Tuesday, October 27, 2020

10.27.20 Here we go again....well kind of

     So the day starts at 445 am at the Wawa in Jackson. "20 gallons premium please", just like I was told. Added the Sea-Bil and ring free and grabbed a coffee before letting the fuel slosh around the tank. Yesterday got some good intel from Mike and Laura. In late 2016 Jin had the boat down in Harkers. The engine was giving him some trouble. When he got back to took it to a mechanic in Great Bay who pumped the tank, cleaned it and inspected it and did a full filter and service on the engine. That was good news. 

      So while down there I had to hit the beach before dropping off the boat. Got there in the dark and fished for 90 minutes without a tap. No bait, no birds, great looking water...nada. Leif was down there and had the same luck I had, this is getting very interesting. My prediction, late fish on sand eels, mostly boat fish. Forget "the bait is in the back", it came out and split. Think outside of the normal box, and think cold and late this year. Just my prediction.  

     As I was walking up from the beach I was checking out how the ass end of my truck was looking with the trailer on the ball. This truck has a load "adjuster", that is supposed to raise the back end when you tow. Might be something I have to look into sooner than later. Any suggestions?

     So I met Steve of Steve's Mobile Marine down in the Highlands and we got to business. I gave him little history, a quick tour of the batteries and shut offs, and left a few filters that I purchased. Twenty minutes later I got the call, 'Have you bought this boat yet?", oh, shit, here we go again I thought. He went on tell me 'I don't want to married to this boat", 'There's wires everywhere, nothing but trouble". He's a buddy off a buddy, so said it with concern and experience. We ended with me getting the concerned advice, and he getting the good-to-go to check the fuel, change the filters, and fire it up. 

     A half and hour later I got another call from Steve. "Well, the fuel, the fuels good, no water. I changed the filters and the looked good, and fired it up and the engine ran and sounded good". Whew....thanks be to Jesus. Finally some good news. He did add "that the decks shot", and then a little more about the wiring. I called Paul Eidman who happened to have Capt Terry Sullivan on board as the fished the river. Terry hooked me up when I put new electronics on my old Jones, 'I'm retired now, he said in the background". No Terry, you're semi retired, wait until you get a load of this ship!


     After I dropped off the boat, and some time spared before work, I hit the Hook. Maybe if the fish weren't south they'd be north.....forget it. No bait, birds or fish. Had the place to myself for about an hour. No boats on the horizon, I have a feeling they are all jammed up in the New York Bay and Hudson, feeling away on the outgoing tide. 

     Speaking of eels, that catch big fish, there are some big fish around and its that time of year where I shake my head and wonder "What are you thinking?'. Its like "Death by 1,000 cuts", I recently heard that rhyme. Makes me sick, don't want to here about have many guys are on the boat, guys have to make a living, they're all legal fish. What is it going to take for guys to get the memo? 

     And then there's yesterday. I felt guilty and evil doing it but I did. Out came the heat gun and I easily removed the Brine Fly stickers Jim had on either side of the boat. I took a good picture of the logo and will have it reprinted and put back somewhere on the boat, mostly like forward of the center console. 


Sunday, October 25, 2020

10.25.20 "Death by 1,000 cuts....."


     So the other day I got the call I had been waiting for. I was so confident of good news that I put the phone on speaker so my co-pilot could hear. Ready, set, go...."Don't buy his boat if the are selling it you for free". Clang, bang, cymbal. My heart sank. I felt nauseous. I could feel the "told you so" emanating from Theresa. I can still recall the feeling I had as I write this now. 

     I had dropped the boat off to get the filters changed and anything else they thought it might need before I fired it up for the first time. The service manger maybe suggested a water pump also. When I dropped it off he gave me the heads up. 20 year old motor, HPDI - which means High Pressure Direct Injection, unsure of its history and how long its been sitting. Okay, sounds good to me, switch the filters out put in some gas and Sta-Bil and some ring free and fire that engine up. 

     So besides the warning, I got a little education. Back in the early 2000's when the motor was put out the industry was looking for an improvement over the current two stroke engines. The HPDI was, and can be, a great motor. One problem is they are so picky and sensitive to fuel issues, like ethanol, that things can get plugged up and give an owner a bitch of a time. Before I left he wanted to make sure I got the memo, "These motors are death by 1,000 cuts". So I took it all in, gave my buddy Paul Eidman a call, and he suggested I call a few mechanics that might be able to help. The two I called were great, but I could hear the hesitation in their voice about that engine. 

     Doing the drive of shame from the Shore back to Titusville when you don't catch any fish sucks, driving it with a boat that scares the hell out of seasoned mechanics is 10 times worse. So I stopped by Mercer Marine, a Yamaha dealer in Hamilton, not to far from my house. I spoke with Bob Lockwood for the first time. He came out, gave it a look over, educated me about some things, and made some suggestions I should take before firing her up. He was confident, that either there would be no issues, or he could get them right for me if there were. 

    I have spent many nights by flashlight going over the boat, mostly following wires and trying to figure out what switch goes where. After witnessing the pea soup fog the last couple of outings on the beach the radar is staying, I'll just tell my sports to don't cast inside the boat. I fired the radar up and watched cars pass my house on Route 29, it was pretty cool. 

    As I'm writing this I made a phone call to Dave Choinard, The Fly Hatch Dave, and a past Jones Brother dealer and the guy who sold the original boats that I owned to, Tom 'Trooper Tom" Dubia and Jim "Pulse Disc" Matson. I explained about the consensus of the 175 HPDI and he said, 'We made a living on those engines". He put me at ease, gave me my boat confidence back, and it was a call I really needed. 

    Well the sporty weather is still long the Jersey Shore. This afternoon Leif got out and got one at just about high tide, using, of course, and "UAF", Ugly Ass Fly. Tomorrow there's chance I can take the boat to a mechanic Paul knows who will switch out the filters, check the fuel situation, as far as the quality of it before it hits the engine, and general check. I'm ready to back this thing down a ramp, either Atlantic Highlands or Trenton, I want to hear it purrrrr.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

10.24.20 No good bite before the storm, but the surfers were happy...

      Well this week the weather is going to turn, and fast. Tropical Storm Epsilon is off the east coast and today those on the beach were met with big swells, good for the surfers, not so good for the anglers. This storm is going to bring rain, winds, and a cold spell that'll shock your mums and have you bundling up when outside and probably firing up the heat for a few days in a row. 

     This morning I went around 530. There were anglers up and down the beach trying to find fishable water in the dark and looking for some protection from the swells. I lasted out front for about 30 minutes before ducking inside to find flat conditions, and not much for life.

     I switched up from a sinking line with a dumbbell eyed Snake Fy and sand eel trailer to an intermediate line with a Bob's Banger up front with a Jim Matson peanut bunker fly behind. Found one sympathetic little guy that made my outing worth it. I went back out from and found conditions better as the outgoing tide helped calm the swell a bit. Had a corner to myself, except for the surfers who were polite taking if they could jump in,  but no fish were home. 

     Didn't see any bait out front or in the back. I was surprised by that. Hopefully the change in weather will bring those fish that are hanging in Long Island down to the New York Bight. Below is the fishing report from the Miss Belmar Princess,

October 23rd, 2020

Stripers & Blues

JUMBO STRIPERS up to 50 lbs are being caught not far from out inlet! So, as of tomorrow Saturday Oct 24th, we will be sailing daily for stripes and blues from 730-230 pm See you then...

and today, a day later.....

October 24th, 2020

Stripers & Blues

This morning we started out looking for stripers on the beach to no avail. We saw some bunker life and were able to snag some. We than ran offshore and picked at some blues up to 12 lbs with some nice sea bass in the mix. Fishing today was on the slow side today....

On my way home from Gateway Marine I stopped by Leifs house. Wanted to introduce him to the boat. He fished alone this morning and came up empty, like the other guys I spoke with. I can't wait to get the boat in the water soon, but more on that in tomorrows post. 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

10.22.20 "Its official, put it in the books..."

     I'm thankful, grateful and blessed to have been able to take over the journey of Jim Matson's, "The Pulse Disc" guy, 1997 Jones Brothers 19'10" Cape Fisherman. As you know Jim passed away in July 2018 and his wife Laura has had it up for sale. So after reconnecting with her, and the back and forth in my own head, and with Theresa, and with close friends that have similar boats, it was time to pull the trigger, and today, with Theresa sitting down with Laura and I, I did just that. I'm back in.

     Laura had found a few pictures of Jim on his boat, and the below image on the Great Bay is dated, 10/28/1996, which was most likely when he first took ownership of it. That is one proud Jones Brothers owner there. So the boat is going on 25 years old, or young, depending on how you look at it. There are more options on that boat then I can even imagine, miles of wiring that go in every direction and back again around the boat, toggle switches that click this on and off, and brackets and locks that I don't even now what kind of option they hold. Now, she ain't perfect, soft spots on the deck show a need for it to be cut out and replaced, and while there, a new gas tank too, a costly and time consuming undertaking. 

     Early this fall I started to think about my old boat and the upcoming fall run and the good days that I had out on the water. This past spring while fishing the Delaware River near Trenton I also thought of a boat that might be good for both the river and the ocean. Jim's boat will serve me well on both, especially with the jacked up electronics and the side scan options and the bow mounted trolling motor. His 175 Yamaha is mounted on a jack plate which is great for navigating skinny water. 

     Shortly before Jim passed he started to give away a lot of his fly tying materials and gear, above is a picture of a guy's cargo area after a visit to Jim's laboratory. Below is the last picture of Jim on his boat, checking it over with Mike, getting it in order, sadly knowing he had taken his last ride on it and it would most likely be sold sometime after his passing. 

     I wish I got to spend more time with Jim. His mind was that of a mad scientist. While his passion for fly fishing and fly tying is known amongst close family and friends, anglers across the country and globe only knew Jim through his design and distribution of The Pulse Disc. He was truly a great guy, had a great mind and a heart of gold. I will treat his boat with the love that he had for it, and hope to catch many fish using some of his flies, and his flies will most often be led by a Pulse Disc. Here's a thumbs up to you bud, thank you, and say hi to Ryan up there for me. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

10.21.20 "When is it going to end?"

     That ws the question first year salt flyrodder Amrtin asked me as we shared the beach this morning. "It hasn't even started yet?". Well I hope. He started this year, got one over the summer, three the other day and after I left him texted me a picture of a bunch he caught after I left. 

    I was down that way, because I down that way. Just dropping off a little something for some friends to look at. I must say, so far my Yukon has been a great choice, not bad for 16 years old, pulls and handles very well. This morning the fog was heavy coming up the Turnpike and I'm sure pea-soup-like out on the water, good morning to have radar on the boat. I remember many trips delayed as we waited for the fog to burn off, or fake it good fishing within sight of the ramp, just to make time go by. 

     Martin and I shared some laughs and I gave him my quick striped bass and fly fishing speal, just when you think you know, you realize you know nothing. We watched as I think swimmers that crossed the English Channel appeared out of the fog and came out of the water, her whatever you're into, but do you have to scare the fish away?

    I fished for about an hour and some change before having to head west to work. Again, Martin had the incoming and it did him well after I left, not by much as I was driving when he texted me. A quick stop to see the Raritan bay covered in fog got my interest peaked as it has been a while since I was on the fish from a boat in the bay. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

10.18.20 Nine years ago I got my first Jones......

       Nine years ago I was on the hunt for a Jones Brothers. When I used to fill in working at The Fly Hatch Dave Choinard was a Jones dealer. All the cool guys had one, Bill Hoblitzell, Dick Dennis, and Paul Eidman to name a few. I found one in Point Pleasant and when I went back to put money down it had been sold. 

     That night, dejected, I attended the Jersey Shore Trout Unlimited Christmas party held at the Salt Creek Grill. When I went in there a was a seat available at fellow member Trooper Tom's table. I sat down, he asked what was new, I told him my story of looking for a Jones and he said, "I have one in my back yard that I haven't used in years", the rest was history. Had that beauty for 8 years before having to sell her last year.  Above is a picture from the day I packed her into my driveway, October 18, 2011. You can see the original post HERE.

Friday, October 16, 2020

10.16.20 Fishin' in the rain.....


   Had to make my way to Monmouth County to pick Erin up a her job at 7. Made a few quick stops, one at Jean's Canvas Products in Belford, and at my old stomping grounds, Gateway Marine in the Highlands. The first was to check on prices to get a boat, uh, cover repaired and the latter to see about getting service on a Yamaha engine before getting a boat wet, just checking for a friend. 

    Decided to check out front, well, I committed to it, even though the rain was sideways on the way east. It was still raining as I geared up under the cover of the tailgate of my Yukon, keeping me a little dry between the wind and drops. 

     Had mid-incoming and fished to just about the top of the tide. Beautiful conditions, great looking water. Some life, incising a sea that looked the size of a walrus, birds on patrol and keyed in on bass blowing up on bait on the outer part of the bar. I had some water around but knew I would have to wait on the water and for any fish to arrive. 

     About and hour and half in I landed two fish and a plug, then had a dry spell, and then 30 minutes before I had to be in Red Bank I landed 3 fish in 5 minutes before I had to go. I bet, if I stayed, I would have landed another 6-10 in the next 15 minutes. 

     We used to judge a good outing as, "Any keepers?", meaning 28 inches or better. Well due to the decimation of the striped bass population, coupled with the destruction of the beaches due to Frank Pallone, his voters and the Army Corp of Engineers , bait doesn't stick tight to the beach and there's non reason for predators to come in a as stay for a while. Its in. and out or up and down, thats it. So recently the question has been "Did you get any?". And from now on a 24 inch fish is a good fish.