Monday, May 31, 2021

05.31.21 Remembering what Memorial Day means.....

Thank You to all the men and women who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy. The above image is a burial at sea after the ship they were serving on was bombed. I can't image that trauma. Veteran's Day celebrates all of those who served while Memorial Day pays tribute to those that paid the ultimate price. 

After a late lunch at The Dubliner in New Hope we took a drive to Stockton. Its a cute town, s market, a gas station, and a hunting and fishing store. I stopped in looking for some black bunny strips to tie some flies for MV. They didn't have tying stuff bit they did have some Frogg Togg waders. I had been looking at those online and decided to try them on and "shop local". They were $149.99 at his shop, I won't even write here what they are selling at Dick's online for. The only reason I know is because when I went home I Googled the brand and model, to see if they made any other options. Ouch!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

05.30.21 Bassin' in the rain...

     Had to make the trip to Home Depot in Trenton so I stopped by the river. Didn't know the tides or what to expect with all the rain we've had the last few days. Caught the outgoing and it was dropping like a stone. Water a tad off color, which was good. Threw a beat up Snake Fly and landed two and dropped one. If I was a little earlier I would have had a better shot at a few more fish as they were holding in a spot where the water emptied quickly. 

     The rain has dropped the temps here down to 62 from a high in the mid 70's last week. Its also bumped the river up a bit which it needed desperately. There wasn't anyone out which I found 

surprising.  Hopefully this weather will turn the fish on and maybe hold any of the drop back fish around for a little bit longer. I'm not sure if any of these bass, from Trenton and north, will be heading out top sea or will summer over here in the river. They say that late May and June is a good time to catch fish 26"-32", and on topwater. So we'll see. 

     Yesterday I hooked up with and old friend from my fire department days and we took the wives to Bobby's place, The Shady Rest, down in Bayville on Route 9. If you want a great meal in a cool setting and eat while looking at fishy stuff on the wall then its a place you should make the trip to. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

05.28.21 "Thank You for asking, more than you know......"

     Yes, you can sit on the wing dam. Yes, you can sit there in the pouring rain. Yes, you can be wearing Crocs and a hoody pulled over your baseball cap. Yes, you can spend most of that time head down looking into the water and occasionally looking up. But.....

     I had left the office and about 530 I was approaching the light at Washington's Crossing. Left takes me home. Right takes me to Lambertville. Theresa was at work. I had woke early and mowed and weed and feeded the lawn before the next few days deluge. I was free for a bit so I decided to hit the river. 

     I fished the wing dam without a tap and decided to head south on the canal path as I had seen some fishy water the other day from the Pennsy side. As I walked the path I kept looking for some access but only found I was walking along an old stone wall some 30 feet above the river. 

     After walking about a quarter of a mile I headed back and found a spot that led down to the river. I made my way down and found some fishy water. That's when I saw her. I had seen her as I fished earlier walking along the path and then onto the wing dam. Now she sat, feet dangling, above the current. "Shit", I thought to myself, here we go. So I made some casts, lost a fly, tied on another, lost that one too. That was the sign. And then the heavens opened up. 

     As I walked back to the dam along the path I kept looking to the right to ensure she was there. As I made my way out and the rain went sideways she didn't move. Now I started to think of my plan. Call 911. Ditch the waders and find some way in to try and get her. But luckily she didn't budge.

     I approached her and said, "You know, if you wind up in that river I'm going in after you". She replied, "You wouldn't have to do that". She asked if I was catching, "No, I'm fishing, not catching". So I made some short casts into water that could hold no fish just to stick around. Then I had to ask, "Are you good", "I wouldn't want to do anything foolish out here". 'I'm okay, Thank You for asking, more than you know".

     The rain got harder and it was now who was going to leave first. After 10 minutes with the water soaking through my jacket and running down my back I said, "You take care and have a good night". She said, "Thank You, you too sir". 


    I felt uneasy walking back to my truck. As I passed her vehicle I took a peek inside to make sure there wasn't a note left. I went to my truck and took off my waders and made a move to leave, but she wasn't back yet. So I went back. When I could see the dam there was no one on it but in the same instant I saw her walking on the path. I pretended I was picking something up, like I had dropped something and turned and walked back. I waited in my truck a few minutes until I heard her truck door slam. There was nothing more I can do. 

    Maybe today wasn't her day. Maybe I was reading into more than was there. But either way I felt better. If you see someone that looks they might be in a bad way. Engage them. Let them know you are concerned. Sometimes in that quick moment just the thought that someone cares can turn their day around. 

     At first light I decided to give it a go, I know, I said I was done. But these little trips are like playing with house money, no expectations and nothing lost. I tried the popper, waiting to see this popper fishery go off, and then a small Deciever. I landed a smallmouth that wasn't much bigger than the fly. 

The weather is crappy the whole weekend. Heading down to Cape May. The jetty there might be calling my name. I love fishing in snotty weather, and maybe the fish I didnt catch at Mile Marker 130 will be at Exit 0. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

05.26.21 Alright, once more....

     Let me give some advice. There's no such thing as a fart when you prep for a colonoscopy. And, when you have a gut full of polyethylene glycol maybe don't go to a fishing spot that requires a long walk. That's all I'll say about that. 

     That said, I was off this afternoon for the colonoscopy/endoscopy prep. The monsoon came through as I was doing paperwork in the home office. There was a break in the rain and I thought that maybe, there was a push in the river and maybe some lower temps from the rain. Now I know it takes time for the bump, but I said why not. Checking the USGS I see the water temps did drop two degrees, now in the mid70's. 

      With the flows down it made it easier to pick behind the rocks and fish the runs. Fly looked great in the water but there was no one home. That's okay, no expectations, no pressure, no problem. 

     There's a possibility of a quick trip to the Upper Delaware next week, just enough time to juggle work before the annual trip to Martha's Vineyard and sight fishing to striped bass on the flats!


05.26.21 Put the 2021 Delaware River season in the books....

     Yep, I'm done, done with the insanity, maybe not done with fishing the river. What started March 12th now ends May 26th. It has been a spring of lots of learning that will serve me well next year. Funny, if you think I'm going to live 15 years I only have 15 seasons to get this right. 

     What did I learn? First, I have a great wife. Big fish do come up the Delaware to spawn, I have seen them now firsthand and with my own eyes. Nine foot tides are tricky, and at times dangerous. You need a lot of flies to fish this river as the snags will keep you reaching for your fly wallet. In this river, bait and spin fisherman catch more and bigger fish, always. That April moon really does turn the fish on. Water temps matter. River fish move, a lot. Sinking lines are a must, like 450 or 550 gr lines, for me, the striped bass weren't looking up, they say that comes in early June. They say night time is the right time, and I believe them, but I caught mostly all of my fish during the day. Fly fishing in the dark, something I enjoy, is tricky in this river, between the rocks, the snags and the backcast makes for a less than fun outing. 

     And one of the biggest lessons I learned is that when you find a new fishery, you have to have to move. Maybe I sent too much time in Trenton, and didn't venture south down near Philly where, they say, the bulk of the spawning fish stage. Next year I will have the boat ready and will be able to explore waters from Trenton south mixed in with those slippery-rock-always-snagged-water-level-watching-wade-trips

     So last night I gave it a shot. Yesterday when I stopped by the river a nice short fellow with gold capped teeth asked me "You catching?", with that certain South of the Border accent. He was walking along looking into the river, decked out in dress shoes, nicely ironed pants, a bright purple dress shirt. "Not me", I answered, figuring this guy doesn't fish. "Last night 35" big one, and a 31" big one too", adding, "Over there near the bridge on clams"........

Clams? What clams are in the Delaware? How is an Andrew fly casted and presented 10 foot below the surface going to entice a 35" bass that is on the move. hugging the bottom, and falling for, what I would think, a Stop and Shop clam wrapped round a hook, and most likely not a circle hook. I would bet those fish were filleted and released. You cannot harvest a bass on the Jersey Side of the river from April 1st to May 31st to protect those spawning migratory fish. 

So thats a wrap, I will fish the river, but the approach and pressure will not be there, I'll set my expectations low and just enjoy it without trying to prove something to myself every time I go out. 


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

05.25.21 Jumped the river, one hit....

     Jumped across the river and had the place to myself. Water levels are down on the entire Delaware system and the upcoming rain should do it good. Had one hit among three lost flies. That's big pocket water fishing for you. The gauge is reading 66 degrees which is better than the mid 70's 

we have been seeing with the hot spell we've been in. The fish are there, they are just difficult to get on the fly. The fish don't hand up in the water column in the big water, and they know that leaving there holding place to grab a fly means they will have to head downstream and reset. If you look below you can see where the fish should have held. Lots of flow, oxygen, and bait passing by.


Monday, May 24, 2021

05.24.21 When you see this its over before you start....

     Pulled into my favorite high water spot and looked down and saw the PA Fish and Game in the middle of tagging striped bass they had electroshocked in the river. They tagged a bunch with one looking like it was keeper sized. They would tag a bunch, pull anchor and then cover new sections of the river, scoop the stunned fish, and start tagging again. With that I knew it wasn't the time to fish.

     This morning I went north and had the place to myself. A guy across the border put on a pocket water clinic landing at least six while I was there. He was using a spinning rod with what looked like Mister Twister type shads. I didn't get a bite. River has dropped a bit making it more fly roddable but I only had a short twenty minute window that had me frustrated. The river is alive with bugs and last night at DQ they were all over the ice cream shack. Sulfurs, Iso's, and a March Brown or two. Would be cool if the striped bass would key on them and you could get them on drys. 

      And yesterday I took the drive to the beach for the top of the flood tide. Looked good, too good, and I only managed one tap which could have been a bass, blue, or fluke. I was disappointed as the conditions again were great, but you can only catch whats in front of you. 

     Leif has become famous from this blog, and the invention of the Ugly Ass Fly, and has drawn a large gallery when he fishes, kind of like Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship this weekend. Its okay, as long as you keep your distance and be quite, and when the flag goes up......Shhhhhh.

     And in the "Cmon Man" section, six people out for a charter and that's what they kept. How much meat do you need and how many bass do you need to kill? I think its too much, and the Captains have to do a better job on limiting the kill, no matter what the regs are at the moment. 


Saturday, May 22, 2021

05.22.21 Alright here's one....

     Alright, enough, almost stabbed, threatened to be thrown in the river, and now I find a torpedo in the river. So, here's how that goes. Didn't want to go fishing. In a funk lately and not feeling it. But I go. Maybe get there about 5 am and go to get set up and I have no stripping basket and one fly. 

      Picked a spot where I thought I could fish without a basket. Started throwing my one fly and playing line manager as I try both singles and two handed strips. I didn't get a tap and moved 

and moved upstream to work around an abutment. I could see something in the water and it looked like a rack from big dead bass on the bottom of the river. Looking closer I see its shaped like a torpedo and I thought maybe someone stole something and threw it off the river. So I reach down and grab it and pull it up. At first I didnt see the USGS sticker on it and now figure it must be part of the flow/temperature data collection system. Is it supposed to lay on the bottom, the wrong way? Not sure I figured I better take it. It might have got damaged or its mooring line cut through in the skinny water by a propeller. 

     I placed it down and went fishing, using the lasso skills I saw down in Texas I managed to catch a 22" bass that flipped off as I reached down to lip it. It was one and done and I had to get out of there

to find out who to turn this over to. I looked up the USGS Trenton website and see that information stopped being transmitted. Would this thing pick up the temperature from the A/C in my Yukon. Will some bot of a computer program read there is no water flow down in Trenton, although Montagauge is the gauge they use, and release the dams of the Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs? Would the rivers then get blown out, towns flooded, and all of the fish pushed out to sea? 

     So I get home and call my buddy Paul Eidman, he knows this kind of shit. "Call the NJ DEC Hotline", he said, I do, no help. I call the USGS, message as offices closed, the USFWS nobody answers. So I head over to the US Park Police at Washingtons Crossing, no cops there. There is a young girl, seasonal probably, that puts me in touch with her boss Neil, who didn't know who to contact but said I could leave it. WHEW! I got rid of the hand grenade. 

     On my way to the police station I found a yard sale and scored a pair of Orvis stocking foot waders, retail $259 and a pair of Frogg Togg boots both for $40. Perfect, as I lost somewhere in my many moves my freshwater wader set up. With Leif heading up to the East Branch next week these could come in handy...mmmmmm.......

     So what is this thing? As I write this at 731 PM I see the data from the USGS at Trenton is up and running. You can see that below, which was transmitted at 1800 hours today. So luckily the end 

of the world didn't happen due to me. People are still able to get current information on the Statius of the river, again, whew! If I didn't know myself I wouldn't believe half of the things I write and talk about, but seriously, I never lie, ever. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

05.20.21 Two rivers, no bass...


     Had to head back to Monmouth County last evening and heard of a decent bite in the Navesink the last week or so, so I gave it a shot on the outgoing until dark. Threw my arm out throwing a popper and then a Hollow Fleye. Only managed a few swirls on the fly with no one committing. It wasn't the drive of shame as I had to head home anyway. 

     Since I didnt get back until 1030 I figured I would be pressing my luck by going this morning, so I wasn't. But, my alarm was set and it went off at 430 am...gotta go. I had all three spots to myself this morning, which really proved to be key....well not really. I fished a mix of rapids and big slow 

water with the same results, nothing, but all was not lost. I got to check out some new spots and watch prehistoric giant sized carp doing their mating thing all around me. I will be targeting those brutes as the water warms and gets a little skinnier. Besides carp for the summer months, there's bowfin and snakeheads also around, two species I never caught on the flyrod. 

     With this hot spell the river has bumped up in temperature, hitting 68 yesterday. Not bad if the tempos hold, a week of 80 plus degree air temps without rain doesn't do the fish or the river good. Looking forward to a change of scenery and can't wait until the beaches start to produce, that should be in the next two weeks. Also, its time to get the boat out of hibernation. This spring I was really concentrating on the Delaware. I could have launched the boat, but my preference is always to wade, and the challenges and limitations that it brings, especially out here.