Tuesday, March 30, 2021

03.30.21 Nothing going on on the top of the tide...

     So after two of back to back bass the last two days have only a good tug to show for it. Top of the tide, waters moving, went with the 12 weight with the 450 grain line, and a bigger fly. I wanted to see if the fish spread out and down when the water is fuller between the banks. 

     Today I had Erin with me, my good luck charm. We stayed about 20. minutes, she chased back into the truck after some cloud of hatching something overtook us. As we left and headed home I realized I didn't have my phone. A few months back Erin and I exchanged info for the "Find My" app, so we could find each other in case something nefarious happened. So she searched for me and low and behold my phone was along the bank of the river. Lucky me. 

     Then as we drove around she put up her window and yup....another tip broken off. Uncle Leif handled the last one so maybe he has another laying around and few minutes to operate on it. Sounds like nasty rain is coming, maybe a just a bump in the river, and not chocolate mud with stumps floating by, thats never good for striped bass fishing. 

      And is the Raritan going yet? Here's a nice 58 pound specimen caught and released today.... Angler Bobby Read from Back Bay Plugs, read about it in The Fisherman Magazine this week.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

03.28.21 .....Yep


......its all good in the hood. 

03.28.21 A.M. lockjaw...


    So here's an idea what can float down the river behind you and knock you off your feet if you're not aware of what's going on behind you. This very large stump is now perched on "the jetty", it'll be interesting to see after the rain if the river bumps enough to have it go on its way. 


   At O dark thirty the Trenton Police had Route 29 shut down for a few miles with lots off emergency vehicles working a scene on the south bound side. Not sure it was a fatal accident or a drive by shooting. Its been busy down in these parts lately, with a double homicide at the Sunoco station on 29 keeping everyone on the lookout. I always feel a little leary fishing in the dark down there as the homeless encampments are just a stones throw form the water. 

    After a day of finding fish you always think you're dialed in and the fish will be there again. Fished the same spots as yesterday and even across the state line without a tap. I had the pleasure of having a guy fish over me from the perch high a top the wall and three times his braid wrapped around my ear, or tangled my fly line. I'm all for sharing spots, but at least put on your waders and get wet. That's him in the picture below watching as his rubber eel works from right to left just over the top of my head. I was hoping I landed a big fish, and deservedly so. 

     Below the rain started I moved up river a bit, again no love. But this fishing is the fishing of 1,000 casts. The water moves right to left on the Jersey side and its quick. Cast, swing, strip, pick up and repeat. Sometimes you can find a pocket or a flat which slows down the process a bit. It's only going to get better, and its not too bad being humbled yet again. 

     I have to say while I dislike social media I do like the "Memories" portion of Facebook. Some mornings its a pick of my kids, and I love when Ryan's photo pops up. Today it was a post from 9 years ago from when I did some tying at Orvis in Manhattan. I was using Yak hair, which is good, 

but the method I used at that time, well, was amateur. Hollow style would have worked better, but I do like the blend of colors and the length. Hook size was too small also. I also donated two flies to the river today....time to hit the vice. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

03.27.21 Well the Delaware popped....

     I was talking to Leif and he updated on Sundays weather, south, wind, and rain. After a long week at work, and playing farmer on Friday after renting a machine from Home Depot I was ready 

to wet a line in some nicer weather. I also needed some testosterone time to myself, my chickens are girls, 6 of them, one of my two dogs is a girl, my wife is a girl, and my daughters are girls....its only me and Lucas to keep the mens representation in the house. The Delaware heated up nice cresting over 50 today and that, they say, is one of the magic numbers. Males make their way up from the ocean, 133 miles, and wait for the big girls to come and have a romp. So, it looked like a good time to try. There was a few anglers out, nobody doing anything when I got there, a mix of shad and bass fisherman. My expectations were low, it usually remains low until you get into them, and I did. 

     If you didnt know river fishing is s but different. Lots of worry about the backcast. Lots of worry when wading a 9 foot tide. And lots of worry of getting down deep enough without finding the trees, rocks, concrete and rebar. I jumped to three spots and had fish at two of them. This perch, below, is above moving water and is deep, so if I ever go in, you'll probably find me in Philly. 

     I threw a Hollow Fleye that had the bass, both striped and smallmouth, jump all over it. Landed two migratory striped bass and had two other witnessed swipes. I am learning more every time I fish the river. The tides, again a 9 for swing, has me fishing from above when the waters up, and then in when the water had ebbed. But you have two things to worry about, the rivers flow, and that big huge tide. 

     While there is wide open water, most of where I am is pocket water, on the flood or ebb tide, fishing. These ocean fish quickly adapt to the structure and the flows, and where to wait for a meal. Now the shad are too big for these fish and I haven't seen any herring yet, but they are on the way. 

     It was a great few hours out there, and tomorrow looks like it gets worse as the day goes on. I feel bad for Theresa, as now its on. Time to chase tides and time of day, as the fishing will only get better. Its early now, but it was good to get some early season action. And the commute, 10 minutes from my door to the parking lot.....better then the trek to the Raritan Bay or Deal. 

    And while the first fish are the smaller males the big girls are coming. I'm not interested in them. I'll take 26-32" fish all day on the fly. Below is a fish from downriver. obviously a female full of eggs making her way up river. Nice catch and release to the angler, Matt Fetters. 


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

03.24.21 Ok, where do you really stand on saving the striped bass?

     Ah, spring is here. And the bass are almost here. They're just arriving in the Raritan Bay, staging before they begin the annual spawn. And they're making their way up the Delaware, Chesapeake, and Hudson Rivers too, all on their way to try and make babies to keep the species going before its decimated any further. 

     So I ask, What are you going to do when it comes to striped bass conservation? If you're getting the boat warmed up then you are about to launch it and fish in the bath tub that are the pre-spawning areas and catch those big breeding females on clams, bunker chunks, lilies, plugs, spoons, trolls, umbrellas rigs, and for there few faint hearted anglers barbless single oooh flies. 

     So now we know, or at least have a list on how you may catch them, what are you going to do in your waders, on your boat, with your guide and charter service when paying anglers show up and want to take home the meat? Now, there are current regulations, which most of us laugh at because numbers are at near ever lows and overfishing, ie over harvesting, is occurring. So are you telling your anglers , no guys, we're now just catch and release, or only one fish per man, artificials only, no culling your catch? 

     People, anglers, captains, and internet heroes have spent the winter voicing their "conservation" angle for all to see, but will they set their own limits, stricter then the current regulations, to save the striped bass?

I don't think so. 

     What we will see are less bloody-bass-on-the-boat-shots, or guys with their hands buried deep inside the gill rakers, two per angler, while standing on the local docks, or the shot provided will be what you kept, but not what you actually killed during the trips, which may be one or two trips per day. 

     I think the true commercial captains have learned not to post pics on social media, only to get skewered by, well, types like me. Just because its legal doesn't make it right. Think for yourself, don't rely on the government to make decisions for you, and let your conscience be your guide. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

03.23.21 Okay, are circle hooks answer?


    So this mornings troll had me finding this image. A guy posted this after an outing last night on the Delaware. You guessed it, the guy got skewered, one for posting a micro bass, posting a micro bass that is bleeding out, and posting a micro bass that is bleeding out with a circle hook deep in its gut. 

     The ASMFC has went to the circle hook only option when using bait. The thinking was that fishing mortality is increased for those bait soakers that wait about 15 minutes before setting the hook and those guys who snag bunker with a weighted treble hook and let it sink down below the 

only to be inhaled by a, usually bigger, female striped bass. The bass eat the bunker, and the 10/0 treble snag hook, usually at least deep into their throats, and usually somewhere in their gill rakers, causing massive blood loss and tissue damage. The idea now is guys will use the 10/0 snag hook, snag a bunker, reel it in, then retook it onto a circle hook and then use that for bait.....that is as funny as I have ever heard. Meat fisherman are just that....you can forget this ever working in real life, and the enforcement, now thats even more funny. For the anglers that cast net for bunker in the river before heading out, that'll work, but for the ones that just go out, not happening. 

     So the circle hooks are designed to hook a bait, be fished, and then when a, say a bass, hits it and the hook is set, it "catches" them in the lip, which is supposed to reduce mortality. Now, that would work better if we were talking about anglers that are holding their rods in their hands. It won't work for the secret nighttime creeping-while-you're-sleeping angler who works in the cover pot darkness, without a tip light or a tip bell. That bait will soak, the beers cold, the embers smoldering, and then after the rod falls over the hook is set, into the wall of the small intestine, like the top picture. 

     Here's another picture I found on social media this morning, showing how the circle hooks is supposed to work, bait ball and lip set, and then a healthy release. I'm not saying circle hooks are are bad, probably will save a lot of bass, but the angler has to take the steps so the technique for fishing it does what its supposed to do, avoid deep hooking a bass, whatever its size may be. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

03.22.21 Well the shad are here....

     Disclosure, not my fish. So with the nice and warmer weather I decided to hit the river. Dropping tide, water was clear, shad are there. Started with a small Deceiver which I donated to the rocks 

and then saw some guys throwing tiny spoons for shad. They caught a few and one guy offered me one to throw on the fly rod. I threw it and threw it, but had no lead to be able to get it down and bounce it along the bottom, where the fish were. Eventually I checked the spoon and the hook had 

snapped off sometime after bouncing it off the rocks. I took a sand eel fly and bit the materials off to make a smaller fly that was kind of the size of the flutter spoon. I hit a couple of spots at dead low but didn't manage a tap. On my way around I took the below of picture of Delaware River 

structure. Lots of rocks, lots of wood, and lots of concrete and rebar, all which love to grab your sinking liner or favorite big Hollow Fleye. 

03.22.21 It's started somewhere.....

       Found this photo on a Striped Bass private group site on social media. Not sure which bay it was caught at, but it could have been the Chesapeake, Delaware or Raritan, by quest is the later. Water is starting to heat up a bit, but slowly, as I am noticing a bump in the flows coming down out of the rivers. Over the weekend highs in the Raritan were 46 and the Delaware near me 44. 

     Also over the weekend a "memory" popped up on my Facebook page. It was from 2014 and it had to do with my first Jones Brothers 19'10". I really did that boat right. The only thing I didn't do was replace the tank, which is a common thing for the JB boats built before 2005 as they have metal tanks. It was that year I purchased a new dual axle trailer which I did because it would be the first, and only year, that I ran some trips out in Montauk. 

      Below are a few pics of when I first got that boat back in 2011. I put a lot of time and money into that boat and now wish I never had to sell it. But I had to, money was tight, reality hit, and with us opening a private practice you can't have it all. Some people out there can and do have it all, it takes a ridiculous amount of money and luck to be a successful full time guide. Full time meaning, full time, like you work in construction January through December. Now teachers work full time, but have a lot of time off. and generally aren't bank rolled by trust funds, good fortune, or luck with the lottery. But God bless those guides that can and do pull it off. 

     As I looked through the blog archives for some early pics of the boat I found this from nearly 10 years ago.....my heart skipped a beat. I know that feeling, I know that view, I know that nauseousness. 

     Prior to finding that Jones I had delusions of using an old family boat that was rotting in my Dads's construction yard. That was about 2009 or 2010. I spent too much time taking off the teak and cleaning her up, even naming her "Wet my Line", a phrase used often during my time in the fire department. In the above picture that's me and Erin, she's probably about 4 years old, now going on 16. 

     With spring arriving its time to take off the cover and see if anything hibernated in the engine cowling. I hope this week to charge the batteries, hook ups some water, and fire her up. I release after looking at the pics of my old boat just how much of a project my new boat, Jim's old boat will be. She'll be a fine boat, and hopefully I will be able to get more time out of her before the dreaded tank replace and deck repair have to be done, and then there's always that 24 year old HDPI that runs, but for how long. SANd then there's the radar, what to do. Last season, without knowing how it was stabilized, I almost ripped it off the deck and through the center console it a few big ocean days, once with Erin and once with Leif. I see more smaller boat guys going to the radar, so for now, it stays. I wouldn't even know where to begin to try and dismantle it anyway. 

     So hopefully in about a month she will be wet, in the Raritan and Delaware, and more hopefully, whatever I use to back her down the ramp doesn't get wet as well.