Thursday, October 31, 2019

10.31.19 There are days you always remember, here is one of my favorites....

Blitz-O-Ween 2014

     Epic. Amazing. Any word you want to describe it would work. I finally had THAT day. The best day of striper fishing I have ever had. Halloween October 31, 2014 will be a day I will remember for a very long time. 


      I started out before light on the rocks. The wind had shifted NE and created lots of waves and whitewater. I fished fishy water without a bump. I left again a little dejected, but I had become used to it. I stopped by Asbury to see if anything was doing and it was more of the same. I ran into Judy who was standing with her kayak crew and I voiced my frustration with fishing for me as of late. I hadn't caught a bass since September 16th. It was getting old. 
     I decided to bite the bullet and head north to a place where the fishing has been real good. Lots of fish and lots of guys. They said the fish had been coming in and they were sometimes in the wash and within fly rod distance, so I went. Now this stretch isn't my favorite, long beaches without groins or breaks leaving sweeps left and right which are tough with the fly rod. 
     This mornings NE had the water moving left to right and as soon as I got to the beach I knew I didn't like it. Guys up and down hooked up, dead bass on the beach, and no rocks in sight. 

     A few guys I knew said the fish had just come through and were heading south so I picked up and went to the birds. I settled in and fished trying to get my fly over the waves breaking at the bar. The birds were over the bait, which was butterfish and small weaks and or bunker, and guy after guy hooked up. I got frustrated again, and soon left feeling that this just wasn't fly rod-able or I just couldn't get it done. 
     As I traveled towards my house down Ocean Ave I called a friend Bob and let him know the fish were in the places I had visited. He had been fishing there the last few days and had caught it when it was good. I made a left on a popular stop and pulled to the water.......and then it got good........

     I said, "Bob, how come I can never catch it when these fish are up on the beach?".......and then I looked up.......and said......"Bob, I don't care what you are doing, get here, there are fish blowing up in the pocket." Before, I hung up I asked him to not call anyone, asking "Please just let me have this for a while." 

And I did.

     I was so excited I let a cast go from the top of the wall and retrieved in.....nothing.....second cast.....I saw the mid teen bass blow up on my fly, I was in, now I had to get down to the beach. 

From then on for about 45 minutes I landed 6 bass to 20 pounds. It was surreal. There was one other guy on the other side of the groin in just about as much glory as I was. I continued as the bass chased

the bait practically onto the beach in the pocket. I think my longest cast over the next hour or so was 30 feet. The fish had the bait on the run and they went up and around the groin and back into the pockets on the other side, we just kept moving with them and hooking up, again, and again, and again. I lost as many as I landed, lost meaning good solid chases and turns or missed hook ups. I was in heaven.

     Word must have got out because guys started to show and dead bass started to hit the sand......I had my taste of heaven being all alone and now it was different. I decided to leave them biting to go find my own fish, again. I finally had a good case of bass thumb, one just like the spin angler sharpies have had for weeks......I was proud of my thumb. 

     In the end I landed 16 bass to 25 pounds (41 inches) and left there shaking before heading back to my home spot where I put one more back into the water. I have to thank Andrew Warshawer from Andrew's Custom Flies who sold me the fly I used today. I went out today with one rod and one fly and they served me well all day.

     Between all my stops and all the guys and I saw I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how many fish went back into the water. Yes, there were bass taken, but I didn't see one person leave with two fish, and a lot of big ones went back. I will say, it is disturbing how many fish I have seen being caught and kept on the boats. I think the surf guys get the whole striped bass "problem" and are taking active steps to do their part to help save them. 

I hope to experience what I did today some day in the future, even if its in a year or two, it was that good. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

10.30.19 Great day out there, morning and afternoon....

      I had these two trips planned since last week. Things in fishing change day to day so you never know what the day will bring....and today was surprise, surprise, surprise. In the morning I had Leif out and we hit the water when enough light came up to see through the fog. It's been snotty out front so we fished somewhere else. Took an early ride and did a big circle looking for signs of life. Got a call from Capt. Jason at Blitzbound who was the first guy on the fish. Its nice to have friends out on the water, especially when you have clients on board. Plus it makes you feel like you have friends. 

     It took us a while to find fish ready to eat a fly but when they showed they were hungry. To me, these were not the usual fall fish. These fish are big, real big, and the biggest ones were on adult bunker.  Later in the day we found the more usual sized fall fish and they didn't disappoint either and they were on juvenile bunker. On the way home I hit up Capt. Paul Eidman at Reel Therapy and he believes the big bunker came into the bay before or during the blow and the big bass followed. Remember, at the end of the day pretty much everything swimming in the bay will leave for the winter, so you have to get them while they are here. Water temps above 60 wouldn't be a reason for them to leave just yet. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can have a few good days left.

    With Leif being a customer today I didn't feel right about fishing when the fish showed up but he insisted so I went to a pink and white Hollow Fleye swam behind a Jim Matson Pulse Disc. The action, and I think more importantly the vibration, they add to a fly is something to see, and the fish are attracted to it and love it. I miss Jim Matson, who always pushed the envelope in designing either flys, ways to tie them, or contraptions to fish them.

     The fish in the morning were mostly down low, for us, and guys fishing near the bottom did really well, but they did show and boil and tail slap and chase bait out of the water from time to time. After the hunt in the morning and a PM trip waiting at the dock we had to head in around noon but pleasantly found acres of "normal" blitzing fall bass on peanuts.

These are the pretty and there strength and pull is greater than their almost keeper size size. That could make any trip in itself a treat, even without the big fish we found, and even for the experienced angler. It was none stop action there on the ebb tide with birds everywhere and bass blowing bait out of the water. We had to leave them biting in order for me to pick up my PM sports, who were eager to get out. Leif and I haven't had a day like that in the boat, and hopefully they will be more days out.

    My afternoon guys were Brendan and Andrew. I have known and fished with Andrew several times and he is a great fly fisherman, a gentleman- mostly, and is one of the best fish holding models I know. We have connected on a few great images, one being a cover of On The Water magazine and the other in Bob Popovic's latest book, Fleye Design. He manages the Orvis store in Philly and Brendan works at the TCO shop in that Orvis store and has only freshwater fished and guides for smallmouth bass on the Susky. He was eager to catch something in the salty water...and he was about to experience what most first time striper fly fisherman never see.

     We went right back where we left them and in 20 minutes he was holding his first striped bass. It wasn't a bad way to start his striped bass resume and it only got better. After they each caught a few of the these fish which topped out at just keeper sized I asked if they wanted to go on the hunt for big


fish, of course without any guarantee. We took the ride in the almost pea soup fog and after some waiting and scouting around we found the birds over busting bass. After a ton of casts to fish that were in the neighborhood he came tight and added a beauty to his days catch.

Andrew is sporty. He is hardcore, I hate that saying, but he is a passionate fly fisherman. He is also very considerate and wants to share his knowledge and love of the sport with others. He deflected shots at big fish so Brendan go go over and over again and try to hook up. He did take some shots and found this nice fish that was a visual follow and eat, the best kind of fish when fly fishing. Brendan is a Blaine Crockett disciple and loves tying and fishing his Game Changer patterns.

Last night he tight up one for todays trip and was determined to get a nice fish on it. After offering it up to a bunch of fish he found a real one that ate and gave him a heck of a fight before it safely came to the net. Each season there are those days, I can remember them and they bring fond memories. Tomorrow is October 31st.......Blitz-O-Ween, I'll recap that in tomorrow's post.

Outside of the fog, and the mist, and the rain, it was a great day. Actually, I think the fog helped. It kept the boat traffic down and didn't allow for usual run and gun type fishing in the fall when the birds get over busting bass. There were lots of nice fish, all safely released of course. The only negative thing was back at the marina. A bunch of dead cows in the dumpster. which always turns my stomach. I don't know why I look if it bothers me so, but I do. But whats worse then big dead bass, really big dead bass, are so poorly filleted that most of the meat is still on the rack. Look at the one to the right, the picture doesn't really show its size, its over 45 pounds, and most of the meat is visible below the lateral line. Sickening.

Next charter is Monday, come on Tom lets put it in the books. I have availability the rest of the late fall and if interested give me. call 732 261 7291 or drop me a line

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

10.29.19 Nice and sloppy but no one home....

     So, heres my week. Monday, psych in the office. Tuesday, Archer Boys Firewood Service. Wednesday, two boat trips. Thursday, who knows. Getting the practice up and running, and getting people in the door, is taking a little longer than I expected. So in order to make rent you gotta do what you gotta do.

     Had to drive to Red Bank to get my partner Sean for a days work with the firewood splitter. Hit the beach just after light and just at the top of the tide. Strong E-NE wind with waves running up the beach. Hit a beach full of rocks and kept myself protected some on the north side. Might have had a hickory shad jump my fly but no really sure.

    Looked down on the beach and found this lone gizzard shad trying to make its way back into the water before the gulls got him. Nice sized bait, bigger than a peanut bunker and smaller than an adult.  Reached out to my man Bob Popovic's to nail down the species.

    The rest of the day was spent splitting wood around a customers yard. Its our second day there and we might have a few more days. Fun working with your adult son, even in the light rain. Can't wait till the morning for the first of two boat trips for the day....hope the weather.....and bass cooperate.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

10.27.19 Yes, lets go with the slot option.......

A slot option will not help this fishery. These are not the 30s and 40 and 50s, these are fish sea;ler than that but bigger than the schoolies we are now accustomed to around the calendar. The only way to save this fishery is a moratorium......catch and release only for three years. Just my opinion. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

10.26.19 It was that kind of day.....

    Fishing jumping out of the water! Bait being sprayed! 20's.30's and 40's along the boat! Today is the day for fly fishing! Its going to be perfect! Insane jig bite!..........

     With all of those reports I figured it was a great day to invite the wife to scout before next weeks boat trips. Why read reports when you can go and make them. I'm not sure of what you have heard or read from other captains out there but here's what I did looking for that Mother lode every one is speaking about. 

    Wet at 830. Rounded the Hook. No birds, or boats for that matter in sight. Headed out about 1.5-2 miles and found some birds scattered mostly on fish showing on top or on the finder. Angled out to hit inside the EEZ (federal line) at three miles just outside the Shrewsbury Rocks. Boats anchored up bottom fishing. Not much for life. Headed south below the rocks but north of the Normandy Invasion floatilla that was from Shark River Inlet to Asbury Park. We were in the area with boats that really played well. Marked fish low and for Theresa it turned out to be dogfish that ate the Ava with a green tail. Headed back up along the legal line and saw a lot of boats east??........ I though maybe with the tide change something might be cooking between the channels and around the lighthouse but when we got there with slow moving water...nothing but bait. And that was it.

    At least misery loves company. Above is Capt Rons Fisherman report followed by the Dorothy B.  I saw them back and forth on the hunt as we were. Thats a lot of fuel and time and tough day for a heavy boat of anglers. 


     So when we get back to the dock I see a guy cleaning fish. Nice older man. Big smile on his face. "Hey nice fish" I say. Told him we didn't find anything and asked him where he was. "Oh out about three miles or so......." Wait "or so". He said they caught three in ten minutes when they came up along the boat. So thats where we are today? So what to do? Or not to do?  Do I stick to my guns and stay true to myself or do I do what doesn't sit well in my gut. Do I run off, over the legal line, and put myself, my clients, even my wife, on big fish that are doing all that is described in the first paragraph? 

     As I sit here now I say no, never, absolutely not. The angel is in my ear to my right. Integrity is what you do when no one else is watching. But, there is that other side, the left side, and the devil that says, "Feck It, everyone else is doing it and you're not keeping them anyway. Go have fun and give the paying clients what they came for".........

So I'm sticking to my guns. If you fish on my boat you can't keep a fish and we will only fish, meaning dropping lines in the water, inside the EEZ, the legal line. 

     In other disappointing news. Last year today was one of the last great albie days of 2018. Shrewsbury Rocks was rocking. I think this past blow shut it down. It was great fishing with bigger albies as part of that mix. 

     And more concerning is the bay, specifically the Raritan Bay. I know usually the big fish pass by, doing that now way off, and then the smaller fish follow. But at this time thee should be some fish in the bay on the bait. There is bait being flushed with each tide. We found it near the Ammo Per with some birds on them but not a boat or a bass to be found. I think that great fall bay bite is well, "Over Johnny", unless it just comes late this year. 

     And lastly. We don't hear much about the ASMFC much these days. The diehards are still out saying that we can change this fishery. 'Write your comments" "Go to a hearing" "Call your representatives" about just stop killing fish? Less dead fish is more living fish. That "One for the table"......well they pile and add up.

     This year, different from last, you won't see the mates sitting on top of piles of dead fish. You will still see the six pack boats not getting it and having their sports pose, like five or six of them with two fish each, with dead legal fish. While that may attract some business it gets a lot of push back from conservative minded people. And what else you will see is the following. You won't see blacked out horizons in fish pics these days....why....because land isn't in sight when the fish are. What you will see is that "one for the table" pic set up to be "proof" that the fish were sought after and caught inside the line. Look at the history for the guys that catch, never want you to see the beach, apartment building, tower, ect you can see it all because guess what, I don't care if you know that spot because thats not where we fished or caught. Dock pics are always should be seeing more of those. And just one more. If there are 1,000 boasts on the fish, and you're in it, with air craft carriers and destroyers and small amphibious boast staging for the invasion, how come there are never in the background. Out there you cant take a piss without someone seeing you're junk, but hold up a 40 pound bass and they all part the sea?

C'mon man.......

10.24.19 Disappointing skunk this morning....

     Had a good tide, good wind, and had a good tide and good wind. Started in the dark with a popper and sand eel dropper. Went to a bigger solo Deciever. Then to a sand eels. Thought something might break at dawn but not. Switched to the daytime colors. Even went to a sand bug, or mole crab, fly without a tap. 

     As light came I could see the boat traffic start up as they came out of the Shark river Inlet and headed north. The fish seem to be off the beach heading south with bigger, much bigger, fish leading the migration. Sad thing is guys are keeping them and fishing for them in places they shouldn't. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

10.21.19 Lucky to just be in the area....

     Was down by the beach and was hoping to get in on some midday high tide fishing.....forget it. N-NE winds at 17-23 had the water a mess and pretty much unfishable, or just ugly. Checked from Deal up to the Hook and didn't find fishy water. Gave it a go at the Hook for about 5 mins but between the color, the sweep, and the tide running up the beach I gave up. 

     Did find this nice big sailboat beached probably after getting caught in the big water or ripped from its mooring somewhere. 

     We've had our first push of fish last week and into the weekend and the boats put a beating on them and then shut it down due to the high traffic and operators not knowing how to play nice and not mess up the bite. Word has it there are lots of big fish outside if the three-mile line and boats "are looking for bluefish or bluefin" and find themselves on blitzes on bunker, sandals, or rain bait. It is illegal to "target" striped bass past that line......but whatever.

     One of my stops was at Little Monmouth and I was amazed to see water up to the wall and the groin fully exposed. I remember just a few years back when Pallone gloated over how "replenished" those beaches were. You know the ones in Monmouth County where his voters live. With all the sand pulled out to the ever growing bars its hard to fly fish and catch unless those bass and blues come in to sniff or actually follow bait. For spin guys its super long casts on or just over the bar where the bass patrol. It will be interesting to see if the bait in the back comes out and makes a right, or a left, and travels down the beach or go out into deeper water. Liking that Im hearing sandeels are or might be around....that usually makes for good fishing in the dark or low light.