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.