Friday, May 31, 2013

05.31.13 Early 4 a.m. bird gets the worm, sometimes....

..... or it gives you a chance to see this sunrise all by yourself with no one out on the water yet. Took a jab to see if those big first light fish would be on the bunker. Left the dock before 4 and got to the "spot" just before first light. Found the bunker, just not much going on in, on the outside, or underneath. Was joined by a few boats that went to work live lining and I didn't see anyone catch anything. Took a nice ride in the back looking for signs of anything on top but didn't spot a fish. 
     I am used to watching the private and charter fluke boats play leap frog but the bite must be slow because they are moving all over the place after one drift. It should be a real, real, real busy day on the water this weekend. Either get out early, or go late. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

05.30.13 Beautiful day on the water....although a bit slow

     Nice solo day on the water. The breeze kept things cooler than the mainland. I didn't realize how hot it was until I put the boat back on the trailer. I started out early puttin' around looking for fish underneath and or behind the bunker. Made a run and found a fleet of boats just finishing up putting a beating on big bass live lining bunker. Stayed with my searching around looking for fish but it was slow goings. It seems to be a first light and evening bite. The only excitement I had today was seeing some big blues blow up on some unsuspecting bunker but I think they just chewed and screwed because when I got up to them they were down.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

05.29.13 Bass love a Montauk Monster swam behind a Pulse Disc

      I was getting a little tired of all the pictures and stories of how the Upper Delaware has been on fire this past week. Okay- maybe I wasn't tired but a little jealous. While up there last week the Green Drakes had sporatically started to come off, well this week, they exploded. This week it's been Green Drakes and Iso's- with lots of big fish coming up to eat. Well....good for everyone up there. I say enjoy your wild brown and rainbow Upper Delaware stripers eat those cute fish for a snack!
     Got out to scout this morning with some sketchy looking clouds around and made my way out front to find....nothing. I saw some boats all clumped up but they were fluke head boats drifting along the beach. I saw a handful of birds that were flying. I saw some dolphins enjoying a swim. I saw a lot of bunker flipping happily without a worry in the world. That went on till the end of the outgoing. Then the tide flipped, and things heated up.

     I had a couple of fly rods rigged up. My go to rod today was my Orvis Access 12 wt paired up with a Mirage reel, a 6/0 Montauk Monster, HERE, trailing behind a BrineFly Pulse Disc. I have tested and used these with some success and was looking forward to dredging it behind a big fly going for some big fish. Well today it happened. As the tide turned and the fog rolled in the bunker started getting a little nervous. I dropped the fly down with the Depth Charge 650 grain line and started my series of retrieves and line feeds. With the bunker active and the screen blank I just did my thing, until I went tight, and then the screen lit up, and the big blues started crashing the bunker.
     By the time I had the fish to hand the bunker had stopped, the screen was clear, and the sun came out. It was over. After reviving and releasing the bass I went and looked for the school of bass but they were gone. It didn't matter as that one fish was enough for me for today.

I have openings tomorrow Thursday the 30th and Sunday June 2nd for fly fishing catch and release only trips in the river, bay or ocean. Give me a call, tomorrow is going to be a great early out day on the water 732.261.7291

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

05.28.13 While my boat took a pit stop...I checked out the head boats coming in

     For me, going to the marinas and watching the head boats coming in or going to watch blitzes on the beach is like stopping to see a bad accident. You really don't want to see it, but part of you does, and usually you regret it in the end. I am not getting tree-huggy nor am I comparing fish to people. All I am saying is that I should know better than to think that I would see anything different than what I saw. Several striper trip boats coming in with boatloads of happy anglers carrying heavy, sometimes very heavy, coolers.
     What my trip did was reaffirm my amazement that the striped bass population continues and the species survives. Atlantic Highlands is one marina, in Monmouth County, on the Jersey Shore, in the state of New Jersey, on the Atlantic Coast. Boy do these fish get hammered, and harvested. Just think of the pressure they got down south, then up along New Jersey, staging in the Raritan Bay, the all haven't gone up the Hudson, then they come down, summer near the Cape, then come back through this again?

Moratorium, can you say moratorium boys? This fishery will shut down in a few years. There aren't many small fish. The big ones are still being taken no matter how many messages are sent out regarding protecting the breeding fish. Continue to take your two plus the bonus tags while you can.

This isn't a knock on just the head boats, but includes the small charter boats, the private boats, the kayakers, the surfcasters, the bait fisherman, the fly fisherman, everyone. It's the recreational fishery that's putting the big hurt on the striped bass. We, take three times more than the commercial fishery. That's not saying the infamous videos of dead striped bass last year in North Carolina isn't criminal. We need to just have a look in the mirror to figure out where the problem lies.

Monday, May 27, 2013

05.27.13 Memorial Day micro bass on a beautiful morning......

November 15, 2012
      First, as you know, today is a day to pause, reflect and thank all those who died serving our country to defend the freedoms we all enjoy. I believe those that honorably served would appreciate the thoughts and prayers and parades and reflections we have in thanking them. They would also like to see us enjoying this day with family and friends, fishing, enjoying the outdoors, and just being free.

    Out just after sunrise at low tide and found a few fly fishers out working the available water off the beach and rocks. Tons of boats were out on the water surrounding and driving through the bunker schools that have reappeared off the shore. The ends of each groin were dotted with spin anglers throwing plugs or trebles looking to snag and drop the bunker. Boats came in tight, then wandered about. I didn't see anyone hooked up, except a guy that did snag and swim a bunker on the rocks I was on. I think his bunker turned to a skeleton before it got touched. I switched from a Deceiver over to a crab fly to see if I could find something with their nose pointed down or into the rocks looking for some small breakfast morsels. That didn't pan out for me.


     Al was out working the wash and I watched for a while wondering what he thinks about as he fishes. We're both fly fishing the same water at the same time. I'm 45, with five kids ranging from 7 to 27. I'm thinking about my trips this week, including Al and his sons on Saturday, and what last minute running around I might have to do with the kids schedules. Al, he's 89. His kids are grown, in fact they are older than me. He has a gaggle of grandkids. I wonder if he reflects on the thousands of days he has fished these waters. I wonder if the experiences of his 89 years of life pass through his mind as he casts and retrieves. Maybe he's just wondering when will the fish pass over the bar or into the slough and bite his fly.

     I met up with spin-converted-to-fly just about all the time Richie who intently fished the start of the incoming hard as we caught up on fishing, family, and plans of the day. He was rewarded for his work with a nice small bass that ate his Clouser just past the Sandy formed rock field off the groin. It's been slow on the surf. Not much for small baits around although I saw a few sheds on the beach as I walked.
With the bunker around and out of reach I think that coupled with lower water temps and lack of bait have kept the fish out a bit. They come in every day or so, but last week it was a few days of late afternoon blitzes that brought the cell phones and the crowds of anglers out.


     I look forward to getting out on the boat this week trying to get some of the bigger fish to bite on some fur and feathers.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

05.26.13 When you take a kid fishing.....any fish is a prize

     West wind honking at 25 with gusts to 30 = great time to wet the boat and take a kid fishing. It really didn't matter what the wind was doing as Erin was all smiles. We hit the Navesink looking for some stripers but after getting a bit wet on the way out we decided on some FAST drifts looking for some fluke.
    After about 45 minutes our line with some chartreuse Gulp! on it went tight and it was fish on. Erin struggled to crank on the keeper sized fluke so with a little help from dad, he got it to the boat and then lost it. "Thanks dad". Some guide she thought.
     On a long drift we had another hit and this time it was game on. A nice and "pretty", as Erin would say, sea robin made it's way to the surface where it was successfully netted. After a few pictures and a portrait we released the fish and made our way to the ramp.

It was a good first outing with the boat and now we're ready for this weeks trips out front. If you are interested in catching some of the river or bay action or want to hit it out front give me a call 732.261.7291. Two fly anglers for catch and release striped bass fishing runs $450 for four hours or $600 for a full day, which includes lunch.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

05.25.13 Tackle and fly shops are so much more than a place to buy bait and flies......

     Case in point. I started out early this morning in the 43 degree air making my way out to the end of the rocks....and was time to retreat quickly back across the rocks, drive through a few towns, to make it home just in time......if you know what I mean. My fishing was done for the day. 
     After getting straight at home I asked my daughter if she wanted to hang with me this morning as I had a bunch of Red Bank area errands to run. It was WaWa, Bagel Oven, and a stop at Pride Fishing Tackle on West Front Street. I really had nothing in mind that I needed to buy, but it would be nice to pop in and see how Max and the boys were doing. My daughter brought her bagel and milk in the store and we set her up at the counter while Max and I caught up. 


     Between customers Erin and I browsed the store and she was intrigued with the art work that was on the walls and out drying on a table near the front window. Max came over and explained to Erin what it was and asked her if she would like to try and paint one. He had me get a few menhaden from the cooler in his car and I picked out a pair that were straight and "good looking bunker". Max gave Erin the basic two minute lesson and soon Erin was covering the bunker in black paint. They worked together as a team and he showed her how to press down and use a spoon to follow the outline of the fish. They both had a blast, we all did, as I enjoyed watching them interact with each other on the first one, then the next, then the next. After the third I had to pull the plug.
     As the art session progressed I stood back and took it all in, and thought about this shop, fly shops- like Border Water Outfitters in Hancock, NY- and all the rest around the world. They are more than a place to buy bait or flies. They are a hub. They are a place, but places made up of people. Each angler has his or her favorite shop, and it's not because they have their favorite thing priced just right. It's about relationships. Shop owners and staffers give and get just as much as the clients and customers do. Sometimes we all do it right, other times we fall into price point traps and forget how much we get....besides things on the cheap. I remember manning the store when The Fly Hatch was in Shrewsbury during those early years when the internet was just starting. Customers came in to cast a rod or try on waders....then disappear. Others would come in looking for backing for a reel and fly line they just bought on eBay. It was the start of something bad, something very bad. In the end many shops have closed across the country because we forgot how important the people and relationships, not just the prices, are.
     So it was no surprise when Max opened up his paint palette for my daughter. I heard last week a guy came in to Pride looking to shop since his friends stood him up for a fishing trip. Max made a call, got coverage for the shop, and took the guy fishing. It's these kinds of stories that should make us all support our local tackle and fly shops a little bit more. Hey, where else would my daughter have learned the Japanese art of gyotaku, or fish rubbing, on a rainy, cold and windy Saturday morning surrounded by fishing poles, plugs, bucktails, and yes....a selection of flies in the glass counter. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

05.24.13 From browns to big blues......

     When I woke up this morning I first had to remember I was back home. I looked outside and expected to see more weather than I did. No wind, no rain, just overcast. It was the last hour of the flood tide so I grabbed my saltwater gear and pushed my freshwater gear over on my truck seat and headed to the beach. It looked dead. Off color. No birds. No bunker. No tossing bass or blues off in the distance. Nothing. I spoke to a few guys who'd been out since 5 am. Nothing. Just dead, as it's been slow for the last few days outside of a pair of blitzy evenings where the big girls chased in the bunker. I heard of fish to 40 pounds caught, and kept, and some released. Two nights worth of harvesting, and then the boats had a shot at them during the does this species survive? Alright, enough of that.
     We jumped in the boat and headed to the river to see if we could find a bass, as we knew the blues where in there and would be easy to get to chew, well chomp. It was still windless and the clouds and rain were out and up to our north. We hit them with topwater poppers and they followed with some swirls and vicious strikes. The largest came in at 30 inches, which depending on your chart, come in anywhere from 12-14 pounds and is 8-9 years old.

     Few things when your fishing for or when the blues fish are around. Number 1- Watch your fingers, arms, and legs. They bite down hard, and then shake their heads. Human flesh won't stand up well with the yellow eyes sharp teeth. A few other things- leave your self tied or $5 dollar a piece Bob's Bangers home as they'll get shreaded. Bring a bite leader, wire, tieable wire, or heavy 50-60 pound fluoro to use as a short bite tippet. A boga grip or pliers will help when trying to get a hook out. You can help your own cause by pushing down the barbs and going barbless.
     Bluefish are looked down upon as a nuisance fish mostly by anglers targeting other species like stripers or fluke. They are a blast on the fly rod and can be a fly rodders friend when things are slow or when hunting for bass. The more aggressive blues will be up on top chomping through bait while the lazy bass are underneath or lagging behind picking up the scraps.

It's a great time to try fly rodding from a boat while the bass, blues, fluke and weakfish are still in the rivers. I run 4 hour and full day charters for two fly rodders. If you'd like to get in on the action give me a call to book a trip, 732.261.7291. (It's a great bring your non-fishing significant other trip with usually calm waters and lots of pretty settings and nice houses to view from the water)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

05.23.13 Back from the Delaware....great times, some good fishing, and thankfully some rain

     Super week. I could write a long story but I'll keep it short and sweet. Went up Friday after my sons junior prom pics and met up with guide Charlie "Bunky" Limbert who was with our four clients at the Dream Catcher Estates on the West Branch of the Delaware. Bunky put the trip together which included lodging, food- breakfast, lunch and dinner, float trips, shuttles and beverages for the guys. We had a nice intro dinner and cocktail session Friday night which included chewing on some smoked and rubbed venision steak Digger brought that was out of this world. 


      Saturday we were up and at it and floated the upper Main and the boys worked hard, had a great shore lunch, and ended back up on the West to fish the evening. A few smallmouths to the net and a few misses but several targets kept everyone happy. 


     On Sunday the boys were ready to go- well ready to watch and wait- so we put in a little up river and re-floated some familiar water. We had sulfurs pop up and Digger caught the nicest fish of the weekend when he dropped and drifted perfectly a size 14 sulfer emerger right down the pipe. Another small brown and a few targets kept us interested on a slow day into a slow evening.  


  It was guides day off Monday so Charlie and I enjoyed a hot, but beautiful day on the river. Yes we caught browns, but it was a chub, or fallfish, kind of day. We had a blast with them, and we didn't care. 
We left the trouty water for the working guides and targeted fallfish most of the day.

     We caught browns in the riffles but didn't find a rainbow. We didn't see many bugs but we did see some Green Drakes that are here and there throughout the system. 

     On Tuesday I had a trip re-schedule so it was off to the races again for me and Charlie. We spent most of the day at the Border Water Outfitter shop in Hancock before jumping into the Junction Pool in the late afternoon. We had nice steady bugs for a while and brought a few nice browns to the net. But the best part was the setting and having it almost all to ourselves. That night guide/chef Brandon Alexander cooked up a great curry chicken dinner for the guides over at the "guide house".

     I did see the below set up on my way past the Capra Motel- one way to beat the cost of a shuttle!

      On Wednesday I had Brian and Vic come up from Hoboken. We put in, found a few targets, and shortly after, the heavens opened up, and up, and lighting, and up and so on. At one point I think I had 10 inches of water in my boat. After a good hours soaking we peeled off the rain gear (and my plastic hefty bag). pumped out the boat, and went to work. We looked and waited for bugs and fish that really never showed. The boys nymphed and blind casted almost all day. I had to apologize for hooking a rainbow while doing a demo on nymph fishing with an indicator. I just hate when that happens. 
     We rowed on and set up and hoped for an evening something that never materialized. It was a good day with good guys, and we had a great lunch. Hope to see them again. 

     I got a call at midnight that my Thursday clients were canceling out so in the morning I hit Hancock and washed the boat before heading back to Jersey and jump into the salt on Friday.