Wednesday, April 24, 2024

04.23.24 Full Pink Moon fever....

     I was lucky yo get this one in. A strong 42" fish in big current. Surprisingly the bigger fish have moved upriver and this one was a shocker because I was scouting a new spot. It's taken a while for me to get in there because of the river levels. This was caught on a half-ass fly and a hook that wanted to go straight. The fly had all kinds of mechanical flaws going on. Mostly because I casted it about 1,000 times without every checking. Pinged off of rocks, dragged along the bottom, ripped through the current. You can see below what went wrong while going right. The fly was tied on an

AHREX SA210 Bob Clouser Signature Streamer 4/0. I can't imagine what would have happened if this fish were a few years ago when the Partridge hooks were all the rage. Luckily my bud Mark had a stash of Popovic's hooks that he could throw me until I can order some more. It's funny, they talk about catching 100 pound tarpon in Florida on size 1 hooks during a worm hatch but striped bass in current can straighten out 4/0's. Back to the vice. 

    They say you never should fish on the full moons. Well this fish ate at 0711 AM on the Pink Moon. It's like "Winds from the south fish shut their mouths". I guess I fish just has to eat and only has so many opportunities during the day depending on the tides, winds, and bait. This one was looking for breakfast.

Monday, April 22, 2024

04.21.24 The moon everyone has been waiting for....

      On Tuesday April 23rd the second big moon event of the month will hit the skies. The first was the Lunar Eclipse that came on April 8th and in two days the sky will be lit up with the first full moon of the month. It's an important moon, hopefully, to us fishermen and women. 

     The Pink Moon gets its name from the plant, the creeping phlox, aka moss phlox or mountain phlox. It's one of the first flowering plants of the spring. It's also known as the Fish Moon because that is when the shad begin their migratory upstream to spawn. Well, it's in name only as the shad have been here for a month although catches have been spotty due to the mess of weather we have had this spring. 

     The fish I care about on this moon are the river herring. This year has been, well, different. The weather has been all over the place and so have been the fish. Some early ones but most seem to be somewhere else, as have been the herring. Herring make great Scoobie-snacks for striped bass. They're a great bait fish to imitate with synthetics. I tie them on the bigger side and vary the coloring, some more

silver and white others more colorful like the one above. I enjoy feeding the fish in the shallower water when I can. So we'll see if a few days of warmer weather will bring the water temps back up in the upper 50's to low 60's and get them and the bass on the move and the hunt. But each year is different and 

just like striped bass having an off year the herring can as well. Only time will tell. I've been fishing when I can and have put a few nice ones into the tank for a rest before releasing them strong. There's 

been a few nice ones but they came late last month when things were better. It seems like the bites been off all around the state and anglers are chomping at the bit for things to heat up. The question is will it heat up in time or will the fish have passed us by heading to their spawning grounds or changing things up this year. Not only is there a wait on the herring but the bunker seem to be hit and miss in the rivers. There's some early reports of bluefish hitting the scene at the popular inlets and they're always fun if you're throwing cheap flies with a metal leader. There's nothing worse then getting an expensive fly or one you painstakingly tied get bit off by the yellow-eyed demons.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

04.21.24 There goes the neighborhood...

     It's time to revisit the whole "Spot Burn" issue. Again. It's like the same old thing every year, and it seems to be getting worse. I'm not sure why it exists but it comes on strong and then goes away only to return. It's really not a spot that is burnt, it's a bite that is. There are spring bites, some summer bites, and definitely the fall into winter bites. Social media and cell phones all play their part in it, but it's us anglers that have ruined it for others, and in the end ourselves. 

     Spring spots are well spring spots. Let's be real, everyone knows them. Let me list them. Hackensack River, Raritan River, Raritan Bay, Shrewsbury River, Navesink River, Manasquan River and Canal, Barnegat Bay, Toms River and and the Delaware Bay and River, plus all those in and around Atlantic City, and Brigantine, and Cape May. There you go guys. Go get um'. 

     Anglers who call those spots "home" look forward to the peace and tranquility of a bite that may occur only for a few short weeks each year. Over 10 years that 10 bites. When the bite, or the spot, blows up, each season of each year every Internet stalker, You Tuber, and social media fishing expert flock to that spot, do their damage, leave garbage, bother the neighbors, and leave. Leaving the "residents", or local anglers, alone now to clean up the mess, in more ways than one. 

     This spring the first of what will be many "spots" to be taken off the list of go-to's is the Shrewsbury River in Sea Bright. It used to be a great "creeping' while you're sleeping' spot", but then the word got out. I can remember being among the dark outfit crowd sneaking around behind Dunkin' Donuts waiting for slack tide, which is the only tide I could fish with a fly rod. Guys used to stand along the wall, and then that got extended down into the Rum Runner's property. Well no more. What used to be a few 

locals or hardcore guys sneaking around to catch a tide had become a stop on the "Where's the bite" evening into night tour around the Raritan Bay and the rivers. Some say Giglio's blew up the spot by posting the above pic on social media. It wasn't that. The crowds, the garbage, the fights, all that lead to it being now off-limits for fishing. Yes, soil media doesn't help, it was the nail in the coffin. 

     So now that spot is over. If you're in the know then you know. The Two Rivers well The Two Rivers. It won't take long for the migration to move to an already choked out spot to try and find a fish. Those parking areas, those restaurants, hotels, and Post Office's don't want their parking spots taken up, garbage strewn around, and diners looking out into the parking lot of the Van Stahl plug bag crew smoking heaters shooting the shit waiting for a bite. You can throw fat and ugly fly anglers in there as well. 

     The Two River areas are home to some of the most valuable real estate in New Jersey. People with money have connections and power. They don't won't to walk across the bridge and see the murder scene of a 20 pound gator bluefish that was bled out on the walkway. They don't want to come around the corner taking their kids over to Holy Cross and dam near hit the flooring installing van making a quick exit out of the parking area, not lot, heading back to Long Branch. 

It's happening in Monmouth, Ocean, Bergen, Passaic, Atlantic, Cape May, Burlington, Salem, and Mercer Counties. Hell, throw them all in there, for fresh or saltwater sake. It's not good. We're not good. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

04.19.24 Thank Jesus, and Ricky....

     So the other day I had this happen. I was going to post it a PSA so the next guy doesn't do it. I should heed my own advice. I had ;leaned my rod along the passenger side of my Jeep and used a magnetic Tightline rod holder to secure it due to the wind. I'm trying to baby my new Helios 12 wt. the best that I can. 

     So today I fished a spot. It's been a 36 hour drought so I was excited to fish spot #1 but when that didn't produce I quickly got into my truck and sped off. When I got to Spot #2 I realized that I left my rod, again, along the passenger side of my truck. 

     I tore ass back there with a few things running through my mind. One, if it's there, did I turn my wheels to hard and run the back tires over it. Or two, did someone came and went with it, even though it all went down within 15 minutes. I pulled in and looked at the spot where I parked and there was nothing. My heart sank. Earlier there was not one in the lot but now there was another Jeep, and he was fishing. He was set up for a bait soak. 

     I quickly made my way over to him and said, "By any chance did you see a fly rod on the ground when you rolled up?". He smiled, "I wondered if the owner was going to come back for it". Guys, meet Ricky. He had my Helios broken down and placed nicely in the back of his Jeep. I couldn't thank him enough. Stand up guy. I hope a big fish ate his bait. He's got good karma coming to him. 

     So what I have learned by this all is, always put the rod away first, or lean it on the drivers side. And never be too excited to get to your next spot, or spots, the fish will be somewhere. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

04.16.24 Amazing it was four years ago....

     It really is amazing that the Covid pandemic was four years ago. Sad of those we lost, not just in lives lost, but so many other things as well. The collateral damage was equally as bad. And now we are starting to see all of those things we didn't know about the vaccines. If you took them, great, if you didn't that's great as well, but, there are a lot of people alive because of them, dead because of them, and now suffering with long term adverse effects that we didn't know at the time. The disease was bad but what it did to us both individually and as a human race was the worst part of it. It was just another that added to the division in all areas of life that we see today. 

    The above pic popped up on Facebook. It's me at the Edison Convention Center which was turned into a Covid Hospital. The same Edison as where The Fly Fishing Show is held. It was weird walking the halls taking care of Covid patients rather than at materials, seminars, and catching up with friends.

     Fishing all around the state will be going off this week. Yes, it's in between the New and Full Pink Moon and Mother Nature is cooperating and the fish will start to as well. Waters are receding and clearing up and the wind and rain, which has been brutal, looks promising going forward. And with the nice weather comes an increase in participation. At. Every. Single. Spot. On foot, on the water, even in that spot that takes a little while to get to, someone is or will be there. It's frustrating. Social media and the ME and NOW fishermen and women have killed bites and spots. It is what it is. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

04.14.24 Time to rotate, well retire, some flies.....

     I've been doing a good job keeping up with the loose a fly- tie a fly this spring. I feel like I'm pretty well stocked up although this whole fly thing is pretty funny. No doubt a good fly is as good fly. At times flies that look spot on and swim well and don't foul are the ticket. But what about the other times. 

     Below is an example. The fly on the bottom I have officially retired. It a "Beauty shop of Horrors Fly" tied mostly with cheap-ass weave material from a Beauty Supply Store in the bowels of Trenton. It 

once had eyes and maybe a little something else along the sides. It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. Well done. That fly helped me catch 15, exactly, striped bass to 30 pounds. The hook is dull, chipped here and there, the material off-set just a tad, but in the water it's deadly. The top fly is its replacement, this one is keeled with lead on the bend. I hope it gives me solid results as well. 

     I had to chuckle the other day when I saw this reply to a post on the raising cost of bucktails, both the bucktail lure and the buck tail deer tail. It was just another opportunity to pick on the fly anglers. 

    Yes, the Beast Fleyes are great when you need a big bait fly, but to be honest, would any mop do it if you could cast it out there? The thing is those properly tied flies do let you present a bulkier-than-it-is fly that sheds water and can be easily cast. But for the most part if your fly swims sexy, or at times like it had a stroke, and you can present it to a fish willing to eat, you should be good.  The back-up to the replacement fly is below. Tied  on a 5/0 Clouser hook this 8 plus inches lights up the water and the

darker back, which you can't see, gives it nice contrast in the water. They too will be retired one day or will get stuck, broke off, or donated to the local jetty or bottom of the river. 

     Fly tying is an art, maybe a little science mixed in as well. I tip my hat to my friends, well you know how I hate how that word gets thrown around, better to guys I know, that create works of art that can be displayed, framed, or fished. But for me flies are like bait, like worms, bunker, or dead squid. They're just a tool to get the job done, hopefully. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

04.13.24 Getting a few for the tank....

     Been fishing when I can as the semester starts to wind down. Been dancing in the rain and trying to position myself best for the wind. Bringing a few to hand. Losing some flies. Having fun. It's seems just when things are looking good Mother Nature shows herself at the most inopportune moment. 

    We got hit when hard rains which really blow most of the river out. Now the temps are getting too warm too quick, in my opinion. You hang out in the 40's and hope to hit the 50's and then it jumps 10 degrees in 6 days. It's only going up. Everything weather-wise these days is always extreme. Next thing we know is the air conditioners will be getting fired up next week. 


Thursday, April 11, 2024

04.11.14 Me and Joe, 8 hours, one fish....

      Me and Delaware Joe hit it at 6 am and finished at 2pm. We did take a break for breakfast. Flies, plugs, bucktails, name it. Only thing to show for it was this nice smallmouth that took a 7inch fly. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

04.10.24 Another body recovery in Trenton...

 Photo Tom Sofield. New Hope Free Press

     On Friday April 5th a fisherman discovered the body of a man in the river near the Marine Terminal off Lamberton Street. It was identified at 76 year -old Jeffrey Defrehn from Ringoes. It was on March 5th that Defrehn jumped from the Route 202 bridge into the Delaware River just north of New-Hope and Lambertville. 

    Over the last month rains brought the river up to over 65,000 cfs. The distance between the Route 202 bridge and Lamberton Street is 17 miles. It always amazes me what the force of water can do and cause to travel downstream. In between there are so many islands and banks and now docks. I am glad for the family the body was recovered. Sad story. RIP Jeffrey. 

     It was last July when heavy rains caused flash flooding across from my house on the PA side in Upper Wakefield. Five people lost their lives. One, a 9-month old has never been found, and his sister, 2 years old, was found 37 miles down river in Philadelphia. Their family who were visiting from South Carolina at the time were in Buck's County for a family barbecue when the rains over took them when a small, usual trickle of a creek, over flowed. I hope one day the remains of the young child may be found for the family can have some closure. 

The Delaware River is a mighty river at times. I need to remember these stories, like the one from last week, and maintain respect and caution. No fish is worth a life. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

04.08.24 "No Lunar Eclipse bass for you.."

     2024 Lunar Eclipse. Image taken at 1531 hrs. Lot's of cloud cover. Stayed north. No bites. 

     Earlier in the day my clinical group finished up at Clara Maass- Class of 2025. 

Monday, April 8, 2024

04.08.24 "We're gonna need a bigger fly..."

     That opening line of course taken from the movie JAWS. If the above gizzard shad, which went about 14 inches, is what bigger fish are eating then I'll need to add a lot more material to my ties. 

     With the weather up and some of my regular "why change it" flies getting beat to shit it was time to sit down and wrap some hooks. I started with some darker colored flies for low light before going 

through my fly wallets and seeing what I needed. One of my go-to's, which I was going to catch a fish on even if there were two strands of Squimpish on the hook, had an Ahrex Bluewater 6/0 hook break. 

Now, those hooks are big and strong, but no matter how strong they can only take getting bounced and beaten up on the rocks for so long before the right, or wrong cast, just hits the weak spot. Better to do it on a cast and not a fish. 

     I came up with something that works for me. I bought these mini clothes pins in the dollar store and use them when I have material going every which way and I need to tame it before building the dam in 

front of it. Works for me, maybe it'll work for you. I cut off some of the still usable material off the broken hook fly and used it on a new fly. Saddle hackles ain't cheap and the Squimpish is pretty much 

indestructible. I re-used the mono/ tungsten beads I use for both weight and some noise. It's just a short tie in and it seems to keel larger flies well. I usually keel them in the bend of the hook as needed. This 

fly was a quick tie on a new Ahrex Bluewater 6/0 that will get pretty beat up and quick. I was able to fish a bunch this weekend looking for bank feeders as the water dropped and cleared up. I moved a 

few fish and am looking forward to catching a few soon. All of the waters; Raritan Bay, Navesink, Hackensack and the Delaware are off color and just need of a few days of warmth, and no North wind, to get things going. Tomorrow is the new moon and the Lunar Eclipse and in two weeks the full Pink Moon. That's when the gettin' could be gettin' good. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

04.07.24 Maybe I should have joined in the fun...

     For so many opening day of trout season is an annual ritual. I used to do it, mostly in my early fishing years in the off-color and underwater maze of debris in the Manasquan River. Most of the fish I caught would be filleted and placed in aluminum foil only to wind up solid in a block of ice at the bottom of the freezer. 

On my way for slightly bigger fish I stopped before the 8am start and talked with the above guys. They were talking of the current water conditions and the inevitable question that always comes up, "I wonder if they put a lot of fish here?". Anglers had it all out there for bait, garden worms, salmon eggs, meal worms, PowerBait, but the go-to was the old-reliable Mepp's Spinner. Most of the people who limited out quick on the 8-10 inch trout had luck with lures in the murky water. My man below had a three-rod

soak going on and had one floater to show for it. It's not my jam but it used to be. This is surely a put and take fishery here in the Delaware and Raritan Canal as the waters warm up quickly as spring turns to summer. A few people told me they saw a large muskie patrolling the banks and I am sure it didn't wait for the 8 o'clock start to pick off a few of the stockie rainbows. 

     And in the category of- we ned to do better- somehow we need to change the direction of belly hooks for striped bass. Striped bass historically eat head first so the three hooks you have up front should serve you well. Nicely, the ones below have had the barbs pinched down, which is great. But that treble that 

 hangs off the back does more bad than good. Gill plates, eyes, a second set of hooks in the mouth, or even the pectoral fin depending on the length of the plug, can be places where the needless hooks find a home. If needed you can hang a single hook or what a lot of plug makers do these days is hang a flag, or bucktail, off the back. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

04.06.24 What's next? The locusts?....

     No new news here as you all know we had some earthquakes and aftershocks hit New Jersey yesterday. I first heard of them from Theresa who works in Lawrence and she and her colleques felt the building shake. As did my daughter in Brooklyn. And everyone else in between and not in-between. I didn't feel a thing. Not the 4.8, the 2.6, our last evenings 4.0. At first I thought the epicenter was about 10 miles north of me but I have learned it was 37 miles away, probably the same distance to NYC.

     What I did learn is that my town, Hopewell, as Titusville is a section of it, has its own fault line that is part of the larger Ramapo Fault System. Does it mean I'm in harms way? No. But it's cool to learn 

about things we normally wouldn't care about. So leading into Monday's Lunar Eclipse we've had, in my area, 3.76 inches of rain which has blown out the Delaware River and an earthquake. So what's next the locusts? Those that are believers in the Rapture, the second coming of Christ, are all jazzed up as all these events means, or could mean, the end of the world and we will all be reunited up in Heaven. I hope it's not now, just give me one last spring and some sight fishing on the Vineyard before we go. 

     And while the earth was shaking yesterday I was coming back from fishing. Fishing a swollen and off-color Delaware where it was running at 65,000 cfs. Above is the Yardley boat ramp which is usually seen at the furthest poles in the parking lot. Gonna take some time for the waters to trend down. 

     So with all the stuff going on or not with the 'quake yesterday I reached out to my Lottery bag and checked my tickets. And what do you know, another 4 out of 5 on the NJ Cash 5. This paid $ 551.00.

     I've won this a few times as well as the NJ Pick 6 scoring 5 out of 6 two times. I've told Theresa that we will be winning the lottery one day, hopefully it's for the big prize and no one else hits. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

04.05.24 Things are on hold for most of us....

     I can't tell you how many times I used the words Yoo-hoo or chocolate milk to describe various waters that have be blown out due to rain. It has occurred on the Upper Delaware for trout, the lower Delaware near me, and the salty bays and rivers. Generally when I see this I'm done. Now sometimes it's fun floating and streamer fishing when it's on its way up but it usually takes time on the flip side to recede and clean up a bit. And there's that fine line between off-color and unfishable, but the fish do eat when it's kinda off. 

     I saw the above report yesterday on Facebook from Capt. Derek of Fisher Price IV Sportfishing. He got some sports out yesterday in the Yoo-Hoo/chocolate milk water and got them on plugs. So just when I think it's no good, maybe it's not all that bad. Now, there has to be fish there and they have to want to eat, and most importantly you have to get out. 

     And then on the "Huh?" side of things I also saw this post on Facebook, one I can no longer find. It was a video from a guy Mike who said he watched as a large boat passed through the Reach in the Raritan Bay leaving a wake of dead bass. It was interesting and I just took a screen shot so I could remember to watch it, but now that post is gone. 

     I thought that was interesting. Are there that many bass in the Raritan stacked up in the channels that get caught off guard by a passing boat? Mmm. Now I know they stack up, and are maybe not the smartest fish in the sea, but really? Grinded up in a propeller? I have see the screen in the Raritan when

they are stacked so maybe it does happen? Or could it be a bunch of dead bass from the catch and release crowd? Which would most likely come from the boat anglers? I'm going to find out more about this. 

     And then in the, "It what it is" category. Big boats, big boys catching big bass, causing big blood loss. The deck looks like they are coming back from a tuna trip and if you look you can follow the 

80- pound mono all the way down to the bass' small intestine. After it "swims away strong" I wouldn't doubt if it's not swimming with the fishes with the rest of the floaters in Raritan Bay. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

04.04.24 Ye-ha, fun times...

  And it hasn't even crested yet. It's good for the fishes though and always better than a drought. I have fished the last two days, before and after work, not surprisingly....nothing. Was thinking maybe some fish pushed to the bank and were starving to death. If they did go for the fly they would have been knocked unconscious by the debris flowing down the river. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

04.02.24 Watch out this could be coming your way...

     Yepper. Recreational striped bass fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries is closed April 1st through May 15th. That's a statement right there. Don't be surprised if you see more things like that in and around New Jersey and the New York Bight. All of those pre-spawn waters like the Delaware River, the Raritan Bay and the Hudson River could be next. North Carolina has shut down their harvest fishery in and around the Roanoke River. Catch and release fishing is still allowed.

    And then we have the Delaware River and the three border states, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsy. Three states with three different sets of regulations. Last year I fought to find out the "real" regulations as the wording on the NJ Fishing Digest can be open for discussion. So this year I read in the digest

that, "Possession of striped bass in New Jersey is illegal during this time period". So I was told, "I guess to possess means you can fish and not kill a fish". I posed that question to one of the NJ Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers from that district who said "Tickets are issued for people taking striped bass (the harvest season is closed) not to those fishing the Delaware River". So there I have it, I think. It will be interesting what Pennsylvania does with it to be in compliance with the ASMFC. Currently they have an "Open" season for harvesting, two fish from 21 - 24 inches. This is a perfect example of

different regulations for the same body of water. Spin anglers with 11 foot rods and heavy plugs or lures can dam near cast to out of state waters from one side of the river or another. In this case it should be the same regulations with the same open and or closed seasons, and it should be open, closed, or catch and release only, and clearly stated in the law. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

04.01.24 Got a nice 40 pounder to end March....


     Ok, April Fools. And not only did I not catch a big fish but March 2024 will go down as a one fish month. Hope you had a wonderful Easter. I did. I was able to see, or talk top, almost all of my family during some part of the day. But yesterday was all about the big move. Juliet found a place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to call home. Of course it was on the top floor of the above building and if I didn't have a heart attack after that then my left ventricle must be in good shape. Can't say enough how proud I am of her. Moving to a new part of the city, alone, without knowing anyone in the hood, that's pretty impressive if you ask me. 

     On the way home Erin and I hit the Brooklyn Navy Yards and the Wegman's for some bread and brie. It was a good move because for a while we sat in bumper to bumper traffic traveling across Staten Island. As the day progressed I wondered if I would be able to squeak out some Easter fishing. 

     Conditions were looking great and I liked the way the water temps were trending however it looks like we're going to have a cool down, and maybe some snow, this week. That's okay, it just means the fish across the state will have a little less pressure and be able to do their thing unscathed. 

     This weekend I got my new SA Sonar Titan line. I spooled it up and can't wait to use it. I like the way that Triple Density technology sounds at least on paper. Sinking lines are great bit they have to be heavy enough, and tapered just right, to get you down without keeping you down, if you know what I mean.