Saturday, April 23, 2016

D&R Canal, Millstone River Panfish

Last Sunday was gorgeous, and consequently, my sister, father and I decided to go kayaking on the Delaware-Raritan Canal. 

Consequently, it was inevitable that I would bring a rod and do some fishing. It was a beautiful day, but the fishing was less than phenomenal. After about an hour and a half of messing around with lures, all I had to show for my efforts were a couple small bluegill. The water had only just begun to warm, and the fish I encountered in the canal were rather lethargic. 

After throwing some lures for a while and returning the kayak, I decided to fish the nearby Millstone river while I was waiting for my ride. I only had 15 minutes, and I didn't expect much. After all, this was the Millstone. I had never caught much from this seemingly lifeless river except for one outing when I miraculously scored a lifer channel catfish and american eel.

This side of the Millstone, however, was a complete different story. The water was clear and tannin-stained, and I saw what I presumed to be large shiners swimming near shore. I tossed my jerkbait out, and on the first cast, I saw two decent perch follow it in. Exited, I rummaged around the tiny pack of lures I brought and I found a minnow tube jig. I vertically jigged it for a while, and the perch would tentatively mouth the bait, followed by immediately spitting it out.

It was time to switch tactics. I cast a bit farther and aggressively ripped it back. Suddenly, I glimpsed a flash of green and gold, and set the hook. After a brief fight, I had a new Personal Best yellow perch!

Remember my previous perch were all of 4 inches, and this was a decent perch, no monster but nice sized, especially for a river in Central Jersey. It also happens that this was my first yellow perch caught in NJ. 

Neatly in the corner

What was really interesting was the group of 3-4 decent sized yellow perch following my fish as it fought. So immediately after my first fish, I sent the jig down again. Not two casts later, I hooked up again on a much nicer fish, and quickly broke my PB again!

Such beautiful fish

I also hooked some decent bluegill and one more small perch. before I called it a day.

It was a short but also surprisingly successful session. Halfway through, I saw a 15 lb carp swim by, while I could only glance helplessly at the little box of lures I brought. I also realized that the "shiners" were actually gizzard shad. Due to their notoriety, I decided I wasn't even going to attempt to catch them today.This spot definitely deserves another visit...