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.