Thursday, December 30, 2021

12.30.21 One and 2021 done.....

     Started at 530 am hoping to get into some good action that I've been hearing about in parts north and south. Second cast curse for the day. Had a Hollow and sand ell combo and landed this nice one after a long cast out into the dark. From there couldn't follow it up with a bite......all day long. 

     When light arrived I moved around a bit and then took a long drive north. Heard of some action there around 7 am, with good fish to 30 inches caught when they pushed the bunker or herring in on the beach. I fished the open beaches, along the rocks, on the rocks always with my head up looking for working birds, swirls, or bait, and I saw none....all day long. 

      Just when I thought I was done I kept telling myself you're going to run into them, and that what it is, either blind cast until you connect, or drive, look and cast hopefully into a blitz, which are still happening, just have to be at the right place at the right time. 

     I finished up on Ryan's Rock, played the song "Blackbird" which always brings me closer to him as he played it so well on his guitar. I was hoping he would give up a fish, but he rarely does, and thats our running joke, I think I've caught one fish since I spread his ashes there. 

     Well that is a 2021 wrap for me, for real this time. Will I be tempted in that stupid "first fish of the year" game, that I, and so many others play? Probably, but my new job may get in the way of that. The fish should still be here for the getting after the New Year, if the water temps stay up, like today, at 49.5 degrees. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

12.27.21 "Juan made me do it...."

     I don't always chase internet fishing reports, but some times I do. Believe it or not, its not about catching a striped bass, its more about learning about where you can catch striped bass. And more specifically, its more about learning how adaptable striped bass cane be to a variety of environments. Like, lets say, able to hang at Red Beach in Martha's Vineyard and amongst the debris and dead bodies floating in the Passaic River. Its the same thing in the Delaware River, it amazes me. 

     So my man Juan fishes local to him. Loves it. On Christmas Eve Santa brought him a 40 inch striped bass. I had to go. So I left Mercer County and headed to Hudson County before rush hour. I got there on the falling tide and decided to leave the leaky Simms felt bottom waders in the Vue and went with the other pair, which is good for the viscous, sucking, never -get-it off-your hands mud that lines the river. Before light and fished a black Deceiver and after fished a Ugly As Fly both without getting a tap. 

     While in the area I went and drove past my new employer's office, Essex County College in Newark. I will start teaching at the college where I graduated in 1995 this upcoming spring semester. Its a tenure track position, so like a real deal faculty spot. My first class will be teaching the clinical rotation at Clara Maas Medical Center in Belleville and then a mix of nursing and psych classes. All of this scooting and discovering that I have done this year should serve me well if my new pursuits take me along the NJ Turnpike corridor from Trenton to Newark. While I have always just thought of our striped bass fishery as a bay and beach thing I have discovered there are far more opportunities to catch striped bass. Now, the access may be harder on the feet and the views harder on the eyes, but I will have ample shots at bass off the much beaten and fished path next year. 

     And as I drove though the quiet city I came across Rescue Co. 1 out in front of the firehouse on Clinton Avenue. I was lucky enough to serve 11 years in Rescue 1 before getting promoted and assigned to Engine 12 and then Truck 1. Since I left the job both of those companies were disbanded as the city downsized the department, both in manpower and apparatus. 

      With only a few days left in the bay and river season I made a left and hit the Raritan River for a few casts as the tide just started to move back in. I stood on the rocks I did the other night, obviously a lot less water, and no poachers around as that is a night time job. The way "out back" fished this fall it will sure to be a shit show come March when the bays and rivers open back up. 

     As far as the beach is concerned, well for those still in the mood there has been a nice pick of sub-28" fish along the beaches. Leif sent me a pic of this fish that he caught scaled down to a 7wt rod. What is crazy are the water temperatures out front. Take a look and find your closest beach, these are current from when I write this at 6 am December 28th, if they stay up there will be fish to be caught after the New Year. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

12.25.21 Merry Christmas!

      Christmas 2021.....another Covid Christmas. Thing different for sure, and may never be the same, as far I remember, again. We cancelled out pilgrimage out to Long Island for an annual hoot of a time at Theresa's brothers house, Lauren's flight yesterday to Florida was cancelled so they hoped in the hooptie and drove, Dad's in RWJ getting some plumbing work done and no visitors are allowed, and the kids are spread out around the tri-state area or beyond and aren't traveling. Hopefully some stragglers will show up for a day after Christmas feast at our house. 

     While Christmas when you are a kid and are young parents and have kids Christmas does become more about family and gift giving mores then the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The story of Christmas is cool, and I have always loved Nativity scenes, so much I think we have a dozen of them but only pout out one this Christmas. I do like those car plaques that say "Keep Christ in Christmas", even for a little bit if you're not of the faith. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2021

12.24.21 "You warm up once you catch a fish...."

          Those were Leif's words of wisdom just as I was ready to call it a quick morning. 530 am, just an hour into the incoming, NE/E wind just enough to make the 34 degree air temps feel like 27. I fished for about 30 minutes before deciding I was done. I walked to wish Leif a Merry Christmas and he said "I got one, they're in there". Shit, now I had to stay. He added, "You warm up once you catch a fish". 


     In the wee hours I could barley make out the scene just south of our position. It looked like the scene from E.T. with all of the lights in the forest, just this was on the beach. As light arrived, just before I was done, the wind did kick down a notch and swing from the NE/E to SW, which quickly, not warmed things, but warmed things up. I didn't notice it until I after being convinced by Leif it was worth 

staying. He grabbed the below pick of me, done, before I rallied and fought off the quitter in me. I fished the open beach near Leif and connected soon after on a nice fish, and you know what, all of a sudden I felt warmer. I stayed, for two hours more and covered the beach and groins in that beat. 

      It was a one and done morning for me, which was just fine. Leif grabbed another small off the groin. While it wasn't a Christmas Day fish, it was enough for me to be content and now, really, done for the year. The cold is just too cold for me, my fingers can't take the cold since I damaged them during a fire at the Mercury Candle Company factory on Fabyan Place in Newark on January 17, 2000. I think it was the coldest day in the history of the universe. The fire was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and was fed by thousands of pounds of wax inside the building. It destroyed the businesses and jumped around the blocks surrounding the factory. My hands haven't been the same since when it comes to the cold.

     Before we left we headed down to where the heavy equipment and action was. Hathaway Avenue is the "public access" and right there the destruction of natural habitat, well replenished natural habitat has begun. Frank Pallone and his boys are starting what will amount to a tens-of -millions job keeping the people, the rich people, happy with new beaches they will be able to enjoy next summer. Leif said they are going north to Long Branch so that will kill the Deal and Elberon beaches. Lucky for me I live on the Delaware and have expanded the areas where I like to fish, which seem to be more about the bays and rivers than the beaches, which fishing has progressively worsened over the last several years. 

      Saw I drove home I checked the tides in the Delaware, with less than a week to go before the rivers and bays are closed could I squeak out a fish and make it a perfect day? Nope, high tide was at 6 am and it nearing 10, what I found was the exposed minefield of debris, rocks, sticks, metal, and garbage that I love to wade through in pursuit of the striped bass. I can't for that this spring, I feel every time I fish these waters I learn something more and that puts me closer to catching more and bigger fish. 

     Those were Leif's words of wisdom just as I was ready to call it a quick morning. 530 am, just an hour into the incoming, NE/E wind just enough to make the 34 degree air temps feel like 27. I fished for about 30 minutes before deciding I was done. I walked to wish Leif a Merry Christmas and he said "I got one, they're in there". Shit, now I had to stay. He added, "You warm up once you catch a fish". 

Friday, December 17, 2021

12.17.21 "...with visions of striped bass blowing up in my head"

     That's what I was dreaming about when I woke at 0115 am. I knew what I had to do. I had went to bed around 730 so I was good to go as far as sleep was concerned. I went over to Theresa and scared the s*%t out of her when I stared down to let her know I was going. She thought I said "430", well it was a tad earlier then that. 

     So I'm driving down 29 like an old man and I look over and see just what a difference a few decades makes, 20 somethings standing outside thew club which had just closed shop for the night at 2 am. Here I asleep before they probably ordered their first drink and hit the dance floor. 

     How could I not go? Besides how I will pay for it today. But 60 degrees at 2 am with an incoming tide and a supposed light SW wind. Well the wind was a tad more west and blowing to 15- 20 at times. I decided to head about mid Arthur Kill to see if the fish might be closer to shore and a little active but that wasn't to be. No signs of bait could be seen with the flat conditions protected from the wind. 

     I went back down south a bit to the city and made my way to the beach. No one around and the west wind made it a little tricky casting with the right hand. More water then when I left a night and half ago just before low tide. My plan was to find some foraging or dumb fish that made their way up and in with the water maybe finding that bunker I found the night before. I used the cover from the bulkheads to 

stay below the wind and long or short casts didn't matter, no one home for me. I bumped into another guy who was throwing lures and had just switched over to soaking a dead bunker he found on the beach. No fish for him either. With the Yukon on the market and a prospective buyer coming tomorrow I jumped in my "new" car, which is actually my sons old car. His sister was going to take it over but the manual transmission has her rattled, so for now it will get me around to and from fishing and work. 

     I thought maybe with the west wind the bunker had moved, well west, and they did. Found them swimming in the shallows with nothing on them. I was just waiting to see something come onto the flat and make a mad dash for a meal, but no. I waded around the bridges and almost lost my footing on those prehistoric jagged rocks they had strewn on the sandy flat around the pilings and abutments. 

     Before I decided to quit at 530 I made one more stop. I found two guys fishing in front of their car with was backed up to the water. They had the bell tipped rods planted in the rocks and in hand. As I watched one guy got one, and quickly brought it to the car. Then the next guy hooked up and after landing the 30+ inch keeper sized fish he hit it over the head with a rock and left it next to him. He let his offering go into the air and it came down with a "doosh", surprisingly no too far from shore. I thought the fish are here so I made my way down and started casting my big black Andrew fly with a sand eel teaser in case they wanted a smaller snack. Then I heard the bells. 

    I could see this fish was a good one and when I saw him pick it up my jaw dropped, easily 35+ inches and twenty something pounds. This too got the strike of death and before I could make my way over, really to see how many fish they had stacked in the hatchback, him and his bud broke things down loaded up and were gone. I couldn't get the plate, and if I did I would have called them in, just in case they do this every night they Fish and Game guys would have a history. 

    So with no one around I went to the spot in front of the honey hole, which again was in casting range, just that I wasn't using 8 ounces to hold. I fished it hard for an hour, letting my sinking line sink, many times getting caught up on the bottom. I covered it well, fanned out and from to to bottom without a tap. 

Maybe these just aren't fly rod fish. I wonder how those flutter spoons the guys are killing them on from the boats would do from shore? They sure work from the boats, as evidenced by Fisher Price's report from yesterday, amazing what has been going on in the area for over a month now, maybe even longer.