Monday, June 30, 2014

06.29.14 Nice Sunday Upper Delaware float......

     So I came up with a plan for todays float on the Upper Delaware. I had Jeanette on board for her first visit to these waters. She was up for the Joan Wulff Flyfishers picnic at the Fly Fishing Museum this weekend and decided to hook up with me for a day on the water. 
     I got up on Saturday and went and scouted. Here's what I found in a nutshell....West Branch just around 600 and the East Branch high and off color, making the Mainstem high and off color. Not terribly bad, but enough that I believed the bugs and fish wouldn't be up. And, I figured the West would have a lot of waders and boats on it and its been pressured pretty good as of late. So.....I ran my plan by Jeanette and she was on board.
     We started at 10 and launched and floated the Upper Main. My idea was to throw streamers to fish that haven't had the traffic and pressure that say the West had been getting. As we turned the corner into the big river I was surprised to have heads junk picking in the foam line. We had high bright sun and a strong quartering wind that threw us, and casting, a curve. We stayed on those fish till they went under, or over, or somewhere. 
     We then went to streamers and moved a nice fish that followed to the boat kinda like a muskie. During one of her many retrieves she felt a tug for a split second and that would be it for the day. We had a nice lunch before taking out and heading up river. 

     We launched again and this time I rowed and dragged the boat upriver. It was a real fishy spot, although most of the fish we saw rising and targeted where in about a foot of water. We had heads that were quick to spook and minds that were set on something and mouths that were glues shut. We changed flies often, got in and out of the boat, and nearly crawled up on fish in the skinny water to present her fly. I still liked our plan, I hope Jeanette still does, even though that one streamer tug was it for the day.
     Funniest line of the day..... Jeanette is an amateur bird watcher. So at one point she had her binoculars out and on and I am standing next to the boat scouting some bank water. I saw a few fish rise and said, " Did you see that." and she answered, " The egret?", I said, 'No, F those birds, the rising trout." We both had a laugh and then got busy fishing.
     I wish we could have landed a fish.....we did have fish at points throughout the day, but, that's the Delaware....or a lame guide. We did see a lot of birds.....another line from me...."I hate birds" but did see a beaver, a deer crossing the river, and a clutch or cackle or whatever they are along the river.
     It was a great day with pretty much all the water to oursleves. I hope she comes back and gets to experience fly fishing the Upper Delaware when things are a little more consistent.

     So it's been a long day...great float and then a long ride back to the Jersey Shore. I finished this at 230 am.......time to hit the beach and try and pop up a striper.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

06.28.14 Beautiful first light trip with Noreen.....

     Had Noreen out at 5am throwing poppers into super fishy water. We watched and waited on every retrieve for a striped bass, of any size, to blow up on her topwater offering. As the sun rose on the flood tide we moved to the front of the groin timing each wave to make a good cast, and, not get saturated from a breaking wave. Well, she made good casts and we get drenched from the crashing waves.

     We took a short ride and fished on this beat more from the beach using a sinking line to cover the trough looking for any bass and fluke prowling around. We had a few hits and then one bit down hard and we got it to hand for a quick pic. It was a great morning, with a beautiful sunrise, and I look forward to fishing again with her in the fall, when hopefully the surf is teeming with bait and bass.

      For the new or crossover fly rodder these early morning summer trips are great. Start and end early (5-9am), get to use some different rods with different lines, use and embrace and come to love ( yes you Noreen) all the goodness that a stripping basket offers, try flies from top to bottom, experience from the rocks and beach, and work on your casting, and just have fun!

    I am off to the Upper Delaware for a float trip on Sunday. I am available for Monday.....either a float trip on the Mainstem of the Delaware or an afternoon boat trip on the Jersey Shore. 

First call will dictate where I'll be on Monday....either way it's all good....732.261.7291

Friday, June 27, 2014

06.27.14 Great date with my first mate......

     Well after calling it early this morning...I came up with a better plan. I called up my First Mate to see if she was interested in getting in a little sea time and fishing. We left the dock around 9 and fished the end of the incoming. Don't know much about fluke fishing, but, I"ll let you in on a secret, this stuff called GULP! really works.  We had a bunch a bites, a few fish in, and one that swallowed the hook and we feel might have became crab food. 

     We jumped around looking to scout out for a place to come tomorrow with my client. We searched around trying to find some bluefish but couldn't locate them. At least they didn't want a topwater fly rod popper...but we tried.

     We decided to hit Moby's for lunch. It's in the Highlands and you can pull the boat right up and get out and eat. I had a lobster roll, Erin had a cheeseburger and corn on the cob, and we both ate the fresh cut thick fries, me with the malt vinegar. Great time out from the boat and fishing.

     We went back into the river and by then the wind had turned and the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. Erin still wanted to fish and she caught the above doormat...okay 16"......fluke on one of our last drifts. It was a great daddy/daughter day out on the water, and of course in keeping with todays technology and thinking...Erin said..."Let me take a selfie......"

06.27.14 You don't know if you don't go.........

     I couldn't wait to go this morning. Tossed and turned all night. Last night the seas were flat with an easy west wind and flat seas. Now I knew that it was going to go east and it would get a little sloppy as the day went on.....but we'd be good at first light.....or so I thought.

     As I left the house I checked out the wind app.....east 9 with gusts to 16 and seas 3.8 feet. Shit. Then I got the lunches and ice still not wanting to cancel. I stopped in Allenhurst and tried to see the ocean but at 330 it was pretty dark.....but I was hopeful.

     I got to the marina and we waited......and then I made the call just as I was starting to get the boat ready. The bay was flat, we would take a beating out front, it would be hard to find the bunker, and searching and waiting to see bass on top might be more difficult then it is on a clear and flat day.

     Oh well, we gave it a college try. There will be another shot early next week if we can catch the wind and seas right hopefully before the bass move on, and while there's still a few left swimming after an aggressive pounding they have been taking since, say April.

     On the way home I stopped in Deal and found great wading conditions. Clear and clean with plenty of white water....another perfect day. I quickly grabbed my waders and hit the groin. There HAS to be some bass in this. Well up and back without a bump with a Deceiver on a sinking line. Again, disappointing. But hey, "You don't know until you throw......"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

06.26.14 Gotta give my son some props tonight......

Hey, it's my blog, and it's my let me gloat. 

Congrats to my boy Ryan on his graduation from Middletown South High School. After a senior summer he'll be starting on the bottom of the totem pole at Rowan University. Proud of him as I am of all my kids!

06.26.14 Check out Orvis News...we made it

     You should add the Orvis News fly fishing blog to your daily read list. It's a combination of original and shared content that includes videos and posts from both Orvis and non-Orvis guides and anglers. Yesterday I submitted a short about some of the great boat fishing we've had along the Jersey Shore as of late. You've probably read about it here, but it's worth a glance at the story and of the Orvis blog page. HERE

06.26.14 Just perfect conditions this morning on real fishy water.....


     Well yesterday I tried to crab fly one up......this morning I tied on a popper and fished some perfect looking water. Easy west wind with a small swell created whitewater on the beach with clean and green looking water. Popped my way up and down and a groin and then along the beach without a tap or a swirl. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but thats fishing.

      Not wanting to give up I went north and then south looking for some signs of life. Saw some happy bunker flipping about with an occasional dolphin going by pointed north. I settled in and found even more fishy water and worked that popper just waiting for a taker. Well I casted, and casted .....and waited. At one point the bunker came within easy snagging and even super long fly rod cast distance and I thought for sure this was it. They came, they flipped, they swam away. Then I was done.

     Yesterday I had some back and forth with a hand full of fly and light tackle guides. We were discussing this spring's run, current fishing conditions, and, in the end just a slow year for bookings. We tried to figure out why.....why, when these past weeks have been the best part of this year. Looking on the beach I see, and saw, no one out, at least not in any numbers. Yes there was an occasional guy perched on the tip of a groin or walking the beach looking for fluke but even the watchers and waiters you usually find on the jetty tips early in the morning aren't there. It seems that the cell-phone-blitz-only-fishing network is stronger than ever. Example, this week they had good fish on the beach, the next evening there were double the amount of anglers, the following night they were even more, with magazine writers and photographers and videographers all in the wait.....well it never went off.

     Is it the economy? Is is a lack of fish? Is there a change in the angler looking for guarantees and instant gratification in the catch and not the process? For us, or anyone who relies on a strong fishery, like local tackle shops, this season has been a bummer. Catch and keep charter and head boats have had a banner season starting in the Raritan Bay and then moving out front. That kind of fishing has a strong following as long as the big fish are here, and they are, and they have been caught and kept, en masse.

     As summer arrives and the end of the striped bass spring run of 2014 comes to an end charter boat captains are making the switch from bass to fluke, shark and tuna fishing. As we say goodbye to the fish, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine are ready to welcome they with snagging hooks and livelined bunker and eels and nets......and the point of a gaff and an ice cold freezer. 

                                   Can't wait till they, whatever is left, return in the fall

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

06.25.14 Open boat dates around this weekend.....

     I have openings on the boat for this Friday June 27th and for Monday June 30th. The big bass are still here and are still chowing on the bunker. Call to book 732.261.7291 or email

06.25.14 Hey, why not.....

     So when it gets tough you just have to think like a fish. It seems there's no bait in the ocean, except for the 1-2 pound bunker flipping happily or getting chased around by big blues and bass. Last week or so my 24" fluke had a handfull of crabs in its belly so before first light I figured I'd "match the hatch". 

               Fishing crab flies, out side of sight fishing, is like watching paint dry......twice. 

     It's a shorter cast with sinking line and a weighted crab fly and a slow retrieve followed by high sticking it near the rocks for that last minute before you pull it out of the water strike....but that didn't happen. 

     During the lean times its really hard to get motivated to fish, and then fish hard. Yes, its about being out there and "fishing not catching" but when you have little or no confidence that you're at least casting to a lose your edge. Case in point. This morning I was on a groin and fished it up and back with the crab and then a Deciever. I looked down to the next groin......and thought about the walk to and back.....and said forget it. That's what happens when there's no rod fish....around. 

     I was talking to a friend and said blogposts like these won't attract business for sure....well you have to keep it real. At least for now it seems that boat trips are the way to go.....I have an afternoon Friday opening.....or walk and wade introduction and lessons available. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

06.24.14 Here's an update on the Elberon to Loch Arbor beach replenishment project......

Marine Place
     Here's the latest in regards to the Elberon to Loch Arbor project. It comes from a Frank Pallone press release after a meeting was held between ACOE and himself in response to the public outcry and demonstration we held at Deal Lake in April. It proves making some noise can help.

The original plan called for six groins to be notched....that has been reduced to three. There is also talk of having a "soft" notch so you can still access the tip at low tides. They are.....

Marine Place

The ones not being touched are,


In addition the 8th Ave (Deal Lake Flume) groin will have an electronic gate installed that will be used to clear sand from the outflow to facilitate water movement in and out, to alleviate flooding, and to allow herring access into Deal Lake to spawn. The original plan called for extending the flume out to prohibit sand accumulation at the end of the outflow.

Now, the plan also calls for the modification of 16 outflows in that stretch and the construction of a berm and beach which may extend, from what I have heard, 300 feet out from the buckheads.

I have the blueprints on the proposed plan so I will see exactly how far out we're talking.

Either way, this sucks. Hopefully by the time they get started the beaches they have already screwed up will get back to some type of normalcy, although the damage has already been done.

06.24.14 I got one.......

     Headed back out today in the slop heading south into a stiff southeast wind...which plain sucked. Found some bunker pods tight to the beach where the surf guys had good fish last night but didn't find a mark. Casted fly rod poppers and bunker flies deep and the only "tug" I felt was from this menhaden that I snagged on my retrieve. Stayed out a few hours before heading back in. Wish I had my fluke stuff as I could have made a few drifts in the protection of land to pick up dinner.

     On the way home I looked over and noticed the flag perched on the wall. Looks like the wind will be here for another day or so and then Thursday and Friday look promising.

     I have the boat open for a Friday afternoon into evening trip. Call 732.261.7291.

06.24.14 If you want a taste of a collapsed striper fishery, come to the Jersey Shore....

     Sad to say folks but its true. It's really bad here in New Jersey in regards to striper fishing. I'm not saying that in a boo-hoo "I'm not catching..." kind of way either. There's just no bass around....period. I can't tell you the last time I caught a striped bass from the beach. I can't tell you the last time I saw or heard someone catch a bass from the beach. Now......

     Yes, there are big striped bass off the beaches and the boats have been on them, maybe too good, but they will come and go, very soon. These are the big 20-40 pound females that are on the bunker. Yes, several times this spring they have pushed the bunker into the beaches and the surf guys that have the intel and the time to stand and wait will get into them. I heard that it happened somewhere yesterday although my inclusion into the "Striped bass cellphone network" is lacking so I don't know where. Now.......

     Early this spring we saw a flurry of micro bass probably from the 2011 or 2102 year class depending on what size you caught. There were a lot of them, and double digit days were abound. That said, I never caught a keeper, never saw anyone catch a keeper, and really never heard of a keeper..say 28- 36" caught. Is it a lack of bait, the beach replenishment invasion along the beaches, or is it a lack of bass. The naysayers will say its a migration change and the numbers are fine. The other side sees a repeat of the early 1980's when the stocks collapsed. And the fisheries management folks just have their heads in the sand, seemingly siding with the lobbyists and politicians and "fisherman interest" groups.

     I looked back on this blog from last year and found a June 30 post, HERE. This is what I'm talking about. Hitting the beach early, starting with a popper at first light and then going underneath and catching a few bass. Maybe not everyday, but often. It would be a mix of shorts, a keeper, and then some lucky bastard would hook into a stray 15-20 pound fish.

     That's just not happening anymore. Now some will say I'm a fool, and don't know where and when to fish.....and that may be true. I was up in Martha's Vineyard and Coop of Coop's Bait and Tackle said the fish just aren't here in any numbers. Yes they will come in heavier and anglers will get into them now and again, but the baseline and the norm is declining.

     So, this morning I was out at 430 going through my favorite first light routine. Not only weren't there any anglers out, the bait and fish weren't out either. I would have been as excited to catch a 20" bass off the rocks this morning as I was when we got a 30 pounder off the boat this week.

Yes, it's that bad...... so it's back to sunrise pics for now.....sorry just got to keep it real

Monday, June 23, 2014

06.23.14 Got tossed around pretty good out there this evening......

     First order of business this afternoon was to install the leaning post! Had "Tom" out today and all was good till we got out front and and found the SE wind kicking just a tad more than we hoped for. Ran slowly around in washing machine water looking for signs of bunker or bass. 

     After getting beat up for a while we decided to find some refuge from the wind and ducked inside for some cover. After setting up we found some bunker, and then heard some beeps, and had a big bass blowup on a popper. I said out loud, "Did you see that?" he answered that he did and I told him to throw.....but he was in the middle of a fly change. That was as close as we got tonight.

     On the positive note we were in early and set up at the bar for a few cocktails and apps which was a good way to end a tough day on the water. 

06.23.14 Got some spots open the next few days.....

     They won't be around that much longer, so you gotta get out there while you can. I have some openings the next few days for AM and Pm trips. Two fly rodders on board throwing fly rod poppers and large bunker flies to 20, 30, and 40 pound stripers. We drive more than we cast but when we do its for good reason.

Give me a call to discuss 732.261.7291 or

06.22.14 Great afternoon out with Andrew....

     The fun continued tonight with Andrew, again, as we put some time and miles in to find some nice big bass blowing up on bunker. What was cool was throwing the hookless pencil popper to the bunker pod that was getting attacked and seeing the wolfpack break off and follow it......and the above beauty was the first to it. 

     We found lots of birds over the bunker and gave chase, kind of like fall albie fishing and kind of like bluefish blitz fishing, but under the birds were bunker and bass. This was out best and real only shot and Andrew makes my job as a guide very easy. Below is the fly that he tied which has been getting all the love lately. 
     After we got back to the marina Andrew asked if I was chartered for tomorrow, I answered no, and he said, "Well, it's my day off......" and I knew where he was going. I said I was starting to feel like a dope dealer and that he really needed to relax and get off this shit....but...... I guess that's where the expression "The dug is the drug" came from. 

I'll expect a call from him in the morning and welcome him onboard tomorrow afternoon......unless you beat him to the phone. 732.261.7291