Saturday, December 17, 2011

Awaiting Ice Fishing and the New Year

I suppose some stripers still come out of the suds at night this late in the game. On a calm surface, I bet a needlefish, with a teaser ahead and just underneath, can still draw a take. But I just got surgery done for the miniscus of my right knee, so I'm out of the game awhile. I fished three or four nights this fall, and it was dicey sometimes with hard wash, sinking sand, and that disabled knee. I went almost three months before I finally conceded it needed medical attention.

Looking forward to ice fishing. Mild winters like that we have this season, apparently, we usually fill with at least a week of safe ice, although usually much more time than that. Walleyes are being caught while vertical jigging on Hopatcong, a few go out and catch them, as well as, possibly, hybrid stripers, which also come through the ice on jigs occasionally. Trout remain available from shore at Round Valley, and I think I'll try a few times for them over the winter. I like to set out a line, then sit back and read as I wait, checking line avidly from time to time.

This may not be my last post of the year, I wrote down some big ideas for posts, if I can find where I put the paper, but looking back over the year, it was a good one for me. Particularly May and June I did so well with largemouth, catching two and three-pounders on a routine basis, a regular exercise that essentially got me out of routine, but was nice for the dependability. All sorts of adventures are in this blog's archives, and will haunt the web for a long time to come. I look forward to the coming year, especially hoping now to catch stripers and bluefish in the spring.

Could be fun on the ice yet. I finally gave up the split bar--except for fresh ice. Bought a brand new Eskimo power auger. But that iron rod of mine is special. I will never let it go. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting Out to Fish: Taking a Chance on Stripers

I do find it odd that while the general account of the fall striper run is of the best in about 50 years, the best in a long time for sure, I got out and surf fished five or six times for not a single striper. I had one on for about a second-and-a-half, long enough to tell small, five pounds at best. I sort of see that Seaside Park ferris wheel, like Christmas in an ironic way, as a roulette wheel.

The stripers are either in the surf before you at the moment, or not. I just hit it losses this fall. To really be knowledgeable, including means of gaining fresh, pinpoint information, is to put the odds in your favor. No excuses, but I live all the way out here in Bedminster, don't have a cell phone network besides my brother in Wall, and otherwise I'm limited to the internet and phoning baitshops. All that is pretty general when striper action is very local. So I settle on the little I can do and every time I go, I gain some in experience. Every time I go...I start thinking about my dream to do better in the surf some day. One recent night with waves as high as 12 feet, I bulleted my Ava over to try to reach any fish just beyond--conditions were pretty good, one night was moonless with fairly light surf.

I also got skunked on all four short recent outings to Round Valley for shoreline trout, limited to a single rod each of these trips. Still, things seemed to just not go my way. I am grateful for the steelhead my son and I caught a month ago, and look forward to good ice fishing, if we get any sustained ice. If not, I think I'll try fly fishing the Pequest River. I would like to try for walleyes in the Delaware, although that dream essentially is of doing it by boat, as I have done many years ago successfully. I could try the humble fishing that the Delaware and Raritan Canal offers, but the last time I tried that was not a happy occasion, I think I'll stick with Round Valley a few times over the winter, and return to the canal next summer. This past summer the largest bass I've ever had on in the canal took a Senko, and that made for an interesting lunch break.

As always, it's good to get out. To have walls around me is to be all too surrounded by myself after awhile. Exercising practicalities lets you forget about things otherwise important, but which tend to lose their true importance by getting over done. And I really believe there's nothing like fishing to exercise practical skills recreationally. I like eco-tourist birding, for example. But that's never hands-on as fishing is, practicality which gets you out of yourself. It can involve a monoscope or binoculars; it involves difficult identifications; it can release the spirit into a higher state, but I don't find it grounds me to this planet as fishing does. 

There's a time and place for everything; I pursue many activities. And fishing is not only fun, it's interesting. It gets me thinking anyhow.