Yesterday I went swamp fishing. Yes, swamp fishing. In New York. Upstate New York. I originally was out kayaking on a small lake, but decided to paddle up a small feeder creek after the wind picked up. This tributary quickly fanned out and led me to a flooded region full of weeds, roots, and branches.
Swamp Fishing is a completely different experience in real life. Maybe you’ve seen a youtube video or watched a clip of it, but fishing from a small boat in a swamp is nothing like regular fishing. It’s the ultimate stealth challenge. It’s tough. But it’s quite a change of pace and is certainly rewarding.
If you want to go swamp fishing, here’s what to do and what to expect.
•A very small boat or kayak. I’ve got a 10 foot kayak and it’s almost too big. Anything with a motor won’t work. Waders may be ok, but you might get wet.
•A stiff rod with at least 10 lb test line. A baitcasting reel is preferred.
•A weedless lure or nightcrawler. Small minnows can work but will snag more unless restricted.
•A lake or river with a swampy tributary.
•Locate the mouth of a tributary and launch at it. Head upstream.
•If using live bait or worms, paddle over to open spots and quietly dip your baited hook into the water. Set your drag high.
•If using a weedless rig, cast to the thickest spots(maybe even the shore) and quietly reel it in. Do your best to avoid spooking the fish
•When a fish bites, reel it in as quickly as possible.
•Largemouth bass, panfish, and small pickerel are the primary species you’ll get. Perhaps gar or bowfin if they are in the area. Don’t expect trout or pike unless you go in the spring or fall.
• You’ll lose a bit of gear on roots. Bring extra hooks and lures.
• Don’t bet on landing a lunker. Most fish will be under a pound, but be on the look out for bigger fish as they will occasionally take refuge in backwaters.
• Be prepared for a workout. It can be pretty difficult to paddle across thick weeds and brush that are so prevalent in these areas.
I ended up catching only one bass and losing a couple smaller fish. It was a great experience and I wish to go again sometime. While I didn’t catch my biggest fish or most fish, the experience was quite memorable to say the least. So my recommendation is go try it sometime. You’ll be surprised at how difficult yet rewarding it might be.