Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 5-6

Days 5 and 6 held very little fishing. Day 5 we visited Cornell University and its art museum, then explored Ithaca and looked at some scenic views, including some waterfalls. Day 6 was spent at the Corning glass museum. That was an amazing experience, the art was beautiful, but unfortunately I don't currently have any photos.

photo credit

photo credit

However, after dinner on day 6, I got a chance to go out in the kayak and cast a rubber worm. I hooked up with 5 bass and 1 pickerel, but only landed 2 bass and 1 pickerel. I was fishing in heavy grass mats and weed beds, and the fish would dive into the weeds and throw the hook. 

Funny story... The fish were caught after dinner, and after tasting pickerel and bass previously, we put the three in a collapsible fish net for the night. It's like a stringer, they serve the same purpose, but in the net the fish can swim around. In the morning, however, we found a gaping hole in the net. The pickerel had chewed through!

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 4 (continued)

Day 4 contained lots of fishing, so I decided to include this part as part two.

After arriving back from Buttermilk, we went back to the Seneca Lake pier. This time it was windier and only a couple rudd were in sight. I had yet to catch my lifer perch, so that was top priority for me, which proved to take a couple minutes at most after messing around with the tiny perch in the shallows.

And there you have it: The uneventfully caught tiny specimen of a yellow perch. (species #56) It wasn't the monster I lost, but it was a perch, and pretty no matter how small it was.

Day 4's afternoon was of relaxation. My grandpa and I proceeded to catch several dozen tiny perch, as well as tons of rock bass and bluegill that we didn't photograph. I also happened to sight fish some itsy-bitsy smallmouths with a jig. On 2 lb test, they fight incredibly hard for their size and were a nice little (literally) bonus.


Like the perch, they were small but colorful, and I felt pretty good about a 2 lifer day. I hooked and lost 2 rudd, but otherwise it was perfect.

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 4

Day 4 was spent at Buttermilk Falls, another breathtaking place.

We originally wanted to go to Buttermilk and another state park, but the other one was closed.

I had a bit of time before we had to leave, and my parents and sister decided to take a hike up the mountain. However, the terrain was steep, and my grandparents were unable to hike it. So I stayed to accompany them as they rested in the shade by the creek. That decision also had a bonus in my part... I was able to fish! The creek was chock full of micros... some old, and more importantly, some new.

Right at the bat I hooked up with dozens of eastern blacknose dace and creek chubs. They are just so aggressive! I took a photo of the one below, it seemed a bit odd without any prominent horizontal stripe (unlike most creek chubs in that pool), but it turns out it was just a creek chub,nothing special.

It was time to focus on that aforementioned "new" part of the fish population in that tiny pool (more like a puddle, honestly. As soon as I saw them, I knew what they were: longnose dace. I would have been all set, if it wasn't for the immense hordes of tiny creek chubs and eastern blacknose dace. I figured that all I had to do was get my bait stationary on the bottom and the longnose, having a highly subterminal, or possibly even inferior mouth, would take immediate notice. That proved to be troublesome, however. I cannot stress the viciousness of creek chubs and blacknose dace. They are the bowfin and piranha (respectively) of small northeastern streams.

What ended up proving successful was a ton of split shot (in microfishing terms), and a lot of patience. Soon enough, an opportunity presented itself and I was able to hook a tiny longnose dace. Alas, when the moment of truth came to lift it up into my grasp, it fell off the tiny point of the tanago hook. AAARRGGHH!!!! Never has there been so much frustration over a two inch fish.

It was then that I noticed the mother of all longnose dace - a beast - no, a monstrosity of a longnose dace. This fish stood out in the water, being larger than all the other dace. But that was not what made it a standout. The fish was ghostly pale and had no mottling, unlike any other longnose dace in the stream. From above, it looked almost white.

The appearance of all the other dace. Photo credit.

Suddenly, the dace was Moby Dace, the palm-sized white whale, and I was Captain Ahab, the microfisherman hell bent on its capture and its addition to my lifelist.

I became obsessed, even addressing the dace directly... "From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned dace." Onlookers, curious as to what was happening, exclaimed, "That ain't no dace; that a great white god!" upon seeing the majestic snout and caudal peduncle of Moby Dace. Desire brewed and boiled from the depths of my soul. I then turned to my grandparents and the crowd: "God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dace to the lifelist!"

As fixated as I was, my campaign to capture my white whale was much shorter. The hunt for Moby Dace was only obstructed by chubs and blacknoses, and before I knew it, Moby Dace had rushed over to my bait and promptly sucked it up. I set the tanago hook, and grabbed him as soon as he left the surface.

Moby Dace was vanquished, the battle over (it lasted an entire 15 minutes!).

Longnose dace, species #55!

 The mother of all longnose dace...giant caudal peduncle and all.

As I watched him kick away, I knew that he wasn't just the namesake of the white whale - He was its living incarnation. Moby Dace got to live another day, and I didn't get dragged down to the depths of Buttermilk Creek.

Fishing with a live blacknose dace produced this dark rock bass, which, true to its name, shot out from under a rock. I had only seen it a couple times when it stole my chubs and dace. It seemed to big for the puddle of a pool I had caught it from...

A colorful rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus). I should keep a crustacean lifelist...

My grandma gets in on the micro bite! Her first fish, a baby bluegill. Note the exemplified puddle... Moby Dace will hopefully still swim in those murky depths...

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 3

Day Three held one of the most enjoyable hikes I had ever hiked: Watkins Glen.

Watkins Glen was truly mesmerizing. The cliffs and the creek were gorgeous, and created a sense of a whole different world. No words for it, really, it's a sight only eyes can describe.


I noticed there were big shiners in addition to trout and small white suckers. I had looked up this location and I saw there were a few reports of striped shiners in Watkins Glen. These large, deep bodied shiners seemed to fit the description of a striped shiner. I only had a couple minutes of spare time to fish, so I rigged a tiny tanago hook with a nub of worm under a tiny float. It didn't take long for one of the shiners to bite the suspended worm, and I lifted it up and took some photos.

I tried my hardest to turn this into a striped shiner, but a predorsal scale count confirmed by fear: It was simply a common shiner. Still though, Watkins Glen was an amazing experience, definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Later, I got dropped off at the Seneca Lake Pier along with my grandpa after we looked around the lake. The water was crystal clear, and there was no shortage of an abundance of life. There was plenty of vegetation, shiners, tiny perch, sunfish, and even a 20+ lb carp. The real thing, however, that immediately caught my eye were the golden fish swimming among the cabbage in large schools. I immediately knew what they were: Rudd!!!

Immediately all my efforts were focused on trying to catch this European exotic. I rigged up a baitholder hook with some worn and drifted it in the school of rudd. What I discovered was that the suspended bait had to be directly in front of the fish, otherwise the fish would show zero interest in my presentation. Soon, a small rudd committed and I hauled up my first rudd! That's species #54!

Beautiful golden fish they are... 

After that first fish, I thought it would be a piece of cake, catching these rudd. Boy, was I wrong. The rudd are incredibly picky, and after I caught that one, most disappeared, and I didn't catch one again. As these fish are invasive, and a delicacy in Europe, I decided to keep this one and to see how they tasted. 

The rudd were gone, and I diverted my attention to the giant schools of shiners on the surface of the lake. They were incredibly aggressive and I caught a bunch quickly. Unfortunately, they turned out to be spottail shiners, a species that I already have. 

Soon, my grandpa caught a similarly-sized rudd. We kept that one, too.

I began casting a swimbait in hopes of a northern pike, unsuccessfully. However, I saw an absolute beast of a 2 lb perch follow my lure to the surface. Wasting no time, a quickly caught a spottail shiner and sent it out. I saw the fish swim down slowly, then a hard hit. I fought the perch to the surface, saw its massive flank, and just like that it threw the hook. I know yellow perch are supposedly common, but I have yet to add it to my lifelist. Previously, one was caught but it flopped back into the water while trying to take a picture. Ever since, I have held a grudge, so this loss was like rubbing alcohol in a cut. 

Minks bounded across the pier every so often, hoping to steal a bite of bait.  

After the perch tragedy, we were ready to call it a day. Back at the cottage, The rudd were steamed by my dad and we all tried a bit. It was delicious; and the meat was white and flaky, not fishy at all. The only thing was that it was very bony, but the bones were easy to avoid.

Fresh steamed rudd!

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 2

Day 2
Day two, we were headed to Cornell and the town of Ithaca in the morning. It was a truly beautiful campus with an amazing art museum! 

We ate lunch at Ithaca, then headed off to Taughannock Falls, a couple miles of a round trip hike, but worth every bit. I waded through the clear and shallow creek most of the way there, and I really wished I had brought a rod of some sort. Shiners, dace, stonerollers, suckers, trout, and smallmouths were all present. In the really shallow water, which spanned most of the creek, blacknose dace were simply everywhere. I even managed to catch a few with my hands! In the deep holes I saw a nice (~2 lbs) smallmouth and a big white sucker. The water was gorgeous and we all had a lot of fun. 

 Me wishing I had a rod in my hands

The cliffs were beautiful 

The Falls

We went back to our cottage, and I fished on Lamoka for a little bit, but only ended up with some bluegills and a little bass (as far as I can recall). My sister, however, was luckier and hooked a yellow perch, a species I have yet to conquer. 

That smile says it all... she was rubbing it in my face.