Monday, June 29, 2020

06.29.0 They're back....

     When I got to the beach the other night at 230 am I looked up the beach to see what looked like lights from the Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Later that morning I took a drive and found the source. Heavy machinery and workers at it pumping sand and "replenishing" the beaches north of Pullman Ave in from of Plaza Court and Adams Street.

     This contract calls for 200 feet of replenishment down past Pullman Ave near Park Ave. Its a shame because that stretch has been carved out nicely and has been holding fish even at lower water, well it was before the S winds started to shoal things up. The homeowners along that stretch must be happy, Frank Pallone keeping them with their own private beaches with little public access, and hardly any parking during the day to enjoy the "public" beaches. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

06.28.20 "Dad I want to go fishing...."


     I thought my fishing day was over after a long, long night but just after noon Erin asked if we could go. Nothing hardcore, nothing annoying, just a rod and some fish that you can see and catch. We headed to the Delaware where I haven't been after putting in some serious time this spring. Water was down, refreshing to wade in, crystal clear, and fun to fish. 

      Erin was able to find a carp and a smallmouth bass which she had fun casting to, or placing the fly near, the fish. It didn't last long, didn't have to, it was mission accomplished, time between father and daughter on the river enjoying time together away from the harsh reality of times today.

     In other fishing news from the day. Had two guys bite on a walk and wade trip and then spit the bit when it was time to confirm. So I headed out before another scheduled trip on Wednesday. Why scout? Because the beach conditions have changed drastically since I got back from Martha's Vineyard. It was blowing N/NE and it carved the beach up nice. Since then it has been S and SW and now W but effects on the beach are evident. Cooler temps, keeping the fluke away, and filling in of all that good structure that Mother Nature carved out. 

     I left my house before 130 am and was making my first at 230. Took about a half an hour before I landed my first bass, didn't measure or grab a pic because this was going to be a GOOD night. I dropped a big fluke, that I had eyes on, on the next groin and then went on a multi-hour skunk before 

switching over reels to my intermediate line and throwing a popper/dropper. Had a few jump the popper, then lost one on a bad knot on the popper, and then lost another on a bad know on the dropper. So I switched to a black Half and Half and Snake Fly but by then it was getting light. One thing I can say is, outside of the obvious honey holes where water remained, I couldn't find a groove to get into as far as a rip or fishy water that wasn't near a groin or an outflow pipe. The water came in and up, from right to left, and exited in the same fashion.  I finished up with the AMC going down the beach with one grab and go, felt like a fluke. I finished up around 7 am as the water was just about gone. I should have done better, but I think it was on me this time. 

Spoil alert- If you look at the sunrise pic you can see vessel on the horizon, more on that tomorrow!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

06.27.20 'I cannot tell a lie....."

     But I have been, well, not on purpose. So we talk of good fish in fly fishing, Upper Delaware, 20 inches is the mark of a good fish. In the salt "Its. keeper, 28 inches" is the mark of a good fish. We routinely "guesstimate" what a good fish is, which means its usually a little shorter, unless you pull out the tape measure or measure App. So this year, a little different than last, I decided to tape up my fly rod. Good idea, quick measure, quick pic, quick release. 18 inches at yellow and 28 inches at red and then bigger some different colors. The only problem a dope.....this year I "threw in" a 24 inch mark, in red. WTF?

     When I caught the fish on the top I "reported it" as just below keeper size. But when I saw it I thought 'God that looks tiny for a keeper?". A few days later I decided I needed to check myself. Out came the tape and yep.....I'm a dope. So all my "just about keepers" or "just shy of 30 inches", were really just shy of 24 inches and just shy of 28 inches or keeper size. 

     Does size matter? Yes. Why, because its nice to known there just might be some nice fish mixed in with the mass of 20-26 inch fish. And the only way to know is to measure, if you lay out your measuring system correctly. From now on 18 inches is dinner if its a full, and blue or above is a "good" striped bass. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

06.24.20 Get it while its good....

     We were just talking the other day about, well, how things suck from the surf. Sandy? Beach replenishment? Destruction of an inshore ecosystem? It just hasn't been looking like there's a lot of life down there. No birds, no bait, really not much for fish. 

The fish Gods must have heard our conversation.....

    With the S wind swung around to the W and an incoming tide life was brought back to the beach. I got there before 6pm and had ospreys searching from the sky for fluke or sand dials swimming on the bottom. A whale was out a bit I assume on bunker. Some splashes out of casting range looked like bass rather than blues. Of course the sub surface offerings were there, sand crabs, but, and you cant tell it from the above picture, the quick set of swells and water running up the scarp made it hard to work a crab fly. 

     I had a hard time finding a parking spot and had to walk aways to get away from the surfers and beachgoers. Once in, I found a little honey hole that gave up three, one around 27 inches. They all had sea lice on them, so they have traveled, or are mid trip, on the way north for the summer. Most were covered with sea lice. It would be nice is they decided to stay on the beaches in Jersey. If the water stays tolerable and there's things to eat they just might stay. I tried the popper without a touch then went to a two fly set up that produced. Just before dark I made the move and was confident I would catch another nice fish. A long stretch and two groins didn't give up anything, but I did hook, and almost had my hand on, a keeper fluke 20 or so inches, that popped off while fishing off the rocks. 

     I saw this "memory" on my Facebook page this morning. Good times with Andrew and Joe out tossing big flies to big bass on bunker. This was from six years ago. I miss my boat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

06.23.20 We might be seeing resident fish settling in....

     Since coming back from the Vineyard I've been able to hit the beach a few times. Small bass, a few short fluke, and a sundial. That was after and during a S wind that wouldn't let up. It cooled the water down a bit but that should keep the bass happy. Not when the water gets cold, but just above that 60 degree mark.

     Was out midday Monday and water the beach scrap on the incoming tide. Saw about a dozen bass but the S wind and the sweep made it hard to present a crab fly the way I wanted. Had a few follows but no refusal as none would commit. With last weeks NE-E wind a good trough was cut out, but the S winds and the current blowing S to N will fill that in fast. Early morning low tides don't help when you're looking for fish that are patrolling the flats and the troughs. 

      Living an hour and 15 minutes away takes me out of the "quick one hour check on things trips". If I'm driving I'm fishing. Lucky for Leif, and above his son Leif, they are able to do just that and the younger has done well as of late. A quick check online and I see the usual mole crab, sand flea, bug soakers are catching as well, with fish up to keeper size, but most in that 20-24 inch range. every now and then, a good fish like I caught Sunday, are a pleasant surprise.

    I had been using a Depth Charge line (300gr) that was shortened after being hung up on the rocks but it never had the oomph that a full 30' sinking line had. The 350 might be too much, depending on the water and sweep, and I find the 300 gr perfect. I tied up some bait for my next outing after the tides evolve over the next week. Early morning poppers during the summer are always fun, and crab flies you can't beat because the fluke love them as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

06.21.20 Happy Father's Day...

     Just before I closed my truck door at 4am and headed down the path to the beach I reached into my console and grabbed Ryan's ashes. This morning he would fish with me, and I think he brought a little luck. The surf was quiet and relatively flat on the incoming tide. I started with a popper/dropper and had one fish jump the popper and caught a little guy as I raised the fly duo out of the wash. 

     I switched over to a crab fly hoping something was rooting around. The mole crabs were biting their way into the beach scarp as whatever wave action hit the beach dislodged them from the sand. Light was coming and I was getting worried that it wasn't going to happen. I jumped in my truck and checked out a dead end road which led to the beach access. Cars were lined up and down, but a better look show moisture on all of their windows so I pulled in. We would have this beach to ourselves.

     I fished off the groin without a touch and both sides without any interest. As I made my way up the beach I contemplated changing to a Clouser with something small hanging off the back. But as I made my way to a point, which can be seen at the left side of the above image, a violent take happened and soon I was into my backing with a fish that took off, and way out. It was a fine fish, coming in on the tape just below 30 inches.

     And with that my Father's Day morning was made. I got to spend some time with my son Ryan in my mind, and with him in my left breast pocket, close to my heart. I usually fish "Ryan's Rock" on Phillips, but there were a couple of guys plugging off the front, so this morning this beach would suffice just fine.

     Quickly the pea soup fog rolled in and I made my way down the beach. I didn't need to catch anything else, my mission was accomplished. The water was flat anyway and there wasn't good movement, I shouldn't have caught that fish with lazy conditions like this. As I drove home I still thought of Ryan, and missing him this, and every Father's Day since his death. Today I will get to spend it with some of my other children, biological, adopted, or step, they are all special and I am blessed to call them my children. I will also get to spend it with my Dad and my brother. Some of you won't have that special Dad, Grandfather, or child to spend this day with, hold the good times and them in head and heart, it can be okay, and even bring a smile to your face.

     The south winds as of late may have cooled down the water temps a bit. I brought a cooler with me because I thought it would be a keeper fluke kind of day, but besides this 16 incher the only other flatfish was a small sundial. Dads enjoy your day today, you deserve it.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

06.20.20 This popped up on Facebook...

     This is probably the best picture of the guys from the Marthas Vineyard trips. It was 2015 and we had a great house but it was located near the airport which is really no where the striped bass were. It was mid way between Menemsha and Edgartown, sort of.

     It was with these guys that I caught my first taste of the Vineyard and sight fishing for striped bass. While it was a fishing trip, it was more than that to me. These are some of the nicest, funniest, and fishiest (at various times of their lives) guys I know. Thanks to Joe the trips were well panned, affordable, and with just about every need you can have met. Steve, Bob and Gerry would keep us in flies and Dick was always good to sit and eat and have a beer with.


     There have been few good stories over the years, Joe backing into the tree at Tashmoo, Joe and Bob nearly drowning in 2 feet of muck, the truck breakdowns, last years pic of the back of someones head sitting at the table, but my favorite was this......

     Bob is a fly tying master. He ties them and then studies them. He caresses them. He puts them down and then picks them back up and caresses them more. So one morning his flies were out and he was the last to get out of the bunk. I took various shades of Bucktail and carefully inserted them into one of his Hollow or Semper Fleyes. He lumbers out, sits down and picks up the fly. As his hand strokes the fly the materials come out to his lasted a good few seconds, as if his fly had failed or something, but then he knew the gig was up as we all busted out laughing.

    Each year I try to make the trip as good as those early ones, I might have to stop doing that.


Friday, June 19, 2020

06.19.20 I thought I had a 30 pounder on....

     I generally try to fish the morning after getting back from the Vineyard. Last year it was a keeper, this year I thought it was a monster. Planned on leaving Titusville at 3 am, but must have hit the snooze so I didnt leave till 415. That put me on the beach at 530 am. Incoming tide, no wind, water was clean and green. I started quickly with a popper/dropper set up and after 15 minutes I knew today wasn't going to be the day. I passed Leif and headed south to a longer groin and after switching to a Half and Half and something fishy looking I was hit hard. The fish went down and stayed. It shook its head. This was my 30 pounder. 

     I was in my backing and then made good headway. It was running deep along the rocks and I just couldn't wait to see the stripes come out of the water,...until I saw the yellow eye. Gotcha. It was about a 10 pound bluefish. I tried to get it up far enough on the rocks to grab but, you know bluefish, bite, down, later. Just as well. Fight was fun and it swam away without being touched.

    For the morning I had a little bass on in the pocket and a small fluke I saw hit my fly in the wash. So, while none to hand, I had the Jersey early summer trifecta, bass, fluke, bluefish. Leif got a keeper fluke on a crab fly, which was difficult to swim on the high tide or start of the ebb. Leif finally took a decent picture of me while on the rocks so I'll send out a thank you to him. Thinking I'm done for a while...that drive sucks.

     And just to wrap up the last morning on the Vineyard, Day 7. Woke up, fog, no wind. The fog would eventually burn away leaving PERFECT conditions for sight fishing, if you pick the right flat to walk. We decided to jump off the island early and caught the 1030 ferry rather than the 130. We

stopped for a lobster roll in Falmouth and then hit the Cape Cod Canal, AKA "The Ditch". I was hoping to find a squid massacre like I saw on video footage captured by Mike Laptew last year this week. It was nice to walk the bike path and watch as guys cast 1/4 mile into the middle and jig the pink Sluggo's? all the way back in- looks more tiring then fly fishing.

    Trip rating- It was what it was. Had fun with the wife. Caught a few fish, one keeper. Not much for sight fishing. Not many fish around. If you have fly rids with you, its a fishing trip. Next year? Not sure, I have some thoughts though........