Category Archives: Latest Adventures…

Swamp fishing for Snakeheads in South Jersey

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.

Last Friday we picked out a meeting spot based on my estimated travel time into Salem County. I left at 10am and arrived at 12:30 and after meeting, we drove another twenty minutes to our destination. Anxiously, we unloaded the Yaks and we were ready to wrangle up some Snakeheads!
It was a scorcher in that swamp that afternoon, right around 95 degrees. Hell, I must gettin` a little older too.. I even listened to my co-worker Ralph and actually wore a sun-screen for the first time!
We slowly paddled our way through the thick duckweed. This was surely prime Snakehead Real-Estate territory without a doubt. Rob was throwing a top-water frog and I was tossing a Reaction Swimbait, which is my go-too lure for almost anything with teeth. In a matter of minutes, I had the first blow-up and lost the nice size Snakehead right by my Yak. Moments after that Rob yelled, “Hey Ken, get over here, I got a fry-ball man!” – I paddled up near him and saw the basketball-size fryball of baby Snakeheads. “Let`s get to it! Rob; “No no….you drove all the way down here, I want you to enjoy your time in the swamp!”
(See what I mean? That`s the type of guy he is)
I quickly started working my Swimbait into the Fry-ball in order to “piss off their Parents” – See whenever you find a Fry-ball, there are two Adult Snakeheads under it or right near it, guarding the baby Snakeheads. While sometimes it takes a while in order to provoke a strike, this time it happened on my third cast…… BAM! Snake on as I reeled back my Brand New 7-foot medium-heavy action Enigma Bait-caster set-up! The gallant serpent-like fish acrobatically exploded out of the water doing a few somersaults before landing in my net. On the board with the first one of many that day.
After working that part of the swamp for a few hours, Rob said “Let`s try the other side, but a lot further back” – I have to tell you, we got into the thickest, jungle-like swamp that I had ever been in. To a point where I wasn’t quite sure we could paddle through it. I mean this was crazy-ass thick. About half-way through, I hear a loud snap…… Rob broke his paddle in half as he tried to get through the thick overgrown marsh!  I said, “Well don`t break it in half again, we got a long way back to the vehicles!”  – I was quite positive not too many ever paddled back here at all. We both agreed that we needed to pay attention to the time as getting through this in the dark would be next to impossible.
We paddled across an enormous open sort of lake and Rob mentioned that he had never been back this far. Eventually we found what appeared to be a little overgrown portage. As we paddled, it opened up into a duckweed, Snakehead/Bowfin haven……. we both agreed that few if any had ever ventured out here. In a matter of minutes we had all kinds of action! From swirls coming after our frogs to violent explosions! Rob landed a beautiful Bowfin and several Snakeheads quickly! We had more fun raisin` hell out there, bustin` on each other than I can ever tell ya.
By 7pm we decided to call it a day as it would be a long way back and we didn’t have any lights. We laughed and cussed all the way back to the vehicles! We ended up with a bunch of Snakeheads and a few Bowfins in the mix.
It was certainly a great day of fishing for a couple of good Friends.

Night Time Kayaking for Flatheads on the Delaware River

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!
Ken- 

Bowfin! Ken Beam catches elusive North Jersey Jurassic era River Monster!

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…..

Tight Lines!

Ken

  

 

 

 

 

My Next Canoe… or is it a Kayak?

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!

My Brand New Used Wicked Crossbow

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!

Fishing Budd Lake with my old Air Force buddy Bob Meyer

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-

Ken-

 

 

 

The Yak is Cracked – Ken Beam shows how to repair damaged Kayak

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;

Gettin` dirty in the swamps of Jersey! Snakehead Wranglin!

The hot, steamy Summer days of July have finally arrived. And with that, I usually get the itch to trek way down into South Jersey, to explore new swampy water-ways off the Delaware River. As the tributaries are home to the invasive Northern Snakehead. Which are in my opinion, one of the strongest fighting, best tasting fresh-water fish that you will ever encounter.
So last Saturday I got the hankerin` to load up the Yak and head south way before daybreak on Sunday. I got a hold of my friend John Walters and asked if he was interested in chasin` some Snakes early and calling it quits by noon. He said, “Yep, I`m in! what time ya headin` down?” Me; “I`ll get out of here by 4am and meet ya at the 7-Eleven by 6:45”  –
I arrived on the outskirts of Vineland at the 7-Eleven exactly at 6:50am and there was Big John waiting. After a hearty handshake, I grabbed a coffee and said, “Let`s saddle up and go get `em partner!” and away we went.
We finally landed at our remote destination, thirty-five minutes later. As we unloaded the Yaks and got set up, John handed me this rather huge sort of Chatterbait and said, “Here….try one of these Ken….. I lost a Snake that must`ve been close to ten pounds on one yesterday”  – So I tied it on my spinning rod set-up and commented that it looked like a great Muskie lure as well.
I got out on the murky, duckweed covered swamp and eagerly started casting the large Chatterbait John had given me. I only made four casts when I yelled, “Fish on John!…a Snakehead!”   –
As John started paddling out, the ferocious serpent threw my lure and was gone…….. “Man, he felt like a nice one” I exclaimed, “Hell, maybe that`s a good sign” I said to him. Within the next hour, John nailed a nice Largemouth Bass and said he had to strike his “Ken Beam pose” hahaha!
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Then I managed to finally hook……..uhhhhhh……..something sort of small on the over-sized Chatterbait.
What????????????????? hahaha!!!! A little Catfish!!! We laughed like hell and John said, “Well that`s great Ken…. you drove 160 miles to catch a South Jersey MudCat!! hahaha!”
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Now as for gear/set-ups; I usually always bring three rod-reel set-ups. One spinning reel and two vintage baitcasters paired with my fave pistol-grip rods. The baitcaster rod-reels are from the 80`s. All are paired with 30lb Power-PRO Braid. These are nice versatile set-ups that I can easily use for Snakeheads, Northern Pike, Bass and even a Muskie if need be.
Now back to our story……… After having fished for a few hours, I decided to switch to top-water. I had one blow-up on a frog that I missed and I actually thought may have been a Bowfin. Which is another one of my fave South Jersey fish to chase.
Then we split up and I veered off into this swampy cove that may have been two feet deep at best. As I paddled in quietly, I spotted an all-too familar site…….what appears as a orange basketball in the water. Immediately I recognized the large Snakehead Fryball! Hundreds of baby Snakeheads!
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Whenever you see a Snakehead Fryball, there will always be a pair of adults either under or close to the “Ball” – The rule of thumb is to provoke a strike by agitating the adults and throwing your lure on or near the Fryball. I have never had any success throwing a top-water frog at a Fryball. So I went for the baitcaster that had a Reaction Swimbait on it. Rather than go on top of the Fry, I planned going right through or under them using the swimbait.
I tossed to Swimbait past the Fryball and slowly retrieved it………as it approached the “Ball,…….WHAM!!! A hug explosion broke the water as a Snakehead attacked my lure!! Fish on baby!! The drag peeled as I reeled back on the demon fish! The Snake literally broke water on the opposite side as it dove under the Yak! After playing out the dark beast for a few minutes, I finally netted it.
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Shortly after that, we decided to call it a day as the noon-time hour was upon us. I shook Big John`s hand, thanked him for his hospitality and headed back up north.
Now here`s a little tid-bit about Snakeheads which I thought you might find interesting. Turn up your speakers and watch this short video;
Then the Snakehead met my other friend…….. my Bowie knife. And they make awesome fillets!
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Then my lovely girlfriend kindly cooked me an absolutely Snakehead supper(which she knows I love!)
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About those Snakeheads. They are here to stay and don`t believe everything that you read about them. For instance, we caught Bass in the exact same waters as the Snakehead and I have personally witnessed Bass dining on Snakehead Fryballs. So who eats who? Think about that. They are a fantastic fish to catch and make excellent table-fare as well.
I predict someday that the Northern Snakehead will indeed become highly sought after and recognized as a “Gamefish” in New Jersey. Maybe I`m wrong……. I guess time will tell.
`Till next time…….
Thanks!
Ken-

Ended Winter Deer Season with my 38 year old Bow – The Quickest Hunt in my life!

With New Jerseys Deer Hunting Season winding down, I wanted to make sure we(well.. I) had enough delicious venison to enjoy for the better part of the year. So I asked my Girlfriend Sharon, if she thought we had room in the freezer for another one. I kind of figured the answer would be “no” but to my surprise she said, “Yes….. you ought to get another one”  – Perfect timing I thought,  as I was off of work for the next few days and could watch the weather and strategically plan my hunt for one of the better days. Friday was a wash out with steady to heavy rain and wind and neither Saturday nor Sunday looked very promising because of the winds whipping upwards to 25 miles per hour. So that left Monday…….. the last day that I was off and they called for rain for the majority of the day as well. I have always dealt with the wet weather over the years and for that matter, I have always been quite successful hunting in the rain.

Now remember that old compound Bow that I showed you all a couple months back? My very 1st Compound bow that I bought from the Gander Mountain Catalog when I was 19 years old way back in 1982.  Here`s the Video to refresh your memory a bit; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SvwR8YZ1VU

I did indeed take my very 1st deer with this Bow when I was 19 years old.

As well as quite a few others over the years…….

And that`s exactly what I planned to hunt with in 2020….That 38 year old relic of a Compound Bow.

Monday rolled around and my alarm went off at 5:15am. I immediately grabbed my phone to check my weather app….. Well that sucks I said aloud, as it was showing rain up until 9am.  As I pondered what to do, I finally decided to sleep in for another hour as there wasn`t any sense sitting in my tree-stand getting a wet ass in the dark.

But I overslept a bit! Yep….. the last day that I had a shot of doing this, I overslept. Boy was I ever pissed off! With that I hustled out the door, jumped in the 4-Runner and sped towards Califon. At that point, there was no way I`d be in the tree much before 7:00am.

The rain came down steadily as I parked my vehicle. Perhaps the wet weather would play in my favor I thought as I cautiously scurried through the woods to my tree. The wet leaves definitely helped keeping my foot noise to a minimum. I climbed the ladder stand and got all comfortable and quickly nocked an arrow. I looked at my phone the time was 7:12am.

What happened next was simply unbelievable.

I glanced to my left and was absolutely startled by a doe walking by roughly thirty yards from my stand!  I couldnt believe it…… I was literally not in the stand more than five minutes! My startled movement spooked her as well as she started lightly stomping and snorting. At this point, I figured I was busted and froze against the tree. Then as she suspiciously walked behind a tree, I quickly drew my Bow while sitting……. and placed my single pin right behind her front shoulder as she warily stepped out in the open. The “bent” thirty eight year old aluminum 2117 Game-Getter Arrow topped with a three-blade Satellite Arrow found its mark. The deer folded where she stood. I pulled out my phone and it was now 7:22 on the nose! Ten minutes in the stand and the season was over.

I sat there for a few minutes and smiled, as I couldn`t believe what had just happened.

For me personally, its always about the overall experience or challenge of the hunt. So this was truly thrilling on a few different levels. For one, I have not hunted with a Bow in over seven years. Secondly, I wasn`t sure if I would ever feel that overly confident since suffering a massive heart-attack to climb up in a tree again and hunt with a Bow(Thanks to my good friend Dennis Peterson for helping me put up my stand a couple months ago) And thirdly, to be able to take a deer with the very same Bow that I used when I started Bow Hunting with when I was nineteen, was simply awesome! Yes it was indeed a very special ten-minute hunt last Friday.

See you next season!

Thanks for reading my latest Adventure,

Ken Beam