Friday, April 30, 2021

04.30.21 See you in May...

     Don't ask me why I was up so early and out on the river. Last two hours of the incoming. Steady wind to blowing, W, S, NW then sustained NW. You don't know until you go. Getting the fly down anyway with the wind was near impossible from the Jersey side so after the Snake Fly/ Popper 

attempts I jumped the bridge to find much better conditions. Down and out of the wind, for a bit, and water that was up. I thought it would be a Croc's on the rocks morning but the water was over the wall so I had to go back and put on the waders. There cormorants starting to fish, shad jumping 


out of the water, and one good swirl on the SF blend herring fly as I brought it in. It was the kind of bigger fish swirl you see when you look down from the boat when the fish are following and then swipe just before you take the fly out of the water. 


  Before calling it a day I jumped back to the state capital and waded through more garbage then I would care to see. It really is disgusting, and this mess is from fisherman. In other news, well the stories have been edited severely this spring, and one post in the future I'll tell a little more of my outings. Why? Because I don't want to be "that guy" that blows up spots and kills the bite. 

     I've always been free with information, I like the discovery, sharing, and teaching end of this business, but I am also respectful of other anglers. What I can say is this- there are spring, summer and fall spots, if you're in the game and dialed in then you know where they are. Fly fisherman are a tad better with respect, in my opinion, as a community, and don't divulge all of the secrets to those that are a risk to spot burn. 

     This spring I've been concentrating on a few of the spawning rivers, new to me, enjoyable, frustrating, and on some outings productive. Interestingly I haven't encountered another fly fisherman this spring, and the looks from the other anglers tells me they haven't either.

      Here's some old news, bluefish have invaded the back bays, rivers, and even out front. They're a mix of racers and some gators, so bring your metal tippets with you should you encounter them. There's micro and small schoolie bass in the surf and in quick time bigger bass will start moving up the coast. 

     So March and April have passed, it'll be a long wait till next year. Lots of lessons learned this year that I can't wait to put into practice. We'll see what May and June look like. Next week I'll be getting the boat ready for a mix of river and ocean trips. I'm ready for time out on the water, not casting into it from the concrete or breaking my ass on the battlefield that is the bottom of the rivers. 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

04.29.21 A year to the day...

      Last April 29th I hooked and lost my biggest Delaware bass yet.  That's the fish above, you can read that post HERE. Well a year to the day, I finally got one of those pre-spawn bass. These bass haven't spawned yet, as the target temperature, I'm told is 65 degrees. All the big fish I have seen are egg laden, and way wider in girth then they are long. 

     With work being Telehealth and a break in the action for the day I was able to run down on the dead low tide. Dead low lasts about 20 minutes before the tide brings the water, quickly. With the water down, and visibility good I waded out as far as I could to fish the channel. 60-70 foot casts with a 450 gr line very quickly blow out the shoulder and elbow. After a bunch of casts she took the SF Blend herring fly and dropped down to the bottom, I was surely looking at a 30 pound fish I thought. 

     With my perch pretty secure I turned her and she dropped back and came in pretty quickly. Her weight was far more then normal for her length. I went back at the same spot and inched my way 

back with each 15 minutes as the tide flooded, and it does flood. Fishing this river definitely calls for looking at the tide chart and planning accordingly. With the upper end if the tide line lower I jumper upstream and had a nice time just casting and retrieving, not a tap, but again, for some reason felt confident. 

      This river will tame and haunt you. The striped bass have been here for about a month, my first coming March 26th. So now we wait and see, will the girls spawn and quickly head out back to sea? Will there be enough bait to hold them? When will the influx of smaller bass, mostly males, and how long will the water temps stay in tolerable range? There's still plenty of fishing here left to be had, before I begin the drive of shame routines down at the beach. 


04.29.21 Real good outing....

     So started at 430 AM, had the river to myself. Three rods. hit six spots, and for some reason real confident. My arsenal was big Andrew fly, a herring fly tied with SF Blend, and a black Double Barrel Popper. Morning of 1,000 casts, and not a tap. But that's okay, why, because I felt I had a good plan, worked it, and just came up a empty. 

     All spots have produced fish, sometime in the last 100 years, so why not this morning. Hit the Jersey side before heading across the river. As you can see its a tough backcast, and getting hung up on the rocks or twigs is a usually occurrence. Luckily I didnt dislocate my shoulder on the forward 

cast or fall down the steep embankment and wind up in the drink. There was plenty of water, last of the incoming 10 foot tide and the start of the outgoing, which I fished under cloud cover until 9 AM.

     Always learning, I realized I brought the wrong stripping basket as this has holes drilled out which fills it up with water and makes shooting line difficult. I did have a good hook set, on what appears to be a Mojo, or some type of Bucktail with a huge 8/0 hook, maybe the bluefish are up here as well as on the beaches, and now hear the Raritan Bay. 

     I worked my way down the river as the tide ebbed. I was down to two rods, still confident, and fished it hard, and what I think correctly, thats why it was a good outing. You can only catch whats in front of you and if they are eager to eat. 

     I don't think there is a solid herring run. Other guys tell me otherwise. One, I haven't seen them, and two, on the bigger tides, who always find at least one in the brush that didnt make its way back out to the dropping water. I walked he bank for a bit on the search. 

     I ended the day where I started, water now lower and ripping. Still confident. I fished the seams, below the falls, on through the tailout. If there were herring around I would have seen them or hooked up with one of those herring flies. Back out it early tomorrow morning, one of these days it'll happen. It's been about 2 weeks without a bass, but there's still hope.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

04.28.21 Alright one last try...

   All geared up and ready to go for the Graveyard Shift tonight. Why do the same thing every night and get the same results, and come back for more, stupidity. So I won't fish, or attempt to fish the high tide, been there, didn't do that. Hats off to the gang I fished with this week, all great anglers.

     Enough with the Andrew flies, and the Hollow's and the Bulkheads, for me, its just as easy to tie up some Snake Flys that look good in the water, and if I lose one I don't lose my lunch over it. 

     The 80 plus degree temps pushed the water up over 60 degrees during the high bright sunny day, no doubt they will be cooler tonight. Basically you can't catch fish, or learn, while sleeping so it will be what it is. Tonight I bring three sticks to the river, a 12 weight with 550 gr, an 11 weight with 350 and a 10 weight with a floating line for the popper. 

       In beachy news my bud Gerry found a nice bass during the day down south, the bluefish invasion, or rather bite has started in Ocean County, make sure you bring some wire with you as the bunker have been pushed up on the beach. The bluefish are late, which means you may just see them out front, or, if they go into the bays and rivers they'll chase the bass out front, a win either way. 

04.28.21 I folded it before I threw it in....

     So yesterday I talked about an intersection, a six point meet-up that had to happen to catch a big fish this spring. Well, a few nights ago I was at the intersection, traffic all going by, and I just proverbially sat in my car and never traversed through. Todays corny analogy will be like going to a dance. 

     So you're nerdy high school kid and the annual dance is coming. It's a singles dance, no date required. You find out the details, time, location, and attire. You know about this dance a year in advance, it happens just about the same time each year. So you count down in your head for that big day. 

     The year turns into months, then weeks, then days. The dance falls just about the week of the Pink Moon in April. You buy your suit. You check your outfit every day. You even go to the location of the dance many, many times before just so you know how to get there, what the place looks like, who may be doing the same thing. 

     The week arrives and its all a buzz of when it ill go down. We're just days away. So when the day hits you shower up, you do some stretches, you check yourself, and then you go. You nervously get there too early, sitting in our car, walking around, even checking in and standing there like an idiot. When the time is right others come, at the right time. You suddenly feel out of place. 

     Your goal is to get the girl, preferably one of the bigger ones in the class. Now as people arrive the music starts, people pair up, and you watch and wish you can only have what others have at that moment. You are at the dance, you made it, you did it. 

     But then the time is flying by, you are nervous, sweating, almost in pain watching others have so much fun. You are asked several times to take photos of others having a blast. In fact, you should take off your jacket and put on one that has "Photo" on its back, so people know what you are truly there for. 

     And with the bottom of the ninth inning near, you position yourself near the edge of the dance floor. Music pumping, people are feeling it, and then you see a few girls on the edge of the floor, out of reach, out of earshot. In order to get them you would have to cross the dance floor itself, but that is too risky. So, what do you do, what did I do? I called out, "Would you like to dance". "Hello, what about me?". My words are far too short for the big girls to hear, and any scrawny little ones in front of me never turn laugh, never acknowledging my offering. 

     So, I raise my voice, loudly, boldly, hurriedly, "Hey, do you want to dance?".....and then the lights come on and its over. Done, later, see you next year. All I can do is kick the balloons on the way out, dejected, loser, knowing that I am not a dancer at this type of party, and should spend my time smarter maybe targeting the cuter little girls, and guys, that will be more eager to dance with me. 

     So do you feel me? Since moving out here I have wanted to learn, and I have, spent a great deal of time in and around the river. I have traveled it and even experienced other rivers to the north that have a similar, yet different, yearly ritual. I have been lucky, got a few good ones here and there, but I haven't got that fish, in that place, at that time, on that day, like I was so trying to get. 

     I can remember those early morning and late afternoon blitzes from Long Branch to Asbury Park around 8-10 years ago. Me standing there with my fly rod, as anglers stand waiting for the bunker to get pushed in, there vertical swords having their weapons clipped in, Danny's, swimmers, poppers, metal Lips, pencils, and snag hooks. And then there's me, standing there on the beach end of the groin holding a 10 weight with a five inch Deceiver tied to the end. And yes, then too, I had my camera ready to capture others peoples joy. 

     So this year the moon bought the goodness. Big tides, each way, water temps that were holding but jumped up on the moon and the south winds, and fish that are doing what they are supposed to have done and do. They are in the ocean in February and in March start their way up river to do two things, spawn and eat, which can be in either order. You know when you see big girls with eggs, or post spawn, without. Those fish are lighter and leaner, but need to build up energy to get back to the ocean to spend the summers off Cape Cod. 


     Sometimes fish eat what is front of them, they  choose where and when to eat. You can't reach for a fork, or a snack, if its way on the other side of the table, as Mom used to say, "Eat what's in front of you". And how it goes down are big plugs and or 2 ounce swim shads casting way out and then down, and then around and then quickly in, in water that moves from right to left at a pace that is quicker then you can strip your line through, and forget about it getting in down, and especially if there are others fishing, or, unless you can cast a 60 foot 550 gr sinking line with a 15 foot backcast, don't forget about the trees and the now non-submerged bunkers from last century. 

     So last night I did it right, got there good, walked a lot, my ass hurting me from the days rectal exam and testosterone shot courtesy of my doctor, and fly fishing buddy Brendan Muholland. But last night I had as secret weapon, my 12 weight with a 550 gr sinking line and the above fly, a real beauty, it was "perfect" and would be  effective. I would compete with the ripping current, and the mega shads and lead head jigs that have been very successful, I've seen it with my own eyes. 

     I am now carrying two rods, like Two-Rod Mike, MC55,  from Stripers Online, who walks the beach with a duo of weapons. My 10 and 12 weights, 350 and 550 gr, three new sweet flies, and a confidence it would happen. So lets just say, I made it to the dance, and left home very disappointed. 

     Within 20 minutes I fell onto a large rock on my right buttock that I thought the pain from the injection would cause me to have a stroke. The spot was now infiltrated by anglers who I haven't seen this spring. My "early spots" sucked and I donated to the river my prized beloved fly, 6/0 tied on a jig hook, and another Andrew-kinda-loooking-but-not-close kind of large herring fly. I also donated two other flys before settling in on the side of the dance floor watching others enjoy what I came for in the first place. 

    Yes, fly fishing is wonderful, I feel connected, I feel happy, I feel all Orvisy, me and the outdoors, one with nature, the challenge of the fly.....alright fuck all that, I have focused on this week, those fish, and it didn't come. You know, sometimes you have tip your hat to those fish that you can't catch, and others can. You can do what you can do, one day, most likely when its least expected, one of those dancing big girls will come up to me and ask me to dance, when all the stars align, and hopefully I will be able to say yes, hold her hand, dance, and then let her go back into the crowd. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

04.27.21 How about that moon?

     Sometimes you just need too meet at that intersection. Its one of those six point intersections, moon, tide, temperature, time, bait and fish. Well those six all came together last night. Not for me, but for the quad of anglers I fished near. I returned to a spot I fished about three weeks ago. It was a nice night as the wind laid down and the night nice for late spring. Water temps are holding nicely and there hasn't been a big spike, but it may come this week. There's no water around to begin with and the lower moon tides and 85 degree days will heat things up. 

     Before heading north I did some scouting at home during the day on the low tide. I drove some walked the bridges some and put some notes in my head about other places to fish, the structure, and where the water holds. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

04.26.21 Well, here we go....

    Yep campers, this is the moon we have been waiting for, maybe. Been on the river, up, down, both sides, low tide, high tide...not a touch. Fishing hard, now early and late. Just can't find a fly bite. There are some fish here and there, some nice ones too boot. More on that later. 



     I have thrown flies big and small, beautiful and horrible, lost more than I can count, including a sweet Andrew fly. I have been replacing them as I go. Haven't seen any hiring, but I am sure they are

here. Not as many cormorants around picking like a few weeks ago. This river doesn't show much. What it doesn show, when at low tide, is just what and where you are throwing flies into. Tons of structure and places for good fish to hide in wait. 

     Tonight moon is the brightest of the year, and before and after, they say, is best. I'll be out there still trying, not for the jumbo girls caught downriver, but those 26-32" fish which are the best on the fly. Fishing skinny water and catching a monster would be a challenge in getting her in, so I'll leave that to the plug guys with rods with plenty of backbone in them. 

     I'm beat up, with most of the last trips out on the rocks in the waders, falling and nearly fracturing  my skull a few times. What scares me is not going int he drink, per say, but falling and hitting a rock, going unconscious, not being seen, and them drowning on the ebb tide. Fingers crossed this week.