Sunday, March 31, 2024

03.31.24 Only 24 hours after the post dropped...

     When I saw all the fire department participation down by the river I had a bad feeling. When I was on the job holiday weekends weren't the time to hold drills. Especially cold water ones. So it was really no surprise to me that the alarm was struck for a body in the water. This went down around 1 pm and I 

took the above picture at 137. Yesterday's post details this exact scenario after writing on the similar tragic situation that occurred in the Navesink River just a few days ago. At first I thought this was a body recovery but I'm learning, and hoping, things went the other way and the guy is safe. This guy might want to hit church today and say a prayer. And there's no better day then for him to hit it as it's 

Easter Sunday. It was today Jesus rose from the dead three days after being crucified. Enjoy the Easter Bunny, enjoy the candy, and the fam and kids...but don't forget what the day is really about, if you believe. It's kinda like that with Christmas Day as well, the true meaning has just gotten lost. 

     And speaking of being lost I almost lost a little skin when I missed this reptile under a fallen branch I was using to lower myself down on. While it looks menacing, and will leave a nasty bite, it's only a Nerodia sipedon sipedon, or Northern Water Snake. One thing is they ain't friendly so don't let the kids approach it like it's a Common Garter Snake. It'll leave a mark. 

     And on this Easter I have many things to be happy about. One little thing is I finally moved ahead of Jeff Currier on the Top 100 Fly Fishing Blog list. At the end of the day it really means nothing but I have been behind Jeff since I first saw this in 2018 and was rolling in at 45. My goal is to be in the top 

20 where that and $6 will get me a bacon, egg and cheese and a milk at Ben's Deli in Morrisville. 

     Enjoy the day, be blessed, be thankful and grateful. Today's weather is looking nice and then it becomes "April Showers bring May Flowers". And that's no April Fools joke. 


Saturday, March 30, 2024

03.30.24 Ready for April to arrive...

     And now it really begins. For some reason my body's internal DNA is conveying to my brain that it's go time. Yes, fish have been caught here and there in the usual spring time spots round New Jersey and those that braved the cold nights, rainy days, and the stupid amount of wind this spring have been rewarded with good fishing or at least their starter fish, like I scored the other day. 

    But now it begins. I think after this wind turbine gets shuts off and April rolls in on Monday we'll see things, which are really on a normal pace this year, start to kick off. We'll see those bay and river waters hit 50 and stay there. The air temps will hopefully hold in the 60's and the wind will hopefully at our backs and blow us around like it did yesterday. 

     This past week an early spring fisherman lost his life, "Doing what he loved". 37-year old Diego Ferreira from Long Branch was out fishing the Navesink River in his kayak when something went wrong out there and he died. What can you say? It's an early spring spot, in the recent years totally blown up, better at night, well at least less traffic, and a great boat/kayak/dingy spot. But you have to know your water and limits, and of course be safe. Our rush to catch fish sometimes interfere with our logic and preparation, which includes safety. I'm not judging nor do I know the story but I can say this when I hit the Navesink, or any river, in my new water craft, I'll be sure to wear my lifejacket and play by all the safety rules. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes someone getting hurt our killed for the rest of us to pay attention. RIP Diego. 

     Things can go sideways in an instant and if you are in uncharted territory it can diminish the chances for a happy ending. At any minute the boat gets swamped, you lose your footing, or you get caught where you shouldn't be on a tide. If you can fish with a buddy, let someone know where you are going

if solo, and for me I let my wife have my "Find My Phone" location so she knows. If you're not straight up with your partner I'd advise not going with that option. And as far as PFD's, there's plenty of compact inflatables that you can wear when out on bigger or sporty water. 

     And as the deadline for ASMFC compliance arrives we've had some milky-flinky antics going on down in and around the Chesapeake Bay. But first, New York has been approved for the following changes on the Hudson River north of the GWB. They went from an 18-28 inch slot to a 23-28 inch slot. The marine striped bass fishery falls within the 28-31 inch slot. But, and always amazing to me, the Hudson River folks can still catch and use herring for bait. I thought protecting herring was a thing?

     Then there's Maryland, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, and Pennsylvania. Those three have been balking on coming up with agreeable plans for the ASMFC. These include commercial reductions for Maryland and recreational for the PRFC and Pennsy. There has been talk of lawsuits and states "going out of compliance". Yeah yeah yeah. 

     The Pennsy situation is a little closer to me because the ASMFC said no to that state imposing a one fish, rather than two fish, limit on the Delaware River during April and May. Why? Because Pennsy said it couldn't do that in timely fashion for this year. The ASMFC stated it would approve their reduction if it was implanted by May 1st, 2024, halfway through the April-May "spawning" striped bass season. 


Friday, March 29, 2024

03.29.24 It only took nearly a month...

     Well it was worth the wait. Nice way to start off 2024. It only took 28 days. I finished up work late and didn't want to get struck in rush hour traffic so I stayed north. I had a gut feeling that today might be the day so I lugged the tank along for the walk. Luckily I took the 42 inch long tank with me. 

     This nice 34-35" bass, didn't measure it exactly, was a fine specimen and a great way to start off the spring season. My large Squimpish fly was too much to resist and I saw the take which was way up in the water column on the swing. Shortly after getting him/her back in the water and swimming I was good. One and done worked just fine. You wouldn't believe if I told you how good these tanks are for resting/reviving fish after being caught. They hang out, catch their breath, and then are ready to go. This one I got to hang out with for over five minutes. I can't see how this catch and release can compare to being albie-tossed head first back into the water from any kind of elevation, like from a boat.  

Thursday, March 28, 2024

03.28.24 Another great hour from the Millhouse and Finn...

   The Mill boys continue to crank out good work. In fact, to me, it's been a little bit better. Why? Because the people in it don't fish for bonefish, tarpon, permit and redfish. These are folks north of the Mason Dixon line. ( I'll throw Sarah Garnder in there as well.) The last three guests have been Gardner, Popovics and now Finn). It kind of sounds to me like The Fly Fishing Show in Edison trifecta. 

   After I retired from the Newark Fire Department with a subsequent divorce I needed a place. An escape place. My sister was living in Saranac Lake and I had discovered the Lake Placid area in 1987. So I took a ride up and started looking. I found the town of Ausable Forks and a house that sat overlooking the river. Fast forward I purchased that one, and the one next to it about 7 years later (after my neighbors murder-suicide). And that its how I met Rachel Finn.

     One day I was working on the house over looking the river and heard some voices. I couldn't find the source until I looked down directly below the house and there was Rachel, puffing on a cigar of course, with two clients fishing the stretch below my house(s). It was then I knew I had some good fishing right "At Home", at least that was until the hurricanes that would come later and destroy that stretch, and my two houses. 

     The below picture was one I took of Rachel in the fall of 2003. I'm not sure who she is fishing with but it may be her late husband Jeff. After I listened to her podcast and knew I would be writing this post I went searching for the accompanying photos. Shot on one of the first digital 1.2 MB cameras and printed out at home. But you know what sometimes any photo is a great photo that helps tell a story. 

     Over the years I have made countless trips to the Lake Placid- Wilmington- Saranac Lake area and have crossed paths with Rachel up there and just about everywhere else. Either at the Hungry Trout, at the deli across from her house in Wilmington, on a buddies drift boat on the Upper Delaware, the same

but hang but out on the ocean, at the shows, and of course online, where her beautiful art always catches my eye. I am sure I will see her again up in the North Country as our daughter Lauren has been accepted and is considered attending Paul Smith's College in the fall. 

She's a great angler guide, artist, and person. Take a listen. It's great. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

03.27.24 I can't imagine the horror....

      There were some miracles down off the Chesapeake Bay early yesterday morning. But first a feeling of sadness for the six construction workers who died in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Just horrible. Guys working the overnight on a huge bridge. Who in their right mind could ever think it would totally collapse. One guy fall in the water. Yes. Get hit by a passing car. Sure. But this. Unbelievable. 

     But I guess there are also blessings even in tragedy. The time of day. The amount of traffic on the bridge. The quick thinking of the Captain to sound a MAYDAY. The cops and bridge workers who stopped traffic and no doubly saved lives. When you watch the video before impact you can see cars and trucks passing through the spans. And then there's no traffic and the bridge collapses. 

     I am by far anyone in the know of the Chesapeake Bay and striped bass fishing. But this winter I have done a lot of reading and even took the ride to fish parts of it. In my limited understanding I learned the Chesapeake Bay and three of its tributaries are the main spawning grounds for striped bass. You have the Upper Chesapeake Bay, and the Choptank, Potomac, and Nanticoke Rivers. One of the many tributaries that feeds the CB is the Patapsco River, which is what the Francis Scott Key Bridge went over. The river is 39 miles long and drains into, let's just say near the Baltimore Harbor, and then into the Chesapeake Bay. Striped bass do go into the river system but I am not sure how far up. It's a popular boat angling spot especially where the river meets the bay. 

     The amount of ship traffic there is staggering as Baltimore Harbor is one our busiest ports in the United States. This accident is going to have a huge economic impact on the local and countries economy. I can't even imagine how long it will take to remove and rebuild this bridge. The last disaster I

remember where there was a quick turnaround was the 95 Highway fire collapse in Philadelphia last year. That was up and running in a week. This is a little bigger so no doubt it will take a lot longer. 

    We've haven't done well with large cargo ships in the last eight months. In July 2023 two Newark firefighters lost their lives when a 1,000 foot cargo ship caught fire in Port Newark. This too was a near 1,000 footer. When you look at the massive bridge you wonder, in a Monday morning quarterback way, how was there no safety protection in place for the two bridge piers. They have them in place in hundreds of bridges around the country, especially in heavy traveled areas by large ships. It's easy to point fingers now, but it doesn't matter. Hopefully lessons will be learned. And RIP to those lost. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

03.26.24 Nice day to stop and fish....but....


     Nice enough day after work. No wind. 60 degree air temps. It's March 25th. It's still early. And the river is up and off. We had the deluge Saturday, nice day Sunday and then the crest on Monday. The water is still off color, just a few shades better than Yoo-Hoo. I went with my usual fly before thinking black may be a better contrast fly. I reached into the wallet and pulled out a silicone faced black eel fly I tied up last year. I figure out how those tiers that tie with silicone get it to not be so white and messed up looking. I use Photo-Flo to shape it so maybe I have to be aggressive with that. Either way no one gave it a swipe. I was thinking if not a bass then maybe a walleye or a smallmouth. No fish for 26 days in 2024. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

03.25.24 Alright, let's get on with it already...

     Got out there during the early parts of the rain on Saturday. I thought that maybe something would chew with the impending storms rolling in. Water was down and turbidity almost nothing, but the water

was still cool around 44 degrees. Last week on St. Patrick's Day we were heading into three days above 50 degrees when someone left the freezer door open. 

    On Sunday I went down to check things out. River went from 15,000 to 35,000 cfs and the water temps dropped two degrees to 42. I honestly thought we'd hit 40 again. I anticipate things getting good

sooner than later. The river will drop sharply and with weather looking better the water should warm back up to around 50. That will be great until next weekend when we get more rain. Rain isn't bad, as long as it not a blow-out deluge coupled with cold temperatures. It's March 25th, still early. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

03.22.24 When it's 27 degrees out and your boy wants to go...

     Hardcore anglers never die....and at 78 Joe's hardcore. I knew I'd want to get out yesterday before the rain and wind blows in this weekend. On Fridays I work at home I knew I could get out. At some part of the day it was going to creep in just under 50 degrees and no wind... perfect. That was until I talked to Delaware Joe on Thursday night. "Low's at 0830". Yeah, but I thought to myself, "But Joe it's going to be freaking cold". I tried to massage an 8 o'clock start out of him and we kind of left it like, "I'll let you know".

     I was working on a great sleep since I didn't have to get up at may usual 0415 am start when at 0522 my phone blows up. Theresa rolls over and said "Who's that?". I said, "It's Joe, he's going". I woke up and sent some

quick work emails out, made some coffee and headed down to meet him. It was a few minutes after 7 and when I pulled up and saw his car was empty and he was already at the rivers edge. 

It was 27 degrees out. I said, it was 27 degrees out. The water temp was 44. I suited up and put my Boris Yeltsin hat on and made my way down. Joe was already into a bunker head soak

when I came up to him. He was looking at the water like Einstein looked at plans for the lightbulb. If there were fish in front of us surely he would be able to unlock the code and figure them out. Joe's not much of a bait guy as he prefers throwing plugs and other hard baits. But he and the other Joe had made 

the trek down to Keyport the other day and stopped and picked up some bunker just in case it was the only game in town. So after me giving it a go with the fly rod and my casts fouling from the ice buildup 

on the guides I just sat and watched his rod tip. I had to watch his rod #1 because he got up and went down to the water with rod #2 throwing plugs, then rubber, and then came the statement, "Maybe I'll soak some worms". "Worms?", I was ready for breakfast about 20 minutes after I got there, and at that point I was freezing. But you know what,

when you've got your fishing buddies back, you do what the other guy wants to do sometimes. And wouldn't it just have been great for him to have scored a nice fish in just way-to-early and miserable

conditions out there. At one point Joe made his way back to his bucket and took a seat. Little did he know his thing-a-ma-popper was easing its way into the arse of his pants. Luckily it wasn't a 

disaster and he somehow got it out on his own. I don't think it would've looked to passers-by with me trying to unhook the plug from his backside. The other potential for injury came early on when I saw that Joe was sporting his New Balance 608's which aren't the best with low water and exposed mossy

covered rocks. After an hour and a half he was good. We made our way back to the cars and put our stuff away. Then he said "Maybe I'll just throw a few more casts". He broke out the rubber shad and went to work 

as I stood behind him and drank my iced coffee. Now I was cold inside and out. Luckily he bit on my invitation for breakfast and food with some milky milks went down smooth. Being inside 

helped us heat up a bit as we traded stories and predictions for the upcoming year. After breakfast we decided to hit it again as the wind stopped and the sun made it feel warmer than it was. The day just kept going, and going, and going before we called it quits at 130, about 6 hours after we started. As fas as fish all we had was a big smallmouth that tried to eat Joe's 6 inch shad. But we had fun. In fact we had more than fun. Maybe one day we'll catch some fish together. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

03.21.24 Back in the BOA's...

     Driving home from work I couldn't pass up what I think would be the last chance before the next good chance to catch my first fish of 2024. I switched over from the Orvis PRO bootfoot waders to my PRO stocking foot with the BOA boots. There really is a difference between the two. River fishing and stocking foot boots just go together better. 
     It was just the start of the outgoing and the air temps weren't all that bad at 45. I know the mercury is going to bottom out tomorrow night and then the rains will come this weekend. Water temps are

now holding at 46 and I know they will drop but I'm just wondering if they'll hit 40 or below. Didn't land a fish but it's two days in a row where I had a big smallmouth bass attempt to grab my larger fly. This one wanted it but just got a faceful of Squimpish fibers in its mouth just shy of the 5/0 Clouser hook. It all happened in slow motion and the fish looked like we humans do when we get a piece of popcorn lodged along the wall of your throat. I'm no smallmouth guy but the colors were just a perfect

mix of yellow and, well bronze, and brown and black. I've caught some ugly looking smallmouths, color-wise, but these early spring ones, at least these two, were very big and pretty. I'm now thinking things may not get rolling, including some tolerable fishing conditions, until after April 1st. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

03.20.24 Okay, let's put fishing off for a bit...

     I've been fishing everyday, at some part of the day, and just don't feel it necessary to post. There's nothing going on yet for me. And just when things were starting to look promising I think Mother Nature is going to go and mess things up. We have a storm, well two of them, brewing and they might combine and hit us this weekend. For just about the last week the winds have sucked coming out of the 

north or west. Today we'll see winds up around 30 mph at their gustiest gusts. Water temps near me have dropped and will continue to do so as this weather continues. The thing that drives me nuts, and

maybe the fish as well, are these all-or-none inconsistent spring weather conditions. Back in the day we'd still have snow on the ground in the mountains and maybe even some ice dams on the rivers. All of that melt would make for a nice steady flow of cool and clean water. Just a week ago on March 13 we were just coming down from 60,000 cfs and today will most likely hit below 15,000. If history repeats 

 itself by Monday we'll have had 6 inches of rain, the river will be back up to over 50,000, and the water  temps will be in the low 40's. That has tone confusing for the migrating fish. I know it sucks for fly fishermen.