Fishing the Penny Pack at the Delaware

Last month, I finally decided to explore an area of the Pennypack that I had never explored before. I had seen it on the map multiple times, and yet, I never felt like adventuring there because I was comfortable with the areas I was fishing. However, you know what people say, right? "Get out of your comfort zone".

The place I am talking about is the tidal portion of the Pennypack park, which is the section of the creek that is connected directly to the Delaware River. You can easily find its location on the website below (just type "Pennypack Park, Philadelphia, PA):

That portion of the Pennypack is easily acessible by car. In case you don't have a car, there are alternatives! There are 2 buses that stop there: the Bus 84 (starts at Frankford Transportation Center or Franklin Mills Mall), and the Bus 70 (starts at FernRock Transfer Center). I took the Bus 84 that day, and I am able to say that they are highly reliable. Overall, Septa has been always loyal to me, in terms of schedule (unless unpredictable situations jump in, such as traffic, or car accidents, etc).

Anyways, let's go directly to the point and talk about the place itself, and fishing:

---------- The Pennypack at the Delaware ----------

It's certainly a beautiful place to be at. For car owners, the Pennypack at the Delaware has a huge parking lot. Also, a trail for exercise, a bathroom (which is usually a problem we fishermen face, isn't it?), and a pier directly connected to the Delaware! And even better - the pier is conserved, as well as the benches over there. Are you looking for a comfortable place to fish at? A place where you can bring your family, your kids, or even make a pic-nic on a sunny day? Well, you found it! That's the kind of place that the Pennypack at the Delaware is.

For extreme adventurers, there's a "secret spot" over there. Certainly sounds exciting, isn't it? it's not going to be quite a secret spot anymore because I'm revealing it. However, I wouldn't be kind enough to spoil "secret spots", specially knowing that everyone can get there. This is a spot deep inside the trail, and required a great effort to be reached. I'm sure 90% of the people will stop by the pier, and just fish there. By secret spot, I mean a spot that is "untouched" by fishermen. In other words, virgin spots - places that people fished very little, or not at all. Following the Pennypack trail past the soccer and football fields, there's a huge tidal slow pool that receives water from the Delaware River. That place is messy, remote, and "untouched". However, that's one of the most productive places to fish. The first time I went to the Pennypack, I fished only at the pier. The second time, I went to the slow pool to take a look. It was impressive!

The pool is not very deep, and the fish can be easily seen if it's low tide and the water is not muddy. Therefore, the fish becomes actually an easy prey for fisherman. This technique of observing for fish is called "Stalking". Stalking happens in shallow waters (or waters where certain species of fishes lurk on top of the water), and focuses mainly on fish behavior. One of the best scenes a fisherman can possibly get from stalking is to see part of the girth of the fish above the water, considering the huge size of the fish. That's one of the most exciting factors in fish stalking - the fact that we are using one extra sense to fish: our vision.

Note that Stalking has its own disavantages as well. One of the biggest disavantages of Stalking in shallow slow pools and waters is the fact that the fish can see you as well as you can see the fish. The angles of vision may vary, but the perception is the same: they will know and run away if they see the fisherman. Therefore, there are certain precautions to take while Stalking for fish, and hiding cautiously is certainly a good idea (and technique).

---------- Fish at the Delaware ----------'s a matter of fact that the fish are certainly "bigger" at the Delaware River. Bigger than most fish from other body of waters around Philadelphia. People usually take for granted the idea that bigger bodies of water will produce bigger fish, which is a sentence that is only partially true. The Delaware River doesn't produce bigger Catfish just because it's wider, deeper, and bigger. Size of a River is important for the growth of the fish IF other factors are present there. For example: you may meet a very big River with no fish at all. Why? Because some other factors are not there. What other factors? Food, Oxygen, Temperature, Structure. Note that levels of oxygen in the water is a very important factor in fish growth that regular fishermen do not take into account.

From a scientific point of view, it's very important to notice that fish are cold-blooded creatures, different than us - wam-blooded. Instead of maintaining a certain temperature range with internal metabolic processes (google it if you are not understanding this stuff!), the body of the fish is the same as the temperature of the water. Therefore, if the water is 70 degrees, the fish is 70 degrees. If you want to know more about fish, and their behavior, it's actually a good shot to read the article below:

Note in the article the "Cold Water Game Fish" and the "Warm Water Game Fish". Think for a moment: Even though fish are cold-blooded animals, where these two categories came from?

The answer is very simple. Just as I explained before, their body temperatures adapt to the ambient around them. Therefore, their behavior also adapt to temperature! It makes sense if you think for a little bit. Why does certain fish breed in Summer (such as Carp), and others in Spring? Because their systems are adapted to certain temperature ranges, and once they feel the changes in temperature, they begin to do what they are supposed to do. Cold water game fish tend to feed better in cool water (i.e. Trout in April, May) while warm water game fish tend to feed better in warm water (i.e. Catfish and Sunfish in summer time), and so on... And that precisely applies for every one of their behaviors.

After all this explanation pointing out that everything is related to temperature, we can reach a conclusion that oxygen is also related to temperature (and related to growth). Take the Carp, for example. When it's summer time, they get extremelly stressed by high temperatures outside of their comfort zone, and it's not hard to see a Carp die after a good fight with a fisherman on extremely hot days. Also, when temperatures start to rise, and Carp start to breed and spawn, oxygen is much more demanded because of increased moviment and exercise.

Now, I'll summarize all this information in a scientific way (here comes the crazy talk =D):

1. Fish are cold-blooded creatures; therefore, they don't use internal metabolic processes to keep their own temperature (Homeostasis).

2. All fishes' metabolic activities occurs according to different water temperature ranges (seasons of the year). Therefore, fish have very specific enzyme-catalyzed chemical reactions that is directly dependant on temperature.

3. Demand for oxygen increases as metabolic activity increases. Therefore: Higher Temperature = higher metabolism = higher oxygen demand.

4. At optimum temperatures (temperatures where the enzyme works best, and usually the same teperature where fish feed best), oxygen consumption is at the maximum due to rapid growth and activity.

Therefore, we can conclude that lack of oxygen in any body of water diminishes the growth of the fish. Therefore, the hypothesis is: The more saturated the water is, better will be the growth of the fish. Saturation is very limited where water is stagnant, or slow-moving (laminar flow). Dissolved oxygen can be "forced" into the water in locations such as dams, waterfalls, where there's a presence of a force and fast-flow (turbulence).

Now, coming back to the regular talk...hehe. This is another concept of why dams and waterfalls are places that hold fish, and BIGGER FISH!

Anyways...I ended up catching ZERO Catfish, while a lady next to me caught 3 big catfish (6-7lb range) on "beef liver". Pictures are below:

Little White Perch

The pier

Another picture of the Pier

Pier from another angle

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.


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