Sunday, December 17, 2006

10 Bass, 3 Days, All shorts

This past week the Manasquan River saw small striper action during the pre-dawn hours on the out-going tide. I decided to give the Fly rod a first time try not to long ago and had some pretty good results. Although I did not have my camera with me when I caught my first striper over a week ago, I did have it this past week and managed to snap these pictures.

Wednesday of this week saw the ideal stage of tide at the pre-dawn hour and the fish showed up en-force. As soon as there was enough light to make out the surface of the water, I discovered small baitfish jumping over the fly-line as it drifted along in the current. This was promising.

It wasn't long before I felt a quick jerk on my line that I knew I had a strike. A quick tug on the lie to set the hook, raise the rod, and I was in. It was tough getting these pictures with one hand while fighting the fish with the other. It's a good thing the fish were between 15-24"else I would have not been able to manage this juggling act. The water is pretty clear and I was standing in about 3ft. of water when the pictures were taken.

The conditions remained the same for my fishing trips Thursday and Friday as well. Each trip was extremely successful, 10 fish in three days using a Fly rod. All of these fish pictured here were caught on the first day. After I reviewed them I realized they all looked alike! There was no way to add subject matter for scale to determine individual size and I was not willing to raise the fish out of the water for the sakes of a picture.

All of these fish were caught using a "Clouser Deep Minnow" in color combination Chartreuse/Yellow tied by yours truly! I might add that for any novice fly-tyer the book "Clouser's Flies: Tying & Fishing the Fly Patterns of Bob Clouser" by Bob Clouser is quintessential. The book has excellent pictures and detailed explanations so that any novice could turn out great flies with a little practice. A must for any fly tiers bench reference.

It was interesting to note that ALL of the fish I caught over the three day period were hooked in the right side of the jaw, hook firmly embedded in the lower maxillary. This made me wonder if the fish weren't swimming against the current feeding on baitfish moving with the current. From an energetics perspective this would make the most sense as the Stripers could remain relatively motionless on the sandy substrate allowing the current to circulate through their gills, rising up into the current to take the occasional unwary prey. Or, my clouser.

The fish were caught both in the dark and during dawn light. I was very hesitant to go fly-fishing in the dark. My casting during daylight when I could see what I was doing is bad enough yet alone trying to fish in the dark when I couldn't. Sometimes though you just have to suck it up. I am very glad I did. The pictures are the physical remains of memories that for me are enough to fuel my interests until next year.

These small fish were so vivid in their coloration. Many pictures of Stripers that I have seen in the past were much darker dorsally than these fish here. I suspect that these fish here were experiencing a physiological response to environmental stimuli, an adaption to the clear water and sandy substrate.

At some point Wednesday morning I saw this guy wade out into the river with a 8' aluminum ladder. He went out as far as he could, firmly planted the laddre in the sand, climb up, and begin fishing. I had never seen this before and was really intriqued. I am guessing this is not practiced during the incoming tide. There is a really great discussion of fishing with ladders at Surf Talk. I couldn't resist the opportunity to shoot these pictures of the guy. That obnoxious green line down the middle of the photo on the left would be my fly line. Just couldn't get it out of the way.

It's to bad my camera couldn't capture how far this guy was out in the channel. What really made me laugh at this set up was that this guy was fishing way (and I do mean way) out there and all of the fish I caught were taken less than 50 ft from the shore. This guy must have known something though... What that might be I couldn't exactly say.

That will probably be the last of the fishing I do for 2006. If the current warm conditions exist there is a good chance that these fish will remain in the rivers and back bays into late January. Now, I am not thrilled with the idea of fishing in the snow but it sure would be something to try. If it happens I will be sure to bring my camera!


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