Thursday, April 28, 2022

04.28.22 Been busy with some good fishing....

     Been fishing since, well March 1st, but have been really hitting it hard when I can since last Saturday. I got some good stories to tell which I will do when things are over and I have moved on to the next bite. Driving to fish, especially in my diesel truck, sucks, and even more so when the price of fuel is over $5.00 a gallon. Plus there's the time, and the tides, and then, most times the drive of shame back home. But every now and then you hit pay dirt.

      Fish have all been over 38 inches and healthy and a challenge on the fly rod. I continue to be amazed by these fish. While for some the big picture may be hard to see with all the fish around New Jersey this spring, don't be fooled. The bigger picture is not good. While we are thankful that fish over 38" aren't being killed, the 28-38" fish are being harvested at a rate that isn't sustainable, and won't fare well for a breeding class in a few years after the big girls that we are now seeing start to die off. It's like removing all current 5th and 6th graders from middle school and then wondering why no-one is at high school graduation in 6-7 years. 

     I can't wait to share, kind of, my recent trips and the ups and downs that I have experienced. Soon it will be time to hit the beach, and I have a feeling that what we have been seeing in the bays and rivers will happen along the shore. I have heard of good catches in the Delaware River and in South Jersey and the migration north of the Chesapeake strain will add to opportunities for the fly rodders who call the sand and groins home. Think big flies for big bass. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

04.26.22 This is kinda my Delaware River log.....

     Some anglers keep a log, I keep a blog. It's cool to go back, almost 13 years now and read up on old fish, old friends, and things like the conditions. So next year this post will be cool to check and compare. We've had and up and down spring, cold spells, snow, heavy rain and blown out conditions. Right now things are just about perfect, falling water, and climbing water temps. 

04.26.22 Wow, we've hit over 700,000.....

     Well we have finally hit 700,000 "new viewers" on this blog. You can set up Google Analytics several ways, the way I have it set it to record every new, I guess unique, IP address when they hit on the blog. I don't have any access but it's driven by "new" users. Otherwise my mom could check in 70 times in one day and that would be part of the big number. Started it in May 2009, still going, some slowdowns during the school years, hope to hit 1,000,000 while I am alive, if not Leif  will be taking it over and keeping it going, although, he doesn't know it but there will be no more pictures of the Ugly Ass Fly. Just kidding.

     I've been fishing, had the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat several times. The above image tells the story, but those kind of misses keep you coming back. I have come realize, that there certain spots were it could a fly or spin anglers day, and that can alternate with bait and tides and all that good stuff. Then there are places like, the Cape Cod Canal, the Point Pleasant Canal, the Shrewsbury River in the part where it's like a funnel, and the Delaware River, where those spots are just not fly rod friendly, and in fact near impossible to consistently catch fish. 

     There're not excuses, but when is last time you heard of a group of fly guys saying, "Let's go to the Canal?", to fish the main channel. Think backcast, ripping ripping tides, and where the bait and fish are. But every now and then we as fly fishers defy what is normal. We catch fish on dead low in the middle of the day with high bright sun, we catch that one big fish when only schoolies have been around, and then there's those nights when it all comes together, with a little luck, and it just blows your mind. More to follow. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

04.24.22 Long rough night....

     Four hours, one before high and three on the start of the outgoing. Shoulder ball joint replacement should be in order if I keep this up. 12 weight 450 gr line casting with my stripping basket up to my nipples in 50 degree water. Any chance of a big fish is starting to wane. Fished one spot inching out every so slightly trying to find that tipping point with my toes. You know the one, where your next step puts you overhead. Living on the edge. 

     Tired and bummed I made a move and set up and thought I had good water in front of me. Then I saw a guy scouting me out. I was parked down a long and dark dirt road and he was looking down at me. He started walking back and forth on the bridge, and I thought he was leaving but then he came back. LATER! I packed up and backed out and was gone. I wasn't in the mood for any interaction or having to defend myself. On my way home about 20 minutes later I realized I left the pair net there, so a ride back, pissed off, wasn't the way to end the night. Not a tap on the 'McNasty", big, heavy, have to let the water drain between casts. But there's a fish out there with their name on it....I still believe. 


Saturday, April 23, 2022

04.23.22 A man after my own stupid heart....

     I experienced the same thing this guy did with his ride, the bow just doesn't stay up and there's not much for dead rise. If I were out that far I think a lifejacket would be appropriate. But I have to say, I love the flag flying proudly. Catch em' up.

04.23.22 Tied the "McNasty" for tonight....

      So with my fly inventory shot and the days having been slow I ran downstairs before the girls got up and tied up, what I call, the "McNasty". It's big, 9 inches, 5/0 hook, and bulky up front. I am planning on hitting it tonight when the water is lower, and you know what they say about stripers and nighttime. This is tied with a mono extension, in black, looking at it now I wish I threw some color in the back end, but all I need a big one to do is hit the front. 


04.23.22 Fish tank remains empty this morning.....

     After yesterdays fiasco I needed to catch a fish. Hit it a little after fish and found the boat hatch in full effect. The river continues to be up and fly fishing the big water has been difficult. I need to focus on the lower tides and find fishy pocket water where the bass may hide and ambush herring that are in the river. Water in a river is good, along with cooler temps, which should bode well for May and June. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

04.22.22 Shakedown of the S.S. Archer....not good

     "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful ship.......". I don't know if I jinxed myself or do I just have a black cloud over my head at all times....or am I just an idiot. So, this was the maiden voyage of the dinghy that I found in the woods along the Delaware about a month ago. I ordered some oars for it, found an anchor, and with Erin's lacrosse game in Red Bank I thought what a great time to

give it a go and absolutely crush the fish on the flip of the tide. Things started out great. I could launch in about 6 inches of water. Oars were great, but they needed to be adjusted, you can see that in the below picture. I thought the freeboard of about 5 inches was a little less than I hoped for, but it was flat enough and there was no boat traffic so I would be good. Rowed out aways to my first stop and 

tested the anchor...all good. A little rocky and rolly get it in but that was fine. Stood up and kept my feet as far apart as I could for stability, and that was fine for an hour. No need for a stripping basket as the line fell in front of me no problem. As the tide flipped I decided to put my feet up and take a little shut 

eye for a minute or so. I tied on the fly I tied the other night in order to present my best offering. Before I launched I filled my fly wallet with my best ties of the winter, just to be ready. I could feel the boat

every so slightly moving to my right with the incoming tide so I moved to spot #2 and set up on the anchor as the tide flooded. A bunch of casts, surf guys and boats starting to move from the west to east side of the bridge. The crabber was out checking his pots and there were a few in my vicinity, I was concerned, but not worried. Water was a little more choppy with the NE-NW wind against the tide. But I was ready. I stood up and make a bunch of casts just waiting to get tight. On a cast, with a little chop, I leaned left, the boat rail dipped, and then it went right, and I flipped. In a matter of seconds the boat was full of water, my gear, and LIFE JACKET, were floating, and there was a brief moment of terror. I had my throw away waders on, not wanting to wear my Herman Munster Simms G-3's on the boat. 

     So at first I was floating, and sinking, but after a few swims towards the beach I could just brush against the muddy bottom. I kept at it, and at it, until I had some momentum. I pulled the anchor, tried to gather all my gear inside the boat and made way. The guys on the shore, four of them, watched and kept fishing, I love that, I think. So I was maybe 500 feet out on the first hour incoming tide, it could have been worse if I was out at high tide. But I made it in, and acted like this was my plan all along. 

      But here's where it gets funny, and the photo above is proof. I am standing there out of breath, soaking wet, a boat to the brim with water, stripping basket, rod and bag floating in the boat, and, my waders blown out in each leg with 20 gallons of water. Two members of the Coast Guard are at the stairs talking to each other and one walk down. I am waiting for some kind of something. "Did someone call?" He says to me, "Hello sir, have you seen a beached boat around here". Now I did notice one up the creek when I got there and pointed him over to that. "Okay, thank you, have a good day, sir". That made me laugh. After getting everything back in my truck I emptied my waders and hit it for an hour and a half on the incoming.....not a touch, and I was frozen. Water if cold.....really cold.....below 50. 

     Now, yes I am an IDIOT. Last post I stressed how important safety is, wear your life jacket. Hears my story. Early this morning I went down into my basement to find an automatic inflatable life jacket, but all of them had "went off", all four of them. So I grabbed one my kids use, its an adult "Just to have on the boat". I didn't have it on. Shame on me. Any small boat from now on, I'll have something on. 

     On the way home I had to see if the fish God's would grant me one wish, just one fish, on the dead low tide, which is still running at over 25,000 cfs. I should have been grateful with just making it back to shore today and not losing any gear, other than that fly wallet with my best flies in it, but you know what, I had to pay something for this learning experience. 

04.22.22 Thank God he's okay.....

     A few months back I took a ride to PA to attend a fishing show. The draw for me was a presentation by Captain Deiter School, of Big D River Guide Service. He's a very experienced Captain and has fished the river for years. If you go over the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge in April and May you'll no doubt see him anchored up with rods out fishing for shad. 

     Deiter talked about the river, the fish and his custom made boat. He also stressed safety when being on the "Big D". Well yesterday I found out he had n accident on the river while fishing a shad tournament. I don't know exactly what happened but the boat capsized, he went in the water, had to be rescued and was taken to the hospital, thankfully he was discharged. His boat remains in the river at the wing dam. The shot below shows his boat just below the falls.

     They say bad shit happens, to anyone, at anytime, no matter how right you do things. I was still guiding up on the Upper Delaware when Wayne Aldridge's drift flipped on the East Branch sending him and his sports into the river. I happen to be out on the water working the area with Captain Jason Dapra when he came in the path of a container ship in the channel and experienced engine trouble. Paul Dixon has his boat flip in Turtle Cove in Montauk. Tom O'Loughlin from Shore Catch had a fatal boat accident out in front of Long Branch. These things happen to the best of them. And to a lesser degree, I sunk my truck, in a second, while taking my boat out of the water at the Atlantic Highlands boat ramp. 

     As I begin to fish the mid-Delaware I must take caution as to what happened yesterday. The Delaware claims many lives each year. Again, thank God Deiter is okay and let this be a warning and learning experience for me and anyone else out there. A fish is not worth your life. Wear your life jacket, have a save-your-ass sharp knife on board, and respect the river always, she is a nasty bitch sometimes. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

04.20.22 Still chewing after the storm....

     Got a nice pic of my buddy Joe who was out during the cool evening and landed this really nice fish. It's really something when you think about these striped bass, they seem to be everywhere, and like the above, really nice fish. While the bass and rivers seem to be the places to go, they are starting to show up out front. 
     While the primary forge baits seem to be bunker and herring, smaller fodder like mummichogs and white baits, silversides and anchovies are around, and soon the worm hatch will be among us, which can be ultra frustrating when they are keyed in on smaller topwater worms. 

     Out west, this morning, although cold, the Delaware looked good but I found no takers. That 10 degree drop in temperatures, I think, may have them in a pause, and the river is still high at almost 35,000 cfs's, nearly double the norm, but it cleaning up quickly. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

04.19.22 With no fishing time to replenish some flies....

     Well, I told you about the river. Now, some guys say they like it a touch off color, I guess it adds the element of surprise to the bass when a big plug or whatever swims by. I haven't lost many flies but a few have rotated a bit or lost some material, hey, I have caught some fish this spring. This one, will work, it has a mono extension tail, bucktail and Squimpish hair, some lead on the bend, and some Jim Matson tab eyes, but I glues the eyes on. I'm ready for bigger fish.....


04.19.22 It's a mess now.....

     Gave it a shot. We had heavy rains through the night and I found what I expected, a big and dirty river. Tried to run my fly through some not-so-Yoo-Hoo water along a little tributary without a tap. Did find some carp "blowing up" for some reason, initially thought it was a sturgeon as its that time of year. The river nearly "doubled" overnight, from 18,000 to over 30,000 cfs. The temperatures are back down below 50. It'll take a few tides to clean this up and then hopefully we can have some kind of normal and steady weather patterns. Air temps out here were 27 this morning.


Monday, April 18, 2022

04.18.22 Dead low before the blow...

     Still at it. Today was early AM on the outgoing and then a quick lunch time session fishing the dead low before tonights blow. Not a tap either time. Saw a post made by a local guide, Bass Chaser Charters, who lit it up after the Pink Moon, landing 36 fish in 30 hours, with fish from 30 to 40 pounds. That is some weekend. My early opinion is, the migratory fish have pushed through, they are not here like they were in the last 12 days. What science am I using to state that, none, just my gut.

     I'll be watching the river closely after this blow that we are getting tonight an tomorrow. Dropping the water temps, not always bad, especially when it was on a quick arming trend, although this up and down isn't good either. I hope the river can handle any bump and not get blown out. 


Sunday, April 17, 2022

04.22.17 That's a beast....

     It's been an interesting week, three largemouth bass, a tiny walleye, and then this evening a 25-1/2 inch, to me, beast, which had to weigh about 6 pounds. I'm not sure where this is for the walleye anglers but for me its all good. I initially though it was a big catfish that grabbed my fly near the bottom. They are strong fish, not runners, but feel like dead weight hugging the bottom. Couldn't find a bass this Easter, but this fish made up for it. They say they are great eating, but this one is still swimming. 

04.17.22 Happy Easter.....

      Yes, Easter is a great day. Easter Bunny, candy, Easter egg hunts, but keep in mind the real reason for Easter. Jesus rose from the dead on that Sunday, three days after he was crucified on the cross. Do with it what you like, but I'm a believer. Enjoy your day hopefully with someone you love. It's a beautiful day. 

     And is was a beautiful day for Leif catching fish up to 35 inches on, what else, the Ugly Ass Fly. He had the place to himself until he was joined by another angler who had a good early session himself. 

     Out west my bedroom was alight with the full moon until the sun came up. I hit it around 530 on the outgoing tide and didn't get a tap fishing really good pocket water and current. It did get real cold last night, not sure if that was anything, but its fishing, and not catching. When it rising we look for a couple of degree bump in temperatures to get them going, and I wonder if the drop slows them down a bit. In four days we went from below 50 degrees to 57. I hope we can find a way to keep temps nice and steady so the fishing picks up a bit, with some bigger fish than I have been getting. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

04.16.22 Fun day with a bunch for the tank....

     The hunt for big(ger) fish continues, at it since March 1st, biggest one to date was 33 inches, and the smallest may have been today at 21. It was Lucky 7 total for today, two different outings, two different tides, same results. I have been learning a lot about spin fishing, and why, at least here they might be 

more successful than me. I know its fly fishing, and the river can get up and mean, but there's something I can be doing better to mimic the big plug spin fisherman. But any way, that for another time. So 

today I brought both 'Keep Em' Wet" tanks with me, but went with just using the 41 inter, because I was hoping for a big fish. As I was filling the 28 my know came unbuttoned and my bucket was gone. But then it cam back in a weird tide move. I was then able to fill up the big tank and get on with fishing. 

     Outgoing tide in the AM and incoming in the PM, lots of people out in the afternoon and we, Erina dn I, saw a boat guy catch and release a real solid fish. Tonight is the Pink Moon, and if you fish you 

know what that means. In the afternoon after watching Erins lacrosse game it was. quick stop to catch the baby of the bunch, the 21 incher that was cool, it really is a neat was to appreciate these fish when you can see them for a minute or two at eye level in the tank. I am really glad that I was able to make

these two tanks to enjoy the fish before they are released. So fishing is pretty much wide open now, and even the beach is starting to heat up. Leif had a bunch of active fish to 25 inches the other day, so it's pretty much striped bass are everywhere now. Do your best to keep them in the water as long as you can. If you need to take a pic, and I think that's fine, plan for it, do it quickly and get the fish back. I see videos of "professional" captains allowing fish to flop on the deck before the barbed hook, or double treble hooks, are shaken out of the fish, before the mouth lip or Boga grip move, which compresses the fish innards like a pancake. So do better, and please pinch those barbs down.