Monday, February 25, 2013

02.25.13 Changes they are acoming......

Yep, that's me. Now you'll know everything. After 45 years of battling up and down, mostly up, weight issues tomorrow is go day. Instead of heading down to the beach at first light to check conditions I'll be heading to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch for bariatric surgery. The procedure I'm getting done is called a Vertcial Sleeve Gastrectomy or VSG. Most people are familiar with the gastric bypass or the lap band procedure, this is the newest form of weight loss surgery. 
     I, like millions of people, have an eating disorder. Some might call it a lack of willpower, or self esteem, which may be true, but there is also a bigger problem out there. It is a form of addiction. Some have a nicotine, alcohol, gambling, or sex addiction, some have a food addiction. It's usually misunderstood or overlooked because hey, everybody eats, just some of us more, or a lot more, than others. 
     I have been through the ringer of diets and lifestyle modifications over the years. Things like Nutri-System, Atkins, Weight Watchers, diet bars, diet shakes, and even just plan starvation have all worked for a bit, but eventually things go back to (ab)normal. Most people have been up and down with their weight, and like me, have seen big swings over time. 
     In 2008, my latest hard core attempt,  I "started anew" and went all out slimming down to just under 210 pounds and feeling, and looking, pretty good. Then reality resumes....and so does the eating. My weight creeped up, and on. 210 became 215, then 225, then 240, and so up to 260. When I was at my doctors in September and was told I was approaching a BMI of 40, which is the cutoff for being labeled morbidly obese, I knew I had to do something.
     Besides what being "fat" does to your self esteem and physical and emotional self, it's just not healthy. With high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and a plethora of weight related co-morbidities that occur, my time bomb was started to tick. I realized that this was my doing, but "Hey, stop eating!" or "Change your ways!" was and is easier said then done. 
     Later that same month when my doctor informed me I was approaching a new weight class, I decided to check out the Weight Loss Center at Monmouth Medical. I was familiar with weight surgery as my mother had a successful gastric bypass in 2004. If it was available years ago I think her mother too would have had it done as she was a very eligible candidate. 

     I initially thought of a lapband, but learned of the VSG, or sleeve. There's no doubt it's invasive, and it's surgery, and yes it's permanent.....but it was time to be done as I was done with well, being fat. Numerous people say "Hey, you're not fat.....your big, husky, large, big boned, broad, heavy......uh, it's fat." According to the "scale" where they look at height vs weight ratios I should be coming to the fight weighing in at 185. That's 75 pounds from where I am at.
     So with the sleeve in my mind I started the 6 month process of changing my diet, going through tests, visiting with a psychologist and nutritionist and my surgeon. Of course all of this had to be presented to my insurance company which signed off the same day they got the paperwork. In addition there were monthly support groups meetings that I attended religiously. One thing they all said, "Don't have a last hurrah!", I had about 25. But now, with only hours away, I can say I am ready, although growing more nervous for life after gastric surgery. One thing I hear is, 'The only regret I have is that I didn't have it done sooner!", which makes me feel a little better.
     Yes, the picture above is well, just embarrasing, but it serves me well in seeing that that's what I really look like. Not the me in my limited daily wardrobe of clothes that fit and hide what's underneath from the outside world.

These next few weeks, into the next month or two will be a challenge as I use this "tool" and with a new mental approach to eating try and make myself a healthier, and hopefully happier me. In cliche' but, "I will be eating to live, not living to eat."

Have a laugh while you can  (hey it's a half nude fat guy wearing a stripping basket standing on the beach)  as I hope to come out of this looking like Brad Pitt, and not a shar pei!

I'll be ready for those drift trips down the Delaware starting in April and jumping up on the poling platform on the boat in the Navesink in late March. See you out there.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

02.23.13 Great day at Ramsey Outdoors- Paramus

     Well the rainy weather made for a perfect "Cabin Fever Day" at Ramsey Outdoors- Paramus. The day started at 10 with several tiers, manufacturers, vendors and clubs set up for people to browse while the speakers got ready to present. Saw lots of interest over at the Orvis table in the H2 and the Guide Sling Pack, I even saw a guy I know buy two packs, one for himself and his son. Rich Strolis started things off with his streamer presentation followed by George Daniel on Trout Lessons 2012 and myself wrapping it up with Intro to New Jersey Saltwater Fly Fishing. The attendees were great and from what I hear all happy with the seminars. One thing all three of us had in common, we all went over time, but, like I said, that's because we're so passionate about the our topic. That, or we just rambled on too much!
     When we weren't talking we set up and tied and did a meet and greet for those that stopped by the table. Thanks to Ryan and the crew for inviting me to a great day.


Friday, February 22, 2013

02.22.13 Gearing up for Ramsey Outdoor's "Cabin Fever Day"

Tomorrow, Saturday February 23rd, I'll be presenting an "Intro to Fly Fishing the Jersey Shore" seminar at Ramsey Outdoor in Paramus. It's their "Cabin Fever Day" and major manufacturers, conservation groups, and vendors will be at the store. Below is a schedule of the speakers and their seminar topics,

Rich Strolis- 10AM- Streamer Tactics

George Daniel 11AM - 2012 Trout Lessons

Colin Archer - 12PM- Saltwater Fly Fishing

They'll be great deals at the shop and it's a great opportunity to learn about and pick up new products, new techniques, and even a new fishery.

See you there!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

02.19.13 Heading up north to the Coastal Fly Rodders

Tonight I'll be giving a presentation at the Coastal Fly Rodders meeting at the Wyckoff Christian Health Care Center, 301 Sicomac Ave., Wyckoff,NJ starting at 730. Looking forward to a good night out!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

02.17.13 Making way for the new fly tying room....good bye "Total Gym"

     I am in the process of making a large part of my basement, aka Man-Cave, well Man-Mess, into a fly tying haven. There will be enough room for me to tie, my daughter to tie, and any other buddies or clients that want to come over and tie as well. My desk, 8 feet wide by 3 feet deep, will always be organized and my materials will be in arms reach and in their rightful place. This should only take me a year or so to complete. Actually weeks I am hoping.
     Luckily I had my two teenage sone who were able to help me load up all kinds of sh%t into my truck for a ride tomorrow to the dump. If you look closely in the above picture you can see a 40 yard dumpster in front of my neighbor's house.....mmmmmmmm. One of the items that just had to go was the...."Total Gym". What kind of family buys a Total Gym, we do, or did.

     Of all the bad purchases we have made, this one is just about tops. Not that money wasn't wasted with good intentions, it was, but it just plain sucks. It was so bad and so wasn't even worth returning, so it sat in the basement for the last four years. According to Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley this gym can do anything and it will transform you with just a little daily effort. The only problem is if you have two legs using it in nearly impossible. Each member of my family tried it while the other members watched and almost wet themselves.
     The Total Gym was developed in 1974 by Tom Campanaro and in 1997 Norris and Brinkley teamed up to pimp it out on QVC and other infomercials. To date it has over $1.2 billion in sales, including our $300.

I guess the below video is what got me interested....

And then there's Christie only, a few years ago.....

Stay tuned as I'll post pictures from my completed fly tying room. Good bye Total Gym!

Friday, February 15, 2013

02.15.13 Trying to figure out where the striped bass...and an Orvis package on the steps

    It's a beautiful balmy day here on the Jersey Shore. Great day to go fishing. I made my way down to the rocks to fish the end of the incoming tide. It looked good, but that was about it. While there I made some observations which may explain why I didn't get a bite, or haven't brought a fish to hand since February 3rd.

     The first thing I have noticed is the lack of crab parts up on the high tide mark on the beach and from birds eating them on the rocks. Today I watched as a smaller than number of birds swam around the groins and diving and coming up empty. I think the rock crabs have taken refuge elsewhere. I also brought along my trusty thermometer, HERE, and swam it in the water for a read 38 degrees. That may just be cold enough, coupled with a reduced food source in the water, to keep them around.

     Last years mild temps and the tremendous amount of rock crabs and sand eels had Jersey Shore fisherman in nirvana. What a difference a year makes. So I think it's time to go back to a "normal" approach to plotting where our spring fish just might be.
     Most articles and books state that the optimal striped bass temperatures falls between 55-65 degrees. We saw last winter water temps hover around 45 which kept the bass here and eating. When temperatures in the back bays hit 45, then 50 into mid 50's we find bass eager to search for and eat bait that both swims and burrows. When the water approaches 58 degrees, and if the other factors like salinity, turbitity are in line, then spawning begins. Just by the nature of increased temperatures from south to north the Chesapeake and Delaware striped bass will spawn and be on the move before the Hudson River striped bass.

     So here we are February 15th waiting for our spring season to begin. How close are we? Let's look at the temps.

Raritan Bay at Keansburg                     38 degrees

Ambrose Light                                      41 degrees

Deal                                                       38 degrees

Hudson River below Poughkeepsie      32 degrees

Barnegat Bay at Old Barny                   38 degrees

Atlantic City                                          39 degrees

Cape May  ( Accurate ?? )                     44 degrees

Trenton                                                  38 degrees

Chesapeake Light, VA                          44 degrees

Keep an eye on the temps, and the start date of course, and you'll be a little closer if figuring out where and when you get your first March bass, since I am sure you have already caught one in January and February!

Just a note   -   Our Delaware River and back bay season begins here in New Jersey March 1st. But don't think you'll be getting the first shot at Delaware River striped bass, Pennsylvania is open year round (I'll be doing a blog post on that mess in the next few days.), but Delaware at least has the same regs that NJ does.


And on the "left on my doorstep" part of the blog today. I had ordered a new Orvis Guide Sling Pack after previewing it at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset. As you have seen, or fished with me, I am a big fan of the Orvis packs and have them in various types and sizes. This one is built to hold all the essential gear, tools, and outerwear you could need. Check out this cool overview I found online.


Orvis Guide Sling Pack Review from The Rogue Fly on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

02.12.13 Hooky and fly tying materials

     Today my daughter and I played hooky and took a ride down to The Adventure Aquarium in Camden. We went last year on February 26th and at that time I bought a season pass for me, which allows me and a guest to get in for free. So I wanted to use it one last time before it expires. The entrance fee is usually 24.95 for adults and 17.95 for kids plus the 10.00 parking, so I was glad to be off the hook one last time. It was good as usual, but between you and me I'm done in about an hour.
     On the way home we hit The Sportsmen's Center and stocked up on fly tying materials for springtime flies. I am going to be tying up a bunch of different blood and sand worm flies for the early spring bass in the rivers and bays. I am going to partner up a worm fly with a Pulse Disc and see what that does to the bass in less then a month from now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

02.11.13 Why sure looked fishy

     With the snow fall done and the temps up I took a ride down to see how the water looked. It looked great and the near 50 degree air temps I figured I give the outgoing a shot. The SE winds at 25 didn't make it easy but at least the rain and wind were at my back. Fished a few groins and the beach for a couple of hours without a bump. You had to search for waters that weren't dirtied up from the heavy runoff that was pouring out of every crevice, drain, and outflow pipe on the beach. I didn't want to leave because I kept thinking that on my next cast a fish would strike. That never happened.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

02.10.13 Beautiful morning on the beach....water's looking fishy

     On any morning in the summer along the Jersey Shore you will find bunches of people out at dawn taking in the sights awaiting a beautiful sunrise. I drove down to the beach on this cold post snow February morning to find no one had ventured out just yet. With high tide (new moon) at at just before 7, and sunrise at the same time, it was nice time to see how the water looked post Nemo. As I drove down past the snow covered trees and plowed out driveways I figured I would find off color water and crashing waves with big swells. Surprisingly I didn't find any of that. The water was clean, relatively flat, and very fishy looking. I wanted to know what the water temps were, but with thermometer in hand I was ready, but with Crocs on my feet I wasn't.

      When I got back to the office I pulled up the RU COOL website and took a look at the sea surface temps in the NY Bight. It is a great resource that I first learned about in Rich Murphy's book, Fly Fishing for Striped Bass. I really enjoyed reading this book, and refer back to it often. At this years Fly Fishing Show I had a chance to stand and talk with Rich over a beer, but honestly, my inebriation, his low voice, and out-of-this-atmosphere thinking on striped bass had my heading spinning. I had asked him his opinion on our two year run on winter striped bass fishing and his take on where these striped bass were from. He said the most accurate way to know was to count the striped bass' ear stones....."Bartender I'll take another!" Then we got into mitochondrial DNA....."Bartender, I'll take a double!"

     But back to RU COOL. It is part of Rutgers University and one of the many things they do is compile real time data from satellites, underwater gliders and radar to track things like sea surface temperatures. For me, getting an overall idea of what temps are up and down the Jersey Shore can help in planning my fishing trips day to day, and even every 15 minutes! You can see it for yourself HERE.
   As we continue to have striped bass winter over you can look at the above RU COOL report from this morning and imagine where the striped bass just might be. If you look closely you can see that shore temps might be around 40 degrees, but in certain locations off the beaches it goes up to 45 degrees. Are the bass moving out to warmer water temps and then coming in to eat? Is that why when you make your jump from beach to beach or jetty to jetty you find no fish and then a bunch? We all like to see the birds in the air and give chase, how about the birds swimming in the water? From last year we all saw and learned about how important crabs were in a stripers diet, and that has continued into this year. So, is it fair to say the bass are hovering in water warmers just offshore and then coming in in schools to find and eat crabs?

As with you, I love this stuff, and love trying to figure it all out. And just when you think you "got it", it all changes or something totally blows up your theory.

If I didn't go down to the beach this morning I probably wouldn't have thought about all of this. I think the fish will be coming in to eat over the next few days.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

02.09.13 While pouring through the hard drives I found these....and it made me think of this past fall

     I spent part of my day looking through the hard drives getting images together for an upcoming edition of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazine. I came across images I shot in Long Branch on May 26, 2011. It wasn't one of my favorite days to be down on the rocks or have a camera in my hand. It was a day, one over a few weeks time, where you could almost set your clock each day and be around when the big female striped bass, or cows, had pushed the bunker in close enough where anglers could get in reach. Spin anglers that is, not fly fisherman.


     It was a month when time after time again I would go down and see 30 and 40 pound bass lying on the rocks or being dragged out to the street. Do I like it, no, it there anything legally wrong with it, no. But what it was, and is, is alarming. I know guys think there is a huge biomass of striped bass around and that their two won't make a dent in the numbers. Well, that MAY be okay if you were doing it once a year and IF those two fish weren't capable of spawning and releasing about 1million eggs for every 10 pounds in weight. According to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, "The number of eggs produced by a female striped bass is directly related to the size of it's body, a 12 pound female may produce about 850,000 eggs, and a 55 pound female about 4,200,000 eggs." You can read more HERE .


So, yes, as many anglers enjoyed a great 2011 spring, it wasn't as good in the spring of 2012. 2012 was a different kind of year as the fall run that "went off" in epic proportions in IBSP in November of 2011 and then "went off" again in Monmouth County from December through March, just kept going. But we didn't have the big bass around like in 2011, the bunker was en force, just not the fish as much.
However, this past fall things were looking that it was going to be fantastic again until Sandy showed up. A good bite existed as peanuts came down from the Hook and exploded one morning in Deal and Allenhurst just two days before Sandy showed. If you were there, you were lucky to be apart of it. If you were watching, you just enjoyed watching it too. However, the best part that I saw, besides a healthy amount of peanut bunker around, was the amount of large fish that were caught and released. Even it a short period of time like two years, I believe anglers are believing what they are hearing about striped bass stocks and are releasing more fish. Before tons of "hero shots" were everywhere with a group of guys all holding 30-40-50's proudly out in front of them, but now it seems, it's just as cool to release those fish back into the water. That's coming from the old salts as well as the new young guns.
     I am proud to see anglers taking a more responsible approach to fishing for striped bass, to the point where a few keepers on the rocks don't bother me as much, so long as they aren't the big girls we need swimming to keep this thing of ours going.

Below are a few pics from this past October morning right before Sandy, notice the lack of striped bass on the rocks, and there were a lot of big fish caught and released.

Friday, February 8, 2013

02.08.13 Great day at the vise with Steve Farrar

     Following the Fly Fishing Show I wrote a post about some of the fly tying materials that I had purchased. In the days that passed I tied, well attempted to tie, some flies using Steve Farrar's Flash Blend. He developed the Blend around 15 years ago by mixing the materials by hand. I worked with Steve back at the old (The) Fly Hatch days, but never paid attention to the saltwater fly fishing as I was all about the trout and the Upper Delaware.
     After my post I received an email from Steve offering to help me out as I started tying with the SF Blend. The SF Blend, a mix of Angel Hair and Slinky Fiber has been around and makes for great baitfish flies when tied properly. As with anything else, there is a learning curve in tying with this material. Several times Steve would say, "Half as much", as the fly was too bulky and had to be trimmed down. Steve ties his flies with the Blend with almost no waste and minimal trimming, which is the way the fly should be tied.
     Not only fantastic tyer but he's a super nice guy and is willing to help anyone who has questions about fly tying or fly fishing. He is a true Ambassador to the sport and I am grateful to have been able to spend the afternoon with him.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

02.07.13 With signs of Sandy still around we now await Nemo

     Today the air and water were relatively calm. A NE wind created a little white water but I couldn't find a striper in it to bite. Things looked peaceful, even the lingering signs of the devastation that Sandy left.....and now we're waiting for Nemo.
     I don't know who to trust anymore. The media is just so out of control that even some snow forecasted becomes "StormWatch 2013". I know this is being tracked as a historic storm in terms of snowfall for New England, but others are saying the 40N 70W intersection is going to be were the fronts collide. We can POSSIBLY expect flooding, high winds to 50 mph, rain, and snow with accumulations along the Jersey Shore up to 6 inches with 12-18 inches in New York City, that according to the Weather Channel HERE .
     There seems to be a line E to W that falls somewhere along northern New Jersey, and another N to S that runs along the Turnpike, and it looks like we could be spared....but who knows.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

02.06.13 Today - "We were on the clams!"

    Yep, today we were on the clams! Headed out with Max from Pride Fishing Tackle in Red Bank for a few hours around low tide. After getting the boat, board and rakes ready and all suited up we took the ride across river to the clam bed. As with anything, there is an art and science to raking clams. Knowing how much pressure to use, how much of an angler the rake should be at, and how to rake with just not using your arm muscles. The first few pulls didn't produce much but my highlight was a good pull that yielded 29 clams, most perfect size. 
     We worked a small area trying to work in rows, especially where we caught good clams. You can feel and hear them as your pull the rake backwards. In all we estimate we caught between 400-500 clams, and for the last half an hour we selected only the best and returned more than half back to the water. I invited my dad and stepmother over and grilled them and made a pretty good clams casino made of clams, Italian sweet sausage, Ritz crackers and leeks served with a shrimp and pasta marinara that my daughter made. Great dinner that went perfect with a cold beer.   

NOTE - If you are looking to clam check with your local state regulations to get the license that is required. In NJ there is a recreational and commercial license with different bag limits for each. For NJ you can purchase it HERE

Here's some more pics from today - 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

02.05.13 Great video from The Spanish Fly

     Not on the beach today, and in fact no where near anything to do with flyfishing. But I did see this video someone posted on Facebook, so I thought I would share it too.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

02.03.13 Snow, striped bass, and the Super Bowl

     Not a bad Sunday for February. Woke up to about an inch of snow which always makes the landscape look nice. Then did the CCD and kid shuttle before hitting the end of the incoming and staying for a couple of hours. If I was there 120 minutes, then the fish started to bite at minute 115. Just when I thought it was over and as I ended up almost on the beach, a few bass bit. Finishing the day watching the Super Bowl with family and friends is a great way to end this Sunday, especially with that "February" bass in the books.


02.02.13 In the wee hours I found a great video posted on Facebook.....

I always try and use original content on this blog, but sometimes stuff is so good I have to share a great find. This is a collaboration between Bob Popovic's and Brian Schneider from Media House Saltwater Productions.

     If I told you twenty years ago that during one of your sleepless type nights you could one day wake up, turn on a device, and watch videos or read what your friends are doing or what their thinking about?
     Well I couldn't sleep for nothing and decided to flick on the computer and get on Facebook. I was pleasantly surprised to see this video from 2001 featuring Bob's Banger that someone had shared on their wall. Not only is it a just a great video, but for that time and where technology was, it is fantastic.
     I can only imagine the VHS recorder that was used to shoot the video and how hard the editing process was. Just fantastic.

Friday, February 1, 2013

02.01.13 Looking for that February bass...found something else

     While out this morning ( for about a half hour - it was cold! ) looking for that February bass I noticed something else. Anyone who has hit the beaches since Sandy hit knows things have changed. The access, the structure.....and definitely the amount of debris that has found a home along the shore. There have been successful cleanups by the various town departments of public works along the shore. Several groups have had successful beach sweeps in towns like Ocean Grove and in parts of Sandy Hook and Island Beach State Park. Tremendous amounts of trash and debris have been removed....but there is more to be done.
     Today I noticed myself taking what has become the "new" path down to the water. We have all got used to the debris and have just walked past. That's all we can really do as must of the dunnage is heavy and for some dangerous to handle. Several contractors are working to construct new bulkheads along the beach and are removing that debris as they go.
     As always, beach access is a hot topic for those for and against it. After Sandy most access points to the beaches were destroyed and signs or fencing posted by towns. It was done for several reasons, one, to limit the potential for looters and two, to reduce the potential for injury for those trying access the beach. As spring will come I fear that if all that debris isn't removed and safe access points including steps, aren't repaired then those points will be shut down. Sure anglers can maneuver their way around, but the young and old will surely be prone to injury and then litigation against the towns for not properly maintaining the access.
     Last fall the DEP plan of having each town devise and institute access plans and locations was approved. Not all towns, supported by residents that live directly on the beach and pay taxes to the towns, believe in access for everyone. The damage done by Sandy and the collateral damage and debris will only give "them" the tool they need to reduce access. The buzzword will be "safety". That word is a game changer.
     Anglers, surfers, and the general population need to stay on top of this or we may just lose it when the nice weather comes. The towns have much more on their plate as they fix the beach clubs, boardwalks, and places that bring in revenue. Free beaches don't do much for the town, except increase phone calls about parking and traffic on the streets or beaches in front of the owners homes.
     If you see anything about clean-ups or beach sweeps pitch in a hand and sound the alarm by social media, email, or phone calls. The access you keep open may be to your very own favorite honey hole.