Fishing, Carping, and "Unknowing"

One of the top pleasures in fishing is the fact that you never know exactly WHAT will hit your hook. It could be "that fish" that you get at that spot all the time; maybe a new species that you never fished before; or even a piece of trash may get snagged - which would be a pain to drag and remove depending on its size and shape. The "unknown" is an very important factor in this sport that promotes excitement, boosts curiosity, and causes amazement.

I remember a couple years ago, when I first started fishing for catfish at the tidal Schuylkill River. I used to get the channel cats all the time. Soon, the white perch came - and I was astonished by that fish. After all, I've never seen it before, not to mention that fish are all beautiful to my eyes. Then, I continued for the regular channel cats, and often getting a couple white perch. Then, one day, after a couple rainy days, I got my first American eel in the river. To know that there were American eels in the river was a pain for me, since I consider them to be the true "knot masters". Once they get in your line, it's almost certain that they will tangle it better than you can possibly do it. I continued my journey fishing the Schuylkill and my curiosity for new species increased dramatically, not to mention my excitement. After that came the Yellow Perch, the Spot Croaker on fall (YES, there are spots on the Tidal Schuylkill, normally on fall), Largemouth Bass, and all different kinds of sunfish - even the rarely seen Pumpkin Seed (rarely seen at the Schuylkill), and the endangered Warmouth.

Due to my curiosity and my excitement, I had expanded my horizons by fishing different spots at the Schuylkill river. I moved from the Walnut bridge to a spot near Spring Garden, and there I caught my first Common Carp. I moved from that spot to the Fairmount Dam, and I caught my first walleye (small), Striped Bass (small), and Black Crappie. I couldn't believe there were Crappies in the river, as many other fishermen told me. However, after I fished there, I understood a critical concept in the World of fishing: just because the fish is not at your spot, doesn't mean the fish is not present in the river.

I have yet to fish many species in the Schuylkill River. I'm not presently targeting muskies or bowfins, but I would love to hook a Quillback Carpsucker! That's actually my next goal for this summer time.

A good example of "unknowing" happened to me yesterday. As a went fishing for Carp at Kelly Drive, many unusual things happened - things that I really didn't expect to happen!

First, something was biting on my rod. When the Carp hits, the rod bends in a very powerful way, as the fish runs the fastest it can. When the Catfish hits, the rod bends consecutively, as if following a music beat. When small white perch hits, the rod "shivers" and the line usually looses. In conclusion, every species of fish has their own way of hitting the bait, and the anglers that focus on those certain species know right away which one is hitting it (or at least they can have a hypothesis of it - a smart guess). Yesterday, something was hitting my rod - something I thought it was VERY SMALL. The tip of the rod was shaking just a little bit, and sometimes the rod would bend slightly as the line was being pushed. I really couldn't guess what kind of fish was that, and the "unknowing" made me think it was a Quillback Carpsucker. I got full of excitement thinking I was about to fish a new species of fish, and it ended up that the "fish" that was hitting my rod was a TURTLE. As a matter of fact, I fished two turtles yesterday at Kelly Drive on sweet corn. Isn't it funny how the unknown can turn excitement into frustration in a blink of a second? It was awful taking the hook out of its mouth, but it was even more awful knowing that if I snapped the line he would live with that hook in its mouth for a long time. Therefore, I did some effort to take it off CAREFULLY, harming as least as possible, and the turtle swam back safety.

Second, I was deceived by a fish! It was around eleven in the morning that I got a hit on my big rod. The drag was set really loose, so the line started to burn. The fish ran a good amount, but not enough for me to think it was a Carp. And just when I doubted my judgement, the fish slipped inside a hole (probably under a rock), and I got stuck. I really wanted to see what fish was there, and so I got frustrated thinking that I would lose that one. Instead of forcing or snapping the line, I just decided to wait. I could still feel the fish in the line, therefore I just left my rod on the holder. After 15 minutes of waiting, I finally saw my line moving from left to the center of the river! As I pulled the fish up, it surfaced on the water. For my surprised, it was a 5lb Catfish regurgitating AT LEAST half pound of my chummed corn! It's funny how I really didn't expect a catfish, specially because they don't usually bite at daytime at Kelly Drive, at this season of the year.

5lb Catfish

Weightning the fish

I stayed there from six in the morning until one-thirty in the afternoon. I ended the day with two turtles, one catfish, and two carp - 8lb and 12lb. It was a very productive day, and I was entirely satisfied at the end of the fishing session. Even if only ONE FISH showed up, I would still be satisfied. I always think positively, and one is better than nothing. Actually, anything is better than nothing.

12lb Carp

8lb Carp

Best of luck for all of us!

Stay tuned for future updates...

Long Days and Pleasant Nights.

Leo S.


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