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Found 1 result

  1. The Old Man passed away Monday. He would have been 85 in August. The older guys down at Giglios knew Ted Wheeler as “Ten Pound Ted”. Whenever Dad had some free time, he went fishing. He grew up in Hoquiam, Washington, which is on Grays Harbor, which opens up to the Pacific. Fishing in the northwest corner of Washington state was mostly done on inland rivers and streams for Cutthroat, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout and Salmon and away from the surf. Back in the '40s and '50s, hardly anyone fished the Washington State Pacific surf. The surf was too big and the first break was a mile or more out to sea and probably nobody knew there were any fish in the swirling whitewash. Ted’s Old-Man Roy (my grandfather) must have gotten anxious waiting for the Steelhead or Cutthroat Trout season to start, or he got bored of throwing spinners at Dolly Varden Trout, (Steelhead and Dolly Varden were the Striper and Bluefish equivalents, in that order, of Pacific Northwest streams and rivers), so he took my dad to the beach to find something to fish for. Dad always claimed his father discovered that you can catch Surf Perch on those huge Pacific Beaches with a piece of clam, which is what they did when they needed to fish, and the trout and salmon seasons were closed. When Dad was in the US Army he did not have much time to fish. After the Army he went to Clemson and found out you can catch trout in the streams of some of the Appalachian foot hills. On one of his trips, his fishing buddy, a 270 pound offensive guard for the Tigers was bitten by a cottonmouth. Dad said he couldn’t get the guy to leave and go to the hospital because the Football player was not going to let a snake bite ruin his fishing trip. In 1970 “Ten Pound Ted” moved to Little Silver and stayed there until Hurricane Sandy forced him and mom to move to Shady Oaks. After a long stretch of little or no fishing while in the Army or college, or starting a career and family, moving to the “Jersey Shore” in 1970 allowed him to fish whenever he wanted to, and he did. He would tell you the trout and salmon fishing was better on the West Coast but the surf fishing was better on the East Coast. Dad probably went 10 years before he caught his first Striped bass. It was not for lack of trying. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Stripers were extremely rare. When he wanted to catch “a fish”, any fish, he would usually take me. When we wanted to catch bluefish and probably a weakfish or two, we would drive to the Monmouth Beach Club Jetty and wait for the Bluefish to trap the spearing, tinker mackerel and other baitfish in the northside corner of the jetty. If not the Monmouth Beach Jetty then Tradewinds, or the Asphalt Jetty, or Surfrider or any of the other jetties up to the Hook, that are now mostly covered with sand. When the fish were stacked up on the Ocean Avenue sea wall, and the birds were diving just on the other side, we would scale the wall with our fiberglass polls, Penn reels and Hopkins or treble hooks. If my mother knew at the time, as an 11 year old, dad let me climb down the ocean-side of the sea wall, with waves crashing, to gaff a twelve pound weakfish stuck in the rocks, she would have killed my father for letting me do that. There was a run of “Tide Runner” weakfish back in the early eighties. The Monmouth Beach Car Toppers would bring in fish close to 20 lbs. and occasionally those fish would come in close enough to catch from the wall. I remember the old man hooked into one that nearly pulled him off the wall, which easily would have killed him. That fish ended up lost in the rocks buts we had fun. If the blues and weakfish weren’t running, and at a time when Striper Fishing was mostly futile, we would find other species to catch. Dad liked a good tasting fish so we went out for blackfish a lot on the local jetties. That’s when he started making his own sinkers for easy breakoffs. The jetties in Northern Monmouth County were usually productive though those blackfish were usually on the small size. We also fished Sandy Hook for blackfish a lot. Our favorite place was where that large chunk of white concrete stuck out of the sand at low tide. Besides some decent sized blackfish, those rocks produced kingfish and the occasional sea bass. If it wasn’t bluefish, weakfish or blackfish, fluke were a good diversion in the middle of the summer. I remember hiking up to the tip of the hook at 6:00 AM with him and then sprinting when we noticed the thousands of mosquitos we attracted while crossing through the swampy parts of the dunes. The huge ships that passed within casting distance in the Sandy Hook channel were always impressive. By the time the Stripers had recovered and catching one wasn’t so rare, I was involved in too many high school sports to fish for them, or was in college, or lived in the city. When Dad retired in the 1990s he was in his full fishing glory. He could still hop the rocks, walk miles of sand, or just stand at the end of Peninsula Avenue in Sea Bright to fish and “shoot the breeze” with guys with funny nicknames. His nick name was “Ten Pound Ted” because he couldn’t catch a striper that weighed more than 10 pounds. Dad’s retirement and the peak years of the Striper cycle lined up perfectly. He had the most time to fish when there were the most fish to be caught. His “retirement” from fishing was long and enjoyable and in stages. First he stopped going on the rocks, and hung up his cleats. A few years later he stopped wading in the surf and hung up his waders. As he got older, Dad stuck to the inside and liked to fish Peninsula Ave and then Branchport Park, where he probably did more talking than fishing. Finally, visiting Giglios, having a coffee and cigarette, and listening to fishing stories was his version of a fishing trip. When I moved to the Jersey Shore in 2009, my 20 year hiatus from fishing was over. The old man of course had collected tons of equipment over the years and he was pretty happy to hand it all over to me instead of letting it collect dust in the garage. I still use his Penn 700 series reels, which he always swore by, and the rod Jim Cousins gave him as well as any number of plugs and lures. These last few years, the closest Dad could get to the fish was to ask me how the fishing was. I would show him a phone picture of a fish I caught, or tell him the “black ducks of death” had landed out front and it was over for the season. Even in his last few days Dad wanted to know if I was catching anything. He liked to fish calicos and sand bugs in July and August. I told him I’ve been floating bugs just off the drop and had a few hits earlier in the week. He liked the sound of that. -------- A Memorial Gathering will take place at the John E. Day Funeral Home, 85 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, NJ 07701, on Thursday July 18, 2019 from 4-8PM. A Memorial Mass will take place at 9:30AM on Friday July 19, 2019 at St. James RC Church in Red Bank.