Thursday, October 17, 2019

10.17.19 There goes the population.....

....remember. Just about every day weather permitting these fish are targeted for the table, regardless of what you're planning to do with your catch. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

10.16.19 One for the effort...

     Wind was steady ESE at some speed that made fly fishing difficult. Hard south to north sweep. Started in the dark with a popper/dropper on an intermediate line but quickly gave up because it was blowing and it was just the start off the incoming tide which was low at 330 am. I went to t 300 gr line and black Deciever with a Brad Buzzi sand eel fly trailer.

     Found a nice notched groin that gave me some protection from the sweep, waves and wind. Picked the above fish right at 6 am, just 90 mins after I started fishing. Decided to move north to where the rocks are closer in sets and picked up another, nicer fish, but it came off just as I started the drag up out of the trough.

     The first push of fish has started and there are big ones in the mix, and sadly, the party boats have found them, as well as the other kill crowd. I'm not judging, I know its all legal, but I'm just sayen'.
Below is the report from a Belmar head boat from today.....

We had MONSTER STRIPERS again today.  They were huge, up to 40lbs., and we broke a lot off. When we got on them, we saw them really good and they were piled up under the boat top to bottom.  We also mixed in some BONITO and ALBACORE.   
We are not sailing tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 17th, because of very high winds, but we will be right back out there after this weather passes targeting those huge STRIPERS.

Monday, October 14, 2019

10.13.19 Now lets get the party started....

     The last blow with the big moon tides really moved a lot of water and sand. New structure out front that should last a little while before Mother Nature does what she wants with it. Haven't been down yet but Leif sent me some pictures of some nice bass with sea lice on them so the fish have started to move. Need the bait to do the same and the water to cool off just a bit to get things going. 

Hope to be out this wee

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

10.08.19 Thought it wold have been better before the blow....

     I had to head east this morning so I gave it a go about an hour before dead low and about an hour following the flip. Winds honking probably 17-25 mph at times had a wicked north to south sweep working. The winds kept just enough water around so that wasn't the problem.

     I saw no bait and haven't seen a fish leave the water this fall, or even dimple the surface or make a splash. The birds weren't flying but they were camped out on the north side of each groin.....just waiting for bait to get caught up along side from the current or predator fish chasing them in.

     Looks like we're going to have our first real Nor'Easter these upcoming days and fishing should have been today or until it gets too dirtied up or just to hard to fly fish.

     I worked the groins both sides up and down the beach without a bass tap. Small blues bit the back end of my Snake Fly and a few fluke hit just as the fly left the trough. I worked hard in two hours and didn't want to leave because I know something was going to show up, either bait or bass. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

10.05.19 Now that's a fall morning.....

     43 degrees at 4am on the Delaware River this morning. Fall is really here. Wind was blowing N/NE probably better than 20 most of the morning till I left at 730. Had the beach to myself at 5 and worked a notched groin from right to left following the hard sweep on the ebb tide. I stuck with the popper/dropper set up and did that on a 300 gr sinking line to be able to cut the wind and waves.

      When the light arrived I saw Joe and Leif up the beach so I decided to join them. The top picture is very reminiscent of an image I made of Leif many years ago in one of his favorite spots....just before the pilings south of Roosevelt where Poplar Creek came out.

    I said to Leif and Joe that I was going to jump up on the rocks and fish the north side of the groin. It was in your face wind, big waves, and the water made a hard turn from north to south. It was a perfect place for bass to hang as bait moved with the water. But before I did I stopped on the south side to make a few casts.

     Leif hit the rocks first and on his first cast connected with a nice bass. It was a great picture if I chose to shoot it. I was low on the south side, he high up on the rocks, rod bent. But then I heard him say, "Awe shit..." and then his arm kinda go slack. As he lifted the bass up onto the rocks he felt a "pop" probably tearing his bicep or some other musculature in his arm. So, unlike me, I didn't take the picture of him holding his arm with the fish at his feet.

     I went over and grabbed the fish and walked it around to the quieter south side and gave it a healthy release. If we were alone I'm sure Leif would have walked it back to the beach end or I would have jumped in to help. On this morning Two-Rod Mike from SOL fame was tucked in the corner so the only way to land that fish was up.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

10.01.19 There's a nice fish here and there.....

     While most anglers are reporting consistent fish from 18-16 inches every now and then a good one pop up and grabs an offering. And when I say good one its a fish thats just under 28 inches to about 30 inches. While they used to be more abundant for whatever reason, and we all have our own theories, the good ones just aren't around. The above fish was taken by Joe upon his return to NJ from Block Island where it was mostly small bass and no albies. 

     The bait is there, mostly still in the back of the bays and rivers, and it shows unpredictably out front when it wants. One day rain bait and mullet, the next day nothing. We need some cold weather to move things, both the bait and the bass. I'm hearing the albies, well have popped up, here and there mostly at the Hook and at the inlets. 

     I'm working hard on getting the next chapter in my life going, which opens October 15th. I'm getting out here and there but that 1 hour plus drive there and back to the salt is a killer unless I have 7 hours total to kill for that day. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

09.28.19 Nice morning but it was real slow....

     Got down early before the pretty sunrise. Had two on the popper early but dropped them both. Barbless hooks will do that to you, especially if you don't stay tight when trying to work your wy back to the beach while on the rocks.

     Saw more bait then I had recently, mullet, rain bait, maybe something else. Small blues showing but no bass. Leif got a nice little guy which has now become the norm rather than the exception. There's tons of 2014 or 2015 bass around from Maine to Manassas, which could be a good sign for the future. Those 28-34" inch fish we used to find on foot or ion the boat just aren't there anymore. Hope to get out in a few days. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

09.25.19 I predicted a keeper....

     When I arrived at 430am it was just the top of the tide. I was excited to be fishing....until I opened the truck door. The deafening sound of the surf quickly lessened my excitement. Now, I love big water, but I knew it would be unfishable for hours due to the tide, the swell, all coupled with the beaches that are now garbage due to beach replenishment. 

     Waves breaking on the outer bar but having enough umpf to travel and break up the beach scarp, and then water continue way up past where any anger would stand. A few hours into the ebb it became fishable if you picked your spots. 


   Last night I texted Leif and predicted a keeper this morning. Problem is I didn't specify whose fly it would hit. Of course between the two of us there ws one bass caught, keeper, on his "Ugly Ass Fly". Look at that thing...doesn't deserve a bass, maybe a bluefish, but not a keeper bass. And to add insult to injury this specimen of the tie is old and beat-up and sparse.....but boy do they catch fish. 

     I started with the popper/dropper in black and probably fished it too long only getting a small bluefish that practically swam up on the sand to take it. After that it was a try with a biggerdecieve and Snake Fly both of which went untouched. Next time I make a prediction I'll have to add that it would take my fly, not his Ugly Ass one. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

09.23.19 Gone but never forgotten....

     Its been two years since Ryan left us here on earth. Pretty much not a day goes by where I'm not thinking of him when I wake or just before I go to sleep, or am startled when something out of the blue reminds me of him.  Great kid, smart as a whip, brain wired in a way that a geniuses is, on his way to become a great human being, just left before his life's party really started to get good. 

     Don't know why, although there is a plethora of research and speculation into the reasons, people choose to end their life here on earth. Mental illness, for some. Pain, for some. Mistake, hopefully not for most. Desire to explore the unknowns, for others, and thinking that was Ryan's search. 

     Either way, or for whatever reason, its doesn't really matter. Solving the case won't bring suicide victims back, but it could give us mental health providers some insight to help those that want to be helped. Knowing why often is the search for the survivors who are living with extreme sadness, emptiness, and sadly guilt. 

     If you know someone who is struggling, stuck, suicidal, self harming, addicted or just in need of a mental check-up get them to either a therapist or prescriber. We have all suggested and tried with someone during our own lives, but people can only be helped if they recognize they need some and are willing to engage in the hard work and road to wellness. 

     As these anniversary's of Ryan's birth (August) and death (September) really are, well, just shit most of the time in my head, I do have plenty of good memories of him that make me smile and proud. Luckily, the last words I said to him on the night that he died were, "Good night, love you, see you in the morning...."

You never know when the last time you will talk to see or see a loved one. Don't hold back, treat it like its the last time, and luckily for last words leave me without regret but some solace. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

09.21.19 Playin' in the sand.....

    Looked forward to a good nd quick outing before a professional conference at Monmouth Univ. Cool out west at 58 degrees when I left at 3:49. Was casting a popper/dropper just before the dead low at 530am. Basically it was like casting into, well onto, skinny water and dragging it onto whatever was left of the trough. Thought about walking out onto the bar but the waves were breaking

just on the outside when the tide flipped. Blow out tide with a west wind just kept the water away long enough for me to have to go. I found some water on the north sides of the groins but couldn't find a touch in the battles water. Bad bait, bad tide, no bass.

Monday, September 16, 2019

09.16.19 What a special morning......

     Let me just say it if you didn't know it....I love this guy. I'll get to the fishing later. So after some early morning fishing I was heading south to see if any albies were eating at the inlet. As usual, I pass by Al's house to see, by chance, if he's outside. Over this spring and summer I caught him one time as he pedaled his three-wheeled trike down to the Allenhurst boards to check out the beach. Today as I passed I saw his garage door was open but there was no sign of him. I sent a quick text but didn't get a reply and started to pull away.....but....something told me to just go and knock. And I am glad I did. 

     I spent many hours with Al on the beach over the years. We also just sat and looked over the beach just talking. I looked forward to seeing him just about each morning I would fish. As he approached 90 and now a few years away from 100 his outings slowed until he finally hung up his rods for the last time a few years back. He was a plethora of knowledge and good stories. I have since moved to a town on the Delaware River and he is now moving south to Charlotte, N.C. where the seasons are less severe and to be closer to family. If I didn't stop in today I don't know if I would have seen him ever again. 

       Some of my favorite stories were when he first started to fish the salt waters. It took him years to catch his first striper, which he did on August 8, 1952, just 67 years ago! I am lucky to have a photo of him with that first fish. His smile tells a story, looking a proud kid holding up his catch for his dad.

     Before I left him I asked him if I could have something to remember him by. The first thing I thought of was his favorite go-to lure that, when not fly fishing, he would throw and swim it and often connect with a patrolling bass. That lure was a Striper Strike. One day I will mount it in a shadow box and hang it proudly with a picture of one of my favorite all-time fishing buddies. 

     Before the reunion, I was at the beach at dead low around 430am. I fished a popper/Snake Fly dropper up and down several beaches until about 6 when the fish showed up as the water filled in the beach. The first was in the dark, the next two was as light arrived. It was good to feel that striper pull and fun hooking them from the rocks in the bigger waves and water. 

     All three hit the Snake Fly, but I think the popper helped get their attention. I am truly a fan of a two-fly set-up, even when fishing a crab fly. It just increases the chances of a hook-up.

     Before heading west I stopped by the Shark River Inlet just as the tide started to ebb. I was looking to see if the albies were outside or inside the inlet. There was a few guys fishing and the only thing I saw was a Spanish mackerel caught way off the front of the jetty. It was a great morning and I was glad that I made the trip, not only because of the fish, but seeing Al again was great.

Monday, September 9, 2019

09.09.19 That made it worth it....

     Funny, with the mullet on the move I was thinking bass. Each time I made the trek this summer I packed a cooler full of freezer packs waiting to take a keeper fluke home for dinner. This morning I didn't take my fluke-home-for-dinner set up with me. And don't you know.


     Started out in the dark with a popper-dropper set-up that had only one bass jump it before light arrived. Leif and I covered over a mile of beach with only Leif getting one small bass on a Snake Fly. No mullet, no bait, slow morning. We had thought of maybe taking the boat out for a scout trip but after  disappointing morning we decided not to go. Thought maybe of hitting Breezy to see if early fat  alberts were showing on the outgoing.

    I went with the Snake Fly in several colors but couldn't buy a bite. Needing to spend the morning in Monmouth County I stuck around and took a ride to Sandy Hook, hoping to find more bait, and a bass. I settled in Lot C and found some mullet in the bowl at dead low tide. The water was clear and protected from the sustained E winds. After a cast I watched as a big keeper sized fluke followed it in

 looking like it was swimming on a carpet. I switched to a crab fly and it didn't follow so I tied back on the white Snake Fly it originally followed. Sure enough it followed it again and bit. and then made a strong run. After getting it in, and realizing I had no cooler and knowing I wouldn't be home till late afternoon, I knew I would have to get ice and a cooler.....and it was more work than it was worth. So I let it swim again. It was thick and heavy and would have made for a good meal. Hoping the mullet continue to make their way down the beach and the bass, whatever is around, find them soon.