and important that I've decided to do so. Also, some people don't practice these two important ideals, even though they know the concepts of it. It's about empirical data and notes. Fishing can be learnt in many different ways: through books, websites, communication (exchanging techniques, for example), teaching (dad to son, for example), watching, experimenting, etc. The last two items of this list applies to the concept of Empiricism: to obtain knowledge through observations and experiments. Maybe one person started fishing by being influenced by one of the other items in the list above - reading a book about fishing; or fishing with a family member. However, that person will hit a point when he/she is going to develop his/her own skills through his/her own experiences and empirical data. In other words, I am giving emphasis to the fact that it's very important to learn by looking at other people's attitudes and behaviors towards fishing (hopefully positive ones), and also from the fish's natural behaviors (not to mention mistakes). It's also important to be a "Scientist" when it comes to fishing: never be shy, and always be adventurous and willing to experiment something new and unusual, mark the results, and remember these achievements or failures. I cannot state here how many different techniques I've learnt just by watching other people fish; or how many hours I've spent somewhere - just observing my surroundings and fish - and recording everything; or how many interesting bait experiments I've made in order to enhance my skills, land more fish, and succeed even more as an angler. It's important and fundamental to be empirical. Secondly, it's even more important to write things down (even if you can memorize it). Many successful fishermen have notes (or even a notebook) on all kinds of events and situations. The angler could write about the weather, the size and quantity of the fish fished, the season of the year, the lures or bait that were used on a certain fishing day, the time and duration, the tide, the wind, the gear that was used, etc. One should follow this wise advice and never depend on memory alone - it's always nice (and easy!) to write things down. The notes can always turn out to be useful, and even if they don't: what do you have to lose with them? It's convenient, safe, reliable, and again - very important.

I'll leave the skills and experience part to the readers. However, I'll start doing topics about different pieces of gears, baits, fishing styles (when it comes to fishing a specific species of fish), etc. Note that this is a blog, though - and not a "fishing forum" or "fishing school". Therefore, the topics made here are not only informative to the readers, but they are also a reminder for me that there's "mountain after mountain". In order words: I will always progress and learn more, which means that my information may contain my opinions and be accurate, but it will never be good enough! I'll always be able to add information, re-read my topics and remind myself of certain stuff. It's a blog, after all.

My plan is to start topics with the basic fishing equipment: sinkers, hooks, swivels, lines, rods, reels, etc; and occasionally post techniques, hints and tips, and "behavior" when it comes to fishing a specific species.

Stay tuned, readers!

Long days and pleasant nights.

Leo S.

Exploring the Pennypack Creek in Northeast Philadelphia

Hello, Readers!

Today I would like to introduce you to one of the most known Creeks in Philadelphia -- the Pennypack Creek! 

Here is a quick introduction of the place:

Located in Northeast Philadelphia, the Pennypack is a small Creek with a rich aquatic biodiversity. The Pennypack Park, which encloses a big section of the Creek, starts at the intersect of Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties -- right next to the Fox Chase Farm. The same ends close to the Torresdale Avenue, where the Creek becomes tidal. If one takes the Pennypack Park as a fixed location, the Creek continues upwards to the Lorimer Park and downwards to the tidal Delaware River (right next to the correctional facility). Note that this post will be focusing mainly on the Pennypack Park section of the Pennypack Creek.

Miniature map of the Pennypack in Northeast Philadelphia, from Google Earth. White indicates the beginning of the Lorimer Park, red indicates the Pennypack Park, and black indicates the tidal Pennypack Creek.

Here are a couple facts about the Pennypack Park: (1) it can be easily accessed, since it contains many entrances at different locations: i.e. Frankford Ave, Torresdale Ave, Welsh Road, Roosevelt Blvd., Bustleton Ave, Verree Road, Rhawn st, etc; (2) a main paved bike/jogging path runs through it, making access to its banks much easier; and (3) parking lots are existent and available at certain spots (i.e. Rhawn st).

If you are not familiar with the Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia, you may click here for additional information. Apart from fishing, please take note that the park offers free local band concerts during the Summer time at the Welsh Road auditorium. You can get the events' schedule here.

Now that you have a basic idea and image of the Pennypack, let's talk about fishing! After all, that's what we are here for, right? :)

In the past 2 years, I've personally seen many different types of fish in the Pennypack Creek. Somehow, it turns out that certain Species can be found throughout the Creek -- i.e. Redbreast Sunfish -- whereas other Species can only be found at specific locations -- i.e. Rock Bass. Therefore, please keep in mind that even though I'm portraying all of the known and available Species of fish in the overall Pennypack here, some Species of fish are quite a challenge to catch because of their low numbers and habitat patterns!

Another fact: the Pennypack is also a part of PA's "approved trout waters." In other words, apart from its natural aquatic biodiversity, the PA Fish and Boat Commission stocks it with three different types of Trout: the Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), the Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), and the Golden Rainbow Trout (modified Oncorhynchus mykiss). It turns out that the Golden Rainbow Trout are very rare and the least stocked among them. For a photo of a Golden Rainbow Trout, you may click here. There are multiple stockings in one year; however, they are divided in two main seasons: Spring and Fall. For more details on Trout Stocking, you may access the PA Fish and Boat Commission website here. Finally, please don't forget that in order to fish for Trout, a Trout Stamp is required, apart from the regular PA fishing license! Fishing and harvesting Trout without a stamp can result in very bad penalties...

Below is a list of the numerable Species of fish that I've caught so far in the Pennypack:

Redbreast Sunfish: Probably the easiest Species of fish that you will be able to catch at the Pennypack Creek. The Redbreast Sunfish can be easily spotted by naked eye and fished at almost all portions of the Creek, excluding shallow "dead spots." If you are looking for entertainment or fishing with kids, these fish will definitely not disappoint you. All you have to do is to find a good spot!

April 10th, 2013 - Redbreast Sunfish caught at the Bustleton Avenue portion of the Pennypack Creek, on an in-line Spinner.

July 11th, 2011 - Beautiful adult Redbreast Sunfish caught at the Old Bustleton Avenue portion of the Pennypack Creek, on a nightcrawler.

June 23rd, 2012 - Redbreast Sunfish caught on a piece of kernel corn, close to the Old Bustleton Avenue.

June 25th, 2011 - Redbreast Sunfish caught on a piece of nightcrawler at the Verree Road section of the Creek.

Green Sunfish: Also a part of the Sunfish family, these little guys are literally the "hidden gems" of the Creek -- they live under logs and branches, and also among rocks. Particularly, the Green Sunfish are the most aggressive among the four different types of Sunfish that can be found around Philadelphia (as a reminder: the Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, and Green Sunfish). Thus, even a small piece of nightcrawler can attract one of these little fellas to strike! Who knows? Maybe they will even go for small lures! After all, they are fast and they have a big mouth compared to the other three Species of sunfish.

June 25th, 2011 - This is the only adult Green Sunfish that I ever caught at the Pennypack Creek, and it was safely released. I caught this little guy on a piece of nightcrawler, close to Verree Road, and it came up with a deformed tail. Even so, the colors of an adult Green Sunfish are truly beautiful! Somehow, yellow always adds so much to the fish.

April 10th, 2013 - Notice the difference in color between the adult and this young Green Sunfish. Very different, huh? I caught this little fella dapping an in-line Spinner close to a submerged log. 


June 28th, 2013 - A colorful Green Sunfish caught on a small piece of nightcrawler. 


Rock Bass: this little fella is certainly one of the challenges of the Pennypack Creek. Small ones can be found at different portions of the Creek, but big ones are usually concentrated in very specific areas -- deep and rocky areas (which are few, by the way). I found out that "live bait" is best for them (i.e. Small minnows and nightcrawlers); although, in-line spinners and minnow imitations (i.e. Gulp! Minnow) work really good as well.

April 10th, 2013 - Rock Bass caught on an in-line spinner at the Dam between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue.

June 25th, 2011 - Rock Bass caught at the Verree portion of the Pennypack Creek, on a piece of nightcrawler.

June 25th, 2012 - one year after catching the guy above, I caught this little guy on a Gulp! Minnow close to the Dam between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue.


Largemouth Bass: They are rare in the lower portion of the Pennypack Creek (a.k.a. the Pennypack Park), being more common above Lorimer Park. A piece of advice: search for them at the dams and areas with enough shade and structure (i.e. submerged logs). Sometimes the Largemouth Bass can be seen while feeding for bugs on the top of the water.



June 25th, 2011 - A photo of a small Largemouth Bass from the border of the Pennypack Park with the Lorimer Park! It was caught on an in-line Spinner right next to the Fox Chase Farm. 


October 13th, 2013 - A small, yet beautiful Largemouth Bass from the Pennypack Creek, caught on a "Gulp! Alive Minnow" on a 1/64 oz. jighead.

Common Carp: If you are into Carping, please be aware that these are really rare in the non-tidal portion of the Creek nowadays. Unfortunately and sadly, most of them were harvested for human consumption! The logic is that most parts of the Creek are clear and shallow; therefore, the bottom can be easily seen by the naked eye. Under these circumstances, Common Carp became an easy target for anglers over the years. The biggest one that I have pulled out of the Creek was 8lbs, close to the Old Bustleton street. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of it. At the time, I could still see some of them swimming around. As the number of anglers started to increase, the Carp started to disappear quickly. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of a Carp caught in the Pennypack Park portion of the Creek; thus, I will give you a photo of a Common Carp caught at the tidal Pennypack Creek.

June 4th, 2013 - A 15.15lbs Common Carp from the tidal Pennypack Creek, close to the correctional facility on State Road.

Brown Trout: This is one of the three different types of Trout that are stocked by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. They are stocked frequently during the Spring Trout Season, and Browns can be caught on a variety of lures and live bait. Different than the Rainbow Trout, Browns will feed mainly on live organisms! They are also more aggressive than Rainbows and they put up a better fight as well. Nightcrawlers and in-line Spinners work best for them. Powerbait, corn, and other types of "dead" baits can be effective as well. Note: a bunch of scuds were found inside some of their stomachs -- empirical evidence of the argument above.

May 22nd, 2012 - Beautiful Pennypack Brown. This little guy was actually caught on a piece of kernel corn (it must have been hungry!), meaning that "dead" baits also work for Browns; however, less effectively.

March 31st, 2013 - My biggest Brown Trout for the Spring Season of 2013 (14.5 inches). This guy was caught on a huge piece of nightcrawler under the Dam between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue.

April 10th, 2013 - A Brown Trout caught at the same spot mentioned above, on an in-line Spinner. This little guy put up a very decent fight! 

April 4th, 2014 - My biggest Brown Trout out of the Pennypack Creek (over 2lbs)! It was caught on a Nickel/Gold Thomas in-line spinner.

April 2nd, 2014 - As a bonus photo, here's my friend Karl Hayes with his first Brown Trout ever, caught between the Bustleton Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard intersect of the Pennypack Creek.

Rainbow Trout: Also one of the three different types of Trout that are stocked by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. They are stocked frequently during the Spring and Fall Trout Seasons and they are caught more often on "dead" baits. Powerbait is a good option for Rainbows, as well as kernel corn, salmon eggs, etc. Similar than Browns in terms of Trout lies, Rainbows can usually be found in deep pools and currents as well. In other words, lures will work for both Species!

November 16th, 2012 - A beautiful "Fall" Rainbow Trout caught on a piece of kernel corn at the Rhawn street portion of the Creek. Keep the colors in mind because the Fall and Spring Trouts can look very different in terms of coloration.

November 21st, 2012 - I caught this Rainbow Trout at the Bustleton Avenue section of the Creek on a piece of kernel corn.

March 30th, 2013 - My first Trout of 2013, caught a couple minutes after 8:00 a.m. on the opening day! As soon as I threw my corn under the bridge, this little guy swallowed it all!

April 4th, 2013 - A Rainbow Trout caught at the Rhawn Street portion of the Creek. The colors of a "Spring" Rainbow Trout are pretty different than a "Fall's," isn't it?

October 12th, 2014 - As a bonus photo, here is my friend Bryan KL's daughter (a.k.a. Sofia) with the biggest Rainbow Trout that I've seen pulled out of the Pennypack Creek. The fish was caught on a #2 Aglia Mepps in-line spinner, which is one of Bryan's favorite lures.

Golden Rainbow Trout: The last type of Trout stocked and a rarity around these areas! It's usually referred as the "Palomino Trout," which is the wrong definition of it (for more details, click here). Some Trout anglers exaggerate and refer to it as the "fish of a life time:" it's rare, big, and it can be easily distinguished in the Creek (their wariness is top notch). Even though the Golden Rainbow is a variation of the Rainbow Trout, they seriously behave like a combination of both the Brown and Rainbow Trout -- they will strike lures, eat Powerbait, nightcrawlers, bugs, etc. If caught and released, they become ten times harder to catch (no exaggeration here)...So, consider yourself lucky if you ever catch one of these! You have two options: (1) catch them on the opening day, in the middle of all those lines and chaos, or (2) you can challenge the ones that have been caught and released - the "elders" of the Creek (usually because they are the last ones to be caught). Legend among local anglers is that the Rooveselt Boulevard dam holds ancient Golden Rainbow Trout with top class instincts! I don't have a picture of a Golden Rainbow Trout from the Pennypack Creek; however, I do have a picture of one from the Wissahickon Creek.

I do have a video of a Golden Rainbow Trout swimming in the Pennypack Creek. As cited previously, note how it can be distinguished from the other Trout in the Creek.

White Sucker: I've fished very little for them at the Pennypack Creek. In any case, it's evident that they are almost always "sucking on the bottom of the creek" -- motionless creatures, eh? Heh. They usually travel in schools, and they are easier to find during the Spring's "Sucker run" (for spawning purposes). The best time to fish for them is around dusk. Nightcrawlers and meal worms (or wax and super work too) are the best baits for them. Now...I'll let you in for a little "secret" of mine -- something that you won't find around: if you want to catch nice Suckers, make sure you find a nice and flat submerged stone. Think of the stone as the "dinner table." If you get the right idea, you will land nice Suckers!

April 4th, 2014 - A beautiful female White Sucker, caught on an entire nightcrawler (on a rock!).

American Eel: Yes -- they are present in the Creek as well! I would particularly avoid these "knot masters;" However, a fish is a fish! That being said, it cannot be forgotten that they are a very good type of bait for other Species of fish around Philadelphia. Thus, I would definitely recommend anyone to freeze it and use it. Also, I truly believe that one can only perfect the "fish manipulation technique" after handling American Eels in a proper way. In other words -- if one can hold an American Eel without letting it slip through his/her hands, the fish manipulation technique is perfected! Hah. That person will probably be able to hold any other type of Species without a problem. By the way...fish for them on the bottom. A small piece of nightcrawler will do it; although, a small piece of fish would be best. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of a "Pennypack Eel." Thus, I'll be using some of my friends' photos! :)

Unfortunately, I don't have the exact date for this photo. However, here's a legit Pennypack Eel for you folks! And, of course, notice the amount of slime on the line... Heh.

July 15th, 2013 - An American Eel by my friend Peter Scharf.

Creek Chub: They are very rare in the Creek nowadays, only to be found at Specific sections of it. Nothing too fancy about Creek Chubs -- a piece of nightcrawler or meal/wax worm will do the job! They are very weak fighters and there is not much purpose in catching them, other than the fact that they are really good bait. 

June 25th, 2011 - This little guy was caught close to Verree Road, on a piece of nightcrawler. This Creek Chub is the perfect size for bait for a nice sized Catfish!

September 7th, 2014 - A small Creek Chub caught on a sliver of nightcrawler, size #26 hook. 

Smallmouth Bass: Not good in numbers and not good in sizes for the Pennypack Park section of the Creek! However, it's great to know that they are present there. The bigger ones are above Lorimer Park (look at the end of this post). Look for them in the currents and deep pools. In-line spinners and Trout magnets work best. Two good spots for them are the dam between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue and behind the auditorium (between Rhawn and Welsh).

June 25th, 2012 - A little Smallie caught very close to the entrance of the Roosevelt Boulevard section of the Creek. It was caught on an in-line Spinner against the current.

October 15th, 2012 - Caught a little bit above the previous spot, also on an in-line Spinner. To tell you guys the truth, my favorite in-line Spinner can be found in any Walmart around the city for about $3 dollars each! Look for the Thomas in-line spinner with a half silver/half gold blade and 4 golden beads below it, connected to a single treble hook. If you find it, buy a couple of them! They are super effective. 

September 5th, 2011 - Probably my first Pennypack Smallie, caught at the Roosevelt Boulevard Dam with a Trout Magnet. I recall being very happy about this "rare finding" at the time. :)

Now that I'm done presenting the main Species of fish in the Pennypack Park section of the Creek, let's talk a little bit about the rare catches in the overall Pennypack Creek, including the Lorimer Park and the tidal Pennypack Creek. Below is a compilation of photos that I've obtained from close friends who fish the Pennypack Creek constantly (especially my friend Peter Scharf -- he lives in that Creek). While you look at them, please keep in mind that catching those fish is extremely rare! 

Here's a very rare Brook Trout by my friend Peter Scharf. He caught it in the Lorimer section of the Pennypack Creek. Note that the Creek itself does not hold native Brook Trout anymore; thus, there are very few stocked Brook Trout left available in the upper Pennypack Creek.

Channel Catfish are extremely common in the tidal Pennypack Creek; however, my friend Donald Garvey caught this Channel Catfish around the Rhawn Street bridge! For the non-tidal Pennypack Creek, this fish is quite a find! One would ask why, and the answer is simple: it shows that fish from the Delaware River can swim up the Pennypack Creek during times of flood. 

My friend Peter Scharf is holding one of his best "Pennypack Largemouth Bass," caught in the Lorimer Park section of the Creek. As cited previously, the LMB are much bigger in the upper Pennypack Creek, above Fox Chase Farm and Lorimer Park. 

A 16 inch Smallmouth Bass from the Upper Pennypack Creek, once again caught by my friend Peter Scharf around the Lorimer Park section of the Creek.

A small male Mummichog from the tidal portion of the Creek. Not a lot of folks in Philly are into Micro-Fishing; however, we can't deny that this is a beautiful and colorful fish! They are abundant in the tidal Pennypack Creek. 

Another photo of a nice Smallie by Peter, also from the Lorimer section of the Creek. Note the clarity and depth of the Creek (normal anglers would pass by a spot like this and disregard its potential for holding fish).

Here is my friend Billy Ferris holding a small Striped Bass from the non-tidal Pennypack Creek! I still remember when he caught this fish -- I was truly astonished. The sample above was caught under the dam between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue, showing that fish from the Delaware River can travel as far as to the Pennypack Creek at Bustleton Street! 

Using the same explanation above, here's a White Perch by my friend Karl Hayes. He caught this White perch exactly at the same spot where the Striped Bass was caught.

Here's a small Golden Shiner that I've caught in the Pennypack Park section of the Creek, a couple years ago. They are so rare in the Creek nowadays that I didn't quite cite them previously. Still beautiful, though...

Of course most of the Species of fish portrayed here are the only ones that I've personally caught. In other words, it's certain that there are other Species of fish in the Pennypack Creek watershed! It's during moments like these that I like to quote Robert Altman: "You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end. Your imagination is under there."

I hope you folks enjoyed this introductory post, and I hope you catch A LOT if you decide to fish the Pennypack Creek one of these days! However, please keep in mind that conscious fishing always boils down to S.A.F.E. angling! In order to maintain the sustainability of our waters for ourselves and even for future generations to come, please practice Catch-Photo-Release (CPR) and selective-harvest (i.e. take only what you need and what you will consume; release endangered and rare Species of fish), Also, please avoid practicing non-point source pollution (i.e. littering)! 

If anglers were more conscious about these ideas, perhaps we would have a much higher number of Common Carp in the non-tidal Pennypack Creek nowadays. This is just one example; one of many! 

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass at Kelly Drive (Schuylkill River)

Hello, Readers...
 
I decided to stop by the Kelly Drive portion of the Schuylkill River this last Wednesday. I checked the weather website: "cloudy, with some 50% chance of showers in the afternoon". I thought it was the perfect weather, since I didn't really want to get darker than I am (my "farmer tan"), and suffer more from heat stress (I'm always carrying tons of water to not get dehydrated). Summer can be a killer. Stay protected from the heat, guys! For more details, you can read my other post on how to stay protected during Summer time.

I arrived at the Boathouse Row area around 10 a.m.. My plan was to catch some big Common Carps; therefore, I went there full of hopes. I went straight to my favorite Carp spot (pool behind the Cosmic Cafe), thinking that today was my lucky day! After all, with the sun shining so strongly in the morning, I could see about 7-8 of them swimming around there (that spot is great for stalking them, even though the water is murky). From naked eye, their sizes varied from 10 to 15lb, no bigger than that. I set up my rods, left them there, and sat under the shadow of a nearby tree. I spent about three hours there, until I got hungry. No runs at all. Not a single bite. I set one of my rods for Panfish, with hopes of catching some Bluegills. Without a single bit after a while, I decided to make a quick stop at the Cosmic Cafe at Kelly Drive to eat something.

The Cosmic Cafe, as I mentioned in the previous post, is my place for food and drink supply. The prices are very reasonable for the quality of their products - organic, healthy, and mostly from local farms. I've tasted some of their sandwiches, and I liked it a lot! Their drinks were also awesome: I had so far an organic strawberry-banana smoothie; a chocolate milk from a local farm; the home made carrot juice, etc. These drinks are just for my own pleasure, though. For sustenance, I mostly refill my bottles with their free cold water, and purchase their fruit parfait to cool down.


After taking a break from the sun, and supplying myself with food and beverages, I went back to the hunt! I put my medium action rod away, and started casting my light action with nightcrawlers. After a while, still without any bites, I decided to switch from natural bait to lures. I got my Trout spoon (which I usually use for Panfish as well) out of the box, and started casting it from the banks. First cast: something hit it! I thought it was a bluegill (I was really expecting it), but it turned out to be a small Largemouth Bass! Awesome! That's when I started to get excited...

I cast a couple times at the same spot, landing a second Largemouth Bass - a little bit bigger than the first one (10 inches). A couple more tries, a third one came up - a bit bigger. I got three Largemouth Bass on the same spot, meaning that they were probably feeding around that area. After catching those three, I cast for about fifteen more minutes, but nothing came up. I started moving up the Kelly Drive (away from the Boathouse Row) - walking and casting, and I finished the day with eight Largemouth Bass; the biggest one being 1.7lbs, caught on a Popper. I have a picture of it, but the quality is so bad that I decided to not post it. Hopefully I'll take some decent pictures next time.

It's very pleasant for me to know that the Largemouth Bass are still in the upper portion of the Schuylkill River (non-tidal). Lately, I've been quite sad, knowing how people are overfishing different bodies of water in Philadelphia. Over harvesting fish is certainly dangerous for any aquatic environment, especially when the harvested Species are not very common (i.e. harvesting Walleyes at the Fairmount Dam; taking Black Crappies at Meadow Lake). Harvesting is okay with me; however, I'm truly a CPR type of person ("Catch-Photo-Release").
 
For that reason, there's a chart for creels and sizes at the PA Boat and Commission website (click on the link to view it). The problem is when people do not follow these laws... Myself, I've taken fish from waters in Philadelphia for bait or research (sometimes some Trout for eating). However, I always follow these rules, not to mention that I rarely take any kind of fish in its spawning season (there are a couple exceptions with stunted populations), and fish that are considered "big" (trophy fish).

Anyways, to conclude, I had a wonderful fishing day on Wednesday, even though my primary goal was Carp. It was pleasant to catch that many Bass in one day, and even unusual! Hopefully I'll bring some great pictures next time.


Sunset at Kelly Drive. It's impressive how many Largemouth Bass are actually swimming in those parts. Walking and casting is the perfect approach for this area of the River, covering as much water as possible in a fishing session.

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights...

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Catching Sunnies and Carp at Kelly Drive

Hello, Blog Readers...
 
I woke up this morning ready to fish! I headed out around 8:30 a.m., arriving at Kelly Drive (next to the boat row) around 10 a.m.. I immediately set up one of my rods for Carp fishing (with corn), and the other one for Panfish. I started with a float and hook set up, but it wasn't working very well. I caught a few small ones (Bluegills), and they weren't biting constantly. Also, in the meantime, the Carp rod didn't move at all! I did see at least 5-6 Carps splashing around (which is not a surprise, since it's spawning season), which was a beautiful scene. Nothing big was willing to bite, though...

Changing a little bit the subject...
 
The whole morning was slow, so I decided to stop at the "Cosmic Catering" Cafe. It seems that this Cafe recently opened - around 2-3 months ago. I remember passing around that section of the River this spring, and seeing the place closed down. The products and food are neat, and most of them are on the "organic-natural-fresh" side. I had two sandwiches there (yes, I was hungry. Don't judge!): an egg, cheese, and meat sandwich; and a baked crab cake sandwich. The crab cake was particularly good, and I would definitely go back for it. The prices were also reasonable for the freshness and quality of the food. Also, if my memory doesn't fail me, they have free water inside! I believe you can just bring your container and fill it up with cold water. Cool, isn't it? Hehe.

Anyways... I was done eating, and ready to get back to fishing (round 2!). It's funny because I always stop at Cosmic Cafe in-between breaks to "replenish" my body. Hehe. It was around noon now, and the panfish started to get more active. In an interval of 45 minutes, I landed more than 30 Bluegills, and some Green Sunfish. Most of them were around 4-7 inches, which is a very pleasant size in my opinion. Using a 4lb or 6lb test line, it gets even better - lighter the gear, greater the fight! Sincerely, panfish never ceases to amaze me, and I love fishing for them.

After catching a bunch of Sunnies, I was walking back to the train station. I passed by the little shallow pool of water behind the Cosmic Cafe, and saw some intense movement there! There were some big Carps swimming there, some of them so big that the girth was exposed as they swam. I took my rod out in a heartbeat, and cast a piece of corn in the shallow portion of the pool. Without even chumming the place, I landed a 11.5lb Common Carp! It was amazing. It gave a great fight.
It was the only one of the day, and I was very glad that I actually got something big!

I'll definitely go back there for more Carps. That's a great spot for them when temperatures are high; however, since the water is so shallow, one needs to be a "ninja" in order to not spook them.

Pictures are below. Enjoy:
 
Kelly Drive (after boatrow) is known for big Sunnies during Spring and Summer, especially before spawning season.

My friend Nadir G. is in the background. That kid loves to fish for Sunnies too. They have different colorations, and they are great fighters when using ultra-light gear. Warriors of the River!
 
The smallest guy of the day. Pretty colors too!

Close up photo of the biggest guy of the day. Beautiful, huh?

11.5lbs, caught right next to the pool of water behind the Cosmic Cafe. Big monsters in a small body of water! Therefore, never underestimate certain spots. =)

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights, people!

Sincerely,

Leo S.

No more fishing at the Race Street Pier

Hello, Readers!
 
Just recently, a new pier was opened in the city of Philadelphia: the Race Street Pier - a new promising fishing spot. Located right next to D&B at the Delaware River, this place was golden for fishing! Every thing's in the past now; however, since the owners of the pier decided to close the place down for fishing (reasons are further below...).
 
The Race Street Pier was one of my dreams come true: a public, safe, and clean location to fish, located right at the Delaware river in Center City (where almost all locations are private; therefore - fishing is forbidden). Located only a couple blocks away from the Market-Frankford line (Spring Garden Station), between Penn's Landing and Dave & Busters, and also right next to the "Riding the Duck" trips; the Race Street Pier is a convenient place for a walk, some exercise, reading, sunbathing, etc. The pier opened a little bit over a month ago (May 12th, 2011); therefore, it's new!

Since its opening, I went there 4-5 times for fishing. The fishing there was very productive, and the ambient was really nice: the White Perch that I caught there were way bigger than the ones at the Schuylkill river - the biggest one being 8 inches. Also, the bite was constant during high tide, keeping me busy and happy. During low tide, Catfish would still be active in the area. The biggest catfish I caught there was a 9.8lb Yellowish Channel Catfish, on a live White Perch. 
 
Also, on one of my first trips there, I caught a very interesting "jet-black" Channel Catfish right next to the pier. The fish was 3lb, and his eyes were surprisingly very small! It had huge whiskers, and its color was a shiny Jet-Black - just like petroleum. I really wished that I took a picture of it! My hypothesis for that fish is that it probably lived somewhere dark, perhaps under structure, or somewhere deep. It adapted to the darkness; therefore, its sense of smell was enhanced in exchange for its sense of vision. That would explain the small eyes and big whiskers. Interesting, huh? Adaptation is certainly a very interesting topic.
 
So, catching catfish over there was not a problem. They would occasionally come up on nightcrawlers, the regular shrimp, chicken liver; however, the best bait for that location was a live fish! The fishes were abundant everywhere: I caught catfish there on shallow water - 4 feet at the beginning of the pier (when the tide was low); and also on 13 feet water, at the end of the pier (when the tide was high). Note that the low to high tide at the Delaware is about 5 feet. The Race Street Pier was also a great spot for Striped Bass - I caught 2 Stripers over there around three weeks ago - a small 16 inches on a little Eastern Silvery Minnow, and a 22 inches (5.3lb) on a live White Perch, at the end of the pier.  Over all, as you can see, fishing over there was great.
 
The environment was also awesome: the guard-rail at the pier was not flat - it was 45 degrees shaped - perfect to support fishing rods (I believe it was made with the purpose of being fashionable, and also to decrease falls). The bottom of the water around the pier was composed entirely of mud; therefore, I rarely had any snags. It was seriously an awesome spot to fish on!
 
For the ones who don't know about this location, check their website here. As you may have seen in their website, the pier opens at 7 a.m., and closes 11 p.m., not to mention that there's security there even afterwards. In other words, there's security there 24/7, which is golden for any fisherman in the city of Philadelphia! Also, the security guards would often patrol around the pier, and ensure that everything was in order and legal (i.e. when it comes to biking, skateboarding, etc). As a matter of fact, they even checked fishing licenses to ensure that people were fishing there legally. On some days I even saw cops passing by the pier, every couple hours. Therefore, I definitely have no words for their sense of safety and preservation.

I'm writing this post for two main reasons: my secondary reason is to introduce you, the reader, to this wonderful new place located in Center City - Philadelphia. If you didn't visit the Race Street Pier yet, you have my wonderful suggestion to go there one day and take a good look at it. It's gorgeous. Small, but beautiful. The scenery is awesome. My main reason, however, which is a very unfortunate one, is to announce that fishing is longer permitted at this pier. As a matter of fact, I am posting here the reasons why fishing is no longer allowed there; reasons that I have heard from the local security guards of the pier. Also, I want to comment on it, and I would be pleased to hear your opinions about it (send me an e-mail!).

It all started a couple days ago, when I checked my Facebook and saw a message from one of my friends saying that he went to the pier and someone told him that fishing was no longer allowed. I got frustrated and somehow sad, thinking about what reasons they would actually have in order to prohibit fishing over there. Therefore, I went there yesterday (Friday), and I finally confirmed with the Security that a new sign of prohibitions is being made, and fishing will soon be banished from the pier.

So, according to the security members of the pier, fishing is going to be prohibited at the pier because: (1) some fishermen were destroying the property - digging the grass up and down, sticking sticks on the grass for rod support, moving bricks from location to location, etc; (2) littering - leaving trash on the floor (such as used line, broken swivels, bloody baits, plastic bags); and (3) because someone hooked a person last week at the pier (basically injured a person while casting the rod. Someone hooked a human being. tsk...).

To start with, I think angling is a wonderful sport. It can be easily turned into a wonderful family time with the right environment and circumstances, not to mention that it's a great way of entertainment for people that enjoy it. Even if a person fishes alone, it's still a great activity that promotes sharp skills, concentration, all while having fun. What I am trying to say is: angling should be promoted always in a positive way, and an angler should do his/her best for his/her reputation to not be bad. "Our" reputation at the pier is clearly the opposite: the "owners" of the pier do not want fishermen there, and the reasons above are more than enough to convince me that they have the right to do so. That's why my frustration went away as soon as I heard their complaints, and it turned immediately into sadness.

When it comes to destroying the property, I absolutely have no words for it. I can't even argue with it. I would hate if someone came to my house (my yard) and started destroying my property. Followingly, I cannot stand the act of littering. If makes me extremely sad to know that one of the reasons they are going to prohibit fishing over there is littering. I mean....how bad does it makes us anglers look? Think for a bit. There are at least four trashcans in that pier; two for recycling materials and two for regular trash; two at the entrance, two at the end. Does it take a lot to just walk a little bit, and throw all the garbage in the trashcan?
 
It's amazing how every time I go somewhere fishing, I can always find a piece of used line on the ground, etc. As I stated many times before, people have to be conscious of their surroundings, have a little bit more of respect for the environment, and not litter. So many times, I saw people throwing trash in the same river they fish - trash that could hurt the fish they fish (by being swallowed, by acid shock - increasing the level of acidity of the river, radiation, heavy metal poisoning, etc), the environment (more aquatic pollution = less aquatic life), and people that consume that fish (heavy metals, PCBs - "PolyChlorinated Biphenyl").

Finally, one of the most dangerous things in fishing is in the fact that every angler is using a sharp tool to catch the fish: the hook. I can't count how many times I've hooked myself because of my own stupidity; or laziness in handling the hook the way if should be handled; or just lack of attention. However, in 14 years of fishing (since I was 8), I have never hooked someone else. Hooking myself is not a big deal, even though I suffer from the pain; but I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for hooking someone else because of my lack of attention or stupidity. It's a lack of responsibility, and also shameful for anglers to not pay attention to their surroundings before casting! The officer did not tell me the details, or how bad the person was injured. However, just the fact that the angler hooked someone while casting (basically swinging) his rod shows that anglers at that pier are basically a threat for people passing around. It makes us look like we are the bad guys. It makes us "dangerous."

In my opinion, closing the pier for fishing is not going to solve anything. It will only save the pier from the problems cited above. However, does this mean that people will change? Of course not. People that litter will still be littering, and so on. The litter and all the other problems will just move from that pier to somewhere else. Therefore, what is the proper solution? Like it or not, the solution goes to the basic of the basics - so basic that turns into a clichê: "Consciousness". People just have to be conscious of the environment, their surroundings, etc. It must be taught. It must be educational, and it must be spread from people to people.

Of course not every fisherman is a "threat for the human race with their deadly hooks," or "barbarians that will destroy your property and terrorize you!" However, it's a matter of fact that usually the whole pays for a small sum of its whole, specially when it comes to reputation and human judgement. Sometimes it takes a person to see two fisherman littering to believe that all fishermen litter. Isn't it the same when it comes to race stereotypes? Think about it. Sometimes the person understands that not everyone is like that. However, despite what is right and what is wrong, it seems that some people related to this pier will not cease to view us as villains.
 
Below are some pictures of the pier:

 

Due to the "Riding the Duck" trips on the left, the right side of the pier and the front were the only spots available for fishing. The area on the sides were shallow, and perfect for bait fish to hang around (and where there's bait fish, there's at least a lunker!). The bottom was muddy - snagless.

The guard rails were inclined by 45 degrees. That's something that I found extremely neat! By shifting the angle on the top, and being taller than our center of mass, it prevents more falls in the water; therefore, less drownings. 

Certainly a wonderful place to go with friends, or just to spend with the family. The environment is great - clean and protected.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.