So this morning can be broken down into two separate stories. The first one. I think most guides and anglers ended last night and started this morning wondering where the fish are, have been, will be, could be, and should be. After being out on the boat yesterday, and then talking with some anglers who had good fish on the beach last night I decided that I would leave my usual haunts and find some fish elsewhere. I started on a beach that I like to go to when I don't want to see other anglers. I was pleasentaly surprised to find the above New York based fly angler working the white water with a fly. We talked for a while on how he fished the New Jersey salt periodically and came down to give it a shot. He wasn't sure where to go so he, and I, landed on the same beat. We both worked without a bump and soon after a few pics I was in my truck headed south where they had some good fish come up last evening. Well last evening was, well, last evening. (Continued below)
I jumped back in my truck and headed towards home taking a nice slow ride along the beach. I stopped for coffee and figured I would check the beaches that I usually fish and have been very quiet through the blitzes and hordes of anglers that have been mostly north these past few weeks. I pulled up to take a look and two guys came up both holding fresh keeper sized bass. A quick look past them and I could see the beaches and groins loaded with anglers, some spots shoulder to shoulder. I parked my truck and headed down to find peanut bunker trapped in the south side pockets of the groins, one particularly packed with big bass inside and on the bunker.
I watched as the most successful anglers were snagging and dropping, while those casting plugs and swimmers didn't do as well. I saw a few big fish taken, one of 30 pounds, but I also saw a lot of keeper sized bass released. That was really nice to see. I wish there was a way to cut back on the treble hook use, or have guys switch to singles. I saw some real tough hook-outs, even on fish released, that was a little painful to watch. I got out on the tip of the groin even at it's busiest time and found everyone playing nice, for the most part. I only heard once, "If you do that again I am going to rip your f%4kin' head off." One funny, well entertaining thing I saw happened right in front of me. There were three guys in front of me. The guy on the left is hooked up, the guy in the middle is tangled up, and then the guy on the left goes off......and I watched as all three tried to do what they had to do at the same time. In the end I think one fish was lost and the line cut.
As always, one of my favorite things to watch and see was the bait. It could be peanuts getting chased and pinned on the Jersey Shore or Hendrickson duns getting sipped on the West Branch, I could sit and watch that for hours. Well, today the peanuts didn't disappoint. I just wish I had my "real" work cameras and not a point and shoot.
One thing I did see that was just gross was a couple of big bass that had been caught some time earlier and were dry and covered with flies. I have to say, I enjoy fish for dinner, but these two I wouldn't want to have on my plate.
Now for the best story of the day. I met a fly fisher (pictured below) who I stopped and talked to. I asked him if he got into any of the fish. I figured not because there were so many spin guys that it's really hard to get in the middle and fly fish. He told me the following story.
He is from New York. Last night at 10 pm he decided he needed to fish today. He's never fished New Jersey. He found Deal at first light...and found a jetty and started to fish. At light he saw some birds and swirls working a jetty (groin) away. He walked over and had the start of the blitz to himself. He fished and landed 7 fish to 34 inches. Then the anglers trickled in and then the cell phone came out and he got sandwiched in. That's as good as it gets....and good for him. I hope he doesn't think that stretch fishes that way everyday, or even at least once a month!