So there I was…….. Playin` in the rain this past Saturday….. not a soul out & about on the water. Figured I`d have a go at some Toothy Critters to start the year off right. I got to the river at noon & decided to try to wait out the rain in my truck……for a friggin` hour & a half!
Finally I said the hell with it and tossed the Yak in the pond. I worked various drop-offs and weedbeds for about two hours……..nothing. Then I decided to mix it up and tied on a jerk-bait as at this point, I really didn`t care what jumped on.
“Whooooooooah! Helluva nice Bass!” I said aloud as I bare-handed the chunky, football-size green-back. As I admired the big Largemouth, I figured the bucket-mouth had to go somewhere between 3-4lbs….
A reeeeeeally nice fish indeed! Especially for it being January and the fact that this was my very 1st fish landed in the New Year! I was pumped up as I sat there in the torrential down pour admiring my big Bass. “Let`s take a few pics and put you back in the pond” I told the Largie. So with that, I brought out my net and carefully laid the beast into the cold water, while I set up the Go PRO for some pictures. I figured I`d let the monsoon blow over a bit, and snap a few pictures.
Then that `ol magic kicked in……..BAM!
After about ten minutes, the rain quieted down…….. As I pull the net into the Yak…….. it was empty!!! My friggin` big greenback, Bucket-mouth had escaped! Through a hole in my net! “Son of a bitch!” I barked out loud. Boy was I pissed…… and laughing at the same time.
I quickly dismantled a metal stringer that I had on board, and mended my net for the rest of my outing.
Lo and behold, I did manage to nail a decent pickerel shortly thereafter. And my makeshift mended net worked just fine. By the way, if you look closely, you can see the “Snot” runnin` off of him too…. hence the name “Snot-Rocket” –
So I really don`t know what the moral of this story is…..…. Other than…..
Ahhhhhh Autumn is here. The leaves are turning color, the nights are getting cooler and the Muskies are fired up! Nothing quite as enjoyable as taking the `Yak out on a nice, crisp, cloudy Fall day and having a go at the “fish of 10,000 casts.
And that was exactly my plan today.
The forecast called for a rather hot and balmy day this past Thursday, but the weather was suppose to drastically take a nose-dive on Friday night….. and it certainly did. Usually I generally shy away from wetting a line for a few days right after a cold-front moves in, but this time of year, I take advantage of any window of opportunity when I can to fish. Simply because it`s the middle of October and there are only a matter of several weeks before it`s time to pack the `Yak away for the year.
So I loaded up my gear and headed out to Mountain Lake around 1pm eager to try my new “Believer” lure that my friend Pat Gallagher introduced me to the previous week.
As I drove around the lake, I noticed a familiar white SUV in the area I normally parked. As I pulled in the lot, I recognized my good friend Andrew Hunter Yutko with a few other guys loading up their kayaks. Two of the three I knew from Instagram as I follow their excursions. I asked, “So everyone`s leaving?” – Andrew said, “Yea we`ve been here since 6am, had a couple “follows” and these guys caught one”….We`re going to head over to Oxford” – I replied, “Ohhhh……ok. Hey!….that was a Muskie that just breached out there…did you see that?” – Andrew looks at his buddy and says, “Ahhhhhhh let`s stay here maybe Ken will be good luck!” – Then he introduced me to his friend Javier and we all started setting up to launch.
As I pushed off in the water, I took notice of the way the wind was blowing. My strategy is usually to paddle up-wind and drift back along spots that I want to target. Whereas Andrew has pedals in his kayaks so he can maneuver more readily in windy conditions.
I began working the outer edge of a weed-bed that had a drop-off with my Believer Lure. Andrew and Javier were about two hundred yards away working another edge of weeds. I retrieved the jointed lure slowly, working the drop-off, then finishing up with my version of a “figure 8” in a kayak. Making a clean “figure 8” is kind of tough especially when you can only sit in the `Yak. So my pattern was a combination between a “figure 8” and a sort of “U-sweep” which I did on almost every retrieve.
And I don`t think I was fishing even quite an hour…….then it happened.
As I retrieved my lure and started my “8” literally a foot from the `Yak, this magnificent Esox followed my lure! And as I made the “8” sweeping pattern BAM!!! Muskie on! The muskie struck so close the `Yak that I never even had to turn the handle on the reel! Quickly I grabbed the net and swooped up the beast of a fish! As I wrestled with the mighty Esox, I yelled to the guys, “I could use a little help please!” with that, they quickly jolted over to me. They quickly pinned me in with their kayaks for stability as I unhooked the beautiful Muskie. Up to that point, I had never ever caught a Muskie on the “Figure 8” and it was absolutely thrilling!
Andrew took a bunch of pictures and measured the Muskie, then I quickly released the 39.5 inch monster back into the murky depths.
While we fished for several hours thereafter, no more Muskies made it in the `Yaks. And that`s pretty much the norm when you`re after the “fish of 10,000 casts. But I have to admit, while I almost always fish by myself, but it sure was nice to have couple of extra hands out there today. And If it wasn`t for fishing, I would never have had the pleasure of calling Andrew and Javier…….just that. Good Friends.
Howdy! If you get a chance, when you`re at a Quick Chek, Krauszer`s or maybe 7-Eleven store, pick up a copy of this month`s June edition of The Fisherman magazine. I believe you will find the story by yours truly, quite compelling and rather challenging on page 28.
I`d like to give a big thank you to Jim Hutchinson NJ/DE Managing Editor for considering and publishing my Pike story. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jim in person in April at the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Writer`s Workshop. Just a heckuva nice guy.
Here are a few pictures of the flies, Pike and of course, Piper our Pomeranian. If you do not live in Jersey and can`t pick up the magazine, you can go on-line to read it digitally at the link below;
Snakehead wranglin` was most definitely on my agenda last week. I planned on going down into South Jersey at least once while on vacation despite having a very painfully infected leg. Apparently the week before I had been bitten by something underwater while fishing/wading knee-deep in a really swampy covered lake. Guessin` it was probably a snake as it bit me on the top of my foot……twice! And now my top of my ankle was pretty swollen and hurt like hell, just a few days later.
My girlfriend was a bit upset that I hadn`t gone to the doctor….yet.
But……. I had a date with some “Snakes” down in South Jersey first.
I was going after `em on foot as I wasn`t comfortable draggin` the `Yak all around by myself. Definitely not 100% confident about doing certain things since suffering a massive heart attack a month and a half ago.
But now I had a bad “foot” to complicate matters a bit.
I studied some maps of the Delaware River for a few days, looking at the various tributaries off the main river. This is where I was going to be targeting……… Accessible areas of the “tribs” by foot.
Got up the next morning, Sharon made me an awesome breakfast & packed me a nice lunch with plenty of drinks. It was definitely going to be a hot one as the weather forecast was calling for a high in the 90`s in the area I was heading too.
Then I saddled up and was on my way. My destination was approximately thirty-eight miles south of Gibbstown. At least that is what I wanted to scout out a bit, as the area looked ideal. Swampy and accessible.
After a two and a half hour ride, I arrived in the general area…… if it wasn`t the exact spot, it was close enough.
Eager to start throwing some top-water lures, I hiked about a mile into the abandoned swamp area of the tributary that was probably five to six hundred yards from the Delaware River. Good thing I had covered myself with Deep Woods OFF bug repellent before I left my truck, because hot, muggy and buggy best described where I was walking.
I was planning on throwing a KVD Top-Water Frog to start things off. Working my way into an opening, I began casting.
After about the sixth cast into the thick, green-pea muck, a magnificent swirl missed my frog as the thick green muck quickly calmed back down. I worked the area carefully, attempting to provoke a strike. Nothing.
Then next cast, just as the frog was literally six inches from shore, a violent eruption!!! Snakehead!!!
Fish on!…….. then just as quickly…….. fish off.
But as I was fighting that Snakehead briefly, I saw two others swimming in this pool of muck next to the one I I had on. I didn`t actually see the fish, just the swirls…….and there were at least two other demons lurking in the dark, thick green muck.
Four more casts……… all quiet. Then I decided to toss the frog in and just give a a few short twitches and not retrieve. It had to be out there floating in the muck at least five minutes………..then BAM! A violent explosion as the Snakehead smashed the frog I set the hook hard! Fish on! The snake gave quite the acrobatic show as it broke water and thrashed about! Then dove deeply into the thick green seaweed! This is where the 20lb. Power PRO Braid line would come in handy as I muscled the snake out of the water-grass and onto the bank.
My first “Snake” of the day!
I quickly got the stringer out as this Snakehead`s next destiny was going to be with my knife, as snakeheads are an absolutely delicious delicacy!
Working my way through the bush, I came upon another likely looking spot and began working the frog. Casting under the very edge of an embankment that had bushes over hanging it a bit. “The perfect ambush area for a hungry snakehead”, I thought to myself.
I purposely tossed the frog in the bush, to make it drop in the swampy water below. No sooner had the frog hit the murky water below and BAM! Another snakehead was on!
Another nice one for the stringer!
The Snake Party was on!
Over the next few hours, I fished the area hard and managed to call it a day and headed home with four nice size snakeheads in the cooler.
Got home around 7pm…….. had a bite to eat, then had some Snakeheads to fillet afterwords.
If ya like to fillet fish, like I do,…… you`d love runnin` your knife across the back of a snakehead. Beautiful fish to fillet. Very white and thick. Sort of reminds me of a walleye when you fillet it.
And if you like to eat fish, you`ll love grilled Snakehead! Out of this world. Awesome breaded and fried as well. Sharon used a Cajun Seasoning on the Snakes and I got to tell ya, it was like I was dinin` back on the Bayou in my Air Force days back down in Louisiana. Simply delicious.
One of my “Targeted” fish this year was a Snakehead and I took off last Friday to meet up with the man that probably catches more Bowfin than anybody else in the entire state of New Jersey, Mr. Bob Priest. Now “Bowfin Bob” catches hundreds of Bowfins each year, and he certainly catches a lot of Snakeheads as well. So after having a few conversations on-line, I decided to see if we could set something up to have a go at those “Snakes” together in the `Yaks. I told Bob that if he could put me into some Snakeheads, that I would gladly put him on some Northern Pike whenever he wanted to come up north. He agreed and plans were made to meet up on Friday morning.
After walking the pups and having supper with Sharon on Thursday night, I set out to the garage to start setting up my rod and reel combos as I decided to take three set-ups down there with me at daybreak. Each reel was stripped down, oiled up and spooled with 20lb. Power PRO braid line. Next I went through all of my gear. Setting up my tackle bag with all of those brand new top-water frogs/lures that I had bought on-sale after Christmas at Dick`s last winter specifically with Snakehead fishing in mind. Loaded up all of my gear, then loaded up my `Yak, then off to bed. I was psyched and hardly slept a wink that night.
Met up with Bob at a WaWa around 9:30 on Friday morning and we made our way to a tributary that was only about two hundred yards from the actual Delaware River. The ideal spot for these invasive demon fish.
As we unloaded the `Yaks, Bob said, Now listen Ken, I said I`d show the area where Snakes are, but the rest is up to you” sort of like he was prepping me in case I couldn`t work a little magic and wrangle up one that day! I said, “No expectations Bob……. Let`s get to it!” –
Bob suggested that we each work a side so we split with him going left and me to the right. Within the first hour of fishing we were “on the board” as I landed a little Bass that was about 15 inches long using a Ribbit Frog. This got me pretty excited as this was also my first time using top-water lures.
After fishing for a few hours, I got into some really shallow water and switched to my other set-up which I had rigged with a KVD top-water Frog. I diligently worked the edges of the lily pads with the frog……..then it happened….BAM! Fish on! And it felt like a decent fish as the drag started screaming…At first I thought, “Might be a nice Bass”……but then as I got it closer to my `Yak, it thrashed the water and appeared to be really dark…….. Could it be a Snakehead? Or was it a huge Largemouth Bass?
I got it closer and the mighty fish violently thrashed the water again showing itself…… “It`s a Snakehead!”, I said out loud and quickly went for my net!
So without any further ado, here`s the Go PRO Video of the day`s adventure way down in South Jersey;
NJ Bowfin……. The “Jurassic” NJ River Monster, was the latest target in my quest for NJ outdoor adventures. Yes indeed, I did say the Jurassic River Monster and here is why; The Bowfin is a primitive type of fish and the sole representative of an ancient fish family that dates back to the Mezozoic Era, Jurassic Period – more than 180,000,000 years ago!
Just imagine dodging T-Rex while you`re out and about trying to catch your Bowfin supper many many moons ago!
I got the idea to chase Bowfin over a year ago and posted a question on a fishing thread, asking if anyone knew of a place to go after Snakeheads and Bowfin in New Jersey. This Lady wrote saying she knew of me from watching my You Tube Fishing Videos and that she knew where there were Snakeheads and Bowfins. So we chatted back and forth a bit and she shared some very impressive pictures of the Bass that she had been catching lately. Let me tell you something, she is quite the expert Bass-Fishin`-Fisher-Lady!
I loaded up my gear and made my way down into South Jersey and met up with her. She graciously showed me around to the couple of spots where she had seen the Snakeheads. This was more of an exploring expedition. I needed to learn my way around this new area a bit and in doing so, this was definitely burning up my daylight, as I would only have a few hours to have a go at it in my `Yak.
Definitely a different type of terrain than I had ever fished.
There were creeks seemingly
everywhere, that had an abundance of lily pads and plenty of excellent cover for those Bowfin and Snakeheads.
Only had one smaller Bass strike a Booyah Pad Crasher Frog that I was throwing in the lily pads that day.
Fished for about three hours then headed back up north. I was very excited about fishing these “new” waters and was on vacation all week, so I decided to get up at dawn the next morning, and run back down there to have a go at it all day. But I decided to really concentrate on just Bowfin and went and caught some live sunnies at daybreak, then headed south that next day.
I brought my heavy poles that I use for catfishing on the Delaware River that next day, figuring I would live-line the sunnies that I had caught that morning for bait.
I sat up all three poles with steel leaders as everything I had read indicated that these primitive fish had teeth as sharp as a Pike`s.
I fished for about two hours without a strike………. Then BAM! A wicked strike! I grabbed the pole as I watched the line spin off wildly from the reel. It ran up and down river unlike anything I had ever seen. Then the line went limp, as the fished swam towards me, then it stopped. Then like a rocket on a launch pad, it shot out viciously and I set the hook! Fish on! As I reeled that fish closer to the spot where I was standing, the fish flashed sideways in the murky creek water…..and revealed itself……. A Bowfin!! And just as I saw it flash, it thrashed it`s head and threw my hook. I quickly re-baited and got the line back in. Not long after I sat the ple down, another hit on a different pole! Again, took off wildly and I yanked back attempting to set the hook. Nothing. A miss. As I reeled in the pole to check my bait, this is what I saw;
A Bowfin dined on my sunny, biting it in half!
An hour later, the first line ran wildly up river…….. I let the fish really take it good, then set the hook very hard! Fish on again!
I managed to wrangle up this nice `Fin! What an excellent fight too! Notice the `Fin`s battle-wounds….. the tail is bitten off! Remember the diagram above? On the male Bowfin the tail fin is rounded and has a “black
spot” on the upper base of the tail. This “black spot” resembles an eye that predators will
mistakenly attack, allowing the bowfin to get away. On this `Fin the tail had looked like it had been literally just recently been bitten in half.
As you can see, the `Fin certainly had some extra battle-wounds. See the small puncture wounds in it`s side? This was definitely a fighter!
Quite the adventure. The day I`ll always remember down in South Jersey when I caught my NJ
Planned on doing a little NJ Pike Fishing before the storms blew in on Saturday morning. As I watched the forecast the night before, it wasn`t looking very good weather-wise. They were calling for severe thunderstorms between 8-9am, so I decided to have a go at it at first light.
But that didn`t pan-out like I planned……..`cause I overslept by an hour! I left the house at 6:10 and arrived at my destination at 7:00.
As I hastily unloaded the `Yak there were already a couple rumbles of thunder in the distance. As I hiked my `Yak to the river bank, I was in for another unexpected surprise…… The river was muddy!! I put the `Yak down and stared for a moment. I was sure the river would be clear as it hadn`t rained in the immediate area for days. But I was wrong. Apparently it had indeed rained somewhere upriver and the tributaries feeding into the Passaic were the culprits causing the chocolate-muddy water that I was looking at in disbelief.
I sat in my `Yak in the very muddy river, looking up at the sky, thinking maybe I should`ve “overslept” even longer! It certainly wasn`t looking very promising situation as the skies were darkening quickly.
I worked the stretch of river I was on for a good hour without a strike, thinking it might just be a little too muddy today. Then I switched to a Crazy-Color Clown Bomber and that `ol magic kicked in! BAM! Fish on!
A good Pike at that!
A strong, heavy Pike indeed! As I got him closer to my `Yak, he must`ve sensed it as the water erupted from his mighty thrashes as I attempted to “introduce” him to my “friend” the Net!
A very nice, thick-bodied Pike that weighed in just over 8.5lbs. Not a monster, but not too shabby by any means!
Now I certainly have a pair of big “mitts”(hands)…..take a gander at the size of this big boys head! They have a mouthful of razor-like teeth that can definitely do a number on your fingers! Trust me, my fingers have gotten too close to a nasty Pike`s mouth on more than one occasion!
Turn up your speakers and watch this short Video of the day`s Adventure;
So in a nutshell, the river looked way too muddy and with the threatening storms quickly moving in, it definitely looked like bad odds. However, I managed to wrangle up three Northern Pike in under two hours and didn`t get my ass lit up by the lightning in my `Yak! So onward……
I was back in my `Yak doing a little fishing for a couple hours up at Merrill Creek the other morning. Thursdays I go in to work at 1pm, so I got up at the crack of dawn and headed over to the beautiful Reservoir located in Warren County NJ, which is less than a half hour drive from our house.
The water was as smooth as glass as I paddled my way across the scenic water. Barely any breeze at all, as temperatures were expected to climb in the mid-eighties later that day.
The combination of warm Summer air, with the sun rising over the mountains, and seeing a few deer drinking water along the banks, as you paddle your way out, is very tranquil at that hour in the morning.
Wasn`t too long before I set the hook into something that felt really decent in the scenic, crystal-clear water of Merrill Creek! I thought I might be in trouble of losing this battle, as the fish repeatedly dove around the standing, half-sunken trees out there, making the drag scream on my reel!
I managed to tire out and net this beautiful, 24 inch, very thick Chain Pickerel! The only other time I had ever caught a Pickerel with similar girth, was while I was in the Air Force back in 1985 down in Louisiana.
Quite the Chain Pickerel!
Turn up your speakers, and enjoy this short clip of the day`s adventure out on Merrill Creek Reservoir-
After a little “C,C & R” (Catch-Click and Release) that beautiful Chain Pickerel was on his way back into the clear depths of Merrill Creek.
It was certainly a good morning to be out and about at Merrill Creek for a NJ Kayak Fishing Adventure!
Then again, anytime in my `Yak is just fine by me!
After knocking out some of my chores/projects around the house this past Saturday and Sunday morning, I
decided relax a little and have a go at it Sunday afternoon on the Passaic River in my `Yak.
So as sat on the patio table out back, studying my map of the Passaic River, I mapped out a new destination to try. The last adventure worked out pretty well, as I paddled upstream and fished my way back down to where I launched and parked my truck. Now I told Sharon I`d be home around seven that night, so the tricky part was calculating just how far upstream to paddle, in order to be back at the truck by six-ish, in order to make it home by seven(or so). What complicated this a tad more, was the fact that this adventure would once again, take me into new territory.
Arriving at my new destination, I got my `Yak in the river and just soaked in some of the beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon weather before headin` upstream. The river was a bit higher than normal and a tad “murkier”/discolored than I was used to seeing.
I tied on a fave combo, an `ol Firetiger Spinnerbait with a double-tail Chartreuse Twister Tail. Which also had a little something “extra” attached. My Canadian friend Nathan Robinson showed me this when he was down here a few weeks ago.
A “Trailer-Hook” –
This Trailer Hook will definitely help raise your odds against fish swatting the Twister Tail and missing the hook!
I paddled upstream a good two and a half hours, then started fishing my way back down the Passaic. Found some absolutely awesome looking pools, but after a couple hours of fishing, not a strike or even a miss. The pike just didn`t seem to want to cooperate on the gorgeous, hot sunny day.
By now it was getting later in the day and it looked like I was going to get skunked, as I was only about three hundred yards from where I launched. What to do, what to do……… I felt like it was fourth and long and I was at the two minute warning. We needed a “Brett Favre Gunslinger move” and we needed it now! ha! ha! As I rifled through my “bag-of-tricks”, I pulled out my old faithful “Clown Bomber” Lure that I caught that Tiger Musky on a few months before. “What the hell?” I thought, “Let`s give it a go!”
This is the exact color combo “Clown Bomber” that I used. Like I said, I nailed a Tiger Musky with it a few months back. Would/could there be any “magic” in the Bomber now as my time on the river was fadin` fast?
First cast……nothin`. Second cast with the Bomber and BAM! Fish on! And a good one at that!
Crank up your speakers and watch this short Video of the day`s NJ Fishing Adventure:
What a way to end the day! Wranglin` up a beautiful 5.8lb. Largemouth Bass! Guess the `ol “Gunslinger” had it in him that day on the river –
I am available for Guiding also if you`d like to have me join you on a NJ Fishing Mission, simply write to me on my site; www.AdventuresWithKen.com and we can discuss and arrange everything.
Made my way out & about on Saturday to try my hand at some Tiger Musky Fishing for the first time in some new territory. Loaded up my `Yak & headed out at daybreak to my destination….. Oxford Furnace Lake.
I really don`t know all that much about this beautiful Lake other than it`s only a hop, skip & jump from my house in Warren County NJ and that I heard there are Muskies in it.
It is an absolutely gorgeous, very serene location. The water was very calm with hardly any ripples as there was only a hint of a light breeze.
“It was a gorgeous Spring day to be out in the `Yak”, I thought to myself as I started working the water with
my Bomber Lures.
This adventure was indeed very
exciting because everything I was
doing that morning was purely trial
and error, as I had never fished
specifically for Tiger Muskies, nor
had I ever fished Oxford Furnace
Lake before. I didn`t have a map of the Lake, so I really don`t know what it`s like structure-wise. As I scouted the entire Lake the one thing I did notice was the fact that the majority of it appears to be fairly shallow. If I had to guess, I`d say the deepest seemed to be around 30 feet or so.
I worked various spots for a good two to three hours………Then it happened! BANG! Fish on!
Watch the Video below that I shot that morning of my first Tiger Muskie. It wasn`t a monster by any means, but it was still the targeted Tiger Muskie that I had come there for so I was pretty darn psyched!