Monday, December 4, 2023

12.04.23 Frankie and the ACOE are back at it...

Big Monmouth during the last go around

     Last week Frank Pallone and the his cronies announced that the next round of beach "nourishment" will commence this week. There's a couple of things going on. First, there's dredging happening in both the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. Now that may be needed as the channels have been shoaling up which can be a problem and dangerous for watercraft on lower tides. There's nothing like running aground in places where you think there should be water and there's not. The Navesink is getting work from the Route 23 bridge in Red Bank to the Shrewsbury River. In the Shrewsbury the work will go from the Rumson-Sea Bright bridge, where a new bridge is being constructed, to Branchport Avenue.

     The other part of this project, and the one I object to, is the dumping and pumping of sand in front of the Monmouth Beach Bath and Tennis Club. So basically it sounds like from Big to Little Monmouth. 

     That should keep the people in the above condos happy when it comes to next summer, if the sand sticks, which it never does. Unless you make some structural changes under the sand its just futile and a continuous money wasting effort to keep tax payers and voters happy, all the while destroying fish and marine life habitat. Frank claims to be "for the fishermen", well he's not. Dredging a channel may make sense, and make for better fishing, but that's not the motivation. 

     The second phase of the beach destruction will occur from Cedar Avenue, which is the light were you would turn to go from Ocean Avenue to Monmouth University, south to Pullman Avenue. That means it's all in front Lake Takanasssee and Plaza Court. In front of Lake Tak improvements were made to improve passage for the herring a few years after Sandy. They did the same at 8th Avenue in Asbury Park, but then pumped the beaches, which pretty much killed any flow of water and bait in and out of the outflow there. If you've ever fished that then you know how good that spot could be. 

     While anglers have enjoyed some good fishing from Pullman Avenue in Elberon to Whitehall Avenue in Deal as of late, it is basically just a highway that bait and bass jump on and catch a ride on. Yes, there is "that point", and a little structure, but that great stretch that used to hold groins and bowls that would trap bait, blues and bass, are all gone. 

     Sunday's shitty weather really cramped the weekend anglers plans, although I hear fish were caught here and there, and we'll see what Monday and the week going forward brings. There was a NE/E with a swell and a bunch of rain which may make it unfishable especially for a fly rodder. It may take a day or two or some goods tides to clean it up and then we'll see what's around as far as bait and bass are concerned. I see that there have been some bigger bluefish in the mixes both from the boats and beaches. Will the various sized bunker still be around? Will we switch over to a sand eel bite? You don't know until you go. I think I have a few more go's before I announce Quit #3. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

12.02.23 I thought this was cool...

       During a few of my successful outings this fall I found pay dirt on the beaches of Avon-By-The-Sea. It's a place I have done well at over he last 15 years or so. I would say every couple of years I hit it right, and usually it has been at night. So this fall, during my exhaustive and at times fruitless searches for bass, I just happened to have run into some really good bites. I was there the other day and thought it was going to go good but it fizzled out in front of me. 

     That brings to me the above postcard. It's what it looked say 75 years ago? Not that much of a difference of what it looks like today. You see, there is no date on the postcard and even on the back the sender didn't date it. It was sent from the Avon Post Office to the U.S. Naval Supply Depot in Bayonne. I guess a sailor was off or on his leave or vacation where he described 

Avon as "This is quite a fishing place..". I checked a similar blank postcard and it didn't have any date on it either. What I did find out is that postcard people use the postal rate as an identifier as to the age of the postcard. So the cancelled stamp on the back cost 2 cents at the time. Looking at the below chart we see 2 cent stamps were around before and right after WWI, went down during the Depression, and then hit 2 cents again leading up to the 1950's. Couple that with this being a linen postcard, which were introduced around 1930-1945 when a Chicago printer started printing on lightly embossed paper with a higher rag content, which made them look like linen rather than paper. This new printing also allowed for more and brighter colors to be used in the coloring of the images. (Info credit HERE

     What intrigued me the most about this postcard, and many, many, like thousands of ones I have seen from around New Jersey at that time, say the 1930- 40's, was that most were credited to "Agreen". 

     The quad of pics below taken in and round Ocean Grove were all credited to whoever "Agreen" is, or most likely was. His/her images appear on linen postcards taken from all around New Jersey. Most of 

them appear on postcards printed by the Star Stationery Company of Newark N.J. I spent a lot of time searching online looking for photographer "Agreen" even thinking his name could be "A. Green", thinking they didn't want all of that of the front of a postcard, but at least they gave him/her some credit. I looked really deep just to find the story of the guy, or maybe the lady, who traveled around just taking pictures of crowd scenes and buildings at well known locations. Postcards were not only used as a way of communication back in the day, but are a snapshot of history and historic places. And most often, these places were captured in their heyday. Just look at the below postcard taken of Asbury Park. The Berkeley still stands, the Monterey Hotel was torn down on November 17, 1963, a day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. That hotel was 6 stories high and had 350 guest rooms. In the 1940's the US Navy used the hotel to house sailors and then as a training school. It re-opened for a short period of time before closing in 1960, three years later it was a dirt lot. And, "Agreen" took that photo as well. 

     So that brings me to the below postcard. I made it with an image I took during a great days fishing on November 17, 2023. That may be 80 years later than the "Agreen" photo and postcard that sits on the top and bottom of this post. While mine is cool, there's just something about the original that's just better. I wish I had seen his picture before I went out that day as I would have tried to get the angler closer, but that's okay. While the images are different, the scene is the same,  and I am sure there are similar emotions consistent between the two, especially if the bass, or maybe the blues back in the day, had the bait pushed in with no where to run. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

12.01.23 On the board for December...

     Well that's in the books. Today at work I had to proctor an exam for the students and I brought a little reading material along with me to pass the time. While I was sitting there I was thinking of what my outings might look like going into December. Then I checked the local tide chart and looked at my watch. I got through a lot of the book and one day I have to tie up some flies going step by step as Bob outlines. That book is a great tool, tools help things get done, and usually easier. 

     I have to say I really enjoying teaching this group of future Registered Nurses. They have come together as a class and although nursing school ain't easy they are grinding thorough and getting it done. Today's lesson was how to provide post-mortem care. That means how to care for a body after life has left it and prepare it for the families viewing, the morgue, and the medical examiner. One thing for sure is while seeing them practice is great, guiding students through the real deal for the first time is something to see. 

     So after work was done I would have the outgoing tide, somewhat, and I would fish my 30-cast spot for a bit before heading home. The air temps were just below 50 and there was a steady misting rain. I haven't caught a fish here during my last outings but today found a really pretty river fish that took a small white Hollow Fleye. 

     River fish are so pretty. The darks are dark. The contrast is pleasing to the eye. And river fish fight nice like a river fish should. It's in stark contrast to the fish I caught last week that was pale and didn't 

have any contrast at all. No matter what I did when I developed the above image I couldn't get it to look any better. I'm not sure if it's the cold water or the habitat that they live in that causes them to color differently. But one thing I can say is the same fish in the river is far prettier than then same fish in the ocean. 

     While driving south I decided to hit yet another river spot. Could it be a quick pick of a fish in each river? Well not today. Two rivers, one fish. While I am kinda happy with the varied fishing spots that I have there are 1,000 more. Each day guys go down to their "30- cast spot", to see if anyone is home. I'll have to spend some time this winter scouting out new spots, and those are usually in the most populated and industrialized areas of New Jersey. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

11.30.23 "Yeah, I threw your F'in fish back".....

     So today was the first time I almost came to blows with a guy on the beach. No doubt a local Prozac Pro-Staffer and poacher, who keeps illegal fish and sells them. It was a scene. I had a vision in my 

nearly disassociated brain of crushing his skull with my heavy DSLR camera. I kept thinking of the scene in the movie Braveheart where William Wallace crushes the soldiers skull with a block of wood attached to a handle. More on that later. 

     So this may a bit long but for me it's worth telling the story if it were to be my last outing of the year. Yeah, I know about the whole Quit thing. But I was off today and it has been good up and down the Jersey Shore so why not. I heard yesterday was lights out and stupid fishing just about everywhere, if you were at the right place at the right time. Now I run pretty much solo with hardly any phone numbers in my Contacts so I'd have to find my own fish if I wanted to catch. There's no spot burning here this time of year so I'll tell my story. 

     I didn't want to see any trucks on the beach. Didn't want to witness muggings or any bad behavior. That's funny, and more on that later. So I started before 8 o'clock in Bayhead. I didn't think Monmouth 

County would be good and I didn't want to do the Route 37 Seaside thing so this was a good starting point. I got dressed and made my way over the dune and was happy to see the birds up and at um. There weren't many guys out so I walked and walked but stopped short of going all the way to the inlet, where a bunch of the birds were working near the beach. Hey, it's been that good, why chase birds? 

     I fished for about an hour and saw one fish caught on my way out. It really never materialized while I was there, it may have went off at some point, but not for me. It's funny when you talk to guys who tell you "Bay Head went off this morning", but wait, I was there? So you never know what happened an hour before you get there or an hour after. 

     I wasn't going deep south and I knew the next town south wouldn't have trucks on the beach so why not hit Mantoloking. I was lucky to find a parking spot and I saw a guy who I met one of the last times I was on IBSP. "Bro are you just getting here?", is not a line you want to hear. Yes, it went off, from 6-8, tons of bait, big and small, and tons of bass, big and small as well. 

      When I walked down I could see what could be described as a crime scene. Bait all over the beach where the tide line ran up the scarp. Little bunker, mid sized bunker, and huge bunker as well. 

      There were birds off aways kind of to my north and I wasn't chasing nor getting all up in a crowd so I stayed put. Guys made there way into the fray and I'm not sure if fish came in under the birds. 

     I picked my spot and blind casted, something I hate to do when I'm into a birds, bait, and bass mode. Not just blitzes, but signs of life in front of me. I always know there are stragglers but I just can't. Me and another older guy spend some time talking about yesterday on this beach. "I stopped counting at 25". "You would have done great". "I'm still tired". Game, set, match. While he made some last casts the 

birds started up with purpose and I questioned wanting to leave. But I wasn't going to sit and wait for a spinner fall hatch that may or may not come. As I walked out I found one of the 9-percenters rolling 

around in the wash. I'm starting to believe that as recreational anglers we do kill 9% of the fish that we catch and release. These days I'm seeing more bass bones rather than the eyeless carcasses of >31" fish.

     I wasn't going south, although I thought about hitting Brad's house in Normandy for a peak, but that would have sucked me in. I didn't want to go home from Seaside so I thought why not check north of the Manasquan Inlet. I hit Sea Girt, then looked as I drove through Spring Lake, and into Belmar. Belmar was the scene of a hot bite last night and at one popular avenue about 20 guys were standing near a groin that had some birds out front along with a  boat or two. 2 guys fishing, 18 watching. Later. 

     So I hit Bradley Beach. It was getting close to dead low, about two hours left on the ebb. It was me and an older guy in his Rockport's just waiting for something to start up. "You should have been here yesterday afternoon". "I lost count". Okay...... But then the birds who were sitting on the water took 

flight and there were bass underneath them. Holy Jesus, this is going to happen and I found my own fish. I made my way out onto the second story high groin and waited with great anticipation. It 

was a high perch but still plenty of access to get down and release the fish that I was going to catch. It was a little sketchy on that last far and high rock especially when that wind kicked in out of the SW. 

It wouldn't be a problem to fish from there, just don't fall. That would be ugly and a scene. I had left the other guy on the beach as his footwear wasn't made for the rocks or the water. As the birds got closer I was psyched, and just like that it died, but not before my new friend got one a bottle plug. He had  

casted out to nearly the distance I was fom the beach. It was just that quick. And it was over. Soon the birds returned hovering farther off the beach. I wondered if that wind going SW pulled the bait and bass off and  it be just like a today, and not a yesterday. 

     It was about 3 o'clock and my long afternoon plan was to hit the Dixie Lee bakery in Keansburg. I would just drive and stop at some spots and get there before they closed. My first stop was Deal and I found a huddle of guys, and a lady, fishing in the remaining water around one of the outflow pipes. There were peanuts trapped by the tide and wind and there were small bass on them. I inched my way 

closer and made some casts before questioning the meaning of my life, "Do I need to sneak in there to catch some 24" bass?", really? So I moved on but not before breaking out the camera and snapping a 

few pics of the bait being harassed. I had the partial view more north of birds in the distance so I jumped on the groin to take a look. Well, I found the birds, and the guys who stayed put in Monmouth County today. Hours of good fishing as the bass were mauling peanut bunker, like real good. I wasn't 

going to walk up there into the fray and I didn't want to be a fringe fisherman hoping to get some table scraps. The fish have been eating for days and already had a big lunch so with that I took the walk back

to my truck Phillips Ave. I contemplated taking my stuff off for a comfortable ride north but I thought let me just check the next three towns before hitting Route 36. As I drove I called Leif who was stuck at work. I told him about my morning and he shared his son's outing this morning down in Seaside, a fish there and then nothing for the effort after a long walk from A 23 to the north jetty. 

     And here's where it gets good. So I was pulled over as I was talking I see a few birds over the wash. There's a few guys fishing off to my right but it's like a nothing, just some guys fishing. There were a lot of birds off a bit so I thought maybe something would happen. I told Leif I would fill him in as it was getting close to his quitting time at work. 

(Taken later than when it went down)

    I make my way to the north side of the large outflow pipe that splits the Long Branch beach. To my surprise I looked down and saw a large bass laying all breaded up in the sand. I was alone. I walked over and placed my rod down next to it to check it against the tape marker on my my rod, it was about 32-33" by my eye. I could see a guys head on the other side of the pipe and yelled, "Yo, is this your fish?". He answered, "No". This is not a case of someone trying to be a tree hugger, bass rescuer, or striped bass size police. It's a fish laying on the beach with no one around. So I reached down and picked it up and made my way into the lower water. Once I got the breading off it started to get its mojo back. I was happy to be saving this striped bass from the death by asphyxiation or getting his eyeballs eaten out by the birds. And I was happier when it "swam away strong". Job well done, or so I thought.

     Just then things started to go off. I stripped out some line and readied my cast. Then I heard, from a guy standing on top of the pipe, "Where's my fish?". "What the fuck, who touches another guys fish?". "What?". I yelled back. And then things went sideways. He comes down all fired up. "I waited all day for that fish". "Do you know how much you just cost me?". "Who touches another guys fish?" "You might as well go home". "You're not fishing here". I went on to tell him "Yeah, I released that fish". And for some reason I engaged him and explained it was an over-sized fish, no one was around, and I had asked the closest guy if it was his. So yes, "I threw your F'in fish back". And I walked away and down the 50 feet to where things were going good. At the styart of it all I was more interested in taking pictures than catching some fish. My only wish was that there was better lighting to capture it all.

     So after a bunch of pictures it was now time to get into them. There were some nice fish in there. But here comes my buddy, still fired up. He walked in the water in front of me and that continued all the way down to Pier Village, which is blocks away. My blood started to boil. I still had my camera in my hand and that's when my vision started to blur and the thought of swinging it to meet his skull ran through my mind. He was a mess. A saltwater starter kit for a rod and an assortment of Rattle Traps and Ava's was what he brought to this party. At one point he went away and when I made a cast here came the Rattle Trap right in front of me. "You might as well leave", he said. Do I call 9-11 or take that swing? I went on to make more pictures. I am disappointed in myself as a story teller that I didn't take a picture of him in front of me, like I needed it to complete this story. Maybe I thought the picture would be of him laying in the sand gasping for air. I could see other guys kinda following and keeping an eye out as this debacle continued. And with that he made a cast and hooked up. What he did was cast a mile and foul hook a bigger fish, which he eventually broke off and had to retreat back to his buds and his bag for another lure. It was all over. 

     The bass were in the wash as the tide flipped to the incoming. The bass were on fire and it was perfect fly rod fishing. While I may have missed some good fishing dealing with my chromosomed challenged friend, I took that time to keep my finger on the trigger and capture the moments.

     The sun was setting and the wind, which felt like it was coming more SSW, then SW, was kicking up a bit making casts a little difficult, but it was manageable, because they didn't have to be very long. I have to say, my blood was still boiling, but I felt better when a guy came over and said, "That guys an asshole. He keeps illegal; fish and sells them", adding, "I should have called on him before". 

     By then the birds had dissipated a bit and the beach was clear except for a few guys. But then as I made my way back to the pipe, and hoping for another encounter with my friend, I saw the birds going good on the south side of the pipe. 

     Even with the escaping light the water was clean so they had no problem seeing my fly. On one cast I was doubled up and during the two-fish fight the second one popped off. These fish, probably ranging from say 25" - 35" are jacked the F up. The water is cool, just above 50, they are on the feed, and they are full and feisty, even the smaller schoolies. As I unhooked my last fish there was a guy making his 

was north and I asked him to snap a quick pic. Just a beautiful and healthy and for me a perfect sized fly rod fish and the incoming waves made the fight just a little for fun. I left them eating and I'm sure the 

bite continued into the dark. Outside of a near homicide I had a great day. Putting in the time, finding, or just running into, my own fish, and bringing a bunch to hand made for a great day off from work. IF, this were to be my last day of 2023 I would be good with that.