Saturday, December 26, 2009
From all of us at the The Average Angler Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Santa Claus, aka my brother, hooked me up with a pair of spikes for my waders. So next season I can fish and not break my ass on the vaseline covered rocks of the jetties along the Jersey shore. Remember we have fly fishing packages available for the 2010 season for any last minute gift needs you might have.
Friday, December 18, 2009
So yes I cleaned my gear out of Bertha. I went to the last meeting of the year at the Jersey Shore Trout Unlimited on Tuesday. Guys went around the room talking about the wrap of striper season this year...and basically everyone said it stunk. That made me feel a bit better. Today, with the temperature around freezing, I met up with my casting coach Jim Valle for another lesson. Todays lesson was really good. I had practicing everyday and was at the point where I needed some intervention. I have been putting cones out in the street where I live and casting for accuracy and distance. Right now with my 9' 5wt I can pick up and put down 50' of fly line, plus the leader. Jim watched me cast and we went into the double haul, a cast I have been working on. This part of the lesson was great. He left me with some great tips that I will practice on my own. With the bad weather coming in and the holidays I won't see him till the show in Somerset, where hopefully next year I'll be testing for FFF Casting Instructor!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I think it might be time to call it a season. This morning I went down to 8th Avenue to see if there was anything going on. Today the top of the seas were calm. The only thing I founds were the gannets doing their divebomb into the ocean to catch fish. Watching those birds is amazing- they get up about 100 feet above sea level, dive down up to 100 miles per hour and plunge into the sea to catch fish, or parts of fish. The other day the bunker was as far a the eye could see, but outside the jetties and just past the sand line caused by the recent hard weather. So as a fly fisherman I think it's over. Even during a huge blitz the other day, and a bunch of boats parked in it, there was only one fish caught and it was on a half a bunker that had just been snapped and chopped. So I reluctantly will put away my gear, and maybe set my sights on a quick trip up to the Salmon River later this month or in January. Yesterday I took my NJ Boat Safety class, this week I have a casting lesson with Jim Valle, and then in January it's the fly fishing show in Somerset.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Came out west for the weekend with Cindy. We stayed at the York Street Inn, a wonderful B&B located in the center of Lambertville. While we were there we booked the place for a September 2010 wedding. There a tons of shops and I found a few old bookstores. I collect fly fishing and trout related books so I was hoping to find something. I found this great book, Trout Biology, An Anglers Guide by W.B. Willers. I also picked up one of Lefty Kreh's books and a book on fly fishing for bonefish. I am starting with the trout book and will get through the others after that.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Started the day in Asbury Park. Nothing going on. Stopped in Deal-zilch. Elberon-nothing. West End-zero. Monmouth Beach-birds off the beach diving. Stopped for a great bacon, egg and cheese on a hard roll in Sea Bright- beaches were dead. So I figured I would drive up into the Hook and go to North Beach. When I first got in there were a bunch of cars in Lot A so I pulled in, geared up and hit the beach. There were about 10 guys spread out- but nothing going on-they said there was some earlier action but no one landed any fish. I decided to drive up to the Coast Guard station and hit the tip of the Hook. I was the only guy there. I walked from the bay side over to North Beach. There was a nice wind coming from the west but no fish, no birds, nothing. But I have to say for about an hour and a half I just enjoyed fishing, well, casting to nothing. It was good practice and a good workout. After a few hours I started that long trek out. A ranger stopped to check on me and any short fish I may have had-ha! He said there was some action down in South Beach as the fish were gorging themselves on sand eels. On my way out I stopped and talked to some guys who packing up in the South Beach parking lot. Yep-there was a blitz-probably just out of my casting range- and a bunch of short stripers were hooked, landed and released. As I left that wind turned and was coming from the southeast, with some rain and nasty weather behind it.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I have sat on a river for hours, many hours waiting for a hatch they may or may not have come. This striper fishing, is well, just crazy. I see the same guys almost everyday doing the same thing. Pulling up, getting out, looking through their binoculars, and then either parking and getting geared up or pulling away. There are so many variables in this sport, and I am still learning them. Let me name a few, fish, bait, location, wind, water, temperature, moon, tide, boats and birds. A seasoned striper fisherman will surely be able to complete the list. This fall I have been at it since September when trout fishing slowed down, that was the tail end of the albies. Then I walked and stalked the beaches from Asbury Park to North Beach on Sandy Hook. I have seen one good blitz on Sea Bright, right up on the beach, that I was 500 feet away from when the fish and bait turned right out to see, and Saturday at 8th Avenue in Asbury Park.
I have seen a few keeper stripers and some big blues- mostly caught on bunker chunks. Right now it's a waiting game to see if the bait and fish are out of the rivers, off the beaches, or just plain south of us. Some reports from weeks ago said the fishing from Point Pleasant and south, mostly around Island Beach State Park and LBI was good then, and now its getting better south near Cape May. Other guys saying it might be a late bite this year, into late December or early January. So with all of that I continue to sneak down to the beach looking for the birds, the bait, and the fish. All the while dreaming of Hendricksons in May on the West Branch of the Delaware.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I went back down to the 8th Avenie jetty this morning. Got here around 530 and met a bunch of guys already there, and my little brother too. I got him all psyched up on the phone the night before so he made the trip over. A few fish were caught blind casting diamond jigs. No big blues or stripers like last night. Saw a pod of fish working further out around 830, but they never came in close enough. Went back at 3 with my son Sean, same thing. This time there was a southeast wind and a pod of fish blitzing too far off the beach.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
After a great Thanksgiving at home yesterday today we loaded up Bertha and went to my future sister-in-laws house out in Hunterdon County. Mmmmmm- of course I grabbed my rod and a few flies. Her house is about 1,000 feet from the Musconetcong River in Asbury. I have fished this spot years ago, many years ago, and remember I was never alone. There are two bridges on Main Street that pass over the river. On one side is the Asbury Graphite factory and on the island and other shore is a vacant gristmill. I enjoyed fishing for about a half hour, using a "low and slow" approach with a bead head princes nymph. One thing that I saw that was
interesting was a collection of eggs that was near the shore on the island. They were not salmon eggs, they were trout eggs. When I was delivering the eggs for Trout Unlimited's "Trout in the Classroom" the dense white "dead" eggs needed to be removed. That is what I saw in the river. I thought they may have been from a breeder that was stocked by Fish and Game, but it that happened weeks ago. Then I thought someone might have caught one and the eggs were lost after the fish was landed or cleaned streamside. On the way home I stopped right off of Route 31 and gave a few casts to a skinny section of the Musky - one that I had just seen recently on the Garden State Trout message board. I saw a few fish but couldn't get them interested. I remember reading that post and not being able to place the hisoric blue house on the river.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and everyone not able to be with us this holiday. After I put the bird in the oven I snuck down to Asbury Park to see what was going on. Nothing close but I have noticed a small armada of boats located off Deal and Asbury Park getting closer with each passing day. I talked to a guy here today and he said his buddy got a 43 inch fish here this morning on clams. We'll see, the next few days are supposed to be windy. Enjoy the bird!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This afternoon I went down to the flume to fish for a bit and practice casting. Believe it or not, I saw fish, and birds dive bombing for bait that was being ripped through. Problem is they were to far out past the end of the jetty, but at least they're here.
That's Bertha at the North Beach parking lot in Sandy Hook. I took a ride up there today to see if there was anything going on. I had the parking lot and beach all to myself. I walked the beach awhile, but spent more time practicing my cast into a strong headwind. I am casting about an hour a day. I am about due for another lesson with Jim Valle.
But back to Bertha. She's a 1991 GMC Vandura. My father and his wife were the original owners. They took it bacd and forth to Florida a few times, tailed a horse trailer around when my sister was competing, and then she was laid to rest in the back of the construction yard. She had a bunch of issues, mostly electrical. So I saw her one day in the yard and asked if I could try and get her back on the road. That was around 2003. She had 68,000 miles on her. The first step was to get some new tires since the ones she had were dry rot. Then off to the Tom at Douglas Auto Electric in Red Bank to figure out the electric problems. Then a tune up, a bath, and away we went. She has become the family vehicle, since now my family includes my fiance and her daughter. So it's six of us she carts around. She's been to Florida, the Adirondacks, Poconos, Atlantic City, and beautiful Camden New Jersey. She's mostly used for trips, but my partner Marc and I use her for work when we're too broke to afford a room when on assignment. She has a towhitch, that's works perfectly with my drift boat! So next year we'll be spending alot of time in the Catskills floating the Delaware.
She has a "Life is Good" spare tire cover, which I love, because most of the time when I am driving her I'm either with people I love or doing something I love. As far as "Bertha" , she's named after a Grateful Dead song of the same word. So if you see us near the beach or river, stop over and say hello. " I had a hard run, runnin' from your window..."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Collins Hackle booth
Today I met up with Chris Roslan at the International Fly Tying Symposium held in Somerset , New Jersey. He's writing a quick story on the show and asked if I would shoot an image while I was there. We first sat down with show Director Chuck Furimsky, whose also the Director of the huge Fly Fishing Show that comes to Somerset in January. Next we moved into the conference room that held some of the most talented fly tyers in the world. Dick Talleur, Charles Meck, Marc Petitjean, Enrico Puglisi, Robert Lewis, Harry Schoel, Dave Rothrock, and more.
I walked the show and stopped in to see some fantastic flies being made, some looking more like real insects then flies. I went to a good lecture given by Mike McAuliff and John Collins on fly fishing the rivers of New Jersey from January- December. I have to say I have never fished New Jersey streams and rivers from November through April, so I'll have to give that winter fly fishing a shot. I made some images of the crowds gathered around Charles Meck and Marc Petitjean, and spent some time watching and talking with Bob Lindquist from Long Island who was tying a peanut bunker fly.
The larger Fly Fishing Show is scheduled for Jan., 22-24, 2010 at the Garden State Convention Center in Somerset. See you there!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Ran up to Ausable Forks to check on the lodge before winter. After a quick 5- 1/2 trip up I was happy to see the road improvements that had been taking place since the summer were close to completion. The Black Brook side of Ausable Forks received a stimulus grant to install curbs, sidewalks, and repave Route 9 that is the main street in town. Our street, French Village Road, runs off Route 9, and wasn't part of the plan since it's a town road. That said, I have been working with the town and state DOT to have the improvements come up to in front of the lodge and future fly shop. In the photo above taken from the bridge in town you can see the lodge to the right and the future fly shop to the left.
The lodge will be available in 2010 for weekly rentals, or your home away from home part of our fly fishing packages. In between fishing next year we will be making improvements both inside and outside the lodge.
Hope to see you next year !
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Just running around getting back into the swing with work and daily life. Went to my Trouted Unlimited meeting, won a book during the raffle. Tomorrow heading up to the Adirondacks to tighten up the lodge a bit before we go back up during the holidays. I talked to some guys who fish the beaches and they all said that it's been a tough fall, SO FAR. But that there's still plenty of good fishing to come this season, hopefully!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Me and the gang got back from Disney on Sunday the 8th. We had great weather in the Bahamas and in Florida the whole week. Since we got back the weather has been pretty bad. While away we were just ahead of Hurricane Ida, and now the remnants of her are battering the eastern seaboard. This morning I went out and checked the beaches to see if I could get some fishing in. The seas were rough and the wind strong off the ocean. I didn't see a guy in the water, although a small group of guys with long surf rods in Asbury Park were inwaiting for a break, a bird, or a bass to show.
If you haven't checked out the website, click on Audio slide shows and you can see a little something I put together about a trip I made to Labrador for some of those famous Minipi brook trout.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well this year I realized the casting, well sort of, technique that I have been using for twenty years needed to be tweaked. I hired Jim Valle, a local Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) casting instructor, to help get me on my way. I told Jim I have a few goals when it comes to casting, 1) be a better caster, 2) be a better fly fisherman, and 3) one day test to become a FFF casting instructor myself. It was an hour lesson and right off the bat Jim found things that needed to be tweaked, well dismantled, and put back together. Funny thing is, I am sore after the lesson because I used totally different muscles during the lesson. I will be away next week but I am looking forward to get into another lesson mid November.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Well Chris went and picked the "perfect" day to shoot the pictures for the jetty story we are doing for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine. Of course it's not his fault, I thought we'd get a good shot this morning before the rain came in tonight. Well, we were both wrong. Gale force winds from the east made todays shoot a little more difficult, and wetter, then we anticipated. We met up in Red Bank at 9:30 and stopped at my favorite bagel haunt, and now maybe Chris', The Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street. Things seemed fine weather wise in town but as we traveled down Ocean is was clear that the nasty weather had already moved in.
We first stopped in Elberon and parked on Park Ave and took the walk along the beach access path down to the water. I thought that would be a good location to shoot because there is a large "T" jetty that runs behind the beach club. The first thing we noticed after the high winds were two guys throwing bait at one of the jetties north of where we were setting up. They were out a ways were taking a bath from the wind and high tides. There were no birds around and we couldn't see any first working. Every now and then a bird would come down and grab some bait but that was it.
We started out shooting some tight shots before Chris ventured out to the end of the jetty. I set up on the beach and shot him with the 200 and 300 mm lens. As Chris was casting I could see the big waves behind him coming in and then crash behind him and cover him with cold sea water. We stayed there about an hour and then headed down to Deal. There was more of the same there. I was able to shoot him from the pier which sits above the jetty behind the beach club. While we were there a couple guys would come, park, and take a look. One guy traveled up from Bayhead hitting all the beaches trying to find fish. After another hour and some more tight shots we packed it in. I think we got about 6-8 good looks for the editors to play with.
Before, during, and after the shoot I pulled out my audio recorder and collected our conversations about the shoot for The Average Anglers' first PODCAST, which may or may not come anytime soon. I am in the process of trying to figure out how to get one going.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today members of the Jersey Shore Chapter of Trout Unlimited delivered brook trout eggs to schools throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties. At 11 a.m. I met JSTU members Ken and Lloyd who had traveled up to the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Hackettstown earlier this morning to pick up the eggs. The eggs, approximately 150, were counted out and put in sandwich bags labeled with the schools name they were going to. My stops included Lakewood High School, the Manasquan Resovoir Environmental Center and a private school in Farmingdale. The kids were all excited to get their eggs.
The schools have tanks filled with water @ 52 degrees. At first, the eggs are put into a plastic holding bin and placed at the bottom of the aquarium. Each day any dead eggs are fished out and removed to avoid contamination. In about three weeks the eggs will hatch and the students will begin feeding and caring for them until May. Any fish that survive will be released into either the Toms or Manasquan Rivers.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Today I got notified that I passed the exam to be a licensed guide in New York!! I took the general exam, and fishing and boating. After I send a few more certifications to the DEC I should get my guide # and badge!! The 2010 fishing season is just around the corner- time to book clients!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
" Follow the peanuts", those were the words of advice to me from a guy who had just landed a few 8-10 pound bluefish and a short striped bass following an afternoon beach blitz. After yesterday I was determined to to get on some good fish. When I woke it was a nice cool morning with a wind coming off the ocean. I decided to give Sandy Hook another try. I knew something must have been up when I pulled into the parking area and found over 20 trucks parked there. Today I took the extra
walk and settled into the area called the "False Hook" which is located on the northernmost part of the New Jersey coastline. There were birds working over fish out near the buoys. I talked to a couple of guys who said that earlier this morning the fish were up against the beach. I waited for awhile and made some images of the birds picking up pieces of fish as the blues and stripers were ripping through. The wind had picked up since yesterday coming from the east. I was hoping that would help the bait up onto the beach in reach of those bigger fish on the bite.
I picked up around 11 am and headed south for Sea Bright. I saw some guys parked where the old Tradewinds beachclub used to be so I drove down to the old Coast Guard station in Monmouth Beach. I parked in the lot there and walked across the street and climbed up onto the seawall. I gave the beaches a quick scan and in the distance to the north I saw tons of birds working on the beach, seemed to be around Donovan's Reef. I ran to my truck, made a quick turnaround and parked near Merri-Makers and hurried to the beach. There was a line of guys casting plugs into the surf from in front of the apartments to Donovan's. There was also a large flock of birds working the beach where peanut bunker were beaching themselves to get away from the large blues and stripers that were in pursuit. I could see it, but I was too far away to cast to them and started a quick trot to see if I could get into the action. Yesterday I grabbed a 2x converter from Marc to use with the 300/2.8- making it a 600/5.6. As I made my way up the beach I stopped and got a few frames off of the birds. As the fish, with birds in tow, made their way up the beach, each guy casting out would hook up. Most were all big blues, with a couple of keeper bass thrown in.
I was slightly winded by the time I met up with the first guy who was returning a bluefish into the water. I stopped there and laid down my camera gear and made my way up the beach with my flyrod. As soon as I got to within 100 feet of the birds, the fish hit a small jetty and made a right turn out to sea, and it was over. I turned back to see the rest of the guys releasing fish and one guy standing proudly with a 36 inch keeper. And after about 20 minutes, all of them were gone. I was left standing on the beach with no anglers, no birds, and no signs of fish.
On my way home I stopped again at the Coast Guard station and found about 15 guys casting plugs. I also stopped in Deal behind the Deal Casino and walked a few jetties. Birds were around but never close enough. The day was good, got a few images of the birds, but I did drop my camera and the 2x converter that Marc lent me yesterday blew up.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This morning I decided to hit the beaches along the shore. It was a beautiful fall morning with warm temps and no wind. It took me a little over an hour to gather all my camera equipment and salt water fly fishing gear and get out of the house. My first stop around 8 am were the jetties in Allenhurst and Deal. There were a few guys casting plugs but I didn't see any fish working or birds in the air. After a short drive up Ocean Avenue I was near the entrance to Sandy Hook. Traffic was bottled up at the light where construction of the new Sea Bright bridge is going on. They are now building the approaches for the road and pedestrian bridges near the entrance to the park. The old bridge was a favorite place for bait guys who would drop their lines 40 feet down into the Shrewsbury River.
After entering the Hook I drove out to the end to North Beach. There were a few trucks in the parking area so I decided to give it a shot. It took me about 15 minutes to stage my camera and fishing gear. I packed my camera body and a few lenses into a back pack. I had brought my 300 mm lens and a tripod but decided to leave it in the truck. It always happens that the lens or body you need is always in the car or back at the office. I wanted the long glass around in case the fish were busting the surface. As far as my fishing gear, I only have a few things to grab. Rod, reel, fly wallet, stripping basket. This was also the first morning I used my replacement Simms waders. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I had sent an old pair of bootfoot waders to Simms to get the felt soles replaced. They came back and said they would replace them with the new custom bootfoots with the Muck boots. So I took them out of the box and put them on. They were a perfect fit, and very comfortable.
As I left the parking area and headed onto the beach I could see the faint skyline of New York City on the horizon. The guys who were parked in the parking area were spread out along the beach, they were a combination of guys using bait, casting plugs and one fly fisherman. Perfect! Chris Roslan and I are currently working a story for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine on fly fishing the jetties along the Jersey coast. This outing today is sort of a scouting mission for that story.
As soon as I got near the surf I laid out my gear and grabbed my camera. Luckily the guy with the fly rod was game on. Great cast, good stripping technique, and just far enough in the surf to allow the small waves to break at his feet. After I got off a bunch of frames I went over and introduced myself. He was from northern New Jersey made the trek down for some beach action. As we talked a few albies started chasing bait within casting range. I backed away and let him focus on hooking up. A short time later I saw as he briefly had a fish on but in an instant his line went dead. He fly was gone. As he left the water to tie on a new fly I decided to wet my own line. I put my camera away and assembled my 9 wt and tied on white deceiver. The albies that were around seemed to have circled away from this area so I just concentrated on making good casts. It takes a little while to adjust to the heavier 9 wt setup after using a 5 wt the entire summer. After seeing my fly line on the water, I realize just how good a caster the guy next to me really is. So, I figured I would get the ones close, and he the ones just a bit further out.
I was having a great time but knew it would be over soon. I had to meet up with my business partner Marc for a photo shoot we were doing up north. I said good by to the guy I met and started to break down my gear. Just as I was zipping up my back pack I looked over one last time and saw the dramatic clouds and the sunlight shining through them. I hurriedly unzipped the backpack, too the body cap off my camera, and attached a 16-35 mm lens and made, what I think, was the best image of the day.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Ryan turned off the alarm at 6:30 so luckily a phone call from Cindy around 7:30 got me up in a panic. I ran over to Stewart's to get some shampoo and soap so I could shower before heading up to Ray Brook. Surprisingly, the shower was great, nice hot water, good pressure,and no leaks.
I arrived in at the DEC complex at 8:40 and didn't find anyone else waiting around or in the building. I thought I was at the wrong place for a minute. Just before 9 three more people showed up to take the test and so did the monitor. We all joked around about the lack of study material provided for the guide exam. There are suggestions, but no "according to" sources. We sat down in a large classroom and opened our packets, which contained inside the different types of guide license tests we were taking. All candidates have to take the general exam, and I chose the fishing and small boating exam as well. I started out strong on the general exam, but then ran into a bunch of questions that threw me- best type of kindling in rainy weather-still don't know, two lines nearly touching on a topographical map- I said cliff. I finished the exam and then went back to the ones I wasn't sure of. I didn't change answers during my review of the test, just filled in the blank ones with a best guess approach.
I then moved onto the fishing exam, which was more an open book test from the DEC Fishing Regulation book for 2010. First thing, what about the cost of a non-resident fishing license this year- up to 70 dollars!!!! There were questions on the number of rods each angler could have, maximum number of points on a line, where you can legally fish for trout in such-a-such county. It wasn't hard, just frustrating to go back and forth in that little book a hundred times! Then the came the boating test, not many questions, mostly common sense, but it was the ones on right of way that killed me. A sailboat approaches a powerboat- who has the right of way, and yada yada- those I don't know if I faired to well on. So for me about an hour an a half later I was done. It was what it was. I felt I got more right than wrong, I just hope enough to pass.
Later that day I took my cameras and headed off to find some fall anglers along the West Branch. I started near the Flume in Wilmington and finished up at the steel bridge on River road. That section seems to always hold working fish. There tons of rises to tiny blue winged olives, about size 24. I met a guy fishing below the bridge who was on them and caught, and kept a few. He said he releases fish all year, but after October 1 he takes some to eat because of the high mortality rate during the winter mostly due to anchor ice. It was fun to be on the river with camera in hand, although strange that the last two times up here I didn't bring my fishing gear. Looks like I won't wet a line for trout in New York till the Hendricksons start in late April/ early May.
Today was the closing on the house on the West Branch of the Ausable River in Ausable Forks.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Today was the memorial service for Fran Betters. It was held at the Monument Pool on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River. On Friday morning I traveled up to my home in Ausable Forks, originally planning to attend the service.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Today I met up with friend and fly fishing writer Chris Roslan and we headed up to fish the West Branch of the Delaware.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
On September 6, 2009 Fran Betters, founder of the Adirondack Sport Shop and creator of the Ausable Wulff and Haystack series of flies, died at the age of 78.
After a quick home inspection on the future lodge, I went fishing.
Today we visited the Collins house once more and made an offer.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So much for trying to get out to fish or try the new drift boat. It looks like most of the waters that hold trout from New Jersey, to the Catskills, and even up to the Adirondacks are way up or unfishable. I have been watching the flows on Delaware system and the West Branch of the Ausable (WBA). The West Branch, which was at 260 cfs when I fished it in the beginning of May, hit 6,000 cfs on June 20th, and today is running 4,350 cfs at Hale Eddy. The WBA is high and a bit dirty but there are Drakes around and recent reports of Coffin flies at night. That will probably be my next trip, hoping that maybe this weekend I can get up there.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tonight I was able to attend the last meeting of the year of the Trout Unlimited, Jersey Shore Chapter. It was held down at L&H Woods and Water in Wall. I met some of the members, had some pizza, and was able to cast for FFF Master Casting Instructor Jim Valle. Of course I was a little nervous demonstrating my home grown casting techniques of 18 years. After a few casts Jim was able to pick out some bad habits I had developed and in a few minutes was able to correct some things. I will most definitely be taking some private lessons with him in the near future.It was amazing to see and realize how many things I don't know about casting a fly rod.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Alright, this isn't the place where I will talk about products or services for free. If they want to advertise or be a sponsor, fine, BUT, and there's always a but. During our Willow weekend my brother Ryan used by Simms bootfoot waders that I bought a few years ago. Anyway, while he used them left sole fell off. No big deal. I sent it via the USPS figuring they would charge me whatever for the repair. Well today I got a call from the lovely Renee who told me the repair techs looked at it and decided they'll REPLACE IT. And that they'll REPLACE IT with Headwaters waders with the
Muck boot foot. That's about $ 400.00. For that I am grateful, very grateful. And I am a Simms wader user. I currently use the Guide waders with the stocking foot boots. The news ones will be for the beaches and jetties. Thanks Simms!!
After I got home from the SBR I had a few hours before I had to take care of some business, so I decided to give the drift boat a look over. There was water in the tubes inside the pontoons so I broke them down and got the water out and cleaned them with soap and water. Inflating the pontoons isn't that bad, the pump is dual action, so the air goes in when the plunger goes up or down. So I got it all together and it looks good, for sitting in a driveway! But I think the maiden voyage will be this weekend on fathers day. I am taking my brother and the girls and the kids to Prospertown Lake for some fishing. " Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..."
I was up early this morning and figured I head up to the South Branch of the Raritan to give it an early morning shot. I ran out of tapered leaders last week on the Flatbrook so I planned in making my first trip to Shannon's Flies in Califon and check it out. I got there about 6:40 but he doesn't open till 8, and after looking the river from the bridge in town it didn't seem to be worth the wait. The river was up and stained. I headed to the Ken Lockwood Gorge to see what that looked like. There was a bunch of guys in the water on the lower stretch so I made my way up to the bridge. I had about a 4x tippet on an old leader I found in the bed of my pickup so I used that. I tried a hares ear below and then above the bridge, I had two flashes at the artificials but no takers. While there I met a couple of guys and we talked about the KLG, past and present. They weren't top happy with the road replenishment project that was just starting. Years ago a flood knocked out the dirt road that paralleled the river, since then it's been blocked off to vehicle traffic. I knew something was up when I pulled up and saw the big
mounds of stone in the parking area. Allegedly, they are taking down trees in the parking area, putting down a gravel bed, and then paving the whole road along the river. These guys said the insects got much better when there was less traffic. A new macadam road won't help. It will increase water and dirt runoff, increase the silt build up and thus decreasing the insects, or they said. After a hour or so of fishing and shooting video I decided to make my way down to my favorite spot on the river. As usual I was the only one there. Here the river was up a bit and a little dirty. The birds were swooping down across the river taking caddis flies from the air. There must have been a half a dozen different caddis flies, in different sizes from 22's to 16's. I did find a lone isonychia- no doubt-because I bought it home and gave it the Caucci/Nastasi "Instant Mayfly Identification Guide" test. I usually carry it with me, but I'm always afraid I drop it in the drink and ruin it. Large hind wings, dark forelegs, pale middle and rear legs- isonychia! I am checking most of the bugs I find now because this is one area where I- 1) need improvement and 2) will really need to nail when I start guiding. I turned over some rocks and found some grannon larva in their neatly built chimney like houses. I fished for a bit with the hares ear and then switched to a sulfur emerger when I found that sulfurs, size 18's, were around. My first one I lost on a poorly tied 7x tippet section. Next time I just tied it into the 4x or whatever it was down to and gave that a shot. I had another strike and then a few minutes later I released a healthy 12 inch brown. The bite must have been on because his belly was full, you could run your finger along it and feel it's stomach contents inside. The only other thing to say about this day was, I broke my ass falling down a stone wall built along the bridge. I mistepped and fell from the top about 15 feet down, hitting every rock on every bone in my body. Luckily I didn't have rod it hand!
Friday, June 12, 2009
I realized some things the other day while fishing the Big Flatbrook. I have way to many flies, not the right ones, and, my fly boxes are a mess. Why do I carry Hendricksons, every which way, when the Hendricksons are long gone? I figure the next big hatches I will catch are the sulphurs and isonychias, but those flies are in a separate storage container. So I've decided to empty my fly boxes and separate them putting them into a bigger plastic box ? Basically I am looking to sort the flies by their hatch schedule and keep them there until I need them. I'll see if that works. Funny thing- at one point- I had a small pile of flies- most of them size 12-14- that I still don't know what they are, or why I bought them. But I do know, on that day, before that hatch, that's what I was told or thought was going to work.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
So I guess after my drift boat purchase I was motivated to visit a purchase I made in 2003. During a tumultuous year back then I made a quick emotional purchase. I bought a 20 foot 1986 Marathon cuddy cabin. I used it for a season docking it in the Tradewinds Marina on the Shrewsbury River in Sea Bright. We did some fishing, cruised the rivers, and always hated coming in and trying to get it in the slip. The wind blows one way, the current the other, it was always hard. So the boat has sat in the elements for since 2004, and it wasn't pretty. The wood had rotted, there was standing water, and the tires were flat. So today my first mate, Erin, and I took the tires off, cleaned them up, and put them back on. We emptied the tons of pine needles, dead mice, and acorns that filled the interior. Lastly, we pulled her up and gave her a much needed bath. Surprisingly she cleaned up nice. My father has a mechanic that works at the shop where the boat is sitting and he has experience with marine motors. He helped me today and pulled the battery and placed it on a slow charge. Hopefully a new battery won't be the first buttload of money I'll have to spend to get her sea worthy. Even though I am a diehard trout fisherman, it seems silly not to expand a little and start to learn fly fishing in the bays and ocean. So it's been a week of boats, and tires- with the van known as Bertha gettting new rims and tires all the way around. I found a guy looking to unload the rims and tires- all four 100 bucks. I switched them out and then the old pitted rims and balding tires to a local recycler, he gave me 32 dollars. So Bertha got new kicks for a whopping $ 68.00. We'll see if the boat tires hold air when I go back tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
That was the question Tom asked me as he tried to focus on the large fish that swam in front of us in the Big Flatbrook. I could see a bit better then him as I was looking through my camera with a zoom lens with a polarizing filter attached. Throughout the day it was spotted throughout the pool, but it never seemed to be taking any insects. Judging by the other fish in the frame I'd say it's over 20 inches, maybe 22. It was a target to aim for. MORE TO FOLLOW
So I went and bought me a 2 person pontoon guide boat, well it's really for Cindy! I couldn't resist. After my latest trip to the West Branch of the Delaware when the river was running at over 2,000 cfs, I saw the need, well want, that I had. Not knowing pontoon boats, I gave my Dave Choinard down at The Tampa Angler the details for his opinion. At 630 am he wrote me back and gave me the thumbs up. So by 1030 it was loaded on the back of my pickup and heading to Nutley, where I was picking up Tom for a trip to the Big Flatbrook.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I recently looked at my fly rod that I use most of the time. It's the one Fran Betters made me a few years back. Funny thing is I never really paid attention to the size, it's a 4/5 weight 7'6" mid flex. No wonder I have such a hard time making long casts on the West Branch of the Delaware. Last weekend I spent some time at The Beaverkill Angler looking at the new Orvis Helios. Nice rods, nice and light, out of my price range. No fishing for me this weekend, it's been pouring the last few days, and now today it's bright sun and 150 degrees. I've just able to spend some time surfing the web. So I checked out Craigslist and searched New Jersey for fly rods. I found a woman in Matawan selling three Orvis rods, one a Clearwater, the second a Superfine 9' - 6 weight, and the last the 9' 5 weight. I picked up my reel at home and lugged Cindy and the kids up to check them out. After casting them all I decided to buy the 5 weight, for 100 bucks. Hoping to run up to Deposit tomorrow and hit the West Branch and use a new underwater housing I just bought for the Sony HDR SR-12 video camera.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Another day, another shower. After a day of dad duties and some office work I decided to head to the South Branch of the Raritan for a little evening fishing. Yesterday my trip started out heading to the Musconetcong but we abandoned it halfway there due to the rain. Well, today was more of the same. While stuck in Route 287 rush hour trafffic the heavens opened up. This time I continued west. I got there about 630 and it was raining lightly, the water was a bit up and slightly stained. Birds were swooping down over the river taking march browns and sulfurs. The fish were busy also. I tied on a new leader with a 7x tippet and put on a light cahill. After a few casts I caught a nice healthy 10' brown at the start of some fast water. While moving downstream I took the temperature of the water, 62 degrees. One of my casts was into the trees, but I still had my fly. Fish were working steady taking duns off the water and emergers in the faster water. The next fish I got destroyed the fly, so I went with a size 18 light hendrickson emerger. That was the fly of the evening. Cross current cast, proper drift, raise the rod at the end with a slow strip. Bam after bam. The birds were busier over the riffles so I worked there for awhile but had no takes, and didn't see any fish working. As the light disappeared I headed back up to the slower, wider water. The area where I had just caught a half dozen fish was alive again. I changed flies and went with a march brown wet. Same presentation, same results. They couldn't resist once that rod tip was slowly raised. I caught a bunch more until 830, then it got dark. I lost my way for a minute and paid for it by putting it in the tree behind me and then knotting it all up pulling it free. I tried to get the knots out to no avail. I cut my 7x tippet down to about a 4x and scrambled to get another emerger on. Forget it. I couldn't see it yet alone thread it. Shame on me, I always carry a light. There was enough light to see the fish turn it up a notch but not enough to continue fishing. Anyway, nice night, glad I came. Landed about 10 fish, one maybe 13 inches, missed about a half a dozen. Another lesson learned. If you're going out on the river after 6, make sure you bring a light!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
So after early morning school dropoffs my new fishing partner, Erin, who's been fly fishing for, say, two weeks, and I packed up and headed out to fish the Musconetcong. In doing this I would have had to blow off her swimming lesson at the local YMCA. As we approached the Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway it started to rain. A quick glance over to the western skies showed an ominous dark cloud filled sky. So we decided to put a fork in the trip out west and headed to the y for swimming. After the lesson we headed outside to nearly 80 degree temps and a blue sky. We stopped at home and made the switch from a 5 weight rod for trout to a 9 weight outfit for stripers and blues. I decided we'd hit Sandy Hook to see if any fish were in the surf. After a quick picnic, we headed out over the sand and picked a spot where people were fishing with clams and bunker. It has been a long while since I opened my fly wallet and put together my 9 weight Orvis rod. It was a beautiful day on the hook. The ocean side was clear and flat, with hardly any wind. There weren't any birds or fish in sight. I didn't even bother to tie on a fly, but I some time practicing my cast. I handed the rod over to Erin who practiced
stripping in some line. Luckily a couple next to us landed a 7.5 pound bluefish who took the front end a bunker. Erin was amazed and couldn't figure out why they just left the fish to flop
on the beach. She mustered up enough courage to touch it's tail and asked about the gills on the fish. It was fun. They also caught a spider crab that we checked for a bit before throwing back into the surf. This is a fishery I must start to investigate regularly. Even though I am a devout trout fisherman, the opportunity to catch big fish on a fly rod in my back yard shouldn't be wasted. I am only a few miles from the ocean, and it's easy enough to just take a quick drive down to see what's happening. Really, the first read is the parking lots, if there're full, then there's fish. So today I continued "guiding" my three year old in fly fishing in New Jersey, I guess she's my first client. After a few pics we headed out, surely to return.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I woke up this morning and found my brother had already left to go fishing. I went over to the Hazel Bridge to see if I could find him and if anything was going on. The birds were dancing in the air as tiny pale morning duns were providing a small but plentiful breakfast. I still didn't see any fish working. Last night a bunch of guys came to this pool and waited, and waited. A few drakes, some sulfurs, and march browns here and there, but no fish to be seen. On Saturday I did one at the start of some fast water on a hares ear, but that was it. There have been a few, very few, fish taken, and almost all on nymphs. The water on Friday was high, cool, and dirty. Saturday a bit less, still cool, and tea colored. Today, Sunday, the river dropped again and was clear, but still cool. It was perfect for a bird watcher. I have to say we enjoyed picking out mayflies coming off the water and getting picked off by the barn swallows. My brother fished the early morning downstream in front of the Creekside Cabins. He did get one on a brown stonefly nymph fished just outside the fast water. At the bridge I spoke at length with Gary, a New Jersey transplant, and seven day a week Willow fisherman. In short time he told me about the river, past and present, and about the fish, bugs, and fishermen who visit. He said when the fish are on it's possible to catch, he said, 40 fish on good day when the bugs and fish are on. Ryan and I gave it another shot before noon to no avail, but it's always nice to fish with my brother. He's six years younger than me and we have been fishing together since birth, starting on ponds in the Millstone of our youth. As our sibling reunion came to a close, we met at the bridge for a few pictures and to say our goodbyes. My brother and his wife headed back to Jersey and my sister and her man back to Saranac Lake. This trip was a Christmas gift to my brother and I from my sister. What a great present it was. It's always nice to spend time with them. Life just goes so fast. Hopefully this will be the start of an annual tradition. But we did all agree, that next years trip wouldn't be held on the banks of a trout river. After the goodbyes Cindy and I spent some time in Roscoe before heading back to Jersey. We stopped in to say hello to Mary Dette and pick up a few flies. I always like to support her shop. On the way out we stopped and fished at Covered Bridge in Livingston Manor. Like downstream, there wasn't a fish working. I ran a nymph through the fast water but had no takers. This weekend we caught the rain just wrong, but it is good to get water in these rivers. I just wish it wasn't so much and so quick. Even though it was a tough few days fishing, I did learn some things; a wading stick and a belt are a must on unfamiliar high water, I shouldn't blow by the Willowemoc on my way to the West Branch, and how much I enjoy spending time with my brother and sister and our mates.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
First, today is Memorial Day, a sincere thanks to all who have died while serving in the United States military. Their selfless dedication and sacrifice for our country make it possible for me to sit here and think and write freely about whatever and when ever I choose, even fly fishing. I am sitting here in my home office trying to find an image file on my desktop. Forget it. I can hardly see the screen behind the folders and invoices and images. I did find a folder titled Minipi. Inside are the pdf's from the article Chris Roslan and I did for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine that ran in September 2008. Chris is a regular contributor to the magazine and in July 2007 we traveled up to Labrador Cananda to fish the Minipi System for monster brook trout. We stayed at Cooper's Minipi Camps and experienced big fish, in big water, on big flies. Here's the how story and images ran-