February Fishing Sessions (Last Update: Complete)

Hello, Readers!

Now that my mid terms finally passed, I once again have time to work on the Blog! However, I'm still nearly 2 months behind my schedule here...so, bear with me! Because of my lack of time, I've decided to change the format of the "fishing session posts" once again to a SINGLE POST (i.e. December Fishing Sessions). It's easier for me (shorter posts), and I believe it will be better for the readers, since it will be more up-to-date. Just make sure to always look at the TITLE of the post, so you know which day was the last updated fishing session.

A couple updates first:

- Trout Opening day is Today! Click here for more information. I'll recommend people to go to the Wissahickon or the Pennypack Creek; however, check the website for all Trout Stockings around your area.

- The Catfish Tourney on the Banks will very likely be delayed to June due to license issues. I am currently waiting for my proper license to arrive; however, my first attempt to obtain the license was denied hence i didn't send it 60 days (2 months) before the registered day of the event. I'll keep all the registered participants updated. 

- I updated a couple old posts (change font, add pictures, add information, fix grammar and coherence):

No More Fishing at the Race Street Pier (June 2011)
Catching Sunnies and Carp at Kelly Drive (June 2011)
Fishing for Largemouth Bass at Kelly Drive (June 2011)

--- February 3rd, Schuylkill River ---

I went fishing on the Schuylkill Banks with my friend Erik K.. We did a short session from morning to afternoon (all the snow melted by noon), finishing the day with 3 Channel Catfish on cutbait. It's funny how I always want to fish the whole day on Sundays; however, the cold weather always makes me go home early...

It's good to mention that 3 o'clock is usually the "shifting" hour during cold weather: after 3 p.m., temperatures start to drop drastically. Therefore, if you ever plan to fish after 3 p.m. during Winter time, make sure to dress up really warm!

Anyways...the biggest fish was 3.5lbs and the smallest was 1.5lbs. It was cold and windy; however, none of us got skunked!

Pictures are below:
3.5lb Channel Catfish caught on cutbait. This one was caught in the morning, when the snow was still around.

1.5lb Channel Catfish - smallest one of the day.

By noon, all the snow was gone. It was one of "those days:" "29-38F," meaning that it's below zero Celsius in the morning, and above in the afternoon.

Erik K. with his only fish of the day.

--- February 10th, Manayunk Canal ---

Even though the Manayunk Canal is not well known for being productive during Winter time, my friends (Erik K. and Andrew H.) and I had decided to go there to try our lucks!
We knew from experience already that the canal is traditionally very shallow, and there would be absolutely no vegetation there during Winter. Even so, we relied on the couple spots that Largemouth Bass could actually hold (the deepest parts of the Canal - about 3-4 spots). Also, the weather was finally nice for a couple days (above 40s); therefore, the water temperature was a little bit higher than usual, and stable! We hoped that the fish would use that opportunity to go on a feeding streak.
Well...we all ended up skunked! Haha. We tried mostly for Bass at the beginning, hitting Senkos, Rattletraps, jigs, etc. The approach was to cover as much water as possible: "cast and move, move and cast." Not a single bite. After a while, and after some frustration, my friends Andrew H. and Erik K. left. So, being alone, I decided to shift gears and hunt for some Carp!
I didn't have all my gear for Carp fishing (i.e. rod holders, net), but I managed! I chummed a new spot, which looked pretty productive, and waited. After a good while, one of my rods got a hit! Since I placed the rod under my back bag, which is pretty heavy (usually 15-20lbs), the fish was unable to drag it in the water. My drag started to scream, and the fish was already swimming to the other side of the canal. After a long and awesome fight, I was finally able to drag the fish in front of me; however, I didn't have my net to scoop it up! =(
I tried to scoop it up using my hands, and failed to do so. The fish slipped from my hands and fell back into the water, breaking my line. That was the only fish of the day - a Common Carp - and I failed to land it. Therefore, it's like I got skunked! Haha.
There are a couple pictures of the scenery. Enjoy:   

My friends Erik K. and Andrew H., fishing a nice hole close to a bridge. That is one of the few good spots during Winter time, and even so, it's still hard to get the Bass! When their metabolisms are low, they feed very little. =/ 

One of the many promising spots in the Manayunk Canal. From my experience, an influx is always a good spot to throw your bait, doesn't matter what time of the year. Fish usually stay closer to them because the water temperature there is usually higher (depends on the temperature of the incoming water); it's a source that brings food to them; etc. I've seem a couple Carps swimming around this spot.

My improvised Carp set up! I chummed the corn directly in front of me, and used my bag as a "rod holder," since it always weights around 15-20lbs.

Although it wasn't a super productive day, I still got to fight a nice Common Carp, and I even found a couple extra spots at the Canal for Summer fishing. That's why I always say: it's better than staying at home. Being outside from time to time (for me, almost all the time) is nice, and every fishing session can bring an unique experience! Particularly, I take every one of my fishing sessions as "field experience." They never hurt me. It's the opposite: I was learn something new with each trip. 

--- February 17th, Schuylkill River ---

February 17th was by far the BEST DAY I ever had on the Schuylkill Banks since I started fishing it (2 years ago), and also my MOST FRUSTRATING day there. It was the best day because I caught my new PB (personal best) for Channel Catfish for the Schuylkill River - a stunning 9.5lb Channel Catfish. On the other hand, it was my most frustrating day because my camera went haywire, and I ended up deleting all the photos for the day (up to that certain time of my fishing session) by accident, which almost made me cry!
Therefore, the only witnesses to my monster fish are a couple people that passed by, a couple people that stopped to watch the fight, and a lady that helped me take pictures of the fish. Even though the memory is forever engraved in my mind, it's a shame that I won't be able to visually share that memory with you guys! However, I do still have hopes to land an even bigger Channel Catfish from the Schuylkill River, of course.
To start with, that Sunday (the 17th) was probably one of the worst days of the year to go out for fishing! The weather was totally brutal: "below 32F, feels like 17," very windy, not to mention that it snowed many times during the day (one of the pictures below portray the snow very well).
Being the crazy fisherman that I am, and a natural challenger of mother nature's might, I decided to go out fishing (of course!). I even invited some of my friends for the fishing session; however, only one of them showed up: Andrew N., and he showed up after I caught my 9.5lber (ugh...). I have to say that among my fishing friends, my most unusual one is Andrew N. - he's not very normal, he doesn't usually catch fish, and he comes with me on the most crazy days and creepy locations around the city. Anyways...
I set up my rods as usual, each one of them baited with yummy chunks of Shad. My initial goal for the day was to catch at least one fish, so I wouldn't get skunked. The weather was definitely not promising, and it was already chilling my bones. However, things turned out very differently: just when I was setting up my second rod's rig, my first rod was already getting a hit!
I landed my first fish of the day within 5 minutes of my fishing session, weighting 4lbs! It was a good one, and I was already satisfied for the day, thinking: "I'm not going to get skunked, and I have a picture for the Blog!" 
After that, everything was good! I finished the day with 12 Channels in total: 4, 2.5, 4.5, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5, 9.5, 1.5, 1.5, 4.0, 4.0; a total of 39lbs.
Andrew joined me a little bit after I got my 9.5lber. When he came, I was still messing with my camera, trying to find a magic "recovery" button, even though I knew that it didn't exist. I looked at it for about 10 minutes, in the cold, still feeling the adrenaline that was left from the 9.5lber's fight.
That huge fish actually hit my Ugly Stik/Shimano combo, which is by far my favorite one. I always use a drop rig for it, attaching 2 hooks above my 2oz weight. When the big fish hit, I knew that it wasn't a small one! The small Channels usually hit the drifting bait and immediately stop, trying to get rid of the hook. When they do that, the reaction that the angler sees is the rod bending from the bite, and then slack line. That's how the bite is usually identified. A big one, however, takes the drifting bait and runs with it! The response is totally different: the rod bends, and the drag starts to scream! It's very much like a small Carp's bite. From my experience, even Channels up to 5 lbs will still hit and stop, leaving slack line on the rod. Therefore, when I saw the rod bending and my line going out like crazy, I thought right away that I had hooked a nice Flathead or Striped Bass!
I fought the fish for a good 15 minutes. It gave many powerful runs, and many times I fell 100% of its momentum! It was an awesome fight, and I was shacking while fighting it - pure adrenaline rush. When it surfaced, I was so shocked! Instead of a Flathead or a Stripper, it was a plain Channel Catfish; however, a huge one. It was rather short, but its head was huge. It was fat. I was so excited that I forgot how cold it was! All my thoughts were focused on landing the fish, and I knew that it would be tough because the tide was at its lowest. 
In the end, everything went well. It took me a good while to net it, but my Balzer net is so awesome that it did its job. The fish was 9.5lbs, and not very long (27 inches). It was super fat, and I could put my whole hand in its mouth! A memory for a life time, certainly...
Below are some videos and a couple pictures of my fishing session, all recorded after the first 7 fish. After watching them, I think you guys will have a better idea of how brutal the weather was. Haha. Enjoy:

I divided the video in 4 short parts:

1. Introduction. As I mentioned above, it was very windy, and it snowed at least 3 times in the afternoon. After being there for 15 minutes, and using many layers of Under Armour, the wind was still chilling my bones.

2. Setting up the hook. Videos 2 and 3 should be one, but Andrew's fingers were so cold that he pressed the stop button by accident. I truly admire him for coming out with me: he was dressed not nearly enough for the cold weather, freezing to death, but he still cracked some jokes while filming the video.

3. Landing the fish. Readers, heed my advice: get a Balzer net. This net is by far the best net I ever had, and a life saver in many different types of situations.

4. Extra video. A little video of me catching another Catfish on the Banks.

A couple pictures below:

Catfish # 8 - 1.5lbs.

Catfish #9 - 1.5lbs

Catfish #10 - 1.5lbs

Catfish #11 - 4lbs. Also, you can clearly see all the snowing. Andrew and I were freezing at that moment...

Andrew took this picture accidentally; however, I think it's a good picture to portray the length of the Catfish in comparison to my body. So, there you go. =)

Catfish #12 - 4lbs. Last one of the day!

--- February 24th, Schuylkill River ---

Short fishing session on the Schuylkill Banks. I went there for a little bit in the afternoon, and ended getting skunked.

I believe that this day was by far my worst fishing session of the month: not a single bite. Usually I have a couple bites, I miss some fish, but there's at least "some" action.

However, that Sunday was as dead as it could be!

As always, I took one scenery picture just for reference (so I can have the date of my fishing session, time, and location)...

--- February 28th, Meadow Lake ---
I finally decided to hit Meadow Lake (FDR Park) for the first time this year! First, I would like to let everyone know that I've decided to refer to this body of water as "Meadow Lake" from now onwards instead of "Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park." After all, the lake has a name, so...why not, right?
I walked all around, following the "cast and move" approach. My hopes were still not that high, since water temperatures were still so low. But, as always, my heart just told me that we shouldn't always play by the books.
After walking a great deal, I finally got my first (and only) bite of the day: I threw my Senko in the shallows, behind the wood platform at the big lake, and a nice Northern Snakehead surfaced to chew on my Senko! I was happy for a bit...However, what was supposed to be an exciting moment turned out to be rather awkward: my Senko was whacky rigged, and the Snakehead bit the end of the Senko, and it wouldn't let it go! I couldn't force my rod, or the Senko would rip. Instead of giving a run, the fish was just staying still, kind of looking at me. After a good while, I forced my line a little bit and the fish finally got off, taking a small part of my Senko away.
Unfortunately, that was the only fish of the day! I ended up so frustrated that I just called it a day. I took a bunch of scenery pictures. They are all below. Enjoy:
The "Yellow Boy" is everywhere. Unfortunately, Meadow Lake is a big victim of Acid Mine Drainage. Thankfully, the acid levels are not too high; therefore, the game fish are still safe to live there (for now). Still, AMD is a big problem in PA and surroundings, and something should definitely be done to it.

A picture from another angle. That little water pipe can actually cause THIS MUCH damage to only one portion of the Meadow Lake. Therefore, acid mine drainage will keep spreading day by day - a never ending process (until something is done to it).

Unfortunately, there are multiple sources of AMD in the Meadow Lake. This one is located far at the back of the main Lake, but it's still a danger for the whole aquatic ecosystem in South Philly. It's a shame, especially because I've seen Yellow Boy all around Philadelphia, and even in multiple places in NJ.

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" Geese. A LOT of geese!

A little golden spot that produces awesome Northern Snakehead action during Summer time at Meadow Lake. It's shallow, weedy during the Summer, and perfect for a top-water frog! Unfortunately, the spot didn't produce any fish for me that day. But as mentioned before, the water was still too cold.

The spot where I lost my Snakehead. The fish was just waiting there for something to fall in the water, or a little fish to pass by. Very nimble...

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" Exotic pieces of mother nature itself.
 With this, I was finally able to finish the February fishing sessions, which is great! Now I can finally start the March Fishing Sessions' post, which is even bigger than this one! Hahaha.
Bear with me...little by little, we will get there!
Best of luck for all of us,
Long Days and Pleasant Nights,
Leo S.