Wednesday, August 31, 2022

08.31.22 I thought I was into one....

     Yes, I must admit, I have still been doing the snakehead thing. I go to a few different spots when I need to fish for a bit and today was another loser outing. I have no expecations or confidence that I'll get one, at least on foot, so I really don't even care. Hit it today at the end of the outgoing in super skinny water, thinking they must hide somewhere waiting for the tide. 

     So in between putting my fly in the trees or weeds I was surprised when I felt a tug, a decent tug, and set the hook like it I was on the show Survivor and hadn't eaten in a week. Sorry, little guy. He swam off strong. But for that split second I thought I would be ending August, and the summer, with my first snakehead. 

     With the water in the river down to a mere trickle on the low tide I have been scouting and getting familair with the river structure, a lot. The other day I parked and walked and looked and took pictures of the rocks. I was interested to see what the below truck was doing far from the 

construction zone near Cooper's. Well, driving down past Trenton today I see why. I guess this project is going from Cooper's, well Riverfront Park, all the way up to the Calhoun Street Bridge. That area, used to be called Mahlon Stacy Park, named after the founding father of Trenton. Below 

is a postcard from 1939 showing the park. I'm going to continue my research on the Trenton waterfront and the history of striped bass fishing there, so more on that and the park. But, what I can tell you, the park was destroyed in 1951 when they put Route 29 through the middle of it, essentially severing it off from downtown Trenton and the neighborhoods around it. Well, as we can see, and have heard, they want to (re) move Route 29, and recreate a larger and more inclusive riverfront park. Good for the State, the city, but bad for anglers, and maybe bad for the striped bass. 

    As I drove south on Route 29 the Jersey barriers were in place. What I think we might see is a promenade constructed from Cooper's to the Morrisville, Trenton Makes Bridge, coming south on Route 29. That is the biggest hurdle preventing walkers walking from Lamberton Street at Marine Terminal Park all the way north to Glen Afton Park in The Island neighborhood. That has to be 5 miles. Of course you would have to up and over it, or go under, the Calhoun Street Bridge and behind the Trenton Water Works facility. Either way, it will be safe, more assesable, less gritty, less river access, more places for people to fish, and more fish hoisted, or attempted to be hoisted up walls that line the river. Not good, in fact it sucks, from a fishing perspective. It's kinda like beach replenishment, but different. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

08.30.22 You never know what's lurking underneath....

       Saw this on Facebook and I thought I'd share. This image was posted by Intent Tackle by an angler fishing the back bay waters between Stone Harbor and North Wildwood. The bass was six inches from the boat when a bull shark came up and finished it off. Super skinny water and nothing showing. 

      As we all know there has been an increase in shark activity up and down the East Coast the last few years. Not just "Jaws" type sharks, but sharks of all types and varieties. They are here because the bait is here. And their bait isn't just white bait and peanuts, but also striped bass and bluefish. Just look at the reports of spinner sharks being caught in the Raritan amongst the blitzes on bait that has been going on. 

     While I haven't fished down in the area where this homicide occurred Theresa and I have enjoyed drinks and food at The Lazy Bass which is in North Wildwood right on the Grassy Sound. So if you go and after you get bit off it's a great place for a beer and a bite. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

08.26.22 Glad I got that out of my system...

     That's the ting about fishing that is part of what keeps us coming back. What am I going to miss if I don't go? And that usually occurs after you have a banner night or even a dead night. Last night good example. Had to go, probably could have passed, but I went back to O.C. anyway. Same tide. Different wind. Same spots. Saw less bait and less fish on the chase or blowing up in the distance. 

     Since any of the tying I've done this past winter was for the Delaware I had to dig through some stuff to find my assortment of smaller flies. Some are the rejects, some have yellowed or started to rust, others are just wrong. It'd didn't matter becasue the 9pm -1230am shift that I fished left me fishless. 

     But it wasn't all a waste. On the bigger water I waded to places I hadn't that early in the tide. I now know "I can get there" without being in danger, as long as I have the tide correct. The other thing I was able to read was how the bait holes up in different spots even towards the end of the outgoing, it's like they are holding on for dear life trying to stay off the drop and deeper water where they know predator fish are just waiting for one wrong move. 

     So I didn't feel I was taking the drive-of-shame home last night as it was all a good learning experince and these fish are tough to catch when there is that much white bait around and they are moving looking for the schools to blow up on. But after passing the Statehouse and looking over to the river and seeing the height of the water I circled around to take a look. Zero wind, tide just starting to move right to left, and the only sign of life was herring and or shad fry that is making it's way to the ocean. 

     Interestingly yesterday during the day I spotted the above keeper plus sized bass swimming lazily on the incoming tide. I watched him or her from about 30 feet below me to about 30 feet above me and just swim in a straight line like it was going somewhere with a purpose. I wasn't fishing, but I stop at that river every chance I can because there is always something to see or learn. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

08.25.22 Nice to squeak an August bass in...

     After two days back to work and welcoming the Essex County College nursing class of 2024 it was time to do some fishing. Traveled down the Parkway to Leif's housing for a bite before hitting Ocean County for the outgoing tide. We got there a tad bit early but waited as the tide ebbed to work different areas. Had bait and bass from start to finish. Now what I mean is, we saw bait and bass from start to finish. There was a ton, I mean of ton, of bait in the water and it was difficult to get 

the fish fooled enough to take the imitation. They wanted the smaller baits in bulk, not singles. We tried different colors, different profiles, different depths, and manged to land three schoolies between us. As Leif put it, "It's a fish every 1,000 casts". 

     Back home I saw on my way to Newark yesterday the surveyors were outing marking up the land adjacent to the river in Trenton. Not sure why and how far north this construction is heading but it isn't good, at least not for the fisherman. Well, wade fisherman. Anglers are going to get jammed up, hurt or die trying to access the river next year. Hopefully I am wrong about that. 

     The other day when I was at lunch with Delware Joe I asked him if he had any pictures from good fishing days past. He sent me a few and what he also sent was a pic of the now defunct Nor-East Striper Club patch. What is cool is that is says Trenton, NJ on it where it was based out of. Hoping to get a few re-made if possible. 

     It was also cool to see he log books from August 1991. Looks like Monday August 12th was a good day, 55 bass between him and his buddy Vince. 55 bass? In August? From his notes it looked like bucktails were the ticket as I assume the fish were low due to summer time water temps? But then the next night the fish were taken mostly on plugs. Below is a pic of Joe, a tad younger, holding a nice schoolie above the Trenton Makes Bridge. Good stuff. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

08.22.22 Nice lunch with an old salt....

      So what do you talk about when you're with a guy who's been fishing for striped bass for say sixty years? Well, fishing for striped bass for sixty years. Joe grew up in Trenton and fishing the Delaware River. He remembers the lean years, remembers the herring..."Oh the herring", and remembers the good fish stories and the guys he's met along the way. 

     Joe has a tremendous amount of fishing knowledge. He has done it all, fly, spin, conventional. I asked him if he had to choose a go to he said it would be the bucktail. He spoke about bucktailing the Delaware and how effective it can be when the water is up and the fish are down. That intel doesn't help the fly rooder much, but actually it does. What it tells you is is how you have to get down, way down in the moving water. 

      It was fun to hear his stories about "Jetty Country", and mixing it up with the Asbury Park Club guys when thye were very territorial and didn't welcome outsiders on their home country, well at least not at first. 

     I have been fortunate to have met veterans of the game and enjoy learning the history of striped bass fishing in both the salt and fresh waters. One interesting thing Joe did say when I asked about the health of the Delaware, "It's in the best shape that I can remember", adding, "And there's alot of fish". 

08.22.22 Creepin' when I should have been sleeepin'...

     You know it's one of those things. Either you wait to hear reports or you go and make them. The only way to really know and catch a bite is by putting time in and hoping it pays off, or by getting a call when the blitz is on, but I prefer sceanrio number one. 

     I learned two huge things last night. Not new things, but re-learned things I already knew, or should have known. Let's see if you can figure them out. So number one. I haven't been down in the salt for awhile so with Theresa at the REO Speedwagon/Styxx/Loverboy concert with her friends in Jones Beach I figured this was my night to go. 

     So I checked the tide chart and with the 1049 PM high tide I'd catch and fish the entire outgoing. So I left Trenton at 10 pm and.....splash, boom, bang. When I got there the water looked like someone had pulled the drain plug, a long time ago. A quick check.....low tide was at 1049....idiot!

     I did a lot of walking, and then some driving, and had the start of the incoming. Tons of bait, which is no surprise as all the waters I have scouted on from Monmouth to Cape May Counties are loaded with bait. Tides are one of the most importsant factors when fishing, and that's tidal in the fresh or salt waters. Especially if there's no water around your ankles when you're looking to fish. 

     But on the flood tide it was game on, for fishing, and not catching. Oh the bass were there, crashing tiny bait and chasing it up into the skinny water, sometimes down near my feet. What you would see is the v-wake, then the sound of rain falling, then the swirl and the blow-up on the bait. There were some blues in there, but what I mostly saw, and heard were bass. I was using a black Gurgler and small black baitfish hung off the back, and didn't get a hit. Soo much bait, so little time, as once they came up and in and were active it was game over before I could drop a fly in the area. 

     And for lesson number two. You know when you're so excited to start fishing and you drop your shoes next to your truck and tell yourself, "I'll get it later". Well, don't do that. Bend over and get the shoes(s) right then and there. Otherwise you might get to spot number two and when you're done for the night, your shoe is at spot number one. There goes my favorite Crocs, the fancy ones, the one with the leather tops. Maybe it was time for them to go, they were green from mowing the lawn and the bottoms worn out. Every stone I hit felt like I was stepping on a Lego. 

     I was back east and in near or in the water from 11pm to 230am. Just as I was heading west the heavens opened up with some very much needed rain. It was a good trip, I just wish I could read the tide charts correctly. Start thinking about the fall, and the moons coming up, and the TIDES!

     I spent Sunday morning driving from my house up to Lake Ariel, PA. Why? Why drive 118 miles each way and sepnd four + hours in a truck without A/C? Because Facebook Marketplace made me do it. So I bought, well traded, for my curent truck a few months back. 2002, 230,000 miles, who knows how long it will last. I'm not going to throw a ton of money into so when it came to search for new tires, well the Marketplace was my first and only stop. A quick check of the internet shows why 

FBM is my go-to stop. So these tires new go for about $1,000 for new ones. That's for the tires, then you have to mount and balance and the enviromental fees, probably talking $1,200. The ones I bought were $500 and came with aluminum alloy rims and the center caps in great condition. The caps go for $20-30 a peice for themselves. Remember I would need 20 year old center caps. So when I 

got home it was a quick ride to Auto Zone for some aircraft remover, great for the psoriasis on my hands!, some various grits of sandpaper, and some clear coat. Now, I could just bring them to a place that does these rims over, $60 for the outside, $60 for the inside, which comes to $120 + a tire, times four, equals $ thanks. I'd rather inhale the toxic fumes, burn my skin off, spend 40 hours, and have it look, well kinda like shit. That is the tortured life I live, by my choice, and my bank account. 

     The above picture is before I touched the rim. What I can tell you early on, it is not an easy task. My first go with a drill with a wire brush attachment was too aggressive, and getting any remaining clear coat off is a bitch, and forget about the inside...well see. The reason why getting tires is so important. Work? No. Personal safety? No. It's for me and Leif's trips to Island Beach State Park this 

up coming fall. I know that's a few months away, but that's about how long I think this will take, if I even have any fingers left to tie on a fly. Maybe I'll drop one off at his house for a little help. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

08.20.22 Better day yesterday...

     Better day yesterday. Thanks for all the thoughts and kind words. Theresa and I decided to do something different while down at our place in Cape May. We jumped on the Lewes-Cape May Ferry and hit Delaware. It felt like we were heading over to Martha's Vineyard from Falmouth. I didn't go this year, and I felt it missing from my spirit, next year I'm going back, even if it's for a day or two. I can't tell you how much I miss fishng around Menemsha. 

     We caught the 12 noon ferry and after the hour and twenty minute ride from Cape May we arrived in Lewes, Delaware. $18 a person round trip, $80 for a car which we didn't take, and after a walk and a bite to eat and some shopping we hit the 615 back over to Cape May. If you haven't done this put it on your list, Smooth ride, great weather, great views, good times. A nice day trip. 

     Recently I have been facinated with most things Delaware River. I've been doing a lot of reading and research and, early on, have deducted that during these current times the Delaware River is the healthiest it has been in hundreds of years. And, while not back to historic numbers, like in the early 1800's, in terms of migratory anadromous fisheries, the numbers of shad, herring and striped bass have rebounded and are increasing each year. Well maybe the river herring have some catching up to do. But I'll have more on that at a later date after some interviews I plan on doing with fisherman that have fished my newer home waters for years. 

     But back to the Delaware Bay. This spring I fished the Cape May area of the bay wihout success. I spoke with anglers who were doing well, before and after I was there, on large striped bass that were returning to the salt after making the 100 +/- journey upriver for the spawn. What I couldn't wrap my head around was the appearance of poor water quality in the bay. The water was stained, a little less than Yoo-Hoo, but not very visually appetizing to fly fish in. But there was bait, and the dolphins were on them just outide of the jetties that lead to the Cape May Canal. 

     Yesterday I looked over the rail of the ferry "Delaware" and saw a stark difference in the water quality and appearence, especially after crossing over the shipping channel. The Jersey side was cloudy and brown, while the Delaware side was clean and green. I don't know why that is. I know there is a large flat along the Jersey Bay side that extends way out from the beach that can seen and walked, except its thick grey to black mud, for some distance out until it drops off. I wonder if the bass enter the river or return more in the middle or on the Delaware side. Just something that struck me as interesting. 

     The ride home was pretty and as we neared port you could see the throngs of people lined up along Sunset Beach and the Town Bank beaches waiting for the sun to set. The beginning of fall has arrived. It's still 80 degrees during the day but the night temps are down in the 60's. The back bays and rivers are choked with young of the year baits, mullet, peanut bunker and white bait and soon the fall migration will begin. We are less than 30 days from the "mullet run", whatever that means as it changes from year to year. While September used to be the start of better fishing, it seems that there's a flurry in September, then a long pause through October before November really kicks things off. In the next few weeks school will be back in swing and there is a noticeable difference in the amount of people down in Cape May. Since last weekend the numbers have dropped considerably. 

     While searching online for the shipping channel map in the Delware Bay I found something online that will add to a internet fishermans dream. It's a website called Marine Vesel Traffic. It is a radar of all AIS equipped vessels that are in port, in the bays and rivers, and in the ocean. It is updated every 2-3 minutes. So if you ever wanted to creep on your favorite head or charter boat, or see if your spouse is really out fshing and not with thier side hustle, then this is a place to play around. What any easy way for the Coast Guard to catch violators fishing the EEZ, which is outside the three mile line. 

     Before I hit the rack last night I took a few pics of our "shore house". What's funny but thats's what I call it. Others say campground or trailer park but for us its a slice of heaven and the only way we could ever have a place near Cape May. For us its perfect and we are actually "waterfront" as just past the patio you can walk to, and kayak, from Bennet Creek out to Jarvis Sound or Cape May Harbor. Haven't explored that yet but one day I will.