April Fishing Sessions: 04/14 - Micro-Fishing the Wissahickon Creek in East Falls, PA.

Hello, Blog Readers! 

Here are some of the latest updates:

-- I've added plenty of photos to the Public Fishing Album on my Facebook Page. We got some Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), some Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), and plenty of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Once again: anyone can submit photos to the album. If interested, please click on this link for more details.

Now, here's my fishing report for April 14th:

--- April 14th, 2015 ---

Location: Wissahickon Creek (East Falls/Wissahickon, PA)
Time: 11:00 a.m.-6 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 6 Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
-- 4 Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)
-- 1 Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
-- 1 Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

The video is approximately 20 minutes long. The fishing action actually starts at 6:15. Be aware that this is a Micro-Fishing video; in other words, none of the fishes in it are above 6 inches.

Curiously enough, my original plan for the day was to go to the Manayunk Canal and catch some Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). I packed up my 9' Cortland Endurance noodle rod, plenty of Senkos and 5/0 Gamakatsu hooks, etc. However, after thirty minutes of waiting at the Wissahickon Transfer Center, the Septa Bus 61 was nowhere to be found! So, in the end, I decided to just explore the Wissahickon Creek...

I started my adventure at the mouth of the Wissahickon Creek. For my surprise, I spotted a Golden Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss mutation) just upon arrival! Right away I was pretty psyched about it. I fished the mouth of the Creek with Senkos, suspending jerkbaits, in-line spinners, etc, and wasn't able to get a single fish. I decided to move on...

With a little bit of effort, I was able to snap a photo of the Golden Rainbow Trout. If you look carefully above my line, it's a horizontal shade of yellow.

For my second spot, I moved to the Wissahickon falls, right next to the Wissahickon Transfer Center. For my surprise, there were schools of big Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) right under it! Too bad I didn't have any corn or a drop net with me. Otherwise, I could have landed myself some big fish! I ended up trying some Senkos for Smallmouth Bass, ending without much success.

The Falls at the Wissahickon Creek. The photo was taken right next to the Wissahickon Transfer Center.

After failing twice, I finally switched to smaller baits and decided to Micro-Fish the lower portion of the Wissahickon Creek (below Forbidden Drive). Between spots, I switched from 3" Senkos to small Trout Magnets, finishing the day with an array of smaller Species of fish. Photo of the session are below:

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" A dead Redbreast Sunfish at the margins of the Wissahickon Creek.

A gorgeous Redbreast Sunfish. It was caught on a Thomas Lures E.P. Series in-line spinner, 1/8 oz., nickel/gold.

A photo of a Rock Bass. These little fellas are truly aggressive and they fight much better than the Redbreast Sunfish. Catching them on ultra-light tackle is a joy.

In four years of fishing the Wissahickon, this was my first ever Bluegill from there. As mentioned in the video, Bluegill are very very rare in non-tidal Creeks in and around Philadelphia.

A nice view of the mouth of the Wissahickon Creek with the Schuylkill River.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/10 - Exploring and Fishing the Stony Creek in Norristown, PA.

Hello, Blog Readers!

Before anything else, here's a gentle reminder of the 6th Catfish Tourney on the Banks:

For those who did not know about it yet, Extreme Philly Fishing is once again holding non-profit Catfish competitions on the Schuylkill River! The 6th Catfish Tourney on the Banks is scheduled for May 31st, 2015 (a Sunday). The permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has just arrived, so everything is good to go!

Every fishing event in Pennsylvania requires a permit from the PA Fish and Boat Commission. The permits can be obtained for free; however, they do require the sponsor to apply for it way in advance! 

For registration and rules, please access the following link.

Note that this is a non-profit event! 20% of all proceeds will go to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports aquatic sustainability and/or environmental conservation (in our case, the SRDC). The rest of the money will be distributed as cash prizes. The prizes will be given at the end of the event for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, as well as the "Biggest Fish." Small trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places will also be given out.

Hope to see many of you there, and may the best win!

Now, here's my fishing report for April 10th:

--- April 10th, 2015 ---

Location: Stony Creek (Norristown, PA)
Time: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Fishes caught: 

-- 7 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

The video is 17 minutes long. The introduction portion goes all the way to 5:00 minutes and the rest is just fishing and catching. The only type of fish Species portrayed in this video is Rainbow Trout. My fishing setup can be found in my previous Trout videos; although, I will emphasize it once again below.

Everything started with my friend Blaise FP. sending me a photo of his Trout limit at Stony Creek in Norristown, PA. Once I glanced at it, I immediately saw that some of those Trout were actually Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)! For me -- a Multi-Species angler -- that was a major discovery. After all, it's well-known that the PA Fish and Boat Commission stocks only Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout (Salmo trutta). Therefore, my immediate question was "how did those fish get into that Creek?!" After a little bit of online research (Google is always helpful), I found out that a private organization actually stocks the Stony Creek with Brook Trout. That's when I decided that I had to go down there to catch myself some Brookies! 

Since I go everywhere by public transportation, I ended up taking the Septa Manayunk/Norristown regional rail line all the way to its final stop. And boy...I was surprised! After I walked into Norristown's main street, I almost found myself in the middle of Mexico. There were Mexicans everywhere; three different Mexican restaurants in two blocks; a Mexican "Taqueria;" some Mexican pubs...wow! It was just a neat little Mexican community right there. And since I am a freak for Mexican food and I do speak Spanish, I went for some Tacos right away. I had some "Tacos al Pastor," de Cabeza, and a "Torta a la Milanesa." And yes, folks -- I do recommend it and it was utterly delicious. The best part? The food was way cheaper than most Taquerias in South Philly, if you know what I am talking about. The trip was well worth just for the food. Haha.

Anyways...after I gorged myself, I took the Bus Route 90 all the way to the Norristown State Hospital, which is right besides the Stony Creek. As a matter of fact, I started rolling the YouTube video just after getting off the bus. 

Upon arrival, I noticed a couple signs saying that "Trout were not stocked in that area because of safety concerns." After consulting with a local angler, I came to know that those signs have been there for the previous five years; therefore, they could just be disregarded.

I did my setup right next to that bridge: a Shimano Sedona 500FD with a Daiwa Spinmatic ultralight rod and 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line. Throughout the day, I switched between in-line spinners, Power Bait, and kernel corn. The Power Bait eventually outdid the other two...

I walked from the State Hospital all the way up to the intersection of the Stony Creek with Kepner Creek. After three hours of fishing, I finished the day with 7 Rainbow Trout and no Brookies. Sadly enough, I did see some Brook Trout swimming in the Creek; however, I was unable to make them bite. :(

After exploring a good portion of the Creek, it came to my attention that the Stony Creek had a lot of "dams" that created little pools where the stocked Trout were hanging in. From a stocked Trout perspective, those dams were just awesome! After all, an angler would be able to pinpoint the Trout lies just by taking a single look at them. From a Multi-Species perspective, however, those dams were pretty bad. Besides the stocked Trout, I wasn't able to see a single fish from a different family. In other words, the Stony Creek is highly recommended only for Stocked Trout and nothing else (at least for the portion of the Creek that I explored). 

Photos of the trip are below:

In every Creek, spots with hanging trees are just amazing! It was no different for the Stony Creek -- I was able to catch three Rainbow Trout under the first tree on the right.

A nice view of the other side of the bridge.

A healthy stocked Rainbow Trout from Stony Creek, Norristown, Montgomery County, PA.

As I explored the Creek, I found this little inlet to be very interesting. Very shallow water with a smaller, deeper pool on the other side. It makes me wonder how the spot will turn out to be after some heavy rain.  

One of the multiple man-made dams at the Stony Creek: good habitat for stocked Trout; however, not so good for other Species of fish due to the boundary conditions of the Creek.

I decided to cook three of them for dinner. Boy, it was good!  
     
More fishing reports will be coming soon... :)

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Hello, Blog Readers!

Today I'm bringing you my fishing report for April 6th to the 9th. I decided to compile these three fishing sessions, since I mainly got Trout on all of them.

--- April 6th-9th, 2015 ---

Location: Pennypack Creek (6th-9th), East Branch Brandywine Creek (6th) (PA)
Time: 6th: 7:00-10:00 a.m.; 4:00-5:30 p.m.; 7th: 7:00-1:00 p.m.; 8th: 8:00-11:30 a.m.; and 9th: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m..

Fishes caught:

-- 16 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
-- 1 Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

Below are the highlights for these fishing sessions:

The video is 14 minutes long. This time there is no introduction or setup portion, since you guys should be pretty familiar with my Trout setup by now. If not, the setup is described once again below. The last 2 Trout in the video were CPRed and notice: I forgot to wet my hands when handling them! Since they are very sensitive fish with a high mortality ratio, hands should always be wet when touching them. If you enjoy watching my YouTube videos, please show your support by subscribing to my Channel and liking my videos. It does take a long time to edit these 1080p50 HD quality videos. :)

Nothing too exciting about all these fishing sessions, folks. My fishing setup for all of them was the same: a Shimano Sedona 500FD reel with a Daiwa Spinmatic ultralight rod, 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line, and either orange colored Power Bait or a Thomas E.P. series in-line spinner as bait.

I ended up going to the Pennypack Creek over and over and over again, taking full advantage of the Trout stocking season in Philadelphia. As a matter of fact, they are all smoked and vacuum sealed by now. Heh. All of my spots in the video were between Roosevelt Boulevard and the end of the Pennypack trail at the Old Bustleton Avenue. During my fishing sessions, I saw at least two Golden Rainbow Trout swimming in the Creek, but I wasn't able to make them bite. :(

On the 6th, I decided to hunt for some Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) at the East Branch Brandywine Creek in Downingtown, PA. However, after walking and casting for a good while, I was still unable to catch any! By the end of the day, I had two Rainbow Trout on the spinner...

Photos of these sessions are below:

A nice view of the East Branch Brandywine Creek under the Septa Regional Rail Bridge.

The East Branch Brandywine Creek right below Kerr Park.

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:"As portrayed in the video, I found this dead White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii) by the margins of the East Branch Brandywine Creek.

A nice healthy Rainbow Trout from the East Branch Brandywine Creek in Downingtown, PA.

A nice Rainbow Trout from the Pennypack Creek, caught on a Thomas E.P. Series in-line Spinner, 1/8 oz., nickel/gold.

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" Mother goose in her little nest, protecting her eggs. Make sure to never approach them when they are in this "mode." Otherwise, you will be attacked! If the male is around, you will be double attacked...Heh.

A nice Golden Rainbow Trout swimming in the stretch between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue.

A small Brown Trout from the Pennypack.

A nice rocky dropout at the Pennypack Creek, close to the Old Bustleton Avenue.

"Things that you don't see when you stay at home:" Mallards! However, do you notice the light coloration for the female? That's very likely a laced fawn.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Hello, Blog Readers!

A couple years ago I decided to write a technical fishing post on fish hibernation, since many people sent me e-mails and asked me questions about whether fish hibernated or not. After hours and hours of research and writing, I created a well balanced post with plenty of empirical evidence. Today we will be doing something very similar to that! 

--- Introduction ---

Over the years, I've received much criticism from readers and fellow anglers about "how to properly play a fish." Scientifically speaking, those people were concerned about my "angling duration" and its consequences to released fish. By definition, the angling duration would be the amount of time that it takes to play the fish and reel it in. I would assume that people watched my YouTube videos and read about my fishing preferences (i.e. lighter tackle for bigger fish), eventually starting to get worried about the fish's safety after release. 

The fact is that a huge part of the angling community nowadays practices what is know as C&R or CPR: "Catch & Release; Catch-Photo-Release." That is certainly a wonderful thing! As the famous fly fisherman Lee Wulff mentioned one day: "The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?" Indeed! If we want to maintain good fishing for future generations, catch and release is certainly the way to go. So...we go outdoors, catch our fish, take photos, put them back in the water, and we go home proud of ourselves for doing so. We are referred to as a breed of "Catch and Release Anglers." Everything sounds perfectly fine, doesn't it? However, let's think about the fish for a moment: what exactly happens to that fish after it is released? Is it really going to heal from its experience and survive, so it can be caught again according to Lee Wulff's words?

My obvious answer would be "I hope so," and truth be told: in most cases we won't know because we will not be able to see what happens to it after its release. As catch and release anglers, we can only hope that the fish will live and survive to tell its tale. Because we have no certainties when it comes to its fate, we have adopted "trends" in order to maximize the fish's chances of survival. Those trends include the basics of safe fish handling and proper CPR, such as wetting your hands before touching the fish; exposing the fish to air for as little as possible; restricting the fish from bouncing over rough structure; using barbless hooks to avoid extreme injuries; etc. It would certainly be a shame if our released fishes died because we failed to comply with those trends! If that happened all the time, we would have become hypocrites in disguise and the meaning of Catch-Photo-Release would be worthless.

Anyways...It so happens that angling duration is also a dependent variable when it comes to the released fish's survival. Therefore, the question that we will be analyzing is a very different and interesting one: should we force-play our catches and fight them for as little as possible, so their chances of surviving after release are higher? Keep that question in mind as you read through this post. :)

Fighting a fish is certainly a joy for every angler! Every second of it is pure adrenaline! However, how much does each one of those seconds damage the fish afterwards? After we release them, will they really recover from the fight and live to be caught another day? Photo Credit: Bryan Karl Lathrop Photography.

--- Contents ---

This post will be divided in the following sections:

--- The Proper Ways of Catch-and-Release ---
--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens during the fight? ---
--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens after the release? ---
--- To Play or not to Play the Fish ---
--- Conclusion ---

Note: You may jump to certain section anytime by use of the search engine: press Ctrl+F and type the whole line in the search tab.

--- The Proper Ways of Catch-And-Release ---

As mentioned previously, C&R is not as simple as it may sound! Simply catching a fish and putting it back without any sort of consideration for its afterward health is not proper C&R. Never forget, anglers: the main objective of practicing C&R is to ensure the fish's safety after release. There is no point in practicing it if the fish dies a couple hours later. Without fish, there is no fishing. Period. 

According to the Ichthyology literature, there are five "general trends" to preserve fish populations in our waters: (A) reel the fish in as fast as possible to prevent exhaustion and lactic acid build up in fish; (B) leave the fish outside of the water for as little as possible to prevent anoxia; (C) avoid targeting specific sensitive/soft Species (i.e. Walleye, Trout, Salmon, etc) during high water temperature levels to minimize mortality; (D) use barbless hooks and lures to avoid extreme tissue damage and bleeding in fish; and (E) avoid targeting fish during their respective spawning seasons to preserve its future populations. 

I'll be very sincere with you folks: from these 5 trends, I follow 4 of them religiously (as for 04/18/15). The only one that I don't yet follow is (D), and that is about to change -- I just ordered a nice batch of barbless hooks from Gamakatsu and I'll test them to see how it goes. The problem with barbless hooks nowadays is that it's hard to find a good brand/supplier with high quality and low prices...hopefully this will change as time passes.

Regarding (A), this is the main topic for this post and I'll make sure to include my point of view at the end of it. However, just so everyone knows, I don't power-play big fish; however, I do reel the fish in as fast and comfortable as I possibly can to prevent full exhaustion. The release is then followed by proper fish reviving. The PA Fish and Boat Commission offers a really good guide on it.

Regarding (B), I time myself to keep air exposure to a minimum. Smaller Species are thrown back after a quick photo and most of my catches do not pass the 2 minutes margin for bigger fish. If the fishing environment and circumstances allow, I try to unhook the fish as closer to the water as possible (if not in it).

Regarding (C), I don't intentionally target Species of fish that have a high mortality rate under high water temperature levels. Some of our local "soft/sensitive" Species include the Walleye and Wild/Stocked Trout.  

Regarding (E), years ago I used to target spawning populations of Largemouth Bass without knowing about its consequences. After reading several research papers and consulting the law, I no longer target bedding Bass or any other bedding Species. Targeting bedding Bass is not only bad for its future populations (this will be discussed further below), but it's also illegal in PA. I'll copy and paste the entire sentence from the hyperlink that was given above: "It is not a violation of the bass regulations if a bass is immediately returned unharmed to the waters from which it was taken. It is unlawful for an angler to cast repeatedly into a clearly visible bass spawning nest or redd in an effort to catch or take bass."

Summarizing, as a conscientious C&R angler I recommend all anglers to follow as many of these trends as possible. If you truly love the sport and love the fish that you catch, I'm sure that you will be able to make a couple efforts to maximize their survival rate. After all, it's just in our human nature to do what is best for what we love.

--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens during the fight? ---

It's time for some science talk, folks. In order to explore this "angling duration" topic to a full extent, I'll have to guide you through some basic fish anatomy and physiology. After all, without knowing what exactly is happening inside of a fish during a fight, one can't possibly define the angling duration to be "too long" or "too short." 

I promise you that I'll try to keep this as informative and exciting as possible! Please keep in mind that I did take college level courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Molecular Biology; therefore, I do have an idea of what I am talking about here. Heh.

So...you got the bite and set the hook! Fish on!!! If it's a big one, soon the drag starts to scream, meaning that the fish is trying its best to swim away from you. You pump it up; start gaining ground, and soon the fish is at your disposition -- ready to be scooped up. This is exactly what I remember from all those Rapala fishing video games. As a matter of fact, most old school fishing games had a little "energy bar" for the fish at the top. Ultimately, the objective of the game would be to "tire the fish" by depleting its "energy bar," so you could bring in your catch.

If you think about it, reeling in a fish is the same thing as giving it plenty of exercise! From a video game perspective, the fish starts with 100% of its available energy (full bar). The main difference between the video game scenario and real life catching lies in the fact that by the end of the real life fight, the fish's remaining energy will actually depend on how long the fish fought for! In other words, the fish's energy doesn't necessary have to be totally depleted for the angler to land the fish (having a net always helps in this case).


Here is a screenshot of Marine Fishing by the Sega console (2000). The bar on the bottom represents the amount of "energy" left in the fish. Once the bar is depleted, the fish is "tired out." Photo Credit: Video Game Critic.

Now, let's convert this video game scenario to proper Biology! It's well known in the body of C&R research that angling duration is directly proportional to physiological disturbance. Therefore, the longer you play the fish, more exercise it will have to do. More exercise results in more physiological changes, such as increased heart ratio and depletion of energy stores. The main question here, however, is "what type" of exercise are we talking about. In the field of Biology, there are two types of exercises: aerobic and anaerobic

Aerobic exercises are "light" exercises where the organism can use its oxygen as a source of fuel/energy. From a human being point of view, that would be the same as walking or jogging at a pace. Your heart ratio and your breathing spikes; however, oxygen can still be carried from your breath to your muscles, empowering your cells to sustain the strain. From a fish's perspective, that would be a fish swimming in the Lake at a constant velocity. For aerobic exercises, lactic acid is not produced and built up in muscles. In other words, the organism doesn't really get "sore" the next day.

Anaerobic exercises are "heavy" exercises where the organism can no longer use oxygen as a source of fuel/energy. From a human being point of view, that would be the same as sprinting -- running at full speed for a short amount of time. At this point, oxygen alone is not enough to provide the organism the energy it needs. Therefore, glycogen -- the "storage form" of glucose -- gets used instead. From a fish's perspective, that would be a fish giving short swimming bursts in pursuit of its prey. For anaerobic exercises, lactic acid is formed as a product of glycogen depletion. Since glycogen is mainly stored in the muscles, its byproduct builds up over time. The lactic acid is actually what is responsible for the "soreness" and "fatigue" that happens the next day.

For those who are more visual, here is a nice diagram of the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle:


A nice homemade diagram of the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle. Glucose is transformed into Lactic Acid during anaerobic exercise, resulting in the production of some ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Over time, the lactic acid slowly gets transferred to the blood stream and then to the liver, where it's transformed once again into Glucose. The transformation of Lactic Acid into Glucose is called Gluconeogenesis, and it requires ATP.
  
Thus, you should know by now that those "swimming bursts" that fish do when we play them are an example of anaerobic exercise. In other words, oxygen alone is no longer enough to sustain all the strain from the exercise. The fish's swimming bursts are driven by their white muscles, resulting in the depletion of their energy storage. Every time a fish pulls your drag or bents your rod, a little bit of its Phosphocreatines -- the fish's version of glycogen/energy storage -- and ATP are depleted. The fish also suffers from lactic acid build up in their muscles. Therefore, the longer you play them, more "sore" and "fatigued" they will get afterwards.

--- Fish Anatomy and Physiology: What Happens after the release? ---

Now you already know exactly what happens to a fish when you are playing it. Summarizing it, the fish goes through a stage of intense anaerobic exercise. It uses its energy storage (i.e. phosphocreatines and ATP) for short swimming bursts, which in consequences causes lactic acid build up in their muscles. In the Glycogen-Lactic Acid cycle diagram, that would be exactly what is happening on the right side of it.

Then, as one would expect, the left side of the diagram would be the "recovery time" for the fish: when the lactic acid gets transported from the muscles to the liver and something similar to gluconeogenesis happens (in fish, the lactic acid would be transformed once again into phosphocreatines in their liver). It's also at this stage that the fish takes its time to rest and recharge its energy storage. As bad as it may sound, this "healing stage" is really the same as having a crippled fish with low immune system during the amount of time that it takes to heal.

Since the fish is released with almost all of its storage depleted and a high amount of stress, the same doesn't really have the necessary energy to even feed after release. Can you imagine then if it were spawning season or migration season for the fish that you caught? Then, as mentioned in (E) way above, that would be extremely damaging for its offspring: in terms of migration, it would get delayed for that specific fish; in terms of protecting a nest during spawning season, the fish wouldn't even have the strength to chase away predators. If we were talking specifically about a bedding Largemouth Bass, the Sunfish would be all over its eggs and daddy wouldn't be able to do a thing until after a while.  

Therefore, ultimately, the main problem lies in the amount of time necessary for this healing process to happen. Most anglers tend to believe that the released fish will recover in a matter of thirty minutes or so and it will be as good as new! Well...it doesn't quite turn out to be that way. As a specific example, a research conducted in 2006 showed that it takes a Largemouth Bass as much as 12 hours after release to go back to its normal resting state, taking in consideration an angling duration of 5 minutes. Now, of course nobody really takes 5 minutes to reel in a Largemouth Bass. Therefore, using mathematics, we can estimate that it takes the fish as much as 2-3 hours to recover for an angling duration of 1 minute! Notice that this data can only be applied for the Largemouth Bass, as the healing time varies from Species to Species. 

The healing time not only varies from Species to Species, but also varies according to the different dependent variables that we have mentioned before -- the "trends." In other words, a fish that was exposed to air for a long time, after fighting an intense fight, miss handled, and perhaps dropped on the floor, will heal much slower than a fish that fought for a shorter time and was handled correctly. That's exactly why we want to follow these trends for proper C&R, so that the fish heals as fast as it can. Eventually, that includes reeling in the fish as fast and comfortably as possible, so that its energy storage is not completed depleted after release.

--- To Play or not to Play the Fish ---

After all this Biology talk, everything boils down to our main question: can we actually take our time and "play" the fish and still ensure that it survives after we release it? And the answer is: it depends. Before going deeper in this subject, here is a list of mortality ratios by Species from a research conducted in 1994 by Muoneke and Childress:


Table 1: mortality rate range after release for recreational fishing using a hook and live bait (not artificial lures). The dependent variables in the study were water temperature, salinity, depth, and oxygen available.  

Note that this table is not entirely accurate because each data entry was taken from a different research paper. In other words, Muoneke and Childress pretty much compiled a bunch of research papers on hooking mortality in the field of recreational angling. The dependent variables for each individual research were not the same! For example: in one research, they may have used treble hooks. In another research, they may have used j-hooks. In one research, the local water temperature may have been 60F. In another research, water temperatures were around 40F. The usage of live bait was the only dependent variable that was the same for all the data on this table. In conclusion, this table is only useful for us to see how "sensitive" a species of fish is in comparison to another. No other conclusions should be drawn from it.

From the table, we clearly see that some Species are more sensitive than others. A higher mortality ratio indicates more sensitivity. The Trout family, for example, has a natural higher mortality compared to other Species of fish. The lowest mortality ratios were from the Esox family (i.e. Pike, Muskellunge) and the Smallmouth Bass, probably because the researches were conducted in places where water temperature was low (recall: higher water temperatures result in less oxygenated water; therefore, higher stress on the fish). On the other hand, Channel Catfish came up with a pretty high mortality rate, probably because the research took in consideration the amount of fish who swallowed their hooks. Largemouth Bass and Striped Bass got a whooping 56% and 69% mortality ratio, since we were dealing with live bait and not artificial lures (for artificial lures, their mortality ratio decreased drastically).

Summarizing...As one can see, it turns out that it's not as simple as expected when it comes to caring for our fishes' survival. A person can't simply barge in and tell someone that "he is killing the fish for playing it too long." Ultimately, it really depends on what type of fish is being targeted; what type of gear and technique is the person using; what time of the year is he fishing; what is the level of oxygen in the water; if he is following proper C&R procedures; etc. Too many dependent variables!!! So, I hope you folks get the idea when I say that "it depends." Should you play the fish or force-fish it? Does it decrease its mortality rate after you release it? It really depends!

--- Conclusion ---

Different Species of fish have different sensitivity when it comes to different stressors in the field of Catch-and-Release fishing. However, one thing is certain: despite the Species, an angler should reel in the fish as fast and comfortably as possible! In other words, one should always try to minimize angling duration. That doesn't necessarily mean "force-playing" the fish -- it means to land the fish at a first opportunity without wasting any additional time. Fishing accessories such as a net should be used.

Force-playing a fish should definitely be practiced under extreme circumstances or while fishing for smaller Species of fish. For example: fighting a sensitive fish Species (i.e. Walleye) or post-spawn fish during high water temperature levels; or Micro-Fishing in a Creek. That is to prevent too much Lactic Acid build up in their white muscles and depletion of energy sources such as phosphocreatines and ATP, so that the released fish can return to normal functioning as soon as possible. Sensitive fish will be able to have enough oxygen to recover and smaller fishes will have enough energy to run away from predators.  

To maximize the survival rate of released fish, a Catch-and-Release angler should also be pro-efficient with the other trends related to safe fish handling: wetting its hands before handling the fish; keeping the fish outside of the water for a limited amount of time; constraining the fish from injuring itself; using gear that prevents the fish from swallowing the hook; etc. A proper revival for bigger and trophy fish should be practiced until the fish has enough energy to swim away on its own (the process may take up to 5 minutes).

If all of these notes are taken, an angler should have absolutely no problem playing a fish comfortably, enjoying the fight and the entertainment that angling provides, all while ensuring the fish's safety after release.


After a long and intense fight with a good fish, just putting it back isn't enough. If circumstances allow, bigger fish should not be "splashed" back in the water. They should be placed in the water and gently revived.  

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/05 - Fishing for Trout at the Pennypack with Spinners

Hello, Blog Readers!

As you all may or may not be aware of, I keep a very organized tab of all fishes that I catch every year. And by that I mean every single one of them. That's what I call my Statistical Fishing Chart. In the eyes of a Multi-Species angler like myself, every fish is unique. In other words, there is no "discrimination" when it comes to their sizes or appearances. To ensure that all these Species will thrive and survive in their natural habitats -- from micro-species to game fish -- I tend to handle them very carefully and practice CPR: "Catch, Photo, and Release."

Now...you may be wondering: "why are you telling us all of this stuff?" Well...I am telling you all of this stuff to not give away a wrong impression of my fishing style (i.e. Multi-Species fishing). If you have been reading my Blog for a while or you know me personally, then it's all good! However, if you are a first timer here and you don't know my ideology very well -- then I don't want you to have the wrong impression of my fishing ideologies. 

Anyways...recently I've posted 2 videos of Trout on my YouTube Channel and soon I started to receive interesting e-mails. People were simply curious as to why I didn't release those Trout, since I release almost everything else. The fact is that I release about 95% of my annual catch -- keeping few fish for table fare or bait. And stocked Trout is within the 5% of fish that I actually take home to eat. I just wanted to make this clear to all my Blog readers, Facebook followers, and YouTube viewers.

Therefore, overall, I do follow the practices of CPR and selective harvest. And I do believe that stocked Trout are better off in a plate. Heh. As a matter of fact, I will leave this very amusing article for those who are interested in Stocked Trout.    

And now, here's is my fishing report for April 5th: 

--- April 5th, 2015 ---

Location: Pennypack Creek (PA)
Time: 7:00-10:00 a.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 4 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
-- 1 Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

Below are the highlights for this fishing session:

The video is about 8 minutes long. I've divided it in 2 parts: setup goes up to 1:00 and the rest is fishing! It takes a long long time to actually edit these videos and upload them in 1080p50 quality (HD quality); therefore, if you like them, please like the video and subscribe to the Channel. That would be very well appreciated. 

As mentioned in the video, my game for the 2nd day of the Trout Season was to use an in-line Spinner. Just so everyone knows, my game plan for stocked Trout never changes! Every year is the same thing: Power Bait or corn during the first day; in-line spinners and Power Bait during the season; and Gulp! Alive 1" Minnows and corn late in the season.

For the second day of the Trout Season, I decided to go with my favorite in-line spinner: a Thomas E.P. series, nickel/gold color. My setup consisted of an Ultra-light Daiwa Spinmatic rod, a Shimano Sedona 500FD, 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line, and as mentioned above, a Thomas "Easy-Spin" series in-line spinner, nickel/gold color, 1/8 oz.. 

Many people have been asking me lately why the Thomas E.P. series spinner is my favorite. First of all, I've used a lot of different brands in the market and I can say that the E.P. series spinner has a very good quality and finishing touch for its price. I've used many in-line spinners from Panther Martin, C.P. Swing, Mepps, etc, and I still prefer this particular one from Thomas Fishing Lures. After watching the video, you guys may have been aware that I can actually cast pretty far with the 1/8 oz.! Distance is very important when it comes to Trout fishing. Also, it doesn't only catch Trout, but it catches different Species of fish. For a Multi-Species angler like me, this is a very important factor. I've caught Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), Fallfish (Semotilus corporalis), Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Chain Pickerel (Esox niger), different types of Sunnies (Lepomis spp.), and even Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) on this little fella! So, I guess you guys understand now why I hold it so dear.

Of course it's not just about the Spinner! The lure is certainly important, but it will always remain incomplete without its appropriate technique. Therefore, a certain level of expertise is necessary for the lure to work. Similar to what I did in this post, there's a Microsoft Paint diagram below for the in-line spinner, for a better understanding:   

As portrayed in the diagram, the current flows to the right. Do you notice how the spinners are actually behind the fish? The ideal situation would be to tie a Spinner with very thin line (i.e. 4lbs test) and cast it over the Trout (so you don't spook them). The speed of the retrieve determines which layer your lure will be in: if the retrieve is too slow, the lure will end in the Hypolimnion and you will eventually get snagged; if the retrieve is too fast, the lure will end in the Epilimnion and you will eventually not get bites. The goal is to keep your lure inside the Thermocline, so that the fish will actually see it and bite it.

Using the technique described above, I limited out after half an hour or so. My Brother-in-Law tagged along with me in the morning, finishing his day with two Trout on Power Bait. Photos are below:

Here's a photo of the only Brown Trout of the day, also the last one caught in the video. 

My Brother-in-Law with his Rainbow Trout, caught on a piece of yellow Power Bait.

A nice scenery photo of the fallen tree below the Roosevelt Boulevard Dam. This is actually another well known spot for Trout and boy...you gotta have dedication to climb and sit on the tree! Anglers usually cast their spinners from the opposite side. 

In the end, my Brother-in-Law and I finished with 7 Trout total: 6 Rainbow and 1 Brown.

Stay tuned for more Trout reports, folks! There will be a report on the East Branch Brandywine Creek and another one on Stony Creek coming up soon. I will also be uploading a couple more Trout videos on my YouTube Channel this week -- some of them with Trout being released actually (since I caught my limit for those days).

Best of luck for all of us, 

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.

April Fishing Sessions: 04/04 - Fishing for Trout at the Pennypack Creek with Power Bait

Hello, Blog Readers! 


I've added 9 new photos to the Public Fishing Album on my Facebook Page. As a reminder, anyone can submit photos! If interested, you may click here for more information.

Now, here is my fishing report for April 4th -- the first day of Trout Season in Philadelphia County;

--- April 4th, 2015 ---

Location: Pennypack Creek
Time: 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 4 Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
-- 1 Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

Below are the highlights of this fishing session:

The video is about 30 minutes long. I've divided it in 3 parts: Introduction goes up to 4:45; Setup goes up to 9:45; and the rest is fishing!

This was actually my 4th consecutive year fishing the Trout opening day in Philadelphia, PA. It just so happens that every year I hit the same location: the Pennypack Creek between Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue. Instead of describing the whole scenery and the "chaos" of the Trout opener, here are some shots from 2011 to 2015:

Trout Opening in 2012:

Compared to the other years, the amount of people in 2012 wasn't as high. Note, however, the green scenery in the beginning of April. On April 5th, 2012, water and air temperatures were between 50-55 degrees! 
  
Trout Opening in 2013:

Here's a nice view of the "chaos" during the first day of Trout season at the Pennypack Creek. In comparison to 2012, everything was just starting to bloom. On March 30th, 2013, water and air temperatures were between 45-50 degrees.

A nice scenery view of the Roosevelt Boulevard dam -- one of the deepest spots around the Creek.

A nice collection of anglers wading a deep hole under one of the bridges between Roosevelt Boulevard and Rhawn Street.

A pack of anglers under the Rhawn Street bridge.

Trout Opening in 2014:

Moments before 8 a.m. on March 29th, 2014! Same dry branch as in the photo from 2013. Same weather. Same crowd. Same chaos! 

A nice scenery view of the Roosevelt Boulevard Dam from above the small metal bridge.

And, as always, the Roosevelt Boulevard dam was packed. Heh.

Trout Opening for this year:

Air and water temperatures around 50 degrees. This year I did a "head count" for the area around the dam: ~50 people total! Quite insane, right? 

As mentioned in the video, some folks decided to step up this year! Apart from all the BBQing and stuff, they even brought in a tent. 

Minutes after 8 a.m. :)

If you watched the whole video, you should already be familiar with all the technical information that I'm going to write here. Just in case, though, let me emphasize some of the fishing jargon. For the first day of the Trout season, I decided to go with the traditional Power Bait. My setup was very simple: ultralight Daiwa Spinmatic rod with a Shimano Sedona 2500 FD; 4lbs Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line with 3 small split shots and a size #8 Eagle Claw hook. 

For Power Bait, I decided to pick my favorite color: beige. And no additional scents or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I've tested all different colors of Power Bait and I came to the conclusion that the beige, yellow, and white colors work best! And this is definitely not biased -- the fish may actually connect the beige/yellow color of the Power Bait with whatever they used to eat back in the hatcheries. Also, as an additional note, two of the Trout's favorite foods are kind of beige/yellowish: meal worms and corn. Think about it...

As mentioned in the video, I decided to use three split shots instead of one because the current was a little bit faster than usual (due to the rain from the previous day). The regular setup involves only one split shot with a small hook (#6-#12) and 4lbs test line. In other words, "as finesse as possible," as Bass anglers would say. That's usually the way to counter the Trout's top wariness.

Finally, I decided to leave a space of 6 inches between the split shots and the hook. That's because I truly believed that those 6 inches would help my Power Bait stay in the Thermocline. For those who are not familiar, the Thermocline is the water layer between the Epilimnion (a.k.a. "surface layer") and the Hypolimnion (a.k.a. "bottom layer"), and that's where certain Species of game fish hang and feed at. Different watersheds have different thermoclines, since it's based on water depth and water temperature. For a better understanding, I drew a diagram on Microsoft Paint:

As portrayed in the diagram, the current flows to the right. Do you notice how the Power Bait doesn't stay 90 degrees above the split shot? That's due to the force of the current and the amount of line after the split shots (there's a lot of Physics involved here, folks). The goal is to keep your bait inside the Thermocline, so that the fish will actually see and bite it. 

Using the technique described above, I limited out in 20 minutes or so. Photos are below:

Beautiful Rainbow Trout.

My five fish for the day. By now, they are already cleaned and ready to be smoked!

Little Brown Trout.

Stay tuned for more Trout reports, folks! There will be some additional videos coming up on my Youtube Channel as well.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.