Multi-Species: 2 Years of Fishing in Philadelphia+NJ

Hello, Dear Readers!

Time passes too fast, doesn't it? Holidays are coming very soon, and 2013 is right across the corner. In other words, it's almost time to purchase a new fishing license! Hehe.

To make things easy for you guys, I'll paste the links for NJ and PA:

It's been 2 years since the beginning of my "fishing quest" here in Philadelphia, PA. I feel that I have improved a lot. I've literally fished A LOT this year (180 days so far), and I plan to fish much much more! After all, fishing is one of my favorites. I met some extraordinary friends along the way; saw many new different Species of fish; explored waters all along Philadelphia and West New Jersey; and so on...
The story, however, did not begin here, in this country. I remember when I first started, at the age of 8, back in Brazil. My father used to take me to this small reservoir in the city of "Riacho Grande," Sao Paulo - SP. We would go there on weekends, on a weekly basis, looking for Nile Tilapias, "Carás" (family Cichlidae), and Catfish. At that time, there were no Spinning reels or bait casters. Actually, there weren't reels at all! The set up was so simple, and yet so effective: a bamboo pole, a little float (usually Styrofoam), and a size 10 hook. The casting range was 15 feet at its best, with the help of a little split shot. My father and I would usually set up four bamboo poles early in the morning, usually just before dawn. After a couple hours, the place was already PACKED! Left or right, all you could see was a line of floats in the water, and an array of bamboo poles - all different in shapes and sizes.
Those were gorgeous days! From time to time, we used to wake up 5 in the morning on Saturdays or Sundays, and fish from morning until noon, stop at the city for some lunch, and then fish a second round from afternoon to dusk: nearly 12 hours of fishing in a day. We knew everyone around there, and everyone knew us. Not only that, we all accepted each other in our hearts, and fishing was pleasant among the poor and the simple. 
Now that I think about it, we were possibly one of the few people there who actually fished for "fun," out of entertainment. Sure - sometimes we would take some fish back home to eat, but most of the times we would release it or give them away to others, who needed the fish for consumption. Times were tough in Brazil in 1998, and a lot of anglers that lived around that reservoir viewed the fishes as a "free" food source. It was during that time, fishing among the poorest near the "favelas", that I learned that humility and respect between anglers was very important, and beautiful as well. 
Unfortunately, at the age of 8, I wasn't able to fully comprehend how much my father valued that "family time" on weekends. It was the only time when he was actually available the whole day and could spend some time with his son. Often, I would wake up late on Saturdays and Sundays, delaying our trips. Sometimes, because of my laziness, we wouldn't go at all, and I was okay with it. I certainly didn't think about his feelings at that time. Now, when I think about those times, I fully regret it. Even if I wanted to go fishing with my dad during weekends now, he's not here by my side. Time is time, and life is life. All I can do is continue this little "legacy" in my family, and do my best while fishing!
Anyways...It started with Tilapias and Catfish. Soon, we started to pursue other Species - Píau, Lambari, Common Carp, Koi, Black Bass, Traíra, Pacu, and so on! Year by year, we got better and better: we learned different dough recipes for Common Carp (Peanut flavor and Banana&Honey were the best ones there); how to fish for Nile Tilapias using grass (Yes! Using grass!); how to fish for Lambari with spaghetti; how to locate and fish for Brazilian Eels by placing pieces of beef near rock-holes; etc. My father exchanged his bamboo poles for bait casters while I followed the path of Spinning reels. And our quest went on...
Time passed, and I've progressed. Now, going back to our main subject, it's been 2 years since I've started fishing here in Philadelphia. I've caught many different Species of fish, and I will regularly hunt for many more, hence I am a Multi-Species type of angler (giving emphasis to Science as well). Sizes do matter for me, but they are by far the most important factor in my type of fishing. The most important for me is to explore, and always take advantage of that feeling of the "unknown," never knowing what is under that certain body of water. It's like giving wings to your imagination: "Wouldn't it be cool if....?"
I've compiled a couple videos together, and managed to make the video below, which is still a draft. I tried to focus on different aspects of fishing, as well as portraying some of my friends, since fishing is never JUST about catching the fish! Enjoy, guys:   

Finally, I went over some old pictures, and selected a couple of them to post it here. The message is clear and simple: Hey, girls and guys, there are fishes in Philadelphia - not only 1 type, a fish; but many different types! And even better - many more to be discovered out there! There are so many places around Philadelphia, and even close to us - in West Jersey, that can be fished.

If you don't believe, open the doors of your imagination and enjoy the pictures below! After seeing them, why not go hunting for them? =)

American Eel - Schuylkill River. I got this American Eel while fishing with my friend Jay Daly on the Schuylkill Banks, between Locust and Walnut. I dropped my line straight down - size 4 hook, with a piece of American Eel on it (yes, they do eat each other). Big, huh? And this one is by far the biggest out there...

Slab Black Crappie on a float and Gulp! Minnow. You can compare the size of it with the size of my hand - truly a nice Black Crappie! Caught this guy at Cooper River Lake (10 minutes walk from the Westwood PATCO station) this year, during Spring. Cast between some submerged logs, and the float went down right away! 

Big Bluegill (1st of the 4 types of common Sunnies in Philly and NJ) caught on a "Gulp! Minnow" at Wallworth Pond (20 minutes walk from PATCO Haddonfield Station). There are TONS of big Bluegills in New Jersey; in other words, fun attraction for kids and adults alike! Easy to catch, and one of the BEST fighters on an ultralight setup! (I recommend a good ultralight rod, 4lb test line, size 10-12 hook or 1/32 jighead, no swivel, no weight, medium float)

I caught this BEAUTIFUL Brown Bullhead at Driscoll Pond, NJ (20 minutes walk from Haddonfield PATCO station ), on a single piece of Kernel Corn! I was fishing for Common Carp when this unexpected guest showed up. Water temperature was between 45-50F, and according to the books alone, this fish should never have bitten under those circumstances. Main idea? Fishing is a sport that will never totally go by the books.

Beautiful Brown Trout caught at the Pennypack Park, probably stocked by the Pennsylvania Boat and Commission. When Trout Season opens either in Spring or Fall, it's a good time to practice some stalking (sight fishing) with light gear. Upon streams, it's a good time to release that favorite Spinner.

Catfish! I've uploaded a couple pictures of Catfish, hence "Catfishing" is getting more and more popular. Just a reminder, though: Catfish may be an exotic treat/delicacy; however, the ones in Philly and New Jersey are mostly contaminated with Heavy Metals and Pcbs. Always follow the fish consumption guidelines imposed by the Boat and Commission of respective states! I caught this 5lb Channel Catfish at the Upper Cooper River, close to Driscoll Pond. The water was so shallow - less than 2 feet, and yet this monster hit my piece of American Eel. Set up was 1oz bullet sinker, size 4 hook, swivel, 8lb Fluorocarbon.   

Channel Catfish caught at the Schuylkill Banks between Walnut and Chestnut, when I first started to fish here in Philadelphia (back in 2010). Same set up as above, caught on a piece of American Eel on the bottom.

A fat 5lber (short, though) caught during Winter of 2011 between Walnut and Locust, just after classes at Temple. Hah.

I caught this one with my friends Erik K. and Andrew H. above the Flatrock Dam - Schuylkill River. I used a little live Fathead Minnow that was also caught there. Soon after I cast, this guy took and ran!

Another nice Channel Catfish from the Upper Cooper River, also caught on a piece of American Eel. As you all may have noticed, I consider American Eels to be prime bait for Catfish: they are easy to hook, and they STAY ON THE HOOK! My record was catching 16 Channel Catfish at the Schuylkill Banks during Summer using the same piece of American Eel.

A small Creek Chub (they do not get very big) caught at the Pennypack Creek in Northeast Philadelphia (close to Bell's Corner - Bus 58 stop at Axe Factory Road) on a piece of nightcrawler. Nightcralers are the best, seriously...They may not catch the biggest fish, but most Species of fish will hit on a piece of worm! 

I caught this nice Creek Chub at the Wissahickon Creek during this Summer, when my father was here in the USA. He was caught not on a piece of worm, but a small "Gulp! Minnow." This is for one to see how fish will eat different baits according to different bodies of water.

I caught this Flathead Catfish along the Schuylkill Banks during Summer of 2010. It was completely unexpected, and in broad day-light! It was just after a rain, meaning that water levels were higher and the current was stronger. He swallowed my American Eel whole! Hehe. Good fighter.

A smaller version of the Flathead Catfish, caught between Walnut and Chestnut - Schuylkill River. This one wasn't even picky - he ate a piece of nightcrawler, 3 in the afternoon.

My first Fully-Scaled Mirror Carp, which is a rarity here in Philadelphia. It weighted 23lbs. It was caught on a piece of Kernel Corn at Cobbs Creek - John Heinz. The fight was EXTRAORDINARY! It took me a good 15 minutes to reel this beast in, not to mention that the same gave multiple runs towards the middle of the River.

My first Fully-Scaled Mirror Carp in NJ. Cooper River Lake, Summer of this year. The secret is on the left-down corner of the picture. Hehe.
16lb Common Carp caught at the Schuylkill River at Kelly Drive, just after the Girard Ave. Bridge. The set up for all these Carps were the same: hair rig with a 1oz bullet Sinker, 8-10lb test line. For bait, just canned corn.

2nd Carp of the day at Cobbs Creek, another fat Carp! Ranged between 15-20lbs.

This one was also caught at Cobbs Creek. The "Torpedo" shape made it even a tougher fighter! Took me quite a while to land this one in, and there were no other alternatives...I had to let it run.

Beautiful Golden Shiner caught at Ridley Lake, PA. I went there in 2010 with my friend Nadir. We heard of a fish kill in that Lake, and decided to go investigate. We didn't expect to see much fish in it; however, the amount of Carps that we saw there were SURPRISING! Apparently, the Carps survived whereas other Species of fish died due to lack of Oxygen. Tough warriors of the lake! Apparently, sunnies, Bullheads,and Golden Shiners survived as well! The city installed a pump in Ridley; therefore, fishes there have enough oxygen for all seasons of the year now.  

Another Golden Shiner, this one caught on a meal worm. I caught this little guy in January, just after new year, at Wallworth Pond in NJ. At the same day, I caught a White Sucker, a Black Crappie, and tons of Sunnies at the same spot. Fishing is definitely a sport for all seasons of the year.

A nice Green Sunfish (2nd of the 4 types of common Sunnies in Philly and NJ) caught on a piece of nightcrawler at Cores Creek - Lake Luxembourg. I was drifting the Nightcrawler weightless, when something took it and ran under the dock! Beautiful fish, isn't it? I particularly like the yellow coloration of this fish.

Another Green Sunfish, this one caught at the Pennypack Creek at Verree Road. The fishes there are not big, but there's a good variety of small fishes: Green Sunfish, Bluegills, Rock Bass, Creek Chubs, White Suckers, etc.

For those who like to explore the bays, this Hickory Shad was caught just next to the Harrah's Casino in NJ. You don't need a paid license to fish the sea (you need to register for a permit that is FREE), and it's very convenient to get there! For more information on it, send an e-mail, and I'll reply to it as soon as I can. Isn't it nice? You can fish there, and the restroom is right next to you (and lots of gamblers passing by). Hahaha.

Largemouth Bass! This country got the fever for this Specific Species of fish. After you catch one, you are able to understand "why:" The acrobatics, the difficulty in catching and hooking the fish; etc. This one was caught on a top-water Jitterbug at FDR Park (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Believe it or not, there are plenty of fishes in that body of water; although, that place has been over fished for the past 5 years or so. FDR is still a place where you can possibly find some nice LMB, and the Northern Snakeheads!

Nice Largemouth Bass caught on a Gulp! Minnow at Lake Alverthorpe, which is a private Lake now (only open to residents of the township).When they are hungry, they are not picky AT ALL.

This one was caught on a purple worm between Lilypads at Haddon Lake, NJ. Legends say that there's a 7lber swimming in there, and big Catfish after night fall. The locals know everything about it...

I've never expected to find Mummichogs freely swimming in Public waters, but the Tacony Creek is infested with Mummichogs! I went there with my friend Nadir, and we managed to catch more than 100 of them on nightcrawlers in a couple hours. The Tacony Creek is said to be very toxic, and a part of the sewage system in Philadelphia. Once, it was a body of water that held many different Species of Game-fish. Nowadays, there are little remains of those, and plenty of Mummichogs (Note: Mummichogs can live under very toxic ambient).

It's been only a couple years, but Northern Snakeheads have been around since their release by some ignorant people. Being an invasive Species, it's highly unwanted by the Boat and Commission. They advise people to not put them back after caught, and even state that Northern Snakeheads can bring many consequences to the overall aquatic ecosystem. This one was a 3.5lber caught at Newton Lake - NJ, (10 minutes walk from the PATCO Collingswood station) on a top-water frog. My friend Mike Hsiao took the picture of this guy...he also caught a 2.5lber LMB just after this guy!

Another invasive Species. This Pacu was caught at the Pennypack Creek between Roosevelt Boulevard and Welsh Street. Apparently, someone must have released this "pet-fish" in the Creek after it grew too much. Never a good idea, guys! Introducing new Species of fish to a certain body of water is not only dangerous, but illegal as well.

Rainbow Trout caught on a traditional Spinner at Wissahickon Creek! Beautiful fish, and a good fighter as well. If you are lucky, you will experience a jump or two while you fight these beasts! Look for the rarest Trout: the Palomino (Golden Rainbow Trout). 

A fat Rainbow Trout caught at the Wissahickon Creek on a piece of corn. They will bite not only lures, but also a variety of baits: marshmallows, corn, Powerbait, etc.

A Red Breast Sunfish (3rd of the 4 types of common Sunnies in Philly and NJ) caught at the Pennypack Creek on a piece of bread. Most of the Red Breasts are found in the Wissahickon, Pennypack, and other Creeks. Among all 4 Sunnies, the Red Breast is the only one that does not dislike current. Fishing for them with Spinners on streams is certainly a lot of fun!

An adult Rock Bass (at least here in Philadelphia) caught on the Neshaminy Creek in Northeast Philadelphia on a Trout magnet. Beautiful, isn't it? Not only beautiful, this fish will chase its target for long distances at an incredible speed! Seeing one of these hitting your Spinner or surfacing from under structure is very very exciting. 
A beautiful Pumpkin Seed (The last of the 4 types of common Sunnies in Philly and NJ) caught at the Schuylkill River on a piece of nightcrawler on the bottom, between Locust and Walnut. This one is definitely my favorite among all four of them, not to mention that the Blue coloration is to die for. I have one in my aquarium...gorgeous!
A Shad fingerling caught on a piece of Nightcrawler at the Schuylkill River. Other than American and Hickory Shad, there's also the Gizzard Shad (no picture in this post), which is a filter-feeder. In other words, the Gizzard Shad cannot really be fished because it doesn't eat anything other than plankton. Note: from 2013 onwards, it's officially ILLEGAL to harvest any American or Hickory Shad here in Philadelphia.

Smallmouth Bass - one of the smartest fighters around. After hooked, it will try to run under structure, and the big ones will put you in the worst possible situations. This one was caught at the Wissahickon Creek on a Spinner.

A bigger version of the Smallmouth Bass. This one was caught at the Wissahickon Creek on a Dragonfly imitation. Great fighter, released unharmed.

AH! Spot Croakers will migrate to freshwater (tributaries) during Fall. This one was caught on a piece of nightcrawler, on the bottom, from the Schuylkill River.The window to fish for them is short, and a lot of people (including anglers) still have no idea that they actually DO migrate to the Schuylkill River every Fall of every year.

Another picture of a Spot Croaker, caught during the FishAThon competition that happened just a couple months ago. During 24 hours, Team Extreme Philly Fishing caught more than 500 fishes, which accounted for more than 50% of the TOTAL catches of the FishAthon 2012.

A rare Spotfin Shiner caught at the most unexpected place: the Tacony Creek! Isn't it beautiful to see such a rarity in a forgotten Creek? Certainly a nice finding. 

A baby Striped Bass caught at the Delaware River at Linden Avenue. on a piece of nightcrawler. The Stripers give a Spring and Fall run every year, when the big ones pass; however, some of them have adapted to the Freshwater! Baby Stripers are illegal to harvest (20 inches+ creel limit), and they can be fished at the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers all year round (if you can find them).

This little guy was caught at the Upper Coover River Lake, and I have yet to identify its Species. All I can say is that they travel in schools, and although they are small, they are willing to eat big pieces of worm! Heh. As mentioned before, sizes are not really the fundamental aspect of my fishing.

WALLEYES! Yes, there are Walleyes in Philadelphia. Their numbers are small, but they are present in the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. This one was caught on a 1/8oz jig+fluke during December of 2011. After dusk, it's your chance to catch one of these beauties. I highly recommend anglers to release them due to their low numbers, and also because they are not really edible (high concentration of heavy metals, maybe due to their diet?). Love their eyes!

Weak Fish caught right next to Harrah's Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Hehe. See the Hickory Shad photo for more details. By the way...they were both caught on the jig+fluke above, even the Hickory Shad. Aggressive, huh?

The White Perch travel in schools, meaning that once you get one, it's very likely that you will get another one! During the FishAThon of this year, approximately 300 of the 500 fish were White Perch! This one was caught during night time at the Schuylkill River, on a piece of nightcrawler. Nightcrawler is definitely the best bait for them; although, they will eat Shrimp, small pieces of fish, chicken livers, and other types of bait.

A picture of a White Perch caught during daytime at the Schuylkill River.

A nice Yellow Bullhead caught at Ridley Lake on a nightcrawler! Bullheads and Carps are the most resistant among fishes: they can survive under extreme water temperatures, as well as low oxygen and high toxicity. Note: never lip a Bullhead! They will bite you, and they will not release it until you whack them, which is not nice. Also, be extra careful about the dorsal and pectoral fins - they are highly poisonous, and they will make your wound hurt for a couple days (if not weeks).

Finally, the last picture of the post: a Yellow Perch! Small Yellow Perch can actually be found in different spot in Philadelphia, but the big ones are definitely in the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. Nightcrawlers work best for me, varying the depth of the bait.

These are, of course, only a couple different Species of fish from Philadelphia and West New Jersey! There are many other Species that are not listed here (i.e. Chain Pickerel, Musky, Brook Trout, etc). That's why fishing is so much fun, isn't it? You really never know what you will pull out of the water! You can expect, study, and even raise your probabilities of getting a certain fish; however, there's no 100% certainty in fishing.

And so, my quest continues...

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.