Sunday, October 30, 2022

10.31.22 Happy Halloween....


10.30.22 Sandy, ten years later....

     Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the day after Hurricane Sandy. It wreaked havoc and devastaion along the Eastern United States and not only detroyed property but took many lives as well. People are still trying to rebuild and in some locations the landscape will never be the same. 

    I was living in Ocean Township at the time and remember venturing out early the day after. I worked my way from Raritan Bay down to Seaside Heights. During the week following I was on assignment for the New York Times covering the post-storm clean-up. A few days after the storm we had a thick blanket of snow then followed by nice weather. 

    Eventually we returned to fishing, and surprisingly ctahcing, and I had the boat out within two weeks of the storm. Below I returned (boy I was bigger) the Asbury Park Fishing Club sign to the parking lot at 8th Avenue. I miss that spot, I miss that lot, and miss what the Jersey Shore used to look and fish like before the storm and the years of "replenishment" that followed and continue to affect the current surf fishing, especially for the fly rodders out there.  


Saturday, October 29, 2022

10.29.22 Late shift...

     At 9 pm I was going. By 11pm I wasn't. Hit the rack figuring going would be a waste of time. Then, at 0113 am Theresa woke me up and asked if was okay. I was shaking and whimpering in my sleep. I knew why. I was trapped in a basement full of water and sharks were closing in to eat me. WTF? was the meaning about that? So I sat there glad to be alive and contemplated if that was a sign from the fish God's to go....and so I went. 

     In the water by 0230 and fished three spots until 0530 when there wasn't any water in the inlet or on the beaches. It was dead low around 0430 am and I couldn't find any holding water, even with a NE wind. Threw big and small black flies without a touch. Didn't see any bait in the lit up spots and it felt fishy with a 40 degree fall night. 

Glad I went, but I wish I didn't. 


Friday, October 28, 2022

10.28.22 We'll see....

     It was finally time. You can only wash her so many times and try and self diagnos boat problems but eventually you just have to have someone who knows what their doing take a look. I spent the morning rewiring the trailer lights and surprisingly they work. I tried for an hour trying to snake the wires through the trailer but had to settle for zip ties along the rails. I made the call to Mercer Marine

and after checking with Bob there they said bring it on in. I was a nervous wreck. I don't know why, well I do, because I was always nervous bringing it to Gateway Marine when I needed something done on my old boat. I showed him the below video when the boat went into limp mode last 

November 24th when I was out on a solo trip. I also went through any paperwork that Laura had on work Jim had done to her before he passed away. Chip there was great. He gets it. He knows I

want to get into some action before the season is up. Him and Bob explained it's most likely something with the oil or something causing to overheat, if that's what it is. I'm not sure of the turnaround time but I'm willing to wait to make sure it's done right and I can have confidence when I get her out. 


Thursday, October 27, 2022

10.27.22 Just not fun...

     Yes, it's called fishing and not catching. But there's nothing that I hate more than those falls where the striped bass seem to run along the beach and not down the beach. I know it's early, I think, becasue this year has been a little bit of an anomaly. Started two weeks ago with a push of big fish that has waxed and waned through some weather, wind changes, moons and tides. There's fish around, boats finding them from Raritan Bay to New York Bay to the Bight and out front. Slow, and not steady pic, of big fish if you get lucky or just camp out and put your time in. The Hook seems to have been producing most consistently for those who have the time and legs. 

     I got out of work about 330 yesterday and decided to make a left onto the Parkway instaead of continuing south on the Turnpike. I took Exit 117 and headed to the....well I couldn't decide to do the Raritan Bay stops so I headed to the ocean. Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach. Long Branch. Pea soup fog, incoming tide, no birds, no boats, no sign of bait or fish. So I settled in Deal and healthheartedly fished for nearly 1-1/2 before hitting out back. I felt like Two-Rod Mike becasue I came ready for whatever bait might pop up, but it was 1,000 casts without a tap. Had two guys near me and they were fishing without any to show. 

     At stop two I rolled in and saw a familiar sight, someone hurridly left their shoes next to their car most likely after slipping into their waders. Been there done that. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

10.24.22 Poor survey numbers yet again...

      For yet another year the annual stripoed bass young of the year (yoy) survey was below the target threshold. This year the index came in at 3.6, far below the target 11.3. The 2021 index came in at 3.2. The survey is done three times each summer in four spawning waters, the Choptank, Nanticoke, and the Potomac Rivers as well as the upper Chesapeake Bay. I think we may be seeing the pendulum swing to the Hudson River as becoming a more prominent spawning strain of striped bass. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

10.21.22 Tons of bunker and tons of boats...

     It's that time of year where the required gear is a fly rod, a stripping basket, binoculars, and a set of wheels. Started in the dark and soon the boats were coming out od Shark River. They stopped out front of the groin I was on but the beach was dead. Made the move north and found the longest pod of bunker I think I have ever seen. It stretched from the Hook down to Long Branch. When I got 

to my spot there was one guy on the beach and the boats were south. That didn't last long as they worked north and sat just over the bar on the bunker. Before they came it was a stripoed bass blitz like I haven't seen in a while. Running through the bait, tail slaps, and cartwheels but they were too far out and never pushed the bait in. Heard that earlier and north they came in and several large bass were caught. I saw one boat fish and Two-Rod Mike catch a 27 inch fish where I satrted. 

     Leif and his bud Adam came up and did the waiting game with me. You could smell the bunker from where we were and soon the boats split up and moved on, most likley into the bay, where they would have plenty of company. I heard there was a good bite in the bay even with the traffic. 

     Below was the scene outside of Shark River Inlet in a pic I grabbed off of Stripers Online. I'm not sure if they were on fish or just hanging on the bunker pods. Just a usual fall fishing day from the beach. Lots of driving, lots of watching and waiting, and no fish. 


Thursday, October 20, 2022

10.17.22 Almost five years to the day...

     Funny how history can repeat it self. So it's October 20th and striped bass anglers now are trying to figure out how the rest of the season is going to be. We had out first big push of big fish about two weeks ago ago and the boat guys are still finding them and luckily without the mobs of traffic, at least during the week. 

     Two days ago Joe landed a nice big bass on the beach being at the right place at the right time, I was scrolling through the computer and those daily Facebook Memories popped up. It was the above picture from October 20, 2017. I was fishing with Leif on a slow day and out of nowhere the above fish took a Joe Pheiffer pastel colored Hollow Fleye, pretty close to what he used the other day. 

     I'm not sure where we are compared to last year when the season really started around Thanksgiving and continued into early January. Out here on the Delare River it's cold, and it feels like early winter will be here before you know it. Oil prices are starting out this season at $5.70- 6.45 a gallon depending how much cash you have on you and how much you put in your tank. In 2021 it was $3.51 and on October 20, 2020 it was $2.29. Ouch, "Grab a sweatshirt and shut up".

     So, again we try and wait and see what this fall will bring. It looks like a hard recession is coming and the heating season will no doubt put a hurting on peoples pockets. That may limit the boat traffic a touch along with an early cold winter? Has the bait moved out? Will all that bunker we had last winter stay in the bay? Will the bass stay? When will "normal" sized striped bass arrive on the beaches? Is there any bait, besides a pod ot two of peanuts, to hold them tight as they move south? We'll see.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

10.19.22 Nice surpise for Joe on the beach.....

     I was standing behind my nursing students yesterday watching them perform patient care when my phone signaled an incoming message. I glanced down to see the above photo attached to the text. It was a picture of Joe holding a nice 40" bass he had caught ealrier in the morning wheile throwing flies in the zone where bass were chasing some peanut bunker on the beach. 

     Sometimes, well especially in the fall, you just have to be in the right place at the right time to have the chance to catch a nice fish like that on the fly. It sounded like Joe had some company with him and several fish that sized and bigger were caught and released. 


Saturday, October 15, 2022

10.15.22 Why we have regs....

      Regulations, no matter what we think of them, are put inot place to protect striped bass. The snag and drop along with the 28-38" one fish rules have been changed to reduce mortality and protect the larger breeding females. It seems that anglers have forgot that when the first big push of big fish happened along the Jersey Shore starting last week. 

     The above post was put up on Betty and Nicks Facebook page. Sad, but true. We need to do better. Below is a great example of how to use live bunker for bait when fishing the pods from a boat. Not sure how successful that would be standing up on the beach when the fish are 100+ feet out. Imagine how fly rodders feel. Just becasue they are there doesn't mean you have to catch them.

Friday, October 14, 2022

10.14.22 The show is back in town....

      The International Fly Tying Symposium is coming back to Somerset, Newe Jersey next fall. I have to say I like this show. It worked well for me last year picking up tyng materials that you can look through and touch. It's a Saturday and Sunday show. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

10.13.22 Covered lot of ground....

     With a day oof from school and a need to drive to Monmouth Medcial I thought it would be a good day to check things out on the beach. The forcast was calling for terrible weather with thunderstorms and a hard S wind. Once there things weren't all that bad. SE wind to maybe 18-20 with an incoming tide. There was a line of bunker a few hundred feet off the groins but nothing on them. Fished both sides of the rocks for about 45 minutes without a tug. There should have been somebody home. 

     Made some stops along the bay which was flat and quiet on the southern shores. Birds here nd there and no real signs of bait and nothing splashing or in pursuit. I kept making my way west and made the jump to the north side. There I found some better life with birds searching and 

ocassionally stopping for a bite to eat. It was drive, stop, look and fish or not. While at one spot I watched a guy in the channel hook up and land a nice bass that didn't get returned to the water. There were about four boats out there and it looked like continous drifts in the channel on the outgoing

tides were productive. The bait was there but I think the fish were low. Didn't see any blow ups or anything on them. I was hoping when the freighter came through it would push the bunker to my side but that didn't happen. I gave it a go for about an hour and I was just thinking maybe a stray 

or two would come out of the channel sniffing for something else to eat. All in all not a bad day, usual fall blitz fishing routine. Lots of miles on the truck, eyes in the binoculars, and fishing while wathing boat guys hook up. 


Monday, October 10, 2022

10.10.22 Having a blast following this....

     It's been non-stop posts and memes talking about the current first push of big bass along the Jersey Shore. Truth is, we spend months, usually in the winter, coming up with solutions to reduce striped bass mortality and in working with the ASFMC prodding them to do the right thing by instituting regulations to protect the striped bass. One of the things that was put into the regs was the

elimination of snag and drop fishing. Basically taking a 8/0 or 10/0 treble weighted treble hook and throwing it out into a bunker pod and retrieving it quickley to snag a bunker. In the past it was legal to let the treble and bunker swim or sink, looking injured, which would be easy pickens for big bass. Now, with the new regs, it must be snagged, retrieved in quickly, and rehooked on a circle hook. Or, if you are just using bunker parts, or live lining, it must be on a circle hook.

     But then the big girls showed up. Like they haven't done in several years. And guys quickly forget. They fish their plugs and things but when that doesn't work they go back to old reliable. 

     These fish seemed to have bypassed the "normal" migration pattern, and thankfully so. They didn't let the Montauk and Captree fleet hammer down on them. They snuck up on us following the NE blow of last week. Hopefully they will move out and on. Congrats to the anglers who did it legally, and I hope at least one fly rodder got a good one. If they did it was most likley from a boat. 

     In the meantime as I wait for a normal fall run to start I'll enjoy things like below, which pokes fun at a serious situation. Remeber, there's always some truth in comedy. In the botom picture 

Mary Duncan of Shore Shot Images caught this bluefin blowing up on bunker right out side Manasquan Inlet. You'll need more than a fly rod or a treble hook to land that beast.