Sunday, May 31, 2015

Redemption!!! (and some other awesome stuff)

Recently, I got my hands on some sampling reports from the Millstone River near my home. It said that 200 American Eels had been electrofished from a certain section of river. It sounded like a great place to redeem myself after the tragic incident of last weekend.

I got dropped off at a great spot (thanks, Google Earth!) at 6:30 with heavy cloud cover and began fishing. I only had about one and a half hour, so I was looking for some quick action. Quickly after I arrived, I set up a heavier rod with a 3/0 circle hook and a chunk of threadfin herring. I used my lightest rod with a spinner in hopes of a fallfish or smallmouth bass. After a lull with no action, I turned to my third rod, rigged up a whole nightcrawler and some split shots, and cast it out to await events. '

After only a couple minutes, I noticed a definite tap, and then slack line, I noticed the same thing later, followed by slack line that was quickly moving. I picked it up and set the hook...

Whatever was on my line was not very large and I reeled it in with relative ease. As it neared the shore, I saw a long, greenish-grew wriggling shape at the end of my line...

American Eel!!!!!!

I quickly lifted it up and carried it as far from the bank as possible, and took a few pictures. The whole time all I could say was "american eel, american eel" muttered over and over... This was redemption!!!

Eels are just about the slimiest, squiggliest fish I have ever seen. It took me forever just to get this photo, and my hands were covered in slime! Well, there it is, species #42 and yet another check off the NJ species list!

Like I said, eels are slimy...

It was quite a bit smaller than the eel I had encountered at the Delaware River last week, but it was still an eel, and one of the coolest fish I've ever caught. As I was washing my hands from all the eel slime, I thought of my other rod with cut bait, some 50 yds upstream in a log jam. I had a feeling something was going on...

I sprinted to the other rod to find it doubled over, barely hanging on to the log I had propped it up against. I picked it up and the fight was on! The rod was heavier than the other rods, but still pretty light. Whatever was on the other end was heavy, and not going down without a fight. My rod was seriously bent as the fish peeled drag. The fish almost got me in a logjam, But I managed to turn it at the last moment into more open water. The fight took at least three minutes (or it felt like it), with the fish bulldogging the entire time. As it neared the bank, I see a huge channel catfish! According to the sampling report (2014), they only found 1 channel catfish here...

Now came the problem of landing it. I didn't bring a net, and I simply couldn't lift the fish up the steep bank and onto the log I was standing on. I realized what I had to do. I gave the fish some line, and maneuvered the rod around the gnarled roots. In doing so, I fell and got pretty badly scraped, but my first channel catfish was on shore, and not a tiddler, especially for here and a river that isn't stocked!

While it was on the bank, the fish spit the hook. I immediately put a death grip on its lower jaw and sprinted back to where all my stuff was. I took some pictures...

And then let the big guy go. He weighed 6 lbs on the dot on my digital scale. There's species #43 and yet another species of the NJ list. 2 epic lifers back to back!

After this awesome catch, I decided to call it a day and relax by the river bank.

Where I caught the eel

The rod saving log. My reel was right under that ridge along the log, and those are the roots I had to climb over to land the catfish.

The logjam

Sorry for the blurry pictures, the lighting was horrible and I was using an ipad. What kinda sucks is that it is May 31st, just a couple hours more and I could put them in the June species contest... Can't be too greedy though. :)

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