Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Despite the fact this is my favorite time of the year for fishing for a variety of fish, I have put in a lot of time carp fishing. Since I went to Wachusetts Reservoir last Friday I have been out fishing every day, including Easter.

Every one of those outings was spent chasing Mr. Carp.  I have had very good success. I've caught 14 fish on my last four outings. The downside is that I haven’t caught anything very big yet. My largest two fish were 15 pounds and 14 ½ pounds. I have been trying to get a twenty pounder fishing a spot known to produce them. As of yet no luck

I apologize that I do not have any fishing reports of other fish first hand. I can tell you that striper fishing for fresh fish is really nonexistent in Rhode Island and Massachusetts so far this spring. That could change any day but from multiple reports striper fishing sucks right now…despite what you are reading in fishing reports.


Thursday I am going to change things up. I’m going to hit multiple spots and fish for multiple species. I’m going to give each species an hour or two of my time and see what happens. I’m going to try for everything from four inch wild brookies to giving Upper Narragansett Bay a try for the small chance stripers are up in the bay. The weather conditions will be tough with 30 mph winds and a bright sky, but what the hell its my day off I’m going to make the best of it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Persistence at Wachusetts Finally Pays Off

   Today I went to Wachusetts Reservoir for the first time this year. I planned on going last Saturday but the
weather was “too nice”. It was sunny and warm. Not ideal conditions for catching lake trout. Since I usually go fishless every time I fish at Wachusett, I thought there wasn’t any point in going when the odds were not
in my favor.

   Today the daytime high temperature was only supposed to be forty five degrees. Also the forecast called for partly cloudy skies. I thought I might as well give the Chu a try. So I packed a lunch and drove for an hour before reaching the bait shop. I bought a dozen shiners and set off for Gate 30.
My usual plan when I fish the reservoir is to fish an area I’ve never been too then after a couple hours go to spots I’ve been to before. I had never fished at Gate 30. I had read that fishing is good at Tahanto Point.

    Unfortunately I wasted forty five minutes trying to find a legal place to park. I even drove back to the bait shop, the owner wasn’t sure where I could park. I then drove to Mass wildlife where they were friendly but equally unhelpful. So I drove to Gate 29 and walked to Gate 30.

   It’s a long walk to Tahonto Point. To my chagrin, it was not as deep as I imagined. I fished there for 90 minutes without any luck. This would become the theme for my day. Fish an area for an hour or more and move to another area. I never went back to the car. I walked and fished the area from Tahonto Point to the Cellar Holes. This is a distance of a couple miles.

   Even though I wasn’t catching fish I could tell I was in fishy water. The map said the deep water came very close to shore. Casting a red/gold Kastmater confirmed I was in deep water. Around 1:30 I sat down and ate some cookies (I left my lunch in the car assuming I’d be back in a couple hours). While eating a guy came out of the woods and told me he caught 7 lake trout yesterday. He also told me he went fishless until 3:30 pm then “all hell broke loose”. I felt a surge of adrenaline when he told me there was hope. Then I felt glum when I realized I had another two hours until 3:30. Even then I assumed with my luck I wasn’t going to catch anything anyway.  At that point I was trying to figure how much time I’d have to fish the fly pond in Rhode Island if I left then. Needless to say, I sucked it up and stayed until 3:30.

   Well three thirty came around and…nothing. I fished hard. I had one rod with a shiner on the bottom. I casted the Kastmaster with the other rod. Every twenty minutes I’d reel in the shiner and cast it in a different spot thirty feet up the shoreline.

   Four thirty came around and still nothing to show for it. Keep in mind, I am a carp fisherman so I know what it’s like to wait hours for a fish to hit my bait on the bottom. Carp fishing will make any fisherman patient or they quickly give up targeting carp. Still at this point I’d fished seven hours without a hit at a giant lake that I’ve caught exactly one lake trout and one salmon (and a few smallmouth but I was not targeting them today). I had a couple highlights. I saw a couple deer. I got some good pictures of loons and some warblers.  Again I was thinking “if I left right now I’d have an hour at the trout pond”.

   At four thirty the light breeze shifted from northeast to south. It was really cool to see it. The change reminded me of the current change at the Cape Cod Canal. One second it was blowing from NE then it was calm then small waves went in the opposite direction.

    Right after the wind changed I got my first hit. I was using my baitrunner reel on the shiner rod. I set the hook and reeled in a lake trout about 17 inches. I put another shiner on and casted out. I got my camera ready to take a couple pictures. My rod started bouncing again. I picked it up and set the hook. Instantly I could tell this fish was much bigger. One thing about lake trout, there fight will never be confused with a bluefish or smallmouth bass. It’s like reeling in a trash bag. None the less, I didn’t want to lose it or break the line so I played it cautiously. I was very relieved it land it. It was about five pounds and easily the largest of the three lakers I’ve caught in my life.

   As lake trout go, a five pounder is a decent fish but not a giant. The leader board at the bait store has a thirteen pounder as the top fish so far. Still I was extremely happy to catch this fish. I took a boat load of pictures of it.

   The wind turned northeast again and the fish stopped biting. I have no idea if the wind direction turned the fish on and then off again. In theory a school of lakers could have came through at that time. Maybe the wind direction was the key. Either way, I fished another hour and made the forty-five minute walk back to the car where I devoured two turkey sandwiches and a banana before heading home.

In case you go;

The spoon most recommended at the bait shop was a 3/8 ounce red/gold Kastmaster.

I caught my fish on medium shiners. I used a one ounce sinker and two feet of 10# fluorocarbon and a size 4 hook.

The fish were caught between Gate 30-32. It’s a solid 30-40 minute walk.

Gate 8 is across the way. This is where I caught my only other laker a couple years ago. Today was Good Friday and I knew there would be a lot of people there. Sure enough I saw 5-6 guys on the point.

Any gate with a short walk to the water was filled with cars. This was one reason I took the long walk.

Expect to be overwhelmed by the immenseness of the lake and do not be disappointed in a skunking. Even though I caught two today, I firmly expect to get skunked every time I go.

There is a lot of wildlife. I saw deer, loons, warblers and a game warden (yes he checked my license) told me there is a young moose hanging around the reservoir.


Be patient



Quest for thirty -10,11,12

Carp, sorry had to crop out the background

White Sucker

Lake Trout

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Its the most Wonderful Time of the Year

   With all due respect to the Holiday Season we are upon my favorite time of the year. In my opinion and in the opinion of others in our area of southern New England the time period from April 15- the end of May produces the best fishing.

   Backtrack to the last couple of weeks. I’ve been fishing most every day with almost nothing to show for it. For a week straight I went carp fishing almost every day after work. Although I have friends that were doing okay, I was striking out. I also went trout fishing once, I got a couple, but nothing to brag about.
Fast forward to this week; we finally got some weather consistently in the sixties and a couple warm nights. That has really gotten the fish going. This Saturday was opening day for trout fishing in Rhode Island. The few days before the opening, guys scouting the ponds reported watching so many fish feeding at the surface it looked like rain.

  Opening day did not disappoint. Although I did not deal with the zoo in the morning, fish were willing. I know of one guy that caught 16 trout in 90 minutes. I went later in the afternoon dragging my friend Laurie along. I caught two quick trout in a few minutes. Sunday afternoon after work, I went for longer catching six trout in an hour of fly fishing.

   Tonight I went carp fishing again. After last week’s disappointment I was not expecting any action. I brought two books with me to keep me occupied. I went to the Blackstone River and set up on the riverbank. I actually caught three carp up to 12 pounds and had another runner. The fish were aggressive and fought hard. After many fruitless outings it was nice to have so much action.

   All of this good fishing can easily be attributed to spring finally getting to the area. The great thing is the fishing will get better and better. Not only will fishing for carp and trout get better, but as the water warms a few more degrees there will be more options.

   Largemouth bass and pickerel are also hitting well right now. Largemouth bass are going to be spawning a couple weeks. Besides the water temperature getting near perfect the bass also want to put on some weight before they spawn. They will hit just about anything this time of year.
Any day now a tidal wave of schoolies stripers will be hitting the West Wall and Narragansett Bay. With warm winters the last couple years, schoolies have shown up in early April. This year the stripers will reach us at a more normal date. That date is any day now
   
   In early May for saltwater bait dunkers, fluke and blackfish will be on the feed. By the end of the month bluefish and scup will be everywhere (assuming bluefish numbers have recovered).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My first spring day

My first open water fish of the year
For the first time this year I fished as though it was actually spring. Although ice had been off most of the ponds for a few days I could not bring myself to go fishing. We have had some cold days and to be honest I just didn’t want to put up with that shit any more.

   As I have said before I consider the first day of spring to be when trout are stocked. Some years this can be the first week of March. More likely trucks start rolling out to lakes and ponds the second week of the month. Since winter is just now loosening its noose on southern New England the trucks finally got out this week on Cape Cod ponds.

   I learned of the news Thursday night but was not sure which lakes had been stocked. I went to the Mass Wildlife website at 8:30 this morning. Most of the ponds in Plymouth got their initial stocking this week. When I saw this I was invigorated. Within 20 minutes I packed my waders, rods, and gear. I made a couple sandwiches and packed a lunch. I got gas and took the eastward journey down I-495.

   I did not have a lot of time because my afternoon had been planned for two months. I was going to the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association show (RISAA) with a kid whose mother I work with. So I only had time to fish Fearings Pond. I love Fearings; it may be my favorite trout water in the state. I knew that fishing would be slow because of the frigid water temperatures, but that did not temper my enthusiasm. Sure enough, some of the shaded vernal pools were still locked in with ice. There was also snow on the ground thanks to a Wednesday storm that pummeled the outer Cape.

   There were two groups fishing when I arrived. They were spaced a few hundred yards apart. I set up shop in the middle. I tried the usual assortment of trout lures. I knew the chances of cold sulking trout chasing a lure were slim, but casting and reeling kept me busy. I worked the whole shoreline between the two groups, careful to keep a respectable distance. I had one bump. One group caught absolutely nothing. The other group (two older guys) kept getting bangs on Powerbait. I know when the weather is this cold Powerbait can not be beat, but I HATE using it. These guys ended up catching three trout each.
After a couple unfruitful hours I set one rod up with Powerbait. I still didn’t get anything. Finally the older guys left. I set up one rod with Powerbait and the other I kept casting lures where they were. I hooked one rainbow on Powerbait about 12 inches long. I got a quick picture and released it.

   To be honest even though fishing wasn’t very good I could have stayed all day. I forced myself to leave for the RISAA show. I still left an hour later than I planned and ended up missing the seminar I most wanted to see.

   I picked up my friend’s son (Ronnie) at 4 pm, thanks to the delightful Providence traffic. He only lives five minutes from the Rhode Island Convention Center. If you are into saltwater fishing this is by far the best show of the year. Ninety percent of the booths are actually fishing related. There isn’t all that other crap (doors, kitchen appliances) that you find at some of the other shows. Also there are so many experts at this show. If you know anything about saltwater fishing, this place is a who’s who of terrific fishermen. On Friday I had a long conversation with Toby Lapinski who is the editor of The Fisherman Magazine. I bought a book from Dennis Zambrotta, who probably knows more about Block Island stripers than any other human being alive today.

   There are terrific seminars. We sat in on one; it was about fishing around Newport. I learned a lot about spots and how to fish them. I could have kicked myself for not bringing a piece of notebook paper and a pen. Everywhere I looked there was another expert. Steve McKenna was at the Quaker Lane booth. DJ Mueller was doing his usually excellent seminars. Seriously, this show is a great place to go to quickly shorten the learning curve.

   Of course the bulk of the show is taken up by vendors. There are many people selling tackle, rods, and reels. The only thing I bought was Dennis Zambrotta’s book. Ronnie spent six dollars on some soft plastics. About 8 pm called it a day and I brought Ronnie home.


   So all in all I had a great day. I caught my first open water fish of the year. I had some terrific conversations at the show. I learned a lot at the seminar. The forecast is looking more spring like the next ten days. There are more days with a predicted high in the fifties than there are in the forties. Spring although not super warm is finally here!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Baseball Hall of Fame

Early this winter DJ and I planned on doing a daytrip or overnight during his spring break. For the last couple of weeks our plan was to go skiing. Although DJ is at least an intermediate skier, I have never gone. The last few days have been fairly warm so the conditions at Wachusett were slushy. So we decided to go with our original plan we came up with in December, The Baseball Hall of Fame.

   We left around 6 am. From Boston, the Hall is about a 4-4:15 hour drive. We got there about 10:30. Before we went in we ate a couple sandwiches so hunger wouldn’t chase us out before we were ready.  After paying the admission, all signs point to start on the second floor (there are 3 floors). The second floor starts with the history of baseball. There are artifacts of the first gloves and helmets along with pictures of old fields. Also on the second floor are exhibits about players from Latin America, Negro Leagues and lockers from all Major League teams. There is one room dedicated to Babe Ruth.
   
   The top floor has artifacts from baseball records. There is a room full of photographs. There is a room like the Babe Ruth room dedicated to Hank Aaron.  There is so much to see on these two floors. We took our time trying to see as much as we could without going into information overload.
The first floor is where the plaques hang of the players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The gallery room is well lit with arching ceilings. Part of it opens up into an atrium with a glass ceiling. I didn’t get a picture of every plaque, but I did of all of the players/ coaches and owners I knew or of heard of. 
After we ate our sandwiches, we went in about 11 am. We stayed until 4:30. We didn’t get bored. We are big baseball fans. It was definitely worth the drive there. After we left we went out to eat at a BBQ place. Our original plan was to stay at the Best Western, but I wasn’t tired at all so we drove home. We arrived home at 10:30 pm. It was a long but memorable fun day.

    On a side note on our way out of Cooperstown we saw deer everywhere. Without exaggeration from downtown to the highway we saw over one hundred deer. We saw one herd that DJ counted at least 24. Most herds were between 3-8 individuals. In some areas we’d see three or four different herds in a one mile stretch of road. We did not stop to get any pictures because we only brought the small camera with a 4X  zoom.

If you go:






The Hall of Fame is about 4- 4 ½ hours from the Boston area. The ride is three hours highway and one full hour off the interstate. Once you are off the highway plan on driving forty to fifty miles through farm country and small towns before reaching Cooperstown. We left at 6 am and did not run into traffic anywhere including Albany. Directions from all points on the compass are on the website.
 
   The price of admission is $19.50 for an adult. You can save two dollars if you are a AAA member. Seniors are $12 and kids are $7. Hours are from 9-5 but they are extended until 9 pm during summer hours. There was almost no one there when we went. I’d be willing to bet they didn’t sell forty tickets for the day. That said I bet the Hall is an absolute zoo during baseball season. There is a baseball field in downtown two blocks from the building. Little League baseball tournaments go on all summer. I can imagine how crowded it is having a couple thousand little leaguers in town every day.

    This leads to parking. We parked at the field (Doubleday Field) for free. Most of the parking in town is two hour parking and they make it clear it is enforced. The field parking lot is free this time of year but there is a fee the other seasons. I would not count on parking there during warm weather. There are lots on the outskirts of town and a trolley will bring you in for a $2.00 fee.

   The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce lists the accommodations. As mentioned we had planned on staying. The Best Western was going to be $70 a night. They have an inground pool. There are many other places that are more “charming”. I also saw signs for at least two campgrounds in the area.
As for food, there seemed to be an adequate amount of places downtown. The BBQ place we went to was about three miles from town. The wings were delicious but the prices were outrageous. It was a good idea to fill up before we went in the HOF since they do not sell food. There is a bubbler at the bathrooms on all three floors.

   I can understand the quiet country charm surrounding Cooperstown. The downtown area has an old timey feel to it. For any kid, getting to play on that field only a two minute walk from the HOF would be a dream come true. There are many memorabilia shops that sell everything from baseball cards to jackets. If you have the time a full two days in Cooperstown would be really fun.


The website is bassballhall.org 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Favorite Outdoor Books

One of the things I enjoy doing is reading. Most of the time I read non-fiction. When I do read fiction books they are usually classics or literature. The thought of reading Tom Clancy or Mary Higgins Clark does nothing for me. I have read some Hemmingway, Moby Dick and other classics and enjoyed most of them.
However I strongly lean towards the non-fiction. The books that interest me the most are about traveling, exploring America or generally the great outdoors. Two years ago I mentioned in a post that I would put together a list of some of my favorite outdoor books. I finally got around to doing it. There is quite a range in topics from dogs to hitch hiking. They are in no particular order. If you read all these books, I’m sure your top ten would look different than mine so there is no need to rank them.

   Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey- Edward Abby was a park ranger at Arches N.P. before it became touristy. The roads were bad and the campground was primitive. He is very opinionated and gives his point of view on a range of topics along with stories of his time at Arches.

   Travels with Charley In Search of America, John Steinbeck- Steinbeck goes on a road trip with his dog Charley a giant poodle. They want to see the sites but it is more important for him to meet people in his travels. He traveled during the time the sixties when the country was being desegregated. Since I went to many of the same places as him out west, it is interesting how he interpreted these places compared to me.

   Everett Ruess A Vagabond for Beauty, John Nichols- Ruess was a kid that explored alone the Colorado Plateau. He went missing in 1934 and his body was never found. He loved the beauty of the west he could not live a conventional life. He needed to be outdoors soaking it all in.
   
    Walking with Spring, Earl V. Shaffer- There are many books about hiking the Appalachian Trail.   They are all equally interesting reads since everyone has different experiences. Earl happened to be the first person to thru hike the trail.

   One Life at a Time Please, Edward Abbey- This book is a series of essays. Topics range from immigration to Big Bend National Park. Abbey was not shy about his opinions. Agree or disagree with him, the topics make you think.
   
   Worthwhile Places Correspondence of John D. Rockerfeller Jr. Horace Albright
This book consists of the letters between Rockerfeller Jr. and Albright. Rockerfeller probably did more for the National Park system than any other private citizen. He donated much money, time, and land to it. He donated 55,000 acres that he purchased with his own money to add to Grand Teton. Albright was Head of the Park Service for many years. It is an extremely interesting read. Basically it is two first person accounts with thoughts and opinions from two people that cared deeply for protecting nature. If you watched National Parks America’s Best Idea by Ken Burns you will love reading this afterward.

   Riding with Strangers, Elijah Wald- This is a book about hitch hiking across the country. This guy was done it many times. He tells about the people he meets and the places he has slept. For anyone that thinks hitch hiking would be fun but will never do it because of the risks, it’s interesting to see the world through Eljah’s eyes.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place- Aron Ralston- This is the book 127 Hours is based on. This kid gets stuck in a slot canyon with a boulder crushing his hand. He has to choose between death and cutting his own hand off. Aron talks about other crazy things he has done during his life outdoors. A modern day classic that every young hiker has read.

   Into the Wild- Jon Krakauer- Another modern classic. Every true hiker knows the name Alexander Supertramp. It is about a kid that after graduating college leaves. He drifts around the west for a couple years leaving his mark on people he meets. He makes it to Alaska where he goes into the wild alone. True story well done.

   Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopald- Leopald was a true conservationist. He was one of the first to see the value in predators and fought to protect them. He was also one of the first to fight for wilderness protection. In the years since he wrote this book views have changed, science has improved but amazingly some of his theories and opinions were spot on.

   A Pirate Looks at 50, Jimmy Buffett- Jimmy goes on a three week trip across the Caribbean. Unlike some of the people on the above list, Jimmy has the money to do exactly what he wants. The book contains stories of his life. Talks of songs he has written and of course the trip itself. Buffett is one of the most interesting people alive to me because of the life he has lead and the fact that he appreciates every single memory he makes.

My very messy bookshelves
   Call of the Wild/ White Fang, Jack London- As fiction books go these are two of my favorites. Being a Jack London fan when you are outdoorsmen is a bit cliché’ but there is good reason. These two dog books are phenomenal. White Fang is about a wolf dog that starts off wild and his relationship with people grows stronger. Call of the Wild is about a giant dog named Buck that gets kidnapped from his home in California and becomes the ultimate sled dog. His heart is drawn to the freedom of being a wild dog.  Both are great books, I give White Fang the edge but Call of the Wild is the more popular of the two 

   Old Man and the Sea, Earnest Hemmingway- My favorite fiction book. I almost never read any book more than once. I’ve read this three times. In case you have lived under a rock, it’s about an old man that catches a huge fish miles from his port in Cuba. He is alone with his thoughts except for some man eating sharks that circle his small rowboat.

   My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir- Muir took a job as a sheep herder, that is when he fell in love with the Sierra Nevada’s. First off it’s awesome to read a first persona account by such a great man. It is fun to read of him chasing bears away from the sheep herd. Muir was so far ahead of his time with his beliefs about conservation it’s not even funny.

So there you have it. This list ended up having fourteen books on it. I didn’t count them until I was done. I love all of these books.