Tuesday, April 30, 2024

04.30.24 Ending April with no fish today...

     Me and Delaware Joe gave it a go to end April. Two buds. No fish. I did have one bass follow my fly in and just stare at it before I twitched it and he blew out. Boat is in fine shape and I have just a few 

things to tweak on it and it'll just be smooth sailing. New anchor rope, new running lights, re-mounting of the trailer wheel cover and some work on the trailer lights. It's slow to dead out there for me as of late and there aren't many people fishing at all. It's a quick come and go for those that are. Let's see what May brings as it has been a very different year then I am used to. 

     Last year the heavens starting opening up on April 29th and by May 2nd it was up over 60,000 cfs. As I write this the river is running below 10,000 cfs at 9,980. I would welcome any rain that may come. 


Monday, April 29, 2024

04.29.24 These are summer numbers...

     Crazy weather. What else is new. We went from one of the rainiest springs with cool temps and plenty of wind to dead air, bluebird skies with temps into the 90's, and now drought like conditions with the thermometer raising. If the striped bass were waiting for 60 degrees to spawn well now it's time to get their freak on. 

     Elsewhere things are starting to heat up. The back waters have finally cleared and bait, mostly bunker, is starting to show itself and the bass are on them. Bluefish have worked their way up from the south and are passing the inlets and Sandy Hook and should soon be intercepting bunker in the bay. Find the bait and you should find some type of predator fish. Haven't heard of any weakfish yet and who knows if and when they'll make their return. 

     If you're heading up to the Catskills those waters are heating up quickly as well. The West Branch at Hale Eddy is running 978 at 52 degrees. The East Branch at Fish's Eddy is up to 62 already running at an even 1000 cfs. A couple more days of hotness and it'll be time to check the thermometers as to not stress out the fish. And it's only April 29th. 


Sunday, April 28, 2024

04.28.24 Long weekend but things are gonna change...

     I got this memory on Facebook the other day. It was Friday morning April 23, 2014 and I stopped by Pullman Avenue before heading up to Hancock for the FUDr One Bug. I was guiding in it and had my bags and boat packed for the trip. This weekend they held the One Bug yet again, and it has grown bigger every year since. I'm glad they had good weather, hopefully the blowing south wind we had didn't affect them up there much.

    It's been such a weird year. Big water. Cold. Blowing winds. And they seem to have hit at all the wrong times. I wonder how that will affect the spawn. It's near the end of April and usually the spawn is coming to an end but we are just hitting 58 degrees. That's about the number when love really starts

being in the air, well water. And just when we were having a river in the 30, 40, 50 an 60,000 cfs we're not bottomed out around 10,000 cfs. Again, too low too soon. Now a few days of 80 degree bluebird sky days like today and the river will be 70 degrees. I hope for some rain soon, even if it blows it out a bit. 

     Fishing has been slow, like real slow. It has been a challenge to keep motivated, but since things change on a tide I just keep the grind on. I donated a dozen really nice flies this weekend to the river but that's part of the game. I did manage to snag two Mag Darters on one cast during the week, not that

that helps me at all. On Saturday the UPS man dropped off an Orvis return. TRhe funny thing with Orvis is you never know when you're opening the box if you'll get your old rod back or would they give you a new one. If you remember I blew up the butt section on my Access 12 wt during a fall on the rocks. 

     This time I thought they may go big and give me a new one. The note with the repair says, "Your fly rod is back better than ever", well that's open for discussion. They did glue on a new fighting butt to the 

old rod which I am happy for, and paid for. I did mention in my notes on the repair that when they repaired it in 2017 they sent a tip section that just didn't match up with the original. It's either from a 

different rod or it was finished differently in the shop. They just sent it back. No note. Nothing.

     I did manage to catch one little guy out on boat way up river on Friday. It's a spot I haven't been to and my buddy let me come along for the ride. So much river in the Delaware. 330 miles of it. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

04.26.24 Ready, set, Lowe...

     Yesterday Delaware Joe came over and spent a good part of the day helping get the sled ready for the water. Some would say that I'm late to the party but I'm okay with that. I don't want to fish big water, I'm not really looking for big fish, and I prefer to fish on foot rather from a boat. I know boats usually have an advantage but I don't mind them having the advantage every now and again. 

    I started the day at the Trenton Motor Vehicles getting the boat and trailer all legated up. I'm good through May 2025. In between the DMV stop, which always gives me flashbacks to when Covid was 

around, I took a drive and fished a bit before picking up Joe. I had five hits, had a fish on, lost three flies, and made various fly changes trying to figure out what they wanted. Just as I was ready to tip my hat to 

to the fish for the day I went tight. It was a great fish in faster water and it took a little skill in turning it where I wanted before bringing it to hand. With a single barbless hook constant pressure on the fish is 

needed because if they hit the right soft water and gives a head shake it's easy for it to become unbuttoned. After picking up Joe we stopped to buy a new battery and get some starter fluid to give the Johnson jet drive a boost.

     On our way back we came upon an accident in front of Old School Customs in Ewing. It's a mix of skate and tackle shop that has been picking up steam in their now second year. A quick look at the license plate and I could see it was white in color. A couple of the Maryland boys must have made the trip up as the Chesapeake waters are now closed for striped bass fishing. The shut down of one water, or a spot, just increases the pressure in another. Unfortunately the truck got hit on the passenger side rear 

wheel and blew it out and no doubtedly did damage to the rim and or axle. That's a low tow back down to Maryland and surely the end of any fishing plans they had. Things like that just suck. 

     And while Joe and I were tinkering with the boat the UPS man came up the driveway. He delivered a box for me and when I went to get in from him he just said, "Orvis". I knew exactly what it was. In February I ordered a new stripping basket because the one I had I had drilled out for fishing the jetties and or during a downpour. These baskets, I think, are the best. They will out live you, as I guess most 

will. These are solid, have a get contour, have a great belt that wide enough so it's not like dental floss up the crack of your arse, and can be drilled out to let water drain. If you are doing mostly walk and wade fishing, and only have one, I wouldn't drill it out. The water will fill your basket and get in the way of your line as you try and cast. It's like not having a basket at all. The water tension on the line makes stripping it difficult. And if you are using a sinking line once that line finds outside the basket it's down around your feet and a tangled mess. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

04.24.24 Saw my first spawning striped bass....

      It was on my Bucket List. I wanted to see striped bass spawning in the Delaware River. Well, today I found it. I was in a slow section of the river throwing flies into water that was less than exciting. No bait. No bass. Just dead.

     Then in the middle of the river I saw a splash. I thought maybe it was a cormorant diving underneath looking for a meal. Or maybe it was one of the ducks that I see from time to time. Maybe it was a goose. Then the water erupted with several fish creating what looked like a blitz for about a minute to a minute and a half. They were definitely smaller fish harassing a larger fish. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. By the time I watched it and got my phone out it was over. Besides it was in the middle of the river and too far away to catch on my phone. Very cool. Check that off my list. 

     A few years back I saw the below video of bass spawning in New Brunswick on the Miramichi. I would say I had seen one pod of fish going at it. No where near the numbers in the video. 

04.23.24 Full Pink Moon fever....

     I was lucky yo get this one in. A strong 42" fish in big current. Surprisingly the bigger fish have moved upriver and this one was a shocker because I was scouting a new spot. It's taken a while for me to get in there because of the river levels. This was caught on a half-ass fly and a hook that wanted to go straight. The fly had all kinds of mechanical flaws going on. Mostly because I casted it about 1,000 times without every checking. Pinged off of rocks, dragged along the bottom, ripped through the current. You can see below what went wrong while going right. The fly was tied on an

AHREX SA210 Bob Clouser Signature Streamer 4/0. I can't imagine what would have happened if this fish were a few years ago when the Partridge hooks were all the rage. Luckily my bud Mark had a stash of Popovic's hooks that he could throw me until I can order some more. It's funny, they talk about catching 100 pound tarpon in Florida on size 1 hooks during a worm hatch but striped bass in current can straighten out 4/0's. Back to the vice. 

    They say you never should fish on the full moons. Well this fish ate at 0711 AM on the Pink Moon. It's like "Winds from the south fish shut their mouths". I guess I fish just has to eat and only has so many opportunities during the day depending on the tides, winds, and bait. This one was looking for breakfast.

Monday, April 22, 2024

04.21.24 The moon everyone has been waiting for....

      On Tuesday April 23rd the second big moon event of the month will hit the skies. The first was the Lunar Eclipse that came on April 8th and in two days the sky will be lit up with the first full moon of the month. It's an important moon, hopefully, to us fishermen and women. 

     The Pink Moon gets its name from the plant, the creeping phlox, aka moss phlox or mountain phlox. It's one of the first flowering plants of the spring. It's also known as the Fish Moon because that is when the shad begin their migratory upstream to spawn. Well, it's in name only as the shad have been here for a month although catches have been spotty due to the mess of weather we have had this spring. 

     The fish I care about on this moon are the river herring. This year has been, well, different. The weather has been all over the place and so have been the fish. Some early ones but most seem to be somewhere else, as have been the herring. Herring make great Scoobie-snacks for striped bass. They're a great bait fish to imitate with synthetics. I tie them on the bigger side and vary the coloring, some more

silver and white others more colorful like the one above. I enjoy feeding the fish in the shallower water when I can. So we'll see if a few days of warmer weather will bring the water temps back up in the upper 50's to low 60's and get them and the bass on the move and the hunt. But each year is different and 

just like striped bass having an off year the herring can as well. Only time will tell. I've been fishing when I can and have put a few nice ones into the tank for a rest before releasing them strong. There's 

been a few nice ones but they came late last month when things were better. It seems like the bites been off all around the state and anglers are chomping at the bit for things to heat up. The question is will it heat up in time or will the fish have passed us by heading to their spawning grounds or changing things up this year. Not only is there a wait on the herring but the bunker seem to be hit and miss in the rivers. There's some early reports of bluefish hitting the scene at the popular inlets and they're always fun if you're throwing cheap flies with a metal leader. There's nothing worse then getting an expensive fly or one you painstakingly tied get bit off by the yellow-eyed demons.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

04.21.24 There goes the neighborhood...

     It's time to revisit the whole "Spot Burn" issue. Again. It's like the same old thing every year, and it seems to be getting worse. I'm not sure why it exists but it comes on strong and then goes away only to return. It's really not a spot that is burnt, it's a bite that is. There are spring bites, some summer bites, and definitely the fall into winter bites. Social media and cell phones all play their part in it, but it's us anglers that have ruined it for others, and in the end ourselves. 

     Spring spots are well spring spots. Let's be real, everyone knows them. Let me list them. Hackensack River, Raritan River, Raritan Bay, Shrewsbury River, Navesink River, Manasquan River and Canal, Barnegat Bay, Toms River and and the Delaware Bay and River, plus all those in and around Atlantic City, and Brigantine, and Cape May. There you go guys. Go get um'. 

     Anglers who call those spots "home" look forward to the peace and tranquility of a bite that may occur only for a few short weeks each year. Over 10 years that 10 bites. When the bite, or the spot, blows up, each season of each year every Internet stalker, You Tuber, and social media fishing expert flock to that spot, do their damage, leave garbage, bother the neighbors, and leave. Leaving the "residents", or local anglers, alone now to clean up the mess, in more ways than one. 

     This spring the first of what will be many "spots" to be taken off the list of go-to's is the Shrewsbury River in Sea Bright. It used to be a great "creeping' while you're sleeping' spot", but then the word got out. I can remember being among the dark outfit crowd sneaking around behind Dunkin' Donuts waiting for slack tide, which is the only tide I could fish with a fly rod. Guys used to stand along the wall, and then that got extended down into the Rum Runner's property. Well no more. What used to be a few 

locals or hardcore guys sneaking around to catch a tide had become a stop on the "Where's the bite" evening into night tour around the Raritan Bay and the rivers. Some say Giglio's blew up the spot by posting the above pic on social media. It wasn't that. The crowds, the garbage, the fights, all that lead to it being now off-limits for fishing. Yes, soil media doesn't help, it was the nail in the coffin. 

     So now that spot is over. If you're in the know then you know. The Two Rivers well The Two Rivers. It won't take long for the migration to move to an already choked out spot to try and find a fish. Those parking areas, those restaurants, hotels, and Post Office's don't want their parking spots taken up, garbage strewn around, and diners looking out into the parking lot of the Van Stahl plug bag crew smoking heaters shooting the shit waiting for a bite. You can throw fat and ugly fly anglers in there as well. 

     The Two River areas are home to some of the most valuable real estate in New Jersey. People with money have connections and power. They don't won't to walk across the bridge and see the murder scene of a 20 pound gator bluefish that was bled out on the walkway. They don't want to come around the corner taking their kids over to Holy Cross and dam near hit the flooring installing van making a quick exit out of the parking area, not lot, heading back to Long Branch. 

It's happening in Monmouth, Ocean, Bergen, Passaic, Atlantic, Cape May, Burlington, Salem, and Mercer Counties. Hell, throw them all in there, for fresh or saltwater sake. It's not good. We're not good. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

04.19.24 Thank Jesus, and Ricky....

     So the other day I had this happen. I was going to post it a PSA so the next guy doesn't do it. I should heed my own advice. I had ;leaned my rod along the passenger side of my Jeep and used a magnetic Tightline rod holder to secure it due to the wind. I'm trying to baby my new Helios 12 wt. the best that I can. 

     So today I fished a spot. It's been a 36 hour drought so I was excited to fish spot #1 but when that didn't produce I quickly got into my truck and sped off. When I got to Spot #2 I realized that I left my rod, again, along the passenger side of my truck. 

     I tore ass back there with a few things running through my mind. One, if it's there, did I turn my wheels to hard and run the back tires over it. Or two, did someone came and went with it, even though it all went down within 15 minutes. I pulled in and looked at the spot where I parked and there was nothing. My heart sank. Earlier there was not one in the lot but now there was another Jeep, and he was fishing. He was set up for a bait soak. 

     I quickly made my way over to him and said, "By any chance did you see a fly rod on the ground when you rolled up?". He smiled, "I wondered if the owner was going to come back for it". Guys, meet Ricky. He had my Helios broken down and placed nicely in the back of his Jeep. I couldn't thank him enough. Stand up guy. I hope a big fish ate his bait. He's got good karma coming to him. 

     So what I have learned by this all is, always put the rod away first, or lean it on the drivers side. And never be too excited to get to your next spot, or spots, the fish will be somewhere. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

04.16.24 Amazing it was four years ago....

     It really is amazing that the Covid pandemic was four years ago. Sad of those we lost, not just in lives lost, but so many other things as well. The collateral damage was equally as bad. And now we are starting to see all of those things we didn't know about the vaccines. If you took them, great, if you didn't that's great as well, but, there are a lot of people alive because of them, dead because of them, and now suffering with long term adverse effects that we didn't know at the time. The disease was bad but what it did to us both individually and as a human race was the worst part of it. It was just another that added to the division in all areas of life that we see today. 

    The above pic popped up on Facebook. It's me at the Edison Convention Center which was turned into a Covid Hospital. The same Edison as where The Fly Fishing Show is held. It was weird walking the halls taking care of Covid patients rather than at materials, seminars, and catching up with friends.

     Fishing all around the state will be going off this week. Yes, it's in between the New and Full Pink Moon and Mother Nature is cooperating and the fish will start to as well. Waters are receding and clearing up and the wind and rain, which has been brutal, looks promising going forward. And with the nice weather comes an increase in participation. At. Every. Single. Spot. On foot, on the water, even in that spot that takes a little while to get to, someone is or will be there. It's frustrating. Social media and the ME and NOW fishermen and women have killed bites and spots. It is what it is. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

04.14.24 Time to rotate, well retire, some flies.....

     I've been doing a good job keeping up with the loose a fly- tie a fly this spring. I feel like I'm pretty well stocked up although this whole fly thing is pretty funny. No doubt a good fly is as good fly. At times flies that look spot on and swim well and don't foul are the ticket. But what about the other times. 

     Below is an example. The fly on the bottom I have officially retired. It a "Beauty shop of Horrors Fly" tied mostly with cheap-ass weave material from a Beauty Supply Store in the bowels of Trenton. It 

once had eyes and maybe a little something else along the sides. It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. Well done. That fly helped me catch 15, exactly, striped bass to 30 pounds. The hook is dull, chipped here and there, the material off-set just a tad, but in the water it's deadly. The top fly is its replacement, this one is keeled with lead on the bend. I hope it gives me solid results as well. 

     I had to chuckle the other day when I saw this reply to a post on the raising cost of bucktails, both the bucktail lure and the buck tail deer tail. It was just another opportunity to pick on the fly anglers. 

    Yes, the Beast Fleyes are great when you need a big bait fly, but to be honest, would any mop do it if you could cast it out there? The thing is those properly tied flies do let you present a bulkier-than-it-is fly that sheds water and can be easily cast. But for the most part if your fly swims sexy, or at times like it had a stroke, and you can present it to a fish willing to eat, you should be good.  The back-up to the replacement fly is below. Tied  on a 5/0 Clouser hook this 8 plus inches lights up the water and the

darker back, which you can't see, gives it nice contrast in the water. They too will be retired one day or will get stuck, broke off, or donated to the local jetty or bottom of the river. 

     Fly tying is an art, maybe a little science mixed in as well. I tip my hat to my friends, well you know how I hate how that word gets thrown around, better to guys I know, that create works of art that can be displayed, framed, or fished. But for me flies are like bait, like worms, bunker, or dead squid. They're just a tool to get the job done, hopefully. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

04.13.24 Getting a few for the tank....

     Been fishing when I can as the semester starts to wind down. Been dancing in the rain and trying to position myself best for the wind. Bringing a few to hand. Losing some flies. Having fun. It's seems just when things are looking good Mother Nature shows herself at the most inopportune moment. 

    We got hit when hard rains which really blow most of the river out. Now the temps are getting too warm too quick, in my opinion. You hang out in the 40's and hope to hit the 50's and then it jumps 10 degrees in 6 days. It's only going up. Everything weather-wise these days is always extreme. Next thing we know is the air conditioners will be getting fired up next week. 


Thursday, April 11, 2024

04.11.14 Me and Joe, 8 hours, one fish....

      Me and Delaware Joe hit it at 6 am and finished at 2pm. We did take a break for breakfast. Flies, plugs, bucktails, bait....you name it. Only thing to show for it was this nice smallmouth that took a 7inch fly. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

04.10.24 Another body recovery in Trenton...

 Photo Tom Sofield. New Hope Free Press

     On Friday April 5th a fisherman discovered the body of a man in the river near the Marine Terminal off Lamberton Street. It was identified at 76 year -old Jeffrey Defrehn from Ringoes. It was on March 5th that Defrehn jumped from the Route 202 bridge into the Delaware River just north of New-Hope and Lambertville. 

    Over the last month rains brought the river up to over 65,000 cfs. The distance between the Route 202 bridge and Lamberton Street is 17 miles. It always amazes me what the force of water can do and cause to travel downstream. In between there are so many islands and banks and now docks. I am glad for the family the body was recovered. Sad story. RIP Jeffrey. 

     It was last July when heavy rains caused flash flooding across from my house on the PA side in Upper Wakefield. Five people lost their lives. One, a 9-month old has never been found, and his sister, 2 years old, was found 37 miles down river in Philadelphia. Their family who were visiting from South Carolina at the time were in Buck's County for a family barbecue when the rains over took them when a small, usual trickle of a creek, over flowed. I hope one day the remains of the young child may be found for the family can have some closure. 

The Delaware River is a mighty river at times. I need to remember these stories, like the one from last week, and maintain respect and caution. No fish is worth a life. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

04.08.24 "No Lunar Eclipse bass for you.."

     2024 Lunar Eclipse. Image taken at 1531 hrs. Lot's of cloud cover. Stayed north. No bites. 

     Earlier in the day my clinical group finished up at Clara Maass- Class of 2025.