October 28, 2003: (Re:
Ziegenfuss Report -See Below)
What a great report! I can hear the scream of the gulls, the whoosh of fly line - even the bandy-legged sloshing and exclamations of "Aarrgh" as Ishmael dragged another slammer into the wash.
Against the backdrop of this salty melee, I am almost
embarrassed to offer my own humble report.
Spent a few days bird hunting in western PA. One the way home, I decided to visit our old haunts along Yellow Creek. The water conditions were sublime - nearly bank-full with a tinge of color. I headed up Potter Creek and rigged up at the dairy farm near the top end of the TU project. Not a soul around. Only had a couple of hours to spare, so I decided to dispense with hatch matching, bug puzzling and other forms of navel-gazing and went straight for the Stimmy/muskrat tandem rig. This despite the fact that there was a pretty good hatch of olives underway, and some of those Giant October caddis were clinging to the bushes. Whacked a 12 incher on the first cast - no lie. Continued to catch fish the length of the stream, including three fish in the high teens, several in the 12-15 inch range, and a posse of little shavers. Hooked and landed my best fish, about 19". On my very next cast - into the same run - I hooked a bigger fish that put up a battle no doubt comparable to a pair of butt-hooked bunker, but lost him under a log jam. (I know
it's hard for you guys to get excited about these little trout). The TU exclusionary fencing and habitat work have really begun to mature - the stream was beautiful, with good gravel, a few early redds, and a great population of those peculiarly gorgeous Potter Creek browns.
Caught my last fish under the little bridge near the car, just as the sky opened and the rain pelted down in earnest. As I stashed my gear, the dog gave me a bored look as if to say "oh, trout fishing again?" then went back to sleep in his box. Made me think of you guys.
October 27, 2003: Took
Susan to Sandy Hook on Saturday, as she wanted to see what all this fishing
hubbub is about. We went to the tip about noon, and she parked on the
beach with a book. No hits in about an hours casting, although there was a
lot of bait around, ~3" bunker. Then I caught a decent schoolie, and
another, and another. Susan came down to see and I'd hook them up and let
her reel them in (squeal). She declined my offer to hold a fish but she
did relent to touch one (squeal again). We caught six on six casts and
then blank again. About 3:00 fish started to break sporadically on the
bunker schools, some very close to shore. I picked up three keepers,
dropped one, and we left about 5:00, went to dinner. Total for the day:
six schoolies, three keepers, two flounders, and one plastic bag. Did not
see a bluefish all day.
I wasn't going to fish on Sunday as the forecast called
for 20 knot south winds, rain, etc. But as I left Susan's house Sunday
morning it looked promising; light wind, overcast, drizzle. Got back down
to Sandy Hook about 9:00 and ran into a number of guys dragging big bass back to
the parking lot. Went back to the tip and caught a keeper on my first
cast. Didn't know whether to think, "here we go", or "oh
no, the dreaded fish on the first cast". Bunker was thick and fish
were breaking sporadically, again close to shore. Kept at it and scored 4
keepers by noon. Bait scattered and breaks stopped so I went back to the
car, drank water, ate whatever I could scrounge up, and chilled for a hour or
so. Went back as I figured it might get better towards late afternoon.
Found more sporadic breaks when I went back and bagged two more keepers in
a couple of hours, one of them was real l! y nice, about 34". Word of
the bite was out and there were a number of people out. A number of fly
guys were using T-350 type lines, bunker-looking flies, and fast two handed
retrieves. Collectively, they caught squat. Several fly guys were
obviously new to the game, as they had all sorts of new looking gear but just
could not get the fly out more than 30 feet. There was an old crusty
looking fellow with salty plug bag, bow legs, and a stocking cap. Looked
like he'd say "arrrgh", if you spoke to him. Call him Ishmael.
He was throwing a huge orange bottle plug without success. One
sharpie with a spinning rod and WildEye jigs got some fish, call him Vinney.
More on that later.
All this while the bait was moving into shore until it was walled up from the
beach to about 20 feet out, up and down the whole length of the cove. Breaking
fish increased but bites were very hard to get as there was millions of bunkers.
Was fishing two flies and most casts netted two butt-hooked bunkers.
Hooked and lost two more bass. Seemed to me like things could really
open up with all that bait, evening coming on, and obviously stripers around
The place blew up about 3:00 pm. Bluefish came in and went to town, from
right on the beach to maybe 40 feet out. Bass, blues, and bunker flew
through air. Breaking waves were a writhing mass of bait and predators.
A keeper sized bass charged between my legs in knee deep water. A
gigantic bluefish beached itself behind me and came to rest against the back of
my feet. Ishmael became the golden boy as he bailed whopper bluefish on
the orange bottle plug every cast. I lucked out and caught two bluefish on
15 lb tippet, wised up and switched to a 30 lb shocker, and got bit off on the
next cast. About 5 minutes into it, I was hooked up to the biggest
bluefish I'd ever hooked. He wasn't coming in soon so I just looked
around. A moldering rusty freight ship was passing in front of beach, dark
threatening clouds had streaks of sunlight passing between them, hundreds and
hundreds of birds were on ! the wing, gorging on bunkers, and as far as I could
see either direction up and down the beach was a complete mayhem of bait, blues
and bass. The activity and sheer volume of fish actually raised the water
level along the beach above the water further out. The combination of
screaming birds and frothing water was a deafening roar. It was the most
amazing event I've ever witnessed, even more impressive than watching Brian eat
an Egg McMuffin. I landed the bluefish, he must have been 30" long
and 20" around, he puked up an impressive pile of shredded bunkers, and
eyed my hand ominously as I wrenched the denuded hook from his jaw.
I don't know how many fish I caught or lost. My fly
box was violated. Carefully tied deceivers were rudely shredded by a
single bluefish. A 30 lb Maxima shock tippet got split into two pieces
lengthwise but held. My fingers bled but I didn't remember being cut.
I wished every one of you guys were there. And . . . I'd
left my camera in the car to make room for a spare spool in my vest.
I figured out some really good "how to catch" related stuff yesterday.
More to come on that.
July 7, 2003: I was up at the Hungry
Trout (Ausable River, NY) this past weekend. I mostly took my wife to all the
tourist attractions but fished in the evening. Took two browns at the grated
bridge up by Lake Placid on one night. The last night I took three rainbows at
the culvert pool on the Dream Mile with a #10 Hornberg twitched on the surface.
Water temperature was 79 degrees F. Very low but no one was there. A beautiful
night. The fishing and food at the Hungry Trout are fantastic, as rated by my
2003: I fished the Juniata River just above Duncannon on July 3rd. The water
was still a bit high but I found some good water to fish and managed to catch
several smallmouths on the following patterns: hellgrammite, red and white and
chartreuse clousers. The water is down even more now and the fishing should be
June25, 2003: I fished French Creek
below Wilson's Corner on June 22nd-24th. Nobody has been fishing down this way
since the big rain on the 20th, least not in the evenings, a welcome sight since
the DHFFO section was a zoo for the few good fishing days after the 15th.
Several trout were rising (really rocketing actually) pretty much from about
7:30 till after dusk each night. Caught several Rainbows every day and even a
few Smallmouth. No luck on nymphs, but the trout seem to be happy taking a
variety of dry flies. Most of the fish in the 9-10" range, but a few that
were bigger (12-14).
May 29, 2003: Over the Memorial Day weekend,
(May 24/25 2003) I had the opportunity to fish the Fishing Creek, near
Harrisburg, PA, off Rt.83. The stream is aptly named. On Saturday
morning, around 6 a.m., I pretty much had my section of the stream to myself.
I caught a number of nice brook trout using an Adams dry and a Blue Wing Olive.
I went back around the same time on Sunday, and there were quite a few people
there, none using artificials. The favorite seemed to be minnows, but I
saw lots of corn, salmon eggs, and worms. I stayed with my flies, and
caught three brook trout and a beautiful rainbow. It was a wonderful
experience, a beautiful stream, and trout which seemed eager to please this
novice fly fisher.