Friday, January 31, 2014

01.31.14 Checking out the beach replenishment in Asbury Park.....

     Over the last few days I've taken a ride from Long Branch down to Sea Girt to check the changing landscape on the shore. In Long Branch beach replenishment operations still continue north of Pier Village, and the next phase will go south down to Lake Takanasee.

     Today I hit Asbury Park, where operations are continuing just north of Convention Hall. 

      With most of the beach roped off I had to try and find an angler to see where the beach was being extended out to. Below is a notched groin and the sand line appears to be right at the base where the rocks meet the beach.

Some would say that is better than covering the rocks totally, and it would be a violation of the contract which states the beach would be returned to pre Sandy elevations. The problem isn't just with how much and where they put the sand, its what Mother Nature will do with it during the normal tide and storm cycles. No doubt the littoral current will deposit it and create shoals on the south sides of the groins and pull it out creating sand bars just off the beach, which can create dangerous rip currents and diving hazards for anglers, swimmers, and surfers.

     Not only is the amount of sand a consideration, but the composition of the sand, depending on the donor site, is yet to be known as of yet. Depending on the what is being pumped, sand, rock, ect, will determine how it acts after the project is gone. Will the sand be washed away leaving a coarse rock in its place? Which then becomes difficult to build a hold a beach during normal ebb and flow tides.

     Along some beaches I see dunes being constructed. Dunes and plantings are good. However, my fear is come spring and summer the towns will invade the beaches with heavy machinery and disperse the dunes creating a flat beach for the swimmers and sightseers.

    Only time will tell how the beaches, groins and jetties will look when the spring migration begins. For those that fish the Jersey Shore, I mean really fish all of it, it will be like learning new water all over again.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

01.29.14 More snow hits the Jersey Shore.....

     Usually 3 inches of snow in January is a nice touch of winter. Well not this year. I'm done with it all. Woke up to three inches on top of what was already on the ground left from last weeks 14 inches. Coupled with air temps in the teens to low twenties and a trip down to the beach was a quick one.

     Cabin Fever is running around especially coming off a Fly Fishing Show weekend where we all leave all amped up and ready to go fly fishing. Yes, the steelhead and trout guys can still go out and have their fun, but if you are a northeast saltwater fly angler those warm spring days seem like an eternity away.

     But look on the bright side. There's only 31 more days until the season opens in the rivers and bays for striped bass. That will mean cold and fishless days for the most part, unless you find and travel to some of the "secret" warm water spots we have here in New Jersey.

I can't wait for spring to arrive.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

01.28.14 A great "Tie for Pie" night with the Atlantic Saltwater Flyrodders

     Well tonight we got in some fly tying before the snow started to fall in Ocean County. It was "Tie for White Pie" night held by the Atlantic Saltwater Flyrodders at the Next Door Cafe in Seaside Heights, (It's right next door to Klee's). 
     We had a little over a dozen new and old members come out and set up a vice and tie. There were plenty of helping hands around like Steve Farrar who in the top picture is lending a helping hand to someone tying with the SF Blend. The tying nights are open to all and I encourage you to check out our club, or a club in your area, most fly fishing clubs have tying nights throughout the year. 

     After watching Captain Bill Murphy tie up his "Loop Fly" at the Fly Fishing Show I figured I'd give it a go. He ties his in two minutes, me, my first took like twenty. As with any other pattern it takes time to get in down. Gerry Fabiano did a little Edward Szizzorhands work on the fly and next time he said I should make longer loops in the back and make it a little fuller so it can be tapered and shaped. I think this pattern tied on a size 1 hook will be great for albies in the fall. Just hoping they show this year so I can give these a go at them. Oh wait, my kid sister just moved to East Hampton......I'll get them in Montauk....roadtrip!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

01.27.14 "Forgive me Father for I have sinned......"

     Okay, here we go. Let me first say the title of the blog post in no way is meant to offend those of the Catholic faith. Those words are the words we use when we enter the confessional to ask the priest for forgiveness of our sins, but, its the way I felt when I sat at the round table at TK's bar on Friday night.

So here's my story.

     It was Friday night in the DoubleTree Hotel following a good first day of the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset. I had joined some friends for drinks and dinner at booth in the bar. As we finished up Dick Dennis told me him and Bob Popovic's had a table near the bar and I should stop over. At one point I saw Bob's hand raise up and give me the wave so I told my boys I would be right back. By then, I was probably over the legal drinking limit if I was driving, maybe way over.

So a little background to this all.

     As you know I run walk and wade and boat charters along the Jersey Shore fly fishing for striped bass, bluefish, flounder, weakfish, and false albacore, basically anything that will eat a fly and that I and my boat can be in range for. My charters are fly fishing, catch and release only for stripers, and using barbless or pinched down barbed hooks. That gives me a very small window of prospective clients that will appeal to my business. Most fly guides are fly and light tackle. If the fly isn't working because the fish aren't up or eating flies then they will go with conventional tackle using metal, plugs, plastics, bait, umbrella rigs, whatever it takes to get their clients onto and into fish. Or they start off with conventional tackle and break out the fly rods when conditions are good or to introduce clients to the sport.

Capt Jason Dapra
     Since I have known him my friend Captain Jason Dapra of BlitzBound Guide Service has asked, told, pleaded, and begged me to learn and incorporate spin fishing into my business. He does this as a friend, mentor, and experienced guide. He says it will lead to more business and more successful days on the water for my clients. To this day I haven't taken his advice.

     So one day a few years back I saw an article in a fly fishing magazine of guys fly fishing for halibut in Alaska. Don't hold me to the actual facts but I remember it like this. They were using 20 weight rods, will 1,000 grain line, with 2 pounds of bullet sinkers, fishing in 200 feet of water catching 125 pound halibut. Now, my numbers may be off, but that's how I remember it.
     As a fly fisherman I have spent numerous days on the beach, and boat, where the spin anglers just were killing it. Either casting plugs or needles or metal a mile off the groins and jetties and boats and getting to the fish that I couldn't reach, or get down into. Hint, hint.

    I thought to myself of nymph fishing we do for trout in the freshwater. Either weighted flies, weighted fly lines, or using lead wire wraps or sinkers to get the fly down and keep it in the water column where the fish are looking and eating. Then the idea hit me. I obviously didn't invent the idea, but I thought I could introduce weight above my fly and dredge up those stripers on the fly that weren't up and eating.

I told Jason about it.

He made fun of me.

    He told me I might as well have a spinning rod and jig. He told me it wasn't fly fishing. He again asked me to come over and he would introduce me to the other side......

    There's nothing like coming around the Hook or inlet and seeing birds working over breaking fish. Or seeing subtle swirls that indicate fish are eating below the surface. Or watching the screen light up when fish are moving under the boat. Sometimes the fishing is just tough, just because they are there doesn't mean they will eat. Sometimes you have to put your fly right on their nose. I knew how I would do it.

                                 I would use some weight. And that's where it all began.

     So as I sat there in the crowded and loud bar with Dick and Bob talking about striped bass and fly fishing I brought up boat fishing. I had Bobs full attention. I told him that, at times, I use a drail, which is a tolling sinker, or other weights, to get the fly down, way down, to where the bass are, and I had had good success with it. A lob cast, feeding out the 650 grain fly line, and using a strip retrieve, then release, then a strip retrieve, then release, works the fly steady at a depth where the bass are. I even told him sometimes you can see it all on the screen depending on the boats drift and where the fly is in relation to the boat.

   I watched as the color left Bob's face and the look of disappointment set in. I new I was in trouble.

                                     He said to me, " I thought you were different."


     By chance, and with just my luck, there were a few fly fishing captains standing in earshot. So Bob summoned over Gene Quigley, Paul Dixon, Jamie Boyle, and Steve Bechard, and maybe a few others and asked me to repeat what I had just said. Well, game, set, match. Thankfully I had my boy Charlie Limpert with me, but at times, even he joined in on the roast.

     So, the roast lasted a while and it was another great, long, and a too-much-to-drink-at Somerset-Friday-night. It seemed I have violated a fly fishing rule, one that I am still trying to wrap my hands around. Is using weight not fly fishing? Is weight in or on the fly okay? Is it all about the fly cast? (When fishing three miles out in 55 foot of water?) Is it okay only in freshwater but not saltwater?


    While walking the show floor on Sunday I saw Jason and filled him in the roast. He laughed and said, "I f'in told you dude". He was kind if like, "Sure, don't listen to me when I tell you." He then asked me the question, " So, will you ever have a drail on your boat again?" And I answered, "Absolutely not!"

                          But I thought about it all weekend, and even now as I write.

To me, fly fishing is using a fly rod and reel, fly line and a leader and tippet, and a fly made of fur or feathers (and these days a multitude of "other" materials), and yes, even at times, some weight to get down to where the fish are...........

So, if Jason asked me today, even with Bob standing there, " Will I have a drail on the boat this year..?"

I might have to be honest and say, "Yes".

Sunday, January 26, 2014

01.26.14 Another year of The Fly Fishing Show......

      Well, another year and another great Fly Fishing Show. I hope you got to attend it and had a great show too. Last year I hung my hat at the Orvis booth but this year I was in mobile, and undercover mode. Undercover mode....yes 80% of the people I saw, that I knew, didn't recognize me all slimmed down and all cleaned up, and the skinny jeans only helped me stay in stealth mode.
      So I'll just re-cap how the show was for me and what I liked and what I bought. I did a quick walk through Friday and the thing that jumped out and bit me the hardest was a few flies that Steve Farrar had sitting in front of his vice. It was a collection of baby flounder flies some tied with his SF Blend

and others tied with DNA Holo Fusion. He developed these flies about a dozen years ago for use catching stripers up in Maine. Recently he found a container with tungsten powder and decided to tie a few up. Well these are badass looking and I can't wait to try them this spring. Below is a top and bottom view of the fly with the black being the hardened tungsten powder.

     Friday night was an all out hoot. Charlie and I got to TK's around 530 and left at 230 when they asked all the remaining people, most of which were intoxicated, to leave. I have a great Colin-roast story that I'll share tomorrow on the blog here.

As far as getting up early and hitting the show......forget it.....we slept in and by the time we got it together and walked across the street in was 1 o'clock, but we still had plenty of the day left.

     I stopped and talked with Rich Murphy who was set up in the tyers row. He was cranking out some flies and talking to people who stopped in only that low pitched way do smart and deep way that Rich does. If you haven't read his book, Fly Fishing for Striped Bass, then you should, it's a must read. I read it three times a year.

     I stopped by the Simms booth to check out their latest G3 Guide bootfoot waders, which come in both Vibram and felt soles. In recent years all the companies have had issue with leakage in bootfoot waders where the material meets the boot. There was a push to not make felt waders anymore due to the spread on invasives like didymo, but some still and others have bought them back. As you know my current waders in the salt are the Orvis Edura bootfoot waders with the felt sole, HERE. I talked with the reps at the Simms booth and the G3's look they can take a beating. They are priced at $699.00, that's really just $700.

     As far as other things. Always nice to see Jim and Laura Matson over at BrineFly, aka Pulse Discs. Donnie Jones from Jones Brothers had a new and sweet 23' Lite Tackle Cape Fisherman to check out. Mike McCauliffe worked his charm and shared the Regal Vice love to those that stopped by Regal to see the vices or the pro-staff tyers that were at the booth.

I stopped and checked out the artwork of Alan James Robinson, aka The Map Guy, and purchased a striped bass chasing some pogies print, you can see his stuff HERE. Below is what I scored.

     I watched Cathy Beck as she did a casting demonstration and later Steve Rajeff introduce a potential customer to one of the GLoomis rods. There were companies, outfitters and guides that weren't here this year but have been in the past and some first timers. There were lots of destination booths, from Canada to Argentina to the Bahamas. There was a good amount of shop booths, Greg Becker's Whitewater Flies had the ever always entertaining Collins and Kavanaugh fronting at the vice. Bears Den looked always busy with Jonny King the special guest tyer out front. I sat in on Bob Popovic's seminar "Simplifying Saltwater Flyfishing" and as always it was well attended and very informative. I made the image below during the beginning of the class, it kind of reminds me of the old classic Alfred Hitchcock silhouette......"Good Evening......" If you know Bob then you know how much talking he doe with that finger, and the tufts of hair coming out the back of the hat are a dead give away.

     On Saturday night the Orvis company held a meet and greet dinner for the endorsed lodges, outfitters and guides and friends of the company. It was nice to break bread and share a drink with some of the people from Orvis corporate and some of the endorsed partners in the program.

     Luckily it was an early Saturday night and by 930 I was tucked into my bed at the Holiday Inn watching the original Godfather on TV. The Holiday Inn was a good deal, for a room with two double beds and full breakfasts each day, and use of the gym which I took advantage of on Sunday morning, was $195.00. Not bad if you split it with a friend.

     On Sunday it was a slow start but I did walk in and just catch Bob Popovic's class on tying the BTD- bucktail deceiver. It's rediculous how easy he makes these flies, and in the water they are great. I am going to block some time and just crank out a bunch getting ready for the bunker in the spring. You can watch his video on tying one up HERE. One thing I have learned, and something you should know if you are interested in fly tying or fly fishing the salt, there are some great clubs out there locally you can join, Atlantic Saltwater Flyroodders, Bayshore Salwater Flyrodders, Coastal Flyrodders, and South Jersey Coastal Anglers. The members of these clubs are all about sharing and teaching so don't be afraid or indimidated. Check out their websites for meeting info and do yourself the favor.

     After Bob's class I hit the floor for one last time. I stopped in and said hello to Brad Buzzi at BuzFly. Went and checked out Scott Styker's big new pike flies and peeked into the crowd surrounding Rich Strolis.

     Next to Steve's baby flounder flies the next coolest thing, for me, was watching Capt. Bill Murphy
tie up one of his squid flies and then one of his Loop Flies. The flies are made with a series of ties using Bill's Body Braid, the cut, and then combed out. I purchased some of the braid in two colors and think this will be a great fly for albies, bass, and even for trout on the Upper Delaware. You can see a video, actually two videos, of Bill tying one filmed up at The Saltwater Edge, HERE and HERE.  I watched him tie one in real time and in only takes a few minutes.

     As I write this I am trying to think if I am forgetting anything. On Saturday I bellied up to the bar and shot the shit with Montauk Captain and owner of, Andrew Derr. It's an online fly fishing blog/magazine that is updated with new content several times a day (that's a lot of work). I checked it out and you should add it to your daily reading list, you can see it HERE. Also as I write this , at 425 pm, I am waiting for someone from the Atlantic Saltwater Flyrodders to call me and let me know that I won the raffle for over 200 saltwater flies. I filled out a lot of tickets and I am feeling good about my chances, even though I know it only takes one lucky ticket.

 So I hope the show was good for you as it was for me. Next year Orvis' will be back and I will have a place to hang my hat and meet and greet, if I don't take the plunge and get a booth for myself. Stayed tuned tomorrow when I fill you in on the Bob Popovic's sponsored Colin-Roast from Friday night, but, it and he really did make me think after it was all over.......  

Friday, January 24, 2014

01.24.14 Hit the cold beach before the Fly Fishing Show....


     Before heading up to Somerset for The Fly Fishing Show this weekend I decided to hit the frigid beach to catch the morning sunrise. Even in 9 degree weather there is a warming effect, to an extent, of a beautiful sunrise. There's just something about that short window of the day that can clear my mind and help me start the day off on a good foot.
     And when it comes to fishing there's nothing like getting down to the ocean in the dark before first light and waiting and watching for the light to arrive. Each day is different, each moment is different. Sometimes the clouds hide that moment when the sun breaks on the horizon. Other times the sun isn't as strong or as radiant. But, one good days everything lines up and for those few minutes you can stand there and take it all in. And sometimes it can move you.

Not this morning, trust me

     As you all know the Fly Fishing Show is this weekend in Somerset. It opens today and runs till Sunday. If you are a beginner or an experienced fly fisher or tyer its a great time to come out and see the latest products, meet innovators in the fly fishing industry, sit in on a class or seminar, and meet new friends or catch up with old ones. It's not like you'll be out fishing or doing much outside due to the North Pole, or colder, temperatures that have the NorthEast in a deep freeze.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

01.22.14 After the dig out from the 12+ inches of snow a trip to the beach....

     Well, it's cold, it snowed, and it really winter out there. After digging out in minus degree feeling weather I took a ride to the beach just after sunrise. There's not much to say but it truly is sometimes breathtaking to just sit and watch the waves roll in and the sun come up.

Pretty, peaceful, pensive.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

01.21.14 Get a load of the 2014 New Jersey Freshwater Digest cover photo......

      So, you live in New Jersey, so you buy a freshwater fishing license, so, you want to catch a northern pike......kind of like the one on the cover. 

Well, you better catch a ride and fish in Minnesota. 

The above image was made in Minnesota, you can see it on the photographers website HERE.
And, if you really like it you can buy a print of it, or license it, HERE

This news was broke on Facebook yesterday by Jersey boy Joe Cermele. 

Now, New Jersey does have a stocking program in place and a good northern pike fishery. You can read more on it HERE. Anyone in the know will tell you to catch these fish in the Garden State then you need to know the spots, and then really work the spots. Access isn't always easy and results aren't typical as shown on the cover of the NJFF Digest.

Over the last few years anglers on the Jersey Shore, as far north as Avon, have been catching red fish. There's not enough to call it a fishery, but more and more are getting caught each year. 

I wonder if a picture like the one below will make the 2015 New Jersey Saltwater Digest....
even though it was taken by Capt. Dave Tampa!

December 8, 2010

Monday, January 20, 2014

01.20.14 The sand hits the beach in Asbury Park

     It will be interesting. I have to say, although I'm against beach replenishment, there seems a science into what they are doing down on the beach in Asbury Park. It's not like they are just pumping sand without some thought behind it. Out in the water there are survey boats, on land there are transits set up with people taking elevation readings, and there are markers and flags mapping out the work areas. It still doesn't change the end result and the negative effects it has on our shoreline.
     Yes, for at least a season, beach goers and towns will have an expanded beach to play on, but the long term negatives out weigh the positives. I see no dune planning, except in Bradley Beach. I see no other erosion control measures. It's pump up the sand, smooth it out, and move down the beach. All one has to do is talk a cold walk on the beaches in Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright to see how just pumping sand holds up against Mother Nature and the littoral current.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

01.19.14 "Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that is is not the fish they are after".....

     This famous quote, always credited to Henry David Thoreau, came to my mind this morning as I walked onto the beach. Even when the conditions aren't perfect, or there is a slim to none chance of landing a fish, myself, like so many other anglers continue to go out and fish. Sometimes I ask myself why?
     Sometimes it is all about catching a fish. Fooling one with a properly presented fly while out enjoying the environment and life itself. There is joy in hooking, landing, photographing and releasing the fish back into the water. (Now, to be honest, in the summer those keeper fluke aren't going to swim again!) Other times its just about an escape, a short time to separate yourself from life for a moment and just reflect and think. I think I do that more often then I even realize. Maybe that is why I prefer to fish alone. Alone on the rocks, alone in my thoughts, well, maybe, just alone.


     This morning was a bit cold out but it was pretty and I was alone but for another angler who made his way out for maybe the same reasons. The air was 24, there wasn't much of a wind, and the water was just perfect enough where you could just cast and retrieve, without even or thinking about the currents and the hazards around the rocks associated with them. It was cold enough out that I think the gulls were cold also. They just stood with their backs to the water and didn't move. Maybe they were just out thinking also.

      I only lasted for a little while getting my daily fix of "fishing" and thinking. When I got home I researched a little about that famous quote. I found a website The Walden Woods Project, HERE, that researched and cross referenced famous mis-quotations.

Misquotation: Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that it is not the fish they are after.

Michael Baughman wrote in his  A River Seen Right (Lyons Press, 1995) p. 156, clearly paraphrasing and not quoting: “I think it was in Walden where he wrote that a lot of men fish all their lives without ever realizing that fish isn’t really what they’re after.” Baughman may have been paraphrasing from Thoreau’s Journal, January 26, 1853:
It is remarkable that many men will go with eagerness to Walden Pond in the winter to fish for pickerel and yet not seem to care for the landscape. Of course it cannot be merely for the pickerel they may catch; there is some adventure in it; but any love of nature which they may feel is certainly very slight and indefinite. They call it going a-fishing, and so indeed it is, though perchance, their natures know better. Now I go a-fishing and a-hunting every day, but omit the fish and the game, which are the least important part. I have learned to do without them. They were indispensable only as long as I was a boy. I am encouraged when I see a dozen villagers drawn to Walden Pond to spend a day in fishing through the ice, and suspect that I have more fellows than I knew, but I am disappointed and surprised to find that they lay so much stress on the fish which they catch or fail to catch, and on nothing else, as if there were nothing else to be caught.

The closest parallel in a non-Thoreau text is from E.T. Brown’s Not Without Prejudice: Essays on Assorted Subjects (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1955) p. 142: “When they go fishing, it is not really fish they are after. It is a philosophic meditation.”

     Where ever the origin of the quote truly lies the message is the same, and one that all anglers should ask themselves at one time in their life or another. I find reflection is good, alone is good, and time spent fishing is good too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

01.18.14 Perfect winter day to learn I am a hoarder......

     It was a perfect day. Fishing is slow. It was hailing and then raining. Its winter. The Fly Fishing Show is next weekend. NFL playoffs are on tomorrow. Today was a great day to organize my life.

          No matter how many times I have tried in my adult life I can't seem to just get organized.

As I went through things in bins and boxes I realized I have held onto things since I left home over 25 years ago........and even today I still couldn't get rid of them, well not all of them. But I tried. What is funny is the various mix of things that I have and might hold onto......just for example.......

In one bin I found, old medication, a broken plate that I made in grade school, a Star Wars Princess Leia doll (the original- must be worth a fortune!!), a bible, a prayer card, an old expired drivers license, a a roll of film that has yet to be developed (probably 30 years old), a cow, some tweezers and a nipple to fill balloons up with water.

And that's only one box or bin.

     I have boxes and bins that reflect all of the jobs and places I've lived in my adult life. There's fire, nursing, photo, fly fishing - Verona, West Orange, Red Bank, Middletown, Ocean ....and even an Ab-Roller mixed in.

     What makes me laugh, or almost cry, is how I justify holding onto some of this stuff. I always dreamed of my sons and I enjoying Lionel Trains together. I started buying them before they were born. I went to auctions, yard sales, estate sales, flea name it.....before eBay was around when you could find really good stuff. When you collect old trains the real standard is "mint in the original box". I have more bins of old post war Lionel trains and just bins of boxes than I can count. We played with them a few times and then they went back in the boxes and bins. 

But what's funny is somehow I transferred saving boxes to fly fishing. I have kept every box from every reel I have bought. Somehow in my mind when I am done using these reels and spools they came in just might be worth more if I have the original box. Or maybe I think that if I have to get one repaired it will look more "legit" and well taken care of if it arrived at Orvis in its original box.

Or, maybe I'm just nuts.