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About CS

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    fresh and saltwater fishing
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  1. Thanks. Play on Samuel Beckett. Hopefully Albert actually shows up though (unlike Godot)... I'd post the full story, but there's no online version -- just old-fashioned print.
  2. Bug Light Jetty was a scary good spot in its day. I believe it is completely closed off now by the Coast Guard but it filled in due to beach replenishment before that. There was a very nice rip on the high outgoing that nearly ALWAYS had a few bass willing to play. Schoolies on up to fish in the mid 20#s for me, though I'm sure there were true cows landed there. A few regulars fished it and kept it to themselves (striper fishermen used to be notoriously secretive).I knew it was a good spot when I ran into Jim Cousins (RIP) fishing there and he looked mildly pissed.
  3. Looking through one of my old fishing journals from 1994 and found the entry with the first two albacore I ever caught on a fly rod (I call them "LT" for little tunny in the journal). Caught them on an Orvis 10 wt "Saltrodder," which at the time was just about as good as it gets. That's the actual fly -- I retired it after that monumental day. But that same generic pattern went on to catch a lot of albacore. This was before epoxy flies, etc. Note my leader in the journal entry: 25-pound test tippet. No fluorocarbon. I'll bet the same set-up would still catch... Kind of related: Sept/Oct issue of American Angler just ran a story I wrote about fly fishing from the beach for albies called "Waiting for Albert." It's not a how-to story; more about the down time between hook-ups (which, as any albacore angler knows, can be long...) Hope the albies are getting ready to storm the beaches -- one of my favorite fish to catch... Stephen Sautner
  4. I've had shad like that and agree it is delicious, though it gets a little soft. I just ate a broiled shad last week and tried hard to avoid bones. If you eat around the sides first than peel away the upper layer of meat, which is mostly bone-free, you can avoid many of the bones (note many, not ALL). Best done with your fingers -- all part of the fun. I'll say it again: an early season shad, bled and iced, is really, really good eating.
  5. Damn -- it's out already?? Gotta go pick up a copy. Thanks for heads up and glad you enjoyed it.
  6. No. I don't believe in adding weight to shad flies. Too much of a PITA to cast. Fast sinking line and very short leader is the key.
  7. I've caught crazy stuff on darts: smallies, stripers, panfish, trout, catfish. My biggest-ever Delaware fish came on a dart at Worthington: ten guys picking at big roes and I finally hook-up and 20 minutes later this thing just won't come in. Everyone stops fishing and waits. Big yellow fish finally rolls and everyone collectively groans. CARP. Eventually I beach it -- about a 20 pounder. Nice fight on four-pound test and decent current. For a while, the NJ state record muskie was a fish taken on a gold dart by a shad angler in the early 1980s.
  8. Bonus of using those large twister tails is you would have a good chance of hooking walleye, too. I've taken the occasional walleye on shad darts and shad flies. Never know when they might show up. The biggest I ever caught took a tiny Hildebrand Shad King spoon. I was casting for herring on two-pound line and a really whippy five-foot rod. It weighed six and a half pounds. Two cast later, I caught its twin. Weird.
  9. American shad (at least for me). I have never caught a hickory shad above Lambertville, which is maybe ten miles above the head of the tide. There used to be a spot below New Hope where I would consistently catch hickories, but haven't fished there in years.
  10. Answering a few more questions about shad: Generally, consistent fishing begins in early April in the lower river (below Easton), but as has been noted: some years it's earlier. I remember one unseasonably warm spring when I did really well in mid-March above the Water Gap, but that was unusual. There are a few guys who consistently get them throughout March, but they put in a lot of time. The good part is that those fish are true early season runners – full of fat and very good to eat. They used to say that you needed 50-degree water for shad to begin hitting darts. But I have had decent fishing when water is in the mid-40s. The coldest water I have ever hooked a shad was 42 degrees. When the water is really cold you need to keep your expectations in check – yes, you may hook a fish or two, but you will really have to pound the spot. Good part is you will often have the entire river to yourself. @Ridenfish – interesting tip about the albie method of releasing a shad. Most shad I send back zip away no problem, but I will keep that in mind if I have one that doesn’t. Occasionally a fish does act dazed and will lay on the bottom, but I found if you hold them upright and give them a gentle shove, it often kick-starts them and they swim off. And I like the idea of landing them quickly on heavier gear. For cooking, I simply broil the fillets with lemon pepper for 15 and a half minutes (yes it’s that exact). Squeeze some extra lemon afterwards and enjoy. They are ridiculously bony, but that’s part of the fun about shad. Take your time. Pour yourself a cold beer and have at it. This is wild food – not a McD’s Filet-o-Fish. I usually eat three fish a year: one I broil, one I smoke, and one I pickle. The rest I release so they can make more shad. John McPhee’s book, The Founding Fish has a whole chapter on interesting ways to eat shad. Worth a read for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating fish.
  11. Quick Shad 101: Your timing is good in the spots you mention – but as previously noted water levels are everything. High, rising water is generally bad as are falling water temps. Lower, dropping, or warming water is best. Tackle sounds fine, just make sure you can boom out long casts far into the river channel if needed. I use four-pound braid, which is super thin, and a two-foot leader of 3x tippet (8 pound test). Fluorocarbon is good here. I attach braid to tippet using a Triple Surgeon’s knot, but you can also use a very small two way swivel and a Palomar knot for the braid. I am a dart guy, but I know some guys swear by spoons. I do not throw tandem darts, but plenty of guys do and do well. Some guys put curly tails on their darts. I do not and still catch plenty. A few large split shot about 18 inches from your dart is good – you want to get down deep quickly. As for dart sizes, I like them fairly small – 1/8 ounce is my favorite. For colors, I only use red-and-white or chartreuse-and-dark-green. Lots of guys have their own pet colors, but these two never fail for me. For retrieves, in my opinion the best is a steady retrieve the exact speed of the current. I will explain: assuming you are standing facing the far shore, cast SLIGHTLY UPSTREAM (either 11 o’clock or 1 o’clock depending on which way you are facing), then retrieve as if you broke your dart off and are just steadily retrieving loose line. This may sound weird, but it makes sense once you try it. If you are hanging up on the bottom, reel faster. Shad will hit generally on the downward swing – figure around 10 o’clock or two o’clock – again depending on which way you are facing. You will know when they hit. Some guys like to give their dart action; some guys like to tick along the bottom. All work, but my experience is the slow steady retrieve works best day in day out. For fly fishing, a 9 foot seven-weight is best. I use a fast sinking shooting line 200 to 300 grain depending on flows. Leader is SHORT: no more than two feet of ten pound fluorocarbon. See pic for shad flies. I tie these myself and they are super-easy. Shooting basket is a must – again in my opinion. And agree about fast retrieve. As fast as you can strip with one handed retrieve and they will crush it. Also agree flies can far outfish darts – not sure why. So now I told you how to catch them, do me this favor: PLEASE take care in releasing them. Shad are delicate – DO NOT drag them up the shore and let them flop around, and DO NOT hold them behind the head and pinch their very fragile gill plates. Can’t tell you how many times I have seen guys do this and the gills rupture and the shad dies. Best way to land a shad is to either hold them against your leg while still in the water or use a rubberized catch and release net. I de-barb everything, so often the fly or dart just falls out in the net. One last thing: do not let people tell you shad are not good to eat or are too bony. Caught early in the season (April through early May) – and properly bled and iced (THAT IS KEY) they are excellent eating. Yes, you will have to contend with bones, but so what? Or you can pickle them and the bones dissolve. Or smoke them, and some of the finer bones will dissolve and the rest can be easily separated from the flesh. In short: honor these amazing anadromous fish! We are so lucky that the Delaware still has a thriving run. We should do everything we can to protect and conserve it. Good luck and have fun! I will have more on how to fly fish and eat shad in an upcoming issue of American Angler magazine. --Stephen Sautner
  12. Thanks, man. Feeling good!
  13. Here's an excerpt of something I wrote... Hope you enjoy it. A Sandy Hook Beating—November 4, 2006 Things looked bleak. Jim had already reported slow fishing the night before with just one swirl—not even at his lure—to show for several hours’ effort. Tonight, I fish solo, but am relegated to a B-list-spot since two fishermen have already laid claim to my favorite point. Three’s a crowd there, so I wish my fellow anglers a good skunking before I move on. Now I stand a mile or so away, casting with just the moon and a few wayward sea ducks as company. This particular beach has a series of sandy points that form rips as the tide drops. I work each one of them methodically. But after a thorough carpet-bombing with various plugs and bucktails, my confidence begins to erode with the ebbing tide with not even a bump or swirl to show for my efforts. But before I surrender fully, I will cast again at the first point where I started. I clip on a yellow bucktail tipped with a red pork rind. I make the cast and start a slow retrieve. But I am admittedly out of The Zone and already thinking of the car, and its heater, and the late-night bowl of Cheerios I will devour when I got home. The fish doesn’t really hit as much as it is just there. Reflexively, I jab the rod a few times to make sure the hook sticks, then get a few turns of line on the reel before the fish runs . . . And runs . . . And runs . . . For a moment, as the rod strains right down to the cork, I think I have foul-hooked something monstrous and unstoppable like a sturgeon. But eventually the run stops and I feel a few ponderous head shakes, making me realize I have actually hung a really nice bass—the kind of fish that if I lose, I will feel like puking, or I will toss my rod into the drink and call it a season. The bass continues grinding out more yards of line. I literally stand my ground digging my boots into the wet sand and thinking how crappy I will feel if the line breaks or the hook pulls. But they don’t. And eventually, like when the Grinch finds he had the strength of ten Grinches, plus two, I manage to turn the fish’s head out of the current and coax it toward me. Then it’s just a few yards away thrashing, and before I know it, I have the shock leader in my gloved hand and am leading the fish up on the beach. Then it’s over. Twenty-five pounds of striper—a good forty inches and fat—lie in the sand with sea lice scurrying over its silvery body like Lilliputians on Gulliver crying “There’s a giant on the beach!” I sit next to the bass for a few moments staring up at the stars on a November night. This was the first big fish I have caught since the cancer surgery. Now, a year later, I have just gotten my ass kicked again, but this time by a big striper instead of a tumor. I prefer the striper. Still sitting, I turn the fish around and slide it back into the rip, where it kicks its wide tail a few times and vanishes. As more of an afterthought, and because this is technically a fishing report, I dutifully note that I dropped another fish a few casts later then landed a ten-pound bass that broke water a few yards in front of me. It thumped a bucktail as soon as I twitched it past its nose. That was the only sign of a feeding fish I saw on a night that had very nearly proved to be fishless. ###
  14. FYI: I wrote a story in the latest Anglers' Journal about surf fishermen of Montauk. I'm obviously biased, but I think that is the best-looking magazine out there. The editor, Bill Sisson, is a serious striper angler and is really trying to put out a quality publication. Check it out if you haven't seen it. Even the paper is really nice.
  15. Will be at the author's booth in Edison signing copies of "A Cast in the Woods" (recently reviewed in Fly Fisherman!) and "Fish On, Fish Off " on Friday @2:30, Saturday @4:30 and Sunday @3:00. Would be great to meet fellow SOL folk.