A Mind of Fishing

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It’s a daily journey for me that starts with one thought  “where are the fish today”.  It leads me places I only dreamed of and fills me up with knowledge of things I had no idea existed.  This wonderful, beautiful world and life we all walk though with so much going on around us.  I invite you to stop a bit and consider if  and when you leave makes no difference as nature continues to exists on its own terms.

It’s often by accident I am studying one thing with great conviction  that I stumble upon another great discovery  that makes me look at everything differently. My recent reads have been about the New York Bight and the Apex facts and findings, Ben Franklin mapping the Gulf and his cod eating habit’s and lastly Men’s Lives: The Surfmen and Baymen of the South Fork  by Peter Matthiessen .

Some days I have to stop and take it all in.. because we walk on sandy beaches as did people in our past on the same quest but for different reasons.  It leads me to the thoughts of such a vast difference in the way we handle technology and publication now.  People of  past worked so hard to catch fish to provide a meal for their families.  If you think there were not cyclical years please do some reading.  They relied upon  fish to sustain them. And now for the majority it is for internet notoriety or to be best among peers – a different kind of personal thing to feed.  Years from now I often wonder how will this blip in history will tell our generations story… and stories of the simple fishing trips. The kind you keep close to your heart, family and friends that mean the most.

 

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 A Simple Fishing Trip

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My morning alarm is set to lull me out of sleep with the voice of Jeremy Wade screaming “Fish On” over and over.  I am ready Mr. Wade.  In the morning shuffle I pick and chose to throw a couple bucktails that have always given me success into the pouch. Feathers all dried I run my finger tips down them to make sure all is intact.  These are my favorites, my go to’s, try as I may with other things I just love fishing bucktails.

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Step outside to see the moon still up and bit of a glimmer of light towards the water.  The night crew will be leaving, I’ll see them packing it in and heading home. Most will have no fish with them. The surf fisherman I know almost never take a fish. It’s often not because they would not like to share a meal of them – it’s because of stocks and also the stigma of someone seeing you take home a legal fish for your family. It’s 2016 and you’re damned if you do or don’t. Greed still runs rampant. But for many people, most of us we are more conservation minded when it comes to this beloved fish – Morone saxatilis.

It is still the most exciting feeling to me to load up the gear and leave knowing what my destination is. A thousand things go through my mind as I am checking off again the –  do I have everything – water and sunblock included.  Upon reaching the destination for the first few minutes I am an observer of the display nature is putting on.  Waders on and my heart starts to pump a little faster those first few steps. Some days I feel like I am almost running when I get on the water although I know I am not.  Just as the sun makes direct contact I am throwing into it with hopes of presenting perfectly to a passer-by in the water. Living so close to this is where I find myself and the world melts away.  For now until this time ends I am myself at the apex of happiness.

So often now when I have a bite I wade into the water to let it go there. Trying to be so careful as not to stress the fish I almost panic if it is not quick enough on my terms.  I am not keeping it, not today.  I get to do this everyday as long as fish are around.  For that I am grateful.  For that I respect this fish. What you do is your own business. I stopped looking. Looking at the same thing over and over of fish held high above heads like trophy’s.  It took me this long to realize that we are different. We fish for different reasons.   Technology pushes hard on ego’s and some look to the path of least resistance.  I needed to quiet my own mind before I got caught up in what the internet deems me a good fishermen and come into my own. When I sopped looking at all those reports online I set myself free to experience this on my terms in this pace in my heart.

Happy for you – happier for me.

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The whole time I am walking I watching, learning, filled with wonder.  With miles under my feel having walked I start to head back.

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Usually some kind person will stop me and share their love along my journey of fishing, surfing, the sea… whatever it is that calls our hearts here.

Packing my gear back in the truck with grateful intention I know God willing, I’ll be back again tomorrow.

For  I  bring home with me the greatest gift – a heart filled with so much love for this life and fishing.

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To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men – for all men are equal before fish.- Herbert Hoover

 

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Bucktails, Stripers and The Red Light Special

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them-words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.” – Stephen King

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Staying up late to finish this as it has been in que for a while.  I was holding on for a bit because while I had this whole new write-up for Surf Fishing Beginners (which is what I am) I am myself immersed in the process of learning.

 I was doing a lot of thoughtful thinking. Walking the sand surf fishing challenges you one on one. I have come to realize how our lives are all connected each and everyone you encounter. Even you reading this.. something brought you to this page. The universe is always working to give us these gifts. When you get to the place in life when you can be quiet with yourself and accept them you find a freedom to honor yourself.  To pursue your passion that lies deep within you. It is the most complete feeling I have ever experienced.

If you told me just how wonderful it was going to feel to live in this place in your heart of surf fishing I would never have believed such happiness could be achieved. But I committed to it through perseverance, laughter and tears this past year. I made mistakes, – some big ones. I walked a million miles. My daily adventures to the sand through rain, snow, heat, bitter cold, ice and fog fulfilled a self-concordant goal. There was no deadline just personal on level so deep. To get a striper from the surf in one very particular area.

I was often told there were no fish there. I was asked to join people all over to “better holding” area’s. I was on bites in different, but close beaches and did not get anything but blue fish – but I kept going. The more I went I learned. I learned from the people who have become mentors and friends. I read everything and watched a lot of videos. At night I would often work on leaders, knots,  gear, plugs, metal, bags, belts, moon, tides and learning about the striper patterns for the area. If that was not enough I was also painting Morone saxatilis in my sleep. My life is fully immersed in this with great love for the passion – it’s not  sport. It’s something so deep within you. It’s a calling undiscovered until it embraces and takes hold of your every thought.

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Last week I stepped out onto the sand at high tide.  I packed my bag with SP minnows and one very special bucktail. I carried out the rod my dear friend had given to me. I just started walking like I do almost every day. There was a slight chill in the air and the clouds would have their way with the sun. I walked past one clammer to the long trek I have been watching when the tide was blown out and stated throwing out the SP.  My visual site markers behind me let me know I was off a bit, I readjusted and kept throwing. I was not looking for a blue fish. I knew the big ones were around. I also have caught so many and particularly in the last year – I wanted to get under them. I knew somewhere my beloved stripers would be.

And there they were. I almost could not believe the first one I reeled in. As I went to grab my phone to take a picture it popped off. I stood in the surf and the tears just came like a steady stream. I collected myself enough and called the people who have been along this journey cheering me on. I pulled myself together got the bucktail in the water and for the next hour and about  half had fish after fish after fish. All returned safely to keep going on their  journey.

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Almost a week later and my heart still feels like it’s about to burst. My journey now expands to find bigger fish as they make their way here. I am hopeful but am also still a student of the sand. Everything in time.

With those words now written the very first part of my small contribution to starting off surf fishing is  going to be re-posting the valuable information I was given by members of the community.

At that start of this I had no idea of any of the terms used when it came to gear other than very basic knowledge.  So if you’re thinking this is something you are interested in here is a short list of the must have lures to start picking up. Next up on the write ups I’ll go over with the help of others Rod, Reel, and some basic things to have on you to get started other than  the lures. The future will be more in-depth about metal and touch on some bait also.

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10 MUST HAVE LURES THAT CATCH FISH

By JM Basile

   One of the biggest mistakes fisherman make myself included, is bringing to many lure choices to the surf. I have found that the fewer choices you have the more you can actually concentrate on the physical act of fishing.The key is to bring the right lures that will produce in most circumstances. When it comes down to it ,in most cases 10 lures should cover most surf conditions in New Jersey. When choosing lures keep in mind they should cover all water depths, top water,mid-water,and bottom. Always observe what the fish are feeding so you can pick a lure that best resembles the baits profile ( Match the Hatch). The 10 lures I would suggest for a Surf fisherman getting started would be the following:
Gibbs wood pencil popper ( white, yellow or Chartreuse)
Gibbs wood metal lip Danny swimmer (white or yellow)
Super Strike little neck popper (white or yellow)
Super Strike needle fish ( Yellow or black and purple)
SP Minnow floating ( Black back silver sides or bone)
Yozuri Mag Darter(Bunker or black)
Storm Shad (soft plastic bait)
Tsunami Eel ( soft plastic)
Cast Master (2oz metal)
Ava jig green tail (007 to 017)
   All of these lures produce and cover most bait profiles. If your going to fish nights I would darken up your color choices. Always watch the Sharpies to get a good idea on what to use.
Remember try to keep it simple!
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Chasing Striped Bass

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It’s been a  while and I sincerely apologize. Life has been nothing short of an adventure in fishing and  lessons in marine biology hands on these last months. Started off chasing tuna to slipping into the rhythm of fishing everyday, searching for striped ones.  They still are what gets me to the water daily. The bait fish have been plenty and no shortage of bluefish either. Learning every aspect of the water and what surrounds me I am a student of the sea and sand. Many times I am rewarded with fish I have never seen before.

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If I could list all these wonderful, successful fishermen who have been so kind to teach me all about the craft the list would run off the page. I have a profound respect for people who pay-it-forward in the fishing community. They are a wealth of knowledge. Its been very humbling to be around some of the legends and record holders of the community. But also the guy on the beach who says.. use this today.  Watching them and taking everything they teach and implementing it.  Something just clicks and you find things you learned in the past are void and now you are doing it correctly. It’s often an a-ha moment.  Simple things like leaders, knots, line, bait, moon, tide etc…things become easier and the fish more plentiful. It’s you vs. the fish. It’s the way it has been forever and will always be. Remember that.

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Days of present are filled with the anticipation of  stripers. The journey continues. Which often leads me to ponder – did you ever stop and think about all the people this fish has a hold on? How many books written?  How far people travel to be romanced by the run? Just how satisfying they are to reel in often let go? Like life taking in and letting go.

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Everyday is a lesson. I watch the changes of seasons sweep by me along with all the treasures nature offers up. Even on rainy days I wonder what will I learn today there.

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As I write this it is the wee hours of the morning. The first rays of light are starting to find me and I smile. There are often days I think how blessed I am to have arrived here alive. Life surely has shown me the very worst and best of mankind. The one very valuable lesson I learned is that there are far more good people in the world.  Embrace and surround yourself with those people. People who teach you things, nourish your soul, encourage you and help you on the journey. And be yourself there for others to walk beside them, hold them up and share all the goodness at your fingertips. Just walk outside and let nature take you in. May this Fall find you wrapped in happiness with life and the journey of the run. ♥

If two points are destined to touch, the universe will always find a way to make the connection – even when all hope seems to be lost. Certain ties cannot be broken. They define who we are – and who we can become. Across space, across time, among paths we cannot predict – nature always finds a way.” – Touch
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The Politics of Striped Bass

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With just 5 days left to publicly let your voice be heard with regards to the ASMFC management of Striped Bass I find myself trying not to get caught up in the passion of a debate. Longstanding tension between recreational and commercial fishermen as they compete for the same fish. Pool your friends for their opinion. You will get a 100 different ideas on what option is best. You will also get a lengthy history  of why they support it, based on their OWN experience.

Striped bass stocks collapsed in the 1980s, but a series of regulations, including a harvest ban from 1985 to 1989, and cleaning up the rivers in which they breed, helped produce a comeback. The fishery was declared rebuilt in 1995.

I am late to this game as I don’t have the extended history of fishing striped bass. In me lies the passion for the fish. So without getting too political I’d like to address a few things I think are important to someone like myself, the mindful angler. I say this because I don’t keep most of what I catch. My passion is with the sport of the pursuit and take care to always release a fish as best I can. But I also think you have the right to keep what is legally yours daily. That is part of what is wonderful about living in this country… we have the right to do that.

Should you be mindful of the fish and it’s management? Absolutely. The most continuous monologue I hear is.. nothing works, the system doesn’t work, the management does not work, the politicians don’t fish, there is no problem, I used to care I don’t anymore. Which is really detrimental coming from people who have been in the sport long enough to have taken a bunch of fish over the years but do not see fit to want to help the next generation of anglers have that same experience.

I understand some of you believe that this might just be a few “off” years or that the decline in striped bass is a natural cycle that could help other species, such as weakfish and bluefish, competing in the same ecosystem. If it is why continue to go hard on them? I understand the structure has changed – Hurricane Sandy, Beach Replenishment, the removal of jetties all should be factored in to the equation.  Some people believe the fish may just be farther offshore. But the science is spawning stock biomass is decreasing! The recent stock assessment found a spawning stock biomass of 128 million pounds, only 1 million pounds higher than the threshold for problems. Marine biologists would like it to be at 159 million pounds. It’s a tinder box of frustration and finger-pointing as people fractured into groups with reasons why the numbers are down grow.

Policing people posting legal reports on the internet is not helping the fish. It turns people off to your agenda. Be knowledgeable and state your case. With that I walk delicately regarding my position on the issue publicly. The internet debates are not getting reviewed the public comments are. So make it count.

I’d really like to see future generations be able to experience fishing for this beloved fish. I know it changed my life. There was a time people talked about weakfish and how abundant they were. It was like listening to ghost stories. .. but that’s another fish for another day.

With all that you have a voice…I encourage you to go to  the ASMFC site and read up

http://www.asmfc.org/species/atlantic-striped-bass

PLEASE be sure to also state your comment on the Commercial Transfer.

ASMFC is  reviewing all public comment for consideration of final approval of the options and addendum at their October meetings. Any changes to the commercial and recreational harvest of striped bass will most likely start in 2015.  The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this document at any time during the addendum process. The final date comments will be accepted is 5pm on September 30, 2014.  Comments may be submitted by mail, email, or fax. If you have any questions or would like to submit comment, please use the contact information below.

Mike Waine (mwaine@asmfc.org)

Fishery Management Plan Coordinator

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Subject: Draft Addendum IV)

 1050 North Highland Street Suite 200A-N Phone: (703) 842-0740

 Arlington, VA 22201 Fax: (703) 842-0741

Lack of Passion is Fatal

*Just a few thoughts..other than stripers for once, maybe.

I run full throttle on things I enjoy. I give it my all. Never in my life did I question it until recently when I got called out on it. Huge brake check examination of me for 2 solid days. But… let me explain to you how I wake up a good 85-90 % of my days feeling lucky to be alive.  I decided as a choice best for me that anything good – I was going to fully embrace and make it not only quality, but fun.  Also when it comes to people, if you are a part of my life I am going to treat you like you belong there.  If I am fishing with you… even if there is no bite I am still in the place I love most. Not goofy happy but probably more sarcastic happy.

So I digress… being passionate about life, fishing, people are part of who I am and there is no changing. And if I cut you out of my life, chances are you handed me the scissors because I don’t give up on people until it’s absolutely necessary for me.  Life is going to throw you some major shit – so hold on. Keep your head above the water. Embrace the people who are there for the good and the bad and stick around. They are the rocks and foundation of who you are. You let them in. Make them want to stay. Treat them kindly and give back.

Enthusiasm is fun,  adrenaline-driven dope when you discover the beauty of life. Participate and good things happen. Happiness and passion are not pressure, it’s what I know. One life, my life- in control of it as much as possible.

Stripers are here and I feel the excitement of the run.

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Morone saxatilis

With temp drops to 58 last night I could not help but think about…

Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, pimpfish, rockfish, striper.

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The season is approaching and I find myself getting into some deep reading and conversations about my favorite fish. That fall feeling that will embrace us before we know it. The chill of the morning air, dew on the grass, anticipation of their arrival. Their journey up and down the atlantic.

It brings the record holders back from sleepy towns,away from busy lives. It gives hope to the seasonal angler. It is an indescribable feeling of the excitement to go striper fishing.

For me it means something much different this year. It’s the start of some significant life changes.  And with those changes  new techniques, new approaches, more knowledgeable and a yearning to complete the mission.

My excitement is also building with the launch of a new endeavor and I am timing it perfectly with the arrival of my favorite fish in the ocean.

Their journey, and mine. Keep going, even when the tide is against you.

I never want to forget that first striper trip in Delaware Bay (thank you). A short, thrown back but- I had at last managed to reel one in. And one of the most memorable trips for me in the Cape May Rips where I landed my real first keeper. Those were some really great fishing trips. Life moves quickly and with it changes, we settle in make our peace and look to the horizon.  Looking forward will always help you to see what potential lies in all of us.

Fishing can at times bring out the very best in  people, as in my heart I believe it should. It is something we should remember and  reflect upon in our lives. So while I have shared many a tale of my fishing adventures there is always a new one to be written. 

Life changes, we get busy with its challenges and peaks, we make our way through it with some tears, pain, healing and  laughter… but the fish are still there. Just doing their thing all along.

It’s what keeps us going back.

It’s hope.

It never leaves us deep inside, the happiness of hooking up a beautiful striped bass.

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Tackle Changing Thinking

TCT-Tackle Changing Thinking (the struggle)

Have I told you I love what I have? I have this sweet little  Avet sx 5.3 and  G Loomis reel combo that has landed just about every fish I have hooked up the last 4 years in the salt. It was not always that way… I was a spinner who took time to embrace the ways of the conventional. To me conventional is smoother drag, more power lifting a fish and most of all my lil thumb is boss on the reel.  There have been exceptions when I do not use it;  when FW fishing , fly-fishing (roll your eyes here hard-corer’s-), when I was stupid enough to wrap the line snagged and broke the tip-off  the rod (it went to the rod hospital),  on someone else boat-when they are already geared up, or when someone has  yelled” fish on grab that rod”.

For the most part I always fish with the same combo for sea bass, stripers, flounder, mahi, tog when  inshore and back-bay- which is where most of my time is spent. Even with the repair and missing some of the top… this set up completes me (sounds weird but some people may get this).

My tackle is minimum (like in – you’re wearing that again?)and I am always amused by how much other people have. Some stick to what they have and keep working it and some go for the bangs and whistles of a showroom inventory. Whatever works for you, whatever makes you happy, fishing is a great–> if not the very best activity one can have and share.

My Frightening Fishing Disability (FFD)

For a long time I have had this fear, I attribute it to when I first started fishing.  Using someone else’s tackle and every time I picked up a rod the words would resonate… if you drop the rod you are going in after it.  I became afraid to touch someone elses gear,  fear of getting snagged and always felt like I was doing it wrong. When reeling in a bigger fish I would keep thinking the rod is going to break because it is bent over or the fish is going to pull it right out of my hands. Ask anyone who has fished with me and they will tell you I always think I am snagged but the snag almost always turns out to be a mighty nice fish (I am that sensitive to the tiniest nibble).

Lacking confidence I became my own worst enemy to the gear.  Big Penn reels and Tuna fishing Offshore would excite and frighten me at the same time. The thoughts will rush through my head when I heard fish on…. because the night before I would not just mentally prepare I would think physically also. And the belt, my my my those belts… love them hate them it has to be just right or it will not work. My  great lesson, which should always be taught first: USE YOUR LEGS. Ten steps forward, 9 steps back always, when I fish with someone new or on someone else’s boat. I get on and say where do you want me, and what can I do. But I have so much respect for the amount of money, time and effort put into boat ownership that I am going ask and wait because it’s your boat, your lover (LOL).

Perception is about to change….through gear intervention (GI)

I rec’d a beautiful custom rod for my Birthday. If you all have been reading here a while you would understand the art… my love for stripers and last year my favorite catch… squid.

This is more than a rod to me it’s somewhat of an artistic master piece

I have been out 2 times with it (the new rod) and am scared to death of it because I do not want to “break it”. But now the ante has been upped with this new beauty- (Avet MGX 5.8). EXCITED??? You bet I am! Plus I treated myself to a few PENN items and I am just on overload with anticipation of getting out there again.

Use it or….

Stupid winter taking so long….

which means only one thing. COD?