Sunday, March 29, 2020

03.29.20 Took a look all around.....


      Took the drive down early to pick up Erin since I haven't seen her due to COVID-19. Left Trenton around 530 with a plan to hit the Shrewsbury River which is near Red Bank. A quick look at the tides showed dead low around 630 am, so I opted to go into the bay for a look. No one out on foot, only boats leaving Keyport and Morgans Marina and running right across the pond to The Reach or to the Staten Island side. Not one stopping or fishing the on Jersey side. Even the kayakers were way out. It was nice to be alone, but that made me think no fish were around.




      This outing wasn't just to catch a fish, although always nice, it was good scouting trip and the chance to breathe in some different air. When you go you'll find different towns handling fishing in different ways. The above usually busy parking lot is shut down. Some beaches are closed. Some cops are chasing anglers away while others let them be.


     It's interesting to watch on social media how anglers are chiming in on "what to do" about fishing. So its late March, we've had a mild winter, and fishing is starting earlier. The bass have arrived in the rivers and bays the the trout are rising on the early bugs and will go after a streamer. While we have been told that social distancing is required and non-essential businesses must be shut down, we are encouraged to go outside in the fresh air, while keeping six feet apart, for exercising, running, dog walking ect......but no one who is an official is mentioning the word "fishing". 

     In regards to the Delaware River, on the PA side, here's the latest, 

"Good Evening,

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has received clarification from the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office regarding the classification of charter boat and fishing guide operations. The Governor’s Office has determined that charter boat and fishing guide operations (whether conducted by boat or on foot) DO NOT meet the definition of a life-sustaining business. Such operations are classified as a recreational industry and continued operation of such businesses is not permitted under the Governor’s Order of March 19, 2020. Operators may be subject to enforcement procedures if found out of compliance with that Order......"

     The six pack and head boats are getting the same memos regarding operating a fishing business in the salt as well. Those that run charter businesses are feeling the crunch like those that have luncheonettes and restaurants. While they cant serve food to patrons, those customers can go home and make their own food. And, on the flip side, people that you cant take fishing can still go on their own as well. While anglers can't hire a guide or jump on a head boat, they can walk and wade or go out on their own or a friends boat to fish. I've even seen guides out there fishing in drift boats and ocean boats "just for fun". The marinas and launches, like Atlantic Highlands, are open. 

     Some are thinking this is unfair, and "fishing should just be shut down" for everyone. I see the justifications as "what would happen if you got into an accident on the way there" "what would happen if you had an accident on your boat".......what, what, what. What it sounds like to me are people wanting what every one else has. "If they can fish how come I can't".....



     The last time this happened was after Sandy. Beach access was closed, in certain spots, but the ocean was open. The boats couldn't get out or due to the recovery efforts the customers cancelled their trips. Yes, it was a storm and not a virus, but at the end of the day, businesses suffered, but people still fished and we got through it, well somewhat for some.

     Unlike the salt water posts we see on social media, with people out on the water and holding up fish, just wait until you get a load of the drama when someone starts posting images of people in a drift boat or posing with a fish they caught from the shore on the Upper Delaware......grab your popcorn and see if you can see the real motivation of the haters. Watch for the spins....they'll get you every time.


     Ok, enough of that. So I spent some time fishing in the bay, made my way to Red Bank an gave it a go on the incoming tide. The winds were ENE and in the bay that put lots of cabbage at your feet. If you waded in you were fine. The only fish I saw was a washed up bunker. In the Navesink I did see bunker splashing about and birds picking off the sick, lame and lazy swimming near the top.





     On my last stop I checked out front. Water looks great, clean and green, incoming water. No birds. Still below 50 nd this cloud cover and rain doesn't help. One nice thing while we sat in my truck there


looking at the water was I picked up the phone and called Al. Al and his wife are down in South Carolina. He hanging in there, we talked some health, some life, some death, some politics. 'The last time I voted Republican was Eisenhower"......."What?". And, " I was in college in World War II"...."What?"  I guess I never realized how old my buddy really was.

     What was interesting was, to me and Erin who were in on the call, he believes this is the worst thing he has encountered in his life. Not WWII, not Pearl Harbor, not Vietnam or the other wars, not Katrina or the other hurricanes, not the recessions.....its this virus that he thinks is the worst that has hit humanity in his nearly 100 years. That is telling. We'll see where this all goes.

Friday, March 27, 2020

03.27.20 This years poster children......

From the Delaware Bay we present the 'Reason Why Poster Children 2020"......


     Last years, or the year before....it was the mate from the Capture Fleet sitting on a large pile of dead bass that represented everything that is wrong with striped bass fishing, and the reason why the striped bass is near obliteration. This years disgrace is from the Delaware Bay, and we thought things were bad in the Raritan Bay and Cape Cod Canal.......nope there's assholes south of us too.

                                  

     So JP's on the Wharf is located in Frederica in Delaware, just off the Delaware Bay. I wanted you to see where they are in relation to yesterdays striped bass migration map from On The Water Magazine. These are the fish that I am waiting for to come up to Trenton and spawn......well not anymore. What will come up to this neck of the woods is all the males they don't kill that will just wind up swimming around sexually frustrated because there's no females to get it on with. Remember its not a 1:1, several males surround and swim with the females to fertilize the eggs. 

     Why do they do it? Not the fish, but the crew from JP's?  Check out the menu. Blackened Rockfish, Rockfish Bites, and Rockfish Sandwiches.....now if they were serving up shots of eggs then O might be able to see why its important to decimate the bay of pre spawn females, 20, 30 and 40 pound females. C'mon guys......for fish bites??????

                   

    People have to make a living. People have to support their families.... But is there something wrong with this picture, one boat, one day, one bay.......It might be even worse than the Raritan Bay massacre that, well an unlikely bass ally the year with c19, hasn't occurred yet, but will soon....believe you me. This is not the photo you want out and about on social media. Because, you just might be that poster child for something that is very, very wrong. 
     



     So now I know why I didn't catch today near Trenton. Well, honestly its little early. Saw some guys catch some shad from the boat anchored up in the middle of the river. Just nice to get out and wet a line. Time to remember to bring the correct stripping basket for the river.....no holes! 




















    Very sad to hear of the passing of Dave Brandt, legendary Castkill fly tier and angler. Great tyer, great author, gentlemen to spend time with, I wound up at the bar at The Fly Fishing Show with him one year and had a nice time surrounded by some of the other big guns in the fly fishing industry. RIP Dave- hope they're rising!


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

03.25.20 Alright back to fishing.....


     I get these updates from On The Water magazine from time to time. They seem to fall in line just about every spring an fall. If you are in the hunt then you know this time of year where the bass are. They're more "out back" then "out front". The waters warm up more the further you go inland. Bass, no blues yet, are making their way to spawn, or stage before spawning, and will eat along the way, rooting in the mud for worms, or chasing bunker or herring for small white bait. 

Max Berry photo
      My buddy Max who is a river sniper landed his first keeper of the year on a plug this week. My other buddy, I guess I have some buddies, was out on his boat for early scout and found them as well. It's always a tough time of year for the surf rather than he boat angler. Access is always an issue, more so in the rivers than the bay. With the c19 restrictions in effect we don't know what will happen with enforcement of being out and about to fish. Here's a tip......don't park near anyone else. It looks like a crowd and someone will call and blow the whistle. That means if you have to walk, then do it, or you'll be back on the couch with the wife and kids sooner than later. 


     The above fish was taken from the Raritan on 3/24. The boats are either anchoring and chunking or using worms, or on the troll, with what I guess are called Stretch 25's?. The fly angles are finding them also, right tide, right time of day, and right weather.... Yesterday Jack and Hugh found some fish that we eager to munch on flies. 

Jack Denny photo
      It that time of year to go and make your own reports...time out fishing his time outdoors and getting fresh air does the mind and body good, especially now. Again, do yourself a favor, keep social distancing in practice. When this spring rainy and cold weather passes, maybe next week, anglers will be coming from everywhere, including mom New York, and hanging in the bigger parking lots along the Raritan Bay and standing in a line looking more like the Salmon River than social distancing. The local police, State Police and Fish and Game will surely break that up and, in my opinion, post those access points where early spring anglers tent to fish. 

The only good thing about this c19, in regards to fishing, its about as close to a moratorium as you can get. Fish and wildlife are returning to and thriving in places they were never comfortable. And remember, the new regulations go in effect April 1st, ONE FISH PER DAY! enjoy

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

03.24.20 Get ready....sadly, its coming......


     I remember taking these pictures sometime in 1988. It was before I got on the job in Newark. I was living on Warren Street in a partially vacant building fulfilling the residency requirement for the applicants. I spent a lot of time hanging out at my local firehouse, Engine 7 and Battalion 1, located at 'The Rock", where West Market Street, Warren Street, and Hudson Street meet. 

     It was Friday night and someone pulled the box on the corner of 18th Ave and South 17th Street, for those that know, its right alongside West Side Park. Six Engine reported nothing showing and then was flagged down for a smoke condition in a large three story vacant frame. It was a small fire and was put out with a booster line. A Signal 100 was sounded alerting the Arson Squad of a fire started, well, on purpose. 

     I came back the next night and checked the run book and they pulled that box a few more times the night before. It wasn't long until the box was pulled again, and again, Engine 6 to headquarters "Signal 300" a malicious false alarm. 

    A little after 11pm, with the city rocking on Saturday night, the bells did their dance again, I think it was box 4465, 18th Ave and S 17th Street. This time it wouldn't be a Signal 300. By the time 6 Engine came up 16 th Ave there was already fire in the sky coming from not only the original fire building, a large three story frame duplex, but buildings to the left and right as well. It would also spread to the next block. 


     The reason I write this is to make a grime prediction. Arson for profit was huge in the inner cities like Newark for decades. Call it white flight, call it absentee landlords, call it urban decay, call it squatters rights, buildings burned, a lot of them, for many different reasons. 

     Back in the day, and I was lucky to have been there for it, there were no cell phones, lucky if people had house phones, and smoke detectors were just catching on. People relied on the corner pull boxes to alert the fire department. The buildings were old but built like a brick shit house and could take a beating, and often more than just a few good fires. It wasn't uncommon to roll out and see a glow or a plume of dark smoke coming over a section on the city and the first due company saying he has a well involved fire on arrival, either a bunch a frames, a "H" type brick, a restaurant, or some commercial building, going good. And that doesn't even account for the thousands of vehicle fires we had during the early 1990's. Those found fully involved on dead-end streets or on concrete blocks without rims. 

                      

     In desperate times, people do desperate, and stupid things. Arson for Profit is one of them. With businesses on the brink of extinction along our Main Streets, highways, and interstates, people start to think of alternatives. History always repeats itself, and the ugly side of people will come out. Remember all of the fraud that occurred during the Sandy recovery. 

     Don't be surprised when you start reading about businesses, homes, boats, and cars catching fire.....history always repeats itself. Stay safe my brothers and sisters. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

03.23.20 Spring is here......



     Now thats more like it......"Rain, rain, rain.... Well let me just share what came to my head.....


     Believe it or not I really don't mind. Not much for winter and snow, so no melt to fill the rivers. Its been dry out there, at least from summer through now, hopefully we won't get the deluges we got last spring. The rain will bring the rivers up and flush out the system a little bit. After the rain the migratory fit will continue to make their way upriver, the shad are here, haven't seen any herring yet, and the stripers will follow. 

I'm glad to see President Trump sign an order to allow driving to go fishing "as essential travel"....lol



     If you are bored out of gourd, or need a break while working from home, check out this podcast from The Saltwater Edge featuring Steve Culton, a fishing guide and instructor from Connecticut. 
                   


Listen in HERE


Sunday, March 22, 2020

03.22.20 Getting ready for some action....


     Not sure where the wife and I will wind up but coming soon It'll be somewhere else besides the office. We signed up for the COVID-19 testing site at the PNC Arts Center, seems like things are on hold until more testing kits become available before we get pressed into service. 

     Reached out to Trenton psychiatric Hospital to see if they need any psychiatric APN's to lessen the  workload. The Governor and New Jersey State Nurses Association have reached out to retired RN's in New Jersey to get them up and running agin. 

     This is just the first wave....its like a shortage on blood. They put out the call, the get a surge of responses, and then the new reality sets in and its a prolonged need. It's kind of like 9/11, everyone responded to Ground Zero, but people where needed for year sifting through the Staten Island landfill looking for remains.

     Don't panic. If it hasn't affected you yet, it will. And someone you know will get it. That's not a fatalist view, its the truth, Start preparing for the long haul. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

03.21.20 First day out 2020.....


     Just needed to get out and give it a shot. N-NW wind ha things breezy and a tad chilly, Water temps fluctuating between 45-48 degrees. Caught one hour into the incoming. Got chased off the "Jetty" with the 9 foot flood tide. Lots of life, just no takers. Shad are moving. Cormorants are fishing. Water looks good, but a tad cold. A fishing fishing in from of me saw a nice striper roll on his plug which is a good sign. 





     if you want to fly fish from the Jersey side you better be careful going forward after you load your rod.....very easy to get hung up on the backcast and snap a rod. You can see in the picture above of how you have to adjust to where you are and make the best of it. Luckily that spot gave me about 30' of backcast in order to shoot some line out. 




     On the "out front" side Joe was out today and managed four micro bass in the afternoon. Good early reports from the rivers and Raritan Bay, both on bloodworms and on plugs also. It's great when you can catch it just right dead low about 10-11 AM, honest part of the day beating down on the mud flats, followed by a good flood tide lasting till evening. That's about a good as it gets. Just need the wind, the fish, the bait, and the other COVID-19-had-to-get-out-and-fish anglers to cooperate.

Joe Pheifer photo

Friday, March 20, 2020

03.20.20 The new normal hasn't hit yet.....

                               

'Well times they are a changing........"

     COVID-19 will be the thing that changes the core of who we are as Americans. Outside of politics, which isn't easy to do in a time of crisis, it will be how react and create a new normal here in the United States. We have overcome so many tragedies and crisis during our existence as a country try. Wars on our own land, some between us as in the Civil War, wars overseas like WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Middle East, and attacks on our home turf like Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Earthquakes in San Fransisco, storms like Katrina and Sandy, wildfires and droughts, flooding and famine. But this, a virus, unlike HIV and Zika, Ebola and Mad Cow, and even to a somewhat lesser degree lessened by time, Measles and Polio. There have been recessions and booms, all part of the ebb and flow of a society controlled by money and politics.

                                                

    While all of those have had devastating effects and loss of life, lives continued and even flourished after these events happened. We come, we conquered, we continued. This may be different.

     I believe we have moved away from what Americans are and should be. While I would never question the amazing resolve and desire to help a fellow American, or any human being, each generation after the one before has left something big on the table and now, in one of the biggest challenges we face, will change how we operate, and maybe realize how we should have operated all along.


     There was a time when one adult in the household stayed home and took care of that end of the family business. The other went to work, hard work, either in the factory, the field, working with their hands to "Make American- Buy American". We took care of home, and each other, but always willing and able to end a helping hand, and our lives, in supporting others around the world. Then, at some point, we opened ourselves up to be dependent on other countries to satiate our increasing need to have everything, at once, at a cheaper price and at the expense of the jobs and income we as a country depended on. 


      Our food, our medicines, our electronic, even our vehicles, mostly arriving from other countries....but at what price. We went from a family with one car to one with many, and those purchased on a lease, and turned in every two or three years. New, better, disposable. I remember when you would buy a house and the original phone was on the wall, and stayed in service through new owners. 

                     

     We fight for independence, but have sacrificed that to be dependent. A part of us in the United States want to have a socialist, or even communist government, other want freedom in democracy and capitalism. But even that is in question. When we all laughed at the infamous woman stating "everyone will get Obama phones ", just Google that, we know wait for our $1,200 checks from Trump. Wait, are we dependent on our government for everything, some or nothing?

     I am in no way different that the next, programmed to be like. salmon swimming upstream. Always looking for cheaper, the next, the most for my money. Where does that lead me to? China, and overseas manufacturing. Things that once were made in America by Americans now comes from overseas, and has for some time. We are the greatest country on Earth, but are we. Our pharma companies are the biggest in the world, but a lot of our drugs come from other countries. Apple products come from overseas, that 50 inch your now streaming Fox, MSNBC, or Netflix 24/7 was made overseas. Its such a rarity that things come from our own hands here in the USA, that when we do we have to put a sticker on them, out front, for all to see. It should be the rule, not the exception, and if not, then you might not need it.


     In a capitalistic society businesses start and succeed or fail. The government shouldn't bail them out. When I lived in Red Bank stores came and went, opened and closed, the strong survived or changed to survive. No one bailed them out. Restaurant this yer, retail the next and then a pet store. Thats the way it is. But we killed Main Street, with the malls back in the day, and then tried to go back to Main Street, but at the same time, Amazon and Fed Ex and UPS were born. Duh.......

                                            

     Recently I watched a documentary about Haiti post the earthquake. After the disaster the help came from all over the wold. It was noble and appreciated. That help, and handouts, continue today. There are more GMO's operating there then anywhere else in the world. The country has lost its soul, replaced by handouts and assistance. The farmers can't farm because ships and tractor trailers show up everyday with rice. Why would you buy rice when someone is giving int to you for free? People have to face struggles, get some needed help, but then left to figure out they're own way out, or they become inherently dependent for years to come. We are heading in that direction, dependent on other countries and our government. 

     You cant have it all. You cant depend on other countries for our products, most that are luxuries, and then when things like airlines, car manufactures, cruise ships and banks fail....the government steps in to bail them out. Maybe what has to happen is we have to change, learn from the greatest generations before us. Renting is okay, one car is okay, restaurants and eating out isn't the norm but for special occasions, one trip per year, one fishing rod in the garage, mow your own grass, keep one parent home, get a job where you work with your hands that provides insurance, which are mostly manufacturing and service jobs, and support local and American made businesses.


     In the end President Trump, and the current government, will act more like Bernie Sanders and a socialist country than the try and okay to fail that we as Americans once were. We started the trophy-for-all mentality in the country thirty years ago, and now are paying the price. 

We will never be the same agin......hopefully we won't all turn into snowflakes. 
     
   

Thursday, March 19, 2020

03.19.20 They have arrived in the Raritan Bay....


      There are anglers starting to venture out into the Raritan Bay for the spring run. The males arrive first followed by the fertile females. We are seeing water temps start to rise and pretty steady above 45 degrees to highs just above 50. In the Shrewsbury, Raritan and Navesink Rivers temperatures 


in the blackest of the back are probably running a little higher. Tides and the sun can bring warmer temps and get the bass looking up. I've heard of the bass being taken on the worm soak but also plugs. Birds are doing on herring which is one of the first signs we have started.


     Out near me the Delaware River is a little off. Not much for snow melt this year and we haven't yet had the typhoon rains we had last year. The river is calm and quiet and starting to warm up. The spring brings the herring and the shad up to spawn and the bass follow. again, males usually first followed by the breeder females. While I am in no way a Delaware River striper novice or expert from what I hear the go time water temperature is 52 degrees. There are other considerations as well, salinity, oxygen, ph, and turbidity. 

Hopefully soon it will be time to step away from the social distancing and start fishing in the fresh air.