Friday, November 17, 2017

The payoff is in the back, By alexi

     November on the New Jersey coast is absolutely THE month to fish for striped bass and everyone knows it.  Almost everyone, anyway.  As I awkwardly  unload my kayak for the third (maybe fourth) time from the top of my truck in the past ten days a passerby asks me "Why are those boats out there? is there a tournament or something?"  No, it's just the first day where a calm ocean has coincided with a weekend.  It's Sunday.  The fleet is already there when  I arrive.

the fleet
Where am I? Spot-burn, the Jersey coast in November.  One giant spot-burn. ( For those unfamiliar with the term: a spot-burn is when you give away a good fishing location.) This whole blog is one giant spot-burn.  The Jersey Coast in November.  Day or night.  Any bridge, any canal, any jetty, any beach, any inlet.  One giant spot-burn.

I tried North.
Keyport Municipal boat ramp

I fished Raritan Bay 2, maybe 3 times.  I lost track.  I was skunked.  It was too windy one night, I was a day late the next trip...Just missed the "bite"  I tried the ocean in Northern Jersey, around Belmar - I saw a dogfish caught one trip, out of a thousand boats, one damn dogfish.  That was funny.  On another trip I was between two boats and they both hooked up with bass on snagged bunker, but I didn't.  So my skunk was persistent.  The wind has been un-predictable.  Two or three times I've had to call a trip short because it was predicted wrong.  Gusting up to 25 or 30 when it was going to be a barely tolerable 15 mph.

I tried drifting eels in the back.  (After catching innumerable shorts in the day) only to come up dry.  No fish on eels.

I tried out front AGAIN, only to be called off by the wind.  Now?  What next?  That's what I asked myself.  Here it is, god-damn November.  The month I should be leaving my Kayak on the top of my truck.  The month I should be leaving my gear ready at the door.  I should be catching fish.

-----
sedges sunset

Half over.  November 14th.  I start later, I fish later, after reading my own damn blog!  I needed to chase my own reports.  My own spot-burns from previous years.  So I launch at sunset in the Sedges.

...and then the fishing begins...

fishing in the dark

The eels had been collecting in my pond from various trips between Steve and I.  I didn't need to stop at the tackle shop.  I even left a few behind.  I had all of my gear, but once the sun set it was one eel, one rod one circle hook.  I drifted, and I drifted, and I wasn't getting any action.  I made my way to Oyster Creek Channel where I encountered a USCG (Coast Guard) boat with whom I had a peculiar encounter.  The captain thought I was two people on a jet ski.  He said there were no personal watercraft allowed on the water after dark.  I didn't argue, and agreed to head back, which is what I'm always doing once I start fishing.  There is a beginning and an end.  Once I start, I'm on my way back.  And so I made my way around, back through skinnier water that by now I know even better than the back of my hand at any tide.  The night grew long and my toes were cold.  Just as it usually happens with Striped Bass fishing, as the night goes on the fishing improves, and in a very specific rip with a hump and some deeper water I found a school of 26-30" bass that wanted my eel presented in a VERY specific manner.  Finally, a pattern.

night stripers, one of 5 right around 28"


It was just early enough that if I called it a night I wouldn't have to sleep in my truck, so I headed back.  Finally, fall has begun for me.

the end

P.S.
According to the USCG's own website the only requirement to kayak at night is a white light visible 360 degrees.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Oak Island by, Uncle Steve


M
ec
han
ical
break
down stall
ed fishing Oc 
tober in the sedge(s), 
what could have been night
fishing with a dozen eels and coffee
in a can bought a two gallon gas container, sold
 one car. (Alexi's red) truck towed once and one half times
  the distance between Philadelphia, PA and Hagerstown, MD,  
still runs. There are stories within stories, everything is prequel, as
the moment when the connection breaks with the giant red drum on
the other end of the oyster razors was already a grace note on the one  
song which is all once and ever known before, between, after life and death.


4 fishing days NC locations:
Fort fisher park, 
Carolina state park, 
snows cut, 
myrtle grove sound, 
Carolina beach inlet, 
Varnumtown, 
mouth of the Lockwoods Folly, 
and the ICW. 


fish Camp (Carolina State park) supplies:
Coffee
Bread
Butter
lemons
Seasoning
apples
Granola bars
party mix
Dylan Thomas "Selected Poems"
Fish basket
Onion


 chicken drumsticks 
pork
corn
canned beans
Breakfast sausage


Fish species:
Speckled sea trout
Red drum
Bluefish
Southern flounder
Lizardfish
Pinfish


Raccoons move into camp first night
Alexi has to fight for bread


Hobie steering broken
Starter feared broken
Paranoia takes hold
truck has to be left on most of the time
Remember: don't turn it off
Remember: left is right and right is left


We meet an Austrian born woman who was a translator during WW2 who's
5 sons live on mars extracting minerals etc.


The locals tell us fishing has been bad.

The End







Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"I Hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free" Nikos Kazantzakis' epitaph, (2nd annual Janes Island Birthday bash) by Alexi



The characters: Myself, Wendy, Steve, Janessa, Mom, Dad, Jon, Ari, Elias, and Maisy.

The setting: Janes Island State Park, mid September 2017

The thing is, it was my second annual Janes Island birthday bash.  Last year Jon had caught his biggest striper.  I wasn't sure how that was going to be topped.  Steve and I had arrived days before everyone else.  We found fish in the usual spots.  However, we also noticed that we were catching more keeper sized Specs than last year.

Limited out on Specs (Fish cleaning station at Janes Island)
They were mostly caught in 4 feet of water on bass assassins, so when the rest of the company showed up and wanted to fish we figured this was a pretty sure bet for a plan to get folks on some fish.

   We had a good first full day, and for our second full day we decided to head down to the end of the DelMarVa peninsula to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tulnnel, AKA CBBT for  big Redfish. Apparently that's the thing to do,and it's what we did, and we were skunked.  It was mostly pleasant despite the torrential downpour and the 6 mile paddle. I say it was mostly pleasant because quite a variety of species besides that which was targeted were caught; croaker, toadfish, squid, black seabass, and spot.

Toad Fish


I re-used this Croaker as bait

calm CBBT sunset

Back up at Janes Island

The Party Arrived

classic camping party




Here is a still life of our arsenal of lures in the back bays:


As you can see, the Spook Jr (the chartruese oval lure in the middle) is missing its rear hook, and has a bigger treble on the front.  I was tired of hooking small bass with two trebly hooks, and really only didn't hook up once or twice the whole trip because of this switch.  (I may do this to all of my Spooks.)  We didn't really get into using the BKD's (the longer skinny soft plastics) until the last night of fishing, and they did well for both Spec's and Bass rigged weedless in very shallow grassy waters.  The DOA shrimp is what my dad and Jon caught their Spec on using a popping cork to keep it out of the weeds.  It was a bit of an experiment, but also tried and true by others, just not me.

Dad and his Spec
...and Ari caught his bluefish trolling a 4" Bass Asassin in the channel.

Ari and his bluefish


Fishing fishing fishing, and then there was the partying as well.

Maisy and Ari all partied out


Bits and pieces, by the end. Thats how it was.  A novel that begins with a fishing story and ends in tragedy.  Zorba, the birthday gift.  They say that it's not the catching that matters, it's the fishing, and I think that is the same sentiment that rests on Kazantakis' (the author of Zorba the greek, it's also a good movie, watch it) gravestone, "I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free", although my dad may argue that the translation may very well more accurately be, "I believe in nothing, I fear nothing, I am free." either way, as fishermen we can apply it to fishing.  So just being there is what counts.  As always, it's an excuse to float away...free

....floating in the calm blue waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  Sunken rods retrieved, and radios lost.  


Steve with one of a million Specs he caught


A million fish caught.  


Ramp at Janes Island State Park


A million stars.

The Milkyway.

And when the company left we went back to fishing our way (at least 6 hours per trip, and into the night)

And we found feeding fish before sunset.  A million fish in the Eel Grass, in inches of water.


A million sunsets.




the end




Sunday, August 27, 2017

Live-Lining for Fluke (AKA Summer Flounder), by Alexi

"Excuse me, do you have a snapper zapper?"

We're at Dick's Sporting Goods.  The guy working the fishing department looks like he's 12 but he's probably 18.  He doesn't know what I'm talking about, so I look around and find a snapper zapper and show it to him, and explain what it is.  Usually Dicks does NOT have the things you need, but this time, just this once, they did!

Ari and Elias (my nephews)  and I slayed the snapper blues in Snake Ditch at the Sedge Islands last week.

To fish with live bait can be tricky.  Especially if you're catching it.  First you need confidence that your bait of choice is easily accessible:

( from a previous trip)

Elias with a snapper

Ari with a snapper



paddle paddle paddle
...and so it was...


.....then you go back without the gremlin munchkins nephews:


I met Steve there. (at the Sedge Islands, IBSP, NJ)  He had done an overnight and had caught millions of short bass on Fly ( But really it might have just been three or four.)

first of many short fluke in snake ditch
We had made radio contact early on, but I was having success in Snake Ditch and he was having success in Oyster Creek Channel, so for most of the day we just chatted on the radio occasionally.  If you were on 68 you might have heard us.  We say such stupid things.

 "I'm in the washing machine" Perchman
"What?"  Castro
"The boat wakes are enormous" Perchman
"I've caught a million shorts"  Castro
etc.....


Before this day I had never successfully caught a fluke live lining snappers.  I didn't bring my bait bucket.  My plan was to catch and live line, then catch another, and there were so many snappers around this plan worked out just fine.

On previous attempts this had happened:

half of a snapper from the great bay trip
And so that got me thinking, whatever chopped this in half would have eaten the whole thing if given the chance. So, this time around I was going to keep my thumb on the spool, bail open, and let the fish take tons of line.

It worked:
nice day in Snake Ditch

23" Fluke on live snapper blue
23"blue on bluefish snapper
Barnegat Inlet fishing

snappers were at the rocks (and everywhere)
I ended up with two keeper Fluke and a Blue, all on live Snapper Bluefish and a single circle hook.  All fish were hooked in the corner of the mouth, and very well hooked.  There is really nothing like letting a fish take line, waiting as long as humanly possible, then engaging the reel, and hoping that the weight on the other end stays.  Because there is that moment, when you feel the weight, and even fight the fish, but it's just holding on to your bait and it lets go...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

test one two, radio check, By A Alexi

It's dark.
Perchman

The sounds of the late ends of a party are in the not too far distance.  It's close enough to smell the cheap cigars and whisky, but far enough away not to be able to discern any of the cheap conversation.  The conversation is punctuated by bouts of laughter, a clear giveaway that the party is in its dying stages.  My thoughts - ' just go home or go to bed so I can fish that light by your dock without being engaged in conversation!'

I can just imagine how it would go too.  It always starts with the dumbest question, "catch anything?"  or "what are you fishing for?"


I fish at night.
Some folks see us and turn off their lights.

23" summer bass south jersey

The sound of my line unfurling pierces through the din of the breeding gulls.  Because every thing is a sound at night.

How far is that bank?  Listen to the birds using it as a breeding ground!

How far is that bridge, listen to the cars crossing it.

Where did my cast go?  I didn't hear it land in the water, that means it's on the dock...I hope I'm not snagged...I'm snagged..I have to blow up this fishing spot to un-snag my bass assassin....................shit

fish pooping leader

Not hooking into these fish.
Why?
It's still too early
Thats' s the theory.

I'll say it all night, at what point is it no longer "too early?"

There's a boat that looks lost.

But, we did catch fish.  Fishing the lights is a frustrating kind of fishing.  When you can SEE with your own eyes, at night nonetheless, when you can really see not much of anything else but varying red and white lights flashing in the distance of an unknown variable, when that is the case, but really you can clearly see the shape and form and motion of a 30+ inch striped bass in the middle of the Summer in New Jersey where by all accounts they should not be...when this is indeed happening, and the shooting stars are magnificent...when  all of this is happening, and you say to yourself,  'IF I CAN JUST MAKE THIS PERFECT CAST...AND YOU DO!!!

15" summer striper

BUT you just don't connect, over and over and over again.  And you come up with some good theories about the moon, and the current, and the
bait...and in the end you connect with a 15"
 striper.
they turn off their lights

That's OK, you're fishing the lights at night, and the party is over, and the lights are all off, there are many comfortable things to sleep on floating in the water, as if they were made for you to take a rest there, but ultimately you decide to engage reality.  You drive on the highway back to the city for morning rush hour, to see them go to work, to try to sleep a little before what turns out to be a very busy week, at least you got to go fishing.

The End.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What we should have done By, S. Steve

Should have gone back to Brigantine.

Sometimes Before Fishing:
        Have a hangover, spill coffee, load boats, leave, go back, road crews, lane closures, gas pumps on the wrong side, people in lines and standing around buses, by-standing around bent fenders in flip flops on-looking, cops direct, ice melts, hoagies not ready. Slow lane is the fast lane. BRAKES! What's that noise? What's that SMELL?! 2 hours to get there, 3 hours to get there. One hour, at night, but it's day-time, it's summertime, 4 day weekend party time, miss your turns, back into a pole. Don't run over a turtle! The red light stops you by the crabbing/fishing bridge, by the NO CRABBING/NO FISHING sign, the light stays red a long, long time, or maybe it's just you're almost, almost there.

To the lady on the bridge: "How is it?"
The lady: "Terrible!"

Your cheese hoagie is soggy, and melting. You didn't bring a towel.

Never coming back here again.

      Tie eight knots once, and three knots twice, launch, land, launch again. 

To Someone: "Which way is the current going?"
The Someone: "I don't know."
    
       Bucktail hits bottom. Weeds. Now you are fishing. Zap a snapper. Drift live bait. Troll live bait. float, paddle, peddle, puddle, poodle. pool noodle.

People Always Ask If I've Been Fishing...

      Bad drifts, weeds, dirty water, wind against tide. Hook a big shark in the inlet, the line breaks, light line, flounder fishing. Only catching snapper blues. Plenty of them. That's something, last ditch dinner... Last time, you had a towel...

Last time.

      Didn't get skunked (only caught 4 inch snapper blues.. did you even get a picture??), didn't lose anything ( a hook, a rig, patience, temper, temperance).
Might be a good time to go back to fishing at night....

Should have gone to Stone Harbor.
THE END