Sunday, October 31, 2021

10.31.21 I'll never forget Blitz-O-Ween of 2014....

      What a day that was. You can read about it HERE. Those days are long gone. Very sad. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

10.30.21 Here we go...

     Well "THE BASS ARE HERE" according to the boats that are part of the Captree fleet on Long Island. We're finishing up with a week of blows and bad weather and this week the boats will hammer down on the second big push of fish making their way south for the winter. 

     We've had good bait. Had good weather, then some snotty stuff which is usually good, but the fishery continues to be a boat fishery. NY and Raritan Bays are producing so are the deeper holds along the channels running out of the bays. The shore angler still continues to wait...and wait...and wait. 

     So with the ASMFC basically doing nothing to save the striped bass we will watch and see the dismal fishery morph into just fond memories. Anglers talk about how "a slot" will save the fishery. They use the sample of how the southern red drum, redfish, have rebounded and is now a healthy species were overfishing and over harvesting is not occurring. 

     The problem with a slot is, generally, it doesn't work, in my opinion. Lets say the powers that be want to institute a "slot" at your local diner where you work. The law states you can't eat from 4-8 PM every night, you can go, you can look at the menu and order food, but you can't eat it. That's done to keep "more food around". And you are the restaurant manger who is looking to fill the cook and waitstaff during those hours. Are you signing up to work? Or, will you sign up for the 2-8 or 8-12 shift when customers can come and eat until their stomachs split open? Then ask the owner and staff where are the customers are between the 4-8 shifts every night. After about a day or so no one will come to order and look. Keep hammering those slot fish and see how long that lasts as you wait for the 18-22 inch fish that are out there to save this fishery. Forget the big girls, their done, and Maryland and Virginia will be sure to "kill most of them all" this winter and next spring. 

     What we are seeing now is 5,000 boats on a decent day on "the numbers" or close to them, congregating over bass that are holding in structure or venturing somewhat close to grab a meal, mostly now adult bunker. You can throw big baits and flies to fish, but for the most part, the 20 inch fish out there aren't choking down several 8-12 bunker nor taking your 10 inch Hollow Fleye. The big ones that are left will though, but if you target and catch them, they have to be returned, unharmed...HA HA HA !

     Anglers are fishing and releasing the unders and overs, and searching, hard, for there 28-35" slot fish. They aren't looking to catch a 45 inch bass, thats sport fishing, they are working hard and looking for that mid range keeper and legal fish. So while they are on the bow of their favorite head boat, the line goes tight, the big fish gets reeled in in some ungodly current hoisted up just a bit before the net kid gets there, and then flopped on the deck before a gill raking picture is taken and its dive bombed back into the drink. How's that ASMFC for reducing recreational mortality? 

    So one of the Captree fleet boats posted a report. 33 stripped bass caught, 17 slot fish were killed, that means 16 were dropped back into the water. 3 of which were overs and 13 unders. I have to say I am surprised there were nearly 50% of the catch met the slot, as those fish are hard to find these days. 

     So how long does the slot last? If we hunt and kill every 28-35" fish what happens next year? In two years? Then the anglers and money makers will complain, put on the political pressure, and have changes made based on poor catches and thus loss revenue. 

     So here's what I think, a moratorium is coming, and it should. We didn't learn from the 80's. Or what you could see, I'm not saying it will happen, is the EEZ will either be extended out further then three miles, or the line will be kept and fishing will be allowed outside that line. Of course it will cost you. Either in permit fees or someones life as they enter in bigger waters in their 16 foot Bass Tracker because the reports are that 8 miles out "there's acres of bass on sand eels".      


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

10.26.21 Fishin' in the rain...

     Last night I got a call from a guy looking to fly fish the surf. We talked about when might be best, and after looking at the weather forecast it shouldn't have been today. But hey, you don't know if you don't go. Woke up and was on the road at 530 am. Things out in Mercer County weren't too bad. A quick check of the basement and I could see just a small puddle from the overnight rain. On the way down 195 it was just raining on and off and when I got to the beach I was surprised.

    There was no wind, drizzling rain, and perfect conditions in front of me. Water was a tad off color but good. I was able to fish from the rocks being there just about 2 hours into the flood tide. North sides of the groins were hallowed out and there was plenty of water.....just no bait or fish. I went with a Ugly Ass Fly and either had one on that rubbed my line and broke off, or it was just the heave along the rocks that pulled my line down and then did the rock rub thing. Anyway, I'll need to get another from Leif. 

     My next fly looked good in the water, tied on a 12 inch leader on the 350 gr sinking line. I fished for about an hour and half having the whole place to myself. When I finally got back on 195 it 

was blue skies poking through the clouds and then on and off again rain throughout the day. Now I know last night the weather got jiggy along the east coast, but I'm not sure if a true nor'easter hit like we are used too. From what it seems, it traveled west of the Delaware till about Trenton, hooked a right turn east and then went up into New York. The Upper Delaware region had a ton of rain the Catskill rivers are totally blown out. 

     While on Facebook my heart sunk when I saw Captain Joe Gahrman's boat underwater at the Morgan Marina. He had just made the switch from Shark River for the fall run. Not sure what happened, but its a sweet boat powered by twin Suzuki 300's. You never know what can happen with 

these boats, either on the water, tied up on the dock, or on the boat ramp. Each time something happens it is a wake up call to us all, and there is always a teachable moment there. I wish Joe luck, good guy, good Captain, and Sykk Physh Sportfishing Charters will ride again. I hope the insurance company does him right, and soon!


Monday, October 25, 2021

10.25.21 And in the "nobody cares" department...

     Yep, it's supposedly a fly fishing blog. It has slowly over time morphed into a personal life journey blog, with a little fishing mixed in. Truth is, since Ryan died and we moved out to Titusville, this blog has been more of a personal journal then all about fishing, primarily because my time on the beach has lessened. Although, I will still say, The Average Angler was started in 2009 tailored to the average person who fly fishes. And with that sport that we so enjoy comes life, and death, and all the struggles in between, and that is what I try to represent and capture here in these logs. 

    And in the "nobody cares" automotive department I share with you progress of the new ride. A 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Duramax Diesel. One owner, 132,000 miles, he is a nice Irishman who was a roofer and jack of many trades, a real nice local guy. This past weekend I spent hours burning my finger tips with a heat gun getting all of the stickers off the truck. 

     For Saturday date morning I took Theresa to Ben's Deli in Morrsiville, PA, for breakfast before hitting Castle Tires on East State Street in Trenton. Last week Erin and I drove to Blairstown to pick up some used tires for the truck, ones that were all the same and the correct size. I paid $150 for 5 tires and 6 lug aluminum rims. I watched some You Tube videos on how I could remove and remount the tires,

but sense hit me in the head and I decided to pay someone to do it. Some things are just worth it. So I got the old tires off and the new tires mounted and balanced. They took the old tires and it cost me $100. A quick ride to the salvage yard and we walked with $65 for the 5 aluminum rims. So, in the end, I paid $185 for the four slightly used tires. 

     I have removed the extended mirror set up that was mounted on the roof and the ladder rack system will be up for sale soon, I just don't move ladders that much. The utility box has some rust underneath and that will have to be addressed so it doesn't blow off the frame of the truck, just something that would happen to me. But otherwise so far so good. 


10.25.21 Just a share from a post response I made...


     I caught a post on Facebook regarding the latest status of striped bass on our planet, you can see the article HERE. I decided to chime in and give my response, one I fully believe.

"Make it a gamefish. No matter what size the slot the fish keep getting caught, overs and indeed, trying to find that slot “keeper”. There are no, or at least limited 28-35” fish around. It’s 20 inches or over 35”. And the fish aren’t spread out, pinch point fishing, the Canal, Montauk, Raritan Bay and the NY Bight. Mostly a boy fishery now. Talk to anglers that were around in the 80’s before the moratorium, very similar, especially for the non-boat angler. It needs to be shut down. It’s coming. But the ASMFC can’t pull the trigger no matter how many skewed “scientific” figures that come up with. Now the latest is recreational mortality, yeah circle hooks will fix that, haha. Look at the Chesapeake numbers the last three years. The only thing keeping this going, is the Hudson fish, which are what I think are the main strain these days. Early season slaughter in the Raritan Bay needs to cease, maybe catch and release if you have to. And forget about an East Coast balanced approach- too much money and politics and a’holes with a hand out and a say. History repeats itself if you don’t learn from it- we didn’t learn. Look at the bluefin fishery now, overfished. That’ll come around in a few years. Just my opinion"

Funny how you just notice things these days in this world of ours, how long is the title of this magazine going to hold up? 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

10.20.21 End of one chapter and the beginning of yet another....

     Yep, so after the delusions left my brain that I was going to really be able to get the truck going again  it was time to post it on Facebook Marketplace. I posted full disclosure of what, when and where of the trucks demise. That was December 4, 2020. It has almost been a year and not much progress was ever made and it was time. A guy came and loved what he saw, gave me the full asking price, "No problem" and the next day off it went to Pennsylvania. 

     She came back to the house on December 5th and left October 18th. I was sad to see her go but I know that the buyers are really jazzed up about getting her all going and buttoned up again. I hope to see her back on the road one day. So that left me without a pick up, something that I really need and completes me as a complete man. Even if she didn't run, and just sat there for nearly a year, I still felt like the owner of a pick up truck. Again delusional. 

     About a month ago a man down the street from my house starting having yard sales, then garage sales, and then a take-all-sale. He is a roofer by trade and used to deal sheds and gazebos from his yard in Titusville. While picking through some stuff, and knowing he was retiring, downsizing and moving, I inquire about the shed and the white pickup. Well, after a week or so I got the call and the number and after kicking it around with the boss lady I agreed to purchase both. I have been on a Facebook Marketplace tear getting up the funds for the purchase. The shed is already in the yard and the truck 

delivery should be this week. The truck is a 2003 Chevy Silverado Duramax Diesel, surely enough to tow Jim's old boat, and of course help maintain any testosterone having a pick-up does for me. The shed is a Godsend, we not having any garage or other structure on the property. My goal is to get "Tobacco Road" as my wife calls it, all organized and covered by the winter. But, truth be told, that 8 x 10 old shed ain't going to do it alone. 

     And just to time stamp and have a reference when and if my kids read this blog after I croak Erica and I went to the Giant's game this past weekend. I haven't watched any sports since the shenanigans last year as the participant entertainers became the toll tender of morale and political correctness in thew world. One take away besides a good time with Erin was the amount of resources and money that is spent to have a sporting event. In my humble opinion, give me a couch and big screen TV and lots of snacks and cold beer and I'd be set, if I ever get back to watching sports again. 

     And then there's always the possibility with me of the start of something new. Well, this may just be full circle. In 1992 I started at Essex County College in Newark taking pre-requisites in order to enter the nursing program, which I did and graduated in 1995. (That's me in the back row with the big white head.) Well, after two years of running a private practice my ADHD has kicked in enough for me to explore another path, possibly. I'm currently in the process of risk vs gain in accepting a nursing teaching position at the college of my youth. Full-time, real deal, a commitment. We'll see, I have a few days to pull the trigger or not. 

     But in going to Essex County College I traveled through the streets of Newark, where I spent nearly 20 years there in part living there and working for the Newark Fire Department and University Hospital EMS. It's a place I call home and is very near and dear to my heart. I cut my teeth in that city, not only in two branches of emergency services, but into adult and manhood as well. It was sad to see the 

firehouse where I worked for about a year after I got promoted to Captain in 2002. This was the home to Engine 12 and Truck 5 on Irving Turner Boulevard, better known as Belmont Avenue. Funny thing is, besides the boarded up window and doors, it hasn't changed much, but the neighborhood has for sure. I left the city after the interview not sure if I was returning home to stay for a while again, or should I just keep driving straight and not turn around and let Newark, and all the years and memories, be just that, a mix of highs and lows, trials and tribulations, and the pains of several chapters whose endings were written by others.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

10.16.21 Shut it down already.....

      So the above chart is from the 2021 Chesapeake juvenile striped bass survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. When we talk "year class" fish, we can basically look at a striped bass, its length and weight, and determine just about what year it was born, ie, "year class". Basically its like saying, except for the kids that pushed a year ahead or behind, that all 7th graders are 12 years old, born in 2009, that year class. 

     Well this year we had another horrible surgery, the target number is 11.4, this year the tally was 3.2, up slightly from the horrendous 2.5. Currently the ASMFC continues to dick around with this fishery. They are not managers, they are pawns, and frauds. There might be a "good one", a guy or gal, on the committee, one of several, but they all basically suck. Studies on mortality, going to circle hooks...blah, blah, blah. Close the Raritan and Chesapeake Bays in the spring, or make it a gamefish, or just it the f down. We will find other interests while the fishery rebuilds itself. Just ask your old buddy who went thought the moratorium in the 1980's. You'll survive. 

     And there's the skunk report. Got down an hour after the flip on this lovely 85 degree day. Found some bait balled up off the end of the groin with some small bluefish harassing them. They stayed put as the tide ebbed and the boasts ran through them. I stayed an hour or so and split. 

     Then I made my way to stop one of two in the Raritan. No bait, no signs of predation. Made a few college-try casts without a nothing. Then I made my way into the Belford Co-Op and made casts 

among the peanut bunker that were getting sucked out from the smaller to the bigger water. Saw a few blow-ups, one sounded girthy, but didn't connect. And then my last stop was in the river where I was almost nipple high trying to make my way out and cast into the outgoing water. Phone was in my front pocket of my Simms waders, which I thought were water tight, but you know, whats an outing without something going wrong. Seems like its an early morning fishery for now. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

10.11.21 I want to go back to these times....


    For some reason I was up at 330 AM and started on the computer. And some how, I found the original We are The World Video. Somehow, looking back with 20/20 vision, I see talented performers from all corners of the world representing different races doing good. I don't see the division, the politics, the media, the bullshit. Now that's to say there weren't problems, no time in history is perfect. But these times, say the 1980's were kinda better. First I was just about 19 when this came out in April 1985. 

    I followed up this video with Do They Know It's Christmas, which came out a year earlier in 1984. Another classic with very talented performers, a lot from botg=h groups, before they became larger-than-life in their own heads and transformed from entertainer to influencer, politician, and divider. 

    These two times, along with the times following 9/11 brought people together from around the world and most definitely across this great land. Something has got to change. I am having a mid-life re-evaluation of my own life, I have got to change. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

10.10.21 Guess its fall now....

     Stopped by for a few casts to see if my friend was home...he was. A few casts along the wall on the outgoing and he came up and ate my fly, I watched, frozen, waiting for him, I guess to hook himself. I didnt even trout set. Then he spit the hook and I watched my fly "swim" away. Duh? I wish I had a redo on that. Fall foliage is making its way down the river as the NE winds that are really churning up the beaches are making their way across the state. 

I'm hearing the storms have moved a lot of sand which is great for the fall, well, early winter run. Just be careful and have your eyes down when you make your way across the beach, that fall is unforgiving for the ones bones and fly rods. 


Thursday, October 7, 2021

10.07.21 Tons of big bunker waaay in the back....

     Went last night to see if I would find the Mother Lode of the elusive striped bass chewing on bait that hasn't made the move yet. Well I found the bait, big bunker, waaay up in the back. Just didn't find anything on them. While we3're not seeing the bass action out front yet, it is going to happen. This bait will leave, and the delayed arrival of the bass should intersect somewhere on the beach or boat. Could a repeat of Blitz-O-Ween of 2014 happen again in 2021? Fingers crossed. 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

10.06.21 Stayed local and had a follow....

     Not taking the drive of shame this week. Surfs up with the new moon. Tons of bait showing out front and still in the bays and rivers. Hearing of albies in the boats and occasionally on the beaches. Today I gave it a 30 minute shot. Had a bass follow and swipe at a small Hollow Fleye. Went back at him and he did it a again. He's hanging in a sweet spot so I may give him a shot today if work schedule allows, but may try a smaller fly. 


Monday, October 4, 2021

10.03.21 The 2021 version of a cartopper....

     So things last evening just got weird. It started out at 7pm in Long Branch as I watched the above Tow Boat service tow someone back down to Shark River. That's not really weird, but when I got to Deal the first thing I saw was boat in tow in front of me. Then I looked over and saw, what I thought, was a beached boat but after walking to see if they needed help I found out it was the rich-and -famous interpretation of a cartopper. Cartoppers are, well really were, small aluminum boats, with engines, that anglers used to carry, on the top of their car, and then launch from the beach, far away from any boat ramp or marina. 

     Well this guy, could be a great guy, is fortunate to live on the beach in Deal, and what he has is an amphibious boat. His is made by Iguana, you can see more HERE. Looks like they run just about $600,000. They are good for Seal Teams and for those that have it like that. He hits a button and tracks come down like a tank and he traverses the sand util he gets in the water and vice versa. This evening he came back in and then towed a jet ski back up to the old ranch. Now, the last two summers we have seen an increased numbers of ATV riders on the beach in Deal, which is illegal. Is this legal? Can you have a motorized vehicle on the beach without a permit, which would be open to all? Would it fly in Belmar or Spring Lake? Or Monmouth Beach? I would love to see those old salts from the Monmouth Beach Cartoppers club as they see this today, they must be rolling in their graves. 

     Conditions were very good. I was there about 2 hours into the ebb tide, little SE wind, water clean and green. And although you can't see it in the pics there was some good swells that chased me to the inside portion of the rocks. It took about 20 minutes and about 30 casts to land the below October bass on a white Snake Fly. Since its been, for others, a one and done thing, I decided to move along and head home. I first wanted to check a spot out back where the bait is usually think and there can sometimes

be some bass, if not always blues of varying size for sure. There's not much room and when I walked in Eric was there and we watched as the bait moved and the occasional fish broke the surface. I tried and tried, as did he, and he didn't start catching 2-4 pound bluefish until he liveliness some peanuts. As we stood there we could hear the roar of the engine of a motorcycle. He was lock step with a car and, either, he was trying to pass, or they were racing. It was one of those things where you hear it, and then you look, and then look back at what you're doing. Well when we looked back at the water we heard the screech, and then the boom, and then the screams. 

     We're about 500 feet away and Eric starts running. One thing I learned from being a fireman and EMT and nurse, never run. So I'm walking with my stripping basket on, rod in hand, on the phone with 911 requesting an ambulance and paramedics. When I get there there's no one there but the patient, his girlfriend, the other fisherman and two people who stopped. He was down but not done, and after using a pair of scissors to cut off his clothes and asses him, he only had a nasty compound arm fracture which I had to straighten and hold traction to return the pulse to his wrist. 'Its gonna hurt like a bitch so just take it", and he did. 

     The cops and ambulance were quick and he took a short ride over to Jersey Shore for, I would bet, some surgery on that arm. His helmet showed the damage from the crash, and I couldn't imagine what he would have looked like without it. If this was in Pennsy, a no helmet law state, it could have been ugly. 

     I went back to fishing and it was more of the same, little blues on bait. Things have started to turn on, albies in the boats and occasionally the beach, bluefish, mostly smaller ones just about everywhere, and the bass seem to be coming to eat breakfast and dinner on the beaches. Maybe fall, although the air and water are still warm, has arrived.