Friday, November 20, 2020

11.20.20 He came, and casted and casted and got one

     Had new to the surf flyby Chris out today. Started at first light and went right at it. Sand eel pattern, Double Barrel popper, small peanut bunker imitation.....nada. Sad thing is there were fish here the last two days. Luckily I didn't sell him on that, but did tell him later in the trip. 'You should have been here yesterday". Same old story. 

    Chris fished hard, when we weren't on the road between spots he had a fly in the water. He can air it out and quickly learned that line management was key when fly fishing and using a stripping basket. We went from the Hook down to Deal and just when I thought it was going to be a skunk outing he went tight and brought one to hand. 

     It wasn't an easy day but hopefully he learned enough to want to take the ride down from Bergen County often and will get his passion for striped bass fishing going. He's a new tier and ties some nice flies after sitting in on a Jason Taylor session up at Tight Lines.

     Now the original plan was to have Leif out for another boat trip. I'm keeping this fall to single stocks in the boat as I get used to the new ride. He was a great first test rat. So after looking at the forecast with the blowing SW wind for the afternoon we called it Thursday night. Just didn't want to get beat up coming down the beach, and not having much faith in the bay this fall. 

    So we headed south. There's been a good bite down there and we learned when we arrived they had fish on the beach in the AM. Big bunker are around and the fish had pushed them in. I went with one of my favorite flies, a Joe Pheiffer hollow, which has caught a bunch, and is nearing the end of its service life. 

     We followed a pod of big bunker down the beach a bit, in range to snag but nothing really on them. If you look below you can se them running along the bar that runs from Mantoloking down to Seaside. 

    So today I was from Fisherman's Beach down to Seaside. Only saw Andy hook a few small ones in the early AM and then Chris's fish, none after that. We finished up before the sun set in Deal, wading out and casting into whatever water was left on the ebb, without a tap. 


Monday, November 16, 2020

11.16.20 Alright let us talk about that three mile line...

      So what's up with the three mile line? The three mile line protecting striped bass was part of the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act which was passed by Congress in 1984 went the decline of striped bass hit an all time low. So I fished around the web and found some interesting things, "The EEZ has been closed to the harvest and possession of striped bass since 1990, with the exception of a defined route to and from Block Island, whee possession is permitted, said Kate Brogan, a spokesperson for NOAA". And this was on BassBarn, 

"was talking to two barners today who were out last week 10 miles. they were catching loads of stripers between 34 and 42 inch non stop.all were RELEASED.everything caught on metal.he tells me there were acres and acres of bass moving through. after the third day they got tired of catching them.he figures they landed and RELEASED lots of bass between the two of them.they also tell me there must have been 8 or 10 party boats among the many other boats there. now these two kept nothing,but isnt it illegal to target stripers after the 3 mile limit? his answer was possession of stripers is illegal, fishing for them isn't

Every year and when you're out there you wonder just what's up. Is it okay to head out over the three mile line to fish? For say, bluefish? Or tuna? Or mahi? You see there's a lot of boats that fish in the fall over the line, six packers, private boats, and even the party boats. They steam out full blast and head 4, 5, 6 even 8-10 miles out and you know what, nothing happens. Why? Because it's a law that cannot be enforced. What can be enforced? Being boated by the Coast Guard and being checked for the possession of striped bass or a safety check. The code word to the Coasties comes down to one word, "Bluefish". If you read into the party boat reports they most time of the time will put the word "bluefish" in the report, 'Tons of big stripers.......and two bluefish". 

     When you head out, if you're not the first boat out, then you will see basically two flotillas of boats, well maybe three. There's the group way inside the three mile line, the group way outside the three mile line, and then there's the darters, who are nervous of being caught and go back and forth between the two groups. Being caught? Recently the Coast Guard has been out boarding boats? No not them, they get a pst, but the smaller six pack boast yes those. When boaters see the Coast Guard coming they don't run, when they see them flying overhead they don't duck....why? Because as long as you don't have bass in your boots or no life jackets or flares you're good, and they know it. "any fish in possession cap?" "Nope" "Can I see your life jackets and throwable device?" "Have a good day".

     What do I say? I say it would be nice if anglers could practice catch and release on striped bass outside of the state's jurisdiction of the three mile line. Problem is, guys would screw that up and ruin it, like they do everything else. But why shouldn't we? Right now we have party boats landing 40 and 50 pound bass 15 feet above the water line depending on the tide and then releasing the fish headfirst like and albie. This is not good practice. Just take a read on the forums when a guy hands a bass he caught on the sand...."keep em wet", "Don't remove them from the water", well picture the mate on that party boat, "Tally he plunges the female cow back into the water". 

    And while sand eels and shads have been hot for the jig bite, let's talk about the live lining that's going on out there as anglers "cull" through big striped bass  to get "their keeper". In New Jersey this year you can't harvest a fish between 28" AND LESS than 38"- a 38 inch fish is illegal. So is this slot helping us protect the big fish when sang and drop continues? Are guys targeting 32" inch fish snagging and dropping 10-12" adult bunker? C'mon guys. In 2021 the new regulation comes into effect, maybe. Those "live" fisherman will have to use circle hooks to catch their 28-38" inch bass. No more 10/0 treble snagging hooks lodged deep in the throat or bowels of that 40 or 50 pounder. 

     I saw this picture of the take from yesterday's fishing from a local six pack Captain. All legal fish, bonus tag fish included. How do we move forward to protect the striped bass, allow anglers to enjoy the sport, charter captains to make a living, and for people that choose to legally harvest and enjoy a fish for the table? You see, guys won't drop say $100 for a head boat trip to play catch and release or to bring home one 30" bass, and forget about the $500 and above price tag to go out with a six pack Captain. The rules have not be set to protect the striped bass, or those that fish for them, thats why they have resorted "to bluefishing" in the fall during the striped bass migratory fall run. 

     So how can a charter captain help? Stick to your guns. During my trip the other day the question came up "If I catch another can I keep it or are you just catch and release?", "C&R only please". How can you do that? Pretty easy. Kinda like telling patients I don't prescribe benzos, my boat, my practice, my licensees. The only I should ensure is that I tell the sports that when they book a trip. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

11.13.20 Not an easy Friday the 13th.....


    So Tristan came out to play in the slop, fog, rain, wind, tide and swell. I watched the forecast yesterday, cancelled, then called him back to go, and he was all in. Had the boat wet at 530 and we were underway at 6. Might have been a tad early. Spent the first minutes outside the marina hoping the bass had found the bait but after many casts and cruising around there was nothing to be had. 

    We drove through the tide and swell and got soaked, and then a steady mist added to our saturation. Birds weren't up there were no marks and nothing showing. We took a cruise across the pond and found birds mostly hovering over a dead striper that followed us around most of the morning. Tristan is a worker, newer to saltwater fly fishing, but eager to get his fly in the water. Today there was a lot of driving and looking. 

    While over there he caught a schoolies, around 26 inches that spun his head as I went to lip him and he was gone, I was hoping that wasn't the only fish of the day. We decided to drive out the big bridge and then around Coney Island before heading up the channel and coming into the lighthouse along side the sporty Knoll. Nothing showing, I was frustrated, could have called it there, but it just felt like something might happen. 

     We took a spin back to the sporty water and found some birds very interested in the water below. There were bass, some good ones, blowing up on bunker, and soon we were tight. Tristan landed the top pic and had several other good shots at bigger fish. One thing I advise, if you see that swirl or blow -up, put your fly in there, quickly. 

     We kept at it for awhile hoping it would go again but that never happened. After a quick lunch and some more casts I called, but not before heading out front in some huge swells with tons of birds overhead. It would have been a life-jacket-on move and I only would have went all it if I saw consistent fish on top. 

      It always helps working with other Captains that are out on the water, saves time and gas, and your kidneys. There is still A LOT of good fishing to be had. While I believe the last two weeks was probably the main body of big fish that will pass by New Jersey this fall, Montauk is still red hot and there are fish on the way. 

     I have blocked out my schedule at the practice to work my little side hustle here, so if your interested in a boat trip, I wouldn't sell a wade trip just now unless you're a newcomer, the fish just aren't touching the beach so far this fall, give me a call or text 732 261 7291 or shoot me a email

Thursday, November 12, 2020

11.12.20 The hits just keep on coming....

    So the other day while on the boat the radar took a beating in some slop, not washing machine slop, but just enough to send this thing in directions it shouldn't. I looked at it today to try and figure what ws up. In the process I came up with a brilliant idea. Jim had a large styrofoam noodle that he had used as a bumper and after whipping out a razor and some tape, and a Band Aid after nearly cutting off my finger, I made something to slow the radars roll. 

     Now you have to remember, Jim the mad scientist did so many things on this boat that I new each time out would be a new discovery. First time, fuel or vacuum problem or whatever...check, next time out the radar...check. So here's what I did. I sliced and taped and zip tied to create something to allow me to go out tomorrow in some sporty seas and not have to have my Hulk grip on it the whole time. 

     Then as I admired my work I saw it and it made sense. Look closely thee is something below the dome and something mounted to the top of the console....alas.....I knew Jim wouldn't have let this thing bounce around all over the place. With no one but Laura to help me find all the pieces that go to the boat, I must ave missed the arms that stabilize the tower. Looks like we'll be heading into Pennsy for a visit and some dinner this weekend Laura! Got a busy week next week on the water. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

11.10.20 Great day out with my first mate...

     The balmy and beautiful weather continues but I think the bite has slowed down a bit. Started this morning putting in a new feel line and primer ball, all Yamaha parts this time. Had to wait for Erin to finish school at 12, and then a quick stop at Jean's Canvas to pick up the repaired boat covers, and splashing at Atlantic Highlands at 130. 

     Not sure what I did worked but we had no hiccups with the engine the four hours we were out. Started turning the Hook and heading out to the three mile line around Sea Bright. Just found birds flying in every direction, never honed in on bait or bass on top.

     While Erin got a bite in I realized there was a lot of movement in the radar stick. Whatever it attaches to gave way and I had to hold it steady as I maneuvered south looking for life.  I decided it was just a little too much for a dad and daughter outing so we turned and headed to New York. 

     It was there on the Pst bank that we found good life. Big bunker exiting the New York Bay and heading out, with tons of birds overhead. Had a mini-fleet with us and we didn't catch nor did we see anyone else hook up. We fished and fished without a tap. It was one of those late afternoons where you just thought it was going to go off, but never did. 

    We headed out back and found tons of pods of big bunker with nothing on them. There was occasional spray but I think one got nervous and that speed thought the pod. With Erin throwing a rubber shad and me throwing a big bunker fly we worked around the pods again without a tap. 

     As light left I hoped the Navy Pair might have some action but it was dead there also. Four hour trip, engine ran strong, had a great time with Erin, didn't catch a fish, but that was okay. Only hiccup this trip was the radar tower coming loose somewhere, that'll be the next thing to address. Without the poling platform I'm okay with the radar, for now. Second date with the boat was a success. I feel what it must be like to break a horse in, right now were even. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

11.09.20 The Fly Fishing Show in Edison is postponed....

     Well big thing that helps us get through the cabin fever each year has been postponed. There will be no The Fly Fishing Show in 2021, got word today it'll be back in 2022. The closest show, Lancaster, is still on for March 6,7 , 2020.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

11.08.20 Tom Gilmore has passed away......


     New Jersey guy and fly fishing author Tom Gilmore has passed away. For those that are readers, or attend the seminars at The Fly Fishing show, Tom always put on a good show and was eager to share his knowledge on techniques and spots in bot the salt and freshwater. He was probably best known for his book, False Albacore, and I remember sitting in to see at the show and as a guest speaker at the Atlantic Saltwater Flyrodders meetings. His book really covered all a beginner and novice would need to know to target "allies" from the rocks or a boat. RIP snf thank you for your contribution to our sport Tom.

11.08.20 Joe Biden wins the presidential election....

     Ok, I'm calling it. After four days of waiting, not really watching the coverage outside of election night, I believe Joe Biden has one and will be the 46th President of the United States of America in January. 

     Congratulations President Biden. I listened to his speech last night on the way home from buttoning Cape May up for the season and I have to say it was a good speech, maybe in todays climate a great speech. I did not hear Vice President elect Kamala Harris speech but I heard that was good as well. 

     What I took away from his speech was that its not that I don't like Joe Biden. And this is not the time to state why, not about him or his party, but I will say what I don't like about his party, and for both parties for that matter, are the views and behaviors of their most extreme supporters. They make me sick to watch and talk too. I was never extreme, especially when it came to politics, and remain that way today.

     One of the things that really got my goat was when a former neighbor of mine placed a number sticker on the back of his truck stating, "Not my president". Well that is just wrong. Because if you work for a living, thats your boss, and if you are in a marriage, well thats your spouse, and if you are a citizen of the USA, well then the sitting President, "IS your President".  

(Adam Schultz / Biden for President)

    I will support and hope God watches over Biden and Harris as they hopefully do their best for the country and its residents. I believe Joe Biden will be a more moderate Democratic president and may even do better with a Republican Senate than one of his own party as the shift to the hard progressive left seems to be where that party wants to head.

     More people voted in this election, for both candidates, than ever before. I do wish the elections were in person, it would reduce the skepticism of things not being on the up and up. But American citizens have spoken up and made their choice, Joe Biden is our President come January, now its time for us to get back to working and living and taking care of our family, friends, and neighbors. We can't continue to make excuses about why for everything as we point fingers at others and blame. Turn the fingers around and point at yourself, only you are in charge of your views, actions nd how you treat others.  

May God bless our new-to-be President and Vice President and these United States of America. 




Friday, November 6, 2020

11.06.20 "The good, the bad, and the ugly...."

 So this post will be broken up into three parts, the first part the good.... Left Trenton at 315 and rolled into Atlantic Highlands at 5 and soon had the boat wet with the help of my doctor, Brendan Muholland, who had his Jones already in the water ready to go. It was a beautiful morning as Leif and I headed out way in front of the rush that was occurring at the check-in gate. So the first good was the boat didn't sink, it started, and we got underway without incident. The first big question was where are the fish and where are we going to go. 

     So the next good, we found bait, birds and bass. It was nice to hold a better fish than the schoolies we have become accustomed to on the beach. It was a sand eel bite, something I thought we would see a little later in November and into December, and I had come out expecting to be looking for the peanuts and adult bunker, but those we flew past in the bay with nothing on them. So my midday we brought some nice fish to hand and released them after a picture or two, and left before the fog rolled in and had the boats locked in for a bit. 

Okay, and now the bad. So at first light we took a slow ride out through the bay with bunker flipping and nothing on them. Now today was a take a guy fishing day with a little boat test mixed in day. Since the boat made it to the tip of the Hook, I was like "Alright lets go", and we did. We followed the channel out and decided to ride the line south. We went and went and went, and then saw the birds, and some boats, and then a lot of birds. I guess I was like that bug attracted to a bug light, "Don't look into the light"...ZAP!, because soon I was in the middle of the birds and there were fish on top, here and there where we were, and slurping on the sand eels. Leif landed a nice fish on a Ugly Ass Fly, that I guess if you were drunk and maybe on mushrooms it could have looked like a sand eel, but whatever, it ate it.

      Then I received a text from a fellow Captain, "You realize your over three off right?. My heart sank, I looked around, for the 50 or so boats that were in, there was another 50 out, out and over the three mile line, and I was one of them. We quickly dropped the rods and headed in, and started to look around. While Leif made some casts I fired up the Garmin unit and found just where I was, still over the line, WTF?. So at some point I was out about 4 miles, and even after firing up we we're still over and we quickly jetted back inside. There were some fish there also, not the same sized ones, not with the bird action, and not as many blowing up on the sand eels. We stayed for a bit and then made a move, I should have done better and have known where I was......

And the ugly. So after the move inside and the slower fishing, I decided to leave fish to go find fish......oh boy.  We headed to the Raritan Bay and found some bunker all happy and flipping and then over to New York. I wanted to check out Lower New York Bay near the Statue of Liberty. As we made out way under and past the big bridge the motor hiccuped twice, thats all I had to hear. I spun her around and we started back in and that didn't last long. 

It would run, then die. Run, stop. We did this for about 20 minutes and 1500 feet. I decided to put my non-marine-mechinc skills to work.What I found was the priming ball was collapsed, and wouldn't refill with gas. The engine wasn't getting fuel. So we took turns squeezing it and running the boat.


I never realized how far it is from the Verrazano Bridge to the Atlantic Highlands marina. I squeezed so many times by bicep hurt as I write this post. At times Leif took the wheel as I pumped, and then 

we would switch. Every time it died I thought for sure I was going to have to call TowBoat US in order to get back to land. Somehow we made it back, maybe Jim was blowing us home, and maybe he was just f'in with us and laughing out loud upstairs. There was a log jam at the ramp, a little hurried. We all watched as this poor guy with a brand new truck, new boat and trailer pulled out, without trimming his motor, and he dragged his keel and propeller up the cobblestone ramp.....ouch. Can't say a thing because that could have been me. 

     The other laugh Jim had, if he didnt cry, was this supersonic side scan thermal imaging contraption that ran along the motor.  Well as we made our way out front the force of the engine bend that thing over. If I can figure it out I will, and then straighten it out and put it into service again, for now its coming off for a much needed rest.

 It felt good to be on a boat again. It felt good to pull into Conte's Car Wash and give her a hot shower. It felt good to take a guy fishing and put him on the fish, and, it felt good to get paid that way again. No insurance company checks, no co-pays, just some cash in your palm for an honest days work.