Friday, October 24, 2014

Field Trip Fishing

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I have been very busy with school. In fact, I have just returned from a three-day, two-night field trip in Northern NJ. Of course, as soon as I heard that they had a lake, I brought my rod. Some of the teachers fished too, and during the recreation time, I rigged up a weedless fluke to fish for a couple hours. 

At first, the lake looked nice. After about an hour, however, there was zero fish caught, and I was loosing hope for my goal, catching my first chain pickerel. Then, as I twitched the fluke, I felt resistance, then headshakes. I set the hook. A very short battle later, I lifted up a tiny bass. Ahhhh... so it wasn't a chain pickerel. However, there was another reason to rejoice, as it was the first fish caught by a student of my school in this lake in four years! 

The dink

The next recreation time, I worked the pads hard in search of slime darts. I even saw small pickerel bite my fluke, only to spit it out as I tried to set. By the end of the day, I had saw about 5 pickerel in 2 hours, but failed to catch them. Then my social studies teacher, as awesome as he is, offered to take me and my friend Trevor fishing on the boat dock on the other side of the lake. There I immediately saw a drop off, where the water gets deep fast. On the first cast, I felt a vicious strike, and I set the hook. At first I thought is was a smaller fish, and I prayed that it was a pickerel. Suddenly, I saw the fish, and the fish saw me. It was a pickerel! It made a run under the dock in a final attempt to get free. I hoisted the fish up, and there it was, the trashing, toothy, chain pickerel.

A beautifully patterned chain pickerel

I did it, and the grin on my face could not have been bigger as I released the little guy. The kitchen called dinner, and I could not have thought of a better last-minute fish. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Quest for Bullheads

Today I set off on a quest. A quest for bullheads, specifically the brown one. It was a species I had caught before, but not photographed. I set up my cane pole with a split shot and a tiny octopus hook. I brought some cheese, as well as some worms. Arriving at my spot at the creek, I was like a kid in a candy store. I could see bullheads lazily cruising! I immediately set up with a piece of cheese, and to my utter disappointment, sunfish swarmed it. The bullheads couldn't even glance at the bait before the sunfish and creek chubs swarmed it. I received the same attention from worms. In observing this, I decided to switch to cut bait. I quickly brought in a two inch sunfish (yes, my hook was that small) and cut it up for bait. This time, the sunfish were reluctant, but the creek chubs weren't. After weeding through dozens of pesky chubs, I finally saw a catfish approach my bait, bend down, and gobble it up. After a short but spirited battle, I hoisted the fish into the air. Yesss!!

I love this picture

I had caught my brown bullhead! Brown bullhead can be identified by their mottled coloring, slimmer profile, and black chin barbels with white or yellow bases. I promised myself I would leave as soon as I caught a bullhead, but I just couldn't leave the fish! Continuing to fish would turn out to be a great decision.
After a while, the chubs stopped bothering the bait (I assumed it was because they all already had been hooked), and I saw another whispered shape glide toward my bait and promptly suck it up.
I lifted it up, and saw the telltale white chin whiskers. Yellow Bullhead!!!
Small, but a bullhead nonetheless!

Cute, isn't it?

The white or yellow chin whiskers

This fish was special. Having caught it, I have caught every bullhead species in nj! This is not exactly a great feat, since there is only two native bullheads and one introduced, and I caught both natives today. In addition, I had no idea yellow bullheads were even in this creek, I thought only browns existed. Nonetheless, it was a great bonus fish. 
Not ten minutes later, a landed a substantially larger yellow bullhead! 

Such beautiful fish... Although many others would disagree

The tiny octopus hook performed wonderfully, hooking all the bullheads in the corner of their mouths.

I decided not to push my luck and call it a day, heading home satisfied and happy.