It has been a fun two weeks with clients and friends fishing the beaches, groins and jetties. It's been a nice mix of micro, schoolie, and just keeper sized bass and short and keeper size fluke for those venturing out with the fly rod. With bluefish season approaching (hopefully) I wanted to get the boat wet and check on things out front.
Of course I would have to search for striped bass also so I figured I'd get out even earlier to see if I could find them at night. With an early rise I was up, the boat was in the water, and I was at the Ambrose Channel by 4am. When I first arrived the screen was empty although as I moved along the channel I picked up a few marks and went to work. The fish were low in the 70+ foot water. I rigged up the 12 wt for some dredging and had a Pulse Disc led Hollow Fleye down in the zone. I stripped it, I jigged it, I slow trolled it.....without a bump. There was some bunker around and I could hear them flipping in the dark. I went to my 10 wt and tried popping one up, but that didn't work either. In the end it was just plain fun to be fishing in the dark, watching the screen, and waiting to go tight.
So, in addition to searching for bass and bluefish I thought while I was out there I would try for fluke. Fluke off the beach or groins is great, in 25-45 feet of water, not so great. So, I brought a SPINNING ROD!! I put on a 2 ounce bucktail with a Mister Twister tail, since I was to cheap to go for the Gulp!. I recently saw John Skinner's video on flukeing with a bucktail- woah- he's got it down.
Now, I don't know much about spin fishing, and less about using a bucktail, and about the same amount about fluke fishing in a boat. I started off in the channel and joined the armada doing the drift and drift redo dance. Only thing is, boats didn't repeat the drift, they just moved. I guess that means things were slow. I moved inc loser to shore and started a drift. I was literally falling asleep from the boredom when I fell a hit and set the hook. I thought "doormat" for sure. Nope, what is was was a (pretty) Smooth Dogfish. These shark family members are prevalent in New Jersey waters and get their name from "dog" because they travel and hunt in packs. Packs? Or schools or shoals? Not sure.
I backed that one up with two sea robins. As the tide died so did the drift and I didn't get a bite for the next hour or so. I saw some fish breaking the surface in the distance and ready my fly rod and flew over. I found a pack, school, shoal, or gaggle of cow nose rays swimming just under the surface and their wings were creating the surface disturbance.
And for the I-almost-busted-my-ass, or head, moment of the day. Yesterday I purchased a pair of nylon pants from Eddie Bauer over at the outlets. Since I have cut so much weight I don't have clothes that fit but I needed to get something. I love those breathable pants, however, nylon is slippery. So I am enjoying myself out on a beautiful day and the flat water. I decided to sit up on the poling platform of my boat and lazily jig my bucktail waiting for something to bite. I became so bored that I fell asleep with my eyes open.
I didn't hear the boat pass me and just kept jigging. Then the wake came. Between a flat ass, nylon pants, and the slick poling platform there was very little friction to prevent me from sliding off. I slid from left to right with my ass checks having off the front corner of the platform, luckily I was able to get my hand cupped behind me and grab the platforms other side. It was funny, but I was lucky. Looking at it now, I could have slipped off, my head could have hit the boat, go lights out, and drowned. That is why I always wear a life jacket when I am alone. Here I am with the boat stationary and the water like glass, and I nearly got myself in a jam.
And just because I hate beach replenishment. Below is the tug and barge passing through the Sandy Hook Channel carrying the sand to be pumped into Monmouth Beach. They are currently just north of Little Monmouth. In the picture below that is the equipment and dredging operation taking place along the Highlands on the Shrewsbury River. That is the donor site for the beach nourishment out front.