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.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Exploring Jarvis Sound, by Alexi

Jarvis Sound
     Last monday (Sept 29th) we tried a new area:  Jarvis Sound, Cape May County.  It's not far from where we usually fish in North Wildwood.  It looks really fishy on all of our maps, with many intersecting creeks.  We launched at Skunk sound (aptly named) and went back up into the spaghetti.  The first thing I noticed was a lack of strong currents.   Not much was going on.  Well, besides ENDLESS snapper blues.  I went through a ton of soft plastics before I just gave up on them and trolled a bomber.  Schools of mullet were back there, but we couldn't find the bass.  It seems like it will be a good area for fluke the right time of year.
Another space ship

     It wasn't until we got out into Jarvis Sound, along the sod banks, where I found some bass smashing my topwater lures hard.   I was bending my hooks back after each fish.  I tagged four Striped Bass up to 24" and had a much smaller one, maybe 15",  released.   The action lasted about two hours during the dropping tide, then it was off again.   It was pretty good for a first time trip to an area, but, we decided for better or worse that it would probably be a good idea to focus our energies on the Sedges at IBSP for October.  When I look back at what I did last October, I didn't fish the sedges much, and when I did I had a keeper bass.  So now it's off to familiar ground!