February Fishing Sessions: 02/09 - Flathead Fishing at Meadow Lake (FDR Park)

Hello Blog Readers!

First of all, here are the latest updates for the Blog/FB Page:

-- I've updated my old post on the Tidal Schuylkill River (from South street to Fairmount Dam). I have also fixed its hyperlink on the right tab of the page. The tidal Skuke is certainly one of the the best fishing spots in the City of Brotherly Love! In that post, I introduce readers to the different Species of fish that my angling friends and I have caught for the past 4 years in Philadelphia. Here is a summary of what I added/changed in the post:

A. I've added information to all fish definitions, up to date! As a couple examples: After one decade, the Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) is no longer considered to be an invasive Species in the Schuylkill River; thus, it is no longer a "must" to kill it. The Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) is currently present in the Schuylkill River, and we should expect its populations to rise in the next couple years. Etc.

B. I've added 2 videos to the post: one video of my friend Jay D. float-fishing for Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) at night time and one video of my friend Mike H. catching Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) and Northern Snakehead at the Fairmount Dam.

-- I've added the following new photos: 1 map photo of the tidal Schuylkill River, from Google Earth; 1 photo of White Perch (Morone Americana); 2 photos of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) (portraying Mike H. and Moni C.); 3 photos of Channel Catfish (portraying Matt M. and Ronald J.); 3 photos of White Catfish (Ameiurus catus) (just shy of the state record for the Ameiurus spp.); 1 photo of Flathead Catfish (portraying Kevin W.); 3 photos of Striped Bass (portraying Linda Z., Chris E., and Jay D.); 1 photo of Hybrid Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis X Morone chrysops) (portraying Chris E.); 1 photo of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus); 1 photo of Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus); 2 photos of Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) (portraying Mike H. and my dad); 2 photos of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides); 2 photos of American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) (portraying Stephen OT); 1 photo of Spot Croaker (Leiostomus xanthurus); and 2 photos of Walleye (Sander vitreus) (portraying Rob Z. and my dad)

-- I've added 14 photos to the Facebook EPF Public Fishing Album. As a reminder, anyone can submit photos to that folder! If interested, please click here for more information.

Alrighty! Now, here's my fishing report for February 9th:

--- February 9th, 2015 ---

Location: Meadow Lake (FDR Park, South Philadelphia, PA)
Time: 2:30-5:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- None

It's pretty sad to say it, but unfortunately I got skunked again! On one hand, I knew that the chances of catching a fish on a brutal Winter day like that were extremely low. Ponds and Lakes were still frozen from the previous cold front and water temperatures for open water were just slightly above 32F. On the other hand, I was really really hopeful that I would get at least one bite if I fished the "warmest part" around the area for a little while. After all, it's common knowledge around the country that the biggest Cats are actually pulled during or just after the coldest months of the year; in other words, they do bite during the slowest of the days!

Once I got to Meadow Lake in South Philadelphia, the local joggers were already giving me the weird looks after seeing my fishing rods. I guess that was expected, since the "Big Lake" was still frozen:

A nice view of the biggest Lake in Meadow Lake -- a.k.a. "The Lakes." I took this photo from the wooden platform, right next to the gazebo.

As a matter of fact, during the colder months it's a rule of thumb that back Creeks warm up much faster than the main body of water. Therefore, I already expected that much. Heh. My original plan was to fish the back Creek, next to the two isolated tennis courts (that would be #4 on the map in this post). So, summarizing, besides the main Lake, the back Creeks were quite "fishable:"

If you use the map in my old post (hyperlink above), this would be the inlet that leads to the back Creek #1. I took the photo right next to the gazebo. As a sidenote, there's always a Northern Snakehead under that bridge during the warmer months of the year. Heh.

Using the same map as reference, this would be the inlet that leads to the back Creek #4. Some ice can be seen in the background of the photo! As a sidenote, there are always some Black Crappie under this bridge at all times of the year (doesn't mean that they will bite, though).

After arduously walking through the main Lake, I was finally able to arrive at my destination. It was a pain to get there because everything was iced up. So slippery...! Once I got there, I promptly set up 2 rods with American Eel and 1 rod with frozen Bunker. The main objective for the day was to catch any type of Catfish -- either Channel or Flathead! 

I decided to set my gear at the widest spot of the back Creek. 

I ended up staying at that location for about 90 minutes without a single bite! It was super cold and a little bit windy. Not only that, there was some sleet after 3:30 p.m. or so...

There was some freezing rain and then sleet. You can see some build up over my fishing bag. Heh. The conditions for fishing during that day were certainly brutal.

Around 4:00 p.m., I was pretty much frozen solid. It was around then that I decided to pack up my Catfish rods and change my game plan: active to passive fishing (to build up some interior heat)! I switched from 3 rods to 1 and started moving around for smaller Species of fish. My goal was to catch at least one Sunfish -- either a Bluegill or a Crappie.

I pretty much circled the whole back Creek #4. I tried along submerged logs, under the bridges, deep holes, and even around the Skuke-Meadow gate inlet (photo below). However, my actions were all in vain. No signs of life whatsoever. 

The legendary Schuylkill-Meadow Lake gate inlet. The gate was made with the purpose of allowing water from the Schuylkill River to flow into Meadow Lake (perhaps to prevent stagnancy?). According to local anglers, the gate used to work until about 20 years ago. Nowadays, the gate "kinda" functions: there is a one foot water level difference every six hours at Meadow Lake, making it partially tidal. Note that fish from the Schuylkill can still get into Meadow Lake through this gate, though. And vice-versa.

I ended up my session around 5:00 p.m. Here's a bonus photo for you:

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" No need for an auger now. Here's your homemade "ice hole" for ice fishing at Meadow Lake. Hehe.

Hopefully I will have some fish to show you guys next time!

Tight lines, brothers and sisters,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.

February Fishing Sessions: 02/08 - Catfishing on the Schuylkill Banks

Hello, Blog Readers!

Here is my fishing report for February 8th:

--- February 8th, 2015 ---

Location: Tidal Schuylkill River (between Walnut and Chestnut)
Time: 12:00-4:00 p.m.

Fishes caught: 

-- 1 Channel Catfish (3.5lbs)

It was another tough day on the Schuylkill River! As you can see below, water temperatures were just slightly above 32F (freezing point):

The photo portrays my friend Hannibal standing right next to my fishing gear. Note the background: a part of the River was still frozen! 

Air temperatures were a little bit higher, in the range of 40-45F. However, that didn't help us much! The ground was still frozen solid; thus, my friends and I had to punch our rod holders in with the help of a hammer (thanks for the hammer, Bryan!). Heh. During the length of my fishing session, I had my friends Bryan KL, Christopher J., Karl H., and Hannibal P. join me. Here's a photo of Karl and Chris on the Banks:

Chris and Karl ready to give up on the Banks! After a couple hours of fishing without a single bite, they decided to give a shot at the Fairmount Dam.

After many hours of fishing, we finished the day with a single fish: a 3.5lbs Channel Catfish on a piece of American Eel. Here's a photo of the fish:

The only fish of the day: a feisty 3.5lbs Channel Catfish.

Tight lines, brothers and sisters! And hopefully we will catch more fish as February goes. :)

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.

February Fishing Sessions: 02/04 - Fishing at Haddonfield + Shopping at Dicks in NJ

Hello, Blog Readers!

Before I bring you my fishing report for February 4th, here are the latest updates on the Blog/FB Page:

-- I've uploaded tons of photos to the "Public Fishing Album" on the EPF FB Page. If you sent me a photo and it's not there, I may have missed it! If so, I apologize. I promise to post it as soon as you send me the photo again (remember, though: one photo per Species, folks).

As a reminder, anyone can submit photos for that folder. If interested, you may click here for more details on how to submit your photo.

Now, here's my short fishing report for February 4th:

--- February 4th, 2015 ---

Location: Wallworth Lake, Upper Cooper River (Haddonfield, NJ)
Time: 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Fishes caught: 

-- None

My friends and I decided to go to Haddonfield (NJ) for a short fishing session. Since temperatures were up to 40F+ with almost no wind, it was hard to stay indoors! Heh. Unfortunately, the water was still very cold (of course) and most places were still frozen (i.e. Hopkins Pond, Upper Wallworth Lake, Driscoll Pond). Thus, our only option turned out to be the Upper Cooper River. Sadly, the grass was still wet and most places were muddy; therefore, we got ourselves pretty dirty as well. Haha.

I started at the junction of the Wallworth Lake with the Upper Cooper River:

The falls between Wallworth Lake and the Upper Cooper River. This spot NEVER freezes during the Winter.

I got a couple nibbles on my "1/64 oz. jighead + 3" Gulp! Alive Minnow" setup; however, I wasn't able to land any fishes. I did hook two fish (small Bluegill), but they fell back as soon as they left the water! What a bummer... In the end, I couldn't even catch my first Bluegill of the year!

In between, I decided to "fix" the fish ladder at Wallworth Lake: 

This is a photo of the top part of the fish ladder located at Wallworth Lake, Haddonfield, NJ. As you can see, the place was jammed with branches and leaves. There was barely any water flow at that point. The main idea behind the fish ladder was that Blueback Herring and Alewife would be able to swim up the Upper Cooper River, Wallworth Lake, and Evans Pond for their spawning grounds. The ladders were build back in the 2000's. You can read more about it here.

Here's a photo of the fish ladder after I took all the leaves and branches away. This photo makes absolutely no justice, as you are not really able to see how well the water is flowing! So, if you want to check the ladder out, make sure to go down there one day. :) 

After miserably failing at Wallworth Lake, I walked my way down towards the base of Driscoll Pond -- where my two buddies where fishing at. While going through the muddy trail, I was still confident that I wouldn't get skunked! However, I was soon informed upon my arrival that they didn't have a single bite since the beginning of their fishing session. Here's a photo of the two of them sitting their butts and waiting for the fish that never came (hehe):

Yes...there are two people fishing in this photo!

In the end, we soaked our baits for a little bit longer, but no success whatsoever. We finally decided to pack things up, call it a day, and go shop for some fishing gear (of course!). You know the deal -- gotta stock for the Spring! Since I don't have any fish photos for the day, here are the products that I purchased from Dick's Sporting Goods! Enjoy the technicalities and reviews. :)

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw (Green Pumpkin): this is certainly one of my favorite soft plastic trailers. I usually combine them with a 3/8-1/2 oz. Strike King jighead, and they work FINE with the Largemouth Bass. Plus, I truly believe that their "shrimpy" smell helps a lot. 

Matzuo America Nano Minnow (NM4, NM5): They all dive between 0-3'. In other words, this is my lure of preference when it comes to shallow Ponds with Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel or shallow holes with Smallmouth Bass and Trout.

Comal Tackle Weighted Oval Snap-on Float: this is pretty much the float that I use in junction with my "Gulp! Alive Minnow" setup. The weight on the float really allows me to cast far away (very important for me); the size of the float allows me to see a small bite from a great distance; and this float works extremely well with an ultralight setup. Not only that, a medium sized Bluegill will easily submerge it! Easy to put on and easy to remove. Highly affordable. 

Storm WildEye Swim Shad: My friend Mike H. really got me into this product. I mean...I've seen him catch plenty of Striped Bass on the Schuylkill River with these Swim Shads (and Walleyes as well)! So, there you go...getting ready for the Spring Striped Bass run. 

Heddon Chug'n Spook: Unfortunately, I lost my last Chug'n Spook to a seagull on the Schuylkill River while walking the dog. After an intense fight, the bird won. Lol. I have seen people have great success with this lure on the Schuylkill River, not to mention that it's always fun to work on a top water lure! Believe me: it's a GREAT feeling to see a Striped Bass hitting a top water lure. 

Rat-L-Trap Rattletrap: I love using my Rattletraps in muddy water, and I always carry 2 of them with me. My biggest Largemouth Bass from Meadow Lake and Manayunk Canal were caught on a Rattletrap.

Zoom Salty Super Fluke (White Pearl): These are my "to-go" trailers for any type of aggressive game fish. I usually combine them with a 1/2 oz. jighead, jigging them on the bottom at regular intervals. My biggest Walleye from the Schuylkill River came on a Zoom Fluke. I like them in different colors, but white and pink are my favorite ones.

Eagle Claw Nylawire Snells: I don't particularly like the hooks on this product, so I buy them solely for the "nylawire." I usually replace the hooks with 5/0-8/0 Gamakatsu hooks and use them for Flathead Catfish. :)

Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon Line (8lb test): This is my line of preference for Multi-Species fishing. It remains clear under the water; thus, it's invisible under water.

Hopefully the next fishing session will produce some FISH! Heh.

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.

January Fishing Sessions: 01/26 - Catfishing the Schuylkill River

Hello, Blog Readers!

First, let's talk about the latest updates:

-- After reviewing all my quantitative fishing data for the previous year, I finally finished my statistical fishing chart for 2014Compared to 2013, I fished 52 less days in 2014. I also caught 1650 less fish. However, qualitatively speaking, I was still able to catch a fair amount of different Species of fish (38, counting hybrids). Overall, it was a good [and busy] year. Enjoy the data and the photos!

-- The Statistical Fishing Chart for 2015 is up! I will do my best to update the post as the fishing sessions go by. As a matter of fact, "fishing session posts" will be written individually this year, and not as a monthly pack.

-- The Fishing Log post has been updated all the way to January 26th, 2015. There you will be able to see "where" I went, as well as "when" and "what" I caught on those days. 

-- The "Public Fishing Album" has been reopened on the EPF FB Page. Anyone can submit photos, as well as it passes the guidelines. For more information, you may read this post. Please note that I've also updated that post, and even added a wonderful bonus photo of my friend's grandfather with his catches, back in the days! And when I say "back in the days," I mean to say that the photo was taken pretty much one century ago. Neat, eh? Heh. As for the old photos that were already in the Public Fishing Album before it got deleted, I'll try my best to salvage them! There should be a couple photos in by the end of the day.

Now, here's my short fishing report for January 26th:

--- January 26th, 2015 ---

Location: Schuylkill River (tidal)
Time: 11:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 1 Channel Catfish (22.5 inches, 4.85lbs)

To tell you guys the truth, the month of January has been extremely troublesome to me! I seriously tried my best to go out and fish; however, Physics and life were always in the way. In other words, too many responsibilities to handle. Then, when I did have a good day off, the weather wouldn't help at all! Lakes and ponds were frozen, but not frozen to the point that ice fishing could be done (recall: 4 inches for safe ice!!!). Either that, or the weather would be below 32F with gusting winds. So, you guys get the idea...the weather was just nasty throughout January.

Thankfully, we had a couple days of rain around the 20th. Temperatures raised slightly above freezing point; thus, the warmer water really helped to melt the ice. Being my last chance to fish in January, I didn't miss the opportunity! 

I wrote to a couple friends and gathered a crew for a Catfish session on the Schuylkill River. I was glad to see my friends Don G., Bryan KL [with his two kids], and Blaise FP down by the river with me! Of course everyone else thought that we were crazy to be fishing under that type of weather. After all, the grass was still snowy and it was still "cold," just like Winter is supposed to be! Also, for some reason, people tend to believe that the fishes are completely inactive during the Winter, which is not true. Remember: fish do not hibernateAs a matter of fact, if one does a little bit of research, one comes to realize that the biggest Cats in the US are pulled during the colder months of the year! Astonishing, isn't it? 

We started our fishing session around 11 a.m., and we knew that the "biting window" would be very short. This is usually how it happens during the Winter time, folks: the action happens really fast and for a short amount of time (if you read my post above, you now understand why). I had my cut American Eel ready! Don was soaking his Bunker, and Bryan was trying some bagel.

In the end, our expectations did not betray us: my friend Don G. was the first one to set the hook, around 12:45 p.m.. After fighting the fish for a couple minutes, he landed a 3.92lbs Channel Catfish -- his first fish of the year! About 20 minutes later, his rod bent again. His second fish came in: a 4.94lbs giant. At that point, Don pretty much convinced me that the fish were really into the Bunker! 

And guess what? As soon as I changed my cut Eel to the Bunker, I got a hit on my noodling rod. I ended up landing my one and only fish of the day: a 4.85lbs Channel Catfish!

After that, my friend Blaise FP arrived on the scene; however, the action was already gone...Bryan KL was trying to catch some, but he spent a lot of time setting the rods for his kids. So, I guess he missed the action time as well. We fished for a couple more hours, leaving around 2:30 p.m..

Overall, it was a good day: 3 fish; all above the 3.5lbs range! They were all safely released. Photos of the session are below:

Well...I guess common folks would really think that we were crazy for fishing there. The grass was snowy and the soil was frozen solid! We even had to use a hammer to punch our rod holders in. Heh.

My friend Don G. with his first Channel Catfish of the day: a 3.92lber on frozen Bunker. Also his first fish of the year! (not a bad start, if you ask me...)

Don G. strikes again: second Catfish of the day, at 4.94lbs. Also on bunker.

As mentioned previously, I switched to Bunker after Don landed his two Cats. Here's the result: a healthy one-eyed Channel Catfish (missing the eye towards me), weighting 4.85lbs.

A photo of our set up, after noon. Note that the snow is almost gone. At this point, the ground is as nasty as it can be: muddy and dangerous! In the photo, you see Bryan KL in front and Don G. all the way back.

Finally, here's a photo of Bryan's daughter. This is an excellent reminder that there are still outdoor activities for kids nowadays. Parents at home, heed my words: technology is good and everything, but it shouldn't consume all of your kids' time. Take him/her out for a walk, fishing, hiking, something! But being outdoors is certainly healthy...

February will certainly be MUCH BETTER than January! 

Tight lines, readers.

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.

This will be my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2015. Every catch that I perform will be registered in terms of size -- i.e. length and estimated weight. This will help me create a little "fishing diary" and keep scores and data along the year. I'll attempt to update this post regularly.

Before going further, here are a couple notes that you want to take in consideration:

-- Most small fishes are measured by length and have their weights estimated by a "growth chart." Most of the growth charts can be found on the PA Fish and Boat Commission's website. The remaining ones were self-made, after analyzing the collection of many samples of the same Species.

-- Some Species of fish here are identified using "special" methods. Those include microscope analysis for micro-fishes, particularly a special analysis of their physiology (i.e. anal fin count, scale distribution, etc). The microscope that I use is a Biological M500 series from AmScope.

If you want specific data on a certain Species, such as location, bait, or time of the catch, just shoot me an e-mail at sheng12182527@gmail.com. I have everything recorded in my fishing logs.


Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2014.
Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2013.
Click here for my Statistical Fishing Chart for 2012.

Last update/fishing session: 01/25/14

Days fished this year: 1

Maximum number of fish caught in a day: 1 (Schuylkill River - 01/25/14)
Maximum pounds of fish caught in a day: 4.85 lbs (Schuylkill River - 01/25/14)
Number of different species caught this year: 1

Results for last year:

Days fished in 2014: 85

Maximum number of fish caught in a day: 51 (Upper Cooper River/Wallworth Lake - 09/27/14)
Maximum pounds of fish caught in a day: 57.70 lbs (Schuylkill River - 06/16/14)
Number of different species caught in 2014: 38
TOTAL # of Fish caught in 2014: 702
TOTAL # of Pounds caught in 2014: 575.92 lbs.
Note: Size is in inches; weight is in pounds.
1 Inch = 2.54 Centimeters
1 Pound = 0.45359237 Kilograms

Log format:

-- Name (Species) -- #/ Max. Size/ Max. Weight/ Total Weight

Location caught (Biggest, in terms of lbs) - Date caught


# = Number of fish of certain Species caught in 2014
Max. Size = Longest fish of certain Species caught in 2014 (In Inches)
Max. Weight = Heaviest fish of certain Species caught in 2014 (In lbs)
Total Weight = Total amount of weight of certain Species caught in 2014 (per Species)
Location caught (Biggest - in) = Where the biggest fish of certain Species was caught
Date = When the biggest fish of certain Species was caught

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) -- 1/ 22.5 (in)4.85 (lbs)4.85 (lbs)
Schuylkill River - 01/25/15

Happy 2015!!! EPF's Goals and Expectations for this Year.

Happy [Late] New Year, folks at home!

I hope you have all enjoyed your holiday season and I wish a blessed year for you and your loved ones! I can definitely tell you that I could have enjoyed mine better; however, I was satisfied to a certain point. Heh.

As you may have noticed over the time, the number of posts in the EPF Blog dropped drastically in the year of 2014. As I have mentioned many times previously, life gets in the way of fishing! Please keep in mind that a good Blog takes a good amount of time and sweat: all the hours from field experience (i.e. fishing), hours for writing posts and blog management, hours for answering e-mails; all of that while leading a student's life and working to make a living. As much as I love the sport of fishing and the free sharing of information in this Blog, life has been so hectic for me over the past year that I had to cutoff a few hours here and there for fishing; therefore, for the Blog itself. Thus, I hope you folks understand why everything is delayed! 

Right now I'm still catching up on answering e-mails; however, I do have my goals and expectations for 2015! First of all, rest assured -- although there will be fewer updates in the year of 2015, the Blog will still be up and all previous posts will be available online. Since my time this year will be very limited for fishing, most of the posts in the Blog will be technical. A typical example of it can be found here.

For now, the main plan is to:

1. Finish the following posts:

-- Post on still-fishing.

2. Perform the following updates:

I will also try my best to update all my previous posts to a certain extent. In other words: fix the grammar, change the font color to a more "comfortable" one, add more information, etc. As a side note: I would like to apologize in advance for all the grammar errors in older posts. English is actually my fourth language and I started learning it back in 2007; thus, fortunately, I've improved it year by year. I promise that I will fix all the errors when I can!

I will eventually post each update along posts on the Blog and Facebook Page.

3. Create new introductory posts:   

I actually have plenty of material to work on new introductory posts for Philly/South Jersey watersheds. Along the months, I will be doing formal posts for the Manayunk Canal (Manayunk --PA), Newton Lake (Collingswood -- NJ), Kirkwood Lake and Linden Lake (Lindenwold-- NJ), East Brandywine Creek (Downingtown -- PA), Centennial and Concourse Lakes (West Philly -- PA), etc.

4. Keep posting fish up! 

As hectic as life can be, fishing is still my number one passion in life. In other words, I will be reserving 1 day a week for fishing and Blog management! That means a weekly post on my fishing sessions, throughout the year.

That's it for now, readers! On a final note, please do not forget to renew your fishing licenses for the year of 2015! For a PA fishing license, you may purchase it online here. Here are the links for NJ -- freshwater and saltwater -- and finally, DE.

My fishing sessions will start once again after January 23rd! 

Tight lines,

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.

Fishing Styles -- Mastering the Art of Still-Fishing

Hello, Blog Readers! 

It's been a good while since I wrote a technical fishing post here; thus, I have worked a couple days to bring you this post on one of my favorite fishing styles: still-fishing

April 12th, 2014 - Still-fishing at Kelly Drive (Schuylkill River).

This is only the first post of my new "fishing styles" post series, which will portray not only the basics of different fishing styles and techniques, but also the "not so trivial" aspects in each one of them. Additionally, they will contain hints and knowledge that are not usually found in didactic fishing books or fishing websites. In other words, these posts will be partially based on my own understandings and my field experiences

Note that these posts will also help me a lot in the process of answering technical questions through e-mail/EPF Facebook Page. Throughout the years, I've noticed that many readers have difficulty finding online information on "what to use," "how to fish," "what to do," etc. As a matter of fact, that's one of the reasons why forums and drama exist. Heh. Therefore, this post series will also work as a type of FAQ (Frequent Asked Questions) in disguise, saving me the time to answer each reader's technical question individually.

Because this post is a little bit long, I've divided it in different sections for a better organization:

1. Definition -- What is still-fishing?
2. Misconceptions -- There's much more to it as it sounds. 
3. FGB: Fish, Gear, and Bait -- Choose your target and adapt.
4. HWW: How? Where? Why? -- Increase your efficiency. 
5. Physics and Forces -- It's not just about casting and waiting.
6. Be a Steward -- Conclusion and additional notes. 

1. Definition -- What is still-fishing?   

The first thing that you need to know is that the word "still-fishing" is legit (yes -- I'm not a lunatic, and I didn't make it up). After searching through many online and hand dictionaries, I've come to the conclusion that Merriam-Webster does the best job in giving an accurate definition of it: "to fish with the line and bait resting still or stationary in water." Note that most dictionaries' definitions included the words "on the bottom," which actually portrays a huge misconception when it comes to still-fishing. I'll talk more about this misconception in section 2. 

So, according to this general definition, it's very likely that every angler in this planet has practiced still-fishing at a certain point in life. You yourself may have started the sport with the art of still-fishing: casting a float and letting it drift or casting some bait and let it sink. Aren't you proud now? Now you can go all out and tell people that "once upon a time, I was a still-fisher" (and you may still be one nowadays). Still-fishing is not only a legit fishing style, but also the oldest one when it comes to the history of fishing. For more details on fishing's history, you may click here for an older post. The first part of that post talks about the history of fishing and the faith of aquatic sustainability.

2. Misconceptions -- There's much more to it as it sounds.

Despite what most people think, still-fishing is not as easy and simple as it sounds (it's complexity will be discussed in sections 4 and 5). When talking to the general public, I've noticed that they often believe that still-fishing is all about throwing something in the water and let it sit there until the fish bites. Now...this idea is not wrong by definition; however, there is so much more to this style! Sadly, it often turns out that this is all the public knows about the art of still-fishing.

Since the lack of knowledge in a field usually leads to misconceptions, here are a few curiosities and clarifications for everyone:

A. Still-fishing is always done on the bottom.

Wrong. As mentioned previously in the post, even some dictionaries describe "bottom fishing" as a synonym for still-fishing. Therefore, some folks tend to believe that still-fishing is all about casting something and letting it sink all the way. Here's the philosophical catch, though: although bottom fishing is part of still-fishing, still-fishing is not only bound to bottom fishing. Therefore, bottom fishing is only a part of the still-fishing style.

As a matter of fact, anglers always choose the depth of their baits based on the Species of fish that they will target (see next misconception for more details). One may still-fish close to the surface of the water, in mid-water, or all the way to the bottom. For example: take a float, which is a piece of equipment used to regulate bait depth. When an angler sets a float and casts it out there, it doesn't necessarily mean that he is fishing "on the bottom." Even so, the same is still practicing still-fishing. 

Also, think about it: if still-fishing was practiced always on the bottom, there would be only one general rig for it -- something similar to a slip-sinker rig (slip-sinker, swivel, and hook), which keeps the bait all the way down. However, there are so many different rigs in didactic fishing books! As an example, a "high-low" rig can keep baits off the bottom by 20 inches in salt-water. If used in a shallow Creek or Pond, this rig could be easily used to reach mid-water depth. The bait would still be sitting there; thus, still-fishing. 

For those who are more pictorial, below is a photo to portray this idea: 

September 3rd, 2012 -- Three White Perch caught on a custom rig. Here's my combination of a slip-sinker rig with a high-low rig for still-fishing. After casting it, the bottom hook sits on the bottom, whereas the top two hooks sit at 6 and 9 inches from the bottom, respectively. This is actually an awesome rig for fishes who travel in schools.

B. Only bottom-feeders are traditionally still-fished.

Another deadly misconception is that only bottom-feeders are caught while still-fishing. Although it's true that some Species of fish are only caught on the bottom (i.e. Common Carp and certain types of Catfish), there is a plethora of other Species that will bite on a still-fishing session. Here is the fact: still-fishing can be used to catch almost any Species of fish in our planet!

Excluding bottom-feeders, I've caught the following Species of fish in Philadelphia, all using the still-fishing style: Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), American Eel (Anguilla rostrata), Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), White Perch (Morone americana), Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens), Sunfish (includes all 4 types -- Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)), Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), etc. Of course the rig and the bait of choice played a very important role in catching these fish! These technicalities will be discussed further in section 3.

As a curiosity, still-fishing is widely practiced around the world. In the U.K., for example, still-fishing is not only used for Carp, but also for Barb, Tench, Dace, etc. 

For those who are familiar with Jeremy Wade and the TV series River Monsters, one will notice that most of his monster fish are caught while still-fishing. So, there you go -- with the right setup and the right bait, still-fishing know no limits when it comes to fish diversity!

C. Still-fishing can only be practiced with live or organic bait.

Believe it or not, still fishing can even be practiced with "fake baits" (a.k.a lures). In the field of Bass Fishing, there's an outrageous technique that is literally still-fishing in disguise: "dead sticking." It's actually hard to believe that such a motionless technique exists in a field that focuses so much on casting and retrieving. However, it does exist indeed!

By definition, dead sticking is the idea of placing a lure in the water and letting it stay motionless for extended periods of time (do not confuse it with the jerk and pause motion -- that is another technique). This technique is usually performed with suspending jerkbaits and soft plastics, but it will still work for other types of bait as well. Here is a very simple example of dead sticking: leaving a jitterbug on top of the water. The same applies for leaving a Senko on the bottom of a Lake or just letting a suspending jerkbait drift at a certain water depth. 

Most Bass anglers were very skeptical when this technique first showed up in the Bass community. The main question was: "would the Bass really bite on a fake and motionless lure?" After a lot of meddling and testing, it turned out that even the most cunning Largemouth Bass would do so, under certain circumstances. For instance, it's been proved that there's a substantial chance of a Largemouth Bass to attack a motionless shad colored suspending jerkbait during the cold months of the year. And this is clearly not an accident: scientifically speaking, the Shad are very sensitive to water temperatures and they tend to become lethargic during the Winter. They are so sensitive that sometimes they die! So, deadsticking a shad colored suspending jerkbait may be a very good stratery depending on the season, the location, and the depth of the bait.

This specific strategy has gained so much reputation in the Bass community that even famous fishing magazines have written about it (i.e. Bass Masters, In-Fisherman, etc). As a matter of fact, some Southern anglers nowadays even specialize in deadsticking.

Now that you folks are a little bit more familiar with still-fishing, it's time to get into the formalism and specifics of the same. Section three of this post will describe all the fishing jargon that you need to know before even hitting the water. 

3. FGB: Fish, Gear, and Bait -- Choose your target and adapt.

Any dedicated and experienced angler will tell you that the battle to outwit fish starts way before putting your line in the water. Since different Species of fish behave differently, anglers usually do a lot of research and reading before even going out to fish. In order to become a successful angler, one must be very knowledgeable about their living habits: eating and spawning behavior, natural habitats, migration patterns, etc. Not only that, one needs to take into account the many different parameters that will influence fishing: the tide, the wind, the current, the weather, the water temperature, temporary cover/structure, etc. 

It may sound ludicrous to do so; however, the hard work does pay off. It is a known fact that an angler's total catch ratio will dramatically go down if the same disregards as little as a single parameter. Here's a very good example for this statement: a bunch of Largemouth Bass anglers in a national Bass competition! Local fishing idol Mike "Ike" Iaconelli once stated in his book that he did hours of online research before hitting the place of the competition. Then, he would scoop potential spots at the site and make decisions while "fishing the moment." Ike is a very successful angler in the Bass community nowadays, and bear in mind that his achievements came with a lot of sweat and hard work. Anglers are usually aware that little things contribute hugely to final results; however, pro anglers are even more aware of that! 

A. Fish.  

The first step is to choose your target and adapt to it. Pick a specific Species of fish and focus on it. Picture it; research it; study it; think like it. Write down everything about it. Focus, focus, and focus a little bit more. Try to absorb all the knowledge that you can -- every little bit of information may be useful for your upcoming fishing session. It is as they say: "better safe than sorry." That's pretty much the concept behind this.

For this whole section, let's take the Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) as an example. It turns out that this type of Catfish is a perfect target for still-fishing. After picking the Flathead Catfish as your main target, you should just "google it." Make sure to write down as much information as you can! Here is an example:

"The Flathead Catfish is not just a bottom-feeder, but it will also eat live targets that are resting at night or swimming by. Big Flathead Catfish prefer to eat live organisms. They get very big, passing the range of 50lbs in some locations. Flathead Catfish tend to spawn during Summer time, close to structure (i.e. logs). The male guards the nest. They are more active at night time; however, they will also feed during day time. Flathead Catfish do hunt by sight and will be attracted to light at night time, where bait fish might congregate. They bite very well during the Fall season, before becoming torpid. They swim around their nests in search for food."

Side note: the Internet is certainly a good source of information; however, an angler must also keep in mind that not all the information online is trustful and accurate! After all, we are not talking about primary sources. Eventually, it's up to the angler to see if those pieces of information are correct or not. An example is below:  

September 28th, 2011 - A small Flathead Catfish in comparison to a bottle of water. After selecting a target and researching it, one should not only be able to identify his own catch, but also verify if the online information was accurate and trustful. Since this fella was caught during day time, it's plausible to say that they can be caught before dark. Though, a single occurrence could be an anomaly. Therefore, one can only state something after the event happens many times! This is the idea of formulating a hypothesis from field experience.   

Once you are done with your research, you should start thinking of how you will be able to handle the targeted fish. In other words, you should start gathering your gear.

2. Gear.

Preparing your fishing gear becomes much easier once a target fish is selected. As stated previously, different Species of fish behave differently; therefore, each one of them require a different gear setup! It cannot be forgotten that fish size also plays a crucial role in this section, since it determines the "size" of your gear: ultralight, light, medium, or heavy (includes reel, rod, line, sinker, swivel, and hook).

Take note that having the right gear for a specific type of fish doesn't only help you land it, but also provides more entertainment to the sport. After all, part of the fun in the sport is fighting the fish! Think about it: would you rather use an ultralight or a heavy action rod while fishing for Bluegills? And why? It turns out that the answer is obviously an ultralight, since you can "feel" the fight much better with it. The video below is a great example:

In the video above, I was fishing for Sunfish at Knights Lake, Collingswood, NJ. Thus, I was using an ultralight setup: ultralight rod, light reel, 4lbs test line, and a 1/64 oz. jighead. For my surprise, a big Channel Catfish hit my little jig. :)

If "entertainment" and "gear weight" were placed in a mathematical scale, one would say that they are inversely proportional in the sport of fishing. In other words, "heavier the gear," less entertainment while fighting the fish. Similarly, "Lighter the gear," more entertainment while fighting the fish. Thus, taking the surroundings in consideration, it's always recommended for anglers to go as light on their gear as possible.

Since we are taking the Flathead Catfish as an example, below are some things for you readers to think about. Note that the fishing jargon is also included:

I. Rod: What type of rod do I want to use? Ultralight, light, medium, or heavy action?
Things to consider: size of the fish and environmental structure.

Author's ideology: for a rod, I would essentially pick a medium action for any kind of fish above 15lbs in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. Over the years, many people have asked me why I don't use a heavy action rod for bigger fish. Here's the simple answer: it's just my style! I just like to play the fish. Even if there were plenty of structure around my fishing spot, I would still take the risk of letting the fish run, getting snagged, and losing the fish -- all of that over power-playing it with a heavy action rod. Of course it's not as easy and simple as it sounds: playing a big fish with medium action gear requires a lot of skill! Also, there are a lot of difficult counter-measurements to ensure that the fish doesn't get away. Consequently...there's a lot of frustration if the fish is lost! Heh. That's one reason why many anglers prefer to "go heavy" and power-play the fish. 

Author's recommended gear: A medium action 10'6" Cortland Pro Cast Noodle Rod (formerly known as Cortland Endurance). It's not very expensive for a good rod, and it comes with limited Life-time warranty!       

II. Reel: What size reel do I want to use? How about the quality of the reel's drag system?
Things to consider: target fish's raw swimming power.

Author's ideology: for me, the reel is the most crucial part of the entire gear setup. Many people use conventional reels while Flathead fishing (a.k.a Baitcasters); however, I like to use spinning reels. When choosing a good reel, one must absolutely take its drag system in consideration! If you are not familiar with how a drag works, you may click here to read more about it. The main idea is to evaluate your targeted fish's raw swimming power and keep two factors in mind: (1) how fast are its short-bursts, and (2) how much can it swim before it gets tired. Factor (1) is the leading agent in snapping lines while fighting a fish: folks usually set their drag too tight; thus, the line snaps once the fish gives a furious short-burst. In the blink of an eye, the fish is gone. Factor (2) is for bigger and stronger fish: it determines how much spooled line you will need (thus, the size of your reel). If the fish swims away at a constant speed, it will take a while for it to settle down. Meanwhile, you definitely want to avoid getting spooled.

Author's recommended gear: A Shimano Sedona FD 4000. For a Shimano quality product, the Sedona series is pretty cheap (in comparison to other products of the same brand). It is also sturdy and it has a very smooth drag system, just like all other Shimano drag systems. I've bought my first Sedona 3 years ago and the reel is still good to go! The Catfish video above portrays a Shimano Sedona as well.

III. Line: What pound test line do I want to use? And what type of line should I use?
Things to consider: Fish's visual sensibility to the line and raw swimming power.

Author's ideology: first, let's talk about line visibility. A lot of people tend to believe that fishes are totally ignorant of an angler's submerged line. The main question is: "Is that true?" And the simplest answer turns out to be a tricky one: "It depends." As you read through this paragraph, please keep Pavlov and his dogs in your mind. If you are fishing an area that was never fished before, chances are that you really don't need to worry about your line at all. You can use the thickest line you have in hand and punch your bait in the water with the loudest sound. With the right bait, you will still catch fish! If you use the same line and technique in an area that is heavily fished, chances are that you will not catch anything at all. You may even be able to notice the fish looking at your bait and not going for it... Heh. Summarizing, the level of fishing pressure directly influences the fishes' instincts. High fishing pressure areas demand more of a "finesse fishing." Similarly, low fishing pressure areas don't demand anything at all (the fish are just utterly ignorant). Always keep in mind that fishes that have been caught and released multiple times will certainly notice your line in the water!