Recently I purchased some saltwater flies from an outdoor store up in northern New Jersey. After I made my selections I put them in a plastic cup and brought them to the counter for them to be sorted by price. When the guy was done he handed me my flies in a small kind of paper Italian Ice cup. As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of times during my youth, almost 30 years ago.
Yesterday I had breakfast with my striper Jedi Master Al, you know Al, I talk about him here, 80 +/- years old, been striper fishing for about 50 years. We talked about the kick-off of this season and I mentioned to him I was thinking about going south today and try pick up one of those warm water discharge stripers near Oyster Creek. He suggested that I spend my time walking the Raritan Bay beat and searching for locations that will heat up soon and be a feeding ground for the big blues and stripers that will soon be amongst us.
I started my scouting, and my trip down memory lane in Keansburg. I parked in the parking lot of the condo complex that just mysteriously burned down on Beachway Avenue and walked up and over the dunes to the water. In the distance to my right was the Keansburg Fishing Pier, to my left the entrance to Thornes Creek. Thornes Creek eventually empties into Natco Lake, which is split by Route 36. My father and grandparents used to live in a small house on the highway backed by Natco Lake, and my grandfather had a hot dog wagon there for years. I walked down to the entrance of the creek and was soon brought back to nearly three decades ago when my older cousin Ross used to take me snapper and cocktail bluefishing here. I remember it kind of well. We would pull ourselves away from the family over at their house on Fox Avenue and take the 20 minute walk over to Charles Avenue, near where the Belvedere Hotel still stands. We would make a stop at Harvey's. From what I remember it was a small tackle store located in a garage behind his house. There was an old school refrigerator with the metal arm that used to pull out in the
middle of the fridge. Inside the freezer Harvey used to keep frozen spearing head down in small cups, similar to the ones used to hold the flies I purchased a few weeks ago. Harvey would charge 25 cents for a cup of spearing. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, two cup sizes. When my cousin again I will have to check my facts on that. From there we would walk down to the entrance to the creek and fish. I remember almost always catching something. My cousin would always fish into the bay with bigger bait or lures and catch bigger fish. I would fish with the spearing and a bobber on the creek side. It was fun today having some old childhood memories. I was tempted to drive over to the Dixie Lee for a black and white, but I resisted.
I spent the morning scouting out several promising sod banks, creeks, and flats along the Raritan Bay. I hit the Burg, Union Beach, Keyport, Cliffwood Beach and Laurence Harbor. I stopped where Chesequake Creek empties into the bay, that'll be for another day.