Sunday, November 18, 2018

11.17.18 She's really warming up....

     Two days post blow with a west wind that sat the surf down, problem is it continues to be now Yoo-Hoo colored. Went down to Long Branch before clinical. No signs of life except for a ton off boats out and off of Asbury or Manasquan. A check of the boat reports tell of lots of miles traveled and few fish found. 

     I found the below on Facebook and it made me laugh. Thought I would share. 

     This weekend was the International Fly Tying being held for the first time in Parsippany where 80 and 287 meet. Clinical on Saturday and CCD on Sunday and Parsippany is just too far for a quick run. It runs through Sunday afternoon so if you are just just getting into this then its a must go. I hope it is well attended and my buddies have a good show $$$$. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

11.16.18 A day after the blow.....

      Crazy day in the tri-state area yesterday as wind, rain and snow arrived and was worse than predicted. Took my wife 7 hours to home from Rutherford. She left at 4 and opened the door at 11pm. So the day after the blow, and it was a blow, I decided to give it a shot. I was looking to fish but never wet a line. I started just after dead low finding the water chocolate milk and no signs of life except for some very excited surfers. Wind was stiff from the NW and everyone was waiting for it to swing west. 

     I checked on Sea Bright and found some very big changes from last week. We must have lost over 4 feet of sand because rocks that were lust exposed are now returning to a pre-replenishment look. The dunes took a beating also and the beach scarp is now a gentle slope that leads out into the ocean with most beaches showing no or little structure. There isn't a trough anymore and after the incoming waves hit the outer bar the water just flies up and down the beach. Too shallow to hold fish and waves too big to get out and attempt to fly fish.

      Down the beach I found a ton of birds working over the wave troughs so I jumped in my truck and took the short ride. It tool a while to actually see what they were picking up but I finally saw them with sand eels in their beaks. The water up there was still chocolate milk in color and big enough waves breaking that I didn't feel like competing with. I watched a long while for any signs of fish and spent most of the time with my head down looking for a sand eel on the beach to confirm my beliefs.

    I wondered what a guy throwing an Ava (metal) would have done under those birds and as I made my way out that guy showed up. He was wearing workbooks, and didn't want to get wet, so after I watched a few half-hearted casts on his part I turned and left.

     I'm sticking to my prediction that it will be, if any, a decent sand eel bite down in Ocean County around Thanksgiving, or after, but that will do it for this year. The jig/ sand eel bite is strong on the boats with far too many boats killing and keeping far too many big breeder females. The next time I'm at the marina I will take a picture of both-job-filleting guys do on these big fish. Half of the meat is still left on the rack to rot. It really takes away from the sport of striped bass fishing for me.

If the fish don't come in on the sand eels than the fat lady has started to warm up her voice for the year.....

Thursday, November 15, 2018

11.14.18 Got the skunk and found the skunk....

     If this isn't a sign then I don't know what is. Got down a little after 8pm which was about 2-1/2 hours into the lazy incoming tide. 36 degrees. Wind not to bad NW. Cold. I was so bundled up that I almost fell over one time while I was casting. 

     I was thinking I could find some bass on the flood tide eating sand eels and looked through my selection and hoped to pick a winner. I set-up a hopper/dropper set-up with the sand eel trailing a black and purple Deceiver. 

     I fished a few good spots one stop #1 and then made the move to spot #2 and fished just as hard there as well. With each hour that passed I hoped the tide would bring the bait and fish. Both never came. So I found he skunk as they say and then just to solidify that I found the real skunk on the way home.....nail in the coffin.

      On Thursday the Shore Catch guys found them good and I think it's that Manasquanish and south bunker bite that has been going for a few weeks. Snag and drop, Mojos, Maja's and trolling and jigging seem to be the ticket for the big fish. I wonder what will happen the next few weeks. I thought the sand eels would be around and I would catch at least one just for hopes sake.

Monday, November 12, 2018

11.12.18 Nice day with Mike on the schoolies....and another camera malfunction

     So after last weeks mishap and forgetting to a card into the camera and just about missing proof of the day Joe and I had I made sure there was a card in my camera. After we were back in and the boat was all gussied up I sat in my truck to take a look at todays pics.......and then I saw the above.

     I had nice pics of Mike holding bass to 26 inches. I ad pics of the swarms of birds. I had pics of the armada of boats big and small, drifting and trolling, across the ocean. Luckily I took a picture of one bass with the iPhone.

     So Mike and I got underway just before 7am. Marina was bustling and I was hoping too find good fortune when we rounded the Hook. We tool the long drive down to the Rocks and out to the line and found nothing. By the time I got there we were cold. 30 degree temps with only the wind from being in a moving boat did it. 

     With it dead I figured I'd run to the other state and I am glad we did. We were east of the action but eventually found the birds and boats. The fish weren't up and it was a tough fly-rod day. They ate, only after multiple fly changes. They liked the extra heavy and large Clouser on the 450 sinking line. Miserable to throw ut it got it down to them. Jigging with metal and shads was the spinning rod trick.

     We played for two hours before going to look for bigger fish. I guess guys caught them, made the trollers did. Coolest thing we saw today after the move was a bass on top attempting to right a bunker so it wold go down head first. It took about 20 seconds and we casted to him trying to offer him something easier, to no avail. 

     We had the outgoing and then the dead-slack and went to Keansburg to check the dead calm, and dead fish, bay. Water temps just below and just above 50 depending on where you were and what the tide was doing. 

     Wish I had better and more pics. Great guy, nice day, wish we had a better steady bite with some bigger fish. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

11.11.18 Thank You Veterans....

Thanks to all who served and sacrificed and thanks to all those that care for our Veterans today.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

11.08.18 Imagine if this was the way to call blitzes in to your friends......

     Had to be at the office at 930 am so I took the ride early and got to Seaside by 6 am. I knew the conditions wouldn't be perfect, or near perfect, and I was right. They were basically unfishable. Cranking wind N-NE and off color to chocolate milk water depending what stretch you were on. I didn't even dress. 

      I know there were fish somewhere in the mess and either an Ava, a Bucktail, or a clam or chunk would get it done. I drove north and found the birds picking at a doggie on the beach. That was about it for things to see. No wait. The coolest thing was seeing the picture at the top of the page. What is that? Remember those? Imagine picking up that phone during a blitz to call....another landline to let them know its going off right now. Guys using cell phones today still can't get there in time. Oh, how I hate technology.

     So many of you know I love to predict things. After being wrong more times than right you'd think I'd try something else.Yes, I've had a few banner days this fall on albies and then big bass. The intersection between bait and fish crossed and I happened to be there. But consistently this fall has sucked more often than not, even if you worked hard and put your time in. Hey that's just fishing.

     So, my prediction went, and goes, something like this. It's over.....ok not that bad. No big peanut push this year.....I keep hearing "they're still in the back". Bullshit. Too many moons and rains have come and gone and that crazy peanut blitz of recent years past isn't going to happen.

Seaside 2011 before Sandy
     Big fish blitzes on the beach......maybe. But probably not. It will be a schoolies after schoolie late year, after most guys have stopped fishing, on the sand eel bite. I am predicting another 2011 in the Seaside area and IBSP, but this year its mostly small fish and not the keepers like that year, and waaaay less numbers. Why? Because 2011 was a year before Sandy and many things along the beach have changed, and since then we've got beach replenishment to thank for ruining the beaches.

     The boat guys will win this year, and the trollers and jiggers will catch most of the fish ( usually do) leaving the fly guys and girls driving around looking for birds over sand eels with bass on them. And no bluefish....forget them. Boat guys will find the herring and will be freezing watching he gannets dive as they troll around and then out head for cod or ling or whatever they fish for late.

     So, like me, we will all keep fishing.....and hope that I'm dead wrong. I'm back at it on Monday in the boat. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

11.08.18 Here's a way to get started....

     Found this at my local Walmart. Imagine you can get started in our passion for only $49.87. It even lists it for use in the saltwater. Perfect starter set-up to get going. Just make you rinse it out good or the salt will destroy it after one outing, unless of course the reel is sealed, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

11.07.18 Quick trip couldn't find squat.....

     Glad I didn't sell todays trip. Got down from  Lambertville in the dark and was just about the first boat out. Headed out stiff W wind against tide and made the Hook and headed south. Long run first and only boat there and.......nothing. No birds or signs of life. Headed out a few miles and....more of the same.

    Made my way back which sucked and back into the front of the bay and didn't see much there but had the outgoing running. Bumpy ride in and stopped at a usually productive spot that was a little protected from the wind and.....nothing. Was out of the water by 930. Maybe could have stayed for the tide but had things to do.

     On y way home I stopped on the outgoing tide and found some nice moving off color water. No signs of life and fished for about 45 mins throwing a sand eel fly and....nothing. Oh well.

For a majority of the surf guys good old Albert might be saying it best.....

Monday, November 5, 2018

11.05.18 Nice out there in the rain....

     Beautiful conditions out there this morning. Things look a little different light wise now that we’re a day past fall-behind on the clocks. Today I came in with a few hours into the ebb tide with 20 mph winds from the east and a steady rain.

      Lots of clean green and white water. My session was before seeing patients at 9 and would have liked to been there with a bit less water. Had hard time casting into the trough and most casts had me dragging my fly across the sand. Used a sand eel and then peanut bunker fly without a tap. No birds picking and no signs of fish. Very fishy conditions out there today.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

11.04.18 This dampens the season....

    So when you treat a fish with such respect and then see this you wonder if you are even playing the same game. Barbless hooks, fly rod only, catch and release, try and keep them wet when caught most times.....and then this legal harvest of over 250 big fish. One boat, one day, one location. 

How does this species survive. 

    And to add bad news to this mass of fish moving down from New England I am learning that they are on sand eels. The bigger fall sand eels. 4-6 inches. The above pic was set to me from a friend from yesterday. Great for the fly rodder. Bad for the bass.  Boats jigging all day and guys with spinning roads able to cast an Ava 17 a country mile over the bar. Starting to feel like 2011 in my blood.....when the bait and bass camped off IBSP for the month of November. Ut oh. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

11.03.18 Was tired but had to go....

     Yuk. Chocolate milk water. WSW winds. Didn't wet a line.

Friday, November 2, 2018

11.02.18 That was a day to remember.....

     I don't know where to begin. So I'll begin with the end. Imagine Joe and I sitting down at a high top at On The Deck for a bite and a beer and my camera so we can look at all, I mean all, like tons, of cool pics from today. And imagine how my heart sunk when I looked at the back and saw - NO CARD. Are you kidding me? Yes, my camera allows you to shoot even if there's no card, and at no time during the day did I check to look at pictures. 

     So, here's my report. Today I had Joe out on the boat. It was going to be a call-it-at-the dock kind of day. When I arrived all, I mean all, of the head boats were docked. The marina was empty. No one was putting in. It was just me and Joe. I figured it would be a quick trip out until the wind against tide kicked in. The forecast called for steady S winds, rain with even some lightning mixed in. There was even a small craft advisory. 


     So we got out, a little choppy, a lot windy, but we had marks on the screen and schoolies willing to bite. The birds were here and there and there wasn't much for swirls or blow-ups. At one point, as I anticipated the incoming tide and things getting sporty I said to Joe, "Looks like about a 20-minute trip today". 

     Joe didn't have his right glasses on so his far vision wasn't to sharp. I decided to take the just-about-slack ride and make sure we weren't missing anything. Word on the street and social media posts tell of bunker schools getting crushed with big bass down near the Manasquan Inlet and guys trolling up here off a bit getting the big ones as well.

     So after a short ride I was shocked to find about 2000 birds of all species over this "secret" spot. As we pulled up on some birds I looked, nearly shit myself, and said, "Joe, these are BIG fish". So with that I threw my large bunker fly at what looked like a bowling ball that just got dropped from the heavens. First cast, a violent take, and what I think was a amateur trout set on my part, and then an 10 wt Orvis Clearwater 4 piece that was now a 5 piece. I tried to hand line the fish in but when I got to the broken rod in the water the fish unbuttoned.

     Jim Matson came through because in my box of big bunker flies was a "JM Special" (I named that).....and I tied that on and caught my personal best biggest bass ever. Just as Joe reached down to lip grab the fish the fly pulled, and quickly put another hand on its jaw saving the day. I will frame Jim's fly along with a picture of my fish. Thanks buddy.

    Over the next two hours we saw 20's, 30's, 40's and probably 50's blowing up on large 12 inch plus baits. They didn't look like bunker but more like the mackerel I found the other night in the rivers, but did not find last night when I fished the same beat. So today I snapped one rod and broke off two other big fish. Joe did some of the same but we did put big fish in the boat. It was an amazing day. What was more amazing was- there wasn't another boat, party, six-pack, private out fishing the entire day. We may have seen two or three boats in transit and not actively fishing.

    We ended the day, or so we thought, catching up with the schoolies were we had started. We were all done there and then just before we turned into the marina the birds in the distance were calling. They we over fish, a ton of them, and we left them biting to end a perfect memorable day. 

11.01.18 Late night with Stryker.......

     Had good company last night with Scott Stryker of Stryker Custom Flies. You can check out his website HERE. He's one of the best local tiers around and caught my attention years ago with his realistic flies and his huge pike flies, and then everything in between.

     He gave me a call yesterday because his mom was getting a procedure done and he wanted to wet a line after she was all settled in. I decided to give the rivers, ocean, and then bay a shot. First river on moving outgoing just one tap for me. Then we piggy=backed cars and headed out front. South wind was jamming with the incoming tide made it just well, shitty. Styrong sweep right to left if you couldn't find cover from a rock pile. We walked a ways found a sweet spot, saw something jumping now and again, looked like shad, but didn't get a tap.

     We ended back at river #2 and waited for slack which seemed to never come with the S wind blowing out the tide. Our outing lasted from 8 until just after midnight, Another long night.....

     After seeing him off and just knowing there was something going on somewhere I drove to a spot in the bay that was protected y the S wind. Glass. Flat, Perfect for finding them if they were showing.....nothing. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

11.01.18 A quick half-hour in Seaside and tonights for Jim Matson.....

     One of my clinical rotations is down in Toms River on Main Street near Route 37. Today I was early and took a drive to Seaside Park and check on things. Wish I had enough time to go and play a prank on my buddy Popovics. When I pulled up I was glad to see the parking-meter-ticket season is over and today is November 1st....ha!

     I had about a half and hour and decided to throw into a bowl that was getting filled in with the flood tide. No birds or bait but good, real good, structure. The water down there was beautiful and the non-replenished structure with bars (natural ones) and bowls is just textbook. I gave it a go with a peanut bunker pattern but didn't get a tap. That was fine, getting a tap or a fish would have only made, or forced, me to stay.

     For those that know, or didn't know, my friend Jim Matson of Pulse Disc fame passed away this June after a short battle with cancer. I loved Jim and his wife Laura. I met them at the Fly Fishing Show and hit it off immediately. He was, as I refer to him, "the mad fly-fishing scientist". He thought, tinkered, developed, patented more things than I could imagine. An ironworker and welder by trade his mind was always on and thinking of better, or more and easier ways, to tackle just about anything. The Pulse Discs were just one of his great creations.

     I had the pleasure of driving out to the middle of Pennsylvania to visit Jim and Laura and go down into his laboratory. He was just amazing, and generous, with information, processes, materials, flies, whatever he had, was mine. Laura is a saint and loved that guy and her steadfast commitment to him, and his creations, was evident every time he set that booth up at shows across the country.

     Jim would send me boxes from time to time. Flies, scents, herring semen, little canisters to attach to the flies and fill with goop......he thought of it all. Tonight I am going for another night shift. I have my plan in my head, my gear ready, but today I found a secret weapon. Jim had sent me some nice sand eel flies with rubber off the back. Attached with a Pulse Disc.....a sure killer. I will this fly tonight in memory of Jim. If it catches, great, that mens the fish were there, if not that's fine also, because Jim will be out there with me. RIP Jim.