Monday, October 24, 2016

10.24.16 "I cannot tell a lie....

     So, after looking at the below forecasts, and talking with a few guide friends, I decided that I wasn't gonna do the boat thing today. Even though, after my decision, I flirted with going at 7am.

    So while things look flat on the ocean side, it gets pretty sporty in the bays when you have wind against tide. So if you do go know where you are and what time the water switches.

    Now that I've stalled long enough.....YES......that is a spinning rod. So when I came up with a no-boat plan I went to bed. I woke up at 1230 am and decided since I wasn't going on the boat I would do the graveyard shift. Much to my wife's dismay. I figured I'd bring a spinning rod, just to double check and area after I fished it through with the fly rod.

     I went from 1 am - 6am, so disgusted that I left before first light. I tried 7 spots, 6 outside and 1 inside without a tap, on either the fly or spin. I can't tell you how disappointed and tired I was after that outing. I caught the last of the incoming through half-way on the outgoing. Really???

    My buddy Lief has been doing well with the flat ones, including a real nice keeper fluke. Maybe that should tell us something about the water temps, and why there's no bait yet on the beach?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10.23.16 I thought I had a solid plan.......

      More outsmarting our striped friends. I took my time getting to the beach today. I was on the beach just before 6 am and as soon as I saw the water I was like......later. Outgoing blow-out tide with the stiff WNW wind had this spot basically dry for about 300 feet out. This isn't a low water spot anymore. So knowing that there was no water there, nor fish for sure, I decided to travel north to the inlet where I would surely find tons of bait pouring out of the river and a plethora of bass and albies chewing as first light arrives. 

     I had just pulled into a spot and was getting my gear ready when I heard the text bling. Thinking is was my wife I went through the deep StormR pocket and found my phone........

".....2nd cast 28"....."

That's okay, I still had visions in my head......

     I made my way, way down, on the north jetty, it was the furthest out I had ever been. Surely there was going to be bait and bigger fish here. I fished for about 10 minutes then the dolphins showed up, then the boat traffic picked up, then I was out. 

     I walked the beach for a long while. Checked on an older gentleman who fell into a hole and almost drowned in a foot of water. Watched a lot of guys fishing and not catching. And all the while felt the water filling up my waders.

     When I got to my truck I couldn't get my right boot off. My foot was vacuum sealed in there and I was exhausted by the time it became freed. The waders are newly opened, but an older Orris model. I could send them in, and I might, but I decided to get some Leak Seal and give it a go both inside and out. There is so much rubber on those waders if I dropped a match I would burn like a tire.

     We'll see if my feet stay dry during the next outing. West or northwest winds are cranking' the last few days and will continue. That makes the bays and rivers wild and out front like a lake. Might give the boat a go tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2016

10.21.16 Some times things just don't go as planned......

     So I didn't like the tides this morning for beach fishing. I figured I'd get out on the boat for a bit. I checked the weather and I saw the biggest band of rain was moving out west along the Syracuse corridor. That was at least last night.

     I got down at 6am looking to catch first light out front. I knew I needed gas because my last outing was a fuel burning run around the area. I dropped in and went to the fuel dock. "Winter Hours 8am". So I went anyway thinking I would catch first light albies and then duck back in for fuel before going to look for stripers.

     I started out and was met with pea soup fog, that got soupier as I lost sight of land and lights. I took a slow ride and when I could make land I could the birds were up and working and bait being sprayed by hickory shad, small blues and albies. I had some good drifts on the strong incoming and also a few good shots where I landed the shad and bass but no tunny. Then the heavens opened up and the fog got thicker.

     I was wet down to my bones and knew I had to get fuel sooner than later. I followed a boat in with triple 300's, but it wasn't easy as the big raindrops kept my eyes squinted for most of the ride in. At the dock I checked the weather and the band was moving south to north and was still just north of Atlantic City. I don't mind the rain, but the rain and the fog just keeps me uneasy.

     I pulled the boat and went for fuel on land, and I am glad I did. It took 46 gallons, which is 8 shy of the 54 gallon capacity. I have to have the fuel gauge checked because it didn't reflect the little amount that was in the tank. As I cleaned the boat, the skies lightened up, but the heavy fog stayed. I thought of just hugging bay beaches, but I was soaked, everything was wet, and I just called it a day.

    I am glad that I was right that the bass wouldn't be in my favorite spots today because of the timing of the tide. That was until Lief sent me a photo of the fish he got this morning. Maybe I have to just stop trying to out smart these fish, because it seems it never works.

10.20.16 Now things are looking good......

     Worked part of the graveyard shift, 5a-11a, and then ran to the beach for a few casts before Dady duty time. Found good conditions, but even at 11, and then at 130, things were dead. Found these birds watching and waiting as I was. Loving the NE wind, I'll take that rather than the swells of last week anytime. 

     As I was in my first spot I watched as students from Stevens Tech attempted, and succeeded in launching a Jet Ski rigged up with radar or sonar to map the effects, or lack thereof, of the beach nourishment disaster that is occurring on our beaches. I wonder if they were the same folks I hung with when shooting the story for The New York Times in 2009 in Long Branch, you can read that HERE. Here's the pic that appeared with the article, 

From left, Jon Miller, Alicia Mahon and Maggie Kuth of Stevens Institute of Technology, in Long BranchCreditColin Archer/Agency New Jersey for The New York Times 

Here was from today,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10.19.16 "Go West...!!!"

     That's what my buddy Pauly told me yesterday. So, of course, I came out of the marina and made a right. Right to the legal line without any birds or bait to be seen. The most movement I saw was from the boats criss-crossing across the Bight looking for fish. I took a ride and dam near hit three of the five boroughs of New York. Then after finding nothing, and wasting a few hours I went West.

     As soon as I could focus in the distance I found birds, a lot of them. And bait. And....small blues. I landed a few without a picture before heading to the NJ Transit bridge. The tide had just flipped and although I could safely go under, larger boats might have a problem. I watched the below boat approach, then turn around, and then give it a shot. I thought surely the light was a goner, if not the guys head. Luckily they passed through without incident.

     I spoke with two others boast at the dock that had the same report as I did. We bitched about the swells and the wind, but caught fish, and now we have little swells, West wind, and no fish.

Monday, October 17, 2016

10.18.16 Found these changes on the beach....

      Waves crashing on the sand and then running up and down the beach scarp. I was standing there watching the water when I heard the sound of fish slurping, but couldn't locate where it was coming from. I turned around and these geysers were located in a pool on the beach side of the scarp. If you followed the water down it eventually made a left turn to the water. That is how a pocket and trough is formed. Neat stuff.

10.17.16 Bittersweet kinda morning today....

     I'll start with the good stuff. Slept in today, well at lest for me, and was on the rocks at 530. Nice conditions, maybe too nice, with an incoming tide and a SW wind. Lakelike with occasional big swells rolling. It was perfect popper water and that's what I went with. I landed one and had two others with angry interest. I was joined by Richie who went 0-0 until we moved down the beach. He was spin fishing, which doesn't count, and he landed the below beautiful 31" fish after a real good fight. Didn't see any bait and the birds were just looking as we were. His casts had his popper out before the breakers, which came in two a time.

     So now the sad part. Yesterday after looking at the forecast and the tides I figured it would be a great day on the boat with my most elder fishing partner. We haven't fished together in over a year and I thought today would be the day. We were going to give it a go in June but got blown out by the weather.

     I sent him a text and got all of my boat stuff ready for the outing. I figured I would hit the beach, pick him up, and then catch the outgoing in the Bight. I received a text from him saying that he was going to take a pass on today. I sent him a return text and a phone call which went unanswered. At 920 he called, and I listened and heard the concern in his voice, coupled with disappointment. He wasn't sure he could physically do it, and more bothersome was, that he hasn't fished in some time.

     What got me was that I could tell he misses it, and the guys, immensely. He has been distant, and I realized, that the glue in our friendship was the fishing. When I knew that there was no convincing him, I let the conversation end. He asked me if there have been any fish around, and I hesitated, not wanting to tell him how things have been. With his question I knew, too, that he hadn't been reading the blog. He said the best way to deal with it all, "was abstinence". Which meant, to me, a clean break from seeing the water, trying to fit, and contact with me.

     I told him to give me a call before 8 if he changed his mind.....but the phone never rang. After I was done on the beach I headed to the marina, but made a stop on the way up.  I found nothing doing, but did notice the changes the week and a half of swells had done. As I walked I realized, I didn't want to go on the boat fishing, I just wanted to fish with my buddy one more time. I spent countless hours with him over the last half a dozen years and every morning I would pull in and hope to see his car there and him fishing in the pocket. Those mornings are some of the best memories I have of fly fishing the salt water.

So today, maybe we left them out there and biting, we'll never know, cause today was our day.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

10.16.16 "Maybe they don't bite on the full moon....."

     I am reaching my mental breaking point with these dam bass. During the day yesterday I tried to come up with a good plan for today, and here it was. I'll get up at 3 am, have a fly in the water by 330,  I'll beat the big incoming water and swells, the bait will be there and the bass will be on them...... I went with it, and everything fell into place, except, there was no big water and swells, the bait wasn't there and the bass weren't on them.

     I started at 330 and it was brighter at that time then when the sun came up. The new full moon was high and bright. Some say don't fish on the moon, well you can fish on the moon, some say you don't catch on the moon. So with the moon, it's high-high and low-low. Well two hours in and it was low. I fished for two hours scraping the sand, in the middle of the water, and on top. At 530 I knew I wasn't gonna catch a fish today. I walked over to a man made sand mound, sat back, and went to sleep. I woke up 30 minutes later. It was brighter, the was a touch more water, but no signs of the three B's.

     Just when I was ready to split, around 630ish, this poor five year old must have felt pity for me waving that rod around for four hours, so he blew up in the wash on a Banger.

     What was interesting to see was the acres of adult bunker off the beach with a whale patrolling in the area. That means the snag and drop anglers will be out, mostly on the boats, hopefully remembering how bad the striped bass numbers are if and when they decide to harvest a fish for the table.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

10.15.16 "Turn off the dam faucet....."

     The water just kept coming. Got down in the dark and saw the water was up. I knew it was the incoming tide on a full moon but I didn't think the water would just keep coming and getting bigger. I'm glad I got down when I did, and didn't do anything stupid and risk my life, because the best fish was shortly after I arrived. I had on a black Kinky Muddler and the keeper sized fish took it close and then ran out. 

     I kept playing jump-rope with the waves trying to time the swells to get out on the rocks. Just when I would psychologically get sucked in to try, big water would come and push me around and remind me it's not worth it. High tide was at 755 am and the biggest push of water came the last two hours. 

     The fish were active breaking the water on small baitfish so I tied on chartreuse and white Deceiver and on the first cast had a fish on. The problem with big water, besides getting kneeled and knocked down, was the fly line would get pulled up and over the beach, even if you got in a cast over the breakers. Now, you could cast over them, but you surely would be catching a wave in your stripping basket and get it pulled down around your ankles. And then, you would get pulled into the water, because you can't get up and then you would drown. 

     Today was tough, because it was a bad timing thing. First light, which I find best, was timed just as the water was the biggest. You couldn't get on the rocks, and were too far away from getting a good shot, unless the fish were on the sand, which for a quick few minutes they were chasing small bait. I'm thinking three days from today will be good when the incoming high tide will be later. Tonight is a perfect night to fish. Start around 9 and finish at 3 am. Not for me though, with no work this weekend I have to put in some family and wife time. Good luck!

Friday, October 14, 2016

10.14.16 More friends getting' it done.....

     Love getting that sound on my phone in the middle of my shift. "Is it a doctor's text?" Nope it's my friend Jerry just letting me know he's somewhere on the Jersey Shore enjoying a perfect weather day and he's on the bass. I can't wait to get out there and give it a go.

10.13.16 Hospital by day......beach by night.....

     After finishing up some last minute homework, I went to the well once again. I knew the tide was low around 1130 pm and it was 830.......just had to ask permission, which was kind of granted. As I pulled in I saw another car there and shortly two guys came off the beach, one with a keeper sized bass. He said they landed one and lost a few more. The beach was lit up from the approaching bright moon and I was excited until I got to the water. Where's the water.....?

     I quickly confirmed my thought from a few weeks ago.....the Jersey Shore isn't a low water spot like it used to be. Forget the last two hours or the first two hours of the outgoing and incoming tide. There's just too many bars and not enough pockets yet. Low water is tough. I fished as hard as as quickly as I could hitting three grounds and lots of beach in 90 minutes. It was a few casts at each spot and gone. The water just wasn't there, and either were the fish for me. 

     I think I'm gonna take a pass for a few days so I can catch up on homework outside of my next two days at work. Hoping the weekend will fish better and the tides right. Just need to make sure the wife is cool with it. The 430 up and out, and now the late evening into night is getting old. I thought the roses would have given me a pass. 

     I made a few flash images with the Fuji XP 90.....not bad.....but not digging what I'm seeing so far. Might just have to rationalize it as a bad weather need an image camera, not one for the magazines or books. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

10.12.16 None for me but "I get by (living through) with a little help with my friends...."

     Well, I decided to hit it for a minute before work. Not my first choice of a spot but I figured since I can almost see the hospital from the beach it would make for quick getaway to work. Well, it wasn't good. It's not a flyrodders beach, at least not today. A straight beach with a few notched groins and Hawaii-5-O waves breaking right on the beach. I snuck behind a notched groin and was able to get on top and make a few casts before hitting work.

     I got a better report from my friend Leif who was able to travel a bit and get into a few real nice fish (top and below) at first light. He said he saw small being sprayed around in the big swells and caught his blind casting. Those are great fish from the beach in big water. 

     There's a lot of life out there and after a quick 8 hour shift today I stopped by the beach and found birds under hickory shad and small blues on tiny baits. I managed one shad ending a few-cast outing, thinking I might hit it later when the water calms down a bit. And, so far I'm not impressed with the Fuji XP90......the picture below is with the cameras zoom........soft!