Monday, October 26, 2009

10.25.09 After 20 years-I am going to learn how to really cast

Well this year I realized the casting, well sort of, technique that I have been using for twenty years needed to be tweaked. I hired Jim Valle, a local Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) casting instructor, to help get me on my way. I told Jim I have a few goals when it comes to casting, 1) be a better caster, 2) be a better fly fisherman, and 3) one day test to become a FFF casting instructor myself. It was an hour lesson and right off the bat Jim found things that needed to be tweaked, well dismantled, and put back together. Funny thing is, I am sore after the lesson because I used totally different muscles during the lesson. I will be away next week but I am looking forward to get into another lesson mid November. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

10.23.09 Hitting the jetties with writer Chris Roslan

Well Chris went and picked the "perfect" day to shoot the pictures for the jetty story we are doing for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine. Of course it's not his fault, I thought we'd get a good shot this morning before the rain came in tonight. Well, we were both wrong. Gale force winds from the east made todays shoot a little more difficult, and wetter, then we anticipated. We met up in Red Bank at 9:30 and stopped at my favorite bagel haunt, and now maybe Chris', The Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street. Things seemed fine weather wise in town but as we traveled down Ocean is was clear that the nasty weather had already moved in. 
     We first stopped in Elberon and parked on Park Ave and took the walk along the beach access path down to the water. I thought that would be a good location to shoot because there is a large "T" jetty that runs behind the beach club. The first thing we noticed after the high winds were two guys throwing bait at one of the jetties north of where we were setting up. They were out a ways were taking a bath from the wind and high tides. There were no birds around and we couldn't see any first working. Every now and then a bird would come down and grab some bait but that was it.
     We started out shooting some tight shots before Chris ventured out to the end of the jetty. I set up on the beach and shot him with the 200 and 300 mm lens. As Chris was casting I could see the big waves behind him coming in and then crash behind him and cover him with cold sea water. We stayed there about an hour and then headed down to Deal. There was more of the same there. I was able to shoot him from the pier which sits above the jetty behind the beach club. While we were there a couple guys would come, park, and take a look. One guy traveled up from Bayhead hitting all the beaches trying to find fish. After another hour and some more tight shots we packed it in. I think we got about 6-8 good looks for the editors to play with. 
     Before, during, and after the shoot I pulled out my audio recorder and collected our conversations about the shoot for The Average Anglers' first PODCAST, which may or may not come anytime soon. I am in the process of trying to figure out how to get one going. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

10.22.09 Sea and stream kind of day

I hit the beach early today. As I drove up Ocean Avenue around 530 am I could see guys gearing up for the morning. I got into the North Beach parking area around 6, and was only one of two cars there. Later in the day I hit the South Branch of the Raritan River, and yes, the Ken Lockwood Gorge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10.21.09 JSTU delivers trout eggs for "Trout in the Classroom"

   Today members of the Jersey Shore Chapter of Trout Unlimited delivered brook trout eggs to schools throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties. At 11 a.m. I met JSTU members Ken and Lloyd who had traveled up to the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Hackettstown earlier this morning to pick up the eggs. The eggs, approximately 150, were counted out and put in sandwich bags labeled with the schools name they were going to. My stops included Lakewood High School, the Manasquan Resovoir Environmental Center and a private school in Farmingdale. The kids were all excited to get their eggs. 

     The schools have tanks filled with water @ 52 degrees. At first, the eggs are put into a plastic holding bin and placed at the bottom of the aquarium. Each day any dead eggs are fished out and removed to avoid contamination. In about three weeks the eggs will hatch and the students will begin feeding and caring for them until May. Any fish that survive will be released into either the Toms or Manasquan Rivers. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

10.19.09 I passed the NY State guide license test

Today I got notified that I passed the exam to be a licensed guide in New York!! I took the general exam, and fishing and boating. After I send a few more certifications to the DEC I should get my guide # and badge!! The 2010 fishing season is just around the corner- time to book clients!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10.15.09 Nor'easter on it's way

At 7:30 this morning I traveled up to Monmouth Beach. Air temps were around 45 and the wind was 11mph NE. There were a few guys casting plugs and I saw one guy hook into a decent size bluefish that was released. Traveling south I parked on Park Avenue in Elberon to see what was happening around the jetties. One lone angler who left shortly after I arrived. Looks like it's going to be nasty for the next 4 or 5 days. Check back in after the weekend. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10.14.09 "Follow the peanuts"

" Follow the peanuts", those were the words of advice to me from a guy who had just landed a few 8-10 pound bluefish and a short striped bass following an afternoon beach blitz. After yesterday I was determined to to get on some good fish. When I woke it was a nice cool morning with a wind coming off the ocean. I decided to give Sandy Hook another try. I knew something must have been up when I pulled into the parking area and found over 20 trucks parked there. Today I took the extra
walk and settled into the area called the "False Hook" which is located on the northernmost part of the New Jersey coastline. There were birds working over fish out near the buoys. I talked to a couple of guys who said that earlier this morning the fish were up against the beach. I waited for awhile and made some images of the birds picking up pieces of fish as the blues and stripers were ripping through. The wind had picked up since yesterday coming from the east. I was hoping that would help the bait up onto the beach in reach of those bigger fish on the bite. 
     I picked up around 11 am and headed south for Sea Bright. I saw some guys parked where the old Tradewinds beachclub used to be so I drove down to the old Coast Guard station in Monmouth Beach. I parked in the lot there and walked across the street and climbed up onto the seawall. I gave the beaches a quick scan and in the distance to the north I saw tons of birds working on the beach, seemed to be around Donovan's Reef. I ran to my truck, made a quick turnaround and parked near Merri-Makers and hurried to the beach. There was a line of guys casting plugs into the surf from in front of the apartments to Donovan's. There was also a large flock of birds working the beach where peanut bunker were beaching themselves to get away from the large blues and stripers that were in pursuit. I could see it, but I was too far away to cast to them and started a quick trot to see if I could get into the action. Yesterday I grabbed a 2x converter from Marc to use with the 300/2.8- making it a 600/5.6. As I made my way up the beach I stopped and got a few frames off of the birds. As the fish, with birds in tow, made their way up the beach, each guy casting out would hook up. Most were all big blues, with a couple of keeper bass thrown in. 
     I was slightly winded by the time I met up with the first guy who was returning a bluefish into the water. I stopped there and laid down my camera gear and made my way up the beach with my flyrod. As soon as I got to within 100 feet of the birds, the fish hit a small jetty and made a right turn out to sea, and it was over. I turned back to see the rest of the guys releasing fish and one guy standing proudly with a 36 inch keeper. And after about 20 minutes, all of them were gone. I was left standing on the beach with no anglers, no birds, and no signs of fish. 
     On my way home I stopped again at the Coast Guard station and found about 15 guys casting plugs. I also stopped in Deal behind the Deal Casino and walked a few jetties. Birds were around but never close enough. The day was good, got a few images of the birds, but I did drop my camera and the 2x converter that Marc lent me yesterday blew up. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10.13.09 Hitting Sandy Hook's North Beach

This morning I decided to hit the beaches along the shore. It was a beautiful fall morning with warm temps and no wind. It took me a little over an hour to gather all my camera equipment and salt water fly fishing gear and get out of the house. My first stop around 8 am were the jetties in Allenhurst and Deal. There were a few guys casting plugs but I didn't see any fish working or birds in the air. After a short drive up Ocean Avenue I was near the entrance to Sandy Hook. Traffic was bottled up at the light where construction of the new Sea Bright bridge is going on. They are now building the approaches for the road and pedestrian bridges near the entrance to the park. The old bridge was a favorite place for bait guys who would drop their lines 40 feet down into the Shrewsbury River. 
     After entering the Hook I drove out to the end to North Beach. There were a few trucks in the parking area so I decided to give it a shot. It took me about 15 minutes to stage my camera and fishing gear. I packed my camera body and a few lenses into a back pack. I had brought my 300 mm lens and a tripod but decided to leave it in the truck. It always happens that the lens or body you need is always in the car or back at the office. I wanted the long glass around in case the fish were busting the surface. As far as my fishing gear, I only have a few things to grab. Rod, reel, fly wallet, stripping basket. This was also the first morning I used my replacement Simms waders. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I had sent an old pair of bootfoot waders to Simms to get the felt soles replaced. They came back and said they would replace them with the new custom bootfoots with the Muck boots. So I took them out of the box and put them on. They were a perfect fit, and very comfortable. 
     As I left the parking area and headed onto the beach I could see the faint skyline of New York City on the horizon. The guys who were parked in the parking area were spread out along the beach, they were a combination of guys using bait, casting plugs and one fly fisherman. Perfect! Chris Roslan and I are currently working a story for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine on fly fishing the jetties along the Jersey coast. This outing today is sort of a scouting mission for that story. 
     As soon as I got near the surf I laid out my gear and grabbed my camera. Luckily the guy with the fly rod was game on. Great cast, good stripping technique, and just far enough in the surf to allow the small waves to break at his feet. After I got off a bunch of frames I went over and introduced myself. He was from northern New Jersey made the trek down for some beach action. As we talked a few albies started chasing bait within casting range. I backed away and let him focus on hooking up. A short time later I saw as he briefly had a fish on but in an instant his line went dead. He fly was gone. As he left the water to tie on a new fly I decided to wet my own line. I put my camera away and assembled my 9 wt and tied on white deceiver. The albies that were around seemed to have circled away from this area so I just concentrated on making good casts. It takes a little while to adjust to the heavier 9 wt setup after using a 5 wt the entire summer. After seeing my fly line on the water, I realize just how good a caster the guy next to me really is. So, I figured I would get the ones close, and he the ones just a bit further out.
     I was having a great time but knew it would be over soon. I had to meet up with my business partner Marc for a photo shoot we were doing up north. I said good by to the guy I met and started to break down my gear. Just as I was zipping up my back pack I looked over one last time and saw the dramatic clouds and the sunlight shining through them. I hurriedly unzipped the backpack, too the body cap off my camera, and attached a 16-35 mm lens and made, what I think, was the best image of the day. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10.10.09 Taking the NY State Guide test in Ray Brook

     I finally gave up studying for my NY State Guide license test around 3 am. I was back and forth between the Boy Scout Fieldbook, notes the NYSOGA people sent me, and links to all over the DEC website. I had my fill of, but wasn't sure I knew enough of, weather conditions, topographical maps and the compass, boating safety, fishing regulations, land use, sanitary food preparation and dishwashing, emergency shelters and treatment of victims, and the all favorite cathole preparation and use. I felt I had prepared well, but wasn't sure how in depth the test would go. My brother Ryan came up shortly after I fell asleep and we settled down for the first night in the new lodge. 
     Ryan turned off the alarm at 6:30 so luckily a phone call from Cindy around 7:30 got me up in a panic. I ran over to Stewart's to get some shampoo and soap so I could shower before heading up to Ray Brook. Surprisingly, the shower was great, nice hot water, good pressure,and no leaks.
     I arrived in at the DEC complex at 8:40 and didn't find anyone else waiting around or in the building. I thought I was at the wrong place for a minute. Just before 9 three more people showed up to take the test and so did the monitor. We all joked around about the lack of study material provided for the guide exam. There are suggestions, but no "according to" sources. We sat down in a large classroom and opened our packets, which contained inside the different types of guide license tests we were taking. All candidates have to take the general exam, and I chose the fishing and small boating exam as well. I started out strong on the general exam, but then ran into a bunch of questions that threw me- best type of kindling in rainy weather-still don't know, two lines nearly touching on a topographical map- I said cliff. I finished the exam and then went back to the ones I wasn't sure of. I didn't change answers during my review of the test, just filled in the blank ones with a best guess approach. 
     I then moved onto the fishing exam, which was more an open book test from the DEC Fishing Regulation book for 2010. First thing, what about the cost of a non-resident fishing license this year- up to 70 dollars!!!! There were questions on the number of rods each angler could have, maximum number of points on a line, where you can legally fish for trout in such-a-such county. It wasn't hard, just frustrating to go back and forth in that little book a hundred times! Then the came the boating test, not many questions, mostly common sense, but it was the ones on right of way that killed me. A sailboat approaches a powerboat- who has the right of way, and yada yada- those I don't know if I faired to well on. So for me about an hour an a half later I was done. It was what it was. I felt I got more right than wrong, I just hope enough to pass. 

     Later that day I took my cameras and headed off to find some fall anglers along the West Branch. I started near the Flume in Wilmington and finished up at the steel bridge on River road. That section seems to always hold working fish. There tons of rises to tiny blue winged olives, about size 24. I met a guy fishing below the bridge who was on them and caught, and kept a few. He said he releases fish all year, but after October 1 he takes some to eat because of the high mortality rate during the winter mostly due to anchor ice.  It was fun to be on the river with camera in hand, although strange that the last two times up here I didn't bring my fishing gear. Looks like I won't wet a line for trout in New York till the Hendricksons start in late April/ early May.   

10.09.09 Closing on the future fly fishing lodge on the West Branch

Today was the closing on the house on the West Branch of the Ausable River in Ausable Forks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

10.03.09 Memorial service for Fran Betters

Today was the memorial service for Fran Betters. It was held at the Monument Pool on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River. On Friday morning I traveled up to my home in Ausable Forks, originally planning to attend the service.