Friday, December 15, 2023

12.15.23 It was purely a journalistic outing....

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. Done. I know. Liar? Maybe. But I went down to the beach with purely journalistic intentions. I wanted to take some images of the recently started beach "nourishment" happening in Monmouth Beach and Long Branch. Now, I might be lying if I didn't tell you that the last two nights of fly rodding parties didn't get me wanting to fish, so why not just bring a rod along just in case. 

     And if I was going to go why not go before first light just in case there were a few of those late season sand eel eating bass around. In Trenton it was 29 degrees and a check of the ocean temp showed 48.5 degrees. The water is getting colder and when it hits below 44 degrees it's just about done. But there was no wind and I some how I didn't feel cold even though it was below 32 degrees out. 

     It was a beautiful morning out there on the incoming tide. Flat. No wind. A couple of birds floating and flying around. I just enjoyed making some casts during long walks between the groins. I stopped at 

Phillips Avenue and jumped up on Ryan's Rock where I put on "Blackbird" by Paul McCartney, a song Ryan had mastered on his acoustic guitar. While a visit with him wasn't in my plan it was nice to think of him and reflect a bit about life, his life, my life, and maybe a little about 

what my future holds. I left his rock feeling good and it was just me and the beach and a long walk before I found something that caught my eye. It was a Christmas tree someone had placed far away from the beach scarp so I took a walk

over to check it out. There were a few plastic containers near it and I still was trying to put the pieces together in my head before I saw the note on the top of one of them. It was an invitation to decorate 

and honor someone you love in memory of Eddie, the owners dog who called this beach their favorite. Eddie was a dog, and it was his owners who put this together. So I put my stuff down and picked out a shell to decorate. Ryan was on my head and heart so it was all about him. It was a nice diversion and I'm 

thankful I went over and to investigate. The image I was looking for couldn't be taken until first light so I made my way out on a groin. I know fly fishing a sand eel bite is better done walking the beach but I wanted to hit these rocks, one last time, if this was going to be my last outing for the year. Okay, I know, shut up about a last outing.

     I had a tandem sand eel fly set-up working, a flat wing style followed by a Brad Buzzi EZ Body sand eel. As I walked my way up the beach I could see the construction going on in the distance so I jumped into my truck to go and get the images I needed. The first look would be in the Elberon section of Long Branch where pumping was happening between Garfield and Pullman.

     I pulled up Richie's truck was there and when I walked down his placement couldn't have been more perfect. That was pretty much what I came for. I got the image I came for and had a fly rod in hand so why not fish some more. He had found a few early and I was like, "Yeah, okay Richie", after I had come up empty a few beaches south.

We moved around and played hopscotch with each other and then he hooked up. A bunch of fish must have moved in because in a short order I was hooked up with the first being the largest of the fish that I landed.

For me it was a mix of bass and Jersey Tarpon, aka hickory shad, that only wanted the BuzzFly. If you click on the below image you can see how they jump like a tarpon. Although tarpon get a tad bigger. 

     After my last bass we called it a morning and walked back to the trucks, Rich hitting work and me moving onto Monmouth Beach to find the beach destroying operation. I stopped at Pullman Avenue 

just to make some images to be able to show over the years how it was, how it went bad, got good again, and now will be bad yet again. The below images show the work being done in Long Branch.

     I then jumped to Monmouth Beach just to have some before images. This towns work begins at the cultural center and then heads down south I think to Little Monmouth, which will fill in the pocket at Big Monmouth and then the one below. The "stuff" that will be filling in the Monmouth Beach  

is coming from Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers. I found how that is all going down. The Elberon beaches are coming from an offshore donor sight and then shipped in to where the sand is pumped onto 

the beach. Over in Monmouth Beach the first part of the project was to establish the pipeline that runs from the Shrewsbury River to the ocean. You can get the gist of how that happens in the images below. Basically the pipe runs under Ocean Avenue into the river. How many people 

drive past all of this and have no idea what is going on? My thinking is the base layers on the MB project will come from the bottom of the Two Rivers and then covered with "stuff" from an offshore donor site. Either way it will be gone in a few years, but they'll have big beaches for summer 2024. 

     And then while making the images above I saw a gang of workers picking up something on the beach. I thought at first they might be inmates on a work detail. Mostly all of them were Spanish speaking, except the supervisors who kind of milled around with long kitty litter scoops in hand.  

    On my way off the beach I saw this advisory sign and realized they must be a cleanup crew picking up tar balls off the beach. The tar balls have been tracked down to an oil spill that occurred around Thanksgiving up in Bayonne. It was an interesting find while out and about. 

     To end this fabulous day I hit Bagel Talk. Yep, everything bagel scooped and toasted with egg and cheese, and, a lovely cold and fresh white milk. While I'll go on the books convincing myself that I

didn't break my Quit # 3 and that today was truly investigative photojournalism, it felt really good to get out, do the whole Ryan thing, and get some good pictures to add to the files of beach nourishment images I have. If you don't think all of this has and continues to have a negative effect on marine life and fishing just talk to someone who has called "Jetty Country" home for decades. The good old days there, and in our lives in general, have past and will never happen again.