Monday, December 8, 2014

Wed Dec 3, 2014 Togging, by Alexi

Destination: Island of King Nummy, N. Wildwood, NJ.

Green crabs. 2 dozen.
Back-up plan. Eels.  One dozen.
Back-up, back-up plan, one million lures.

Ready.  Set. GO!

I still prefer "The Shitty Launch"

This trip was really really uneventful!
I have nothing to complain about the conditions.
It wasn't too windy or weedy or cold.
The conditions were absolutely perfect.  No boat traffic.  (No flies.)
I thought there would at least be some short Tog by the bridge,
but nope.

because this is close by...

I can get between the bridge pilings

...and under

...and behind
 But still no bites, no I went out to the rock jetties in Hereford inlet.

I didn't get a picture at the jetties so I stole this one from Google Maps

I fished the tips, the holes and the sides.  No action.  The incoming tide was picking up.  I switched plans to back-up #1.  Drifting eels.

sedge grasses have their winter coats on I drifted eels along the Sod Banks towards the end of the day, just in case there happened to be a stray bass around.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Still Hunting... By: Steve Evans

Ol' Barney
      The report of shotguns becomes familiar this time of year around Barnegat Bay, but the wing shooters aren't the only ones hunting. Between (Alexi,Me) we've gone 0 for 4 on back bay trips this second half of November, not what we expect this time of year, but we're still at it. Finding slack water and fishing the change with eels (weighted, unweighted) has been our tactic.

      The 21st was cold. layered in Neoprene, polartec fleece, wool, goretex, wicking base layers, and all, I got out there, but this cold, at some point my toes still freeze, and my fingers still wont work. the air was in the mid twenties and the water between 38 and 44 F. There was ice on my boat. There were no spearing on the surface, no small bass on the sod banks, no knocks on my bait and no other signs of life. Persistent west wind of the past week, paired with a new moon low tide, left little water on the shallows of the sedge islands, after I quit, I had to drag my boat across the flats, to the landing. I remember one other night like this, two years ago at the end of our back bay season.
LBI launch
      Less than a week after, the air temps jumped back up a little for a few days. I decided on launching at Barnegat light, deeper water, and my timing was right to hit the change on the south side with live eels. That was my big fish plan. As a plan b, this area has some dock lights that attract spearing, so I brought a light rod and some small plastics too.

      The guys in the tackle shop were talking about fish up north, and fish out past the EEZ, the usual late season gossip, with even less the usual languishing conviction, and faded into perfunctory conversations about equipment, about next season.
Barnegat Bay
      Water temps were back up a little, 48 F. There were little pods of spearing, and here and there, some small bass breaking the surface, good sign. I had the tide timed right. I fished my chosen area roughly an hour before, during, and a hour after slack tide. When the current picked up I went down to the light house and tried a little, no sign there. I put my eeling gear away and tossed a bass assassin with my light rod. The bait was there in the lights as expected, I thought I might have heard some bass feeding, but that was it. 



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Hunt, by Alexi

Mon Nov 17th.

     Our boats splash the backwaters of IBSP around 1 A.M.  It's overcast, foggy, and there's no moon.  (Maybe a sliver but the clouds are hiding it)  We have eels.   Steve heads across the flat invisibly pulled by an unknown force to the spot he caught his fish at last week.  I am not subject to the same invisible attraction, and so I take the path of least resistance to Snake Ditch.  Every corner, each turn, each hole I am full of anticipation.  I give Snake ditch a thorough run, and then decide to head out to Oyster creek Channel and try to meet up with Steve.  Still knowing, still feeling, still wanting, that at any second there will be a fish attacking my eel.  I cut through Horsefoot and get out to OCC.  It's still close enough to slack tide that I feel like I'm effectively fishing.  Like I'm presenting my bait in an enticing manner.  If there were fish.
    I can barely see the lighthouse.   I have my gps on and I can look down and see a map (bear in mind that the maps of the sedges are always off)  and I can see where I am on the map.  I drift along to what I think is seal island.  (I'm actually completely disoriented)  It's probably around 4 A.M.  Then I see a space ship cruising across the flat.  From where I thought I was (which was wrong) it was a very large vessel with lights all around it.  I radioed to Steve "Yo Perchman, Do you see that thing?  How is it on the flat?"

Steve: "It's a tugboat, it's in the inlet."

Me: "Where are you?  I'm at Seal Island"

Steve: "I'm at Seal Island"

first light
Visibility is about two feet.  I was lucky that I wasn't where I thought I was.  As it passed Steve and it's wake approached him, he had no way of knowing when it would reach him or how big it would be.  One second you feel yourself rise into the air.  And then you wonder, will there be another?  How many?  How big?  What angle?

I figured out I was back in Horsefoot.  Perchman turned on some lights and I paddled over to meet him.   We had a break on seal Island and talked plan.  The decision was to drift over to the Sedge House.
Desperate A.M. eel casting

 The tide in front of the Sedge House was slow moving, and I usually have better luck there when there is a bit of current.  Day began to happen.  This signaled the end of the trip. We were reluctant to succumb.  We went back to snake ditch, back to weakfish point all to no avail.  Now there was no longer a reality.  It all turned into the world of dreams.  The separation between awake and asleep blurred.  Dreams of being in an IHOP.  Dreams of pancakes and syrup.  Dreams of a highway.


Nov. 19  Steve froze trying again, solo trip to the Sedges.

Nov. 23  I went to Nummy (N. Wildwood) and drifted eels for 6 hours along the sod banks.  Chris wasn't at the store.  At least I got a nice waterproof hat and some more eels.

Hereford Inlet

My favorite collapsing house



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Striper Revenge 2 By: Steve Evans

"If you want a real wall hanger, everyone is going to have to suffer, but you"
                                                                            -Billy "The Greek" Legakis

      A man alone. I haven't spent much time at home, in days, at least, not outside of my waders, haven't slept, hardly showered, eating only the fish I catch, so that I might know their minds, ok, passed out, a few times, in sub-normal positions, in car, or tent, or elsewhere. I'd just finished having an outrageous argument with my employer, regarding, among other things, scheduling (This happens every November, doesn't it?).....
Sick day.
      Not entirely alone, of course, Alexi was with me to start the week, and we launched into the Atlantic, straight off ship bottom, Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Snagged Bunker, easily, but with no bass, or blues beneath. I, as it happened, happened to be beneath, the weather, badly. Not undo in part to some imbibing.
Bunker down...
      We were around the corner from fish all day, but we didn't manage to catch up to any. First we were into bunker pods with no fish on them. I finally dumped my kayak in a wave, which turned out to be just what my hangover needed. Then, to put another nail in it, it was time to go to the international house of pancakes, for coffee, eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes, and plan. Pay the bill, "Are you guys in construction?" "NO!".

      Time to go to seaside and get back into the Atlantic. We did, two more times, but the radio chatter was constant, the bass fishing in front of the bathing beach was "EPIC". Well, the wise old laws of the park say we can't launch there, so we didn't. We did our last launch of the day, in the back, at sunset.
glass water, sunset, and fox.
       I had a good feeling about the back bay, bunker were coming in through the inlet, and conditions seemed right, but at some point we had to stop fishing, I'd pick up where we left off, next trip.
next trip.
      This next one would be a solo trip. I had a bunch of lures and the usual 4 rods I carry along for bay fishing, but I was really out there to fish my heavy "live bait" outfit. I had live eels, and I knew where and when I wanted to be, at slack tide, I was hunting.

      I had a little time to play around, I lost a short, at the boat, I'd hooked it on a rubber shad. Then I switched to eels right after, I had one nice run-off and pulled the hook, so I tried a few more drifts, but when it was time to move to the place I had in mind, I got going, and I didn't stop to fish between.

      I thought it was a schoolie even after the hook was set, it was moving toward me with the current, but when it knew it was hooked there was a real battle, up close. My headlamp light hit the flank of the fish and I knew it was a good one, I wasn't gonna lose it, got in the boat as soon as I could.
in the dark.
      This was my biggest "back bay" fish to date, 40 inches, and pulled the boga to 27 pounds. When we're fishing eels in the back, at night, we're hunting, for big fish, but that doesn't always mean we catch them. This time I was at exactly the right place, at the right time of tide, at the right time of year, in the dark, and with my favorite live bait, and it worked. For me that's a damn good feeling.
Back bay beauty.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bunker! By: Steve Evans

     I've been out for a while from computer difficulties but I'm back in now and what a time to get back in, the fish are moving through!
      We head out the other day annnnnnnnnnnnnnd.... Woah! the time was right!: bunker near shore in our hood! Snag up.
count the sets
      To be there at first light we have to wake up at 3 am. NO PROBLEM! Alexi goes to sleep at 3 am, so he'll already be up! These are the times of HIGH ADVENTURE!!!
Spot burn.

      The surf was titillated by bunker, you should have seen it! Or maybe you did. And this time the bass were there, blues were too!
Bluefish gun.
      I launched, snagged my first menhaden of the day and was immediately hooked into the fattest bluefish I've ever caught. I called Alexi on the radio (he was surf fishing) I say "They're here!"

Alexi fighting a humungous fish

      After that...

      A plan comes together...
      Fish were all over Alexi's baits, but he had a hard time hooking up for a while...
Other fishermen were out in kayaks and SUP doing the same...
A whale came up behind seconds later!
      In total I had 4 stripers 33" to 35" and two bluefish around 30" too. Alexi landed one nice bluefish. A really excellent day. Who knew that we'd have a run of adult bunker in-shore this fall? Sandeel bite should start soon too.
New Friends.

      Met some other dudes out there, everyone was catching fish, it was a great day...
      It's November now so get out there! Get some lines in and if you're tired...
Just sleep in the damn kayak.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Oct. 28, 29. 2014 Sedges

Game plan: Fish the Sedges Tuesday evening, Wednesday all day, surf launch Thursday A.M.

Reality: Surf launch Tuesday early evening, fish Sedges Tuesday night thru Wednesday night.  (head home early exhausted)

"You should have been here yesterday, it was the boil of the century!  You could see their tails from here", says a guy on a bike with a beer on the boardwalk.   We were unloading our gear at the Shark River inlet.

A good launch for the future.  That's the takeaway.  The L jetty was slightly useful, also  tricky in different ways.

Steve assessing the situation

going in

Had to avoid the people fishing the jetty, but luckily they kept moving so it wasn't hard 

Steve and the SRI drawbridge

Reverse landing (Steve is about to meet the wave)

After our unfruitful surf launch we headed down the coast to IBSP.  We fished the usual spots.  I pulled a bass out of snake ditch on a swim-bait, while Steve drifted eels for larger fish.  With the wind and current blowing us North and full of fatigue we landed our butts for the night in a new spot.  

"Fox poop" campsite

Another view from "fox poop" campsite

Conditions were less than ideal.  We were still dealing with winds steady at 12, gusting to 20 mph.  I had one blow up on a popper in the A.M., then Steve had a million "almost" fish.  We fished around some islands and Steve pulled this one fish out.

a slow two days, one of four fish caught

Later, after a break at the million dollar bathroom, slack tide and a lull in the wind coincided.  I had another bass on topwater near an island.  

We're still waiting for our shot at the big body of fish arriving in our area.  (Well they did over the next two days.)  But as they say, don't chase reports, make reports.  So there you have it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mid-October, picky fish, by Alexi

Maybe I'll never get used to kayak fishing in the wind.   Maybe I'm frustrated that my favorite reels are in the shop getting repaired.  Maybe I'm anxiously anticipating a fall run in New Jersey like everyone else!  Well, in the mean-time I've got to get out and wet a line.  I saw the weather window for Monday and re-scheduled work around it, so I had to go.  My expectations weren't great.

     We're half serious about everything.  And so we're currently half serious about only fishing the Sedges behind IBSP for all of October.  So here we are again, at the sedges behind IBSP,  a VERY familiar area for us.

We started off paddling across the flat.  Wait, rewind a minute....

     We started off talking to a ghost at the kayak launch.  He appeared out of nowhere.  From the water.  He had a fly reel on a spinning rod.  It was ancient.  He was ancient.  Just as Steve was coming up with some grandiose theory about Barnegat Bay and comparing it to Montauk, and saying the big bass are up at the North end of the bay first (of course they DO migrate from North to South) the ghost says "I lived on the Island for years"  (Referring to Long Island)  He then goes on to proclaim that (from the surf-zone)" the crabs have gone, the lobsters have gone and the clams have gone!  So the bass migrate off- shore!"  Of course he also made mention of all of our gear, and how he wished his wife was there to see it so she would stop thinking he had a lot of stuff.  And then he disappeared.  Back into the water.  So we went fishing.  

 So, once again, we started off paddling across the flat.  Nada.  We got to a sod bank and it was instant action!  I had a schoolie bass self release at the side of my boat.  Then I had a wind knot.  meanwhile Steve landed several schoolie bass.  It was tough going for me.  Steve had fish early on where I didn't.  It seemed like just when I was able to land a cast where I needed to, the school had moved on.  The activity along the sedges faded.

     We paddled to Snake Ditch and nothing was going on there.  I moved through Horsefoot and out to Oyster Creek Channel.  Steve went back in front of the launch.  (Together we were covering a lot of area) I had some blue-fish bitten tails of rubber shads, but that was it.  So now the sun was setting.  It was getting towards the end of the incoming tide.
     Fishing in The Sedge Islands is ALWAYS about the wind and the tides.  Barnegat inlet is like a flushing toilet.  No matter how used to it I feel, it's still frustrating getting from spot to spot.  So I was making my way from seal Island, which maybe I should call Oyster Catcher Island this time of year,
Oyster Catchers on Seal island

 to the Sedge House.  I was letting the wind drift me over the flat, keeping my eyes peeled.  I could hear some activity, but hadn't seen it...Then I saw some bait jump about twenty feet away.  I was in about ten inches of water.  I cast my small bass assassin just to the left of the activity and it was pretty much instant hook-up.
Shallow Water bass, just at sunset

Finally, I thought, after hours of nothing!  Fish on!  It was just a schoolie, but satisfying none-the-less.  I stuck around for a minute to see if any more activity was going to happen, but the wind was pushing me towards the Sedge House and I was not going to fight it!
     For those who don't know, the area in front of the Sedge House is small, maybe 100 feet long by 50 feet wide, maybe twice that, but somewhere in that range.  The surrounding area, the water is generally one to four feet deep.  The area in front of the Sedge house is 8 to 12 feet.  It's also between two islands.  So there is a hole, and some current.  It's a known "spot."   It doesn't always produce, but it does often enough to keep us interested.  I was meeting Steve there, as after leaving Snake Ditch we floated in different directions.  I got hits on my Gulp swim-bait almost immediately.  Then fish on, fought for a bit...and off....?   I rarely have that happen.  I was a bit confused.  Then I landed one.
Sedge House fish on Gulp 4"rootbeer, ripple mullet

I remember landing two, but this might be a picture of the same fish

Then steve had one on an eel.  First eel fish of the fall.
first eel fish

Then I had some hits and another come off in the middle of a fight.  It was like my hook-set wasn't good, but I checked my hook, and made sure to lay into it a little and tighten up on my drag a few notches after the first missed fish.

That school of fish moved on, the wind picked up, and I paddled back to the launch.  I had a rehearsal to make it to the next morning.  Steve spent the night, and I was really rooting for him to catch a bigger fish in Oyster Creek Channel with his eels... but that didn't pan out.  The next day, while he was there I was checking the weather, and the wind was going from zero to 30, back to zero!   there were pictures of water spouts off IBSP, and Steve said he drove through some hail on his way home.
One thing I love about fall fishing; the night bite is usually just as good, and mostly better than the day bite. (And I love fishing under a full sky of stars.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

First week of October in the Sedges, by Alexi

Steve at the launch on Wednesday with his new striped bass shirt

    Northern Harrier's were gliding over the sedges looking for anything to eat,

This picture is from Wikipedia and is not mine

 and the American Oystercatcher was on what was left of Seal Island.  (Seal Island is disappearing.)

The Sedges are an ever-changing enigma.

This picture is from Wikipedia and is not mine
Along with all of the usual suspects (White Egrets), there were these new birds around the Sedges I hadn't noticed before.

During the week ending October 11 we fished the Sedges in shifts.   I fished behind IBSP Sunday through the night.   Steve showed up Monday and we chatted at the launch as I was leaving and he was arriving.   He fished all day and into the night Monday.   Then we both fished most of Wednesday and Thursday.

My largest fish during the week went to 26" on a big Bass Assassin swim shad with a 1/2 ounce jig-head.

Monday night fish

The Bluefish were still around, and they made it difficult to fish with soft plastics or eels, as they bite the tails off of both.

20 some-inch bluefish on the smack-it popper in Snake Ditch (Wednesday day)

We camped out and in the morning had some coffee.

The bite was slow on thursday, until sunset.  We had a couple of fish during the day, but nothing too big.

We got into a nice bite just before sunset and both tagged and released several healthy fish.

Most of the fish last week were on bass assassins; small and big, sluggo soft plastics, and bkd's.  The top-water bite was slower, though I probably did end up catching three or four bass on the chartreuse zara Spook Jr.

 Tight Lines!  The fall migration is starting and we're probably fishing the Sedges behind IBSP every window of opportunity for the next two months.