Category Archives: Fishing Education

Shore Fishing 101 – Slip Bobber Rigs

In my last “shore fishing 101” article we covered bait selection for fishing the shoreline of Round Valley for Trout, so I’m going to continue to cover the basics in this article by explaining the proper way to use a slip bobber while fishing from the shoreline.  Now, there are two basic rigs that I use when I’m fishing the shoreline for Trout, slip bobbers and slip sinker rigs; however I will be covering slip sinker rigs in my next article. Both of these rigs are simple and will produce a lot of fish if used properly.

Slip Bobbers
Slip Bobbers come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, materials, and rigging options.

Why Use a Slip Bobber?

The slip bobber rig will allow you to suspend your bait at virtually any depth you want, while still allowing for easy casting. If you’ve ever tried to cast a traditional bobber setup with the hook any more than three feet away from your bobber you know it gets awkward to impossible.

When to Use a Slip Bobber?

In the hot summer months, trout go deep in search of cool water and your bait presentation is typically on the bottom. In the Fall, Winter, and Spring trout start moving around more in search of their comfort zone and it’s easiest to find that zone with a slip bobber.

Materials

To start out fishing with slip bobbers, you will need a fairly short, as well as cheap, list of tackle to set up your rig;

  • A small barrel swivel
  • Slip bobber (make sure it’s big enough to prevent your live bait from pulling it under)
  • Bobber stop (typically a small plastic tube with thread spooled around it, some also come with beads)
  • Small egg sinker or split shot
  • Size #6 or #8 bait holder or circle hook
  • Approximately 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader (Maximum 8-lb test)

Rigging the Slip Bobber

Visualize how the completed setup will look: hook > leader > swivel > sinker > bobber > bead > bobber stop > rod > reel > you!

Slip Bobber Rig
A complete slip bobber rig consists of a hook > leader > swivel > sinker > bobber > bead > bobber stop .

1. Start putting this rig together by opening the bail on your reel and threading your fishing line through the plastic tube of the bobber stop. The plastic tube needs to come off so it’s important to do this now before you forget. Slide the thread off the tube and gently pull the tag ends so you get a nice looking knot directly on your mono. get it snug but do not tighten it yet, you’ll want to do that after setting the depth. Discard the plastic tube.

2. Next, thread a bead onto your line and then your slip bobber. If your bobber stop came with beads, use one. The bead is there to prevent your knot from slipping through the opening in the top of your bobber. It’s a rare case when the bead should not be used.

3. Next, thread a small 1/8 or 1/4-ounce egg sinker onto your line after your slip bobber. Then tie on your barrel swivel. The swivel acts as a stop for you egg sinker and can help with line twist when bringing in a fish. If you chose to use a split shot, instead of the egg sinker, it should be placed directly above your swivel, above the knot. don’t clamp down on your knot!

4. Now, all you need to complete your slip bobber rig is a leader and hook. For a leader, as stated before, you will want to be using about a 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader made of up to 8-lb test fluorocarbon. I personally won’t use anything heavier than 4-lb because of Round Valley’s crystal clear water and the fact that Trout are very line shy. As for hooks, I always use size #8 Gamakatsu Octupus Circle hooks since the purpose of those hooks is for use with live bait, and the way they’re points are angled they usually end up setting right in the corner of the fishes mouth when used properly making for easier hook removal and is better for catch and release. But if you don’t have any of those, a size #6 or #8 Gamakatsu Octopus or any regular bait-holder hook will work perfectly fine.

5. You should now have everything on your line in the proper order and all you need to do before you start fishing is set the depth of your bobber stop. The way I usually go about this is using my rod as a measuring tool. So if you know you have say a 5-foot long fishing rod and want to set your bait down 20-feet, you would just simply slide out line from your reel while measuring the length of the rod four times since you have a 5-foot rod and want to get down to 20-feet. After you’ve done that all you need to do is slide the bobber stop knot to the 20-foot mark, pull the tag ends tight this time, clip off the excess and you’re ready to fish with a slip bobber!

Round Valley Brown Trout
23.5-inch Brown Trout caught in September 2014 on a shiner under a slip bobber; my first Fall 2014 slip bobber catch!
Round Valley Brown Trout
23-inch Brown Trout that caught on a Shiner under a slip bobber in December 2013.
Round Valley Rainbow Trout
23-inch Rainbow Trout that fell to a Shiner under a slip bobber in December 2013.

Shore Fishing 101 – Bait Selection

With Winter now in full swing, the majority of fisherman and woman have put their rods away for the year.  But for those of us that brave the cold weather, Round Valley can offer some great shoreline fishing to hold us over until the Spring!  So in this series articles, I’m going to explain the basics for fishing the shoreline at Round Valley, which can be applied during the Fall, Winter, and Spring for Trout!

Bait Selection

Golden Shiner
Golden Shiner, one of the best all around baits for fishing the shoreline at Round Valley.

 

There’s a wide selection of baits you can use when fishing from shore. Though the two most widely used, and successful baits are Powerbait and Shiners, so I’m going to mainly cover using these in this article since we’re covering the basics of shoreline fishing.  I’ve often found that the time of year does effect which bait the fish will be hitting more readily.  Usually Shiners fished under slip bobbers work better during the Spring and Fall, while Powerbait and Shiners fished on the bottom work better during the coldest months of the year.

Zach Merchant (That's me!) and Robert Ivan with two RVTA jaw tagged Rainbow Trout caught on Powerbait from shore during December of 2013
Zach Merchant (That’s me!) and Robert Ivan with two RVTA jaw tagged Rainbow Trout caught on Powerbait from shore during December of 2013

 If targeting Rainbow Trout, your best bet would be Powerbait on the bottom, or Shiners fished both under slip bobbers as well as on the bottom.  For Brown Trout, Shiners fished both under slip bobbers and on the bottom will produce.  As far as Lake Trout go, they’re a little trickier at times.  I’ve caught them on Shiners fished one foot under slip bobbers as well as fishing Shiners on the bottom casting to about 40-50 feet of water, and everything in between.  Though the most consistent way of catching Lake Trout from shore would be Shiners on the bottom.  While this is what I’ve observed while fishing Round Valley through the seasons, of course this isn’t always the case.  So just to be on the safe side, even if the bite is hot on say Shiners under slip bobbers, I’ll almost always have one rod out with Powerbait as well just in case the bite switches to that throughout my trip (You never know what can happen!).

(left to right) Zach Batren, myself, and Chris Moran with a nice haul of Trout caught fishing the Round Valley shoreline on both Powerbait, and live Shiners!
(left to right) Zach Batren, myself, and Chris Moran with a nice haul of Trout caught fishing the Round Valley shoreline on both Powerbait, and live Shiners!

So pretty much to sum things up:

  • Shiners under slip bobbers in Spring and Fall, when there’s warmer water temperatures.  (But not too warm of course)
  • Shiners and Powerbait fished on the bottom during the coldest months, usually between November/December and March/April.  (Depending on water temperature)
  • Powerbait, nine out of ten times will produce Rainbow Trout.
  • Shiners under slip bobbers will produce Brown and Rainbow Trout.
  • Shiners fished on the bottom will produce a mix of Brown, Rainbow, and Lake Trout.
  • When in season, Shiners can be replaced by live Herring, which can be a more effective bait.

Also, in addition to the baits that I went over in this article.  They are not in any means the only baits that will produce Trout from shore at Round Valley.  A few other baits that are commonly used while fishing the shoreline are:

  • Marshmallow and mealworm combos fished on the bottom
  • Garden worms or Night-crawlers fished on the bottom or under a bobber
  • Cooked salad Shrimp fished on the bottom

Stay tuned in for more shoreline fishing 101 articles!  Next I’ll be covering things such as; rigs for shoreline fishing, finding a good shore fishing location, and casting lures from the shoreline!

Carp Fishing Basics

Carp fishing is some of the easiest and most entertaining fishing around and anyone can be successful if they follow the carp fishing basics below.  With this being said, Carp fishing is very different from other types of fishing that most people participate in (i.e. Bass and Trout fishing), and in my personal opinion can’t be approached in the same manner; both in terms of mindset and technique. Read on for Carp fishing basics.

Common Carp
16-lb Common Carp I caught using the same carp fishing basics I’ll be explaining in this article.

Carp Fishing Gear

Before heading out for a day of Carp fishing, you need to make sure you have the right gear and tackle for the day. Go ahead and leave your ultralight trout rods at home. For small to medium sized carp, a 7 to 9 foot, medium/heavy action rod and spinning reel with 10lb mono should suffice. I’m just going to stick the basics for this article, so I’m going to explain a very simple rig that I like to use when fishing for small to medium sized Carp; and it may be a rig that you have already used for another style of fishing.

Basic Terminal Tackle For Carp:

  • 8 to 10+ pound monofilament OR 15+ pound braid for your reel
  • 1-ounce egg sinkers
  • Size 6 baitholder or plain shank hooks
  • 20+ pound test fluorocarbon leader
  • Barrel swivels

As with any rig, your first step is deciding which line to use, I prefer to use the heavier braided lines whenever I fish for Carp, but 8-lb or 10-lb monofilament line works perfectly for your average sized Carp as long as you don’t try to horse the fish in too fast.  Now that you know which line to use, we can move onto the rig itself.  You’re going to want to have a 1-ounce egg sinker on your main line, followed by a barrel swivel with safety snap (size 12 or larger) tied onto your main line.  All that’s left now is your leader and your hook.  I usually tie my own leaders with 20-lb fluorocarbon tied to a size 6 bait-holder hook which I make into pre-tied leaders so I can easily switch them out, or if I get broken off I can simply put a new one on (This is where your snap swivel comes into play).  Though to simplify it even more you can even go pick up some pre-tied leaders from Walmart or your local tackle shop instead of making your own.

Basic carp fishing rig
Basic carp fishing rig
Basic carp fishing rig - detail
Basic carp fishing rig – detail of sinker and swivel

Creating Your Carp Fishing Bait

Choosing a bait for Carp is fairly easy seeing as it can be as simple as using a can of corn or garden worms, both of which Carp will readily take.  Though, one simple way to increase your chances of catching more Carp is to increase the appeal of your bait to the fish.  When fishing for Carp, I create a simple, though effective, bait made from foods you can find in your local supermarket.

Carp Bait Shopping List

  • Two or three cans of cream style sweet corn
  • One can of whole kernel sweet corn
  • One or two larger containers of 5-minute quick oats (oatmeal)

Baiting the Hook

Start off by putting enough of the regular sweet corn onto your hook so that the hook is covered, but the tip and barb are still exposed.  For size 6 hooks, usually three or four pieces of corn will do the trick.  Once you’re done with that, you’ll need to combine the creamed corn and quick oats to make your oat pack.  Your first step in this process will be to pour some of your oats into a bucket of some sort; I usually start with half of the container of oats.  After you have your oats in the bucket, you’ll need to pour about a quarter of the can of creamed corn into the bucket as well.  After that, you’ll need to mix them up a bit, and add a bit more creamed corn after that so you’re mixture is just wet enough to stick together when you cast out.  Usually at this point, the question of “how much of the mixture do I put on the hook?”.  I usually do an entire handful, but when you’re first starting out, smaller handfuls are easier to mold around the hook and cast out until you get the hang of it.  Another common question I get asked about this process is “how do the carp get to the hook with that big oat ball around it?”.  This brings me to the point of the oat pack; after about a minute or so in the water, the oats fall apart and fall around the hook.  Now instead of having the big oat pack around your hook, the oats are loose and in a pile around your hook, and when a Carp comes by it sucks up the oats around the hook, and will eventually suck your hook up along with them.  This way the Carp have something extra to draw them in as opposed to only having sweet corn on your hook for bait.

Casting a Bait Ball

Casting this bait out might take a little while to get used to, so don’t get frustrated if you lose your oat pack on your first few attempts!  When casting out an oat pack, you can’t really whip your bait out there like you normally would.  Instead, you have to take it easy and make your casts a little slower and just pitch it out there without whipping your rod too much.  It definitely takes getting used to, but after your first trip or two you should start to get the hang of it. Now that you have your bait all ready to go and in the water, all you need to do is wait for some action!  

Hooking, Playing, and Landing a Carp

Right after you get your lines in the water, I can’t stress enough that you should either have bait-feeder reels, or have your reels in free spool.  The reasoning behind this is that you don’t want the fish to feel any resistance when taking out line while it’s inspecting your bait, and most importantly, you don’t want to lose your rod to the fish!  This leads me into my next point, just because you get a bump on your line, doesn’t mean the fish is on yet.  When your line bumps, it’s usually either the Carp sucking up the oats around your hook, or bumping your line itself.  As soon as the Carp feels the hook, 99 times out of 100 it will go on a strong run and start to peel out line.  Now when this happens, you can’t set the hook like you would on other fish, like a Bass.  Though it is always good to still set the hook, you don’t have to do it as hard as you normally would since Carp have very soft mouths and you don’t want to rip the hook out.  Usually just simply lifting your rod up and taking it out of free spool, or engaging the drag if using a bait-feeder while the fish is on it’s initial run will be more than enough to set the hook in it’s mouth.

Fighting the Fish

While the fish is on it’s initial run, you’re going to just want to keep your rod tip high and pointed away from the fish, just as you would any other large fish.  Once it’s done making it’s first run then you can finally start reeling and fight the fish.  When fighting a Carp, it’s just like fighting any other large fish, but you have to take it easier on them since if you pull too hard you’ll pull the hook out of their soft mouths.  General rule of thumb is; if the fish is running, let him run and tire itself out against your drag, only reel once it’s done with a run, and ALWAYS keep tension on your line otherwise the fish will be able to shake the hook.  By doing this, you minimize the risk of pulling the hook out while also making for a more enjoyable fight!

Carp Fishing
Fish on! Fighting a smaller, 5-lb Carp.

Landing the Fish

Once you get the fish under control and close to shore, he might stay just out of netting distance for a while or go on one final run, so be ready for that.  But once you have the opportunity to net the fish, guide it in head first and get the majority of the fish in the net before trying to scoop it up so the fish doesn’t flop back out of the net and injure itself.  Once the fish is in the net, take the hook out, snap a few pictures, and get it back in the water to fight another day!  If you wish to weigh your fish, the best way to do this is by using a weigh sling, or if you don’t have a weigh sling you can weigh the fish in your net and subtract the weight of your net later on.  This method is much easier on the fish than weighing it on a conventional scale that goes through the gills since Carp are so heavy.

25-lb Common Carp caught using the same method
25-lb Common Carp I caught using the same method explained in this article.

With the information in this article, you have all you need to get out for a fun day of Carp fishing.  I hope everyone found it helpful, and if you have any additional questions feel free to ask!

2012 NJ Wild Outdoor Expo

The NJDEP’s third annual NJ Wild Outdoor Expo will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16, at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, rain or shine.

This fun-filled family event allows visitors to discover new ways to appreciate and enjoy New Jersey’s great outdoors. Participants have an opportunity to try a broad spectrum of outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, hiking, shooting sports, rock climbing, camping skills, geocaching, wildlife watching and orienteering. Demonstrations of sporting and tracking dogs, turkey calling, crafts and more await.

Admission and parking are free. Most activities are free, except for a few that are offered for a modest fee. Some activities require pre-registration.

For more information, including a schedule of events and directions, visit http://www.wildoutdoorexpo.com/

2012 Event Supporters
Support for the Expo is provided by the following:

Monmouth County Park System – http://www.monmouthcountyparks.com
Solar Mite Solutions – http://www.solarmitesolutions.com
Sports Authority – http://www.sportsauthority.com
Traditional Archers of New Jersey – http://www.tradnj.com
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program – http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov

Be a NJ Fishing Education Volunteer!

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife needs volunteers to teach children about fishing at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center.

NJ-Fishing-PequestTroutHatchery-Stonefly

Experience is helpful but not required to become a fishing education instructor. However, enthusiasm, energy and the desire to teach children proper fishing techniques and ethics are a must!

Classes run Monday through Friday from April through October and instructors can volunteer at times which suit their schedules. Interested applicants must be a Wildlife Conservation Corps (WCC) volunteer. Download a WCC application from the division’s website at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/wcchome.htm .

A training session for interested applicants will be held at the Pequest Trout Hatchery on Wednesday, April 11 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Jessica Griglak at Jessica.Griglak@dep.state.nj.us or by phone at 908-637-4125.