Tuesday, August 3, 2021

08.03.21 Just about a month away....

     With it being the dog days of summer and not much going on in the surf I decided to start a hard labor camp for my kids. Sledgehammers and picks do the body and mind good. Here Lauren hacks a way at 3 inch old asphalt which was laid on top of old and beautiful cobblestones on our driveway. It is really going to be a sight to see in 25 years when it gets all picked up.

     This weekend while at the Cape we toured the marinas looking at all the sweet fishing vessels, mostly Vikings, and watching the anglers get ready for the White Marlin Open. A 82 pound white was caught and if it stands it could be worth over 4.9 million dollars. I saw a picture of the fish on Facebook,

I guess it looks cool, I would think a fish worth that much would be more impressive. From what I learned its about 450 boats trolling around out to 100 miles. $25,000 to get it, 9.2 million in total purse money. Heading out 100 miles and trolling around all day and coming back in takes a lot of fuel, like thousands of dollars each day. One boat sank but the crew was rescued, from what it seems they were backing down on a fish and it might have swamped. 

     And August and the warmer water temperatures always bring a surprise or two if the waters are clean and green. This year there have been blue marlin in the wash, tuna within sight of land, and this past week a tarpon spearfished in Ocean County. Billy Martin sent me a photo from his friends who were out fluke fishing and caught a barracuda. 

     Summer also brings out the catch and release shark fishermen. From Long Island down to Cape May night owls are on the sand soaking bluefish and bait hoping to catch a variety of sharks. While that may be fun, I don't know how good it is for the sharks. Long battles, at times gear and hooks that aren't designed for catch and release. Last week a large sand tiger was caught in Ocean County and then the next day it was washed ashore not surviving the fight the night before.


     While its always cool to see species that normally swim in waters to our south and east it doesn't mean they need to be kept and killed. Once they make it to social media most anglers are skewered for killing species that aren't edible. 

Leif Pettersen photo

     I thought about giving it a go this morning but passed on the opportunity. Early up, long drive, chances slim of catching. Leif sent me the above photo of beach conditions in Elberon. I can't image the pain one would feel falling off the cliff caused by the beach erosion from the failed beach replenishment efforts that have plagued the ecosystem along the Jersey Shore. Yesterday I took Lauren to a doctors appointment in Staten Island and we passed the Arthur Kill landfill and talked about the years when New York City would load garbage up on barges and dump it in the ocean only to have it carried back into the bays and along the beaches. Who ever thought that was a good idea? Well in years from now we will say the same thing about the constant cycle of beach replenishment  every time Mother Nature takes back what is hers. 

     For now I will get ready for the fall. My road repairs from Orvis are starting to arrive, yesterday I got back my Hydros 7 weight which I use for the Delaware River, and due back I think is my H2 11 weight, or maybe a 10 weight. The rods took a beating this past year, mostly from dumb mistakes on my part. Its time to tie small baits and peanuts and some bigger bunker flies. Fall can't come soon enough. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

07.30.21 Tornados blow through town...

     A quick forming set of tornados came through Bucks County PA and jumped the river at Washingtons Crossing passing just east, by blocks, of our house in Titusville. Power outages, downed trees, and structural damage are evident throughout the area was the storms path headed down Route 295 before losing its steam. I had left for Cape May before the storm so Theresa had to batten down the hatches and protect the chickens from the blow. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

07.27.21 How about some jelly with that fly?

     With the tides for the week heading into dead low at first light I figured I had maybe one day to catch something before the tide cycle gets better. As always there too early and had to search for water around 430 am, which was when dead low hit. I did find some on the north side of the groin but there was no one home. Surprisingly there wasn't any sign of life or bait like there has been. 

     What I did find when light showed up was a jellyfish hatch that covered the beach scarp and my fly with just about each cast. By the time I left and the tide was midway, there was a sheen on the water and the water column was full of them from top to bottom. I looked it up and found them to be salps, which belong to the family tunicates, and are more related to human beings than jellyfish, although that it was they look like. They are usually in long chains, but separate as they drift into shallow water and in the breaking surf. (Source HERE)

    I think the combination of dead low and the choking salps had something to do with the absent bite. Rich was down and caught a few small fluke casting out on or over the bar with a combination bucktail/Gulp. Leif and I couldn't find a bite in the closer and shallower water. Bring on the fall already!


Monday, July 26, 2021

07.26.21 Went looking for snakes before work...

     So what to do. Back from the Shore and work starting mid-morning. Dead low on the beach was around 3 am and I was hesitant going not knowing how much water would be along the shore. Yes, by 6 am it would have been mid-tide, but I didn't want to take the ride of shame and throw my day off, so I stayed local. 

     Its the summer and either you stay the course with the fluke, blues, and occasional bass or you change it up a bit. So I went looking for Snakeheads, the infamous, and controversial, "invasive species". I have heard they should be killed and eaten, or returned to the water. I haven't caught one so I haven't had the dilemma on what to do. Science and popular opinion, like everything else, disagree depending on who you talk to. 

     In New Jersey we have Snakeheads and Bowfin. They look and act similar, one is listed as native the other invasive by NJ Fish and Game. While doing some research I came across an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer regarding some local fishing species and they talked about the Snakeheads. In the photo that went the article was local guy and Hook Shots creator Joe Cermele, who cut his teeth on the Delaware River and waters around the Trenton area. Below he is displaying a nice fish from an unknown location caught by photographer Dave Maialaetti. 

     I basically have no friends out here, no cell phone network of anglers with a list of go-to spots, so I went looking blindly by myself. I started on the Delaware, and worked the bank and wall for about 300 feet without a nothing. I looked up some of the tidal tributaries that feed the Delaware River and decided it was a good time to scout it out. 

     From what I have learned Snakeheads are ugly and mean, and love hiding in the pads and along there bands looking to jump on anything that swims by or overhead. I walked and fished along the bank
where I could fine fly readable access. With the outgoing tide I spent a lot of time cleaning vegetation from my fly.  

     I casted to areas that looked fishy and at one pit saw something a little on the large side pushing some water along the bank. I gave chase, for a little bit, but after slogging my way through the muck in Alabama-like humidity I gave up. This beat would definitely be better accessed with a kayak, where you could start on the incoming tide and then float with the ebb all the way down to the main river. 

     I didn't have a bump, and from what I hear there are no bumps, just swings and misses or heart stopping blow-ups. They say August is prime time so maybe there's some time from me to learn something just enough to find one of these toothy critters. They say they are great eating......we'll see. 


Sunday, July 25, 2021

07.25.21 Celebrating 6 years today...

     Six years ago today we tied the knot. Since then we have made the knot tighter, sometimes around each others neck, but mostly around each others heart. They say marriage isn't easy, and that's mostly about first marriages, well the ones after that are more challenging, but also more rewarding. Six years has seemed like 20, we've been through some tough times, but have been able to have a lot of fun together and watch as the kids grow and leave the nest. She has put up with my fishing and I have put with her........well nothing of course. We continue to grow as individuals and as a couple and I am lucky to have been reunited with Theresa. One thing that is for sure, if you asked me twenty something years ago when we worked together as nurses at Overlook Hospital is we'd be celebrating our 6th year wedding anniversary in July, 2021 I would have said you were nuts. Happy A-Day Theresa I Love You. 

     So I know its a fishing blog, or fishing related blog. This weekend we hit the house in Cape May to celebrate out anniversary and found a new place that will be on our regular list. Its located in the Grassy Sound section of North Wildwood and its called The Lazy Bass. Its obviously named after my favorite fish the striped bass so we had to check it out. We found it by accident chasing an estate sale that turned out to be a week earlier. It was a great find. 

    It's a bar. Alcohol only. And the beer is ice cold kept on a bed of ice in a little dingy center bar. As for food they have a food truck in the parking lot and you go and order and they bring it to you. On the busier weekend and holidays they have two trucks. The trucks come from as far as NYC, Philly and Baltimore I am told, so each day its a new type of food. We ate a solid burger and crab filled tater tots. 

     They have live music and a good crowd throughout the day. We scored a bar seat at 430 but after that it was a wait, and 1-1/2 hour waits to get in on the busy days and times isn't unheard of. 

     One word of caution. Make sure you eat while you are there. Its the kind of place where you can forget the drink counts and before you know it you'll be a little wobbly. So have a designated driver or an Uber card ready just in case you need it. You can see more on their Facebook page HERE

Thursday, July 22, 2021

07.22.21 Fluke-a-thon out there this morning....

     With two days before the full moon the bait and fish have been active. Yesterday Leif scored a summer grand slam with the below trio of a fluke, a bass and a bluefish. This morning it was all about the fluke as they were in thick chasing tiny white bait along with some bluefish and some what appeared to be Spanich mackerel. We both saw something bigger out there on the chase and it could have been a shark, or which wouldn't be a total surprise a tuna or a marlin, as was seen down in Ocean County the last few days patrolling the trough in Mantoloking. 

Leif Petterson photo

     I started way too early getting to the oceans edge by 4 AM. Threw a popper/dropper combo up and down the beach and rocks with only one fish that grabbed the trailing fly, felt like a Spanich, could have been a bluefish, definitely had the pelagic-type-tail kick to it. Just before light I switched to a 300 gr sinking line and a crab and epoxy fly setup and stayed with that before changing out the trailer to a small tan SF Blend Flatwing which the fluke fell for. Before the fluke-a-rama started I had one small bluefish grab it in the trough.

Leif Petterson photo

     It was good to see some life out there as the tiny bait will definitely keep the predator fish around. Ospreys were overhead looking for fluke in the skinnier water. Tiny baits skittered across the surface as they were being harassed. The beaches have been cut up pretty nicely from all the weather we have had this summer. Most of the south sides of the groins have shoaled in a bit, but the north sides have been hollowed out. I found that out in the dark when I took a near header stepping off the beach scarp. Luckily I caught myself before I ended up face planting in the trough. 

     Most of the morning was spent doing the below. Landing the fluke, measuring the ones I thought were close, and then trying to release them in the least traumatic way possible. By quitting time I landed 11 fluke and one bluefish and had a bunch of swings and misses. Leif had a shot at some Spanish mackerel when they came in close to the beach. Its summer, but today was nice with an easy NW wind that kept things cooled off a bit. Its time to switch up the wording a bite and saying "I'm going fluke fishing", and then being surprised if you catch anything else, like a striped bass or one of those pelagics. 

Leif Petterson photo

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

07.20.21 Don't put away those masks just yet.....

      "It ain't over until the fat virus sings". So here's my prediction for fall 2021 and winter 2022, we will be back right where we were last year. Sounds ominous I know, but that's my gut feeling. 

     This summer we have enjoyed some normalcy, well at least corona normal. While the numbers are down from spring and now into summer there has been an uptick across the county of cases. The virus is kind of like waiting for albies to show up, you see none or less in the summer, and then in the fall they show up, and then show in good numbers. 

       A lot, not all, of people have been vaccinated. I know it has wrecked several members of my family, including myself. Those with preexisting conditions, especially those with autoimmune disorders, are susceptible to having more side effects then those who don't. The reactions are a case by case basis, who cannot broad stroke this one away. 

        I am not an antivaxxer. I fell in line and got in myself. According to the Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy Covid vaccines are 99.9% effective at preventing disease and 99.9993% effective at preventing deaths among the 4.4 million people in New Jersey who are vaccinated, which is about half of the state's population. With that, there have been 31 deaths of fully vaccinated people due to covid through June. 

       What does that mean? In my opinion. Numbers will increase as the fall and flu season arrives. Business and schools will go into, not panic but prevention mode, and will make mask mandates at first voluntary and then mandatory again. The Governor will order a state of emergency. Unemployment benefits will continue.  Schools, at first thought to go in-person only, will have so much push-back from parents they will be forced to go hybrid with a virtual option and then close so often due to actual or suspected cases they will be closed several times a month. And as far as the colleges go, don't get too excited dropping the kids off to college, the mandatory vaccine requirements will wreak havoc and the college experience will not go as planned. 

     And then there's work. People, at least those with a stable household with normal spouses and kids, and climate control, have enjoyed working from home. Business are up in the air, they don't have the control, still have to pay out the overheads, but haven't seen that much of a dip in productivity. But they are scared their employees will jet for greener pastures if they make in-person mandatory again. Its like the inmates are running the asylums. 

       While we are seeing people down the beach, restaurants and bars full, and travel and airlines moving more people across the country each day, the abrupt stop is coming. It's just a matter of when. 

     It sounds like I'm a Danny-downer. This week Provincetown moved to reintroduce mandatory mask zones in their tourist laden town. States will start to try and lock down and protect their states, balancing the thin line of a tourist season money grab and public health. When one state does it the next will follow, and the later the season gets the "stronger and tougher" they will be, after the banks are full with the tourists cash. 

     Soon the push for people to get the flu shot will begin. Once only available at your doctor's office, now at the pharmacy, places like WaWa and Chic-Fill-A will be ready to jam you in the arm. And there's the booster shot for the covid vaccine, not here yet, but coming. 

      For me, it doesn't matter if Trump or Biden is in office. Every person will have their angle or skew. But I fear its going to get worse out here. Yes, maybe they won't be storing bodies in box trucks outside hospitals like we did last year, but people will still die, life as we know it today will no be come the fall and winter. Stay safe and hopefully the grim reaper doesn't make an appointment to visit you or your family anytime soon. I hope I am wrong on this one.