to UPLOAD: please register or login

Frank Ruczynski

I've spent the last twenty-five years chasing the fish that swim in our local waters and I've enjoyed every minute of it! During that time, I've made some remarkable friends and together we've learned a great deal by spending loads of time on the water.

Search This Blog

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

 

July 31, 2016

Surviving the Dog Days

by Frank Ruczynski

In South Jersey, our warmest weather usually occurs between late July and early August. With recent air temperatures approaching triple digits, it's safe to say the "dog days" are upon us. Fishing during this time of year can be quite difficult and in some cases even dangerous. When air temperatures are forecast to reach the 90s, it's 90+ degrees in the shade and quite a bit warmer in the sun. The unbearable heat isn't just uncomfortable for anglers; it also takes a toll on most species of fish. With a little planning, you can feel much more comfortable on the water and continue to keep those rods bent.

When trying to beat the heat, a few options quickly come to mind: fish during the early morning, evening and nighttime hours. These simple choices will offer the most enjoyable fishing conditions – it's also likely the fish will be a bit more cooperative during these times, too. If you're fishing during lowlight conditions, you can leave the sunscreen at home, but remember to bring the bug spray – those South Jersey mosquitos will carry you away!

As a kayaker, this time of year can be especially daunting. Loading your kayak and paddling requires a little more physical effort, which can exacerbate the effects of the hot, summer sun. To combat the heat, I usually don't push my limits, dress in light-colored clothing and pack lots of cold water.

The simple items listed above are usually enough to enjoy the hottest of days on the water, however there are a few extra steps to make summer fishing trips even more comfortable. I've found a few other cooling options that work wonders. Some of the new fabric technologies are mind blowing. One of these products is the Columbia Freezer Zero Neck Gaiter. The neck sleeve is extremely versatile as it can be worn in a variety of ways, provides sun protection, comfort, and cooling properties. A little sweat actually makes the Omni-Freeze Zero material feel cool against your skin. I was one of those guys that said, "I'd never where on of those face buffs." Now, I don't leave home with out it.


Feeling cool on a hot July day.

Armed with my hot-weather gear and enough bottled water to fill a swimming pool, I hit a bunch of lakes this week. I took the kayaks out to a few of my favorite venues and visited a couple new bodies of water. The unfamiliar waters looked fishy, but my efforts came up small with just a few fish for the day. Fortunately, my go-to waters have been much more productive. Fishing action has been great despite the height of the summer heat.


The heat hasn't slowed the fishing action!

I've put together a pretty successful routine and I'm going to stick with it for as long as it lasts. My day starts early – usually, I'm on the water by 6:30 AM. I begin fishing the flats and weed edges with a yellow perch-colored Rapala Shadow Rap Shad. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, crappies, sunfish and yellow perch seem to love the Shadow Rap Shad. Rapala lists the Shadow Rap Shad at 3/8 ounce, 3.5 inches in length, and a diving depth of 3 to 4 feet. I fish the lure with an erratic, jerky retrieve and it seems to hang around a depth of 1 to 3 feet, which is perfect for many of our weedy, shallow South Jersey waters. Rapala describes the Shadow Rap Shad's action as, "Swims with horizontal struggle. Slow rise on the pause. Perfectly mimics a shad in trouble." Their description is dead on – the action on this lure is remarkable and it drives fish crazy!


The Rapala Shadow Rap Shad getting it done!

Around 10 AM, the lily pads draw my attention as largemouth bass begin to explode on the many types of dragonflies that flutter just above the water's surface. Usually by this time, I've had my fun with the little, yellow perch-colored Rapala and I'm ready to switch it up. I used to fish frogs, but lately, I've been throwing the Doomsday Turtles with great results. I rig the turtle with a small, lightweight hook so it sinks slowly on the pause. It skitters across the water perfectly as the four curly legs ripple the surface of the water. If the fish aren't aggressive, I'll slow down my retrieve and pause in the open pockets of water just long enough for the turtle to sink a little and the bass crush it! By the time I'm done working over the lily pad fields, the sun is high and I'm paddling back to my car with a smile on my face.


It's a bad day to be a bass!

My son, Jake, has been out with me often. On our last trip, he hooked a decent largemouth bass on his very first cast. It's a joy watching him improve his knowledge and techniques. Now, Jake goes his own way and works over waters that look fishy to him. He was rewarded with a beautiful 24-inch pickerel – a new personal best for my little fishing buddy! We had a great trip even though it was 90 degrees.


Jake had his hands full with this one!

August looks like it's going to begin with a little break from the extreme heat. Midweek highs are forecast in the low to mid 80s and Jake and I are planning a three-day fish camp at Parvin State Park. We fished at Parvin about the same time last year and had one of the best open-water crappie bites I've ever experienced. We're hoping for a repeat and a couple bass wouldn't hurt either. Don't let the "dog days" get the best of you – there are plenty of fish to catch!

July 22, 2016

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

by Frank Ruczynski

The new Pokémon Go app seems to be taking the world by storm. Just in case you're not up on the latest craze, Wikipedia states, "Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. It was released in most regions of the world in July of 2016. Making use of the GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, call Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world." Sounds like a blast right?

Admittedly, my little knowledge of Pokémon comes from my children. My oldest son, Frankie, absolutely loved all things Pokémon. I'd like to thank him for engraving Pikachu, Poké balls and the cartoon's theme song into my brain forever…

"I wanna be the very best
Like no one ever was
To catch them is my real test
To train them is my cause

I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Teach Pokémon to understand
The power that's inside

Pokemon! (Gotta catch ‘em all), it's you and me
I know it's my destiny
(Pokémon!)
Ooh, you're my best friend
In a world we must defend
Pokémon (Gotta catch ‘em all), a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through
You teach me, and I'll teach you
Po-ké-mon
(Gotta catch ‘em all!)
Gotta catch ‘em all!
Pokémon!"

It's the kind of jingle that you just can't shake – even fifteen years later. Thanks Frankie!

Wanting to see what the hubbub was about, I downloaded the new Pokémon Go app - more out of curiosity than anything else. A few minutes later, I captured a Charmander in my living room. I learned a little more about the game and decided it wasn't for me. I understand why some people may enjoy the game, but I have some of my own very real Pokémon to catch. It just so happens that all my characters have fins!

Even though I'm not into the new fad, I can appreciate the many ways the pocket monster's game relates to fishing. Right off the bat, the tag line in the chorus "Gotta catch ‘em all" is right up our alley – as anglers we can appreciate that. The Poké balls strangely resemble bobbers and both are used as an aid in catching our quarry – the Poké balls are red on top and white on the bottom while many of our plastic floats are white on top and red on the bottom. In most scenarios, each of us is searching for the largest, strongest and most rare of Pokémon/fish species. Many of our targets require an intimate knowledge of the Pokémon/fish species in order to be successful. The more you think about it, catching fish is a lot more like catching Pokémon than not. Maybe we can make fishing the new craze?


Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Can you imagine if fishing was as popular as the new Pokémon Go app? There seems to be a lot of pros and cons to anything that becomes so wildly popular. Most of us are aware of the pros – entertainment value and monetary benefits quickly come to mind, but some of the cons include some real horror stories. Over the last week, some of the news stories are mind blowing: trespassing, robberies, and assaults – all while hunting for virtual pocket monsters? To top it off, I just read a story about an 18-year-old shot dead while playing the Pokémon Go game near Guatemala City – police found twenty bullet casings at the scene of the murder. Maybe we're better off if fishing doesn't become the next craze?

Meanwhile, back in my little part of the world, it seems like the dog days of summer are here to stay. With air temperatures nearing triple digits, fishing action has slowed down considerably. We're still catching fish, but mostly 14 to 16-inch bass - the big girls just aren't eating like they were a few weeks ago.

When I'm not looking for trophy fish, I like to take my kayak out into the lily pad fields. July's bright sunshine and intolerable heat sends the bass looking for cover and the pads offer shade much like the umbrellas we use on the beach. Sometimes the bass can be a little sluggish, but they still have a difficult time passing up a well-placed cast.


Summer Fun On My Wilderness Systems ATAK

Recently, I've been on a bit of a top-water fishing kick. I started with frogs as I've always enjoyed froggin' the pads. The only complaint I have about the frogs is the amount of missed hits – some days, my blowup-to-hookup ratio is unacceptable. I needed to change it up.


Topwater fishing in the pads is a blast!

A few weeks back, my daughter's boyfriend, John, passed along a pack of Doomsday Turtles and I was dying to use them – thanks John! To tell you the truth, I thought they were a little gimmicky, but I wanted to test them out to see how well they worked. To my surprise, my hook-up ratio soared and I landed nearly all of the fish that blew up on the turtle. The Doomsday Turtle is mostly flat so it rides over the pads easily and if I want to drop it into open water areas, between the pads, it sinks just slow enough to trigger the less-aggressive fish. So far, I am thoroughly impressed with the turtles. Another great tool added to my "Gotta catch ‘em all" quest!


Doomsday Turtle I choose you!

July 10, 2016

Repeat Customers

by Frank Ruczynski

Did you ever wonder if you caught the same fish more than once, twice, three times or more? If you fish the same waters enough, wouldn't you think it's likely to come across the same fish at least a few times during their lifetimes? For years, I suspected I had been catching at least a few fish over and over again, but without any identifiers, I had no hard proof.

Wanting to understand fish behavior a little more, I became a member of the American Littoral Society's Fish Tagging Program - the largest volunteer, saltwater fish-tagging program in the United States. I don't tag every fish I catch, as circumstances aren't always conducive to fish tagging, but I tag my share. Most of the fish I tag are striped bass. As you may imagine, receiving my first tag return made my day. With tag returns coming from as far as Maine, I thought the odds of me recapturing a saltwater fish with access to the Atlantic Ocean would be much less than recapturing a largemouth bass in a small pond.


From the Delaware River to Maine!

As luck would have it, last fall while fishing a midnight tide, it happened - I caught a small resident striped bass with a bright yellow tag attached. It turned out it was a fish I tagged just a few weeks ago. I finally had my proof! If I could catch the same fish in a backwater channel with access to the ocean, surely I could catch the same largemouth bass in a small neighborhood pond.


On December 11, 2015 I caught this striped bass for the second time.

Flash forward to June 8, 2016. I caught a beautiful 20-inch largemouth bass with a distinguishable spot on its tail. Last Tuesday, July 5, I caught the same 20-inch fish in the same location with the same spot on its tail. I wondered if I had caught this fish before. After comparing the recent photo, I had my proof.


A largemouth bass with a spot on its tail was caught on June 8, 2016


The same spot-tail bass was caught again on July 5, 2016

I fish a lot and I think about fishing even more. If you're like me, you know what I'm talking about. If not, feel free to call me a fishing geek. With the recent recapture of a fish I caught a little less than a month ago, I began wondering how many times I could catch the same fish in a lifetime, year, month, week or day? Without some type of identifier, it would be nearly impossible for me to distinguish one 16-inch bass from another.

A couple days passed before I received a daily update from Timehop – an app on my iPhone that shows me pictures and posts from the same date of prior years. Technology is great right? As it turns out, on July 8, 2015, I see myself holding the very same, but somewhat smaller spot-tail bass in the same location. This photo put me over the top and my wheels have been spinning ever since.


The same spot-tail bass was caught almost exactly a year before.

The saltwater fish-tagging programs offer a ton of valuable information so why aren't we doing the same with freshwater species? With the current technology available to most anglers, we could do amazing things to improve our understanding of many types of fisheries. The possibilities I'm considering seem endless!

In my opinion, fish tagging promotes catch and release practices even more. It is through these types of experiences that we can truly appreciate catch and release fishing - a fish can only be caught a second time if it was released the first time. I also see fish tagging as another tactic to introduce young anglers to fishing – a fish with your tag in it gives you a vested interest in that particular fish.


I'll see you again soon!

With little information available regarding freshwater fish tagging in New Jersey, my first hurdle will be acquiring a fish-tagging permit from the state. After some research, I found this paragraph in the 2016 Freshwater Fishing Digest concerning fish tagging "No person may tag or mark and then release a fish without first obtaining a fish stocking permit or by special permit issued by Fish and Wildlife. Contact the bureau of Freshwater Fisheries for application information." I'm hoping to meet whatever requirements the state has for issuing permits for fish tagging. I'll follow up with a phone call or two to the state early next week and keep you posted. Wish me luck!
You must login to post a comment.

User Name
Password

Need an account? Register here!
© 2011 Noreast Media, LLC | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertise