3 in 1 - Fish Fest/Fisherman Statue/Walnut Bridge

Hello, Blog Readers!

I'm bringing you guys today 3 posts in 1, since I haven't had time to update the Blog at all. I'm actually quite surprised that I still have time to work on the Blog, since college is being pretty rough on me. I guess it's all about making time! =)

--- October 2nd, 2011 ---

I went fishing with Rob Z. and Nadir G. at the Walnut Street bridge, on the Schuylkill Banks. Sometimes it's nice to fish alone -- calm, peaceful; however, fishing with friends can also be lots of fun.

For this time of the year, the weather was pretty chilly already! You guys can even see my friend Nadir G. wearing some heavy clothes.
 
Fishing was okay -- we finished the day with some good Channel Catfish, as well as other Species of fish (photos are below).

Here's an extra -- my friend Nadir G. filmed me catching a fish on September 18th. He loves to film around, seriously...

I have to say that his videos always crack me up! Hahaha. I always end up laughing after watching them. They are low-quality; totally home-made and unexpected; however, that's why they are so much fun. 
 
Pictures of the different species of fish are below:
 
Young Channel Catfish from the Schuylkill River

Nice White Perch from the Schuylkill River

Good old Bluegill =)

Rob Z. with a small Striped Bass

Same fish, another angle.

Same fish, another angle. Caught on a piece of nightcrawler.

--- October 9th, 2011 ---

I decided to go fishing with a friend at the "Fisherman Statue" portion of the Schuylkill River (close to the Fairmount Dam). As you can see below, it's a very nice environment to fish at, not to mention that you can have a wonderful view of the Fairmount Dam.

I ended the day with a couple Channel Catfish (Biggest at 4.2lb), and a lot of small Stripped Bass. This is, indeed, a good surprise. After all, it truly proves that some of the Striped Bass that do the run on Spring and Fall have really adapted to fresh water over the years. They are all lurking around the dam now. =)

Pictures are below:
Channel Catfish caught at the fisherman statue.

This spot is definitely a good spot to fish at! It's closer to the Fairmount Dam, meaning that there are other Species of fish lurking around. Also, the surroundings are very nice.

The only problem with this spot is the number of snags. There are only a couple areas there that are "snag free." =/

During Fall, the small Striped Bass start to feed very aggressively. Sometimes one can catch 20-30 at a time. Chicken livers under a float is a good technique to catch them. Small in-line spinners and minnows will also work!

Good Cattie. =)

--- October 8th, 2011 ---

After a long time, the date of the Philly Fishing Fest finally arrived! The Fish Fest is an event that happens yearly on the Schuylkill Banks -- every Fall. For more details, you can click here.


If you missed it this year, don't panic! There will be one next year, and so on. The best way for you to know when is it going to be is to subscribe to the Schuylkill Banks website using the link above. The webmaster will eventually send you e-mails about different events on the Schuylkill Banks, which is nice and informative.

Here is a link for more pictures (other than the ones below) on the Fish Fest that happened this year. There's also a video on that webpage that is pretty neat! You should definitely check it out.


My friend Nadir G. did a fun video of me getting some action there (again -- Hilarious!):
Photos of the event are below:
 











Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Catfishing at the Schuylkill Banks

Catfish: one of the most intelligent species around the World. It's certainly hard to imagine, but it's the truth! People usually discriminate Catfish without even knowing how wonderful these species are. Is it really appropriate to judge them by their looks? You can see some examples of misconceptions on the website below:
http://home.earthlink.net/~catfish_billy/id30.html
Note: all the rights on the link above belong to the author of the article.

Interesting, isn't it? Nothing new for me, hence I've read many articles on Catfish, and experienced myself dozens of situations involving Catfish. However, most of people tend to think that way; they tend to create "myths".

I never stopped Catfishing since I started it back in Brazil (São Paulo - Riacho Grande), when I was ten years old. Their size was always considerable (1-2lb, which was big for that area in São Paulo); and their power was always great. Even for the little ones, they put up an awesome fight. Being omnivores (as described in the website above), they ate almost everything - leaving us fishermen with the "surprise element". In other words, despite the bait we were using to fish, we never knew when a Catfish was coming up next!

Also, in both Brazil and the United States of America, this fish is considered a delicacy. However, note that one should watch the source of the fish before harvesting it, and make sure that the fish is not contaminated with heavy metals. There's a chart for fish consumption at the Boat and Commission website, in case people need some reference. Otherwise, harvesting the fresh fish for a decent meal is certainly an amazing idea.

Since I started fishing for Catfish in USA, the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers have been my main sources for them. They can get extremely huge, specially the Flatheads. They can be caught at any time of the day (Note: they do have peak times, though), and they eat almost everything. The Schuylkill River, in particular, never disappointed me in terms of Catfishing. Rarely were the days when I fished for 6 hours straight, and didn't catch a single Catfish! It's certainly very different from fishing Muskies and Bass.

My favorite spot, as you all should know already, is the Schuylkill Banks. It's a pleasant environment for fishing: there are bikers and people jogging around (way behind the margin of the river), beautiful ladies getting a tan on summer time, students chilling and studying on the grass, families with their children spending some family time, etc. Also, the environment is being taken care by the Schuylkill non-profit Organization, which tries to bring US the best possible environment - a clean and neat environment in Center City. It can be easily accessed (the trail has many parking lots at Kelly Drive, and the Art Museum; many Septa Bus stops along the trail, and the Septa Market-Frankford line at the 30Th street station); it has restrooms; water fountains; and some food trucks along the trail at Kelly Drive.

My main spot is between Locust street, and the Walnut Street Bridge. However, lately, I've been fishing in-between the Chestnut and Walnut bridges due to the floods that destroyed part of the landscape in my old spot. In other words, my old spot is full of mud.

When it comes to fishing style, Catfishing is best practiced with "Still fishing". As the name implies, it's simply the technique of casting out the line, and leaving the fishing rod "still". It's a technique that involves patience, and waits for the fish to find, analyze, and attack your bait; as opposed to casting and retrieving, etc. Note that there are a couple techniques to improve successes of still fishing, and increase the fish ratio per time. Catfishing, and Carp fishing, are the main "Still Fishing" targets as my knowledge knows.

Now, let's go for the baits I ever tried for Catfish (at the Schuylkill Banks), and my comments for it:

Nightcrawlers/Worms:

The basic bait. Highly recommended for all fishermen, but not so recommended if the target is only Catfish. The first problem is that other species of fishes are going to bite on the nightcrawlers (such as White Perch, Sunnies, American Eel, etc). The second problem is the size of the Catfish: small Catfish tend to eat nightcrawlers, while rejecting some other baits that only big Catfish consume. Therefore, the chances of getting smaller Catfish are higher on the nightcrawlers.

Chicken/Cow "Guts" (Liver, Gizzard, Heart)

The amount of oil that this bait disperses in the water when it touches it is AMAZING. No wonder this is one of the best possible baits for Catfish. Other than being smelly and nasty in its own ways, it has a factor that all Catfish like: Blood. The bloodier, the better! My recommendations would be either Chicken Liver, or even better: chicken heart (it stays better on the hook).

Soap:

I know the idea is quite crazy, but this is a bait that brings you BIG CATFISH with no failure! If there's no bites, it means there are no big catfish around. The down of this bait is the amount of patience that the fisherman needs to have, specially if there are not a lot of big fish swimming around. The science behind it is quite simple: soap is made from animal fat, containing specific types of ions. Catfish is one of the only fresh water fish species that has a special sense called Electrosensing (Very similar to sharks): they can perceive certain baits with their bodies! It you are familiar with Sciences, you may understand this concept better. I'll leave this topic away for now.

Fish/Shrimp:

Catfish eat almost everything, including fish and shrimp. If you want to go expensive, feel free to purchase some shrimp, cut it in small pieces, and make a nice presentation for the big ones! My advice would be to fish some smaller fish at the site (with nightcrawlers), and just cut it into pieces and use it to fish. My experience with Catfish was better with AMERICAN EEL. That's the most powerful fish bait that you may encounter. The reasons are very simple: (1) they are in the river - they are natural preys for the Catfish at the Schuylkill. (2) Their body is slimy and "scaleless" - just like us, Catfish don't like bony fish. However, a piece of White Perch will do just as fine.

Of course these are just a couple baits for Catfish. They REALLY eat almost everything! Chicken, pizza, dough, marshmallows, cheese, strawberries, banana, steak, bubblegum.... I fished Catfish with all of these before. So, get your own bait and give it a try...you may end up the day with a monster!

Below are some pictures of Catfish that I caught recently on the Schuylkill Banks. They were all caught on American Eel, and the biggest one was 6.2lb. I took many pictures just for fun. So, why not post it, right? =)


10/16/11 (Last Sunday) - Beautiful day on the Schuylkill Banks.



Same as above - closer angle

Young Channel Cat on my net. Note that the black dots on its body characterizes its age: they disappear through adulthood.


The proper way of holding a Catfish. (1) Don't be afraid or disgusted by it. (2) Be extra careful with its fins. They are not deadly, but they will make you bleed!


Say Hi! =)


Not all pictures come up good. They will Struggle outside of the water (of course!). Trying our best to not let them fall on the floor is a big plus. After all, how would you feel if someone dropped you on the floor?


The big ones never give me a break.


"The Catfish and the Water". Artistic, huh?


Smallest one of the day - 1.5lb


Biggest one of the day - 6.2lb. I took a full body picture for this one to picture its "true size" compared to my whole body. After all, pictures can be certainly deceiving.


Beautiful one - specially its tail.


This is what happens when they fall on the floor.


Young Channel Cat.


Twin Brothers, almost identical as the next one - however, no marks on its body.


Bigger than the one above, with scratches on its body. Other than that, it's a replica, isn't it? =)


10/13/11 - Thursday Small Channel Cat.


Biggest one of the day - 5lb.


Hope you guys enjoyed the post. I would have written much more if I had time (believe me!), and revised it twice as much as I did right now. After all, I believe that editing is fundamental for any writer.


However, you guys will have to be satisfied with my writing for now, since my time is very limited at the moment. =)


Best of luck for all of us!


Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.

Fishing the Schuylkill with a "Mini-Pen" Pocket Rod

Hello again, readers! I'm taking some of my free time today to write, trying to put this blog on date. Hopefully everything is going to end up fine, and the Blog will be totally updated by the end of this weekend. Well...let's jump to the introduction!



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One of the biggest frustrations for a fisherman is to travel around with his fishing poles. One needs to be extra careful to not damage the equipment (specially the tip of the rod), and look at the poles constantly. It's really hard to walk around with such a long object without hitting anything (or anyone), specially because people are not used to hold such long objects in their hands. Some people decide to break the fishing rods (cut the line); others decide to just carry it along (with set rig). Whatever the way, it's a fact that carrying fishing rods around requires more attention, and it is not very convenient for a fisherman, specially under certain particular circumstances: when the path is not even and neat (a jungle, for example), when there are lots of people walking around (at the Schuylkill Banks, for example), etc.



That may not be a problem for everybody, though. People that have a car don't suffer that much from this problem. However, for people that use public transportation, it can turn out to be a big mess! Hitting people around with a rod is absolutely not a good idea in USA! After all, nobody wants to get sued, right?


The solution is actually pretty simple: A pocket rod! Of course a pocket rod will never have the same potential of a regular customized rod and reel. However, there are many advantages to it that makes it desirable: (1) it's convenient in terms of space (size). It's small, and fit. A person can literally carry it in his pocket (without reel), or just throw it inside a backpack. The reel consumes a bit of space as well; however, it's very small compared to a regular reel. (2) It's convenient in terms of time. In my case, I can carry it to my college, study, and just go take a break at the river during my college breaks, and relax. My day doesn't really have to be planned "just for fishing". Finally, (3) it's good for back up. If you are ever fishing, and your fishing rod breaks (I hope it doesn't happen to you guys), you have a back up fishing rod that is efficient in its own ways.


Pocket rods are usually expensive, depending on their brands. I bought two of them recently: one that basically has no brand, and another one from Daiwa. The one without brand is smaller and more convenient than the other one. On the other hand, the its quality compared to the Daiwa Pocket set is in a range of 1 to 10, meaning that the Daiwa Pocket set (even though it's a big bigger) is 10 times better than the one without brand. Notice that their prices vary greatly, even though I got a good online deal for both of them (research Amazon.com or Ebay for them). The pictures of the one without brand are below. I'll post the Daiwa Pocket Rod and Reel in a future post.


Almost the size of my hand. It does look like a pen, huh?





The top opens, revealing the rod.





And that's how it ends. I placed a regular bottle of water for size references.


The rod itself is not as good as I expected it to be. However, I must admit that this small pocket rod has enough power to even subdue fish in the ranges of 15-20 lbs, if the drag of the reel is set correctly. The pictures below were taken on a Wednesday (09/28), during my college break. I fished for nearly 2 hours, and ended the day with a small Flathead (which was awesome!), and a BIG catfish that I couldn't get out of the water, hence I didn't have a net (and I was using 6lb line test). Unfortunately, the only object that can be used as a size reference in the catfish picture is a 1oz flat sinker. Sorry about that!




Small Flathead Catfish caught on a Nightcrawler


The big Channel Catfish, caught on a piece of American Eel (fished at the same site)


Notice the size of the 1oz weight


Notice the amount of ripples around the fish.

Trying to fight till the last drop of strength





And he finally surrendered


It was a shame that I couldn't lift this fish up because I lacked my net. However, it fought a lot, and obtained my respect. I hope I can get this fish again someday...


Best luck for all of us!


Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Sincerely,


Leo Sheng

Quick post today; also a late post! I'm still not back on schedule with this blog yet, hence I have lots of work to do for college. I hope you guys understand that my schedule lately is pretty tight to keep my hobbies going on. However, since this blog is not about my life, let's jump to the fishing!


Last month, specifically 09/17 (Saturday), I went to the Wissahickon one last time before Late Fall to do a species survey. After all, I wanted to get there before water temperatures dropped below 60F (15.5 C), which is my own temperature line division between warm and cold gamefish. My goal was to catch any kind of Trout, plus research other few species in the river (specially the Koi).


I arrived there with my friend NG (which by now, you guys should be familiar with. I'm most of the time with this adventurous kid) in the morning, next to the Chestnut Hill College, far up East Falls. We went there by public transportation: bus L, from Olney Transportation Center, which is conveniently reachable using the Broat Street line (Orange Line).


It was my first time engaging at this part of the Creek; therefore, I was excited to see what was there (as always). I was expecting tons of sunfish (it was still warm at that time), maybe a Trout, and some other Panfish species. My highest expectations were to see Hybrid Carp swimming around; specially the Koi.


This portion of the Creek was really great! It has many slow pools for Sunfish and Trout to gather, fast currents for Bass, and short dams that make good spots. Also, the Creek is not very wide; in other words, a fisherman can easily cast a lure (and even a fly) to the other side of the creek (which is a good spot).


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get far enough to see any Koi swimming in the creek. I did see one Common Carp feeding at a certain portion of the creek, 6-8lb by naked eye (which means is not accurate). I saw a couple Trouts swimming by, but none of them bit on my lures.


I stopped at many different locations to test my lures, and fish on nightcrawlers. I finished the day getting three different species of fish there (All small): Rock Bass, Redbreast Sunfish, and a Smallmouth Bass.


Pictures are below, and they are ALL CUTE! These little fish pictures never cease to warm my heart. My aquarium is arriving shortly; therefore, I'll have it set for next Spring. Hopefully I'll catch some pretty small sunfish to have as pet.


Rock Bass



Redbreast Sunfish

Smallmouth Bass


Another picture of a Redbreast sunfish, hence the first was blurred.


Best of luck for all of us, specially the ones who are daring enough to start fishing at this season of the year! (I AM)



Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Sincerely,


Leo S.