Monday, September 13, 2021

No Point to Work Without a Life

Work stress blunts life, but don't string up the violin, because I got over it fairly well. 

Before I realized tide was going out, I fished the deeper water water between the wash and he sandbar, nothing doing. Usually, I catch fluke at Island Beach near sundown, so I decided to wait. By then, tide was so low the sandbar was exposed and people waded in the cut at their thighs. As you can see in the photo, there was no wash. 

But you can also see some wave action in the background. There's a cut of deeper water. I put away the 5 1/2-foot rod I use for in close, and cast a 2-ounce bank sinker to get my killie out there. Involved at all this, I began feeling life return to me. 

And when I felt a knock, I set the hook before I even realized what it was. The fluke I was into proved to be a little one 12 inches long, but I caught something. I missed a couple of hits before it was getting dark and we decided to leave. 

Something was telling me not to give up. I can't help but get beaten down by work, but there is no point to work without a life. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Round Valley Project Update Coming

 A little frustrating. Got a Round Valley project update notice today, but when I click the link, only the updates from the last I posted backwards are available. So I'm waiting that out and possibly emailing them to ask about the new update. Will send it on to you.

Did get over there on Tuesday but not to fish. I've been there  a lot this year, taking photos. 

On the way, I hooked a right onto Rockaway Road and explored six miles of Rockaway Creek, looking for access. I was able to park and walk to a bridge and have a close look at the water. Man, if only the streams in New Hampshire and Maine I recently visited were as beautiful! The water is gin clear and looks cold. Fresh spring water. 

Since there's no access--it's all posted--I wonder how many thousands of unfished brown trout.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Inlet Tog, Black Seabass, Fluke, Triggerfish: He Has It Down

Fred and I have been talking for months about us fishing near his new residence in Barnegat. Spent the whole day down there yesterday. Thanks to him, I got back on Long Beach Island for the first time in 11 years. If you let things go--they do go fast. I want to hold on to Fred's offer. Feel very grateful to him that I have the opportunity to come down when I can. 

He's been fishing the jetty for, I guess, a couple of months, and I'm impressed with how well he has it down. Apparently, he always comes away having caught at least one keeper fluke, as you can see in the photo he did this time. Twenty and a half inches. He's been working at the tog and sheepshead, and though he hasn't caught a sheepshead yet, he's caught dozens of tog, but by what I've gathered none over the 15-inch limit. (If I'm mistaken, please comment, Fred.) Twelve inches is abundant, and they fight like hell. When you get one up from 30- or 40-foot depth and then over the rocks--they dive for those rocks forcefully. 

Sand fleas, also known as mole crabs, catch them. (Fred says even fluke will hit them.) Black seabass hit them, too, as well as triggerfish. Among many others, I caught a 12-inch black seabass, the largest Fred has yet seen there. Half inch under keeper size. Fought hard. Fred ties leaders that work for all the species we caught. I found them to be uniform and tight. We attached one-ounce and two-ounce bank sinkers at the bottoms of them. Forty- and fifty-pound test means they can take some abrasion. I was using 20-pound-test braid as the mainline, Fred forty, I think. Appreciated the braid's sensitivity when it came to bites. The sand fleas are selling at bait shops for $20.00 a pint. That prompted Fred to buy a rake designed for the purpose of collecting sand fleas in surf wash. Fifty bucks has saved him a lot of money. 

My son, Matt, and I used sand fleas for sheepshead in North Carolina. On that trip, he also caught a black drum on the same. Some black drum are being pulled up onto the rocks here, and Fred looks to next month for some redfish to arrive. In any event of fishing jetties, Korkers help you gain traction. The rocks at the edges--where you'll stand while casting--are slick and a fall could be serious. We saw a couple of military helicopters fly over, and they were a sight to see. A medical-life helicopter wouldn't be. 

He caught 10 or 12 fluke. I caught only one. Some of the time he used Berkley Gulp, but the killies I bought did serve him well. I did as he did. Or at least, I thought so. Cast oceanside, out as far as I could, then very slowly reeled back. I did lose a fish as it pulled drag, but so did Fred.

We were out for hours. Mid-way through, someone we didn't know came and we welcomed him. Just minutes before Fred and I left as dusk began to gather, he caught a nice triggerfish. The walk out there and back is a long one, a half mile, but because most of the sand is packed, if you don't have a bad back as I do, or a bad heel as Fred does, it can be no more than a pleasant stroll. You have to carry gear, though, so we didn't carry too much.

Hadn't fished with Fred in months, and it was definitely a good time catching up. He's retired now, and although I've asked the same question by email, I wanted to put it to him in person. "What's retirement like?"

"It doesn't suck! It's good, really good." 

That encourages me. I have some time yet to work a job, but when it's over--I want it over. I know a little about the challenges of aging already, but nothing else challenges my aching body more than the job, and while the mental stress isn't meaningless--it has its reasons and its needs to get over--I can do without so much.   

Twelve-inch black seabass.

Triggerfish. Notice the dorsal shaped like a trigger.

Fluke on for Fred as the sky began to darken.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

New Hampshire and Maine Stream Tour

I thought I might drive to the White Mountains, but last night I found it's 86 miles to Mount Washington from here in Lebanon, Maine, and I just felt a two-hour drive a bit much. Especially since oil change appointments before the trip failed. I did further map research and headed out this morning to Milton, New Hampshire nearby. I was looking for Highway 75, and having not found it, decided to drive further up Highway 125, just in case I might find something else.

After two or three miles, I found the stream photographed above, and after a little doing, some access. Tannic water didn't surprise me. Nor did the temperature, which felt cool, but was probably 68 or even higher. Here in the south of both of these states, the terrain isn't mountainous, though there are some hills around Milton. The stream resembled the larger Salmon Falls River, where we caught smallmouth bass two summers ago. I cast a little beadhead on my two-weight fly rod, catching a chub. I found that floppy sole of my left wading boot dangerous, because when I waded upstream, it bent under.

Putting on my hikers as if I would go back down and wet wade in them, I thought it over. Prospects weren't good, and I don't fish trout when water temps get above 68, so I decided to continue looking for the smaller stream I had seen on the map. I did find Highway 75, but never found a steam crossing, driving on to Framingham. When I drove over a hillcrest, I saw a hill some three miles distant with a vertical elevation of about 800 feet, but I didn't find a road leading it's way, though I did find a stream similar to the one I had fished in Framingham itself. Eventually, access, too. It had flow but was flat and shallow. Water temp felt the same. I decided to pass on fishing it.

Things got interesting after I made a U-turn a few hundred yards after turning onto the road leading into Lebanon. I had noticed a little bridge over a side road to the right. I went down to the water and spooked a fish I thought was a pickerel, since it had been hanging out against the bank and slow-poked its nose forward. So I rigged up with my largest beadhead, which has a red head. A nice pool there below the bridge. I caught a chub, and then minutes later, hooked something that gave more resistance. At first I thought I actually had a brookie, though here, too, the water wasn't cold, and the stream slower moving on even leveler ground. A moment later it became clear I had my first chain pickerel on a fly rod. 

When my wife and I will be back up, no one knows. But I think if there's a next time, I'll head for the White Mountains. In 2009, Matt and I fished up there a gorgeous, cold, fast-flowing stream with deep pools--no tannic coloration, just gin clarity, full of brookies. I don't remember if we actually caught any and my fishing log is at home, so I can't check. Vaguely, I remember catching seven, though I would need to confirm that. Who knows what else I might find on the way there, and though I would pass on tannic streams like those I fished today, that was a real nice moment when I hooked the pickerel.  

The Stream near Framingham.

Near Lebanon, Maine