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. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

11.21.14 Miserable cold out there, but found a few to bite.....


     Last night around 8 o'clock it was 43 degrees. I felt like this morning would be a nice morning out on the beach. I went out to my truck at 11 pm and the temp felt like it dropped 20 degrees. This morning it was 27 minus whatever the bone chilling WNW wind dropped it down to.


     I stopped at a pocket and tossed a Brad Buzzi sand eel fly and found a few to bite back to back. I saw a few swirls but after about twenty minutes my hands were just about numb making casting and retrieving painful and holding a camera and trying to work the controls useless. The two fish may have been 35 inches between them and they were skinny and not stuffed like they had been on the bait and eating for days. But, at least its some life and a few on the fly.


     This weekend temps are expected to hit the 40's, 50's, and 60's with the wind swinging to the WSW. The west wind is good, but at over 20 its keeping the surf flat and not to exciting. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

11.20.14 International Fly Tying Symposium this weekend in Somerset....

     It's that time again. Showtime that is. It's late fall and soon the fishing will stop and the show circuit will be in high gear. Not a better way to start it off with the International Fly Tying Symposium. Fly tyers from around the world will be on hand as well as merchants and fly shops selling just about everything you could want to tie all types of flies. I'll be there in a booth tying up some of the flies that I tie, or well try and tie. For me it'll be some Snake Flies and some sand eel patterns and maybe some small baitfish stuff. I am by no means a true fly tyer but I tie flies and use them to catch fish.

It runs Saturday and Sunday and you can read more on it HERE.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11.18.14 "Be forewarned"......

.......striper fishing as you know it might just be over. Just my opinion, but I really have to wonder. Looking back at falls past, and even the rest of this year, things are definitely different. Blame the reduction in bass numbers, a change in migration patterns, a change in bait migrations and timing, beach replenishment, or just cyclical events that keep us guessing each spring and fall.


     Today I was up and out before first light. Kind of blistery conditions on the beach with temps just about 30 degrees, even lower with the wind that was blowing over 25. No signs of birds, bait or bass which has become the early morning norm. Again, these are my results as there are anglers out there picking a bass here and there along the Jersey Shore.....but this isn't normal.

     Outside of bass on bunker during the spring it was a poor season. Summer was non-existant as far as early morning "popping" of resident bass along the beaches. The fall has been a disappointment, outside of a few days to a week of bass blitzing on bunker. What was interesting was that some of those beach blitzes had bass chasing butterfish and spike weakfish.....rather than a strong showing of peanut bunker.
     This early summer Marthas Vineyard was slow. Montauk this fall was great if you are an albie angler outside of a late but short flurry of bass in early October. On the Jersey Shore we had a slow mullet run that was squashed by a few nor'easters that disrupted that action.

Now.....we wait and hope for sand eels......

There is always a panic when the fishing goes dead. Will the bass pass us by? Will the bait show up? And one of the most important things, for surf fly rodders, is having bait that that holds bass within our range. The bunker and other bait fish are on the move. Sometimes they travel near the beaches while other times they get pushed in by the bass and the blues. Just because, if and when, the sand eels arrive, there's guarantee it will make for a good sand eel bite.

IBSP Fall 2011

     I think back to Island Beach State Park in fall 2011. It was, well, cliche, but "epic". The sand eels and the bass were they for a solid week to two weeks. The surfcasters and the boat guys had the best fishing, and taking, ever. It was good for the flyrodder, but a lot of times, depending on the tides and surf, it was mostly a spin-throwing-metal over the sand bar time fishery. Even this time last year,

IBSP November 19 2013

exactly to the day, there was a steady sand eel bite going on down south. You can read that blog post HERE. But this is a different year.....and we are either behind schedule or it just may be one of those "things" that happens and we won't have them around.

                   But not to be a danny is still early and there is still hope.

     I checked into Stripers Online and saw a thread discussing "interaction" between boats and surfcasters. Since I was talking about IBSP I wanted to share this photo that was posted, I can't give credit to the image maker because it has been shared around so much. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures and the party boats have been nearly beaching themselves to get on the fish.

     As far as "hope" and the rest of the fall season is concerned. There are still bass in the bays and the rivers. I got a call from a friend last week who is an Ironworker working on a north Jersey bridge that spans an urban river. He said there was an all out blitz of bass on peanut bunker that lasted for hours. Another friend who guides had a steady bite of bass on flys and spin tackle "in the back" so maybe on the next moon we'll see a late bait run out front, hopefully followed by the bass, if they aren't planning to go up into the Hudson for the winter.

In the have to hold onto hope, and just fish. Looks like temps will be back up into the 60's next week, which will at least be easier on the fingers in this 30 degree weather.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

11.15.14 I wondered where everyone was today....

     Started out this morning at dawn on patrol for signs of bait or bass. I was surprised to find the beaches and empty outside of the usual faces I see each morning.
     Today I saw the above picture posted on Facebook taken by my friend at Island Beach State Park. Yes, there's a better bite going on down there, and the word is out. Its the Berkely Striper Club's annual Catch and Release Tournament so the crowds at the park were extra heavy. There's bunker down there and more bass than up here so the crowds were plenty. I wonder how the guy at the right of the frame made out fishing 30 feet behind the line at the waters edge.

     On a different front as I was leaving the beach I noticed a trophy buck in a yard a block from the beach. He was a ways off and I made an image with my iPhone to send to my brother who is out as much as possible in the deep woods looking for a big buck. Well this chap is a keeper as I stopped counting his points at 12. There's always deer around here with all the large parks and golf courses to call home- but this beast is the biggest I've seen in the backyards to date.

Friday, November 14, 2014

11.14.14 Lots of driving up and down and waiting and watching......

     Drive, stop, and, stop, and look, and drive, stop, and look. Looked like the dead sea out there at first light, and early afternoon, and then a ton of life way off the beach as a plethora of birds were tight and on the move.....thinking it might have been bluefish chewing through bait making lots of pieces easy pickings for the birds. Chilly this morning but later in the day was nice as it warmed up a bit and the wind kicked it down a notch.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

11.13.14 "Out in the Cold Rain and Snow....."


     Gave it a go just as the "Polar Vortex" brought the low temps and some nasty weather. Couldn't but help to think of the Grateful Dead song "Cold Rain and Snow" as I jumped from beach to groin in a few towns. Had the incoming tide and good looking water but found no takers on a black Kinky Muddler. I did meet up with a guy that caught three shorts on a black Bomber, so maybe the offerings have to be on the bigger side and sent out a ways from the shore. I wonder how this front will effect things....hopefully soon all that bait out back will make its way out front and along the beach.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

11.11-12.14 Nice to be "off the grid" for a few days.....

Lackawanna River brown trout

     Love the Jersey Shore in the heat of striper fishing but its also nice to step away for a few days. Really I only lost a day as I fished Monday, had off yesterday, and today's pea soup fog in the New York Bight area had most boats on stand by. Hope to get back to the beach in the morning.
     The Scranton area has always held a special place for me. About 17 years ago we purchased a vacation home in a place called Big Bass Lake. It was a perfect get-a-way place. Not too far nor too close and the gated community was safe and secure between visits. It had a few lakes loaded with fish for the kids, outdoor and an indoor pool, ski and tubing slope and all the nature a kid could want to catch or see. During those times I discovered and came to love the Lackawanna River near Scranton, Pennsylvania. I would get up early and travel there to fish while we were on vacation. Always trying to leave so I would be there when the kids woke up, but that didn't always happen. At times my oldest son Ryan would make the trip with me and the below pic is one of my all time favorites.

Ryan and I, about 2002

     I love returning to that area and making the ride out on Route 80 and then north on Route 380 always brings back great memories. As with anything its amazing how much things appear to always change. Scranton has changed too. I remember when Lackawanna Ave was filled with vacant buildings big and small just before the mall and Steamtown. The Lackawanna Station is still there and one of my favorite restaurants, Carmen's, still operates in the once bustling waiting area.
     I usually jump right on Route 6 heading to Olyphant, Jessup, or Archbald anxious to see if the brown trout are hungry but I enjoy taking the city route and driving through downtown and the University of Scranton before taking Main Street which parallels the river.
     A stop for me is always Cousins Convenient Mart for food and gas before making the walk on the Lackawanna Heritage Trail along the river. I am amazed how much development has occurred around the river. When I first started going there the river was kind of second class and the houses on it depressed. My favorite access points on High Street are still there, but only if you know them and act respectfully in traversing them.
As an angler I love having and fishing "home waters" and enjoy finding new and great places to fish. And although life brings plenty of changes along the way and places we used to frequent become less familiar, it is nice to return and be filled with great memories of good times from the past.

Monday, November 10, 2014

11.10.14 Nothing showing out there this morning.....

     Nothing out there for me this morning as I got out before first light and worked a sand eel and Kinky Muddler fly up and down a single groin and the beach. Took a high perch to see if I could find any bait or signs of a bass but there was none.
      Gonna be off the grid till Wednesday just in time for the Polar Vortex to drop the air temps down into the twenties. Hopefully it will only last a few days so I can feel my fingers as I retrieve my fly.