Saturday, June 26, 2021

06.26.21 Keep Florida in your prayers....

     Just arrived back from Florida where Erin and I drove my mom down to her new place in Bradenton Florida. While there I watched the news reporting on the condominium collapse in Surfside Florida. As of today the rescue efforts continue with over 150 people still reported missing. I haven't seen a collapse and rescue effort since my time at the World Trade Center nearly twenty years ago. Before that is was the Oklahoma City bombing. Keep the victims, their families, and the rescuers in your prayers. I fear the death toll will be enormous was the hopes of finding survivors is becoming less with each hour. 

     So mom is now a sunbird. She'll split her time between Florida and New Jersey, picking the best seasons to spend time in each. There was no time to fish, but there will be in the future. I'm returning in August with the girls and there will be fish caught, even if its just catfish that can be caught by the tens, if not hundreds, on live or frozen shrimp. Lots of sexy water down there in the Sarasota and Tamps Bays. 

     My plan today was to fly home, see patients, and then run to the beach for the evening high tide. I got called off. A sustained south wind has cooled and dirtied up the water. You never know until you go, but, we're heading off to a family reunion in Wildwood tomorrow so there's plenty to do, including mowing the high grass in a yard about the size of a football field. I did make a concession and hit the Delaware. High tide, not really moving, water temps in the mid 70's, I thought maybe I'd find a smallmouth or something but that wasn't to be. The south wind just pushed all the debris and garbage along the banks and it just didn't feel fishy in the hot and humid weather. 

    Above is, well maybe was, a go to spot of mine. Somehow two sections of granite had been removed from the high concrete wall which made casting a fly and landing a fish with a pier net a lot easier. Its roped off now, maybe they are planning on replacing it, which would call for me constructing some type of step, or casting platform to use while fishing. Problem is you could never leave it there as someone would grab it for some other use. 


Monday, June 21, 2021

06.21.21 Quick stop on the Delaware....

      Heading south to Florida today as my mom purchased a condo to begin her new life as a Sunbird, splitting her time between New Jersey and Florida. Not looking to the 18 hour drive, hopefully it goes well. Had to make a stop at the NJ DMV in Trenton to get my license off the suspension list. Some snafu between the car dealership and the insurance company had me flagged and then suspended. Luckily it went quickly and I won't get locked up in some podunk town down south for driving without a license. 

     So this cool Father's Day post on Facebook with a happy 8 year old with a nice striper he caught on my home stretch. The fish are still there, I've seen them, and some of them are really nice fly rod fish. 

     I put on my new Runcl waders and threw some poppers and a small Hollow Fleye without a tap. I tracked it in the water and its lack-of-life confirmed why a Closer is so effective, able too be jigged to attract a bite. So I'll be in Florida till Saturday and then back on the beach at O-dark-thirty early 

Sunday morning. So far so good, I know one time, out with the new waders. Thinking about adding some felt and some studs to the bottoms for the rocks and groins. One thing, there's not much stability in the feet, not anything like my flat Herman Munster Simms waders which I like, and need to get repaired, or custom order a new pair. Well worth the $$$, but these may be a nice alternative for the summer as I'm not a wet wader like the other guys. 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

06.20.21 Happy Father's Day morning....

     Happy Father's Day to all the good men out there, including my own father, brother, and brother-in-laws. I was able to spend time with my kids yesterday, and this morning hit the beach while my family slept. I am glad I was able to get down to fish because tomorrow I'm driving down to Florida with Erin and my mom as she bought a place in Bradenton. I let Dave Choinard know I'd be in the area and he said something "about jumping some poon", so we'll see about that. 

     This morning was just fun. First cast, keeper fluke that grabbed a big Snake Fly. Second cast the above fish smashed the lead Howitzer popper. I wasn't going to leave fish to find fish but I wanted to go and stand on Ryan's Rock for a little while. Not that he every gives me any fish there, but just for a few minutes I can remember him and his ashes I spread into the ocean on Phillips Avenues. I visit this spot every Father's Day.  That's his rock below, front and center.  

     I fished his rock, and while I always hope to get a monster there, as some kind of sign he's with me in that moment, as usual, I don't get a bite. It's kind of a running joke now. But sliding down to the pocket where the manageable south east swell met the beach end of the groin was like shooting fish in a barrel. 

     As long the water held in that spot the fish are there patrolling, and hitting anything I threw at them. Black popper, check, black Snake Fly, check, small black Deciever, check, I even went to the Ugly Ass Fly to show them something different, and check. The fish weren't big, but they were good fly rod fish.

     Spunky, chunky, and the ones you have to go on the reel to fight and pay attention when you are landing them no to get broke off as the get sucked into the current from the outgoing water into the trough. Leif and Joe enjoyed the same success and I let them around 630 so I could take the ride west

on 195. The continued searching for bass and fluke with the crab flies as we saw several small mole crabs on the beach. Its good to see the fluke start to show themselves in the mornings, as they are always an added bonus by-catch. My keeper this morning would have been tasty, but catching it just before 4 am and knowing I wouldn't be home until 9, had be thinking it best to get let it go to grow. 

Leif Petterson photo

     And in my counted search for affordable yet durable waders I arrived at the above pair of Runcl's. I found these on Amazon, $58 with tax and free delivery. I returned the pair of Frogg Togg's to Skips in Stockton as they just didn't wok out. They were great and gave me a full refund, I showed them pictures of me taking them off after fishing Red Beach in the Vineyard. I didnt wear them this morning as I knew I would be on the rocks, but after some time in them I'll let you know what I think. 

     On the way home I was tempted by the Delaware. Early incoming tide and the water hadn't flooded the water in Trenton just yet. I found some deeper water and gave it a go without a tap. I called Joe "Chevy" to wish him a Happy Father's Day and of course we talked stripers. He said there's fish all summer and it gets good again in September, when the herring and shad fry make their way out to the ocean. By then the summer water temps have dipped a little bit and the bass come out in force to eat the small offerings that are making their migratory journey. 


Saturday, June 19, 2021

06.19.21 Well that plan didn't come to fruition....

     Well I waited for the tide to come. It did, of course. But the fish didn't do what I had hoped for. I was all ready with a step stool to make casting ease and to also pick out cruising fish. I had one swirl on a popper, one slow follow on a small Deciever retrieve that just wouldn't commit to a bite, and after casting a 7 weight sinking line the line just kept going, somehow it parted. That lines been around for a while so that may be the reason. You can just make it out along the arrows in the below picture.      

     Saw this photo of my buddy Tommy who found the bass this morning while soaking bugs. I'll get more into that in a post in the near future. It you fish the summers for striped bass and fluke in New Jersey, you should be well versed on them. More to come. 


Friday, June 18, 2021

06.18.21 Getting ready...

     So I saw a unicorn today, well a bunch of them and hope too return tomorrow and see them again. Really shocked, wish my iPhone wasn't dead, I forgot I had my Canon G-12 in my sling pack. But I sat down and tied a few offerings for them if I find them. Small Snake Flys and a SF Blend fly, plus a small Hollow Fleye. The above pics are before and after the haircut. 

     My goal, if today was to repeat itself, is to catch one on a cicada fly. A few years back, when Orvis was going big into carp fishing, they had a run on Brood X flies. I bought two, and never used them. Last night I went to a drug rep dinner and they were talking about all the cicada's around Princeton, we work and live in Pennington/Hopewell and haven't see one yet. If they do go, anywhere near the river across the street I am sure whatever is swimming will get on them, including the striped bass. 


06.18.21 Early start and had to wait for them to wake up...

     First thing, gotta shout out Happy Birthday to our daughter Lauren as she celebrates her 19th birthday. She is becoming a fine young woman and I am proud of her. What's super cool is that she is changing her college and major next year......majoring in auto mechanics! As I write this I am looking out at my beloved 1995 GMC, yep that one, the one that was at the bottom

of the Atlantic Highlands ramp last fall for 90 minutes. I told her I'd pay her to get it going, good first project truck for her, and I'm ready to drive it again! And ready to back down that ramp when it opens up. So to fishing, left the house at 0140 and was in the surf just before 3. I had a selection of 

night flies ready to go and tied on a Howitzer popper and a black Snake Fly trailer, I was looking for something with some heart. I jumped two sets of rocks without a tap and was starting to worry that this might have been a bad idea. I found a nice spot and had small fish jumping all around the popper 

but wouldn't commit, or the flies didn't fit in their mouths. While walking the beach I landed two before the sun came up and was joined by Leif who made it down earlier than he is used to. 

     Conditions were perfect, W-SW wind, outgoing tide, no swell you couldn't time and deal with. The action picked up and the fish started to eat at least for a little bit. It was one of those mornings when you could say, at one point, that it had shut down. I switched up the tailing Snake Fly with a small black Deciever, skinny one, and landed a four more before the door shut. 

     Leif had the pool winner, probably just under/over 28", which would be the first keeper on the beach this year. He also landed the first fluke on a crab fly so its time to carry a knife and cooler bag to keep any fluke that's over 18". Yes, I tell people I catch and release, but not those fluke. 

Leif Petterson photos

      On the way home as I was passing through Trenton I decided to swing around and make some casts figuring the smallmouth bite maybe had started. To my surprise I landed the above bass, and then found something, well unreal. I pulled out my phone to videotape it but my phone was dead after a long night. I landed three more bass, one to 27 inches, a beauty, silver and black with the sharpest spines I've felt in a long time. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

06.16.21 I always fish Jersey the day after the MV trip.....

     It was 1241 AM and I was probably 1,000 feet from Route 18. Close to the roads to take me back home. I would have been in bed by 2. But, I had just finished fishing five different towns, finding fish in only one, but wanted to get back to the productive spot on the lower tide. 

Leif Petterson photo

     So in years past I always fish the morning after returning from Marthas Vineyard. Yesterday I hit the Delaware for a bit before work. After a long day at work and with Theresa scheduled to work overnights I made the drive down to the Shore to return Judy's bike from the trip. While there, why not, lets go fishing. We were probably in the water by 815, which was about 2-1/2 hours into the incoming. Conditions looked great, little sporty from the beach at times, but very bassy looking. 

     Leif went for the beach and me the rocks. Soon we were both hooked up. Me on the below fish that looks like an anemic old mount but fought with the heart of a lion. I had the rod tight to the fish and just outside of the exposed rocks. As I reached for the line to land it the water dropped 

out and that repaired, scratched, and nicked tip section sent me the message, "Start taking care of your shit", before it snapped. Okay, so now what to do. I could stop fishing, not, and take the long walk to the truck and get another rod, or just fish without it like I have seen so many bait fisherman do before. 

Leif Petterson photos

     Casting wasn't easy, you. could forget any distance, but I got the fly where it needed to be to be able to bring a few more to hand. When Leif called it quits around 930 I dec died it was time to change it up from an Ugly Ass Fly to a double black fly and new rod set up. And after that is was the start of the night with a lot of stops, circling back, 1,000 casts, and numerous last casts. 

     So in the dark the most productive time, in terms of hits, swings and errors, was the two hours before high tide. Water was manageable, but the swells were starting. As the tide was at the top, the swells brought crashing waves in quick sets at your feet, then the water would run up the scarp, and either almost suck you out on the way past, or crash into the next swell landing on the scarp. A few sets of rocks were promising but it was busy, and at times, "Oh shit", as the waves came from the south if you looking down, and from the north if you were looking up. 

     While I hate to leave fish to find fish there was a few go-to spots I wanted to fish on the way home. That turned into quick multiple cast stops in several towns, where the swells continued, the water pounded the beaches, and there seemed to be a delayed ebbing tide. 

     And that puts me in the back at 1241 AM. What to do. Go home? Go back? So I went back, got there say 1 AM. There would be a lot less water right? Forget it. It was just as big as I left it 2 hours ago. The waves were breaking on the outer bar but the force carried them all the way to the beach scarp where they broke again. I had, if you look in the top photo, a larger black fly with a smaller trailer, but didn't catch any on that so I went to two big flies, and caught fish on both. 

     I dropped the biggest fish of the night on a calmer north side but did land more on the trailing fly. Just before 3 AM I called it quits. I couldn't wait for it to settle down to give the bass a better chance to see my flies. In my opinion, yes we like big water, but at night throwing flies it can be good or bad. It was just too big with no good current on the high incoming, and the delayed ebb probably didn't get jiggy until after 4 AM, with enough water, light, and a trough that could be properly fished. 

     So I made the drive home, not the drive of shame, and walking in after 4 AM got the look from Theresa who had got canceled from the overnight shift and never told me, ut oh. She just said as I crawled into bed,  "You just went fishing for a week", but she looked at me like people gaze at others with addiction issues, almost like she felt sorry for me. I love striped bass, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. 52 weeks until Martha's Vineyard!