Wednesday, April 14, 2021

04.14.21A fish a day keeps whatever away...

     So in response to yesterday post title 'That's what I'm talking about....", yeah, it was my fly caught on a rock. Gotcha. But this morning early it was a one and done nice fish. Worked hard after it came to net but couldn't find any other takers. They like the SF Blend flys out here, have to crank out a few more. My blend flys or no doubt better than my bucktail flys. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

04.13.21 That's what I'm talking about....


 

04.13.21 Oh, the horror....



         Okay, so here's the kick myself in the face moment. Imagine, for a bunch of years, being away with a few of the best fly innovators and tyers there are, and not paying attention to them. Well that's me. Always focused on the fishing and not really on the tying. If I only looked up at their vices and not the tide and wind charts trying to figure out where to fish on that day, it would have served me well today. 




     So yesterday I donated another fly to the river and am determined to tie two a day to replace and replenish. In a flash I went down to the dungeon and tried one up before dinner. Now I know the finished product cant be judged until the fly is wet and dried, so I wasn't to hard on myself while it sat in the vice complete. 


    I wet it last night and put it to bed and when I woke up this is what it had morphed into...hideous looking mess, and it only got worse as I drove down to the river. Now in all fairness to myself, I didn't fish it yet, can't imagine why, but I will and if catches a striped bass then I know pretty flies aren't needed for these fish. My bets on nothing will hit it, and hopefully the only thing that will bite it is some rebar or concrete at the bottom of the river. 

     Yesterday the FedEx guy delivered my rod fresh back from Leif's desk where he replaced the tip and did some cork work on my H2 10 wt, my favorite rod. I have to get him the next project, my beloved H2 11wt, which is a beautiful rod for the river and boat, I love the extended forward cork grip. Which road will I break next?


 

Monday, April 12, 2021

04.11.21 Lambertville shakedown....

     So this striped bass and the Delaware River thing is interesting, and hard to learn. Striped bass are born here, leave here, and return to spawn here, most likely in the same vicinity where they first kicked their pectoral fins. These are Delaware River fish, not Chesapeake, not Hudson, not any of the other rivers we think may be some kind of auxiliary spawning grounds, the Susqhehana, Maurice, Navesink, Shrewsbury and Raritan Rivers. 

     In the Delaware the bass can be found, or have been found from the mouth of the Delaware Bay, to mile marker 130 in Trenton, to mile marker 330 where the East and West Branches meet at the Junction Pool in Hancock NY. We hear of fish, it some spots more than others, Easton, PA to be one of them. 

     I looked into some things and found an older article in Stripers247.com, that states the primary spawning area for the striped bass is from Wilmington Delaware upriver to Marcus Hook, PA, which is a few miles south of the Philadelphia Airport. 

      These fish are moving, especially if you believe the fish in Hancock NY have started out in the Delaware Bay, and trying to find out where they are and going isn't easy. So I gave it a shot in Lambertville, trying to see if any of those that had the longest commute might be below the Wing Dam. To note, there is talk that those upper river fish might come out of Lake Wallenpaupack. In that lake they stock pure bred and hybrid striped bass, along with alewife herring. To get to the Delaware they would have to make their way there via the Lackawaxen River. 

     We have seen videos of striped bass on the spawn, you can see one HERE. If you think of the Delaware with its mix of just plain nasty ass water to rapids with a big drop in gradient to long, really long pools, you wonder where they spawn. And then the other question is, are the fish, that are in that tidal, rapid water, depending on the tide, staging there to eat before hitting a more comfortable and romantic body of water to spawn. 

     There is no doubt these fish will eat with love on their minds. They don't lose that behavior, look at the pre-spawn bass in the Raritan Bay right now. The big difference, I see, well don't see, here in the river are any signs of bass blowing up on bait, either chasing smaller shad or herring. You would think you would. I haven't experienced the top water bite here in the river, but they say it is good, later in the spring. We will see if they'll take a Double Barrel popper like they do those big plugs. 

     And then there was this cute couple, who had me a tad concerned. Misty rain, at spots a little slippery, taking a walk hand in hand to the end of the dam..... As I watched them approach and then pass and then go the end I really had a bad feeling in my gut. But they reached the end, turned, and walked make saying hi as they passed. Its probably a ritual walk they do everyday. As they made their way to the end I started to think how I would even try to help in some kind of rescue, but on this one I would just have to watch and pray. 


 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

04.11.21 Been slow, but we're almost there....


    Believe me, I'm proud of it and I'll take it. Fished through the weekend, just about every kind of tide, and from sun up till sundown. Haven't done the third shift as of yet. So I have been saying we need to get above 50 and we need a good rain, bump up the river a bit. Well today it did both. It wasn't the-mud-off-color that I hope doesn't come, but it was the city outflow flush that brought garbage, including a basketball, down the river. It, well, kinda turned things on, landed one, missed three, including a decent one I saw turn on it as I looked at a jet boat barreling up river. 



     In other good news, the herring are here. I know some sharpie will tell you they've been here for a month, but today the cormorants were sliding back and forth the river and diving and I saw one come up with a herring. So that's good. I still don't think the god fish, from the returning males to the big females have arrived. Now I know someone will tell you they're at Easton already, but I'm talking about fish born and bred here, the ones that come and stick. 


     For fly fishing this river this is the kind of leaning post you need to find. Without, hopefully not me, would take the 15 foot plunge into the water and then swim like hell to the shore. The waders and stripping basket won't help with that, and I need to switch over to some river shoes so I have a chance at survival. 

     And on a real cool note today I met Billy Martin, no, not the ex-Yankees skipper, but a fan and friend of this blog for sometime. He had shared with me that he had a fly rod that he would like to find a good home for. Its a Sage 8'6" 4 weight which is perfect for other waters around here when the Delaware isn't holding river monsters. The Sage GFL product line was one of the originals and was offered from 1980-1987, that means this rod could be 40 years old! In addition he had some things from his friends fly fishing vest that he also gave me. It was cool to see some throwback stuff, including an old Orvis hook sharpener, 

leaders, and a package of Bobber Stops. Included was a tool, called the Cinchie. This one is a vintage one but I looked up online and Cabelas sells them today, and claims they can help tie 14 different knots. I should put this thing to use. Thanks Billy, it was a pleasure. 




 

Friday, April 9, 2021

04.09.21 Two bumps, that was it....

     So I have to replace a bunch of flies that I have lost to the rivers. Tied up the above for the river herring that are here in small numbers, but should be coming, with the bass, after the new moon in a few days. I really have to get back to tying, and really figure out how to tie some really good flies. The best flies, they say, are the ones that catch fish, and eventually all of mine do that, just not always when I want them to. 

     I need to remember what herring look like. The fly above I used the last few days and hammered the fish, good fish on them. I decided to give it a comb out ant trim, and for some reason took out the marker which makes it look more like a mackerel back then a herring. Below are some images of both the alewife and blueback herring. 



     After hitting the incoming with a 300 gr line and not getting any help from the fish, I went to the 12 weight and a 450 gr sinking line and fished the top and the start of the outgoing. It was a 25 or 40 second count after casting upstream in the hopes of finding fish, and hopefully bigger fish. I had two bumps, which could have been anything from catfish, smallmouths, stripers, or the backs of sturgeon, which were breaching the water with the shad, as they arrive in this area to spawn.


 

04.09.21 Scenes from the Raritan Bay.....


     Mmm. Striped bass are in a bad way right now. The fisheries management, the ASMFC, is a joke of a collection of human beings. Its a waste of time trying to get them to do the right thing. So in New Jersey we have a slot limit now, or are alleged to, along with the bonus tag program. Here's a recap on those regulations,

"The possession limit for striped bass/hybrid striped bass is one fish with a size limit of 28 inches to less than 38 inches total length. Anglers participating in the Striped Bass Bonus Program (SSBP) may possess a striped bass at 24 inches to less than 28 inches in length. FISH MAY BE HARVESTED IN ANY ORDER". The SSBP is open May 15-Dec 31. 

     So here's the joke of that SBBP, guy buys a bonus tag, $2, and has it in his possession. Goes out and fishes and catches some shorts, keeps the catch, doesn't get stop by Fish and Game, and keeps the fish and goes home and fries it up. 

     This post is about the two photos, the top posted by Frank R., on social media. That pic is recent and from the Raritan Bay, Jersey side. No doubt from one of the marinas were guys relocate their boat in the spring to get on the bass bite before returning to their home ports. Look at that pile of dead fish. And that is one day, in one marina, in one state.....C'mon guys!!

     And the below photo shows how wasteful we are with a resource. Look at the fillet job done on these bass. We have to do a better job, from the ASMFC down to the anglers on the water.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

04.08.21 East wind shut things down....


     After this mornings session it was a run home to log on for some virtual appointments with patients. After that, it was "Gone Fishing". Hit close first, and found the bass eager to hit the fly. Was able to use my "fish lift" net system, aka pier net, on a fiesta little guy that took a shot. Had one floating and saw one other swipe. Water temps in the Delaware today... like I said, lets hit 55 and 


see what happens, well its happening, or is starting to. You can see below the process of a quick lift, unhooking, and lowering back into the water, fish flipped off the net and swam away. 


     And the other spot, east wind, blowing debris right towards angler on the incoming. You had to time your cast in order to get the fly down uninterrupted. The bite was slow, real slow. I somehow was the high hand landing 4, and dropping a lousy and losing an Andrew Fly in the process. All in all a good day, catching fish, having a sore arm and elbow, getting McDonald's on the way home, and just waiting for things to get going and start the graveyard shift in the hunt for bigger fish. 



 

04.08.21 Finally....


     Nice to finally have one of those mornings. 11 bass with the biggest just over 32 inches, probably went about 16-17 pounds. The rest were all good fish from 26" up, most just a tad under or over keeper size. Only had one angler with me at the start, he was finishing up a 27 hour marathon where he caught over 100 fish, I saw him catch a dozen in short order before he left. 



     I tried a popper in the dark, went to a herring fly, that produced, before settling in and putting the hammer down with an Andrew fly, which in my opinion, is one of the best flys I have ever used, or seen swim. Now I know there are others, Taylor, Strkyer, Walley, to name a few, and this guy named Popovics ties a decent one, but Andrew's, well, are fantastic. So good, I donated one to a whopper of a fish that I almost brought to hand. And hand, the fly guy was the hot hand as the fish wouldn't take the poppers, chuggers, swimmers, shads, but wanted that fly. 


     I cant believe I used to live near this water and just never dialed myself in. I'm hoping to find more, as every angler does, when you finally find the fish. If my wife only knew what is about to begin, moon, tides, fish.


 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

04.07.21 Found the bass in the PM....


     Out of work and 445 and it was off to fishing. Went to a place, took a long walk, through heavy brush, tried to build a casting platform out of an old picnic bench, took the long walk back after


finding no fly rodable access, broke a rod tip, two this season already, tried to find a way in between the crowds that, at times, didn't represent the best in society, heard some things, like anti-Asian insults, saw things being thrown that weren't appropriate for fish in the deep ocean, finally got a good spot, got more looks for throwing a fly rod then I could count, had a bunch of misses, saw 40-60 fish caught, had a bunch of swipes, flushed a few, landed two, it was worth it. 



 

04.07.21 Nice little bronzeback bite this AM....


     Snuck down before work today. Just about dead low...you know what that means. More fly donations to the river. I'm pretty confident the fish aren't here yet. The luck I had last week was some early fish on their way upriver to find a girlfriend. It's been a week and few days since a striped one hit my fly, and that's fishing nearly everyday, both high and low tides. 

     Shad are here, some guys are saying they've seen some small pods of herring, but I can't confirm that. Here's what I think we need, some good rain, the kind that throws it off color a bit and bumps it up, some sustained warm weather to bring the water temps up above 55, and time, well good timing.