Monday, February 28, 2022

02.28.22 Ready or not....

      So with an idea borrowed from Martha's Vineyard artist Abe Pieciak, HERE,  I display the flies I have been working on this winter getting ready for the open season in the bays and rivers in New Jersey, which opens tomorrow. I'm a fane of Abe's work, having both some t-shirts and a sticker than I bought 

from Coop's Bait and Tackle in Edgartown and have on the back windshield of my car. As far as my flies, I think I have enough to get me started, enough to lose a few and still be able to fish, and enough to see in the water, and then try to perfect back at the vice between fishing sessions. 

     It's way early in the season, but some anglers will be out trying to get that keeper for the prize money that a few tackle shops offer for their efforts. Bloodworms, if you can find and then afford them, are the early go to bait, and finding one defrosted enough to chase a fly isn't probably going to happen. But after leaving the late fall/early winter and the abundance of fish that were "in the back" along New Jersey, you never know, if fact, you won't know unless you go. 

       Early season spots that had warm water, like Oyster Creek, above, and in Trenton and Kearny are 
no longer in operation. It will take some days of good sun on the right tides to warm up both the bottom and water getting bass to begin foraging. Bunker, shad, and herring will start making their way and up but that is probably weeks to a month away. 

     Most anglers fish when and where they can, but it does pay to start looking at the tides and moon phases to increase your chances of being in the right spot at the right time. Warn your spouses now, the silly season is upon us. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

02.27.22 Sunday morning coffee and a fly....


     Up early before the air;ls so it was a good time for "A coffee and a fly". I didn't invent that, that was something I learned from Bob when we were up in Martha's Vineyard, the smaller pic is his crab fly and a cup of Joe from 2017. I switching back and forth between ties and materials. I'm having a so-so time with the Squimpish line of materials. Now that's on me as he has a worldwide following from some of 

the best tyers in the world. I am trying to tie with less material, and the flies I see with just Squimpish are kinda bulky. For me, I think Squimpish synthetics work best when tied in with bucktail or SF Blend.  The other thing I am working through is not wasting the material by cutting out the bend that happens with the packaging of the Boutique Blends. Since it is long, stringy, packs tight and has an oily

kind of feel to it I think using it along the sides or down the top of a fly can create some bulk and contrast if you don't want to overkill the peacock herl, like I have been. Steve Farrar always told me 

"Where you think you have the right amount of material in your hand, take half as much", as the illusion of bulk, rather than the actual bulk, is what fly tyers should be trying to capture in their flies. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

02.26.22 Some help from Mike....

      So after posting the other day about tab eyes, I received a nice little letter in the mail yesterday from Mike, who was also a friend of Jim's. He had given Mike some of these and Mike was nice enough to pass them on to me. I don't know if Jim had these made, or manufactured them himself in the lab in the basement, which wouldn't surprise me. I started out by gluing some 3-D eyes on and then cut them to 

size in both roundness and length. I then sat and tied a fly that I think would go good with these tab eyes, and one a striper might eat, hopefully sooner than later. Even though it is cold nd windy out I took the drive down to Trenton and gave it a swim. I wouldn't have been against an early season 

smallmouth grabbing it if it had thawed out from the winter. This morning I woke and jumped on the computer and was greeted with this gem from 10 years ago, today. Some people ask, "How long have you been tying flies?", for it, a more appropriate question should be, "How long have you been tying shitty flies?". Now, I am not an expert of fishes, but I do believe I saw somewhere in the world where

a fish looks exactly like that, no blending of colors, no neck, big head and eye. Look it up, its there, well not really. I tied up a few more flys that are getting better looking. I am going to need another pick through the Keogh saddle bins at another fly fishing show, and next weekend it returns to Pennsy in Lancaster, and I might just take the drive.

But back to todays flies. I tried too work in Squimpish material but after cutting the boutique blend in half to get rid of the bend in material I didn't relay it to create tapered ends, and thats why along the back it looks like they all look the same length. A little trim should fix that, one of the nice things working with synthetics. 

     I tried to use the DIY UV I got from Amazon the other day but I found the bottle too big and hard to control, so I just pumped it down into the Solarez bottle which I think gives better control through the smaller tip. T minus three days till the bays and rivers open up......

Friday, February 25, 2022

02.25.22 Mummichogs, check....

     So I kept thinking how I was going to come up with a good mummichog pattern that would work and be easy to tie. I came up with a simple K.I.S.S., keep it simple stupid, pattern. Quick, easy to tie, and will hopefully fool the striped bass, as soon as next week. After looking at the below pattern, which looks like a mess, I put together the above trio as a better match. Fish Skull baitfish heads will keep them down and give them some action in the moving outflow waters I plan on fishing. We'll see. 

     I picked up some Solarez UV from Brqad Buzzi at TFFS and have put a beating on the small small bottle I had. At around $18 bucks it goes quick. So I looked on Amazon, since I'll need some more before I see my dealer any time soon. I found this DIY Craft UV Resin, which is about 2-1/2 times as much product for $8.55 a bottle. I haven't used it yet. I like the size and workability of the Solarez bottle so I may out the new stuff in and see how it goes. Four days until the bays and rivers open for striped bass and I think we're going to see a lot off early catches this year, as I am not sure if the bass even left for warmer and deeper waters this winter. 

bass and I think we're going to see a lot off early catches this year, as I am not sure if the bass even left for warmer and deeper waters this winter. With a mix of some warm 60+ degree days followed by this cold snap water temps in the Delaware are hovering just over/under 40 degrees. Soon the shad will be entering the Delaware Bay, if they are not there already, and the bass will follow as will the river herring. Can't come soon enough. 


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

02.23.22 Heard from my dear friend Al....

     Well after a few months of no return phone calls, texts and emails, I feared Al's health had worsened. So I reached out to his daughter Anne, an artist who pain ted the above picture from a photo I had of Al (with the old pier at Phillips Ave in the background), who told me his phone broke and he was using his wife  Evelyn's phone until he got a new one.

It was so nice to hear his voice when he picked up....

    Al, now 98, is in better health than Evelyn. They have moved from independent to continuous care, but still maintain a separate 2 bedroom apartment in North Carolina. We talked about family, talked about life, and of course talked about striped bass. He was overjoyed, admittedly selfish, that striped bass fishing along the Jersey Shore has really hit a multi-decade low. It has been four years since they moved, maybe 6 years since he stopped fishing, and has 50+ years of striped bass fishing under his belt. His first bass came after a year of trying, driving down to Spring Lake from I think Highland Park. 

He said that was one of the toughest parts in saying good-bye to Jersey, fishing the beach, and in later years taking his tricycle (bike) down a block from his house on Spier Ave in Allenhurst to the boardwalk to just sit and watch, looking for birds, bait, or fishing blowing up. 

     Al was poignant, talking about how it feels to get old, really old, and the transition from active living, to assisted living, to waiting for the day to stop living. He states he and Evelyn have chosen to begin hospice, and with that, he is happy with the continued and supportive care they receive. He tells a funny story, one of several, like, "We've had more communion in here then the whole time we lived in Allenhurst", which I think was 50 years, and about a visit from the social worker, who asked, "Do you have any goals?". He thought that was an odd question, knowing that he and Evelyn won't be moving out of their current place, but he did state a goal, "I like to sleep a lot, I would love to go to sleep and not wake up, and the same for Evelyn". I hope that goal comes true for both of you bud.

   I wished we lived closer to each other, I could use some good Al time. (Boy I used to be fat)


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

02.22.22 New waters and new baits.....

      On my way home from Newark I stopped in the rest stop on the Turnpike in Woodbridge. The gazebo and information stanchion caught my eye so I went over. Its nice how the public treats the Woodbridge Creek mitigation zone, garbage everywhere, stickers on things, and broken tails. But as I read I looked at the fishes that live in the marches, and one jumped out.....mumichogs. Now every 

kid that has went fluke or snapper fishing has lugged around a bucket full of these, collectible;y known as killies. They are great for bait, not only tasty I am sure, but they survive in tough conditions, like a pail on the dock in hot weather. Well some of the rivers I am going to explore this year, remember, 

for me, its the "Year of the River", are loaded with these and I must come up with a fly to imitate one. Yes, a Clouser would work, and I might to that, but I need to tie up a 3-5 inch fly that is small, kinda yellow to gray to brown, dark to light, and a little chunky compared to its length. So I went home and grabbed some material and went to well, try. I think this works best for me, throw some material on a hook, see what works and doesn't and improve from there. Well I did just that. Now if you have a few beers and look at it and away really quickly you may be fooled that this is a killie imitation, but 

maybe not. Dumbell eyes to get down, gonna loose those, deer belly hair for the front, maybe, and the mix of stuff in the back, gonna try a different approach. After I marveled at the mess I went online and snooped around for a pattern. I Don't know NMurray on Stripers Online, but I like the pattern he came up with and post about over 10 years ago. I think his looks a little better. More to come. Match the hatch.


Monday, February 21, 2022

02.21.22 Happy Birthday George.....

     What a glorious President's Day today was. Temps in the high 60's, just some office work to do, a great lunch and a few more flies for the box. So today we celebrate George Washington's Birthday. He was born February 11, 1731, in Virginia. Besides being the first United States President he is known for his crossing the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and winning the Battle of Trenton by defeating the Hessians during the American Revolutionary War. I guess, by the above painting, he dropped a line to catch a striped bass as he crossed the Delaware River just a mile from my house. 

     Today I had the pleasure to be treated to lunch at Pete's Steakhouse Tavern in Hamilton. I met "Delaware Joe" on the banks of the river in Trenton last year and we've been meaning to catch up for an bite and beer since. Joe's been fishing the river for over 30 years, and has fished for stripers longer. It's safe to say he has caught thousands of striped bass just about however you can catch them. I brought 

along my box of Delaware flies and got his approval, "Oh these will catch them", 'Especially when they are on the herring". Joe fishes from a 14 foot aluminum boat with a 25 hp. prop engine. Luckily he knows every rock and where they are on every tide, even in the dark which is when he mostly fished. Above he explains the right size of the river herring and when he got to his house he showed me his go to lure, a Savage articulated herring. The iridescence on that lure is something hard to replicate on a fly.

    On the way home I was surprised to find a Monday garage sale so I couldn't pass that one up. I found the below treasure. It was a mount of a false albacore his father had caught in Florida many, many years 

ago. It'll go nice with my old striped bass mount I snagged a few years back at the Allaire Flea Market. Early this morning I put some time in at the vice and came up with the below offerings. Since my mono extension flies suck I've been going to longer hackles out the back. I try to tie them on top of and then under bucktail so they have less of a chance of failing. They fly on the left has too much but up around the nose, I hate blowing the tie at the end. Heads seem to be my challenge now. I am avoiding the birds beak, but would like to see a little wider natural profile in the head. 


Sunday, February 20, 2022

02.20.22 Still gettin' it done.....

      Still trying to find my way around the vice. I would say, outside of a Snake Fly tying blitz I had done in Montauk in 2014 this is probably the most I have tied flies in my life. People ask me if I tie all of my own flies, "I'm a tier and a buyer". While I have been dependent on Andrew's and Joe's flies when I needed that 7" inch Hollow style flies it will be nice to only throw what I tie now. The problem is, for me, it takes a long time to tie a nice fly from start to finish. If my undiagnosed ADHD kicks in it can take a several hours. I think one of the things I am learning is to take the time to evenly distribute the 

materials and reverse it if it doesn't fall correctly, even if you have to waste some. In the past I over tied with too much material, over tightened which gave too much flare, over glued or resined trying to cover up my mistakes. One thing I also picked up from Steve is using as much as the base of hackles and feathers as possible as a way to bulk up the fly. Those ends where the stems are thicker also strengthen the fly and really let you tie down to secure it. I have started to add feathers in the tie so the ass ends aren't bulkier than the front. The below fly I tied with the hook up, worried that most of these flies will get eaten by the concrete and metal jungle that waits under the surface of the 9 foot tides where I fish.

I have also seen that if you tie a fly with a darker back and eyes, you better make sure it runs in the water right, or else the one eye will be facing up as the fly rides sideways in the water. For that I have been adding weight on the bend to keel the flies so they ride correctly. This one I want the hook up to 

to make it weedless, or rebarbless, with a chance to hold onto it for a while. Fishing from the shore, with a 11 wt with 450 gr line makes keeping these flies around a difficult endeavor. 

     I realized I haven't tied anything darker or in black so I took a look to see what I had. Here's a nice fly I used a lot this past fall, and caught on it. "I tied a nice fly there", I thought to myself. I saw that one eye was gone, peeled off from the excessive use. But then I looked closer, and truth be told. This fly was tied by someone who took the time to cut out their own tab eyes, yep, that's Jimmy Matson for ya. 

     So I found some eyes that were the same size and reglued them on, all ready for some more fishing, and catching. 10 days away until the season opens, lets hope the weather cooperates. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

02.18.22 Quick stop at the Philly Fishing Show....


 Hey, anything to combat the cabin fever. Hit the Philly Fishing Show, which isn't really held in Philadelphia but about 45 minutes west of me in Oaks, PA. It was smaller show than usual they say, similar in size to the TFFS. A lot of charter booths, some destination booths and a few tackle booths. Lots of boats, and I had my eye on this 2022 Yamaha G3 with a 65 jet, looks like a perfect Delaware boat coming in at 17 feet, a great boat for a single angler. The priced tag was $28,000- so forget it. 


  I walked around a bunch and picked up a few things. There wasn't any fly fishing to be had, I saw a PopFleye's t-shirt for $25, but I passed on it, figuring Popovic's might throw me one if I asked. I did dig  his Nantucket trip coming the end of May. Clear lines and sight fishing go together well, and for $10bucks it was a god find. I also picked up a some rubber skirts that I can use for trying crab flies, 4 for $5 is much cheaper than the "crab legs" they sell packaged for fly tying. I found a booth, the Worm Bar, 

that had all kinds of rubber everything and I noticed they were selling these jig heads 12 for $5, I thought they would be perfect for Erin when she wants to go for panfish, or they look like they would be good for sight fishing for carp. I killed some time waiting for Capt. Deiter Schell of Big D River Guide,

and his presentation on fishing the Delaware River. His talk was great, but unfortunately my seat was too comfortable and I dozed off, waking when the guys got up to leave when it was over. I really wanted to hang and wait for Capt. Eric Kerber's 530 talk on fishing for snakeheads, but I couldn't wait that long. 

     The highlight for me was meeting Skel Neall, and artist that works with metal that I have followed on Facebook for some time. His work is amazing. Below is his latest striped bass, gorgeous, the price is $275 and would grace any wall or man cave, or woman cave it is hung in. After the pieces are cut out of stainless steel he heats them and grinds them to make the colors and texture pop. I picked up a small 

piece from him that will make a cool Christmas ornament on next years tree, or something to have on the shelf of my fly tying area. His contact info is below and he has fluke, bass, reds, trout flies, crabs, and rooster fish to name a few, if you're a rooster fish angler these are sick. His pieces are cut from stainless steel so they won't rust ion you hang them outside.