Sunday, June 30, 2013

06.30.13 The bass are back in town.....

     This is what early morning in late June fishing on the Jersey Shore is supposed to be like! After a great April, okay to slow May, then dead last couple of weeks, the striped bass are back vacationing, and eating, on the beaches in Jersey. Now I know one day doesn't make for an all out bass-blitz-panic -attack, but it is cause for a little celebration.
     The birds have been out within the last week picking at sand eels in the wash and post the last full moon some sheds have been on the beach and the crab rakers have been having success in the wash. So, " Find the bait and the birds.....and you might just find the bass."
     This morning I got down to the beach at 5 am with just about 2-1/2 left on the ebb. I went down pretty much bare essentials, two Clousers, a stripping basket, and my camera, which I almost sank again!
     Within a few casts a striper grabbed the fly in the rip along the rocks. Several minutes later I had a large tangle in my line and did what I normally do, cast out of it. I made a cast to get the tangle to my hands and the line off the rocks at my feet. With the fly dangling in the water don't you know a slob came up and crushed it. The tangler made it way down my guides until it couldn't pass any further. I saw the take and the tail and would say the fish was +/- 30 inches. I gained a little back and got to the tangle and started to work on it. Forget it. Luckily the fish spit the barbless hook leaving me just standing shaking my head cursing at myself.

      I made my way out to the end trying to keep up with the falling water. I was in a prime spot, well two, jumping between the north and south sides of the tip. It was fun but I didn't get a bump. I worked my way in, in being midway on the groin and figured I would drop the Clouser to pick up a fluke. I made a cast in the skinny water and watched as the fly swung and then danced in the rip. Don't you know the above super healthy +/- keeper sized bass came up and crushed it. It was a great fight as the fish jumped into the current and traveled out along the rocks. I landed it in a puddle on a shallowed out rock on the groin and got my camera ready for a picture. Of course a rouge wave came and crashed on the rocks soaking me and my just-got-it-back-from-Canon G12. Here we go again I thought. After two quick frames it was back in and on it's way.

These are the summer mornings I dream about all year. Out before first light, some fish biting on flies, and passing the early beachgoers and surfers as they make their way onto to the beach just after sunrise.
All that and back in the house with coffee in hand as the dog and the family are still asleep.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

06.26 - 06.29.13 Finally okay, well mentally, in putting the Ausable Forks houses up for sale

     The purchase of my homes in the Adirondacks is a long and complicated story. I will keep it short. As my first marriage was ending in the early 2000's we had to sell our family vacation home in Big Bass Lake in the Poconos. That place was perfect. 2 -1/2 hours from our home in New Jersey. Four seasons of fun with lakes, pools, ski slopes, and, we rented it out to defray the costs. But it all ended when our family situation changed.
     In part of my coping with divorce I searched for a home that I could call my own. A place where I could take my kids to enjoy fishing and vacations and the like. I had found the Adirondacks in the late 1980's and turned my brother and sister on to the region. My sister loved it so much she went to college there, moved there, bought houses there, and still lives there. So in 2004 I went looking and found a fixer upper (the blue house) on the West Branch of the Ausable in the town of Ausable Forks. 


     Fast forward. I had had the house, that has always been un-inhabitable, since 2004 and in 2010 my current wife and I purchased the home next door ( the green house ) from the county. So I had two homes on the West Branch of the Ausable. The idea was to bring people up on trips and have lodging for them and guide them on the West Branch and other waters in the area. Eventually, I thought, the town would thrive, we would retire there, the one house would be a "lodge", and the blue house would become a fly shop.

Let's just say that my ideas were, well, just not good. 

    Okay fast forward, well, just a reality check. Ausable Forks has always been a town that has fallen on tough times. The town was centered around the paper mill located up the street from my houses. When it went out of business the town, and it's people, took a turn for the worse. In addition, the town has suffered earthquakes, tornados, floods, fires, murder-suicides ( that is how we brought the green house ), and businesses that come and go leaving Main Street with empty storefronts and town dreams. 
We, and our houses, took a beating when Hurricane Irene hit the region in 2011. Early in the winter of 2012 a pipe broke in the green houses and the water ran, and ran, and ran. It ruined all of the furniture, our decorations, and most of the floors, walls, and ceilings. We ran to get dumpsters and gut the house as best we could, and that is where they are right now. 

It's not all bad as we have had several family vacations up to the houses both during the winter and summer months. But this chapter is now over. And I am okay with it.

     So on this trip I brought my daughter and my dog and loaded up the truck with lawn mowers and blowers with the idea of tightening up the yards. There was a maybe, a big maybe, that I might call a realtor to see if I could list them on the market. It's something I haven't been able to do.
     We pulled up and it was raining steady and everything looked depressed, including our homes. Main Street had lost a few anchor stores an "For Sale" and "For Rent" signs seemed to be in every other window. Across the street from our houses the burned out remains of a warehouse fire that occurred last year sat in a pile. The foundation for a dollar store to be built in its place is already in. It was at that moment that I knew it was time to list, and really sell. Over the next few days with the help of my sister we mowed the lawns and tightened up the yards.
     On Friday, in a big rain, I was scheduled to meet the realtor down in the Forks at 1030. Before that I made some stops and fished the river before it came up. I stopped in Wilmington and fished below Lake Everest, and then in Ausable Forks and fished just above the junction with the East Branch. The East already had turned brown and trees were coming down the river. Luckily I had a little more time fishing the West Branch below my house. I fished for about an hour and felt like this may be the last time I fish "my stretch".

     I have to count my lucky stars that I have such a great seven year old daughter. Not that the other four kids are bad, but Erin made the trek and hung in there as I tried to deal with the houses. Luckily her aunt, my sister, was able to spend time with her as I took the rides down to the Forks. We hunted snakes, fished, saw Monster's University, and played with my dog and my sister's dog, who are sister's themselves. We even got a boat ride on Lower Saranac Lake where Will introduced my daughter into, spin, and rubber worm fishing- darn nit! And, she even caught her own smallies.

     On a side note, while heading back to my sister's in Saranac Lake I stopped in Ray Brook to check out Vince Wilcox's new fly shop, Wiley's Flies. In times when fly shops are closing its nice to see a new one open up. 


     One afternoon Erin and I stopped the Lakeview Deli located on Lake Flower for a sandwhich. As we left the deli my daughter pointed out the "bugs" hanging onto the siding. WOW! I took out my camera and went to work. Hexagenia Limbata are thick in Lake Flower, it's just a shame that trout don't hang below the surface picking them off.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

06.26.13 Heading up to the Adirondacks and the West Branch of the Ausable

   Leaving at 0400 with my bestest fishing partner, my 7 year old daughter Erin. We're heading up to Ausable Forks to check on our two homes there located on the West Branch of the Ausable. They are for sale and we are going up to tighten up the yards and sit down with a realtor. Hopefully we'll get a little fishing time in. I am sure we will as Erin has packed her waders and fly rod already.

Our houses for sale are shown below, located on the West Branch of the Ausable River, both for $40,000.

06.25.13 CROCS on the beach in Deal....


     Anyone that knows me knows that my favorite footwear around the year are CROCS. I wear them in all seasons, although I have moved away from the fur lined ones in the winter because mine always smell like, well, ass.
     I woke this morning at 4am and headed to the beach still thinking that my two-handed popper approach will sure to drum up a striper off the end of a groin. With high bright sun and temps getting into the mid-90's today first light is the best time to find a bass that will act like a bass. Usually and hopefully.
     I made my way out to the end and started my 100 foot casts covering all the water on the north side. The easy S wind only helped add distance to my casts which this morning went rather far. During every strip I waited for a blow-up, boil, or follow. I did have a few small blues swirl behind it but that was it.
     I changed beaches and found birds picking at sand eels just inside the sand bar. I switched to a sand eel pattern and went to work in the rip again waiting for a strike that just never came. As I watched the water I noticed something getting tossed around in the wash. As I looked closer I realized it was my favorite shoe, a black CROC. Soon it was up on the beach and I went over to inspect it. It was a size 13, which is my size and relatively new. I walked the beach to see if I could find the other one but to no avail. I am sure that by summers end I will find a near match. So if you see me with two different color or style CROCS on sometime you know the story, well at least half of it now.

Monday, June 24, 2013

06.24.13 Why did I leave the Upper Delaware to look for stripers down the Jersey Shore?

     With my trips on the Upper Delaware done of Friday I came home to New Jersey late rather than staying up in Hancock. I was looking forward to getting out in the salt water along the Jersey Shore looking for striped bass.

Who knew? I should have just stayed and the fished the Delaware River near Hancock.

On Sunday night after writing a blogpost I surfed on Facebook. I was surprised to see a post from long time Upper Delaware angler and guide Lee Hartman. His post included a picture of an angler holding a keeper sized (+/- 28") striped bass caught yesterday June 23rd near the Lordville Bridge on the Delaware River. The Lordville Bridge is located about 9 miles downriver from Hancock, New York.

So let's figure out how far our striped bass may have traveled, and when he may have entered the river. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is one of the agencies that use a mileage system on the Delaware River. It was adopted with "Mile Zero" being the mouth of the Delaware Bay, a point between the Cape May, NJ light and Cape Henlopen, Delaware. It is the line where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. That is 0, like Exit 0 on the Garden State Parkway.

As a gauge here are a few mile markers so you know where we're at-

Trenton 133
Delaware Water Gap Route 80 Bridge 212
Callicoon 303

Junction Pool, Hancock NY
The "head" of the Delaware River is at Junction Pool in the town of Hancock, New York. It is where the East and West Branches of the Delaware meet to form the Delaware. That is mile marker 330.7.

So we know that this striped bass was caught near the Lordville Bridge which is at mile marker 321.6. It traveled ( maybe, see below) 321 miles since entering the Delaware River sometime in late March or early April. A 28" striped bass is 6 years old and weighs between 8-12 pounds with the average being 10 pounds. At six years old the male striper is sexually prime and will spawn with bigger females that enter the river. He will eat river herring and or shad that has also entered the river to spawn.

Most males will fertilize a big females eggs and unlike his date who heads downriver after depositing her eggs, he'll wait for another round of females to come up river. Younger males and females may summer over in their natal rivers until they become sexually mature and then will make the trek up and down, maybe producing eggs that are reabsorbed rather than deposited and fertilized by the males.

One question that always comes up is how do the striped bass survive in non-salt water. The other question is how far does salt come up the Delaware River. According to the DRBC website the "salt front" or "salt line" is where there is water with 250 milligram per liter chloride concentration. The current salt line location is at mm 65, and the record upriver location was at mm 102 which occurred during a drought year in the 1960's, some 30 miles downriver from one of the primary spawning grounds for spring striped bass. Striped bass don't need to spawn in the salt line, but do need tidal flow. Striped bass generally prefer to spawn in totally fresh water, or little to no salt water 0-02 ppt. (Murphy, Fly Fishing for Striped Bass pg 71) The eggs need to remain buoyant in order to float and make their way towards sea.

So, the above scenario works if you are under the belief that this or these striped bass are coming from the Atlantic Ocean. After reading this blogpost, Joe D gave me a call. Joe D as you might know him is Joe Demalderis, long time Upper Delaware guide that operates CrossCurrent Guide Service. He came up with an interesting scenario. He has noticed that the prevalence of striped bass sightings and catches has increased markedly since the recent floods, especially after the 2006 flood. He believes the bass are from Lake Wallenpaupack in PA, where true and hybrid stripers are stocked, or, if hybrid striped bass, from Swinging Bridge Reservoir in New York, via the Mongaup River.

His angle on it makes perfect sense. During the floods the water was pouring over the top and the flood gates were wide open. Fish of every stripe (sorry) eventually found their way into the Delaware River, where some may have acclimated themselves to the river conditions and thrived. So, the Lackawaxen River is at mm 277.70, which is 53 miles to Junction Pool in Hancock.

The only way to ever know would be to tag some fish caught up in the Upper Delaware or take otolith and scale samples for DNA testing.

August 7th 2012- on the hunt for Junction Pool stripers

Last summer when I worked at the Bill Canfield Fly Fishing Camp in August the word out was that stripers were in Junction Pool in Hancock terrorizing the brown and rainbow trout that call that pool home. I went down at night and threw a popper for hours trying to get one to bite but had no luck.

This bass that was caught yesterday, wherever it was from, was planning to spend a summer in one of the deeper and cooler pools picking off trout at night as they eat spinners or in the early morning as sip Tricos.

I have to put Junction Pool striped bass on my bucket list. That would be a hoot!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

06.23.13 Gave the "Supermoon" night and early morning a shot...


     Even though I got home Saturday morning at 3 am from the Upper Delaware I was ready to get up and fish the super-moon of 2013. I had my alarm set at 230 am and I hit the pillow at 1130. That would give me 3 hours of sleep. 
     I woke up in a panic at 410 am after, I guess, hitting the alarm "Off" button at 230. No problem, but my plans changed a bit, and I think for the better. Once outside I saw and made the above image of the moon. The super-moon occurs when the moon is slightly closer to the Earth that it normally is, and it is more noticeable when there is a full moon, as happened today. So late last night into early this morning the moon was closest to Earth as it will be in all of 2013, a mere 221,000 miles, which is closer than it's normal 238,000 miles. 


     Instead of heading out front I did the smart thing and dropped in at a close and easy ramp. Spent the morning casting to the sedges and watching cocktail blues chase my popper and bait around the top. Fly fishing from the bow of a Jones Brothers 19'10" is a great on mornings like these, and even in big chop out front. With a casting platform/leaning post for your use fly fishing in that fall snot is a blast, and very productive. 

I am booking trips for the fall salt both on the beach and in the boat. Blues, albies and bass are a great threesome to fish for along the Jersey Shore. Check your calendar and pick a date and send in your deposit to get something locked in on the calender. 

If you are looking for a great gift for the new or seasoned fly fisher you can purchase a gift certificate that they can use on the beach or boat on the Jersey Shore or on a float trip on the Upper Delaware.

Drop me an email or give me a call 732.261.7291

Saturday, June 22, 2013

06.20.13 Great two days on the Upper Delaware


    Blew out of town here on the Jersey Shore around 3 pm and beat the traffic and had a nice ride up to the Catskills. Picked up the drift boat in Roscoe and headed to the Capra Motel in Hancock where I'd call home for a few nights. Had a nice dinner and some drinks with a friend and checked out the West Branch where I planned on floating the next day. 
     On Thursday I had Tom along in the boat and it was a great day. The West Branch was running 1970 cfs and we had a high, bright, hot sun for our noonish start. Tom threw streamers for the morning session as we kept an eye on the sporatic sulfer that would come down the river around us. 

     After a nice lunch we went hunting for fish and soon found them taking sulfers. It was like that for the rest of the float till dark. We found a few pods of very cooperative fish that allowed us to cast to them for, what seemed hours, until Tom hooked and landed the above beauty as the sun went down. As darkness fell we where witness to what seemed like hundreds of trout sipping sulfers and olives as the moon kept light on the pools. That night a few of the guides and some anglers at the Capra held court till about 1 am trading fishing stories and secrets with a few cocktails and cigarettes mixed in. It was a great long day.

     On Friday I had the pleasure of having husband and wife team John and Theresa up from New Jersey for an Upper Delaware float. They found my card at the Orvis Marlton, New Jersey store and gave me a call. What a great connection. John has fly fished for a while and this is Theresa's second time fly fishing. No problem, the West Branch was 1670 cfs and there weren't many wading opportunities, perfect for a beginner! Well she did great. She started with a 7wt Hydros set up throwing streamers with a Bank Shot line and switched over to smaller sulfers and olives as the day went on. Theresa and I worked shoulder to shoulder for hours and it was super. We had a few refusals, a few misses, and lots of laughs up and down the river.


     After lunch and were lucky to find fish rising off the beaten path from late afternoon till the evening. Targets, we had targets....and that makes for a great day, along with a great couple that enjoy and have a love of fly fishing together. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

06.19.13 Quick stop on the beach before heading north....

     I was drawn down to the ocean before I left for the Catskills. I am still looking for those bass, bait, and birds to show up....hey even the bluefish would be nice. Not much for small bait outfront. Bunker is what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A quick walk on the beach and it's mussels and grass and an occasional crab carapace. Today I found a few things that are a staple for striped bass in tight to the beach when there's not much else around. Talk with anyone who keeps bass and they'll tell you it was full of sand fleas, or beach bugs, or just bugs, or it's proper name, the mole crab.
    These crustaceans bury themselves completely in the sand tail first in about 1.5 seconds. They are filter feeders and eat plankton and detritus in the swash zone. I have seen several fly patterns that mimic a sand flea and although I have used them I haven't caught much on them. Bait fisherman soak them in the sloughs and do well with them if they can stand the boredom of waiting and watching.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

06.18.13 Packing up for a few days on the Upper Delaware

Hale Eddy 225 it's 2510
     Heading up Wednesday to the Upper Delaware for float trips on Thursday and Friday. I'll have to admit it will be a nice and welcome change from the slow spring into summer striper season we've had on the Jersey Shore.
     Funny thing about fishing, either fresh or salt, is that weather can help or hurt you in a big way. When I left the Upper Delaware a few weeks back things were tough with almost no releases from the reservoirs, no rain, and a trickle of a flow on the West Branch and a little better on the East, but that was heating up, it was a Main stem kind of time. Now let's fast forward three weeks.
     With a ton of rain the Cannonsville and Peapacton reservoirs were filled to the brim and started to spill. On the West Branch the FFP called for a 1500 cfs release to start June 17th. So today the West Branch at Hale Eddy is running 2510 (today 7pm), the East Branch at Fishs Eddy is 3850, and the Delaware River at Lordville is 7150, and these are better numbers then they've been.
     It seems to be feast or famine. That goes for the releases or the weather in general. When the wind blows- it howls, when it rains- it pours sideways, when the sun comes out- it's scorching. The good thing about the water being in the river is, its in the river which the fish like and its staying cooler as compared to last year when the temps were creeping up too high before the summer even started.

     High water is a great time to float the Upper Delaware. For those who love to throw streamers for big trout thing is as good as it gets. The bugs will still hatch but it will take a lot of them to get the fish turned on to them. Hopefully the water will continue to drop and the area will be spared any torrential downpour that seem to be the order of the day this spring. 

Guide John Endreson and his clients throwing streamers on a high East Branch
     I'll be on the river Thursday and Friday and will be available Saturday and Sunday if you'd like to come up and have a great float down the river and try and catch some of those big browns in bigger water. Give me a call to get it done...732.261.7291

Monday, June 17, 2013

06.17.13 Great long day, and great long night on the water


     Had a great day today fishing with two great guys. In the morning I had Bill down from New York for a walk and wade trip on the beach. Since things have been slow, and this mornings tide was just wrong, we decided to start in the boat and go from there. Not 200 feet from the ramp we had small blues chasing spearing around on top. After one we moved into the bigger river for a shot at some gator blues. We fished hard teasing them and following it with a Banger, which they didn't like, and a Deceiver, which they did bite on. Kind of like a trout report, we hooked a few, flossed a few, and just plain missed a few.
     After grabbing lunch at Richards in Long Branch we hit the rocks and went to work on the incoming tide. Incoming tide, S-SE wind, fishing the south side- we knew we were going to get wet. And we did. Bill worked hard and we put a Helios in his hand with a Depth Charge line looking to pick a striper from out of the rocks, or just off the ledge.
     We took a break and ate lunch and then caught the last hour of the incoming. Bigger water, lots of white water, just prime. He did bring a fine fluke to hand, and had a bluefish in the morning, so we just needed that striper for a Grand Slam. We started mid groin and worked our way back to the beach as the waves were crashing at our feet. In the end the we didn't get the striper but we had a great day in the back and on the rocks.

     In the late afternoon I had Rich on the boat for a go at some twilight stripers. We checked the weather and the wind was SE 15-20 with some possible rain and thunderstorms in the distance. We decided to give it a go and head north. As we made our way out of the river the dark clouds approached, thinder rattled, lightning turned on, and the rains came. Luckily we blew through it and had all the weather just south of us all evening.
     We went looking for bunker, but didn't see much high or low. There were birds working in New York water so we stopped and had our fill of cocktail blues taking flies. We were still looking for bass and did a big bay circle without finding anything. We gave out front a quick look before heading in, but it wasn't over.

     As the sun set we made our way into the river and as we motored up I saw fish breaking in the outgoing rip along the shore. It was classic small bait emptying out on the outgoing tide with predator fish lying in wait. We hit the brakes and made drift after drift after drift, with most times us connecting on bluefish taking things on top and underneath. I knew there were bass in the bunch and a cast out of the blues and to the shallows produced a nice bass that blew up on a popper. We stayed into dark and called it a night as the bite slowed down. It was a great evening and luckily we got it in and were able to skirt around the weather.