March Fishing Sessions: 03/02 - Soaking Nightcrawlers at the Fairmount Dam

Hello, Blog Readers!

Here is my fishing report for March 2nd:

--- March 2nd, 2015 ---

Location: Tidal Schuylkill River (Fairmount Dam)
Time: 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- None

February was certainly a brutal month for the year of 2015. Not a lot of snow, but a lot of ice and sleet. As a matter of fact, Philadelphia hit record temperatures this year: its "coldest winter" since 1996! Thus, most of our watersheds were frozen within the second week of it. On the third week, there was already safe ice on small ponds and lakes. By the end of February, even bigger bodies of water had safe ice (i.e. Marsh Creek, with 10 inches of safe ice at certain spots; the non-tidal Schuylkill River, with at least 4 inches of safe ice at certain spots; etc).

Finally the ice started to break down at the beginning of March. Using the opportunity of high 40's, I decided to alleviate my symptoms of "cabin fever" by going to the Fairmount Dam -- one of those spots that never freeze during the Winter (recall: moving water is often slightly warmer than still water and does not freeze).

A nice view of the Schuylkill River from the Fairmount dam. One can see the old mill on the left side, right next to the waterworks museum. On the background, there is the Spring Garden bridge.

I arrived there around 5:30 p.m., right at its lowest tide. The objective was to stay until 11 p.m. and catch the incoming tide. I set up two rods with a "high-low rig" and whole nightcrawlers, casting them around the falls. The third rod had a 1/2 oz. jighead with a Zoom Fluke on it.

Then, I noticed something really cool -- as I looked around, I noticed a school of fish swimming right in front of me! Now, fellas...if you can spot fish swimming around you, that's always a good sign. At the beginning, I thought that the Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) were congregating on the warmest spot of the River. However, it turned out to be a wrong assumption. After I put my polarized glasses on, I realized that those were schools of Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum). Known as filter-feedings, the Gizzard Shad cannot really be caught by conventional fishing ways. What a bummer!

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" here is a nice photo of a Gizzard Shad swimming right under my face, in about 2 feet of water. Notice the crystal clear aspect of the Schuylkill River, implying that the River did not get any rain for an extended period of time. 

As I looked around, I found this clump of ice to be very interesting! During my whole fishing session, these pieces of ice just stayed together, rotating relentlessly. Sadly, air temperatures increased dramatically for the next couple days. Otherwise, I am pretty sure that those clumps of ice would have turned into a beautiful ice circle. If you are not familiar with the concept of ice circles, google it. :)

I pretty much fished for the next hour or so without a single bite...Then, around 6:30 p.m. or so, two other fellas came down to join me (that is correct: I wasn't the only crazy folk to go down there for a few casts). They were fully equipped with different types of lures. Ultimately, they decided to throw some crankbaits and rattle traps around the falls.

Just around sunset, I got two extra visitors at the Dam. They threw all different kinds of lures, but nothing. In the end, they surrendered to the cold and left.

As I mentioned previously, my original plan was to fish until 11 p.m. to catch the high tide. However, just like the other two fellas, I was beaten by the cold! I realized that I was not well prepared for the night weather. I underestimated it. Therefore, I left after sunset. I did take a "bonus" photo for you readers, though:

Have you ever wondered why you get snagged when you cast right in front of you, at the dam? is your answer: do you see that piece of wood and that rock formation sticking out of the water during the lowest tide around full moon? Yes -- your lure is probably in that little treasure cove! 

Heh. More reports will be coming soon! 

Best of Luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.