Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12.31.13 Not a bite on the last outing for 2103...


     It was an iced up guides kind of morning. I anticipated the cold, but have to say I was getting used to walking up and getting to the beach in 40 degree weather. After a "hot" bite the last few days it only took about a dozen casts to lose confidence in the morning real quick.
     I first settled into a pocket that should have held a fish. Without a bump and wondering if the cold front may have snapped our recent good fortune I jumped to another groin and fished really fishy water. It was the outgoing tide, the water was gin clear and the sun starting to go high and bright quickly. I made switch from a yellow and white fly, that had worked well the last two days in a not clear and bigger surf, to an orange and white fly less a Pulse Disc and down to 12 pound fluoro tippet. The switch didn't make a difference. I met up with a few friends one who was blanked and another who

said he got a few coming out of the dark. Maybe that was the difference but by the time I got down they had either moved out or had lockjaw. I had a spot in mind that was fishy yesterday and gave up two nice bass just about this same tide time. I jumped in my truck and made the move. 

     By the time I got there the sun had the whole place lit up. I could see my fly in the water even after a 75 foot cast. I walked the beach and took all of the structure in, while I could, as the beach "nourishment" sand pumping is going to begin any day. I wonder what that will do to the fishing, and the fisherman, next year. These groins are magnets for the plug guys in the spring when the big bass are chasing the bunker around. 
     In the spring we will have seen Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, although that sand is half gone, Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Belmar, Bradley Beach and Avon replenished for start of the spring and summer. I think back to all the good fishing my clients and I had these past years from the rocks and the beaches of those towns. 

Its sad but true, 2014 is going to be a real interesting year for striper fishing along the beaches of the Jersey Shore.

Monday, December 30, 2013

12.30.13 Perfect morning for a nice pick of larger sized bass......

      After yesterday afternoons quick trip out I was worried the surf would be all beat up and dirty this morning. When I got down in the dark I could hear the waves crashing on the beach. I had to stay in the pocket as the tide ebbed but as light arrived I could see the water was beautiful and I could see my fly. Last night I tied up a fly in yellow and that was the ticket all morning until I lost it in the rocks nearly four hours later. Although not compressed in the below pic after hitting the water in looked like a  sand eel fly with the yellow saddles off the back giving it good action.


     After an hour or so the water subsided and it was game on. Worked my way out on the rocks but caught more towards the beach end than out towards the tip. Best fish of the day was just under 27 inches and was nice and fat. I haven't caught a fish of that size in some weeks so it was a nice surprise. Actually todays fish were bigger than late, with some sea lice on a few of the fish. The bite off the

rocks slowed and I was ready to call it a day and get going to work. I took a drive and decided to give a notched groin a few casts since it was holding nice water on the south side and it just looked fishy. The nice part was my timing as I could walk almost down to the trough without getting swamped by a wave. That spot gave up two bass in back to back casts just before quitting for the day.

     It was a great morning out there and nice to have bigger fish around to cast to. I am going to have to tie up a few flies in yellow today and ride this wave of good fishing as long as it lasts.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

12.29.13 Got out in some snotty weather and got one more to make a dozen for the day.....

     I fell asleep watching the Jets game and when I woke up I took a look at the clock and the tide chart. High tide was approaching and I wondered how things might look at the beach. At my house it was pouring and as I drove down the flags were blowing straight sideways with a honking wind from the east. When I got out of my truck I knew this wasn't going to be easy.


     Winds were from the east to 30 and the rain was falling sideways. I couldn't complain about the water as it wasn't that off color and the surf not too big. It would be a quick outing with most casts to the north side of the groin coming from over my non casting side shoulder. I tried black, no good. Went with orange and white and donated that fly to the sea. Tried a tightly packed yellow Snake Fly that wouldn't sink, but a bass did come up for it. In the end I settled for an old mangled up white Snake Fly I had a few hits in the pocket before landing one to make it a nice even dozen bass to 24 inches for the day. Before I left the rain stopped and the wind swung around and was coming from the SW.
     I'm hoping the water doesn't get too dirty overnight. It could make for some nice conditions in the morning on the outgoing tide.

12.29.13 One schoolie shy of a dozen......


     Alright, I officially quit trying to figure these stripers out. Yes, I know it's winter and our "resident" non-migratory schoolie to keeper sized bass are around. They're in one day and not the next. Catch one one day and ...... 11 the next. Eleven. Yep, got eleven today in what started out as a fly fishing joke of a  trip.

      Started in the dark and after a few casts on the outgoing, with a little bigger surf, I had the worst tangle that I've had in a while. It was the tangler where there's not enough sinking line out of the rod tip and when you cast the line comes from in between the guides and just wraps everything. It was so bad I had to go to the street to see under a light and work to get in free. Then I go back down and walk in, into the trough. I fall back on my ass and take the next wave - believe it or not the StormR jacket kept me dry, although I'm sure I looked like an idiot.

     Figuring this spot had the maloik on me I jumped in my truck and took a drive. I started out on the beach and fumbled just as much as I did before. I was ready to quit before I hurt myself. I took a break standing there in the dark and gathered myself. I jumped up and the rocks and made some nice easy casts and slow retrieves into the pocket. After I caught one I felt better and got into a better groove.

     Then I caught another, and missed a few, and caught another, and another. The timing was perfect as the current was perfect with a SE swell that brought the waves up the beach and around in the southside pockets. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better it did. I had jumped up on the rocks and saw a fish break in the wash. I jumped down on the beach, made a quartering cast across the trough, and landed a nice 24" bass.

     As I released it and out of the corner of my eye I saw two spin anglers approaching the beach. They couldn't see me so I jumped back up on the rocks and returned to my original perch. That scared them off at least for a little while. I had tied on a simple black fly topped with the correct sized Pulse Disc and stayed with it through the outing. At one point I looked up and saw fish breaking on the tip of the north side of the groin.

    I made my way out and after two casts I had landed another and the fish kept showing. After being joined by a friend who landed his own handful using a ultralight spinning rod the other two anglers saw the action and came out and pretty much mugged me. I caught a few more under their noses while they went blank.

    I fished for about three hours landing eleven and missing the same amount. The water was just off color, lots of white water, cloud cover overhead, and a great 42 degree air temps. Can't beat it for the end of December, but that's going to change tonight.

     While on the beach I tried again to get a cool underwater release shot. I readied the fish in my one hand, camera in the other, and as I depressed the button the fish swam away. What I was left with was an image of water with what looks like a few faces from the famous Edvard Munch paining "The Scream".

Saturday, December 28, 2013

12.28.13 Nice selfie before getting a few on a beautiful early morning trip.....

     The details of todays trip actually started yesterday. I am in the process of cleaning and organizing my basement, and my life, which probably would make a good episode on the TV show "Horders". But with the guiding season over and the new year and all those resolutions that I'll make looming I figured I'd start early. And I have to say I'm impressed with myself, as a lot of my "stuff" some which I've held onto for years, is making its rightful way into the trash.

     At one point my ace number one helper Erin said, "Dad, I want to tie a fly." Work came screeching to a halt since moments like that call for quick attention. We set up her vice at her fly tying station and co-tied a simple orange over white Deceiver-ish fly. I told her I would use it this morning and try to catch a fish with it. I had some faith in it as that color combo had worked on winter bass the last two years.

     When I got down to the beach it was beautiful. Nice first light, mid ebb tide, lots of moving water and just enough surf making white water. I topped off Erin's fly with a Pulse Disc to give it a little action as I planned on hitting the troughs that were looking real fishy. On my third cast I went tight and landed a nice 20" striper. With the fish swimming in the trough I went for my camera but it was buried in the bottom of my Gale Force pack, so I passed on the pic and released the fish. I was certain there would be another so before I made my next cast I readied my camera. I made a cast and went tight.....on a piling buried in the water. I tried to get the fly free but I snapped it off. Nice job dad!

     I tied on an other fly and crawled my way out on the tip of the groin and landed another and missed a few more. The morning was going great. Even though I'm not a big one for leaving fish to find fish I did, having in my mind a nice pocket that holds water even at low tide.
     I made a cast and caught a small sub 20's bass and on my next cast had a hit. On the next cast, on my backcast, the fly line went one way and my fly another way. This time of year I tend to use my B and C team lineup of flies. Those that are beat up, chewed up, and twisted up. I tied on a knarly looking white Snake Fly thinking that my buddy always does well with a bucktail. First cast, strip, strip.... tight, real tight. As I went on the reel and started to climb down I knew I had hooked a keeper sized bass. That's why you come out, you just never know. I played it like a champ but it felt weird. As it came up I realized my keeper was Clearnose Skate, raja eglanteria, that I had snagged in its tail.

     It was what I was targeting but I did learn where my weighted fly and sinking line was swimming in the water column. Maybe the schoolies weren't looking down that low.

Friday, December 27, 2013

12.27.13 Maybe the fat lady was only humming and not singing......

      Had my doubts this morning as I scraped the ice off my trucks windshield but I was looking to just get out and fish and enjoy a pretty morning on the beach. Cold at 27 degrees but no wind which makes all the difference. Caught the end of the outgoing and fished the beach and some rocks jumping around on foot and in the truck. 

     During slack tide, in flat and clear water, I went tight and landed a nice fat and feisty bass that was difficult to land as I was perched a little high on the rocks at low water. After a climb down and nearly falling off the rocks and in the water I got a hold of it. I have to say it was nice to catch one and miss another just when I was starting to doubt if there were any fish around. 

     I'm not getting my hopes up but maybe the fat lady was only humming yesterday and not singing her tune. Looks like there's some warmer weather coming this weekend which might just turn things on even for a few days. The fish I landed was robust so they are eating something out there. Just when you've think you know, you realize you don't know much when it comes to these striped bass. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

12.26.13 "It's over Johnny!".....I think

     I think the large lady has sung. After a week of a steady pick of schoolie bass, and a 33" bass my friend Jimmy caught, things have shut down. Yes, maybe there's one or two left, but, I am calling it. Does that mean that I won't fish again this winter? Probably not, but in my gut I am feeling like it's over.

     What do I base this on? Nothing scientific for sure. The next week we'll have a mini warm front with temps in the 50's through the weekend which might just turn things on for a bit. But I feel like we had a large mass of schoolie bass that hit the beach and they have either moved out or moved up into the Hudson. Water temps are ranging somewhere between 42-45 degrees depending on where you get your stats from, which isn't all that bad. We'll need some bait around if we want to keep the bass in range from the beach and the rocks.

     Fished hard this morning from dark till a few hours of the incoming tide. Didn't get a bite. One guy said he caught a bass after a 1,000 casts. It looked good if you could find some current on the end of the outgoing but it was relatively flat and just plan downright cold.

     That said, I wish you luck out there, don't count me out, but when and if I do go its to get some air and some exercise, as my anticipation of catching any more bass this winter has left.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

12.25.13 MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!

     To all my clients, friends, family and fellow anglers Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and my family. Soon another year will be in the books and I am praying for a happy and healthy New Year for everyone.


     That said, I couldn't hook a Christmas day fish. After spending the morning opening gifts and having Sarah's famous pork roll ( Taylor of course!), egg and cheese it was off to a cold beach with flat clear water. Fished hard through the end of the flood and start of the ebbing tide. Jumped on several groins and beaches without a bump. Saw the birds diving which is a good sign. I am thinking we're back to a night or first light bite so I'll be back at it during the cold morning.

On a side note. yesterday an angler, ranger9, who fishes our beaches posted a picture on Stripers Online of the below fish which washed up on the beach. It's an atlantic mackerel, and it looks like a perfect size meal for a nice sized striped bass.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12.24.13 Good morning for the StormR gloves as the temps take a nosedive.....

      Well the cold has arrived as predicted. Air temps in the 30's this morning with winds from the N. The water looked fantastic with lots of white water on the incoming tide. Today was a day for the gloves as it didn't take long for the fingertips to start to burn from the cold. Hit a spot for a bit and then I needed to find a bathroom in a hurry. Luckily winter is when most of the summer home owners have work done on their houses and most plant a Porta-John out front. I owe this homeowner in a big way.

     I thought about going back to my original spot but took a drive and found more fishy water. With the pressure of the clock and an impending family invasion at the house this evening I......decided to fish anyway.  Didn't get a bite in the pocket so I moved to the open beach where you had to time the

the waves breaking on the beach. Got one bass to bite which made my morning and I didn't burn a lot of time off the clock in doing it. Yesterday I watched a friend on the next groin up from me crawl down on the rocks for a bit. I thought he had a nasty snag and was working it free. Today I found out he landed a beautiful 33" inch bass, which probably went from 14- 16 pounds. Now that was an early Christmas present for sure. Hope to make it out in the morning after the kids rip through their Christmas presents. Merry Christmas to all of you and yours!

Monday, December 23, 2013

12.23.13 Gray skies, brown-ish water.....but got a tagged fish

     Quick trip out and it wasn't a bad looking morning when I got to the beach just as dark turned to light. A few hours into the incoming had the water at a perfect level for fishing from the rocks. Soon the waves would begin crashing hard on the beach and the sweep would increase making it for difficult fly fishing.

     As light arrived I saw how off color the water was and figured I'd be skunked today. I had on a chartreuse and white Deceiver (again) and worked it slow back to the beach. I was surprised to go tight and then even more surprised to feel the good pull on the line. Landed the bass on the rocks and noticed it had a ALS (American Littoral Society) tag in it's back. That is cool as I always like to get the history on the tagged fish from Jeff Dement who runs the program over at the ALS.

      Now, I'm blind as a bat for anything up close. I tried like hell to read the numbers off the tag but couldn't. It was still gray enough out where the numbers didn't pop. It was raining so I had my camera in the stupid water proof housing which was fogged up and the front was rain-dropped covered. I figured if I put it on marco I and held the camera super still I could get off a quick frame and get the fish back in the water.
     After a bit and with the surf building and it becoming more off color I called it a quick morning. I was anxious to get home and edit the images and get the numbers off the tag and call Jeff. Well, if you look at the above tag...you'll see the numbers are clear as day........the zip code numbers!

     So the story of my December 23 rd striped bass, which went 25 inches, while have to be left for the imagination. People ask why I would continue to fly fish for schoolie bass into December. The truth is I love to fish for them, and, every time I go out I learn something and always leave the beach with a good story or picture, like the one above.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

12.22.13 Pickin' pockets for schoolie bass.....while we can


     With warm temps, at least in land, in the 60's this morning, hitting the beach seemed like a great idea. This unseasonably warm weekend has given anglers a nice opportunity to get out and hit the suds and get rewarded for their efforts. Yes, these schoolie striped bass aren't the sizeable fish we've had on the beach the last two winters but hey its fishing. And it's doubly nice just having fish around and not having to layer up and freeze to get them.
     Incoming tide, S swell, SW winds 15-20 made for lots of white water and a great time to fish the northside pockets of the groins up and down the beach. Nice sunrise and skies for awhile before the clouds and rain moved in as the tide turned. Didn't take long to hook up as the fish were in the wash and sitting in the pocket. It was a perfect new fly fishers type of morning. Fish took Deceivers and and eels flies and the "monster" of the day taped out at 22....inches that is.
     Before I left Al came down and threw an SP Minnow along the rocks and landed what may be his last fish of the year. We'll have a cold front moving in tomorrow, then its Christmas and all the chaos, in a good way, that comes with it. So these bass for me today may be my last of 2013......but there's still nine days left!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

12.21.13 They were there but you just had to work for them....

     Nice to wake up at and have the air temps be 54 degrees. Got out on the rocks by 530 and had the moon overhead lighting up the rocks and the surf. Went with a black fly and fished up and down without a bite. As light approached I waited for the fish to turn on, well that never happened. Made a


jump to another spot and found a pocket that was more fishable with the surf building on the incoming and the right to left sweep kicking. Went to a chartreuse and white Deceiver and found one fish willing to eat as the sun crested the horizon. Talked to a few other anglers who picked up a fish or two and one who landed seven jumping around from groin to groin.
     I figured, stupid me, that there was going to be more fish around this morning following yesterdays "hot" bite. That's what makes this game all the more fun, okay frustrating, each time out is different, and you don't know if you don't go.

Friday, December 20, 2013

12.20.13 Schoolie invasion on the beach this morning.....

     After seeing some good signs of fish life last evening I figured this morning might be good. Unfortunately, as many of you know, life does get in the way of fishing. Work, family, kids...those dam kids! Today I pulled getting my daughter ready for school and dropping her off. That put me about three hours behind schedule.
     Hit the beach mid incoming tide. Not too bad SE waves with a south to north sweep and the water looked great with good white water. Best part was air temps over 50 degrees! Fished in the area with Jimmy and Andy who were throwing a combination of things that swam and things that bounce. I went with a chartreuse and white Deceiver and went to the rocks first to fish the filling in pocket.


     After a dozen casts I went tight and landed my first of three schoolie bass. In all the three of us landed over 30 bass and probably missed just as many. It seemed the bass just decided to come into today pretty much up and down the Jersey Shore as I heard good reports from north to south. Maybe it's the pressure change which might make for good fishing this weekend. So, if you don't have any work, or Christmas parties, or last minute shopping, or kids sporting events (those damm kids again!) it might be a good time to pull out your gear that you put away and give it a go.

     Jimmy told me one of his fish was a keeper sized bass that took a Bomber off the front of the rocks. You never know what might lurk in those waters this time of year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12.19.13 Nice twilight fishing on the rocks.....

      I saw some fish with my own eyes. As the light left the sky I saw some swirls in the wash and even saw a few fish come out of the water. Problem is, I'm not sure what they were. Schoolie bass? Shad? Herring? Couldn't get a good bead on them and I couldn't catch them either. Started with a white Snake Fly then went to black, since it seems blurple colored SP Minnows seem to have been working for the spin guys. Went the swirls started I went to a sand eel pattern working the wash, and the south to north sweep, on the incoming tide. Couldn't have asked for a prettier evening with air temps just below 50 degrees. The weather guys are calling for 40, 50, even 60 degree air temps this weekend. Would like to give the boat a shot but the winds are going to be honking SW from 20 to 50 Friday to Sunday. It'll still make for some nice winter days on the beach with a fly rod.