Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another slow trip for me; by Alexi


     Another brief wind window to fish this past week:  

   AND It seems as if I'm where the schools aren't, though I am able to find and land a few fish.  Most of the little action I had was on small soft plastics.   
the sedges have turned brown

the osprey are almost gone

the schoolies are getting bigger

the camping is getting better with cooler nights

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sept 17 report; by Alexi

A few pictures and a brief report:

Fishing has been slow.  I've been targeting bass and blues because that's what's fun.  I managed to use my bluefish whispering powers and conjure up about a 5lb blue at Oyster Creek Channel.  I also had some short bass on topwater and some more follows casting at the points in the creeks.  There are still lots of snapper blues around, and we (Nick and I) caught some of those as well.  



looks small, really about 5lbs

topwater flats in the day

calm waters, old

Monday, September 14, 2015

Confidence: by Alexi

     I've fished the Sedges behind IBSP a lot.  I've also fished it thoroughly; so much so, that I feel like I have stirred a fish at each and every point, nook, corner, crevice, flat, rip, hole and so on...Where does this get me?  Incidentally to the same logical point as if I had caught fish no-where.  What I mean is: when I was in my kayak trying to find some bass with Nick the other night, I had a sudden realization that we could go to any number of about a thousand spots where I would have an equal sensation of utter confidence that I was going to catch a fish on the next cast (on the next cast.)  And that sums up the thing that separates the obsessed and dedicated fisherman from the person just trying to enjoy themselves.  At the risk of a misquote someone may have once said: "What's amazing about Steve is that he thinks he's going to catch a fish with each cast." Well, that's just how it is for us.  Cast and cast and cast.  And that is how, the other night, Nick was able to land his first back bay striper:

"Well played" I said, because he had some light test mono on a shitty reel attached to a fine St Croix rod that I was letting him borrow.

As John Gierach writes in his Novel Still Life With Brook Trout:  "Once you've played a few fish well, especially some big, strong ones in tough spots, it begins to look a little more like applied common sense---let him run when you have to and pull him back when you can---but it's still something you have to learn out on the water with live fish and real current, snags, rocks and weeds."

Back bay striper

     We put a lot of work into the kind of fishing we do.  Nick heard that fish rise and feed at his feet.  He had the confidence it took to cast over and over again, stealthily and with precision until BAM! Fish on!
    Me? I had all of my two fish on the troll with a weedless bass assassin.

fish 1

fish 2

(Yes, these really are two different fish.)

We fished a little more in the morning. I had a follow all the way to my boat on a topwater lure, but it didn't commit to it, and Nick got to see what it looked like where we had been fishing at night twice now in the daylight.  It was a Saturday morning and the people, and the boats, and the dogs, and the kids all came out as we headed in...

The End


Saturday, September 5, 2015

"On good advice" By Alexi

     It's 2:16 A.M. Friday, September 4, 2015.  I have a camera in my hand and I am about to take a picture of Nick holding a fish.  It's a Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis).  A fish so elusive (to me) I have sincere pangs of jealousy (masked as enthusiasm) when I see it.  I had been catching fish, (though not a lot,) on the past two trips with Nick, so I am actually very glad that he was able to hook up.   Where exactly does this story begin?


What brings a man to this?  Steve was reading Walden.  We fished.

     "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."  Henry David Thoreau

     What brings anyone to this point?  To be nestled under the deck of a vacation home for the wealthy in a well off beach-town in middle of the night?  To travel for hours, from the "desperate city" with the prospect of missing a nights sleep?  ....Why?

    I won't start the story TOO far back, but when I look down at the spider diagram  of the events surrounding the capture of this picture, it's like the internet image of a spiders web on caffeine; appropriate in many ways.  Caffeine fueled is what we do.  (Insomniacs.)

     Last week I went out fishing with Nick.
 He borrowed an extra kayak and we went for an all nighter to the sedges.   He was skunked, I had a few bass.  Anyway, at our poker game later that week he unexpectantly says "I bought a kayak."   It's a Trident 13!  Really THE perfect kayak for the fishing in the dark crew.  Now we're cooking.  A few texts later and we were back out in his truck headed towards the new Bass Pro Shop in Atlantic City.        

      If you've ever been to Atlantic City you know it's fairly run-down, but we were surprised by the new facades of businesses as we approached the Bass Pro.  I bought some bass assassins and a few other things all adding up to about a million dollars.  Nick spent his first million (of many to come) on tackle as well.  Next order of business: caffeine.

     I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of Starbucks restrooms (being in a band that tours) but hands down the Starbucks in Atlantic City is the worst.  Plus, there was nowhere to park to get your coffee!  We managed it, I jumped out and Nick circled the block, and with time to kill we headed to the fishing grounds.

  At the launch we were intentionally taking our time.  I had some new braid to spool onto a reel, and we were waiting for the tide to come in and for night to settle.  There were ghosts a-plenty at the boat ramp, all with the same comments:

 "Could you fit any more stuff there?"
"Why yes I can actually"
"How long you fishing?"
"Until at least 4 A.M."
ghost launch

    And a ghost gets into his own sit inside kayak with no pfd, one rod, and a bait bucket.   I'm sure he's fine.

     On pretty solid advice, my plan was to hit some new night spots.  (Originally with Steve, but he couldn't make it.)  The plan was to fish the dock lights all night, concentrating our efforts around high tide.  While I've fished light lines before around bridges, I really didn't know what I was in for.  These lights provide consistent bait for predatory fish who swim with confidence through the light eating whatever they please: crabs, spearing, peanut bunker, mullet, grass shrimp, and so on... all visible, nothing spooked by the kayak.  (They were only ever spooked when catching a fish)

Alien lights

     The first spit of docks we arrived at had an underwater light.  This was all new to me, and as we approached I saw the circling fish.  Clearly schoolie stripers with the occasional larger one mixed in, but nothing THAT big for anyone coounting.  We're talking 15-25" fish.  They weren't feeding on top, and nothing we threw at them seemed to work.  We fished small soft plastics  about 6" blelow the surface and crystal minnows.  Frustrated, we moved on, away from the maddenning situation.  The fish were there, and they were eating, but we couldn't catch them.  We moved on and into another maddenning situation.  And then I got it!  I wasn't catching fish, but I got what is meant by "fishing the dock lights at night."  We hop from light to light and look for fish.
     Our bass assassin soft plastics were the perfect imitation for the bait.  So much so, that as I stared at the bait swimming around one of them jumps up  out of the water then floated there in mid air until I realized, holy shit, that's Nicks god-damned Bass Asassin!

one of three bass 

The thing is, I couldn't ever feel like I had these fish locked in on a pattern.  Retrieve, lure, cast placement, depth: I just couldn't get it.  So for me it was frustrating.  Three fish in one night.  But that leads us to Nick and his fish.
Nick's secret fishing spot

     There we were, it was getting late, and he was dedicated to fishing this one dock light.   I moved around, hit some other lights, and came back, and he's under the damn dock casting across the light reeling slowwwww....and BAMMM.  FISH ONNNNNNNNNNNN.  Alright! I'm psyched for him to have caught his first yak fish!  Wait! What is that? A god-damned Weakfish!?  Now I'm pumped!  Pink fin-ess and jig head all the way.

     We hit the same lights on the way back to the launch, working our way slowly, with little success.  Fatigue was really settling in, and it seemed as if we were going to try to make the trip home that morning.
     I'm always glad to try something new, especially on good advice, but there was something nagging me in the back of my head on the way home that night; if we had fished the Sedges would we have caught WAY more fish?  With almost complete certainty I can say Nick would not have caught a Weakfish, and so despite the relatively few fish caught, it was by all accounts, a successful trip, at a new spot, with a new technique.

     Thanks for the tip.