Sunday, December 28, 2014

12.28.14 Wow! A belated Christmas present.........

     So I grew tired of posting pics of the rocks and the surf. Over the last few weeks I have continued to make my way down and fished without posting.

                                                                It just got depressing.

    Today I got a text from a friend stating that he got a few which was surprising but gave me some hope for a December bass. I fished the morning without a tap and made my way this afternoon into the evening on the ebb tide.

     I ran into a few friends that had each caught fish and made my way along he beach without a tap. I had come to figure that these fish we just spin fish, either taking small Bombers or rubber. I made my way onto the rocks as the light left and was happy to catch all I needed....just one healthy. and fiesty, December striped bass.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

12.25.14 MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!.....

     Thought I'd give it a go this Christmas morning. Looks like a December bass will have to wait till next year. Water was off color and there were only surfers out this morning but it was still nice to get out. Between my casts I kind of got in a melancholy mood thinking back to Christmas' past. 
     I thought of times when I was a child and through my adulthood and to this current year, my how time flies. As my kids get bigger and my family situation changes year to year I can't help but think of all the good, and the not so good, decisions and things I have done over the years. 
     I remember when I was young and when my kids were young how special and fun waking up on Christmas morning was. It seems things were different, presents were different, I was different. I don't know why but its always easier to look back and think that things were better....but really they are just as good now. My family, well families, are alive and healthy. My kids are growing up faster then I can keep track and are carving their own paths in life. My older kids are well, getting older, and becoming young adults. Luckily I still have my 9 year old to see and experience life through a younger set of eyes. 
     For some reason as I walked the beach this morning and thought about this day on years past one day stuck out. It was a Friday morning 22 years ago. I was on duty with the Newark Fire Department assigned to Rescue Co. 1. An alarm of fire was dispatched at 840 a.m. as we sat at the kitchen table in the firehouse having coffee. A fire was reported at the O'Brien Co-Generating Plant in the cities Ironbound section. 

35 Blanchard Street Newark, former O'brien Co-Generating plant
     Soon after the alarm was transmitted the first due engine company reported smoke in the area and a working fire. It was a nasty fire fueled by petroleum products inside the steel clad building. As the fire was being extinguished it was noted that cars belonging to the employees that were working were parked outside but no one from the company was located. 
     During the search the bodies of three men were found in a second floor control room. My company had the task of packaging the victims and lowering them through a wire enforced window that we removed for access. The same window the victims tried unsuccessfully tried to break with chairs from the office. The men were identified as Joseph Eley 41, Hillside, Michael McLoughlin 23, Ridegfield, and Andy Motichhka 25, from Wallington.  
     As anyone who is in the business we all have stories of those tragic days that occur around the holidays. For some reason memories of that day came into my mind today. I am glad I never forgot, as I am sure the victims families still grieve to this day. 
     I am grateful and thankful for all that my family and I have. I am beyond lucky and should always remember how blessed I am.  It shouldn't take remembering tragedy to remind me how good I have it, as other people in the world have endured and are enduring worse then I ever have. 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

12.14.14 Not a touch......

     Nice morning out there. Temps in the 40's and clean water following the blow of last week. Found loons out and about fishing in the wash but I never saw them coming up with anything. The water was like glass but there was some movement in the new post-blow structure.
     Like I said a month ago what would happen if the sand eels never showed. Well, find the bait and you'll usually find the bass. Basically this fall into winter we had good big bunker movement which was more like spring fishing than fall. An okay mullet run that was shut down during the third week of September blow. Peanuts were here and there and the only thing that was really good was that Halloween-ish butterfish, squid, and spike weakfish blitzes on the beach. It has, or was, a real disappointing fall.
     It's time to get ready for the holidays and the show and talk season. I'll keep a rod ready just in case we have a crab hatch or the late herring show up. But I think, the fat lady has sung.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12.09.14 "Where's the beach ?"

     It's been a while since I have ranted about beach "nourishment" along the Jersey Shore. Here is Little Monmouth. It has been replenished three times in the last four years. It is almost all gone. These images were taken at almost low tide, at high tide the water was over the wall. I can't imagine that anyone "pro" beach replenishment can look at these images and say the program continues to be a waste of taxpayer money. Next year there will be hardly any beach for beachgoers to sit on, but the pocket at the groin should be prime for fishing.

Here's some pics before the beach replenishment and then after. What a joke.

     On my way through Sea Bright on the outgoing tide there was a familiar sight....flooding. This morning they had to rescue people on the high water moon tide. I believe post-Sandy was the time for this town to get some things right. I hate to tell people how and where they can live....but this same story repeats itself over and over again for decades.

Monday, December 8, 2014

12.08.14 Not today out front....or any time soon it seems.....

     Really nasty out there today. ENE cranking wind with muddy water and lots of foam and debris in close. Going to take a few days and tides to clear things up....and then....who knows.
     Last year on this date it was 28 degrees but the difference was there was bait and fish around. Have to admit the end of this year has stunk, not a nice way going into the Christmas season.

Friday, December 5, 2014

12.05.14 Funny post one year ago today......

     Maybe over the next few days I'll break the recent skunk, kind of like I did on this day last year. You can read about it HERE. Seems like each year and or season there's a period of "skunk" that can last for days....but weeks and even a month?
     Last night I fished as the full moon rose and found what I thought were small hickory shad tossing around off the beach. Since they were on the smaller side I wondered if they might not have been herring. Nothing would surprise me anymore, especially this fall into winter.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

12.04.14 Found where that Spring Lake sand went...

      Out for a scout on low water in Deal and I think I found all that sand that has washed away in Spring Lake. South side pocket above is loaded with sand to the point I wouldn't even call it a pocket anymore. Amazing that you can almost walk out to the end of the groin while in the water. Just for a comparison the picture below is from 2012 during a time when there was more water and fish!

     Hoping the next few days after the moon the fishing might turn on a bit......we need some bait.....we need sand eels

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

12.03.14 Noticed the changes to Spring Lake......

     Traveled south down to Spring Lake today. Not hearing much anywhere above the Manasquan Inlet but I wanted to scout south. Went I got to the beach I was pleasantly surprised in a selfish fisherman kind of way. It seems most of the post-Sandy beach replenishment that was done along the Spring Lake stretch is now gone. That's a good thing. What's bad is that most of the sand seems to have been deposited in sand bars between the groins. I could tell it wasn't good because the surfers weren't around these beaches, but were out in plenty in other not-yet-replenished towns. If you look up and down the beach the groins are all exposed and the notched groins now have water passing between the beach and the start of the rocks. At least there is structure...not like in Long Branch where the sand hasn't yet traveled. Either way its just horrible for the ecosystem.

     As I walked the boards before heading into town to pick up a special gift I noticed someone fishing at the waters edge. I started to think that this guy might just have it right. Dress warm, grab a chair, and soak clams in the off color and rough water. It sure beats throwing flies....well maybe not.
     The next few days into the weekend look promising and I look forward to getting out and catching a December bass. I better do it quick because if it's not over will be soon. But really did it ever start this fall?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12.02.14 The blow is here...

     E wind 25-30 on the incoming tide.

Monday, December 1, 2014

12.01.14 This photo made me do a little cyber surfing......

Facebook post photo by Rex Manning

     This weekend I saw a flotilla of boats up around "rocky" areas off the beach and wondered how the tog, aka blackfish, bite was going. Yesterday I saw the above photo posted on Facebook by Rex Manning on the Surfcasters page. That's a 10+ pound tog. I went and searched around on the internet on pages like SOL and BassBarn and even on the local party boats fishing reports page........bass fishing is over and tog are on. 
     That's not to say theres not some bass around and guys are finding a pick here and there on the beach, rocks and boat.....but it does show the trend that anglers have abandoned striper fishing for a more abundant and tasty species. 

     As far as today.....I counted 13 groins and it was just me and my friend Rich out fishing the skinny outgoing tide. No birds, no bait, no least for me. But I'm getting used to it. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

11.30.14 Can't help but think changes are coming to Roseld.....

     Out on the rocks this morning and I couldn't help but notice the groin at Roseld Avenue. Hurricane Sandy displaced rocks and changes the landscape of the groin and with the looming beach replenishment and groin notching about to happen in "Jetty Country" this favorite place will sure be changed. 
     Near the beach end there remains a "walkway" of a mix of rock and concrete that traverses a natural cut in the groin. On big water and tide days water passes underneath kind of a like a notched groin. Early on the Army Corp of Engineers said Roseld would be left untouched, but once the machinery arrives it will have to be fortified, or notched. 
     Beach replenishment projects occur late fall and into winter so the beach goers and fishermen aren't around to get in the way or see what is really going on. It's also done at this time hopefully past NE blows and late so the "new" beach that is pumped will still be around for the next summer season. Either way, changes in "Jetty Country" are coming. You can read more about it HERE

Below is a picture taken 3 days post Sandy showing the damage to the groin and sea wall. Over time and after subsequent storms the groin has changed and the rock field dispersed. Hopefully the Army Corp will leave this alone and let it continue to be a access point to anglers to enjoy. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

11.29.14 Pretty ice cold morning and fishing out there.....

     It looked real good out there this morning. Maybe a little too cold for the finger tips but the water looked great and there was just enough white water on Lake Atlantic Ocean where you would think a bass would be on patrol in the shadows. I walked the beach jumping over two other anglers and between the three of us came up with the skunk.

Hoping the weather stays the same and to get out in the boat sometime this week as I have a bunch of fly rodders on stand-by waiting for the fall run to begin......looks like I might be returning deposits soon.

Friday, November 28, 2014

11.28.14 "Black Friday".....hope you went shopping and not fishing.....

     After walking round in the cold at midnight at the Jersey Shore Outlets I stayed in this morning opting for the mid morning to give it a shot. Incoming tide with a NW wind with clean water to fish. No signs of birds and no takers in the pockets. I watched from a distance as the headboats drove around  on the horizon. There may be fish out there, although I'm not to confident, but nothing here on the beach. I heard they were some fish this morning south which is good for those that braved the cold weather.

     Hopefully you spent the day taking advantage of the super sales that kick off the Christmas, or more politically correct, holiday season.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

11.27.14 Happy Thanksgiving !!

     Happy Thanksgiving to all the followers of my blog. Down along the Jersey Shore it was beautiful this morning as the snow and cold temps stayed north. The surfers were having fun in the swells and it was to get out on the rocks for a bit. Casted some black Kinky Muddlers into the Yoo-Hoo without a tap.
     I have a lot to be thankful for. Even though this past year has been a little rocky I have a great family that loves and supports me and a bunch of kids that make a life worth living. Over the next year I will be experiencing a lot of changes in my life.....not limited to a move and returning back to college.
     This fall has been terrible for The Average Angler and it has made me re-evaluate my business and question if my time and talents are being put to the best use. I see 2015 being a transition year with several changes in my guiding locations and schedule forthcoming.

After hitting the beach I went home to sit and watch one of my favorite things ever on TV. Ever since I was a kid I have watched "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and this year was no different. If you haven't made this part of your family tradition.......then don't start now because you're really not missing anything. At times I watch it myself and wonder why I like it.......but in the end I realize I just do.....its part of my favorite holiday day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11.26.14 Really sexy water out there this morning but no fish.....

     Beautiful and surprising conditions out there this morning. The water was clean with lots of white water. I thought the NE wind swing would just increase the dirty water we saw yesterday. Caught the incoming tide just right and had a relatively quiet south side to fish before the bigger waves moved in. The air temps were 48 which will only last a few hours as the cold front moves in today.


     I fished a sand eel fly on a sinking line for a while before donating the fly to the rocks and tearing my fly line when I paused just a little too long during a retrieve on a wave breaking on the rocks. Hopefully this NE blow and cold front will help get things going towards the end of the weekend...but hope in the angling community is waning as this "delayed" fall run gets deeper into winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

11.25.14 Leave the fly rod home and grab your surf board.....

    Looks like it might be a few days....or longer. Call the water Ovaltine or Yoo-Hoo but the swells and the wind have the water off color. Might be perfect if you're a John Skinner bucktail thrower but not fun if you're a fly rodder. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.

     Nice morning with temps in the 60's but over the next day or so the winds going NE and the temps will drop. That's all good, but the already dirty water isn't going to get a chance to clear up before the switch and the next blow. Hopefully I am wrong and it won't be as doom and gloom as I'm making it out to be.

Monday, November 24, 2014

11.24.14 Foam is not always home.....

     Ouch! Add foam to one of the hazards for fishing off of a groin. This morning I hit it after first light hoping to pick a bass out of the pocket. Incoming tide, south swell, winds from the SSE 25 to 30. Plenty of white and fishable water if you made it out before the water got to big and off color.
     I'm pretty confident I know the groins that I think I know but today my assumption proved me wrong. Not 20 feet off the beach and onto the rocks the rock I thought that was there just wasn't, and I went down hard, break a fly rod hard. The foam being pushed up over the rocks had covered most of the rocks on the beach end and I found the crevice where two rocks didn't meet. And at 46 that fall hurts.  I jumped up, well kind of, and fished a "new" Brad Buzzi sand eel fly tied on a jig hook. Really like those surf flies that we fish on sinking lines tied on jig hooks. I got a question yesterday about what


knot to use on jig hook flies. After trying a Mono Non-Slip Loop Knot I found a straight Clinch Knot works best. I thought for sure I would entice a bass to bite as the pocket looked real fishy. 

     Hopefully this blow won't shut things down, not like they were on fire, and make the water like chocolate milk. Temps look like they're staying in the 40's this week so hopefully there's lots of nice fishing to be had for those that venture out heading into Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

11.22-23.14 Nice weekend at the International Fly Tying Symposium......

     Spent the weekend at the IFTS at Somerset. It was a nice but quiet weekend with the busiest time happening after the show opening on Saturday morning. Had the pleasure of sharing a table with John Collins so we had a mix of fresh and saltwater anglers stopping by over the two days.

    I was able to walk the floor several times and I couldn't find the buzz this year. Last year it seemed Blane Chocklett's "Game Changer"- an articulated streamer fly- wowed the crowd but this year nothing jumped out at me. For me it was the usual "wows" - Bob Popovic's tying up his "Beast", Pat Cohen and his spun deer hair flies, and local tyers Steve Farrar, Brad Buzzi, Gerry Fabiano and Scott Stryker demonstrating their talents. I spent the weekend tying up my version of Lou Tabory's Snake Fly and Gerry Fabiano's sand eel fly. If and when the sand eels show up I will hopefully have an imitation that the bass will eat. Like everyone else my fingers are crossed.

     Of course, for me, Jim Matson of BrineFly and Pulse Disc fame took the cake. First he demonstrated his version of a rattle fly including an underwater audio microphone that let you hear what the fish hear as the fly is moved through the water. That was cool. Then he introduced his "tube" fly, which I watched him tie effortlessly. The pictures below are of his sand eel pattern pulled through a tube using a simple mix of a bunny strip and some flash. These guys never seem to amaze me by always coming out with new ideas and innovations.

     This show is the first which for some kicks off a long show season. In a few months we will be back here at Somerset for the Fly Fishing Show. I will have a booth and be presenting a series of lectures throughout the weekend. Hopefully between now and then we will have plenty of good fishing to enjoy.