Sunday, April 30, 2017

Curses, By Alexi

I don't believe in good luck, bad luck or curses.  I eat bananas in my boat.  I wear clothes with fish prints, and sometimes I don't.  I don't have a lucky lure, or a lucky rod, or any of that crap.  BUT, if there is one thing that may verge on the superstitious, it is that IF I have fish in the fridge, I will not catch a keeper.  Maybe it's just a confidence issue, I don't know, but it seems to be true.  Last week I still had some striper steaks in my fridge and all of my fish were 27".  I ate the Striper steaks, and this week I managed to land a 33" 12.5 lb Bass.

And now for the report:

   This was a solo trip, and I wasn't in a rush to get out of town.  I've fished Raritan mid-day, and morning, and wanted to fish sunset this time (without having pedaled all day.)  I got to the Keyport Boat ramp with bloodworms and a cheese hoagie around 3 p.m.  It was a little on the windy side, and there was a nice chop on the water when I set out.  I had my Humminbird fish-finder working, and while during the past two trips I had marked fish,  this time I was not.  Things were different, and all rumors pointed to a flush from the rivers into the bay of fresh water from heavy rains.

   Within 45 minutes or so I had a big blue on, .....and off at the side of the boat.  Whenever this happens I get it into my head that I am going to be crushing big  blues all day.   As the day wore on, what seemed to be this inevitable truth became less and less likely to the point where I was  going to be skunked.  I hit a few new areas.  I passed by some other kayakers who told me they were on the fish, and I was in a good spot, and I kept going passed them.  I was getting fatigued, and starting to hate Raritan Bay when, as I approached the area that I had the Blue on at the beginning of the trip, I hooked into another big fish.  It felt like another big blue, tight head shakes and all, and I was so sure that it was, I was a little cavalier about the fight.  As it got closer the boat it sounded in ways more like a bass.  And then I saw stripes.  I immediately changed my tactics to "Land this fish dammit!"  And as is the case with sunset fishing, it's always the hail Mary, end of the day "getter-done" fish!   (Or I was just lucky)

33" 12.5 lbs

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 12 & 20 - Raritan Bay, by Alexi

   After years of resisting the lure of fishing Raritan Bay in the Spring, with a few mis-attempts in the past, I went on a tip from a friend who had grown up along the shores of New Jersey's side, and decided to try my hand at what is a known early spring Striper fishery.

   Perchman and I had driven to Sandy Hook in the past, only to abort the plan and drive south to Barnegat.  Besides that trip, we had fished the Jamaica Bay Tournament eons ago.  That is the extent of our collective experience in the waters surrounding New York City.   This time we had better local intel from a friend of mine, who showed me some spots on the maps app on his phone to launch a kayak around Union Beach.  I did a little internet research and found a tackle shop that would be open, and a plan began to emerge; the NOAA charts show that that area is void of any channels or structure, so why not just troll around a tube-n-worm and see what happens.

   On the 12th we got a late start.  I pedaled (that's Hobie for paddled) straight out into open water until I saw a fleet of boats off in the distance, and then I headed straight for them.  It's my open water tactic that works in the ocean for catching fish, as lame as it may seem, it works.  I was into some fish pretty quickly.
one of several 

   I believe it was my first fish that came unbuttoned boat-side, and it was probably the biggest of the day.  This happens more often with the Tube-n-worm lure than others for several reasons:
1) The tube gives the fish some leverage to twist off of the hook,
2) (And this my own undoing) Because I've caught many shorts with tube n worm in the past, I've filed down all of the barbs on my hooks for an easy release, and
3) I tend to bring the fish boat-side green (not tired).

   Suffice it to say that I was more careful after that.  I caught and landed a few more around the fleet, and marked MANY fish on my fish-finder.  And one of the many more fish was a 30"  keeper.  Others were almost all 27"....close.
raritan striper

   I had fish early and consistently, but  Perchman, who was waylaid at the boat ramp by ghosts and had a late start had only caught diapers.  As the day wore on, however, we were both into a steady pick of fish.  We returned to the ramp around sunset.

April 20th.

It was rainy and colder than the previous week.

   We made an attempt to fish early.  It was  a repeat trip in many ways, only most of the day I was skunked.  I had the same plan, go out to the middle, look for the fleet, go to the fleet, only this time they were WAY further away.  I was marking fish and watching other boats pull big fish across the gunwale, but I was not hooking up.  Perchman was having consistent action with the 27" fish, and lost a keeper at the side of his boat.  I was pretty beat so I took a long overdue land-break at Union Beach.  Re-vitalized, and inspired by the prospect of fishing the magic hour (sunset)  I went back out to "the middle."   That's what we called anything that wasn't close to shore, since this part of the bay is just empty.

In the last hour I had consistent action, three fish, all very close to 28"

27" bass

   The waters around New York Harbor are likely cleaner than they've been in the past 100 years, and efforts to re-seed the bays with Oysters along with more waste water  treatment plants are making it better and better, despite the occasional diaper, dead seal, or trash that we see.