Thursday, January 16, 2020

01.15.20 Quick break before the winter comes....

     I had some time between morning and evening patients so I took some mental health time and headed to the river. With my new NJ Fishing License on board I hit the PA side, where, I think its legal to still fish. According to the PA Fish and Game website the regulations allow fishing from the State line up river until and past the Calhoun Street bridge. Thats the line of different regulations as far as keeping striped bass are concerned.

     Two hours left on the falling tide and 42 degree water temps had me thinking maybe a holdover bass, or walleye, or muskie might be lurking around. The wind was honking but I made the best of my hour and didn't get blow over into the water. Didn't get a tap but it was fun to explore a bit. This spring I'll be mostly on the Delaware with a few beach trips mixed in.

     I'm still hoping to make it to Marthas Vineyard sometime in June. While my old fishing partners have moved away from that trip, and I did last year also, the thought of sight fishing gets my juices flowing.

Now, thats my last trip til spring, or at least February when the walleyes really start to bite, or so I am told.

01.15.20 Look to New Jersey to screw things up....

     This post surmises a recent post made by Tony Frederich the VP of the American Saltwater Guides Association.

     Basically it appear that most states, well some, are trying to do the right thing in protecting the striped bass before the moratorium sets in in 2024, my prediction. Thirty years after the Atlantic Striped Bass Conversation Act was passed October 31, 1984. Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island are working to reduce the killing of bass while attempting to balance a fishery for anglers and meeting the 18% conservation equivalency (CE) as set both by the ASMFC. Basically the spineless folks at the ASMFC acknowledge that overfishing is occurring and that "science" is showing poor numbers in both YOY and older bass. 

     Leave it to New Jersey to be assholes. Connecticut abolished their Bonus Tag system in order to help out. Here in Jersey, a State without a commercial fishery, we've "allotted" ourselves, 215,000 pounds per year to anglers who want that "Bonus Tag Fish". You know the one that you are supposed to apply for, pay, and then return...... According to Frederich NJ "sold" 5000 bonus tags in 2018. And 1100 were returned!! That means between the boasts and the beach only 1100 fish were harvested. Now thats a joke. 

     As we wait for New Jersey to complete their submission for an 18% CE, here's what they are proposing. 24-28" minimum, which would decimate the 2015 year class of fish, a Bonus Tag for a big fish either 35 or 43", and then another tag for the Sept-Dec 31 season for another 24-28" fish, a program that was in place in 2019, if you didn't know and take that schoolie home to eat. That was on top of the 2019 regs stating you could harvest from boat or beach one fish 28-43" and then the other, not in order, had to be over 43".

    Also remember, the Bonus Tag Bonus was in something extra, doesn't mean you have to catch legal sized fish and then get the "Bonus" fish, order doesn't matter. 

This my friends, weather dead-on accurate, or slightly off, shows New Jersey doesn't care about sustaining a striped bass fishery at all.  

Thursday, January 9, 2020

01.08.19 Have to catch the right day.....

     I'm have pretty much found all of the resources I need out here in Mercer County except a place to get my hair cut. I cant beat the Red Bank House of Fades so after getting whats left of my hair tightened up I went home via the beach. 

     Last two hours of the outgoing from the Hook down a town or two. At the end of the ebb tide the birds were very active on the bar picking, which I believe was at sand eels. Started with a Deciever but went to a Bard Buzzi sand eel fly that both didn't get me a touch. Wind was starting to honk with a threat of a squall during the day. 

     Besides the birds the only other thing I saw was a seal cruising the trough but going up empty. Nice looking water. Gin clear. Would have been able to sight cast to them if they were there. 

     Leif and I fished last Saturday with one fish each. The next day, in the same neighborhood, Jack, Charlie and Hugh put on a clinic with each having a multiple double-digit day of really nice bass to 25". This time of year they are here one day, not the next, and then gone till the spring. 

Jack Denny photo from Facebook
Ok, thats it for me till the spring. I think.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

01.04.20 On the board for 2020....

     Went to bed last night with no intention of going fishing today. Did get some texts last evening for Joe stating he had a handful of fish in the afternoon. Well woke up at 5am and startled Theresa who said, 'What's up?". I said I had a dream I went fishing and she said, "So go."

     I picked Leif up at 630 and we headed north. Settled into a spot and on the fourth cast I got 'On the board" for 2020. I had a feeling it would be. double-digit day of micro bass but it was one-and -done for both of us. Great looking water both north and south. The water temps were somewhere above 40,  probably 45 at the Hook and 42-43 in Deal. You could feel the difference.

     That will probably do it for me until March when I start looking out here in the Delaware River for those early spring stripers. I might give the walleye fishing a shot as I have seen boast in the river in February, and not to far of the shore. The Fly Fishing Show is January 24, 25, 26th and after missing a few years I might take a ride up.

     Go through your gear. Send the roads in for repair. Tie some flies. Get ready for another year.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

12.01.19 Happy New Year!

Just to time stamp we end the decade with 568,951 different user views. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

12.27.19 Thanks Ryan....

     It was a fine fish. A good fish. A beautiful fish. was a small fish with an out of proportion belly. But it was a one-and-done fish that I caught on Ryan's rock which made my day and was the perfect ending to 2019's striper fishing.

     Got there about 1030 which was mid-ebb tide. Great looking water, almost 60 degree air temps, 44  degree water temps. Was thinking someone, or a bunch of someones, like a dozen or so micro to schoolie sized fish, would be around. Fished up and down the beach and on two groins without a tap. Started on Ryan's rock and then before leaving hit it again. Don't know why I've been drawn their lately, maybe its just missing Ryan more around the holidays. Would have loved to see him with his siblings and interacting as an adult at out yearly party.

     So as I casted and talked to him he gave that top pic fish up after a long cast and a hard sweep along the groin. While it is a small fish, it wasn't easy to land on the rocks. That outgoing moving water about 3/4 tide rips and you have to bring the fish in along the rocks and through the current.

      On my way out Pauly called me and Sid he was heading down. We hooked up on the beach and made a few casts on a dying tide without a bump. Birds not working, no herring around, just fishy looking water and no one home.

That is it for me for sure.....until 2020.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

12.23.19 That's a wrap for 2019.....

     Put it in the books. I'll drop a year recap in a few weeks. Went down around 3 o'clock with air temps in the mid 50's and the edge of the last of the flood tide. While I was there to fish, I really wanted to spend some time on Phillips Ave and Ryan's rock were I spread his ashes two years ago. Funny thing about that rock. Every time I stand on it I hope to catch a good fish....but never do. I always say Hi to my son who's hopefully up in heaven playing guitar with the greats or sitting around philosophizing or challengers the greatest thinkers that have passed on. So, one again, I stood on that rock several times and didn't get a tap. Must be a thing between Mme and Ryan.

     As dusk approached Charlie and Jack came down the beach. We fished the same stretch and just as the sun set the herring showed up on the start of the ebb tide. If you've ever fished good herring up close when the bass are on this it is fun. Its not a peanut king of blitz, but a steady plop and swirl kind of eat. Problem is these baits where just coming in, going down, and then out.....all untouched. 

     Cant wait to see what 2020 brings. No boat. Early start in late March and April in the Delaware. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

12.15.19 Nice weekend in Newport....

     We had a great time in Newport this weekend, as usual. Attended a Christmas Gala at Ocean Cliff on Friday and then did a shopping tour in town and Bristol and Warren. On Sunday we hit the Cliff Walk early after grabbing coffee and heading to Ledge Avenue to watch the sunrise. Couldn't help but

notice the For Sale planted outside 41 Ledge Avenue which at 11,000,000 would make a nice summer place for the family. 

     I first discovered Newport in 1993 and have been going back pretty much every year since. I was never a saltwater guy back in the day, even when I filled in at The Fly Hatch. I was all about the trout, and the Upper Delaware. That changed in 2003 when I took a charter with Capt. Cory from The Saltwater Edge. I then shared my passion for fly-fishing freshwaters with the salt. 

      While I have loved my last 7 years heading up to Marthas Vineyard and Block Island, Newport still holds a special place for me, with a healthier mix of fly-fishing and other things to do. Plus, you don't have to take a ferry to get to Newport as you do with the other two islands.

     So, if I had to pick a place to buy a second home, a summer cottage say, it would be in Newport, or Bristol, or Warren, RI. As fishing in 2019 winds down for me I look forward to next year already. Will there be a Marthas Vineyard trip? Well I know with the guys, they are done with it. Last year bringing Theresa was great, however, it is really hard to balance a fishing trip, tides, time of day, sun, and a nice getaway for a couple. Maybe I should just put MV memories in a good place and look for another location to make good memories.


Monday, December 9, 2019

12.08.19 Might be a wrap for 2018.......

     23 degrees this morning. Dead air. Dead water. Freezing cold hands. Lucky I brought the hand warmers and gave them to Joe and Leif to keep their hands functional. These things work, at times too well. Started around 6am and fished in the area of others and everyone caught fish but me. Not a tap. It was near double digits and a double header for Joe. Don't know why I couldn't get a bite but

Leif, Joe and Andy enjoyed catching. Thats just the way it is sometimes. Would have liked to end the year with a fish but thats okay. It was a good time, a cold time, had by all. Not sure what the rest of the year will look like. Water temps around 47-48 depress. Cold spell and and snow on the way. We're still wondering of the herring, which are now around, will spark a flurry of good fishing. This is the time of ear when you get that surprise blitz or a big fish that wanders in to take a look and finds the bigger bait. I'm done, well I usually quit about 6 times every year, but living far away and busy with the holidays this just might be it for me. We'll see.

Friday, December 6, 2019

12.06.19 Near dead-low surprise.....

     Around 815 am I was thinking the title of todays blog would read, 'You should have been here yesterday" or "Nice morning, another skunk". But shortly before dead-low tide and after three fly tries I came tight on this keeper or near keeper sweet bass. On my other rods I have the measurements laid out with electrical tape or I could and should have used that iPhone measure app but I figured who really cares and I could just estimate it. But a keeper is a keeper is a keeper....or not. Its 28" to the ferrule so you be the judge.

     Yesterday Leif told me to tie up some black and orange Half and Halfs and I did but they didn't get me a bite, neither at 0530 or in the light. Tried a nice Jiggy sand eel fly that didn't get a tap either.  The last fly I tied was a tinnier yellow Deciever that I tied on about 815 - almost three hours after I started, and my hands started getting cold. 

     The wind was SW. The ocean flat. It had that still feeling when its really cold but without wind is wasn't too bad. Loons fishing in the washing but coming up empty. A splash here and there that looked like Hickory Shad. No swirls or top action that I saw. Some small bait here and there, shimmy bait, but not sand eels. It was pretty enough out there but just a little boring. Leif managed a couple of small guys that took his orange and black Half and Half as he expected. 

    As we reached the point to go left to the rocks or right to the trucks he went to work and I stayed to make a few more casts. I tied on the yellow fly I tied last night and on the second long cast I went tight and soon into the backing. The fish was at the beach side and edge of the sandbar and once hooked went with the current and made it to the end of the jetty before I turned her. I made my way back to the beach adding line against the drag as I tried not to fall. Soon I was at the beach and the fish up on the sand. A few quick pics and she (or he) was back swimming. 

    If you're going to one and done a morning thats the way you do it....or just get lucky. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

12.05.19 They're still biting.....

Leif Petersen photo
     So we are starting December. Air and water temps are down. The bays and rivers have gone through the chill and exodus of bait that made its way down the beach. We had some good peanut action but not like back in 2016. The boats have done well this fall, including me for a few days before selling the boat. 

     The sand eels are around and the mostly schoolie bite is on sand eel imitations. The fish are short, fat, and feisty. Good time to go down a rod size or two. I stick with the 10 weight all the time, cant remember what rod is which and where. 

     Fishing this time of year, well I guess all year, is they are either there or not. Its one or two and done "or 40 fish" mornings or the big skunk. Haven't seen or heard of herring or mackerel around as the gannets haven't invaded the skies and started dive bombing the water. 

    Hope to get out soon....I'm itching to catch and release some fish. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

11.23.19 "Took boat for a ride..awesome"

     That was a text I received from Pete who had purchased my boat a few hours earlier on Saturday. I had it for sale for a few days and thats as long as it lasted. They say a boat owners best two days are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. I loved that boat. Had great memories on it. Taking Ryan fishing and the 40 he caught. Taking the girls out fluke fishing. Montauk and the albies in 2014. My best days finding acres of bass all alone in the Raritan. 30s and 40s in June when the bass were on top with big bunker with Joe and Andrew. Me and Joe finding a Mother Lode of big bass in 2018 when the bass came into Romer on mackerel. A few weeks ago putting Leif on some big bass on peanuts. And then there was that one glass like day I had Al out. All good memories. 

     So Pete has the boat now and a few days have pst I hear he is running out front and over to Breezy. Guys think its me.....but those days on that boat are a chapter in my book. Drift boat sold. Jones Brothers sold. I'm now going to look for something smaller with a jet drive for the Delaware River. A new boat. A new chapter. I look forward being able to launch just 10 minutes from my house. I'll still take charters but it'll most likely be for that single fly angler looking for stripers, smallmouths and maybe muskies. 

     It was kinda sad leaving the Atlantic Highlands Marina for one last time. I won't miss the $650 deposit now due for next years land storage. Wont miss Gateways bill for winterizing and shrink wrapping. And won't miss seeing it in my driveway over a long winter. 

     Before I met up with Pete Leif and I hit the beach. I was hoping it was going to be good. We fished Pullman without a bump. Leif caught one on Roseld. A friend had "at least 40 fish" all to himself somewhere in the middle as the bass had sand eels pinned between the bar and the beach. 

     For me the only thing I could muster up was a hickory shad that took a peanut bunker imitation. Nice chilly cold morning that I wish was more productive. Seems like the days are one-and-done or stupid big numbers coming to hand. I just haven't had one of those crazy days yet this fall....and Im due and look forward to being at the right place at the right time.