Monday, October 31, 2016

10.31.16 No "Blitzoween" this year.....

Halloween 2013

     Happy Halloween! I must have been really into it in 2013 as these costume pics are from that day a few years back. In 2014 I experienced my best day ever from the beach, landing 16 bass to 25 pounds all alone in a pocket that no longer exists at Pullman. I guess, based on some past outings, is that Halloween week really is the start of some good fishing. This past week I had a stellar day on the boat in the bay, and then Saturday's all out Jersey Shore blitz, in which I didn't catch, illustrate that this is a good week to get out fishing.

Blitzoween - 2014
     What is funny is how things shut down yesterday and today. Both days I found little bait and moved to several spots along the Shore. Yesterday is was 67 degrees at first light, today more fall like at 47. Saturday is was 37. The wind is from the NW and it looked good out there this morning but nothing as far as the eye could see. That's not to say that someone somewhere isn't catching. Our new moon just came and went on the 30th so that should get things going again.

     The only drawback to fishing is that it appears the fish are either there or not. I have to resist getting caught up in just looking for fish rather than fishing for them. With nothing showing this morning I did have a swipe along the rocks of a small fish, but was surprised the usual one-and-done fish wasn't there for me or a few buddies that were on the beach. When it's blitz fishing time it can happen any time of the day, so, for me, being a first light only guy, I have to be open to the idea that the fish cane on the beach throughout the day.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

10.30.16 Yep, today was a different day.....

     Lots of anticipation early this morning hoping it would go off....well it didn't. Not only in my spot, but I think along most of the northern Jersey Shore. Why? Well, the bait wasn't there, the fish weren't there, the wind had shifted, it was 30 degrees warmer at 530 am......and, we wanted it to happen.

     There was a ton of guys up and down the beach, some of the easily accessed spots were jammed with guys leaning on their rods just waiting, and the boats were moving back and forth and up and down like the birds.

    It takes a great day like Saturday, and then followed by a not-so-great day to realize how special some of those days are and when you're lucky enough to be there, basically alone.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

10.29.16 "Oh, this is gonna suck......."

     Alright, I don't know where to begin, so I'll start with the end. I was really off my game today. I sucked. I couldn't get dialed in and get it done. I didn't catch a fish...... and I should have.

     I went south today with a friend and the 37 degree pre-6am air was just plain cold on your fingers. The Atlantic was a lake, a west wind had things laid down and there wasn't but some ripples on the water. As we looked out I switched from a light sink line to an intermediate one and from a black Deceiver to a silver Banger. I made a bunch of casts, and Richie did also. We met back on the beach talking that things should start up soon in a few days with the moon and lower water temps. Then I went my way and he his, close enough to see each other, but out of earshot.

    I went on the rocks and he on the beach as light arrived. There were birds flying around looking. I looked over to Rich, and in my amazement, I thought I saw a bluefin tuna at his feet in the wash chasing bait. I had to do a double-take. But it wasn't, it was a lone 30 pound bass. And then it was gone. It swam away without touching his popper. But then her friends came.....and they didn't stop coming.

     The birds were everywhere. The peanuts were flying everywhere. Rich got a nice 25 pounder way out that took him a while to land on the beach. You could see the bait get nervous and then just big teen to 20's and maybe 30's crashing near and on the beach and pockets. And they would stay for a bit before the bait escaped. So I had really good shots. At one point it was right at my feet, in fact one big bass ran into my waders. I was still with the intermediate line and the popper. I should have changed. So I did.

Photo and fish by Leif

      I waded out to the notched groin in Bradley and made my way up. Total blitz. I wish I had no rod in hand today, just the right camera set-up. It would have made for some great images. But I changed flies, went with the A.W. Hollow that I used on the boat the other day. Maybe a 15-20 pound fish followed it on a slow retrieve and ate it.....I set the hook.....and my knot pulled. It swam away with the fly in its mouth. I watched it.

    It lasted for a long while. But I was just off today. Had to tip my hat to the fish. There were fish from Sandy Hook down to Island Beach State Park. The boat guys crushed them, and the shore guys did too. Later in the day I saw a lot of dead bass sitting next to trucks or on the pavement as I drove up and down Ocean Avenue. There were a lot of fish here today, and a lot taken, I hope they don't go to waste. Word of the bass' arrival is already out and tomorrow on the beaches could be another shit-show Day 2 following a fantastic Day 1 where I was alone and the fun to myself. Maybe tomorrow I'll have my shit together and get it done.

10.28.16 Quick shot before first light and work......

.....and got nothing. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

10.27.16 Hey, you don't know if you don't go....

     Had a stressful day at work but needed a taste of the salt water, and boy did I get it. SE to then SW winds to 30 mph made things a little tricky. Had to decide where I could fish using the wind to my advantage, and still be able to cast into fishy water on the outgoing tide. I went down to the water with one fly, and snapped it off on a cast. So I had to go back to my truck after a dozen casts and get another. Should I go back or go home since I have to be back at the hospital at 630? Mmmm......

     So I tied one on and walked back in the wind and now the sideways rain. I had  fishy pocket in front of me and fished it well but had no takers. Looks like the wind will go W over night and then some W-NW for the weekend. We're getting close to the new moon on the 30th, so next week we should see the bait really start to move and the fish with them. I think bigger fish are starting to move into our area, so it should be game on, for the wader wearers, soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10.26.16 I guess the word got out.......

     I am sure that the skippers of the party boats and all of the spin guys and the trollers don't read this blog, but how in the hell did I have the whole place to myself yesterday and today there was about 30 boats all up in each others grill? I would describe it in two words....shit show. 

    There were big boats, there were little boats, there were slow boats and fast boats, and even a pontoon boat? It wasn't easy getting there as the NW wind was blowing 20-25 and had the 2-4 foot waves spaced about 3 seconds apart. Once out there there was birds and fish blowing up on them but the boats running through and around them, to me, put them down and even had them on the move. 

     I left the fleet looking for my own birds and just when I would see two birds show interest and accelerate just enough to make a wake other boats would motor in. I am sure I got caught up in and did it a few times, which annoys me, because I try and not get sucked in. When I realized I was caught up in the fray and left to find my own fish, way out of the view of the others. 

    And guess what, I found nothing. In the end I was out there for the same time as yesterday. Got more wet. Had less fun. But appreciated how special it was yesterday compared to today. Most of the morning the birds were reacting to the bait, as the fish weren't on top as much. 

     I landed four fish, two in a flurry in the beginning, and then two blind casting when there was nothing doing. I am done for a few days as now I have to pay for this run I have had with days off which has let me fish and keep up with my schoolwork. 

     I tried the StormR socks out today for the first time. They worked great. My feet were dry and warm the whole day. Just make sure you don't get them too tight and restrict the blood from getting to your toes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10.15.16 I found that acre of bass.......

     Best boat day of continued bass action for me- ever. Best visuals. Best rocking' and rollin' around the boat trying to cast. Cranking' winds. Birds, bait, and only bass. I like the above image because in the foreground a bird is just about to finish off a peanut bunker, which is what the bass were on.

    I started the day off with the gate keeper saying, "You're going out in this?", and then adding "Well good luck, be safe." Nice gesture, but it made me doubt my decision for a minute. Heading out was sporty, even with the wind with the falling tide. I motored slowly around a bit not seeing any life at all. I had about 10 minutes left in me before heading in. I couldn't make out any birds with the white caps and the contrast of the land constantly in motion with the boat. Then off in the distance I swore I saw some birds. 

     As I got closer I started to get real excited. I saw birds, tons of them, and the fish were blowing up underneath them. At first I didn't know which flock to head to. But why pass birds to get to more birds? 

     So yes I found an acre of bass, maybe a few acres, and spent the next 4 four hours on the fish, landing 27 with the biggest measuring to 34". It wasn't easy, which I like, but it was non-stop. And, outside of about an hour there wasn't a boat in sight. 

     These fish, which ranged in size from 25" on up were strong and fun in the chop and the slop. I used one fly all day, an Andrew Warshawer tied white Hollow Fleye. It's all I needed. I had on a 300 gr sinking line and the 11wt made it easy punching it into the wind. At times the fish were all over the boat and even a bad or shot cast got play. I even tried the musky figure-8 and had two fish eat.


     For the past week or so it's been dead on the beach outside of a one-and-done fish. The bait isn't there yet, well at least today I learned that. Soon, the bait will traverse the bays and rivers and head out front. I hope the angler that has been making his trek to the tip of the Hook is there the day the bait and bass turn the corner.

Today was that good. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

10.24.16 "I cannot tell a lie....

     So, after looking at the below forecasts, and talking with a few guide friends, I decided that I wasn't gonna do the boat thing today. Even though, after my decision, I flirted with going at 7am.

    So while things look flat on the ocean side, it gets pretty sporty in the bays when you have wind against tide. So if you do go know where you are and what time the water switches.

    Now that I've stalled long enough.....YES......that is a spinning rod. So when I came up with a no-boat plan I went to bed. I woke up at 1230 am and decided since I wasn't going on the boat I would do the graveyard shift. Much to my wife's dismay. I figured I'd bring a spinning rod, just to double check and area after I fished it through with the fly rod.

     I went from 1 am - 6am, so disgusted that I left before first light. I tried 7 spots, 6 outside and 1 inside without a tap, on either the fly or spin. I can't tell you how disappointed and tired I was after that outing. I caught the last of the incoming through half-way on the outgoing. Really???

    My buddy Lief has been doing well with the flat ones, including a real nice keeper fluke. Maybe that should tell us something about the water temps, and why there's no bait yet on the beach?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10.23.16 I thought I had a solid plan.......

      More outsmarting our striped friends. I took my time getting to the beach today. I was on the beach just before 6 am and as soon as I saw the water I was like......later. Outgoing blow-out tide with the stiff WNW wind had this spot basically dry for about 300 feet out. This isn't a low water spot anymore. So knowing that there was no water there, nor fish for sure, I decided to travel north to the inlet where I would surely find tons of bait pouring out of the river and a plethora of bass and albies chewing as first light arrives. 

     I had just pulled into a spot and was getting my gear ready when I heard the text bling. Thinking is was my wife I went through the deep StormR pocket and found my phone........

".....2nd cast 28"....."

That's okay, I still had visions in my head......

     I made my way, way down, on the north jetty, it was the furthest out I had ever been. Surely there was going to be bait and bigger fish here. I fished for about 10 minutes then the dolphins showed up, then the boat traffic picked up, then I was out. 

     I walked the beach for a long while. Checked on an older gentleman who fell into a hole and almost drowned in a foot of water. Watched a lot of guys fishing and not catching. And all the while felt the water filling up my waders.

     When I got to my truck I couldn't get my right boot off. My foot was vacuum sealed in there and I was exhausted by the time it became freed. The waders are newly opened, but an older Orris model. I could send them in, and I might, but I decided to get some Leak Seal and give it a go both inside and out. There is so much rubber on those waders if I dropped a match I would burn like a tire.

     We'll see if my feet stay dry during the next outing. West or northwest winds are cranking' the last few days and will continue. That makes the bays and rivers wild and out front like a lake. Might give the boat a go tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2016

10.21.16 Some times things just don't go as planned......

     So I didn't like the tides this morning for beach fishing. I figured I'd get out on the boat for a bit. I checked the weather and I saw the biggest band of rain was moving out west along the Syracuse corridor. That was at least last night.

     I got down at 6am looking to catch first light out front. I knew I needed gas because my last outing was a fuel burning run around the area. I dropped in and went to the fuel dock. "Winter Hours 8am". So I went anyway thinking I would catch first light albies and then duck back in for fuel before going to look for stripers.

     I started out and was met with pea soup fog, that got soupier as I lost sight of land and lights. I took a slow ride and when I could make land I could the birds were up and working and bait being sprayed by hickory shad, small blues and albies. I had some good drifts on the strong incoming and also a few good shots where I landed the shad and bass but no tunny. Then the heavens opened up and the fog got thicker.

     I was wet down to my bones and knew I had to get fuel sooner than later. I followed a boat in with triple 300's, but it wasn't easy as the big raindrops kept my eyes squinted for most of the ride in. At the dock I checked the weather and the band was moving south to north and was still just north of Atlantic City. I don't mind the rain, but the rain and the fog just keeps me uneasy.

     I pulled the boat and went for fuel on land, and I am glad I did. It took 46 gallons, which is 8 shy of the 54 gallon capacity. I have to have the fuel gauge checked because it didn't reflect the little amount that was in the tank. As I cleaned the boat, the skies lightened up, but the heavy fog stayed. I thought of just hugging bay beaches, but I was soaked, everything was wet, and I just called it a day.

    I am glad that I was right that the bass wouldn't be in my favorite spots today because of the timing of the tide. That was until Lief sent me a photo of the fish he got this morning. Maybe I have to just stop trying to out smart these fish, because it seems it never works.

10.20.16 Now things are looking good......

     Worked part of the graveyard shift, 5a-11a, and then ran to the beach for a few casts before Dady duty time. Found good conditions, but even at 11, and then at 130, things were dead. Found these birds watching and waiting as I was. Loving the NE wind, I'll take that rather than the swells of last week anytime. 

     As I was in my first spot I watched as students from Stevens Tech attempted, and succeeded in launching a Jet Ski rigged up with radar or sonar to map the effects, or lack thereof, of the beach nourishment disaster that is occurring on our beaches. I wonder if they were the same folks I hung with when shooting the story for The New York Times in 2009 in Long Branch, you can read that HERE. Here's the pic that appeared with the article, 

From left, Jon Miller, Alicia Mahon and Maggie Kuth of Stevens Institute of Technology, in Long BranchCreditColin Archer/Agency New Jersey for The New York Times 

Here was from today,