Saturday, October 31, 2020

10.31.20 Happy Halloween 2020


    No fishing for this Halloween 2020, but the above picture is from a Halloween I will never forget....Blitz-o-ween 2014. Best beach day ever, check it out  HERE

Friday, October 30, 2020

11.30.20 Getting ready for the boat....

     So now that I'm back to boat fishing, well hopefully, I went through my gear and found what needed to be cleaned up or repaired. I found these two rods, a 9 ft 10 wt and 9ft 12wt, both snapped during an outing with 30, 40 and 50 pound bass eating big flies a few years ago. Hopefully they'll be back in time for some action this late fall. 

     So let's be real. Outside of a few big fish caught on IBSP the last few days the beaches along the Jersey Shore suck for surf fishing. Doesn't matter if your throwing flies, plugs, ducktails, chunks or whatever else you have in your arsenal, the fact is it isn't the same anymore. It may just be a convenient time to bitch see most aren't catching these days, but its the truth. I'm not talking about getting one, or a few, but being on the fish. For those that fish tides, and moons, and weather conditions, you know what I mean. Yes, you can fish the same exact spot 1,000 time, and sometimes, or even often, you just might be in the right spot at the right time. Its kinda like being anchored up on a wreck for hours and hitting the mother lode of fish swimming below.

     Why do I say that? Because I get it. Those that charter for a living, I mean living as in no other job, or those that side hustle, like myself, need to show pictures of people with fish in order to get people to fish. Now, outside of social media where displays of catches and happy anglers are getting a bit much, captains and businesses that have committed to publishing reports have to do just that, good, bad, or indifferent. Yep, sometimes you just have to say "The fishing sucked". That's why I like The Average Angler blog. Its the truth all of the time. I don't know the actual statistics, but failure is more often reported than success, or what people would identify as success, which would be catching. What is success when it comes to fly fishing? An experience, of being outdoors, learning things, trying new things, and then just maybe actually catching a fish.  

     Some guys are dialed in and will use every method available to get you into fish. The cell phone network, flies, plugs, shads, livies, eels, you get it- those are mostly the fly and light tackle guides, good for them and good for you if that what you like. For those die hard fly anglers, you know catching comes second to fishing. If you look at the posts, if you do that, just about everyone is reporting and displaying pictures of people with fish, it was that good. But what about the pictures when you don't catch, the reality of paying for a charter and not catching, why is that reported as proudly as when you catch, it is for me, and like minded clients, fishing is always better than catching. 

     So this blow has slowed the boat slaughter that was happening and bound to continue. Hopefully those fish are way south and over the three mile line. That way they get some chance to spawn next year. Above is a view of Belmar now at 130 pm at low tide. No doubt the beaches will have changed a bit, hopefully enough for some bait to get caught in close and bass not freaked out by the new nd continued changing structure, or structure less Jersey Shore. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

10.29.20 It's official...they're here

     Alright, rant for today. Yesterday the big girls showed up on their migration south where they'll winter over before hopefully SPAWNING next spring. That's if we don't kill them all first. So in New Jersey no fish over 38 inches- everyone thought was a great idea, protect the big ones. Problem is, when there are only fish up to 28 inches and fish over 38 inches left, it takes a lot of catching, and killing, to get your slot fish. 

   Yesterday there were fish from Monmouth Beach down to IBSP, with fish on the beach down south. Its hard to safely release a fish, let alone a big one. Yesterday I caught a 37 inch bass and had to time "my release" back into the water from the outer end of the groin. I have caught 40 pound bass in my Jones, takes a while to get them it, and even longer to revive and release them. And my boat is two feet off the waters surface. How about the party boats? Catching big ones, hoisting them up, hitting the rail first, then the deck, then a photo and then what? An albie dive back into the water? 

     This is not good. Guys are fishing through big fish trying to find their keepers. Live lining bunker with snag and drop rigs isn't any better. These fish don't have a chance. We should do better. 

     I had to go today. Fish around yesterday and the blow later today. This morning will be good.....forget it. I started in the OG and headed north after not-a-tap for 45 minutes. So I went to where I was yesterday, not a tap, not for me, Leif or Ritchie on different beaches and rocks. 

     I had a Double Barrel Popper leding and Andrew Warshauer Hollow Fly. Incoming tide, clean and green, good whitewater, nothing. Before I left I was shooting the shit with Richie about how

disappointing this morning was and we saw the bucker out a ways with fish on them. Today is the kind of day where you just have to stick around, like 8 hours and hope to be on the right beach at the right time. See you after the blow, boat gets wet next wee! Can't wait. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

10.28.20 First keeper of the year, well almost.....

        It's the tale of the tape. Initially I thought it was a keeper when I placed the rod down next to it, but after measuring the white tape when I got home, the tape is at 28 inches, I see I am and inch or so short, but it was a good fish, fought like a bigger fish, and wasn't easy to land on the outer third of the groin.   

     Conditions were great this morning, but it took first light forever to arrive. High tide was at 6 am, west wind, water was clean a green. Boast came out of the inlet and stayed there, I first thought they found a body of fish, but it was just a staging area for the boasts until light arrived and they could move north, either way north to the New York Bay or, a mile off the beach from where I was. 

     Fished a groin, stayed with the popper and dropper. Had the below fish, "I swore it was a keeper", blow up on it after a long cast. That was one and done for me. If I were a betting man, and one with a rain coat, I would be out there tomorrow morning, its the day it is supposed to blow, and conditions should be the same as today. Leif and Richie were in the area and caught as well, but I'm thinking I was the pool winner for the day.

      After a beach outing I went and picked up my boat. She looked different, happy, not disappointed, and ready to get splashed into the Sandy Hook Bay..sooner than later hopefully. The warnings about the wiring and this boat are coming in person, by phone, text and email. I get it, I will try and figure out what to do, I'm thinking of towing it over to Terry Sullivan's house for a professionals opinion. Below is a pic of Terry from 2012 working on my old Jones in front of his house. 

     The other concern I have is the autoride or suspension issues with my 2005 GMC Yukon. Towing capacity 5700 pounds, Jones 19'10" comes in at 2100 pounds, plus the gas and the motor and the stuff, and 2 tons of wiring. Anybody that knows anything about the GMC air suspension system please give me a call 732 261 7291. Thanks 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

10.27.20 Here we go again....well kind of

     So the day starts at 445 am at the Wawa in Jackson. "20 gallons premium please", just like I was told. Added the Sea-Bil and ring free and grabbed a coffee before letting the fuel slosh around the tank. Yesterday got some good intel from Mike and Laura. In late 2016 Jin had the boat down in Harkers. The engine was giving him some trouble. When he got back to took it to a mechanic in Great Bay who pumped the tank, cleaned it and inspected it and did a full filter and service on the engine. That was good news. 

      So while down there I had to hit the beach before dropping off the boat. Got there in the dark and fished for 90 minutes without a tap. No bait, no birds, great looking water...nada. Leif was down there and had the same luck I had, this is getting very interesting. My prediction, late fish on sand eels, mostly boat fish. Forget "the bait is in the back", it came out and split. Think outside of the normal box, and think cold and late this year. Just my prediction.  

     As I was walking up from the beach I was checking out how the ass end of my truck was looking with the trailer on the ball. This truck has a load "adjuster", that is supposed to raise the back end when you tow. Might be something I have to look into sooner than later. Any suggestions?

     So I met Steve of Steve's Mobile Marine down in the Highlands and we got to business. I gave him little history, a quick tour of the batteries and shut offs, and left a few filters that I purchased. Twenty minutes later I got the call, 'Have you bought this boat yet?", oh, shit, here we go again I thought. He went on tell me 'I don't want to married to this boat", 'There's wires everywhere, nothing but trouble". He's a buddy off a buddy, so said it with concern and experience. We ended with me getting the concerned advice, and he getting the good-to-go to check the fuel, change the filters, and fire it up. 

     A half and hour later I got another call from Steve. "Well, the fuel, the fuels good, no water. I changed the filters and the looked good, and fired it up and the engine ran and sounded good". Whew....thanks be to Jesus. Finally some good news. He did add "that the decks shot", and then a little more about the wiring. I called Paul Eidman who happened to have Capt Terry Sullivan on board as the fished the river. Terry hooked me up when I put new electronics on my old Jones, 'I'm retired now, he said in the background". No Terry, you're semi retired, wait until you get a load of this ship!


     After I dropped off the boat, and some time spared before work, I hit the Hook. Maybe if the fish weren't south they'd be north.....forget it. No bait, birds or fish. Had the place to myself for about an hour. No boats on the horizon, I have a feeling they are all jammed up in the New York Bay and Hudson, feeling away on the outgoing tide. 

     Speaking of eels, that catch big fish, there are some big fish around and its that time of year where I shake my head and wonder "What are you thinking?'. Its like "Death by 1,000 cuts", I recently heard that rhyme. Makes me sick, don't want to here about have many guys are on the boat, guys have to make a living, they're all legal fish. What is it going to take for guys to get the memo? 

     And then there's yesterday. I felt guilty and evil doing it but I did. Out came the heat gun and I easily removed the Brine Fly stickers Jim had on either side of the boat. I took a good picture of the logo and will have it reprinted and put back somewhere on the boat, mostly like forward of the center console. 


Sunday, October 25, 2020

10.25.20 "Death by 1,000 cuts....."


     So the other day I got the call I had been waiting for. I was so confident of good news that I put the phone on speaker so my co-pilot could hear. Ready, set, go...."Don't buy his boat if the are selling it you for free". Clang, bang, cymbal. My heart sank. I felt nauseous. I could feel the "told you so" emanating from Theresa. I can still recall the feeling I had as I write this now. 

     I had dropped the boat off to get the filters changed and anything else they thought it might need before I fired it up for the first time. The service manger maybe suggested a water pump also. When I dropped it off he gave me the heads up. 20 year old motor, HPDI - which means High Pressure Direct Injection, unsure of its history and how long its been sitting. Okay, sounds good to me, switch the filters out put in some gas and Sta-Bil and some ring free and fire that engine up. 

     So besides the warning, I got a little education. Back in the early 2000's when the motor was put out the industry was looking for an improvement over the current two stroke engines. The HPDI was, and can be, a great motor. One problem is they are so picky and sensitive to fuel issues, like ethanol, that things can get plugged up and give an owner a bitch of a time. Before I left he wanted to make sure I got the memo, "These motors are death by 1,000 cuts". So I took it all in, gave my buddy Paul Eidman a call, and he suggested I call a few mechanics that might be able to help. The two I called were great, but I could hear the hesitation in their voice about that engine. 

     Doing the drive of shame from the Shore back to Titusville when you don't catch any fish sucks, driving it with a boat that scares the hell out of seasoned mechanics is 10 times worse. So I stopped by Mercer Marine, a Yamaha dealer in Hamilton, not to far from my house. I spoke with Bob Lockwood for the first time. He came out, gave it a look over, educated me about some things, and made some suggestions I should take before firing her up. He was confident, that either there would be no issues, or he could get them right for me if there were. 

    I have spent many nights by flashlight going over the boat, mostly following wires and trying to figure out what switch goes where. After witnessing the pea soup fog the last couple of outings on the beach the radar is staying, I'll just tell my sports to don't cast inside the boat. I fired the radar up and watched cars pass my house on Route 29, it was pretty cool. 

    As I'm writing this I made a phone call to Dave Choinard, The Fly Hatch Dave, and a past Jones Brother dealer and the guy who sold the original boats that I owned to, Tom 'Trooper Tom" Dubia and Jim "Pulse Disc" Matson. I explained about the consensus of the 175 HPDI and he said, 'We made a living on those engines". He put me at ease, gave me my boat confidence back, and it was a call I really needed. 

    Well the sporty weather is still long the Jersey Shore. This afternoon Leif got out and got one at just about high tide, using, of course, and "UAF", Ugly Ass Fly. Tomorrow there's chance I can take the boat to a mechanic Paul knows who will switch out the filters, check the fuel situation, as far as the quality of it before it hits the engine, and general check. I'm ready to back this thing down a ramp, either Atlantic Highlands or Trenton, I want to hear it purrrrr.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

10.24.20 No good bite before the storm, but the surfers were happy...

      Well this week the weather is going to turn, and fast. Tropical Storm Epsilon is off the east coast and today those on the beach were met with big swells, good for the surfers, not so good for the anglers. This storm is going to bring rain, winds, and a cold spell that'll shock your mums and have you bundling up when outside and probably firing up the heat for a few days in a row. 

     This morning I went around 530. There were anglers up and down the beach trying to find fishable water in the dark and looking for some protection from the swells. I lasted out front for about 30 minutes before ducking inside to find flat conditions, and not much for life.

     I switched up from a sinking line with a dumbbell eyed Snake Fy and sand eel trailer to an intermediate line with a Bob's Banger up front with a Jim Matson peanut bunker fly behind. Found one sympathetic little guy that made my outing worth it. I went back out from and found conditions better as the outgoing tide helped calm the swell a bit. Had a corner to myself, except for the surfers who were polite taking if they could jump in,  but no fish were home. 

     Didn't see any bait out front or in the back. I was surprised by that. Hopefully the change in weather will bring those fish that are hanging in Long Island down to the New York Bight. Below is the fishing report from the Miss Belmar Princess,

October 23rd, 2020

Stripers & Blues

JUMBO STRIPERS up to 50 lbs are being caught not far from out inlet! So, as of tomorrow Saturday Oct 24th, we will be sailing daily for stripes and blues from 730-230 pm See you then...

and today, a day later.....

October 24th, 2020

Stripers & Blues

This morning we started out looking for stripers on the beach to no avail. We saw some bunker life and were able to snag some. We than ran offshore and picked at some blues up to 12 lbs with some nice sea bass in the mix. Fishing today was on the slow side today....

On my way home from Gateway Marine I stopped by Leifs house. Wanted to introduce him to the boat. He fished alone this morning and came up empty, like the other guys I spoke with. I can't wait to get the boat in the water soon, but more on that in tomorrows post. 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

10.22.20 "Its official, put it in the books..."

     I'm thankful, grateful and blessed to have been able to take over the journey of Jim Matson's, "The Pulse Disc" guy, 1997 Jones Brothers 19'10" Cape Fisherman. As you know Jim passed away in July 2018 and his wife Laura has had it up for sale. So after reconnecting with her, and the back and forth in my own head, and with Theresa, and with close friends that have similar boats, it was time to pull the trigger, and today, with Theresa sitting down with Laura and I, I did just that. I'm back in.

     Laura had found a few pictures of Jim on his boat, and the below image on the Great Bay is dated, 10/28/1996, which was most likely when he first took ownership of it. That is one proud Jones Brothers owner there. So the boat is going on 25 years old, or young, depending on how you look at it. There are more options on that boat then I can even imagine, miles of wiring that go in every direction and back again around the boat, toggle switches that click this on and off, and brackets and locks that I don't even now what kind of option they hold. Now, she ain't perfect, soft spots on the deck show a need for it to be cut out and replaced, and while there, a new gas tank too, a costly and time consuming undertaking. 

     Early this fall I started to think about my old boat and the upcoming fall run and the good days that I had out on the water. This past spring while fishing the Delaware River near Trenton I also thought of a boat that might be good for both the river and the ocean. Jim's boat will serve me well on both, especially with the jacked up electronics and the side scan options and the bow mounted trolling motor. His 175 Yamaha is mounted on a jack plate which is great for navigating skinny water. 

     Shortly before Jim passed he started to give away a lot of his fly tying materials and gear, above is a picture of a guy's cargo area after a visit to Jim's laboratory. Below is the last picture of Jim on his boat, checking it over with Mike, getting it in order, sadly knowing he had taken his last ride on it and it would most likely be sold sometime after his passing. 

     I wish I got to spend more time with Jim. His mind was that of a mad scientist. While his passion for fly fishing and fly tying is known amongst close family and friends, anglers across the country and globe only knew Jim through his design and distribution of The Pulse Disc. He was truly a great guy, had a great mind and a heart of gold. I will treat his boat with the love that he had for it, and hope to catch many fish using some of his flies, and his flies will most often be led by a Pulse Disc. Here's a thumbs up to you bud, thank you, and say hi to Ryan up there for me.