Sunday, July 4, 2021

New State, New Fish

One of my favorite parts about fishing is the feeling of accomplishment one gets when, after so much planning, analysis, and anticipation, they finally pull a targeted fish out of a researched body of water. This July 4th, I was happy to be able to attain that accomplished feeling once again. My family and I spent part of the day having a picnic on the Brandywine Creek, a river that goes through Wilmington, Delaware. The Brandywine is an interesting river with good rapids and rock/tree cover, and one that I had been scouting for quite a while. Despite living roughly 1,200 miles from the creek and only having seen it a handful of times, using the internet and various apps, I was able to find out the fish species caught in the creek, how to catch them, when, and where. Being a first generation fisherman with few family members that share my enthusiasm for the sport, the internet is the source of most of my fishing information. I can only imagine how much harder it would be if I was born merely 10-15 years earlier.

I made sure to bring a fishing rod and worms that my brother and I had found in the backyard over the past few days. For the future, I recommend taking worms two days (at most) before a trip as they start to smell. After hanging out at the picnic for a bit, I decided it was time to head down in pursuit of fish. The two I had in mind were the Redbreast Sunfish and the Smallmouth Bass. The Redbreast Sunfish is one of the four sunfish found in the northeast, along with Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, and Green Sunfish. My goal as a multi-species angler is to catch all four, and heading into today I had caught only the Bluegill. I started off casting my worm, under a bobber, out into the current near rocks where fish may be hiding. Sometimes I would retrieve the line a little bit so as to guide it into a calmer pool with tree cover. However, I wasn’t catching anything for the majority of the time. While I was fishing, I played the Born In The USA album (a top quality listen) especially because of the occasion, which had me feeling great and ready to catch a fish despite the lull. Coincidentally (or was it), just as No Surrender started playing, I saw a splash over to the left of me, under some trees and submerged branches. I casted the bobber out to the only sign of life I had seen in my whole 45 minutes of fishing, and sure enough, the bobber sunk. Any fisherman would tell you that the sight of a bobber taking a quick sink under the surface of the water is one of the most exciting and satisfying sights there is, and would thus surely excuse me for the awkward fist pump I made while reeling in the slack. As I reeled the fish in past the submerged branches, making sure not to get the line stuck and losing the fish, I saw a flash in the water and knew that it was the fish for which I was looking. I brought the fish out of the water and onto the bank, and it was confirmed: a Redbreast Sunfish! A fish common to the northeast, it seems to me like they are, at least in the Philadelphia area, more common west of the Delaware River and in PA and DE as opposed to NJ. I was psyched with this fish as a multi-species angler. It wasn’t the biggest one out there - most Sunfish aren’t - but it sure was nice to have finally caught a fish I had sought after for years. The fish is very nicely colored, too; it has a bright yellow/red spot underneath the pectoral fins and the gills for which it is named, and a yellow/olive green color with some spotted scales through the rest of the body. In terms of coloring, it is one of the few fish up north that are comparable with the reef fish of Miami that I enjoy catching normally.

After unhooking and releasing the fish, I kept at it for another 10-20 minutes or so. I happened to finish with my last worm right when the album finished, which was a good time to head back and spend the rest of the 4th with my family. Especially after Covid lockdown and not being able to leave Miami for over a year, only able to do research and dream about catching fish the next chance I get, I really enjoyed this trip. A new species, and my first fish in Delaware. Of course, the fishing today was about more than just the fish; the weather was nice and I really enjoyed being able to get out and appreciate the nature of the area, finally somewhere other than Miami. The 4th of July is always a special day, and I’m grateful for being able today to relax, have a good time with family, and appreciate life and the country despite all of their respective problems. As Henry David Thoreau once famously and rightly said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Keep on fishing, and I wish you some tight lines.


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