Sunday, April 30, 2023
Saturday, April 29, 2023
a bucktail without a tap. You know when you take a kid fishing and you're just waiting for that fish to hit, any fish, "Just please God just one". I thought of that with each crank of his Shakespeare reel as his offerings covered the water in front of, alongside, across, and under every rock and seam he could cast to. I was really pulling for him and thought he deserved at least a blow-up for standing in a pile of garbage trying to catch one more striped bass. The day lasted four hours and timing was perfect because the much needed rain was starting to arrive. We took a drive down through Trenton where the current
Friday, April 28, 2023
and fished deep into the night thinking fishing would be alright. Hit my northern honey hole but there hasn't been any honey in the last two outings. Caught the outgoing with a few hours left looking for small bait spray along the sod and and rock banks. Found some good current and was hoping to find some fish feeing on YOY baits. That didn't happen so it was what it was. With the students wrapping up their semester yesterday it was a long day of support. Nursing school is brutal. I was there thirty years ago and now I'm here on the other side of the classroom. There's some trouble in Dodge that's reminding me of the movie Dead Poet's Society. Hopefully not more on that in the future.
So I might say good bye to my northern rivers. It seems by the word on the street that the once choked with bait and fish in the rivers and back bays has thinned out. Fish, even ones way up the rivers, have made the move to either join their friends for that long ride north up the Hudson or to locations east to the mouths where the bays meet the ocean. And as far as the ocean, aka out front, it's go time.
The other day when I was on my buddies boat I got frustrated trying to cast from the bow of his boat with my right (casting arm) the first thing the wind hit as it blew downriver. In big quartering wind short casts are okay, but the long ones can be dangerous. Figure this. You need a few backcasts to load your rod to make a 40-50 cast. You have the rod tip low as to hopefully reduce the air resistance. Remember you're throwing a large popper which isn't aerodynamic. As you move your cast behind you the wind grabs your fly and line dropping in more in line with your double-back-neck-head. When you proceed forward the fly either gets buried into your skull or whizzes past your ear at 120 mph. And then there's the retrieve. Your line got blown down the river further than you wanted to from the jump. Now it's caught up in the current and, well that's okay, but then you have to strip in the line to get ready for the next cast, number 87. As you go to load your rod you pick the fly out of the water and it comes at you like a bullet, ready to be imbedded into your forehead or eye socket. Fun times.
I have been using the Orvis Hydros Bank Shot line. The one that comes with a sink tip. I like it, but I haven't been able to work topwater flies all that good with it. In bit water it's great because it keeps the popper popping as you retrieve across and up. But for the softer water you need a floater, which I never use, ever. So I got an 11 wt floater to use with a series of 6-7 inch poppers. I added to the quiver a slider, as the herring, when chased, speed through the top of the water column when being chased, kind of like mullet do in the fall. It's great when I don't need the popping action but want to alert fish that there's a
party going on on top. My day ran later than I wanted it to and by days end my blood pressure was boiling and I was ready to throw in the towel. I needed a nap and I needed to fish. So thankfully Theresa had a plate of pierogis and a cold Guinness waiting for me when I got home. They both hit the spot. Then I got into the recliner about 930 and put on 20/20 on OWN to watch a good murder mystery that would put me to sleep. I had my alarm set for 11 and when it went off I was so tempted to go up to my warm wife and bed. This would be my third night in about five days of pulling the midnight shift. It has
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Monday, April 24, 2023
I realize now how lucky I have been to catch a single striped bass in the Delaware River. At least decent sized fish in the early to late spring. Later in the spring and early summer it's smaller fish that eat smaller flies like "normal fishing". Cast out, present some kind of decent fly, catch a fish. Or not.
But before that it's pure torture. This is my 5th year fly fishing the Delaware. Don't care about smallmouths. I suck at snakehead fishing. I'm all about the striped bass. But this place will drive you to drink, get divorced, or at least piss off the wife, and then, well do it all over again.
I'll keep it brief. There is a difference between fly and spin fishing. There is a difference between plugs and flies. There is no comparison between a BB-loaded-up-lure and a 10 inch Squimpish fly. They just don't do the same thing. First a spin fisherman with an 11 ft. rod, or shorter on a boat, can cast literally 300 feet and cover water far and near rather quickly. Those ba-donka-donk lures crash down, and get a reaction strike or not, and then swim, better than a far reach reach fly cast, behind rocks and into drop-offs, and then slowly swam back to the angler.
So with my shoulder and elbow blown out from two months of throwing an 11 wt I give you this. I have a Orvis 12 wt Clearwater rod. Love it. I'm using the Orvis Bank Shot 11 wt line, it only comes up to 11 wt, and then either a large fly, Beauty Shop mop or non-aerodynamic popper. I wade up to my waist and then do my best, and lately the wind haas been a bitch, to present my fly 50 feet? with the current running left to right. Now it's not just getting the fly out there, now it haas to either get down, quick, or popped quicker, or you'll waste the cast.
I do that, say 100 times per outing, covering a section of the river which is like the square footage of a floor tile in a large restaurant. What am I doing? Yes, I may try to my left or right, or up or down river, but the window of opportunity to catch is stupidly low. Low water, the current is fast and swift. High water, you're pinned to the bank. Those scenarios aren't always a bad thing, but the amount of hours you have to put in for all things to line up is, well, as my wife puts it, stupid.
I hate fishing from a boat, well, actually I hate fishing in a river boat. Well, like a river boat in current. That goes for a drift boat in the Upper Delaware to a jet boat in the mid-Delaware. Actually I like it if you're fishing with no hooks. You can see the blow ups, or rises, or the flash behind a fly. Once you hook them, and you know what I'm talking about, it's a race rather than a fight, and more so for the fly angler. Hit a bank a tad downstream from a drift boat and nail that 22 inch brown that's a bank feeder or cast downstream to a 20 pound striped bass that waiting behind a rock and you'll know.
But there is something that a boat can give you, well me, something I don't always get to see. A new perspective. And yesterday I got the chance and I really liked it. When you spend you're hours looking out it's nice to spend a few looking in. Rather than standing in the water you're on top of it. All those rocks and seams you can only imagine what they may look like come alive when you pass over or around them. And then there's the fish, or not.
In this game a good angler needs mobility. You need to move. The fish are. They are either moving south to north to get their freak on or east to west with the wind and tide or following bait. Standing in one spot with a fly rod for hours, to me, although peaceful sometimes, seems futile, now.
I saw what the difference topwater spin lures and fly rod poppers look like in a big river. While my popper looks nice, pops nice depending on the cast and current and retrieve, it is in no way, not even in the same class, as an 8 inch ba-donka-donk lure, which either the fish want to kill or eat. For my cute fly rodding part of the boat trip I had a few follows, one good blow-up, and the above fish that hit the popper as it hung off the boat behind us. Kind of like those March Brown fish you catch up in Junction Pool in Hancock. As for the spin fisherman I was with? Blow-ups. Follows. And a real fish. 100 foot cast side stream, not straight downstream, and then retrieved in a quartering way, and then ba-boom. It was a boat fish. No other way. And it came in quickly and went back after a quick picture.
So they say, or I say, "Boat fish don't count", mmmm, well in some waters if you want anything to count you have to leave that rock you've been standing on and get to where the fish are. It's that simple.