Fishing and Exploring the Ridley Park Lake

Hello, Readers!
Today I'm here to introduce you guys the Ridley Park Lake in Ridley Park, west of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.
Getting tired of my regular fishing spots in Center City, I had decided to explore a little bit further! I used Google Earth to do a little bit of research, and found this small Lake in Ridley Park called "Ridley Park Lake." That was it...I decided to take a shot there!
After taking the Regional Rail (R2) all the way from 30th street station to Crum Lynne, I arrived at the Park with my friend Nadir G.. The Ridley Park Lake was actually located in-between Crum Lynne and Ridley Park stations (a 10 minutes short walk from the train station). The place turned out to be very peaceful, well conserved and clean.
Unfortunately, the lake suffered from a fish kill in the early June of 2011, and a huge portion of the fishes that populated the lake died. The water at the Lake was stagnant; therefore, the oxygen levels dropped dramatically. According to this website, the following Species of fish were found dead at the site: Koi, Common Carp, Largemouth Bass, Lake Trout (probably referring to Rainbow Trout), Bluegills, White Suckers, Rock Fish (probably referring to Green Sunfish), and Catfish. For more details, you may either google "Fish Kill Ridley Park," or access the website above.

I've heard of the Ridley Park since the beginning of Summer of 2011 mainly because of the nice concentration of Koi that is inside the lake. Upon arrival, Nadir and I were able to see at least two different types of Koi swimming in the Ridley Park Lake - a Sanke (White, with red and black portions on top) and a Yamabuki Ogon (Golden Carp). Also, there were a lot of Common Carp swimming around and performing intense spawning rituals. I chummed 2 different portions of the lake for the Carp, and it seems that they were just not in the mood to eat. I ended the day with zero Carp!

The fishing, however, was far away not bad. Nadir and I started at a little dock located at the center of the lake and fished the structure. We landed a good amount of Green Sunfish, and a very beautiful Golden Shiner! The Green Sunfish weren't really big, but the action was constant and Nadir G. was enjoying it. Also, I was already happy enough to see some Common Carps swimming around, and some Sunfish under the dock. That meant that the Lake still had life in it.


There were no signs of Largemouth Bass or "Lake Trout" (probably referring to Rainbows), which was sad. I cast lures around the Lake and didn't get a single bite. The Lake was a little bit muddy; however, very shallow at certain points. Therefore, I tried to spot some of them by naked eye, but ended up seeing nothing. I couldn't find them at that time, but I still hope that there are some left there.

Not surprisingly, the most fished fish of the day were the Yellow Bullheads. They are just so resistant to fish kills! They can live under extreme circumstances, and still survive. There were tons of small Yellow Bullheads at the lake, but none of them were hitting a good size. Anyways...even though they were small, they still put a great fight with loose drag and ultralight gear. So, Nadir G. and I had our fun for the day. We ended our day there with 13 Yellow Bullheads on nightcrawlers.
The Ridley Lake Park is actually a good spot for kids to catch their first Common Carp (up to 5-8 lbs), or just to have fun with the Sunfish and little Bullheads. It's a pleasant place fish at.
Pictures are below:
Still-fishing with Nadir G. for "whatever bites." We ended up getting a bunch of Yellow Bullheads, and nothing else!

The Ridley Park Lake is a pleasant place to fish with kids and family. Most of the fish are small; however, there are decent sized Commons Carps swimming in it.

Ridley Park Lake from another angle.

A little nice Yellow Bullhead, caught on a piece of nightcrawler.

I believe that the Green Sunfish were the only Sunfish Species of fish that did not die during the fish kill in 2011.

Another Green Sunfish, caught on a piece of nightcrawler under the dock.

A beautiful little Golden Shiner.


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 Ridley Park 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 Ridley Park Lake 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 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, spawning, and rare Species of fish), Also, please avoid practicing non-point source pollution (i.e. littering)! 

Best luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Another Muddy day at the Schuylkill Banks

Yesterday was another weird day at the Schuylkill Banks: scattered thunderstorms during the day, and a muddy river with altered current.


It was pretty interesting. It started raining at 10 in the morning, and stopped at 11. Then, started again 3 in the afternoon, with some thundering and lightning, and stopped once again at 5:30 p.m.. Once the rain stopped, the river started to get turbulent at 6 p.m., and water levels started to rise above the maximum level of high tide. The flow became so strong that my 1oz sinker wasn't even hitting the bottom of the river...that's how bad it was!


Highlights of the day goes to my beautiful yellow perch; my friend NG's big Catfish; and a 15lb+ Flathead Catfish that I lost right in front of me - it snapped my hook, and swam away. I caught that one purely by accident, on a size #4 hook. I actually hooked an American Eel on a Nightcrawlers, and the Flathead ate the whole Eel. Funny, isn't it? Fishing is just like life: we never know what may happen! Since I lost it, I don't really have any pictures of it. You will have to take my word. =)

Pictures are below:


Beautiful Yellow Perch caught under the Walnut Street bridge



My friend NG holding his big Catfish. Please, don't mind his creepy face in this picture - he was too excited with the fish! =)



Best luck for all of us!


Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

Striped Bass in the Schuylkill River: Myth or Fact?

The Schuylkill is home to many different kinds of species of fish. In terms of diversity, it's not an exaggeration to say that this river beats all the other waters around us easily! At night time, a possible Walleye or Musky at the Fairmount Dam. At day time, constant White Perch and Catfish action when the circumstances allow. Sunfish and Crappies can be fished under certain structures, and Carp can be landed at certain times of the year - with some effort. If you get lucky, you may end up landing a Beautiful Pumpkin Seed for your aquarium at home! Flatheads can easily become the night watchers at different portions of the river, and eels can become easy prey after heavy periods of rain. In the Spring, there's Striped Bass spawning, and the famous "Shad Run": American and Hickory Shad ready to be caught on Shad Darts, and so on. Occasionally, one may land a nice sized Yellow Perch by the end of Winter, and some Spot fish on Fall. With some persistence, a fisherman will surely catch some Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass next to the Falls. As I mentioned before, one of the richest spots in the city is the Schuylkill River, which some people, unfortunately, still refer to it as "City Sewer". Also, emphasizing a little bit, it's also not an exaggeration to say that the waters under the Fairmount Dam may be the BEST spot in Philadelphia - one of the most productive and unexpected spots! I like to say that surprises awaits different fishermen under the Dam.

Today's topic is short, and simple: Are Striped Bass really living in the Schuylkill River? Or are they only present during their run in Spring?

It's a matter of fact that the Striped Bass is naturally a fish from coastal waters. However, during the 1900's, people finally discovered that they had the ability to adapt to fresh water; specially after the incident at South Carolina: when waters from Santee and Cooper rivers were dammed in 1941. Striped Bass were trapped above the dam, and soon they adapted to it. After that, many different states had the excellent idea to create different stocking programs for this species of fish.

Some say that when a school of Striped Bass hits the surface in search of bait fish, there's no faster fishing! They will hit anything that tops the water, or gets close to them! And this is no myth: just a couple weeks ago, I've seen people get small Striped Bass at the Fairmount Dam using chicken livers on a size #4 hook, and a float.

Curiously, my friend RZ fished a small Striped Bass today at the Schuylkill Banks. It's very curious because the current of the river was altered, and the river was very muddy. Obviously this fish wasn't running up the river to spawn (they did that in Spring already). Therefore, the most reasonable explanation is that they are THERE. They are in the river! And you know what fisherman usually says, right? If there is a small one, there's a big one! It's true that this sentence is not completely true, hence some waters don't have enough conditions to breed big fish. However, the Schuylkill is far away from being one of those waters, and I hope to see the day that this river will be able to hold Trophy fish! Hopefully the quality of the water will keep increasing over the years, as consistent water treatment is made, and people become more conscious about environmental conservation.

What are the chances of getting a big Striped Bass at the Fairmount Dam in this season of the year? I have no idea, hence I'm not an expert in the area. However, let's not forget that the Striped Bass is a member of the Temperate Bass family...and this family is known to be one of the strongest fighting Game fish! Therefore, it's very worth to give it a try at the Dam!

Below are the images of the Striped Bass RZ caught today. All credits to him and his smiley face (just like a kid)! It's his first Striped Bass of the year! =)







Best of luck for all of us!


Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

"The ABCs of Fishing" - 26 Important Fishing Tips

Long time ago, I read a part of a book called "Fishing Basics" by Gene Kugach. In it, it had a "Fishing alphabet" - basically 26 tips to improve fishing. Being a compulsive fisherman that I am, I had to comment on it one day. Therefore, I'm presenting to you - readers - my comments (based on my fishing experiences) on Gene Kugach's "Fishing Alphabet". Notice that I'll quote all the parts that belongs to the book, and I highly recommend YOU to buy the book if you feel you are interested in its content.

"A - Attraction: Make the Bait the Center of Attraction. To enhance the attractiveness of your bait, keep your equipment simple - use light gear, lines and hooks."

When I fish for White Perch or Sunfish in areas that are known to me (meaning areas without submerged debris - in other words, free of "snags"), I use bottom trolling with light gear. Light hook (usually number 10), split shots, and 6lb line. Therefore, the bait becomes basically the center of attraction. Combined with the movement, there's always a high chance of a reaction from the fish. Also, this tip was made for Carping with hair-rig, seriously! If you are a Carp fisherman, you will surely know what I am talking about.

"B - Baiting: When baiting up, put the bait on properly. Tie secure knots and hook the bait the right way."

My father always used to scold me for lazily putting the worm on the hook. If you are a serious fisherman, you should consider the fact that you want your bait to be covering as much surface of the hook as possible. In other words, you want to "hide" your hook as good as possible. Depending on the bait, it may be impossible to cover the whole hook. However, it's always a good idea to cover the whole thing. When I used to fish back in Brazil, the Nile Tilapias wouldn't eat your bait (as presentable as it could be) if it wasn't covering the hook COMPLETELY. Maybe by being fished and released constantly, they learnt (instincts) how dangerous that hook was. Knots are even MORE important than baiting. You may hook a HUGE fish. When that happens, you certainly want to make sure that your knots are tied good. Can you imagine waiting for a big fish for hours, and finding out that it escaped because the knot wasn't "good enough"? Yeah...this happened to me one day.

"C - Clean: Keep your hooks, lures, and bait clean: Always remove weeds, algae, and the like from your hooks, lures, lines, and bait."

Keeping your bait presentable is very important. When I was little, I used to re-cast my rod even knowing that there was a little bit of dirt on the hook, together with the worm. Well...a catfish will eventually hit it, certainly. However, other species of fish may look at it and not eat it because the bait is "weird looking", for example. A good example for this is the Carp. A big Carp may easily skip your baited corn because of a little bit of mud on it, or a leaf, or something similar. When I fish at the FDR Park in South Philadelphia (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) for Bass and Snakeheads, I always make sure to clean my lures before casting again.

"D - Disturb: Disturb the bottom with your bait or lure. Give the bait or lure some action. Bounce it on the bottom."

Trolling is an example of disturbing the bait on the bottom. I'll use the White Perch as an example, once again. It's common to still fish for White Perch. However, when trolling, your chances of getting a White Perch in a shorter amount of time (than still fishing) increase dramatically. Also, when I fish at the Schuylkill Banks for sunfish (for example), I always disturb my bait by changing the depth of the bait (releasing or reeling a bit of line). As soon as the fish feels the movement of the bait by sensing its vibrations, it will get closer to it out of curiosity. If it's a presentable bait, it will eat it.

Sometimes a fish bites once, and stops biting. By reaction, some fishermen hold the fishing rod in their hands, and "feels the fish" for a little bit. Other fishermen get really close to the fishing rod, watching for the next bite. Disturbing the bait a little bit after a bite is not a bad idea. Sometimes the fish is still around, and it may bite once again (if it didn't take your bait) when it feels the movement of the bait on the bottom.

"E - Equipment: Select the proper equipment. Use the right equipment for the type of fishing you will be doing. Bait casting, spinning or fly fishing?"

Using the appropriate rods, reels, lines, etc is very important. I would never use Braided line (my preference) for constantly casting a lure. When it comes to bait casting, I usually use Monofilament. Sizes apply as well: I would never use a size 2 hook to fish for sunfish or perch because their mouth is clearly too small for such a big hook. Also, I wouldn't use a trout rod to fish for Catfish (even though I did that in the past once), hence it can easily break. When fishing for Carp, I want to make sure that I have a reel with a really good drag, so it can resist a good fight.

"F - Find: Find the best areas to fish. Look for areas that provide cover for the fish. Fish the bars, points, reefs and weed beds. Try different places until you locate the productive areas."

Once I believed that "if fish is there, fish should be here as well". Well...it turned out eventually that I was extremely wrong. One should always change locations often, specially fishing in new areas. Also, it's very advisable to always fish over structures or around huge debris under the water. It's a matter of fact that one cannot fish a Walleye at any portion of the Schuylkill, and that Crappies are found usually at certain spots. Fish have their own spots due to a lot of different reasons (oxygen levels, feeding areas, cover - habitat, etc). Like my friend Louis C. once said: "Fish where the fish is".

"G - Give: Give 'em time to take the bait. Don't be anxious to set the hook. Let the fish run with the bait and give them time to get the bait down. Once you take it away, chances are they won't pick it up a second time."

Many anglers make this mistake, specially new ones to this sport: they get too excited, too anxious, and "ZUMMM" - you see the rod bending like nuts as the person sets the hook. A good example to this tip is "Catfishing". Sometimes we see our rods bending strongly. However, it doesn't mean the fish is hooked. Sometimes it takes a fish a good 4-6 times of bending to really chug the bait down and get hooked well. "Patience is a virtue", isn't it? Just as it says above, a fish will hardly pick the SAME BAIT in the SAME SPOT a second time. Therefore, every opportunity is a single opportunity, and every mistake is just a mistake.

"H - Home: Home is where the fish live. Drop-offs, bars, points, reefs and holes become "home" for fish. Fish the edges where the bottom changes abruptly."

It's very important to know where fish are located - where it's their habitat. It's no big deal to find out that the Fairmount Dam is a natural habitat for many different species of fish (including Walleyes, Striped Bass, Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass, etc). Also, it's very important to analyze currents in certain creeks: sometimes one may find spots where trout resides. With all this man-made stuff around us these days, fishing around sunk objects are not a bad idea neither. I've heard rumors that a good sized Flathead Catfish lives under a big rock after the Boat Row...

"I - Identify: Be able to identify your catch. Know your fish - learn to identify them. Learn about their habits, the food they like, their spawning season, and so on."

Basically, it's good to do some homework before going out to fish. It's a bad idea to go out with minnows while fishing for Carp, or going out with bread while fishing for Trout. It's certainly essential to know what they eat. It's good to know what times of the day certain species bites, or under what set of circumstances. You want a challenge? Go fish a Musky in the Schuylkill River. I'm sure you will need to do a lot of homework before you can catch one.

Being able to identify the catch is a big plus. After all, it saves us from being ashamed, isn't it? It's nice to answer a person correctly when asking for information on the fish you caught. It's bad if the person doesn't know the different between a Striped Bass and a White Perch. Other times, it's still OKAY to miss the species. For example, it's not easy to distinguish a Hickory from an American Shad if you are not a Shad fisherman. However, it's easy to distinguish a Gizzard Shad from those two. Sometimes it's really hard to distinguish a White Catfish from other species as well...believe me.

"J - Judgment: Use good judgment when selecting areas to fish. Pick your spots according to the needs and habits of the fish. Learn how to cast properly and accurately."

Picking good spots is absolutely a PLUS. Having a good judgment is absolutely a PLUS. While fishing for Trout, for example, it's good to pick the good spots. If a fisherman has a poor judgment, and decides to fish a very shallow and stagnant area for Trout, the same will not only end up empty-handed, but also may end up losing his/her equipment on rocks, etc. Therefore, it's good to have a nice judgment when it comes to spots, and it's even more important to cast good. A fisherman with a good and accurate cast has chances of landing better fish, specially when it comes to Bass. Dexterity is absolutely important when it comes to fishing.

"K - Knots: Tie your knots properly. Learn the proper way to tie knots and take the time to tie your knots securely. Use plenty of working line. Pull your knot with a steady, even motion until it's tight. Don't trim the tag end too close."

Knots are EXTREMELY important, as I mentioned above. It's good to master different types of knots for different circumstances (line to swivel, line to hook, line to sinker, line to line, line to reel, etc). Tying a line to another line with a regular knot is absolutely a bad idea! Therefore, it's good to learn different styles, and apply their use. While doing the knot, it's good to be precise...and even good to apply some extra strength to the line after the knot is tied correctly. As mentioned above, it's not a good idea to trim the tag end too close - your knot (depending on which one) may end up undoing itself if the tag end is too close. however, if there's too much tag end, your equipment may be less presentable inside the water, and your chances of getting a fish may be reduced.

"L - License: Always carry a fishing license. Always buy a fishing license and carry it with you. It is illegal to fish without a license. Besides, most states use the license fees to improve fishing programs."

A fishing license is essential, specially if you don't want your equipment "towed", or a fine in your pocket. When you least expect, the Boat and Commission may be around you! Therefore, always carry it with you. I'm 100% in favor of fishing licenses, and I think everyone should buy one. I've seem many fisherman fish without it, and I'm not judgemental - I prefer to think that it's inside their pockets (I carry mine inside my pocket). If you don't have one yet, it's a good idea to purchase one. It can be easily purchased online, at the website below:
http://fishandboat.com/license.htm
Your money will be going for a good cause, people will look at you with more respect, and you will be expanding the horizons of this wonderful sport that is called angling.

"M - Map: Use a contour map when possible. Try to get a map from the state or county, or from a bait shop near the lake you will be fishing."

If you don't want to get lost, that's a good suggestion. Believe it or not, I once got lost inside the FDR Park (far behind the Park, next to I-95). It was scary, and thanks God I was able to remember the way back (I rely a lot on my memory, which is a good memory). This is a good suggestion when adventuring ourselves into new territory. Particularly, I use Google Earth, and I'm very cautious when adventuring myself in new places. I'll go to certain places if I have company with me, and I'll never go to some places alone. Think carefully before fishing at certain spots, specially if you are alone. Sometimes, fishing can be extremely dangerous.

"N - Noise: Keep the noise at a minimum. Don't scare the fish. Make as little noise as possible. Put your anchor in gently."

People usually don't quite understand well this tip, so I'll explain the definition of "noise" in this situation. Okay....let's get scientific for a little bit:

We talk, therefore we generate sound. Sound is basically a wave; therefore, we generate waves. Waves need to travel through a medium (An intermediate: Air is a medium, water is another medium) to reach others. Therefore, our vocal cords produces specific vibrations. These vibrations become waves that travel through the air until it reaches the ears of another person. Once in the ear, there's a whole process that converts those waves, so we can understand what the other person is saying. Therefore, we can conclude that we are producing noise when we talk. Anything that we can hear is also a noise (such as a bird singing, or something falling on the floor, etc.) One other definition of noise is basically "loud and unwanted waves". However, the most important point of this scientific talk is not how waves are generated, but how waves TRAVEL - I'm talking about the MEDIUMS.

It's OKAY for us to sing while fishing, talk, or even listen to music. That will not scare the fish away because all the waves are travelling through the medium that we know as AIR. What we do NOT want: waves travelling through the medium that we know as WATER.

Therefore, you do not want to drop your anchor strongly in the water (which does generate NOISE: you can hear a "Splash") because waves are going to travel in the water, and the fish will be scared away. You do not want to stomp your feet while fishing because those waves can easily travel from solid objects to the water. You do not want to throw rocks in the water (many people do that to me while I'm fishing, and I hate it), or even release (throw) the fish next to where you are fishing. You want to create waves in the water as little as possible, hence the fish can easily detect those vibrations.

"O - Observe: Observe other fishermen. Ask questions to other people who are fishing. Ask what they caught, where they caught it, what bait they used, and so on."

Did you ever want to become a spy? Here's your opportunity! This is part of doing your homework before going fishing: stealing any possible information from your fellow fishermen. And don't feel bad about it because someone is going to ask you questions one day. Some people are gentle enough to share information, while others keep everything in secrecy. Despite which type do you find, keep in mind to always respect other fishermen. Don't force questions if the person doesn't want to answer them, and NEVER touch the person's equipment without its permission. Whoever one who does that to me WILL get scolded because that's one of the things I hate the most: people without manners.

"P - Presentation: Make your presentation appetizing. Try different presentations: very your retrieve, use different-colored lures, experiment with different baits."

One of the things I found out through experience was that the Crappies at the Schuylkill River (tidal) prefer yellow lures over any other colors. Through many sessions, and observations, I was able to conclude that they bite best on yellow. Also, through many sessions fishing for trout, I found out that half silver/ half golden spoons work better than completely silver or gold (at least that worked for me). In conclusion, always try different things! By that, I don't mean to put the worm through the head instead of the tail. When I go fishing, I usually bring at least two different types of bait, and at least 3 different types of lure. If one doesn't work, maybe another one will.

"Q - Quarry: Select the quarry you are after. Use the proper gear, lures, or bait for the type of fish you're after."

Sometimes I get out of my house with a goal: "Today is sunfish". I get my Trout rod with a light action reel, 6lb line test, split shots, and size #10 hook. Other days, I go out thinking "Today is catfish". I get my medium action rod with my Shimano 4000, 14lb fluorocarbon (I could go as high as 20 - braided), 1-2oz sinkers, size #2-4 hooks. In other words, it's always good to have targets in mind, and be prepared for them!

"R - Rig: Rig your equipment properly. Know your gear and how to rig it. Improperly rigged equipment will cause backlashes, tangles, and the possibility of losing a trophy fish."

One thing that I always do is check my line before casting my rod. I always check if the line is loose, and not tangled somewhere. Also, I avoid rigs that tangles easily. The one that I use the most is the Egg sinker + Snap swivel. 1 oz sinker works the best for me...

"S - Structure: Always fish structure. Learn what it is and how it affects fish. Fish underwater points, drop offs or bars, deep edges of weed beds, submerged logs, and so forth."

This is a GODLY tip: always fish STRUCTURE! Some people stay away from them, afraid of getting snags. However, those spots can turn out to be the BEST SPOTS. Time for stories...

One day I was fishing for catfish at the Schuylkill Banks, next to the "loop" (the white little boat next to Walnut Street). I set one rod for Catfish, and the other rod for Sunfish/Perch/Eel (whatever hits on Nightcrawlers). It turned out that no sunfish hit on the Nightcrawler rod. I decided to be a little bit adventurous, and go fish next to the loop (which was covered with litter, literally). Guess what? I caught 10 sunfish in less than 5 minutes... Structure is what it matters!

One day I was fishing for Trout at the Pennypack Park, up to the Fox Chase farm. No luck at the creek, whatsoever. I decided to hit under a bridge, just for fun. There were some bats flying around there, and it didn't look very promising, but there was a HUGE Trout over there. I'm still trying to catch that one till today, if someone didn't get it yet. Structure is what it matters!

One day I was fishing for sunfish at the FDR Park (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). I walked all around the main lake, and had no luck. Then, when I decided to give a shot at a small puddle of water behind the pier over there, it was a blast! Again...structure.

Fishing structure is good most of the time. My advice? Never ignore structure...

"T - Temperature: Know the water temperature fish prefer. All fish species prefer certain water temperatures and seek out the depths that suit them best. Learn those depths and you will catch more fish."

I would recommend all readers to read my post on "Fish, Temperature, and Oxygen at the Wissahickon Park":
http://extremephillyfishing.blogspot.com/2011/07/fish-temperature-and-oxygen-at.html
Even though it talks about the Wiss, it is still very informative when it comes to water temperature. Certain fish only bite through certain water temperatures. Be aware that it's very important to measure the water temperature. For example: let's say that we had a heat wave for 5 days, and the 6Th day was finally cool. This does not mean that the temperature of the water has cooled down as well, as water takes much more time than air to cool down. Therefore, a person may go out thinking it's going to be really good, and not catch a single fish. Particularly, I always carry a thermometer to measure the temperature of water when I think it's necessary. Sometimes, it's really important to know it.

"U - Utilize: Utilize proven methods and techniques. Learn tried and true techniques like jigging, live lining, trolling, mooching, and still fishing. Find out what has worked for other anglers."

Don't be stubborn when it comes to fishing. Being stubborn is going to be your "down fall". If you see your technique or bait is not working, shift to something else. If you see everyone is getting fish on Nightcrawlers, and you are using corn...that's a good sign that you should change your bait as well! When it comes to different fishing techniques, unfortunately I didn't try some of them yet, simply because I do not own a boat. However, I did try some of them (my specialties are trolling in middle or deep water, and still fishing), and it's always good to change your techniques when fish are not biting.

"V - Variety: Use a variety of baits, lures, and other approaches. If the fish aren't biting, vary your approach - your bait, your presentation, your rig - until you find what works."

Exactly as I said above, huh? Varying your bait is essential for successfully landing a fish. Through my experiences, I've caught fish in a large range of different assortments of bait. I've caught Carp on pieces of Banana, and Trout on BubbleGum. I'm always trying new stuff, and holding myself to the good old worms. This does not mean that you should go out and put a piece of Lasagna on your hook! However, putting a little piece of linguine on is not a bad idea...Who knows...you might get lucky! After all, one of the excitements of fishing is never knowing what's coming up next.

"W - Weather: Watch the weather. If you're on the water, keep an eye out for storms. Don't fish in a lightning storm. Watch the weather reports for approaching cold fronts and other threatening conditions."

This is so important: always WATCH it before you go out, so you can get ready for the day. My favorite website for checking weather here in Philadelphia is below. I check it everyday, and I like the fact that it gives conditions by hour:
http://www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/USPA1276
You just have to imput the zipcode of the area you are fishing at, and Ta-da! There we go: like magic! I'm crazy enough to fish under thunderstorms, but I would recommend all of you to not do so. I'm very aware of the material my fishing rods are made off, and I'm constantly fishing at lower altitudes when thunderstorming, meaning that there are higher lightning attractants above me.

X - "X" marks the spot: Mark an "X" on your map where you've caught a fish. Keep records of your catches. Get a map of the lake you are fishing or make one and mark the spots that are productive."

Collecting data is very important, and I've been taught to do so since I was a kid. Writing things down; measuring fish; remembering locations; are always a plus! While fishing at lakes, it's an extra plus. Also, this is a very good technique while fishing for Crappies, hence they are quite hard to find at certain times of the year.

Sometimes we can learn about their migration around certain waters just by marking "X"s around our maps. At the tidal Schuylkill, for example, I've a map (I created it myself) for Black Crappies that work like magic!

"Y - Yield: Using "A" through "Z" yields results. Learning the basics and applying them will result in successful fishing. Remember to make your bait the center of attraction, select the proper equipment, use good judgment and always fish structure."

Reading is certainly one thing. Applying it in real life is certainly another thing. You can easily read this whole post and say: "okay, now I know all about it". However, if you don't apply all of these next time you go fishing, nothing is really going to change. Following these rules are not a must; however, it will eventually bring great results if followed! It's always through improving our skills and techniques that we become sharper when it comes to fishing.

"Z - Zone: Fish in the fish zone - where the fish live. Locate the zone where the fish are likely to be. This zone will provide some type of structure, giving you access to everything from deep water to the shallows."

I always classify my zones in two: Fish or Dead. Therefore, I'm fishing either a zone with fish, or a zone that is dead. It's very important for a fisherman to be able to differentiate these two areas: you do not want to spend hours in a dead zone, wishing that fish will eventually swim there. Of course there are countless factors that may influence the zones; and fish zones can turn into dead zones and vice-versa. Therefore, again, do your homework before going fishing.

Also, this concept can be directly applied when it comes to different depths. It's incredible how different depths can bring you different fish. Some people watch me getting sunfish at the Schuylkill Banks, and they think it's an easy feature to do so. Well...it's not that simple. In order to catch some fish, such as the Bluegills or the Yellow Perch, one must know first their respective "depths". Then, when you position your bait in that zone, you are more likely to get one of them. It's important to always research your own zones, and be aware of different circumstances that can turn your fishing zone into a dead zone. Good luck with that!

I hope this was an informative post for you guys.

Best of luck for all of us!

Long days and pleasant nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Bass Expertise - Catching a 6lb+ Bass in Bucks County

It's been a while since I really wanted to write an article on "Christopher Eife" - a friend I first met on PAC (Philadelphia Anglers Club). While my fishing is not specialized in Bass fishing, Chris' expertise is in catching Bass in and near Philadelphia. Knowing that many people in Philly are just CRAZY about getting Bass (after all, their top water fights can be extremely entertaining and powerful), I finally decided asking him for permission to write and publish a small blog article on him. Therefore, with his okay, I hope you all enjoy the post below. Now it's not about me: it's about Chris!


Chris E. is certainly one of the most adventurous fisherman I ever met. When it comes to exploring new places, adventuring oneself into unknown waters and unexpected spots - Chris is absolutely the best shot. Don't ever be surprised if you encounter him at places you never thought you would because it's possible! As a matter of fact, there's a picture below that portraits him in a very excluded area - what seems to be a pillar of support that belongs to a bridge. It's common and logical to think that the best fish should be always in the most remote locations; places that people don't usually go or fish.


Recently, Chris achieved something that I've been longing to post here in this Blog: he fished a 6lb+ Bass near Philadelphia (In Bucks County). Now...it's well known in the United States of America that many of its watersheds can breed "trophy fish"; "trophy Bass". However, specifically around Philadelphia, I've been longing to see some Big Bass! Chris is here to prove to you that it's possible to fish a good sized Bass without travelling too far.


According to him, he caught his six pounder on a stick worm, on waters close to Northeast Philadelphia (the location is a secret. Sorry, people!). However, he had seen the Bass before. The Largemouth Bass was officially caught and pictured on August 12Th. However, he had seen the fish on July 30Th, when his friend "had something extremely huge on". All it took was to wait a little bit of time (a matter of a couple days), and go back to that spot. The Bass was definitely hungry for his lure...


Below are some pictures of CE with his fish. Enjoy!


His PB (personal best) Largemouth Bass. Surely a monster considering the size of a regular Bass around here.



CE holding a Catfish somewhere; Lord knows where. When it comes to adventure, as I mentioned before, he's #1.

CE with another good sized Largemouth Bass.


CE with a Largemouth Bass, directly from a creek.


There's certainly a huge variety of species around us... and Bass is absolutely one of them.


Best of luck for all of us, and for CE as well!


Long days and pleasant nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

There's certainly been a lot of rain lately. However, weather itself does not stop crazy fishermen from fishing, does it? As my friends RZ (I first met at the PAC forum - Philadelphia Angler's Club) and Nadir Garvin (I first met at the Walnut street bridge last year) would say: "Let's go fishing!" And we did. And we caught a good amount of fish; and we had a lot of fun!


I did a couple sessions at the Tidal portion of the Schuylkill River these days, with one or both of them. A couple days ago, I did my first session with RZ near the Spring Garden section of the river. At the same day, Nadir Garvin was fishing in between the Market St. Bridge and Spring Garden. Secondly, after a day, RZ and me fished two different spots: between Walnut and Chestnut bridges, and between Locust and the Walnut Bridge - both spots showing good fish. Finally, yesterday, Nadir Garvin, RZ, and me were fishing between Walnut and Chestnut Bridges.


As the rain came and passed many times, fishing showed up to be very very promising. The huge amounts of eels were present from the first session until the last one, yesterday (after all, the river was muddy all the way through our sessions). In total, I've caught 44 eels on nightcrawlers during these past 3 sessions, the biggest one being 18 inches (picture is all below the post). RZ had his first eel as well, which ended up good. Nadir, on the other hand, fell victim to them: his line got all tangled and slimy because of these little "knot-masters". It's good to remind all fishermen that eels are a very curious type of fish (they spawn at the Sargasso Sea, and many factors about their behaviors cannot be explained by scientists yet), not to mention that they become really messy once they are outside of the water. Myself, particularly; I feel amazed every time I see a knot made by an eel on my line. They are absolutely the best knot makers in the World! Their body is naturally slimy, and flexible to the extremes. They can easily flip their bodies in a "S" motion, and rotate themselves 360 degrees while being hooked, messing up all your line! It handled without gloves, or protection, they leave a trace of slime on your hands that may last you two days, watching it constantly. In other words, they are good bait (which is the reason I fish and freeze them); However, really nasty to handle.


The populations of White Perch were in demand these past days. Once the river gets muddy, and the quality of the water drops (more particles = less oxygen), the White Perch tend to stay in deep places - under structures, or hiding in slow pools. However, once in a while they do feed in the bottom. All three of us fished one of them successfully in these past sessions, but none of them were extremely big. RZ was fishing ONLY with chicken "guts" (liver, heart, God knows what); Nadir was fishing mostly with Nightcrawlers; and I was focusing mostly on Nightcrawlers, and pieces of fish. The White Perch were caught on Nightcrawlers and chicken "guts" (I'll guess a piece of chicken liver? hehe)


There were absolutely no Yellow Perch (their population is already candidate in the Schuylkill River); which was not a surprise, considering that they don't bite in certain kinds of circumstances (e.g when the river is muddy or the current of the river is altered).


Spots are not present in the river yet, but they will be there soon (hopefully). In the past two years, my experience was that the Spots come to the river on Fall, between the beginning of September until the end of November. They usually feed on Nightcrawlers, and I have a hint that they feed on little mollusks and clams at the place where I usually fish for them. They are usually juveniles, portraying a fish with purple stripes. For the ones not familiar with Spots, feel free to browse the links below:


Picture of a Spot:


Article on "What are Spot Fish"?



On my last session, I had a little sunfish frenzy with my friend Nadir. We fished over some structure next to the "loop", which is the little white boat located in between Walnut and Chestnut Bridges that belongs to the Schuylkill Banks Organization. I caught my biggest sunfish at the Schuylkill River this year over there. They were sincerely hitting on nightcrawlers like crazy. It was absolutely a good experience. The picture of my sunfish is below as well.


Of course the main event of all these fish sessions was the CATFISH. Once the river gets muddy, specially after short/heavy periods of rain, these fish get extremely active. Also, the chances of landing a big catfish increase dramatically when the river is muddy, and the current is faster. Also, chances of landing Flatheads also increase dramatically. First, for more information on "Flatties", you can access the website below, which belongs to the Boat and Commission:


The only Flathead I landed in these past sessions was a very small one, 4-5 inches, and I was happy to do so. RZ asked me a very interesting question recently: "What's the average population of Flatheads compared to the Channels in the tidal Schuylkill River?" Well, I'm not scientist when it comes to Flatheads, neither am I a specialist on it. However, if I were to give away a guess from my fishing experiences, the amount of flatheads I've caught from the section below the Fairmount Dam and Locust St., my best shot would be 200-1. In other words, for every two hundred Channel Catfish there's one Flathead. Of course their concentration would be higher at the base of dam; However, they are certainly lonely warriors. The picture of the small Flathead is below.


The Channels were absolutely awesome in the past couple days. They put up gorgeous fights, living up to their names. RZ's biggest one was 5.5lb (the picture is below), being the winner among the three of us! Seems that the chicken guts are an extremely powerful weapon against Channels. Maybe it's like a Cheese steak to them, or a pack of Doritos (I love these stuff), lord knows! But literally, RZ couldn't handle both rods at certain times. While he was landing one fish, the other one was bending! For someone who started fishing catfish a couple days ago, he is doing more than pretty good - he is doing VERY WELL. It was extraordinary, and we have ourselves a very successful Catfish fisherman.


Also, RZ fished a very unusual Jet-Black Channel Catfish. It's not the first time I've seen one of these: full black body, as if covered in petroleum. Small eyes (sometimes nonexistent), and beautiful! The picture of the Jet-Black is below as well.


Nadir didn't do bad neither. He landed most of the White Perch (we got ourselves another winner. I think he landed more White Perch in his life than anything else!), and his biggest catfish ended being 3lb (caught on a Nightcrawler). His fishing may be a little bit "blessed", "special", but he definitely has a heart and soul of a fisherman. The picture of his 3lb Catfish is below as well.


I ended with a 4lb catfish caught on a piece of Gizzard Shad. I was sincerely expecting bigger ones, but I didn't get lucky this time. I won't give up, though...I'll be constantly hitting the river this year until I land a 7lb+. So, I guess people will be seeing me there a lot!


Notice that the pictures were taken from different cameras; therefore, please, don't hate the quality. Despite the quality of the pictures, the purpose is clearly to show the fish. Also, all pictures of people are published here with their authorizations.


I didn't quite measure this one. Nadir took this picture for me, so it's a proof that I got at least one. Hahaha.



Even though the quality of the picture is not good, notice how the tip of the rod is bending. Catfish are good fighters, and not well-known here in Philadelphia. If you are a fisherman, I highly recommend "Catfishing".

A Picture of RZ with his second best Channel Catfish (a bit less than 5.5lb)


RZ's Jet-Black Channel Catfish. Very small eyes.


Another close picture of the Jet-Black Catfish.


My biggest sunfish of this year at the tidal Schuylkill. It was caught next to the "loop".


Nadir's 3lb Channel Catfish. Unfortunately, this picture was taken without anything in reference with. Therefore, it's hard to picture how small/big the fish was. However, it measured 3lbs.


Biggest eel of these sessions: 18 inches long.


Fishing in between Market and Chestnut St. Bridges at night time. The view is surely beautiful.


Cute small Flathead Catfish caught between Market and Chestnut St. Bridges. 4-5 inches long.


Fishing between Chestnut and Walnut st. Bridges. Notice how muddy the river is, and how the color is different from its usual.


Same location as above.


RZ with his best Channel Catfish: 5.5lb. Please, don't notice his closed eyes and happy smile (he was too excited!). The fish is gorgeous!


This picture has nothing to do with our last sessions. I accidentally put this picture up, and felt lazy to delete it. This is a batch of White Perch that I caught a week ago for heavy metal experiments. All of them were caught on Nightcrawlers.


Fishing next to Spring Garden with RZ. Beautiful view! Beautiful sky!



Hope you all enjoyed this post. It's been good fishing lately at the Schuylkill river!


Best of luck for all of us!


Long days and pleasant nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

Fishing for Different Species at the Tidal Schuylkill River

This morning started as a beautiful day! Very good weather to fish. It did get a little bit hot during noon, but the weather was still nice compared to the other days.


Anyways...I'll make today's post short - I'll make it a QUIZ! So, I've heard ALL THESE PEOPLE passing by, and telling me how the Schuylkill river is "dirty"; "there can't be fish inside the river"; "they don't have the right conditions to survive"; etc.


Well...that's a MYTH. Any fisherman that knows the city knows the fact that the Schuylkill River is a valuable place to fish. Therefore, we should sincerely conserve it as much as we can. Incredibly, the water temperature; depth; oxygen levels; pH of water; structure; allows many different species of fish to survive in the Tidal waters of the Schuylkill River.


I did a good session today, pursuing different species of fish along the river. Like I said above, it's QUIZ time. Readers: Can you identify the different kinds of fish below?


FISH A

FISH B
FISH C

FISH D

FISH E

FISH F

FISH G

FISH H

FISH I





FISH J - Three pictures above

FISH K


It's definitely good to know that these different kinds of species are inside the river, despite its sizes. It means that their aquatic cycles of spawning and growing are doing good. Credits for my friend Nadir Garvin for fishing FISH B. Note that most fish were caught on Nightcrawlers, and few caught on pieces of eel. Note also that its evident that FISH H, for example, is a catfish. That's why you should try to guess its full species' name!


Have fun, people...and I hope you all get a lot of fish.


Best of luck for all of us!


Long days and pleasant nights


Sincerely,


Leo S.

Important Concepts for Harvesting Fish in Pennsylvania

Angling is certainly a fun sport, and there's always the question of what to do with the fish once it's landed. On one hand, some fishermen put them back - they practice the "catch and release", and fish for the fight, excitement, and the sport. On the other hand, some take the fish home - they appreciate the fight, as well as the flavor of the fish (Some species are extremely good table shares). Of course there are a set of rules for taking certain species of fish in Pennsylvania, as well as minimum requirements (in terms of size, for example).


As a matter of fact, I went fishing at the Schuylkill Banks yesterday (Walnut street bridge), and ended the day harvesting 42 White Perch. Many people asked me if it was "legal" to take so many fish at one time, not to mention that some of them were really small. My answer was immediate: "There's a maximum limit per day, per species - which in the case of White Perch is 50 a day, and there's no minimum size to take it." Therefore, hence I've gotten so many questions about this subject, I've decided to post the Boat and Commission page on "Sizes, Seasons, and Creel Limit":


Please note that there are three factors that are very important when harvesting fish, as the title of the page implies:


(1) the period of the year you are fishing at: Some fish can only be harvested during certain seasons of the year. For example, the bass can't be harvested from April 16Th to June 17Th, which is the time for their spawning season. Other fish are opened year-round, and trout and salmon have special restrictions when it comes to their fishing periods.


(2) The size of your fish: Species that are abundant don't usually have a specific minimum size requirement (invasive species ALSO). The Gizzard Shad is one example, as well as the Carp, Perch, etc. Some fish, on the other hand, are not so abundant - such as fish from the Bass family. Therefore, one should always watch out for these regulations, and stay in legality.


(3) The maximum amount of fish you can take: For the same reasons stated above, some fish have a creel limit. Trout, which is stocked by the Boat and Commission, has a limit of ONLY 5 per day on the regular season. American Shad and Muskellunge are up to only 1 a day. The law for harvesting Striped Bass is also very strict: only 2 a day.


Note that taking fish that does not comply with the Boat and Commission's rules are strictly illegal, and will result in a penalty (probably a charge). If the person is nice enough, your equipment will stay with you. If not, they will even take your equipment away. These same rules also apply when the person is fishing without having a fishing license. I believe the minimum penalty for that is $120 dollars.


Also, please note that the Boat and Commission made these rules to protect the aquatic biodiversity and prevent overfishing. Also, they give suggestions towards many different species, as well as information on them, at their website below:


One example of a useful suggestion is the recommendation of taking Snakeheads out of the PA waters for being an invasive species. Another one is to take Flatheads out of the water for unbalancing the aquatic biodiversity. For more information on invasive species, feel free to check the Boat and Commission's websites below:


Lastly, it's VERY IMPORTANT to check the website below, which is on Threatened and Endangered species. Believe me: you do not want to hold a specie of fish that is classified under one of these two! You are going to gain a heavy penalty if the Boat and Commission sees you with it, not to mention that you are possibly killing a fish that is very valuable for its aquatic cycle. Even one fish counts when it comes to these two classifications. Also, note that there's a section for "Candidates", which means species of fish that can be classified as threatened or endangered in the future. Even though the Boat and Commission does not have a law to release them, one may consider the fact that they are endangered, and release them. The website is below:


And this is a direct link for the list of endangered species: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/058/chapter75/chap75toc.html


Once someone told me that laws are made towards certain actions surely because certain actions happened before. Therefore, people must have taken a lot of small fish in order for the Boat and Commission to create minimum size requirements, and so on. Overfishing is a scary global environmental problem, and possibly the nightmare for all fisherman! After all, what will be of us fishermen if one day we do not have fish to fish anymore? Two examples of overfishing can be clearly seen in Philadelphia right now:


(1) The populations of Smallmouth Bass in the Schuylkill River: One may say that their population is low due to the quality of the water. However, it's evident that this species of fish was over fished at the river. They were already in very small quantities, and fishermen didn't give them enough time to reproduce, and grow their populations. Nowadays, it's quite rare to land a good sized Smallmouth at the Schuylkill River; below the Fairmount Dam.


(2) The populations of Largemouth Bass and Snakehead in the Lakes at the FDR Park (Franklin Delano Roosevelt): Just because there are not rules for Snakeheads at the Boat and Commission's website, it does not mean that they should be taken or killed despite their sizes. As a matter of fact, the Commission highly encourages the removal of this species for being invasive here in PA. However, as a fisherman, it's up to the person to catch and release or take it. The quantities of fish at the FDR park dropped dramatically during the past years, and will continue to drop for two main factors: people are consecutively taking fish out of those waters, and those waters are not stocked right now.


It's up to us to take the right actions and preserve fish here in Philadelphia. Doesn't it hurt to think that our future generations will not be able to enjoy what we do simply because we are the ones destroying the aquatic environment right now? It's a matter of fact that the World is not sustainable right now. However, I truly believe we should do our best to at least preserve it the most we can. I've seen many fishermen complaining that the fishing is "not like before". Therefore, I'm just saying: we should all follow the laws, and work together for a better aquatic environment.


Reinforcing what I said above: what will be of us fisherman without fish in our waters?

Think carefully, as I did one day.


Best of luck for all of us!


Long days and pleasant nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

Visiting the Wissahickon with Nightcrawlers

I had the guts to go fishing at the Wissahickon yesterday morning, even knowing that the weather was not really good and reliable. I packed my equipment, and stuffed my bag with nightcrawlers, willing to get some bass or trout at the Wiss.



I arrived there at 9 a.m.. First, I hit the big and high dam right next to the Wissahickon Transfer Center. Equipped my rod with a size 10 hook, and a float (no weight). The sunfish were hitting the nightcrawlers like nuts! In less than 10 minutes, I got more than 20 sunfish. However, nothing extremely big.



After noticing that I wouldn't get anything big at the first dam yesterday, I walked up to the second dam. There, the sunfish proved to be a big bigger, but not as big as I've fished them there before. Also, I ended the day with two Smallmouth Bass, and a few Rock Bass (nothing really big, really).


Despite the lack of big fish, I have decided to post the pictures because the fish there are just BEAUTIFUL, gorgeous! Despite their size, they are extremely pretty.


Unfortunately, it started to rain not long after I arrived. I have to pack my equipment quickly, and run to the bus station. It ended up being a nice day, though - at least I got some fish.


The First dam




The Second dam


Above the second dam - notice how the water there is forming a whirlpool. Fish tend to swim in them.


One of the biggest sunfish of the day, which disappointed me. However, it's extremely beautiful!



One of the two Smallmouth Bass - also very small.



A picture of the Rock Bass, one of my favorite fish in Philadelphia. I LOVE the color of its eyes.



Another Rock Bass, a little bit chubbier, but still small.



Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take more pictures of the other fish due to the rain. I fished only for 35 minutes, and I'm sure I could have gotten something bigger if I stayed longer. However, the rain was just pouring, and I got soaked wet - even though I was under a tree.



Best luck for all of us!



Long Days and Pleasant Nights



Sincerely,



Leo S.