Friday, May 31, 2024

05.31.24 Hit the salt and the honey hole....

     I was excited driving down at 430 am. It had been a while since I fished the salt and haven't broke the ice this year just yet. NNW wind, nice air temps, water looked good. Couldn't ask for anything more. Well, maybe some fish around would have been nice. I went Ugly right from the jump. If they 

were there I wanted to catch them. I fished along a great trough that went from groin to groin without a tap. The water was clean and green and surely, at least, there would be a fluke sitting on the drop-off. 

     I fished along the rocks because the water levels were just too low on the dropping tide. I fished pretty hard before moving out to the tip of one of the groins. Surely, again, something must be 

patrolling out there. Didn't see any bait, birds, dolphins, whales, nothing- well except for an osprey that dove in and grabbed a fluke. It's so cool when they do that. But the fluke wouldn't eat flies today. 

     After I made my way out to the tip I made a long cast and caught the only piece of wood sticking out of the rocks. So I made my way back, retrieved the fly, and crawled back out. Nothing home there either. I lasted about 2 hours before I gave up. On my way to the truck I was stopped in my tracks by 

the above image. That wall. I remember it. I remember walking under and along the wooden pier that extended out from Philips Avenue. I would say Deal is where it all started for me. I call Deal home. So many good mornings started off with the guys I would meet and still call friends, Al, Leif, Ritchie. 

     On my way home I realized how lucky I was to live where I do and have good fishing local to me. That drive sucks to fish, and not catch, but the early morning salty air felt good to breathe in. I decided to stop at my new honey hole and see if anyone wanted to play. On my second cast the below fish 

crashed the fly as soon as it hit the water. It was strong, and having put the 12 wt. away till next year, it was a good fight before getting some tank time. There were more but after a bunch I decided I was 

 good. The last fish had a brush with something because it had an area that looked like it could use some Bactine. Remember when your Mom put that stuff on your scraped knees? Oh, the burn. 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

05.30.24 A few for the tank to wrap up May...

     It was a long day at work and when I got home I got the itch. No thought of tides or anything just to fishing. No pressure to catch but just enjoy a relatively cool evening with a northwest wind. River is up to 14,000 and the temps down to 71. As always extra water in the system always helps. 

     The fish aren't large but they are fun. Schoolie bass that eat and pull hard. They always enjoy a rest in the tank before a release. It always amazes me how calm, cool, and collected they are just looking around as they rehab. When it's time to go they almost always swim away strong. 

     That'll do it for "spring" which I call March, April and May. June starts the summer with a watchful eye on the water temps when I do go. Tomorrow will be an early trip to the salt for change of scenery. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

05.29.24 Done with the insanity....

     Yep, I'm done. I'm forcing myself to stop thinking about striped bass for a while. Yes, I will go, but I have to stop the 24-hour a day obsessing on bites, bait, bass, and tides. From now on, if I go, I go. If I catch I catch. If others find em' then good for them. 

    This morning Joe and I launched from Titusville again for a change of scenery. It was a nice morning with cool temps and fog coming off the water. Joe worked some topwater plugs to try and tune them 

up for the fly. I tried topwater and underwater but only had a few swipes through the morning. The water is up a touch and off color, but I always welcome more water in the river. We found a few for 

tank and the sun was out which made for good lighting and pics. I think going forward most of my trips will be on foot and during the coolest parts of the day. Taking the boat out, while fun, and at times very productive, can't compare to wading the waters I am fishing. This afternoon the skies opened up and 

brought heavy rains along the river. Again, more water, which is good, and maybe a forced break for a little while. I need to step away and get the honey-do list going . Theresa has been very patient. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

05.28.24 Well today sucked....

      If today was my last day fly fishing for striped bass near me I'd be okay with it. I'm kinda done. I'll do a recap on June 1st of the year to date. But for today, a grind, kinda boring. Water up and off color a tad from the recent rains. No birds. No bait. No bass. The high first light tides aren't the best and that added to the misery.

     I did go on foot today as well, and that was less than fun. Water dropped like a rock and there was no one home. I did go back this evening and caught one. The fish inhaled the fly and it started to bleed. The fly was in the roof of its mouth so I'm not sure where the damage was as it was no where near the gill rakers. But, you know that 9% recreational mortality eventually hits us all. It was profuse, but it was blood and it was red. 

    I'm looking forward to saying good-bye to the river and counting my lucky stars when I can get down to the beach and hit the salt. It's nice to have waders on and run the rocks and beaches for a few hours before sunrise and when the bennies show up. I can't complain, it's all good. 

05.27.24 Memorial Day and a last minute bass....

     Today while at breakfast a waitress said, "Happy Memorial Day" to a man wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. I was just waiting for the schooling to begin. And it politely did. Memorial Day, while yes, a three day weekend and for most a kick-off to the summer season is really all about those that served and made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we have. And we all have many. 

     After a great Friday fishing in the early morning it was off to Cape May for hopefully the last work detail for the spring. We of course hit 100 yard sales, had a visit to Lucky Bones, hit the Flight Deck for breakfast, and a few trips to Lowe's to tackle some projects. One was a toilet and the other a leak from a 

busted fitting on the hot water heater which took me like almost a month to diagnose and fix. We had a deluge of rain yesterday and we found a leak, a good one, on one of slide outs in the dining area. This one ain't gonna be fun, and that'll be for next weekend. 

     We left Cape May around 1 and it took about 3-1/2 hours to get home. We left with the flocks and it just took forever. We were in the mood for a dirty water dog and couldn't believe that from the start of Route 9, to Route 50, to Route 206 there wasn't one hot dog stand set-up along the road. So we settled for some Italian from a pizzeria we usually hit. 

     I haven't fished in two days so I ran down to check things out. First fly drop had a wolf pack of bass follow the fly before the above lucky one grabbed it. I went back to the same spot for about a half an hour but they were gone. I got a few more trips in me before I'll need to switch over to the saltwater game for a bit. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

05.24.24 Lights out fly fishing....

     It was real good but boy did I have to work for them. Probably 15 casts for every blow up or swipe and then another 10 casts before landing a fish, so about 25 casts per fish. This ain't spin fishing. Boat position is a lot different. Length of casts is a lot different. And fighting these fish is a lot different. I continue to learn every day I'm out there. Luckily for me I got some solid buds that really are in the know. 

     When I got a call to see how I was doing in the spot I chose I got an invite to some more fishier water. Not only did that call put me on the fish but it got me to experience something new in a new part of the river. Most of this morning was a topwater party. I threw a bunch underneath but they were 

tuned up and aggressive. I went with a popper tied with a Flymen Surface Seducer. They couldn't get enough of it. So the question I have to ask myself is; Is it the size of the fly or the size of the splash? 

     The best part of fly fishing for striped bass are the visuals, either blitzing fish or sight fishing while they roam the flats. This morning the visuals were there and I was thankful to be a part of it. Today I caught a tagged fish and will call it in to get my "Reward". I think it's a UFSWS tag. The fish were

below slot, in the slot, and overs, including some 38 inch plus fish. None of the later for me today but I saw them for sure. It's the weekend and the googan squads will be out on just about every water so I'll

enjoy some non-fishing days down in the Cape with Theresa. Bring a rod? No way. I could use a break and that wouldn't be the way to get in or stay on the wife's good side. The best part of today? Lauren had a Go Pro Hero 5 that she wasn't using so I charged it up and read the instruction manual last night. 

Coolest thing is it's voice activated. "Go Pro start recording" and "Go Pro stop recording". I did this off and on at least 30 times throughout the morning and was surely pointed in the direction of the top water action. So when I had had enough of catching I called it a morning. Once on land I looked at the camera. Not a frame, not a clip, nothing. Next time I'll just turn it on and keep it on. If this still lasts. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

05.22.24 Great trip for several reasons....

     When I met Joe I said I had three goals for the trip. One, to catch a fish on the "Average Pencil". Two, catch a fish on the "Snake Changer", and three, just catch a fish. All in that order. Well first the pencil fly. It worked okay. Shortly after throwing it the tungsten patch in the rear came unglued and was gone. The fly, if you can call it that, still tracked in a straight line and only really make a disturbance 

when not that much line was out, like less than 25 feet. But for the fish liking it? They must have because I kept count of the 23 blow-ups I had on it. One fish I hooked but it became unbuttoned. Time to go back to the drawing board. Then I realized I forgot my "Snake Changers" after taking them out of the wallet for a tune-up at the vice. So it was off to goal number three. 

     A year almost to the day, May 23rd in fact of 2023, I had my best day (above) ever on the river. Today marked the best boat day ever. We put in at the same place as yesterday and headed north. We found the bait and found the bass who were blitzing at times at schools of herring coming down the river. It was like being at a four way stop and just being at the perfect spot at the bait-bass intersection. 

     While I'm the kinda of guy who only wants to dry fly fish, and can't get into nymphing, today I wanted to get them on my new creation. So when the fishing got good, and knowing I would catch a ton more underneath, I stayed throwing up top for two hours. When I couldn't take it anymore I went underneath and started catching even though the bite had died off. 

     The biggest fish of the day was a brute. It was Joe who brought it to the boat and it nearly got stuck in the tank. 33 inches long, and 23 inches in girth. That puts that fish just over 20 pounds when doing 

the length and girth calculation. The other bass were hard chargers and their feeding time was definitely on. They say that striped bass have a feed time, a digest time, and then even a rest time in between eats.

     While yes they are opportunistic feeders, and won't pass up a quick snack, when they feed, or in some counts today, overfeed, their belly's are grossly distended and full of herring. It's really something to see. And then for whatever reason, maybe that digest period kicks in, and the bite dies, even if there is still bait around. I have seen that it takes 18 hours to digest a full stomach, so there you may have one good all out feed daily. Tomorrow is the full moon and I wonder if that came into play as well. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

05.22.24 Say hello to the "Average Pencil"....

     Bob Popovic's always said fly tying is done to solve a fishing problem. Sometimes the problem is striped bass just love pencil poppers. I've seen it. I get it. A straight line popper just doesn't do it. I had tied up some "Snake Changers" awhile back and have had some swirls on them but they just don't hit it 

with the reckless abandoned they do like a topwater pencil popper. So.....

      I went to the vice and tried something, we'll see how it performs in the air and water. But here are my thoughts. It has a five inch long foam body. I got this piece from Jim Matson as he used to used these to punch out popper heads. So it should float. It's got a big Ahrex hook with plenty of a gap to 

to not miss those head strikes. Now out the back it where things got interesting, or laughable. The fly is wired through, like a plug, and has the following. A tungsten cone head buried in the arse, three tungsten beads in between two more tungsten cone heads. There's a bucktail flag off the back just to give it some action and extend the length of the "fly". 

     For additional weight I did something I learned from Steve Farrar. I mixed tungsten powder with some acrylic and created a mound of weight to hopefully pull the flies ass end down a little bit. While there's weight, overall it feels like it could be castable with my 11 wt with an intermediate line. I'm using 30 pound fluoro as a leader. 

     I'll have to vary the retrieves to see if I can get that "walk the dog" action like a pencil or a Spook. Those Snake Changers undulate nicely but they are more swimming than they are annoying. Hopefully all that metal in the back will create a little noise. 

Prototype #1. Field test to come. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

05.21.24 Changing up the hours....

     With temps hitting almost 90 it's just better for the fish, and the anglers, to hit it on the third shift or at first light. Checking the waters temps currently it shows our first crest over 70 degrees. Of course it's cooler in the faster and broken water. 

     Delaware Joe and I started in the dark upriver after putting in at my ramp as part of the Titusville Boat and Ski Club which I joined last year. That gave us a shot way upriver at water that Joe has fished over the years. 

     It took a little bit but we found them chasing herring around. The nice part of this beat is its non-tidal, so it is what it is. There's still current but not the dropping tides. Most of the action came on topwater and I threw and threw but only landed one on a large herring fly. Joe, well Delaware Joe was 

on top of the world with this beautiful fish that blew up on top. Most of the fish made it to the tank for some rehab but the little guys were caught close and didn't put up much of a fight so they were good to go. 

     I do love these fish. They are just great fly rod fish in every way. We were off by 730 am so I could make it to work on time as this week is packed full of nursing department meetings. We'll see how the week plays out, hopefully some good rain is in the mix as the river is now down below 10,000 cfs.