Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lunch Date with the Delaware and Raritan Canal for Pickerel

Picture's a month old. I had some fun fishing the Delaware and Raritan Canal a few times, but the pickerel and largemouth were small. I went yesterday, which seems a season ago today now that six inches of snow has accumulated so far. I have to tell you I got a thrill at the end of my 45 minute stint. First, I had fished along the bank on the right side of this photograph taken in Weston from atop the lock trestle. No hits, nothing. But having re-crossed the lock, I was attracted--for good reason--to the cul de sac to the side of the flow through the lock passage. Duckweed covering a good three or four yards of deep water with a log jam would hold fish. Was it just too close to the exit way? Well, why would it be? Especially with that strong flow beside this calm pocket it could be special.

So I just dropped my killie (leftover from my Sandy Hook trip a month ago, but live and frisky) and it obliged me by swimming down and back under the duckweed. I watched as line slowly unwound from my reel spool. Nice. That killie was really going back where something might be watching it, gathering the juice of its own desire. But of course I remained skeptical. You have to or else exhaust yourself with hope.

Then that line just shifted into rapid motion as quick as a switch you never knew was flipped. I swear it peeled off faster than those hybrid stripers took our herring a week ago. I set the hook, felt nice, then the fish was gone. Baited back up, did the same.

Now most of the time when we shoot a lure or bait back into a spot where we just lost a fish--nothing more happens. That was the only fish around. Most often. I knew it all depended on whether this spot--yeah, a pretty substantial space, deep, lots of cover--actually held, well, possibly a number of fish. We think of pickerel as territorial loners (not bass necessarily), but this is not always true--if pickerel closely bunched together do ignore each other totally.

Just like the first time, the line raced off again. This time, when I set the hook--I got the log jam. The fish--whatever it was--had gone directly into the thick of the wood like the grain of it's age, which my hook held fast to like an anchor.

The line snapped, and that was all. I had somewhere else I had to be, quick. Who bothers to fish the canal anyway? But I have to tell you there's really nothing like it for just messing around with a few fish in wood cover. And I'll be back.

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