Sunday, July 30, 2017

A little perspective (and a PB Fluke), by Alexi

I realized that this blog is as much a resource for myself as it is a platform for writing and tale-telling.  On the sidebar, (if you are on a computer, not a phone) there are plenty of links and widgets that you should use, that I use, that are a collection of the information I check out before I go fishing.  Weather/ tide/ NOAA maps/ surf reports, etc...  All absolutely invaluable information before going on a trip.  Even with as much planning as can be done, though, without intimately KNOWING a specific area, especially in Jersey's back bays near inlets, one is sometimes hard-pressed to know direction of current, let alone guessing at it's strength of flow.  WE know all about Snake Ditch, but still sometimes the direction of current in front of the Sedge House, or Horsefoot, confuses me.  So take a  look at the Seven Sisters area of Great Bay.  It's a mess of creeks criss-crossing islands.

Google maps of Great Bay
In those creeks that cut through the island it's only guess work as to which way that current is going on an incoming tide.  And then the next question, with such a wide open (Little Egg) inlet, how fast will it ripping around the point where the Rutgers Research Center is? Who knows?   So, sometimes you just HAVE to roll the dice and GO.

The Fishing Trip:

I started out drifting in Little Sheepshead Creek, and didn't stray much outside of it.  My first fish, just near the launch, was a keeper Fluke at around 19".   I was using a bucktail with a 4"swimming mullet Gulp, and a teaser above it, also with a 4"swimming mullet gulp.

19" fluke

A good way to start the trip.  The drift was heading towards the Fish Factory (under the bridge).    And so we drifted.
drifting and jigging
...and. just past the bridge, frustrated by weeds again, I hooked into what is likely my personal best Fluke.  24", 5 lbs.  I know it's not gigantic, but I haven't spent many summers targeting Fluke, and usually get 19" ers.  So for me it was HUGE!

24" 5lbs
I hate nets, (I always snag my hooks on them) and I forgot a rag/ towel for covering the fishes eyes, so I resorted to using an extra bandana I had.  As I slid this fish into my boat it shook it's head and snapped my line.  I immediately had it's eyes covered, and it sat there, calm as could be,  but it was close...

when needed, use whole leg as drift sock
Steve drifted away, past the fish factory towards the inlet, out to sea.   I stuck around and was catching snappers trying to use them as bait.  That was probably an un-necessary distraction, but with two fluke in the cooler I had time to experiment.  
Mostly overcast: Fish Factory
To read more about the fish factory here is a good article.       Fish Factory  

As my ice melted, and the outgoing current got stronger,  I made my way back to the boat ramp.   

Boat ramp
That's about it.  Another short day, lots of wind, weeds and current, but really, a roll of the dice and sometimes you get lucky!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fluke Fishing Brigantine, NJ - Backwaters, by Alexi

Summer fishing has been sparse.  Steve and I managed to squeeze a day trip in last week thanks to Janessa's generosity of watching my dumb dog. We had about 5hrs of fishing time.  The search was for the closest place to catch fluke, so we decided on Brigantine, NJ.


We used the municipal boat ramp.  It was convenient.  No porta-potty, but plenty of parking, and free (as far as we could tell.)

I had watched Skinner's latest fishing video on fluke tactics.   It was more just inspirational than educational.  What I mean is, I usually end up trying several things to see what works.  I had some left-over killies.  I keep them alive in my pond in a bait bucket.  Then I put them in a bigger bucket with a battery aerator for the drive.  Then back in the bait bucket once I'm at the water.  It's a lot of work, but I find that I'd rather not run out of bait and this system has worked.

I bought A 2-ounce bucktail and a 1-ounce at Riptide bait and tackle.  Steve bought a hat.  If you look at the map, due to the wind and the drift, most of our fishing this day was done in Obes thoroughfare.
Steve fishing Obe's thoroughfare
At first I just used a bucktail with gulp nemesis and a teaser with a 4" gulp swimming mullet.  I was getting tons of weeds on the bucktail. I needed to change tactics.   I decided to try just a bank sinker on bottom with a teaser and a killie.  That was NOT getting any weeds, so I switched both rods over to that system.  I had caught more fish on gulp the previous trip, but conditions just weren't right for that here.  I had several shorts on the teaser/ killie combo.

short fluke, no nets, just a towel

I had a good drift, out of the wind and was consistently catching fish.  I kept at it until I had a keeper, (and then I kept at it some more)  A storm was brewing.


So we stayed in what seemed to be a safe area with an escape plan to land if the shit really hit the fan, but it just passed offshore.

keeper fluke

the end

P.S.   the moral of this story is: look at google maps, fish anywhere

Monday, July 17, 2017

Duke of Fluke 2017, a shirt, some dinner, and a band, by Alexi

   "If I keep trying, chances are I'll win by the time I'm 70"  I said to myself at the start of the day.  I hadn't gotten much sleep, and wasn't really sure I was going until I went.  In the truck,  I spilled my coffee before I even had a sip.  I thought I had to be there by 7, but really 7:30 would have been fine.  I had brought some killies along with me, and bought more at Sterling Harbor.  I had everything else I needed.  (pre-tied dropper loop leaders, bucktails, some gulp in varying stages of decay, one fresh pack of gulp swimming mullet (small)  and all the other junk I always drag out with me including the kitchen sink.)
truck life

   The kayak division for this tournament is weird.  The calcutta is OK, an extra 25 dollars goes to the biggest fish, I think there was about 800$ in the pool, and there is a nice trophy.  But really it's about the food and the beer and the T-shirt.

  Now to the fishing and the plan.   I decided to go a different way than last year, same launch, different area.  I wanted to maximize my fishing time, so I just drifted with the incoming tide.
n. wildwood/ grassy sound area

Instead of going down towards Jenkins Channel, I went towards Grassy Sound and under the big bridge.  I didn't start catching Fluke until I was on the other side of the bridge.  Then it was non-stop 12-16" fish.

a million of these little guys

   I was getting really tired, the tide was switching, and I was really not expecting to catch a keeper.  I decided to switch tactics, so I put on a bucktail with gulp, and a gulp on a hook on the dropper.  Because it was near slack I was casting it up drift and jigging it back, along the sod banks.  Not long after this switch in tactics I had a few shorts, and then a nice 19 to 20" fish.  I didn't think it would win, but maybe it would be a runner up for third place or something.

I continued to fish back to my truck, got caught in a storm, and made it back to Sterling Harbor by 4 for weigh-ins.
could have been dinner, but instead it's science

I wasn't sure that I was in the running, and one thing I wish they did was to have a leaderboard up, but anyway, by 5 I glanced at the sheet, and thought, maybe I should weigh it in.  It was 2.9lbs.   Then I realized they were taking my fish for science.    

the tournament scene

Team Dan Schafer got this little blue:
not a fluke

So by the end of the night I was completely delirious with exhaustion AGAIN.   Everything seemed to really drag out forever between 5 and 8.  I should have taken a nap, but I didn't.  Instead I drank cheap (free) beer.  In the end, all I got was No fish, No 3rd place.  Just a shirt, some dinner, and a band.

the end


Sometimes I really hate tournaments. I come away with a very negative feeling.  I feel like I would have rather just fished, and not had to deal with the competitive element.  And then I think, 'would I have even fished that day if there was no tournament?' and 'Would I have fished as hard?'  Who knows?  I did meet some nice folks this time, which was a good thing.  But really, I can do that just fishing.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

First Fluke trip, no keepers, by Alexi

   Break-time is over.  It's time to fish again.  Sometimes, after a long break, a trip is really just about testing the gear.  Does my boat still float?   Do my reels still spin?  What's missing from my stuff?

Boat ramp selfie

   A month and a few days has passed since my last trip.  I wanted to go someplace close, so I decided to try Absecon Bay.  I had launched there in the back before to crab, and I liked the channel I was in, not really realizing it was the ONLY channel in miles.
only one (channel)

 They are doing construction there and so I had to use the boat ramp instead of the sand.  The general appeal of that spot is waning.  I had high hopes for an easy launch, easy access, easy drive fishing spot, but those hopes are being dashed.  For one, there is NO water in Absecon Bay.  (Maybe flats fishing at night would be fun, because there are large portions no boat could possibly access.)

   I got some killies from Absecon Sportsman Bait and Tackle shop.  At the ramp there was an officer.  I thought he was fish and game, but he was a local officer checking if people launching their boats had the proper permit.  He said kayaks didn't need them, and that I should go ahead and launch.  

     I drifted my way out of the channel and was going to follow a cut in the bank to left.  That cut didn't exist.  I was in the mud.  One giant mud flat.  One giant, stinky Atlantic City mud flat.  One giant, stinky, no fish, mud flat.  I was despondent.  I had only been out for about two hours, but was already considering my alternate plan options.  (even getting back in truck and going to Stone Harbor)

    So on my drift back to the boat ramp I started catching short fluke.
first of many up to 16" (woop)
This channel was full of babies

   I thought that I had a bigger one on a few times, but I just hadn't been fishing in so long, I had forgotten what even a small fish felt like at the end of my line.

    I kept catching fish, slightly bigger and saw more activity in the channel the further back I went.


sedge grasses with bird

I noticed that snapper blues were eating my killies, so I rigged up something I thought would catch them, with the idea of live lining a snapper, but really in my mind I was done fishing and was on my way back.  Back at the boat ramp a Fish and Game officer checked me out.  He was recommending launching by one of the bigger bridges.  He said he was there in the morning fishing, but they didn't catch any keepers either.  Which makes me think, if I'm not going to catch keepers, I'd rather do it in the spaghetti.