The South Jersey Bay Rats’ fish bait enhacement mussel elixir, by Richard Phillips

NJ-fishing-kayak-dealer-120 I took the W kayak out in the back bay behind Sea Isle City New Jersey for another “getting acquainted” trip.  There is a cleared area for boats to launch, so I just stepped in the W and moved forward on the bench and pushed off.  Nice and easy and didn’t get wet.
It is so peaceful just moving along thru the marshes and creeks observing nature.

My brother Pete and I have been fishing and exploring the back bays since we were ten years. We have been doing this for the past fifty years. (Yes, it appears we are in our sixties now, happen pretty fast) We were referred to the as the “south jersey bay rats”.

My trip today was to locate some new mussel beds in the marsh.  The dark black type not the large grey/white tip variety.  We use them to catch our bait which is minnows. We would crush them up and place in several minnow traps in the small creeks on the outgoing tide.  We always had plenty of minnows for bait. We would also open some mussels up and use the soft part for fishing. However, most of the time the bait, being so soft, would fall off. We tried tying with string, but the fish would hit so fast and so hard that it did not last long.

We did come up with a successful use of the mussels that produced many nice catches. (still works today) We would get about twenty or thirty mussels and open them up and put in a small round plastic container. The orange mussel body and the juice all mixed in. We would then take our bait (usually minnow, squid or crab) and soak them with this special elixir.  The scent would drive the fish crazy.  In some cases, even after the bait was gone, they would hit the bare hook.

Whenever we had leftover elixir we would take home and put in an old ice cube tray along with a different size buck tail lure and freeze until the next fishing trip. (make sure you use an old freezer and don’t put it in the house freezer or your better half will not be happy, I know from experience) The scent will stay on the buck tail after the mixture melts off on your next fishing trip.

Sorry, I get carried away talking about fishing, I am sure you have your own special mixture.

Now back to the W kayak.  As I was paddling along I noticed two other kayaks coming my way.  It was at this time I spotted a mussel bed, so I paddled up on to the bank to take a closer look, the two front pontoon resting on the marsh.  Very stable I must admit.
As I was moving forward on the bench I noticed the two kayakers to my right coming over and waving hello.
As they got closer I noticed it was a man and a woman. As the woman came close she said hello and increased her speed and paddled bow first into the marsh. As she did so, she rolled over to her right and fell in…
She jumped up and grabbed her kayak with a mouth full of water tried to climb back in only to fall out again. I held out my paddle to her and pulled her over to the W kayak. She hung on to the front which was very stable as her friend grabbed her kayak and brought it over. (it turned out it was her husband) He said “that was not too bright” Her comment back was “well I saw him do it”… He just shook his head.
We finally got her back in her kayak (although very wet and muddy) and exchanged friendly comments. As I listened to the sound of their paddles grazing the water, I could not help but hear the faint sound of his negative comments regarding her beaching techniques…

So, it was a great day. I found a new mussel patch that my brother and I could exploit for making our baits more effective with the fish, met some new friends (well, one anyway) and gained some more experience with the W kayak.


Kayak Fishing and Exploring Group, NJ

4 thoughts on “The South Jersey Bay Rats’ fish bait enhacement mussel elixir, by Richard Phillips”

  1. Thank you Rich,

    Great article! When I hear ‘mussels’ I get hungry…
    I’m sure some anglers would be interested to try your fish bait enhancement formula – thanks for sharing 🙂
    Time and again, I’m amazed by how bad those long and narrow ‘touring’ kayaks are for touring. These traditional-style kayaks (sometimes called ‘sea kayaks’) are hard to get in, hard to launch, wet, unstable, very uncomfortable, track poorly, hard to beach and hard to exit. On top of this, those of them who are outfitted with a tight spray skirt present the danger of entrapment. Anyone interested in using such kayaks offshore would be advised to read this article that talks about their seaworthiness:


  2. I liked the part about the couple paddling their lame touring kayaks. I found it hilarious and instructive at the same time..

  3. I think most paddlers out there have no idea how poor their kayak’s overall performance is until they get to see a W-kayak or stumble upon Wavewalk’s website.
    How can you explain the notion of “Beach Anywhere” to someone who’s been paddling a traditional kayak for years?

  4. Richard, that bait elixir of yours sounds like something that might work, and you don’t even say that results may vary, which is a good sign. It means you’re confident. I’ll have to try it one of these days.

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