Tell you what, there`s nothing quite like the combination of a high level of comradery and sharing the same passion with another buddy when it comes to fishing. And hell, add the kayaks in the mix, and you can bet the ranch that you are in for a helluva fun day!
Well good evening…. After hammering out some technical issues with my site and GoDaddy(again), we are back up and running(I hope!) – After having a few of you ask
if I had plan on writing anything again, I figured it would be a good night to sit with a glass of FireBall n` Coke and have at it.
So let me tell ya what happened
this past Friday…….. I`m pretty sure you will get a good laugh.
Started to get that hankerin` to chase some Snakeheads down in South Jersey last week. However, the long-range forecast for the week wasn`t looking all that good, as heavy rain storms were predicted for most of the week. When Friday rolled around, I made a late morning decision to make the run down south.
Loaded up the Toyota and pulled out around 10 o’clock which would land me in Snakehead country right around noontime. When I arrived at my destination, there was one kayaker paddling in. I walked over and said, “Need a hand with your yak?” He replied, “Sure….why not?” As I reached down pulled his yak up on land so he could get out easily. Me; “Any luck?” Him; “Nah…. been out there for three hours, fished the whole thing, not even a bite”
Me; “See any fry-balls by chance?” Him; “Nope…..too early yet for that” –
“Hell I`ve never been down here in early June, always in July when the duckweed abounds everywhere” I thought to myself. He thanked me for giving him a hand said adios and I threw my yak in the pond.
I decided to start out with a Zoom Fluke and work the vegetation close to the shoreline. I swear I wasn`t fishing more than fifteen minutes, when this decent South Jersey Greenback laid into that Zoom Fluke…… Bam! Fish on
Not exactly what I drove down here for, but we were on the board. A fine Largemouth to start the day off. I fished the next several hours, working the gigantic lily pads and blown down brush in my quest for my first Snakehead of 2022 to no avail.
But I have to tell ya, those South Jersey Largemouth Bass most certainly cooperated!
I landed eight Bass and lost three right at the yak. I did have two Snakeheads follow my lures half-heartedly, but couldn`t find any that wanted to play today.
While I didn`t catch what I came down for, it still was a fine, relaxing day of fishing.
Now you`re probably thinking, “Come Ken…… what the heck kind of fishing adventure was that?? You`ve had a lot cooler ones than that”…….. Right?
Well it`s not necessarily always about the fishing or the hunting that makes it an Adventure…….. sometimes there are other turn of events that add to the elements of
the story…….. so let me pour another Fireball n` Coke and get back to the story…….
I had figured it would be a nice, early night and unlike the majority of times when I come down here, as I usually leave way too late.
Hell…… I had no Snakeheads to clean, and I pulled out of the swamps right around 6pm, stopped for a bite and figured I`d be home by 9 o`clock. Perfect, I thought to myself.
So once on my way I called my Lady friend out in California, Lidice, to chit-chat with during my trek back up north. We laughed and joked all the way back up to Hunterdon County.
And here`s where things start to get interesting…….
I was almost in Clinton where Rte 31 and Rte 78 meet, when she says, “I`m going to grab a quick bite and I`ll call you back in about twenty minutes” –
She hung up and the radio came back on now that the Blue Tooth is off and the announcer says there`s a road closure about four miles where I`m headed and
that traffic is stopped in both directions! I quickly diverted to Rte 22 and decided to head towards Califon to take the backroads home. This was a long way around the horn so to speak, to get home, but there was no other way.
Lidice called me back and I told her what happened and that the funny thing was if she hadn`t decided to go get something to eat and hang up the phone, I would have never
heard the radio and would have been jammed up in that traffic jam for hours up on Rte 31 – I said it would add about a half hour to my trip but that I`d still be make good time.
Eventually I was only about two and a half miles from home and all of the sudden, there were flashing lights from trucks and the road was barricaded off with cones!
“What the hell?” I said to her, “This friggin` road is closed too!!” So we laughed on the phone and I turned around to drive all the way back to the beginning of the closed road.
I`m said to Lidice, “What the hell was that? Christ couldn`t they put a damn sign up saying the friggin` road is closed?!!” – Well when I got to back to the beginning of the
road, I saw a sign and turned around to read it………. “ROAD CLOSED DUE TO DOWN WIRES!”…….. I had driven right past it!!!! We were laughing so hard at this point!
I turned out towards Hackettstown, which would add a five mile detour and I`m was driving a little too fast at this point……..
Somehow the conversation turned towards local police, and I mentioned to Lidice that a few that I had met said they enjoy reading my website and magazine articles.
Now right about that time, I burned right through a stop sign and this vehicle came up on me like lightning! I said to her, “Well we`re gonna find out how much they like
me, `cause I`m getting pulled over right now!”……”I`ll call you back” –
The officer comes to my window, sees all of my fishing gear, “How you doing? Bass fishing huh?” Me; “Uhhhhh….. nooo….. I was after Snakeheads” – Him, “Really? Wow…..
Where do you go to do that?” – Me; “ Way way down in South Jersey…..Do you fish” (at this point I`m thinking I guess he just wants to talk about fishing)- Him: “I fish prtty
much local” Me: “Ohhhh ok ok…..where do you like to fish?” Him: “Hey I`m not telling you!” Me:” Hey that`s cool…. I was just seeing what kind of fishing you`re into” –
So I proceeded to explain Snakeheads and Bowfins to him, the we talk about different types of kayaks…….. Then finally he said, “ Yea I was going to let you go until you tore
through that stop sign” – Me: “You know what? That was a totally A$$hole move on my part…..really……. I was a complete a$$hole to do that”
Him laughing;” Hey you said that not me” – Me; “If I was you I would say that to me! You sir, are a friggin` a$$hole that way you ran through that stop sign! Could you imagine
me being the cop?” — Him laughing like hell; “Not really” – Me; “ I was literally on the phone with a gal I know out in California right before you pulled me over and she was
asking if I knew any of the local police and I said I`m going to meet one right now because I`m being pulled over! She is not going to believe I got pulled over” – Him; “Well take
a picture of my lights and send it to her” – Me laughing; “Yea….why not?” – So I did – Then he said, “I`ll let you go with a warning and this entire conversation was recorded on
my chest-cam” – Me; “Well …… hell…… you`re welcome” – Him; “Excuse me?” – Me; “ Yea…you`re welcome…… `cause you`re gonna go back to the office and show all of your
buddies this conversation and they are going to laugh like hell!” – He laughed and said; “Have a good night Ken” — And I said, “Thank you very much, it was nice talking to you.
NOTE- Don`t Be Like Ken. Obey The Traffic Signs.
Whelp…… when that `ol July hot as hell Summer weather rolls in, I always get a hankerin` to load up the Yak and roll into South Jersey to have a go at one of my fave Toothy Critters…. Northern Snakeheads! And the forecast was lookin` pretty darn good, so I got a hold of my good friend Rob Morrison and made plans to meet up. Now let me tell you a little bit about Rob. We met by accident last year as we both happened to stop at the same spot one afternoon. We recognized each other from various Facebook pages that we both belong to. We shook hands and Rob said, “Hey would you like to try another spot? I think we`ll have more luck there this afternoon” – Me; “Heck yea… Lead the way Brother!” – I realized immediately that he was a really helpful, gracious fishing host. Just a helluva nice guy.
Got a hold of my buddy John Fasanello last week as we had briefly discussed doing this edgy idea last year. “Ya up for a little adventure?” – John, “Sure….what are you thinking?” Me,”Chasing Flatheads in the kayaks on the Delaware River at night” – John, “I`m in!”
So plans were made to meet on the Delaware Saturday evening around 7:30pm – I figured this would give us enough light to paddle up to a couple deep holes that I had in mind, and to hopefully get set up before it got dark. This gig was really going to be shooting from the hip as I had never tried fishing the river at night in a Yak. Days before I went over my checklist making sure we had the proper gear for any unforeseen situation. Extra life-cushions, plenty of lights and a first-aid kit were all on board my Old Town Next Canoe. John`s Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman Canoe was packed with fishing gear and amenities if we needed to set up on shore for any reason.
We held off as a strong storm was supposedly ending and clearing out by 7:45 according to our weather apps. The key word here was.. supposedly. And like the old adage goes, “You can’t trust the weatherman….. or your apps!! After paddling about a half mile up river, we got caught in a light rain that in a matter of minutes turned into a damn monsoon as darkness crept in!! We kept paddling as we had about another mile to go to get to our destination. Between the hard rain pelting us and light fading fast, visibility became very limited. We had to throw our headlamps on to continue or journey as we trekked upstream.
Finally arriving soaking wet, at the deep pool I had in mind, we were relieved to stop paddling and ready to fish. The idea of this spot was that we were in a very slow moving eddy, so slow that the current of the back-eddy actually held us without having to anchor. We were only about twenty feet from shore but in very deep water. This was one of only two spots that we calculated could possibly work like this. And it did.
Keeping the Yaks fairly close to one another, we began to fish our live eels in our quest for a Flathead.
It didn`t take long before I wrangled up the first Flat of the night! Not a huge one coming in at just over ten pounds, but we were on the board! Had a couple more run-offs over the next several hours that we didn’t connect on. Probably somewhere around 1am, I managed to boat another Flathead.
Somewhere in the wee-wee hours of the darkness, this thick eerie fog crept up the river eliminating any little visibility that we had. I said “Hey….. let`s beach the Yaks and finish the night from shore as we can`t see to go back now anyway with this fog….we`ll stay here until sun-up” – .
Once on shore, John shaved some dead limbs in order to get to some dry wood and then started a small fire, which we both welcomed as we were still soaked from hours before. We set up four poles and fished there until daylight. Right at dawn, I nailed a decent channel Catfish and when I looked over, John was out like a light in his chair! Yep…… it was a long night on the river!
Right around 6am I woke him up and said, “Hey let’s call it a night and get the hell out of here” – With that we loaded up the yaks, threw the channel cat back as she was pregnant and brought the two Flats home for supper as we paddled back down river in the thick fog.
Sure was quite the adventure out there in the Yaks that night and I`d like to make myself perfectly clear to anyone reading this. Some people do things for the adrenaline rush, the challenge or the thrill….well….. anybody that knows of me knows this to be true. However, I do not recommend or advocate that anyone try this gig at night on the Delaware. Period. Things could go wrong real fast. Thanks.
See ya next time!
My interest in Bowfins and Snakeheads started about ten years ago after reading a few articles on these peculiar looking fish with a mouth full of teeth. Snakeheads are an invasive species, while the Bowfin on the other hand looks (and breathes similar) to a Snakehead, it is indeed native to New Jersey and has been around quite awhile you might say….As a matter of fact, the Jurassic era Bowfin that swam in the same waters where dinosaurs waded, dates back 250 million years!!
Bowfins are impressive survivors. They are able to breathe both in the water as well as out! They can tolerate highly acidic waters that contain puny amounts of oxygen by breaching the surface to gulp air. With their bi-modal breathing, they are also able to tolerate extended periods of time completely out of the water.
So when my friend John Mendez invited me to chase a few `Fins in a remote area of Northwest Jersey……… How could I say no? Because anyone who knows of me, knows I love having a go at fish with teeth!
This was a first for me, as normally I trek way down into South Jersey territory to get my Bowfin “fix” –
After hiking in about three miles, we were set to see what lurked in this lily-pad infested water-way. I had never caught a `Fin in North Jersey…..but that was about to change.
I fished for about twenty minutes, casting my stand-by White Zoom Fluke into the clear water. When suddenly out of the thick seaweed, a Bowfin violently appeared and exploded on the Fluke! Fish on as I quickly wrangled him up on shore! “Wow! What a beast!” John exclaimed as I put the fish-grips into the mouth of the Beast.
After a few pictures, I returned the Monster back and watched as the `Fin slowly cruised back out to the pads.
While we only lost two others the rest of the afternoon, for me that elusive North Jersey Bowfin that I landed was indeed a trophy.
For me, when I`m out and about it`s always about the experience… And when I get to land a particular fish that I`m targeting….. well…… That`s just the icing on the cake!
`Till Next time…..
I was perusing something on-line last night, when all of the sudden, a Facebook Marketplace kayak “match-alert” popped up on my phone. Lo and behold, when I clicked it this peculiar vessel appeared. I almost clicked out because it was a canoe….’er so I thought. See I always have the alerts set for a used sit-on-top Yak hoping to find one at a decent price….. but that never happens because everyone that’s selling one, thinks their “used Yak” are worth their weight in gold or something.
After reading about the Old Town New Canoe, I learned that it was actually a Canoe and Kayak Hybrid. An open hull design which offers the storage of a canoe, yet maintains the maneuverability of a kayak. So it`s like a sit-in Yak, but the difference is it`s entirely open. Which is what always appealed to me with the sit-on-top Yaks. The open-ness. The stability will also be excellent like a kayak, due to the center seating arrangement. And there was another very intriguing factor…… the specs. The overall length is 13 feet, my old Yak is 12 feet. The width is dead identical at 29 inches to my old Yak. The weight is exactly 59 pounds, which is the same the weight of the Yak. This has been a big concern while looking at new Yaks, as I`m not suppose to be throwing a hundred pounds over my head since that massive heart attack I suffered 4 years ago.
So you can easily put a cooler, bait bucket, rain gear etc. in this awesome boat. Probably my one beef I have with fishing out of a kayak is having to reach behind to get to the tackle bag or fishing rod. With the NEXT canoe, there is ample room to lay the tackle bag and rods in front for easy access.
The gentleman that I bought it from today actually bought it Brand New in 2017…… and never ever put it in the water! After having had serious hand/elbow surgery, he never felt confident about taking this out, so he put it away in storage with the sellers/manufacturers tags left on it! It`s literally Brand New!
Glad I decided to read about this Lemongrass colored canoe……because it turned out to be a
“Gem-of-Deal” that I had hoped to find.
See ya on the water in my New Canoe!
So the other night, Im sitting here having a glass of wine and decided to jump on Facebook for a bit. Immediately in my feed, I saw that my good Friend Jeff Van Nest, literally had just posted an ad on a hunting forum. He was selling this awesome Crossbow! I texted and said, “Hey what the hell am I chopped liver? How come you didnt offer me the XBow?” -He quickly replied, “I totally forgot that you said you wanted it! Hell if you want it, it`s yours Ken” – Me; “Sold!”
Now this is what is interesting about this little story. Last year Jeff called me on a Sunday and said that he was taking a ride to Cabelas to buy a new Crossbow that he had his eye on and wanted to know if I wanted to ride out there with him. Hell if it`s something to do with hunting or fishing, I assure you that you do not have to ask me twice! Haha! So out we went.
On the way out he explained how he had found a slight crack in one of the limbs on his Crossbow and didn`t want to take any chances and that a new one was in order. We get out there and he finds the XBow that he had been eyeing for awhile and sales guy proceeds to tell him all about it. Then Jeff told him how his current Crossbow had developed a crack – The Sales Rep said, “Yea you`re probably right, the warranty definitely expired” So Jeff buys the new Bow and back home we went.
On our way home, I said, “You ought call the company just for the hell of it next week, and see if that Crossbow possibly still under warranty…..can`t hurt” Jeff, “Definitely” –
So he did call a few days later and texted me, “Hey you won`t believe it! There is one more week of warranty left on my Bow! I`m sending it back to them tomorrow”
Well he got it back in a couple weeks and called me, “You will not believe this, I got the Crossbow back thinking they would replace the cracked limb. They rebuilt the entire Bow!! Everything on it is brand new! New limbs, strings/cables, hand guard and even a brand new scope!” “It`s literally brand new again! All under warranty!” So I joked around and said, “You don`t need it now and you should sell it to me!” haha! And that`s how it ended.
It`s a Wicked Ridge Crossbow made by TenPoint which is a big name in Crossbows.
So this past Sunday, I drove over and picked up the Crossbow. Looking forward to some more hunting adventures with Jeff and my Brand New Used Wicked Ridge Crossbow. Thanks Jeff!
Got a text last weekend from my old Air Force buddy Bob Meyer, wanting to do a little fishing this Sunday. Hell, when it comes to that, you rarely have to ask me twice! haha! So we made plans to take the Yaks up on Budd Lake to have a go at a Northern Pike or two. Bob told me that he had never caught a Pike in Jersey, so that was the goal.
Let me tell you all how and where Bob and I met many moons ago. We actually me at the Newark Mepps Center on our way to Basic Training in the U.S. Air Force back in 1984. Went through Basic together and then after that, we never saw each other again. Now in 2017…..33 years later he found me on Facebook and that`s how we re-connected. Pretty neat huh?
Ok……. back to our fishing adventure.
At daybreak, he showed up at the house ready to go. I had told him not to worry about bringing anything, as I had rod and reels all set up for him to use. So we loaded up the Yaks and away we went to Budd Lake.
I really wanted him to nail his first New Jersey Northern and this was the place to make it happen.
We paddled our way along the shore-line, stopping to work the various areas of lily pads. Bob was using a Swimbait on the one set-up and a Chatterbait on the other. I stuck with a Ned Rig on one and a Weedless-Whacky Rig on the other as I wanted to nail a nice BucketMouth Bass.
After fishing for a couple hours, with zero action, I watched this guy work his way towards me in a row boat. In a matter of minutes, I watched him land two smaller Pike. So I yelled over, “Way to go! Hey what are ya throwin?’ – He replied, “A white jig” – Me; “Ok, thanks very much!” With that I rifled through my tackle bag looking for something white. The only lure that I found was a partially rusted white Chatterbait. – I scraped off as much rust as possible and added a white Keitech as a tail chaser.
I paddled over to Bob and said, “Let`s try that pocket up on the left”
“It`s always a solid spot and I have lost some really nice, big fish there in that cove”
By now the wind had started to kick up, which is typical when you`re up on Budd Lake. I have been out there on some really nasty days with white caps….and nailed Pike after Pike!
I make my second cast with the white Chatterbait……. BAM! Pike on!
And he did put on quite the show I must say! Thrashing into the air twice, peeling the drag! Then eventually I landed the Toothy Critter in my net. “Well we`re on the board bud!” As I unhooked the Esox for a quick picture taking session.
After releasing the Northern, I quickly said to Bob, “Give me your line” and snipped off his lure. “What are you doing?” he asked. “I only have one white Chatterbait and watched that guy nailed two pike using a white jig, so white is the color!” as I tied the white Chatterbait to his line – “And I want you to nail one buddy!”
Then I had an idea…… “Let`s paddle over to Doc`s spot, he always catches a couple there every time and we got to play the odds partner!”
And after being there about thirty minutes, I heard a yell, “Got one!” and quickly paddled over to Bob as he reeled in his first New Jersey Northern Pike!
I said, “Let me spin around to take a few pictures” and just as I held the camera up the Pike slipped out of his his as I snapped the pic!
Hahaha! Look at Bob`s expression as you can see the Pike is about to hit the water!
A fun day indeed on the water.
Good Friends are like aged wine…….they get better with time”
See ya next time-
Yep….. Me and this `ol gal have had a lot of exciting times and awesome memories. Hell I`ve had her out in brutally cold twenty degree weather in the dead of Winter. To blistering hot, over a hundred degree days down in the swamps of South Jersey. And in all kinds of adverse weather conditions. She`s been a tough `ol Gal.
Until she sunk a few weeks back. Due to cracks near the scupper holes.
But I can`t throw in the towel on the `Ol Gal just yet! So without further ado, watch the Video below to see how I repaired my baby;