Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Short Post, By: Steve

      Back bay eeling: start November 19th end November 20. It's going to be windy, but there'll be a lull, at 1AM, I think. Until then I'll walk the sodbanks, cast upstream, reel my eel back to me. Bunker and spearing by the launch. I feel some knocks, land two fish. The wind never really stops, except for a half an hour break, I paddle out and drift the big deep water. The wind blows in again. I go back to walking the sodbanks, I cast with the wind, reel my eel back to me. No one is around on this side, It rains hard at times, I fish until sunup.
the end.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Buffalo Hunting by: Steve

"When they had eaten all they could, the crier shouted to the people: "All come home! It is more than I can eat!"- from "Black Elk Speaks"

      When the fish are in shoals like herds of buffalo I wish my heroes, Black Elk, or Crazy Horse, or Sitting Bull, or even Geronimo or King Nummy, could help me with words.

      We cooked fish over a fire, friends were there, and there was plenty for everyone. As always those who had been in the ocean were still in the ocean. Nick is a new friend, he says "You can't say a dolphin is better than a dog, it's a push." Nick likes to play cards. I know a lot of people who love fishing, and also love cards and gambling, I have a theory about that, for some other time. Alexi knows Nick, "Steve's got theories." says Alexi to Nick.

      Yes, and here's one for you all:
         Looking back I've found, I've never been good at doing posts from great trips. This isn't supposed to be a bragging board, It's not "Kayak Warriors" the TV show. We fish often for striped bass and we do so almost year round, from kayaks, and land too, but mostly kayaks. These pictures and stories are the fat rendered of many, many hours. We've caught many, many fish, most of them are small resident fish in our bay systems which we target with lures and light tackle. Yes, we have learned some things. With many hours of fishing we have learned to be consistent under 'normal circumstances'.
      The fall and spring runs will sometimes produce 'abnormal circumstances' things like blitzes, mid-day bites, even very large concentrations of big fish which sometimes appear like buffalo herds grazing under calm seas, and sunny skies. Quit your job.
        If you get up at 3am in west Philly, you will hear the freight train hoot like an owl, and there is plenty of time to have a sip of coffee, pick up boats, and friends, and friend's shoes, wherever they are, and to get all of the things that all of your friends need, making many stops along the way, so that you, and your friends can get to the Jersey Shore, to go fishing and have fun...


       There were humpback whales, and bunker, and striped bass erupting all over, The air was mild and the ocean was calm, I have to remind myself of these things since there is so much to remember, besides the fishing, on days like this. Alexi and I each caught our first bass early, probably at the same time but we were in different areas...
      So many fish were hooked throughout the morning, some lost boatside, some out of sight. but we didn't boat another for many hours, and we needed ice.
Took a land break, gave bunker to surf fisherman, got ice. Friends came in, we went back out.
      There were still fish out there...
      In fact the largest fish I've had in my kayak yet. She was safely released. We can only guess at the measurements..... and then Alexi...
      How could I tell the story of how Alexi called his shot on a bass on the way to the beach, saying "right about now!" as his line went down?... It's harder to write a great trip than a good trip, or even a bad trip. Enough people will talk about the great fall, and there will be pictures of big, BIG fish, to impress. This is what we do, the weather will change, and we will go fishing, next time we might have a picture of a pretty 23 inch bass, or of nothing. A little bit of experience gives a fisherman a little bit of perspective, sometimes the cards, so to speak, all line up, and you are the one holding them, for a moment, what a nice thing.
After All.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Brevoortia Tyrannus, by Alexi

Bunker,  MossBunker, Atlantic Menhaden
     Start in the middle:  Just me and the dolphins floating and playing, 100 yards from the New Jersey shore, in the Atlantic ocean.  
The little black spot is a dolphin 
It's around 6 a.m.  The water is calm; usually there is very little wind before the sun rises, though first light has already been around for a half hour at least.  It's really amazing how fast the sun rises along an open horizon.  I paddled out and floated there, not doing anything, just watching the dolphins, looking for signs of bunker.  My shoulder was hurting a little from the past two days of paddling.

     I had been to the Sedges with Nick for a camping/ fishing expedition where I slept funny on my shoulder, and now I was feeling it.
The sun is already up, we are late
We drifted eels in Snake Ditch at night.   Then we woke leisurely the next morning.  I had a "morning" bass on a bass assassin, but no other action.
Nuclear Chicken Bass Assasin always does the job on schoolies
We paddled against the current back to the launch, loaded all of our gear, and headed to the first place we could surf launch.  We were going to snag bunker and catch large fish.

     The launch was un-eventful (Nick did well for his first time), and apparently we had just missed the whale (and quite likely the bite as well).  It was already 11:00 a.m.  We floated around with snagged Bunker for a couple of hours, (no fish) then decided to make a move with the truck north a few townships.

     I said, "Maybe we needed to be here at first light, that's when I've had my best luck out here."

     We drove around to different townships, looking for signs of bigger fish striking fear in the bunker pods from underneath, or boats hooking up, but either our perception was wrong, or the bite was indeed a morning bite, and the bass were not feeding.   We left the shore around 4 p.m. feeling not quite defeated.  I knew what I had to do: go home, rest, get back out there the next morning at first light.

  Back in the ocean. 
Just me and one other boat

      As the sun peaks its head up along the horizon I see a few fins and tails, not a lot, but enough to give me a sense of confidence.  The bunker are here, they just need to wake up.   A few minutes later, drifting and dreaming and watching the dolphins play, I see a dark area not too far off in the distance.  I rig up my one rod with a snag and paddle over.  My heart is racing.  No mistakes allowed out here.  Large treble hooks impale people.  Whales/ Mary Lee (the Great White)/ dolphins and me.  We are alone.  First bunker snagged, I have a run off, tension, then seconds later my line goes limp!       "Damn bluefish" I exclaim.
     However, upon retrieving the end of my line, and after further scrutiny, I deduct that in my haste I had tied a faulty knot.  My only other snags are larger than what I'd normally use, and I only have two more, so if there are giant bluefish out there my trip could get cut short quickly.  I carefully tied my new snag on, cast it out and hooked another bunker.  Maybe it's getting harassed?  I adjust my drag so if a fish grabs it there is a little tension, but not too much.   Always adjusting.   I'm trying to avoid gut hooking any fish. I like to leave the rod in the rod holder on my kayak, I trust it more than my own hands.  I feel my boat turn... fish on.  I grab my rod from the rod holder, pull hard, and set the hook.  A very real tug of war ensues.
My St Croix rod holds up to the test
The fish sounds.  My rod is doubled over.  We are even.  The sun is mostly up off of the horizon.  I gradually start to win the tug of war and land a nice 35" bass.  The dolphins have moved on, and I hear the first boat coming up the shore.  It's further out than me, and appears to cruising past when it takes a turn towards me and my solitude.
    For the next hour it's just me and that one boat catching bass from under a relatively small pod of bunker.  I land a total of 5 bass all from 35-40".  Part of me wants to stay and try to beat my personal best, (42") but another part of me wants to leave the zoo that the shore had become, as every boat in New Jersey was now fishing the giant slick of bunker that stretched from Barnegat Inlet to the Manasquan inlet.
One of 5 fish 35 to 40" 
     It seems that the good weather, calm seas, and bunker pods with fish on them were all lined up to have a good time fishing last week for kayaks, paddle boards, boats, and surf fishermen alike.  An occurrence which does not happen often in my experience.   Tight lines!  
all but one safely released 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

One Dozen Eels; by Alexi

     There's nothing like trying to get out of the city at 4:30 in the afternoon on a weekday.  I don't care what city you're in, it's just plain the worst.  So, we were sitting in traffic and I was trying to explain to Nick the subtleties of eel fishing from a kayak.


      I basically said "Just don't let the eel fuck you, because it's going to.   It's going to wind itself up into an eel knot around your line and commit eel suicide.  But don't let it.  Get it in the water quickly."

    What has in the past taken as little as an hour and a half turned in into an epic four and half hour trip.  Of  course we had to stop a lot as well as sit in traffic.   Traffic, coffee, sandwiches, bait, motel.  traffic. coffee. traffic.


He said, " A dozen eels? I can't put them in there, you'll have to do it outside.  I'll put them in a bucket.  If I try to do it in here I'll be chasing them all over the place."

I say "Yup."

I think to myself: that's exactly what usually happens, why do it differently?  I always thought chasing the eels in the shop was part of fishing.

 He said, "You want 40 lb braid? O.K."  the O and the K are both drawn out.....

 He said, "What kind of backing do you want?"

(I didn't know people had a preference for backing)

In the darkness there is mystery


She said, "Good luck tomorrow. "

I laughed to myself, and thought, "you mean tonight."

 She said, "Did you see the fish the other kayaker caught?"


She said,  "Doesn't it pull you in?"


"Your in room 14, it's around the back."


Later, (but not much,)  at the gate, they didn't ask if we were fishing.

Winter anchorage:

9:29 P.M.

      We paddled directly into the wind, heading out to the channel to have a meeting with a large fish.  Nick had a new set-up, a Calcutta paired with a St Croix rod.  A perfect combo for striper fishing. Half way across the flat,  a car arrives at the launch.  What were they doing?
     Paddle paddle.
     No ghosts, Just witches.  For all intents and purposes, the Moon was full.  
     Nicks first eel committed suicide.  (Not a good start, but at least that hurdle was over.)
     Around 1 A.M. some other boats arrived on the scene and it looked like they were drifting eels in Oyster Creek Channel as well.  For a Thursday night, there was more boat traffic than I expected.  Nick didn't have a light on, and I was wondering if he had been run-over by the boats.  But then he appeared.  
     We had arrived at the channel in time for a perfect drift.  We stayed there for a couple of hours fishing both sides of slack tide.  I might have had one run-off, but couldn't really tell.  It was pretty windy, and nothing was going on.  I wanted to get out of there.

     I really wanted to head straight to the Sedge House, but I wasn't sure if Nick knew where it was, or if I went too fast if he'd be lost.  Eventually we got there.

2:15 A.M.

Zing Zing.  Slack line.  Zing Zing.  Slack line.  This fish kept swimming towards me just when I was trying to bend my rod.  I land a nice 29" fish.

We fished that hole for a while longer, but the cold and the wind started to kick in, and the thought of the warm Motel room was luring us back.

It was 4:30 AM by the time we laid down.

The End