Friday, September 27, 2013

The Catch of the Day: An August Fish


My only catch and perhaps my very first "August fish" turned out to be an impressive, 17-inch striped bass.

Where the Speechless Unite in a Silent Accord



I hope the three of you who regularly visit my fishing blog will forgive three months of silence.

My last fishing trip was on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 on the Hudson River in Riverdale. Fortunately, I was smart enough to take detailed notes.

I decided to go fishing that particular day on the advice of In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, which forecast excellent fishing for August 6.

In a previous post, I wrote about my frustrations with fishing in August. I am pleased to report that I finally caught an "August fish."

According to my notes, I started fishing at 10:45 AM. I picked the first area on the promenade instead of my usual one. It was sunny, warm, but with no wind.

I began with two lines in the water. At 11:10 AM, I reeled in a 17-inch striped bass. I was overjoyed, not only because I finally caught an "August fish" but because it was also a large one. As is my custom, I thanked God for delivering it and soon released it.

At 11:25, I had a third line in the water. Using three rods in such a small space can result in the lines getting tangled. So I have to make sure I cast them far apart. If there is a moderate wind, I then use only two lines in Riverdale.

The fish were certainly active. In a 20-minute span (11:45 to 12:05), I experienced a number of hits, including a big one, but I failed to hook anything.

As the day went on, the weather began to change. The clouds moved in and eventually blocked out the sun. It also cooled quite noticeably. The tide was also receding.

I changed the bait frequently and recast my lines. Unfortunately, I couldn't catch anything else. Happy that I caught something and something large, I went home around 1:45 PM.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Changing Weather

   When I started, it was sunny, humid, and with only a few clouds in the sky:


   The clouds eventually moved in:


Then came the fog and rain:


   The George Washington Bridge vanished once again:


    By the time I left at 4:30, the sun was shining again (although I didn't capture it with my digital camera).

The Catch(es) of the Day

A perch:


Two small crabs:



You Know You're Nobody's Fool


   My last fishing experience was ten days ago, Tuesday, June 11. I've been a little distracted and run down recently, which I hope explains the frequent delays in posting. My three regular readers should not worry. I have no plans--and no need--to return to the disabled list. Anticipating that I might update my blog days later, I wisely decided to taje detailed notes during the trip.

   I returned to Alpine, New Jersey once again. This time, in addition to bloodworms, I also bought a pint of clams at Jack's to use as bait. A search of my blog's archives shows that I used clams twice before, but I didn't catch anything with them.

   Anticipating the traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway, I left home around 10 AM. After picking up the bait, I got to Alpine around 11:15 or so, and had three lines in the water by 11:30 AM. The solunar calendar reported that the best time to fish began at 12:49 PM. The area, as I prefer, was deserted. When I started, the sun was out, and it was hot and humid. So I removed my jacket.

   A short time after I began fishing, I started getting hits with the clams. Since this happened long before the "best time," I hoped I would have a great day fishing. Unfortunately, I couldn't catch anything with the clams. Whatever was going after them was just playing with the bait--just nibbling and picking at it--while avoiding the hook. At one point, from a distance, I saw something large stick its head out of the water maybe to catch a fly. I don't know if it was a fish or some other animal. Most fish tend to jump out of the water rather than sticking their heads out.

   At 12:30 PM, I reeled in a perch. It was small, measuring between nine and ten inches. I threw it back.

   I continued to have hits with the clams and even the bloodworms for the next hour, but I couldn't catch anything. As usual, I began to get frustrated.

   At 1:49 PM, I had my second and third catches of the day. I caught two small crabs that were stuck together. The smaller one was somehow attached below the larger one. Was the smaller the offspring of the larger? I managed to throw the larger one back. The smaller one, however, crawled away, and every time I went near it, the little crab began moving and snapping its claws. So I left it alone.

   When fishing, I've caught crabs before. However, the experience reminded me that a number of the many hits I've been getting were likely crabs snapping at the bait and smaller perch. Still, a fisherman shouldn't get picky.

   At one point, I had a hit that caused my rod to tip over. It seemed like a big fish, but it let go.

   I also had to deal with the rapidly changing weather. By 2:19, the rain started. A brief fog once again obscured the George Washington Bridge. (The Elizabeth Dane, fortunately, was nowhere in sight.) By 3:30, the sun was out again.

   The tide was going out. The "best time" had passed. I thanked God for what I caught. I gave up at 4:30.

 

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

And If There Is No Room Upon the Hill


   Another day, another belated post.

   Nearly a week ago, on June 6--the anniversary of the D-Day invasion--I returned to Hudson Park in New Rochelle. I got up there in the mid-morning to take advantage of the solunar calendar's recommendation for the day. I had wanted to try Alpine again, but, with the usual traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway, I didn't think I would arrive on time.

   The day was another disappointment. In about two hours of fishing, I had only one bite. I made another early exit by noon or so. After I packed up, I went over to this nice black lady who was fishing not too far from me. She said she had no luck either.

    I guess the fish were on vacation.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Hope That's Not the Elizabeth Dane

Out of the dense fog and hard rain, I spotted what looked like a sailboat or an old clipper ship. It moved upriver quite slowly.



It eventually came into view, and I could see it's rain-soaked crew. The old-looking vessel eventually docked nearby, and its passengers soon vanished.


I hope it wasn't the long-lost Elizabeth Dane.

A Bridge Too Far


The usually-visible George Washington Bridge is nowhere to be seen in the fog.

And the Anzio Bridgehead Was Held for the Price of a Few Hundred Ordinary Lives


Yesterday (Tuesday, May 28), I returned to Alpine, New Jersey in the mid-afternoon. I began by picking up two dozen bloodworms and one fresh bunker at Jack's. There, a fisherman had wheeled in his day's catch: a monstrous striped bass. It must have measured several feet, and I was told it weighed over 40 lbs. (Of course, I left my phone in the car, so there's no picture.) He caught it nearby using a piece of fresh bunker. I don't know if he was on shore or in a boat. I congratulated him, shaking his hand and saying, "God bless ya! You're my hero." He appreciated my good wishes.

I then drove to Alpine. Since there was traffic on the wretched Cross Bronx Expressway, I was delayed by 45 minutes or so. I started fishing around 3:10. I missed high tide, and it was starting to recede. The weather forecast called for showers, but over here, it was raining harder than I expected. The solunar calendar predicted nominal fishing success, but I went anyway. As I have written before, fog and a slight, bearable rain usually evoke a pleasant fishing experience I once had on the Potomac River off Fletcher's Boathouse--days after I learned that I would be getting my Master's Degree.


The rain (as you can see in the above photo) created plenty of mud. Of course, I got soaked as did everything else. There was also a dense fog in the area, and I couldn't even see the George Washington Bridge. I put a piece of bunker on one line, and a bloodworm on the other. I didn't have much action at first. I eventually managed to get a few hits on both lines, but didn't catch anything.

The rain continued to batter the area and my aging frame without mercy. (Wisely, I took my pain medication before leaving home.) I managed to hold out for about 80 to 90 minutes before making another early exit (this one due to rain).

I was extra careful driving home because of the fog. Fortunately, the bad weather kept the bicyclists and pedestrians away.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And If Your Head Explodes...


Again, I'm a little late with the updates. (Story of my life.) On Monday (May 20), I once again traveled to New Jersey. Eager to try new places, I went to Ross Dock, which is also on the Hudson River with clear view of the George Washington Bridge.

In baseball, it's called an "early exit," when the manager takes out the starting pitcher early in the game after a poor performance. I did have a few hits, including what seemed to be a big one, but my hooks kept getting caught in the rocks. I started out with two poles, although I brought three with me. At one point, I accidentally stepped on the third which was resting on the ground. It was the baitcasting rod, which I had brought out of retirement. I crushed its upper half with my boot.

Ross Dock is much cleaner than Alpine and had more people. I often prefer a little solitude. To get to Ross Dock, I noticed it's five miles from the exit on the Palisades Parkway. You have to be extra careful when driving on the road since it's frequently used by cyclists and a few pedestrians. I can get to Alpine much faster.

After about 90 minutes or less, my frustrations (and some physical pain) got the best of me, and I gave up. I'll try not to let this experience, which I have christened the Ross Dock Disaster of 2013 and rivals the Croton Point Park Disaster of 2009, prejudice me against Ross Dock. Next time, I'll just try a different spot.

In the meantime, I have to restock my gear.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Catch of the Day


My only catch was a 10-inch perch. I've caught smaller, but I'm always grateful to catch anything. Thank you, St. Peter.

Remembering Games and Daisy Chains and Laughs



I've been a little scatter-brained in the last few days and have failed to update my blog in a timely fashion.

Last Friday (May 17), I returned to the Alpine, New Jersey at the very same spot I fished last time. I brought a third fishing rod with me. I don't believe I've used it since the late 1990s or so. I cleaned and respooled it. It has an Abu Garcia baitcast reel, which is designed for longer casts (at least for fisherman who know what they're doing), with a baitcasting rod. I know I've caught a few fish with this one, but I can't remember how many and how big.

I got to the area around 3:10 or so. The sun was out, and there was a slight breeze. I had numerous hits on all three lines, but for the first few hours, I didn't hook anything. Naturally, I often reeled in the lines to check the bait. Quite often, the hooks were cleaned off. Other times, the partially-devoured bloodworm was still on. I tried different types of hooks, but it made no difference. Near the end of the trip, I was overcome by a sense of disappointment. I can't remember a fishing trip where I had so many hits or opportunities, but failed to land a single fish. I realized this was also a cruel metaphor for my life. As is my custom with despair, I asked for St. Peter's help. I should point out that prayers aren't magic spells. God's answer can always be a "no" or, as I've realized in the last two decades, a "not know." But today, St. Peter delivered.

I reeled in a perch, which measured 10 inches. I looked up and thanked God for rescuing my day. I also realized that most of the hits I was getting was probably from the perch in the river. I don't mind catching perch, but I certainly prefer a stripped bass or a catfish. Since I haven't had much luck with fresh bunker in a long time, I've focused on bloodworms for bait. I know I should try others.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Unladen, Empty, and Turned to Stone


   Yesterday (May 13), I drove up to Hudson Park in New Rochelle. In-Fisherman's solunar calendar reported good fishing between 1 and 3 PM. Unfortunately, I struck out.

   I just took two dozen bloodworms with me. I had two lines in the water by 1:10 or so. I didn't get a single bite.

   It was also colder than normal and quite windy. A couple of times, I took refuge in my car. (I left my jacket at home.)

  I just stayed for 90 minutes and went back home. I had some things to take care of.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

On the Turning Away From the Pale and Downtrodden



Tonight, I'm gonna take that ride
Across the river to the Jersey side

--Bruce Springsteen, "Jersey Girl"

   Yesterday (May 1), I left New York for the first time in over a decade to fish. I didn't go far. I decided to test the waters of the Hudson River on the New Jersey side.

   I took two fresh bunker and about two dozen bloodworms. After crossing the George Washington Bridge, I made a right on the Fort Lee Exit and drove up to the Palisades Interstate Park. I picked the Alpine Picnic Area, which is opposite Yonkers, New York. The place (at least the long and winding road to the picnic area) is beautiful and used by numerous bicyclists and hikers. I didn't see anyone else fishing. I picked one of the benches behind the wall. The area where I fished was dirty and muddy. Several state park buildings and nearby docks still had Hurricane Sandy Storm Damage. As I understand, as the summer approaches, there will be a $5 parking fee.

   By around 3:10 PM, I had my two lines in the water, one with a bloodworm and the other with a piece of fresh bunker. The solunar calendar was once again vindicated, although I didn't catch anything. I did, however, have a number of hits with the bloodworms. In fact, since I've had no luck with fresh bunker recently, I switched the second line to bloodworms as well.

   It was sunny with a slight breeze. The rocks in the water evoked painful memories of the Croton Point Park Disaster of 2009, where practically every cast got snagged on a rock. This time, my lines got caught only three times. It's always a nuisance to attach new fish finders with a sinker and tie a got knot on the snap swivel. But it really doesn't take that long.

   I passed the time--as I frequently do--with my pipe and my iPod. I went through my chronological "Bruce Springsteen Favorites" playlist, appropriately starting with the tracks from The River (1980).

   Despite a few hits, I couldn't catch anything. Still, I enjoyed myself, and I'm glad I found another spot. I will definitely return here soon.

   It's great to be back.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Coming Back to Life


Today (April 30), I made my second visit to Hudson Park in New Rochelle. I just took one dozen bloodworms and intended to stay for about two hours. When I planned my trip, I not only took note of high tide but also made use of In-Fisherman's online solunar calendar. It reported a "Major Moon Period"--when the moon would be overhead or underfoot--between 3:26 PM and 5:26 PM. Many fishermen have long believed that various phases of the moon affect the feeding patterns of fish.

By 3:15 PM, I had two lines in the water. After the traumatic and once-in-a-lifetime incident I experienced last week, which resulted in my oldest and favorite fishing rod go missing, I was a little overly cautious. I was on the lookout for birds and was extra careful to make sure my poles wouldn't fall into the water below. The sun was shining brightly, and there was a slight wind. It felt much colder than the reported 65 degrees.

I had no action in the first hour. I eventually got one hit, but I didn't hook anything. Whatever it was, it just nibbled at the bait. The bite gave me hope that I might catch something here for the first time in years. As I waited, I passed the time listening to my iPod and smoking my pipe. I went through my "Country" playlist. Marty Robbins' classic cover of the old Western ballad, "The Streets of Laredo," is a personal favorite. I listen to the song quite frequently, perhaps because I tend to identify with the dying, repentant cowboy in the song who comes to the harsh realization that he alone is responsible for his own tragic plight and sad exit. No doubt, "The Streets of Laredo," is a sad song, but it also conveys hope through personal redemption and the cowboy's struggle to maintain his dignity in his final minutes by seeking companionship with a passerby, some cool water to quench his thirst, and a request for a solemn funeral after he "goes to his Maker."

In the second hour, I reeled in one line to check the bait. I immediately noticed that the line was heavy. Since I was able to reel it in--without a fight--I obviously didn't get it caught on an underwater rock. Did I catch some garbage? When I pulled up the line, I saw that I caught a flounder--my very first. I was thrilled. It measured about 14 inches. A fellow fisherman nearby me congratulated me. Since it was really sunny, I wasn't able to get a clear picture. I cut it loose and returned it to the water.

I gave up around 5:30. We'll see what the month of May brings.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Catch of the Day


This was my only catch of the day: a 17-inch striped bass. I returned him to the river, which later took my beloved Ugly Stick.

That'll Keep You Going Through the Show


   Today, I returned to the Hudson River in Riverdale, the site of both personal triumphs and disappointments.

   This is one fishing trip I'll always remember--for different reasons.

   I prepped for the trip a couple of days ago by checking tide charts and a solunar calendar. The latter reported the best time to fish would be for a two-hour window in the late afternoon.

   I bought two fresh bunker, three frozen herring, and two dozen bloodworms from Jack's. When I got to the Riverdale Metro North Station, I couldn't find an empty space. However, the attendant, whom I've seen several times before, let me park near the entrance in an illegal spot for nothing.

   I went to the last area on the promenade. By 3:30 or so, I had two lines in the water, one with a bloodworm and one with a piece of fresh bunker. I had no bites for the first 30 minutes or so.

   At one point, I replaced the treble hook on my Ugly Stik pole with a single one with a longer shank, which seemed better for bloodworms. My judgment, for the first time in a while, proved correct.

  I immediately got a hit. When I was certain that I hooked something, I began to reel it in. I caught a 17-inch striped bass. I thanked God for enabling me to catch something sizable for the first time since 2009. I released the fish back into the water.

  As I waited for another hit, I settled into my usual routine, listening to music (Bruce Springsteen) and using my cellphone to access the Internet. Every fisherman faces the possibility of losing his rod in the water through some unforeseen circumstance such as dropping it in the water or having a pretty big fish run away with it.

  As I was looking down at my cellphone, I startled by a noise and looked up to see BOTH of my fishing poles go over the metal railing and into the river. Apparently, a rather large bird--a member of either the duck or gull family (or something else)--collided with my fishing lines in midair and pulled them into the water. When I fish, I always keep the anti-reverse switch locked, so I know when I have a hit. If I didn't, I would never know when I got a hit, especially when casting into a flowing river.

   I just stood there in disbelief. Nothing like this ever happened. Once, when fishing on the Potomac River in a rowboat, I reached over to get something, and my glasses and rosary fell out my shirt pocket into the water. But I've never lost a rod.

  One of the rods I lost was the very first one I ever bought, a black Ugly Stik I bought from a Sports Authority in Maryland in 1996. It's been with me on many trips. The other one that fell in was my long, two-piece blue one. I soon saw it floating in the water. Unfortunately, it was too far out to reach from below. It seemed to go back and forth. Did I hook something? Fortunately, the current didn't catch it.

 

   I made a couple of attempts to reach it. I carefully went down the rocks. As the tide recedes, you can see the previously-submerged rocks, which are covered with slippery, green moss. I had to be extra careful not to slip and break something else. On a second attempt, it was still out of reach. Finally, I went into the water up to my knees and successfully retrieved it. I reeled in the line, and the fresh bunker was still attached to it. I escaped the water quite wet and with my jeans covered in green moss. This whole process must have taken one hour.

   I changed the bait and put a bloodworm on the hook and cast it. I was hoping the receding tide would reveal where my Ugly Stick was, but I never saw it again. Maybe it will wash back in with the tides. Of course, a visitor might find it and figure some idiot threw it away in frustration.

   I had a few more hits, but nothing else got hooked. I stayed until 8 PM and then went home, where I threw my clothes into the wash. I watched the rest of the Yankee game and then Psych.

The Unexpected Resurrection of a Man Called Horse


   After over two years of silence, I have finally returned.

   Like Tommy John, Tony Conigliario, Tom FilerRick Burleson, Dennis Leonard, Charlie Lea, Joba Chamberlain, and Chien-Ming Wang, I face the challenge of getting back into the game after a substantial amount of time on the shelf. To shake off the rust, I started simple. I went fishing one week ago, Wednesday, April 10. Ironically, it was the same place where I last fished: Hudson Park in New Rochelle.

   I bought one dozen bloodworms and two fresh bunker. By the early afternoon, I had two lines in the water. The conditions were less than optimal. There was a breeze, and the sun was out. However, the tide was high. Looking across to Five Islands Park, I notice the metal, floating dock where I fished a number of times was gone. Apparently, Hurricane Sandy took it away.

   I hoped to begin my comeback by catching something for the first time since 2010. Unfortunately, I struck out. I didn't have a single bite in the two hours I spent there. There were several people fishing in the area, and I didn't see anyone catch anything.

   Nevertheless, it was great to be back.
   

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Unexpected Early Return of a Man Called Horse


I have returned.

Yes, it's no doubt much earlier than the three of you and myself expected.

I went fishing on Friday, February 18. It seemed like a perfect day to go fishing. The forecast called for warm temperatures, in the mid-60s or so. An online solunar table I consulted reported that a full moon would be out on February, with the moon underfoot for a two-hour period starting at 12:28 PM. If you recall, many fishermen rely on solunar tables on when to fish. Apparently, the fishing is best when there is a full moon overhead or underfoot. During these times, fish go on a feeding frenzy.

Along with the weather and the phase of the moon, high tide in New Rochelle was around 11 AM. The day seemed to be too perfect to let pass me by. I even planned ahead.

The day before, I called Jack's Bait and Tackle, and they were out of both bloodworms and fresh bunker. I then checked with City Island Bait and Tackle. They had bloodworms and frozen bunker. I took a drive on City Island and bought my bait in advance. I stored it in a basement refrigerator. The bunker would be thawed out the next day. I made a checklist of stuff I should take. I don't I believe I ever tried fishing in mid-February.

I decided to pick Hudson Park in New Rochelle. I didn't want to go too far or walk a distance from my car, especially when I just wanted to shake off the rust from the winter and last season's disappointments. Despite the warmer than usual weather, there was still some snow on the ground. In Hudson Park, there was a gigantic mountain of shoveled snow in the parking lot. Since late December, the New York City has gotten clobbered with a number of heavy snowstorms and blizzards. (Thank God I was smart enough to buy a snowblower several years ago to spare my joints and high blood pressure.)

I got there around 11:30 or so. On this day, I brought a couple of slices of bread (the kind you slip into a toaster) to try as bait. I read that many fish will go for the bread especially when they're hungry.

Before noon, I had three lines in the water, one with bloodworms, one with a piece of thawed-out bunker, and one with a bread pellet I made.

Unfortunately, I didn't catch anything. In fact, I didn't have one single bite. There were other fisherman who came and went, and they didn't seem to have any luck either. So it's not just me.

I passed the time catching up with my reading of articles I ripped out of the Wall Street Journal. I listened to my iPod touch. I smoked a Butera Capo Grande cigar.

The bread bait didn't work as well. It just crumbled when it hit the water. I realize I should let it dry hours in advance so it won't fall apart. I threw the remaining bread in the garbage, which then attracted several Omen-like black crows.

By 3 PM, the tide was going down. The wind picked up considerably. The full moon's underfoot phase had passed. So I packed up and went home.

Maybe it was too early for this area despite the favorable conditions. Maybe I should have tried another part of the park or even somewhere else. Who knows?

If the weather is relatively warm in March, I will fish.

The 2011 season has begun.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Exit of a Man Called Horse


Things didn't really work out this season. I'm sorry I disappointed the three of you who make up my loyal fanbase.

If all goes well, I hope to finally do some exploring over the winter.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and we'll meet again in the Spring of 2011.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sam the Lion Remembers

I know I've been away. But I will return sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, the three of you visit this blog regularly--I mean the folks from Advance Publications in Manhattan, Westchester County government just north of the Bronx, and Sun Microsystems out in California--can enjoy this clip from Peter Bogdanovich's classic film, The Last Picture Show (1971). One of my favorite actors, the great cowboy Ben Johnson (whom I resemble a little), won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Sam the Lion, the aging patriarch of a dying small town in Texas. Sam, who acts as a father figure to some of the local high school kids who frequent his diner, pool hall, and little movie theater, takes two of them fishing. Although there's no fish to be caught in the "stock tank" (a reservoir used to water animals) where they go, Sam still goes there to enjoy the scenery and rekindle pleasant memories of a romance he had 20 years earlier. This is where he brought the woman (who was much younger and unhappily married). Those memories--and sharing them from time to time--keep Sam going and allow him to reconnect to a time when he wasn't "a decrepit, old bag of bones."

Although I usually go fishing by myself, this scene also brilliantly illustrates what Joe Pedulla once described to me as the "social aspect of fishing," talking to your companion(s) as you wait for the line to show some sign of life. One of the teens, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), listens intently as Sam reminisces.