Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bass and Carp over Birds

I had an unexpected day off Wednesday. I found out fairly late Tuesday night. I did not have much time to plan a fun day. Being that it was a Wednesday, my instinct was to go to the Joppa Flats bird walks in Parker River NWR. There is a morning and an evening morning walk the Audubon Sanctuary sponsors. I could kill two birds with one stone making the long drive well worth it. In between the two walks I could have gone to Ipswich River or gone shad fishing. The tide ended up being terrible when I checked it, so that left me only Ipswich River, which was fine with me.

Wednesday morning came and I got a 5 am phone call from work that didn't know I had the day off. I couldn't go back to sleep, but I was pretty tired. I got up at 6:30 and started packing my lunch. It was very windy. As much as I would have like to gone on two walks on the same day with experts, I just didn't think there would be a lot of active birds in the strong southwesterly.

It was still early, so when it got to a more appropriate hour I texted my friend Dave to see if he was fishing. He called me right back and said yes. I told him, if he wanted company I could be at his house in 20 minutes. I had packed all my carp stuff in case he said yes.

We went to a venue that he did quite well the day before. We had almost the same weather conditions, but not the same luck. I caught a 22 pound carp within  minutes and we thought they would be in thick. No such luck. It was the only carp caught all day.  We left around 3 pm.

On the way home I started to get a migraine. By the time I got to my house, I knew it was time for a nap. I didn't set the alarm and shut my eyes. I woke up at 5:45, just in time to make a trip to the bay. Wednesday was the last good tide for a couple of days so I didn't want to waste it. I went to a long sandbar. For two and a half hours I was the only one fishing this mile and a half of shoreline. I did not kill them by any means, but I ended up with two stripers and my first blue of the year. I got home about 9:30.

Certainly not the best day fishing, but I still made the right decision to go fishing instead of birding. I read the report from the walk, they didn't see too much. So although, I can say the same, I did save about twenty dollars in gas, and I caught my first blue of the year and a 22 pound carp.

Picture of carp to follow

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Birding my Weekend

As mentioned in the shad post below, I birded Thursday and Friday. I did manage to "squeeze" in five
Purple Martin
hours of fishing, but with over fourteen hours of daylight, there is plenty of time to do other things also.

My original plan involved doing a couple of "paid" bird walks. There was a walk at Plum Island on Wednesday night, two different walks on Thursday morning at two locations in Newbury, and another at Plum Friday morning. Somehow I managed to not make it to any of them. After work on Wednesday, it was very windy, I knew there wouldn't be many birds around so I chose to leave early Thursday morning. This saved me about fifty bucks (33 for a campsite and 12 for the walk, and food for supper).

 So I left Thursday morning hoping to make it to either of the two Audubon walks. However, traffic was really bad and I knew I wouldn't make it to either (one started at 8:30, the other at 9 am). There was no way I'd make it through Lowell rush hour traffic, so I changed plans and went to Oxbow NWR in Harvard. I saw some nice birds but nothing new for the year. The highlights were American Redstart, many Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Wood Ducks, Baltimore, Orioles, Red Eyed Vireo, and Yellowthroats. I also saw another Blandings Turtle and heard a Pileated Woodpecker.

After the morning rush, I left Oxbow around 11, and went to Rough Meadows Mass Audubon Sanctuary. It was small and I was there about an hour. I did see a Rose Breasted Grossbeak,Great
Blandings Turtle
Crested Flycatcher, Greater Yellowlegs.

From there I went shad fishing. After fishing I grabbed a campsite at Salisbury Beach (33 dollars). I saw some seals on the rocks, Common Eider sea ducks,and Black Bellied Plovers while walking on the beach. I went to bed about 9 pm. For the day I saw 54 species of vertebrate.

Walking up to light raindrops hitting me in the face, I was packed and ready for my day by 4:50 am. I went to Parker River NWR. My plan was to bird for a couple hours and be back at Joppa Flats to meet for the bird walk at 8am. I lost track of time and when I looked at my phone it was 8:10 am, which meant I went 0-3 on my planned walks (however I did save forty four dollars, but I am positive I would have seen more total species going with experts).

By far the highlight of my five hours of the morning was a coyote that was hunting in the Hellcat area. It was stalking something in the brush. Besides the coyote, I saw Northern Shoveler, Bobolinks, Turkey, and Willet, I drove to the end of the road at Sandy Point. There piping plover and least terns were everywhere. On the way to Sandy Point, a guy pointed out a Willow Flycatcher which was a life bird for me. At this point I realized I missed my walk.

I went back to the Hellcat area which is famous for warblers. I found a Bay Breasted Warbler and a Magnolia Warbler. Both were life birds for me. A guy pointed out the call of a Black Billed Cukoo, that I distinctly could hear. I also saw some other Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, and Marsh Wrens. All total I saw 44 species on the island.

I had lunch and drove to Mill Pond Rec Area in West Newbury. This was the site of one of Thursday
y morning's walks (the other was Rough Meadows). I didn't see much there, but did see my first ever Indigo Bunting. I listened to it call and got great looks. When I got back to my car and listened to it on my bird calls cd. Kind of a neat way to learn calls.

After Mill Pond it was only a five minute drive to my shad fishing spot, where I caught three before making the one our and fifteen minute drive home.

All total I saw 76 different species. I had a total of six life birds, but I'm only counting four (counting the Bay Breasted, Willow Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting, and Magnolia. I heard the Cukoo which counts in the birding world, but I want to see it. I also saw a female Cape May Warbler in a bush, but it was a quick look and couldn't identify any field marks.) I also had another nine first of the year animals (piping plover, least tern, bobolink, coyote,cedar waxwing, and black bellied plover, American Shad, eel, mummys,) All in all a great two days off from work.
Piping Plover

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Successful Shad Run

I spent the last two days in the Newburyport area. I did quite a bit and never stopped "playing" from 5:30 am till dark both days. I have a lot to write about, but I'll break it down into topics in individual posts.

One thing I was hoping to make time for was shad fishing the Merrimack River.  I used to fish for American Shad in the Indianhead River in Hanover. I haven't gone in almost a decade. The drive is long and I'm usually playing for a fish or two. I had never fished the Merrimack for shad. I know there is a large run. I had read some OTW articles about where to fish.

I found out that high tide was about 3 pm yesterday and the spot I planned on fishing is best from high to two hours down. I got to the spot I wanted (a spot within a spot) and thankfully no one was there. I casted out my 1/8 oz. lime green shad dart. AS with any new type of fishing, although I had a game plan, I really didn't expect to score. Luckily for my confidence level, I hooked into a shad right away. I got him in (it was a male) and took some pictures. I was happy to get my first shad in a decade. Only ten minutes later I had another. I thought how much easier this was than fishing the Indianhead. Then for the next 90 minutes...nothing. That was okay, I was more than thrilled to catch even one shad.
So of course I went back today, after sleeping overnight at Salisbury Beach and birding Plum Island in the morning. I landed three in the 90 minutes that I fished after high tide. I got there early to snag my spot long before the tide was high, only to find it occupied by four bottom fishermen. They left right at high tide and I was in that spot before they had drove away. Catching five shad in my brief time fishing for them was very unexpected. At the Indianhead River I used to HOPE for one hit an hour, never mind land them. So in my book the last two days fishing were outstanding!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I finally bought a new computer: here are some pictures

As you read from the title I finally bought a computer. For the first time in a year I am typing n a keyboard and not my phone, It is a pain in the gluteus to download photos from my phone to the blog. That is why I have been putting only a picture or two on most posts. Usually they were taken with my crappy camera phone so I wasn't terribly pleased with them anyway. Here are some pictures of reptiles, amphibians, and wood ducks I have captured over the spring. Enjoy

Northern Water Snake

Endangered Blanding's Turtle

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting it wrong sometimes

The other night my options on what to fish for came down to my three usual suspects; carp, stripers, or trout. For the most part, I put the trout on the back burner in mid-May. However, I hadn't caught many this year. I only fished for them four or five times. Also the thought of smoked trout appealed to me. So I went against my general plan and went to the fly fishing only pond in northern RI.

In May trout fishing is usually pretty easy. The water temp is ideal and there are a lot of bugs on the water. So I went to the pond about supper time. I was actually hoping to catch a limit. I don't keep many fish but I do make a batch of smoked trout once a year. If I limited out early, I'd swing down to the bay and try for stripers before dark.

No such luck. The trout proved very difficult to fool this night. There were not many jumping. Something was hatching on the water but the trout were not chasing. I managed to catch four. I had two others fight, but come off. Other than those six trout, I had very few other hits.

I was happy with my outcome despite the inactive fish. Catching four on a tough day is okay by me. I worked hard to catch them, but hey, at least I didn't go home with a goose egg. As I was putting my kayak on the car I got a text from Dave. He went striper fishing. How did he do?

He caught 21 at a spot he only caught three the night before. Sometimes you just never know

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I wasn't going fishing tonight

Being out every night after four very long days at work had taken its toll. I was tired. I passed out on my couch when I got home from work. An hour later, I got a text from my friend Tom asking me if I was going fishing tonight. I hadn't planned on it. The wind was cold and a cold front come through. It was a perfect night to take a day off. Tom had asked me a couple times this year to go fishing. We just hadn't met up yet.

Since I clearly wasn't doing anything and I had not seen my friend in months, I decided to go. I didn't really expect to catch anything. I figured we would shoot the breeze. Tom is hilarious. The worst case scenario was get some fresh air and have a few laughs.

Things turned out pretty well. We each got a big white sucker. I was much happier to catch mine than Tom was. I also landed the twenty pound carp in the photo. Needless to say, I'm happy I got the text.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sacrificing May for September

   As you have read many times this month and other May's, this is my favorite month by far. If I was a millionaire I still wouldn't have enough time to enjoy everything I want to do.  However, I am not a millionaire and have to work. Normally I get two days off a week. I go on "exotic" daytrips on those days. I sometimes leave at 5:30 am and get back after dark. I do not get cheated on those days, no minute is wasted. I usually have my list of spring daytrips written out in January. I will have tides written on a calender along with moon phases. I plan trips to the Cape trout fishing and Central MA fishing for giant mirror carp.

This month I was thrown an unexpected wrinkle. The girl, Megan, that covers my days off,moved on to greener pastures. This left a void in the company and we do not have a district manager. So now I do not have someone to cover my days off and I have been asked to do a lot of her job for the time being.

I certainly do not want Megan's job permanently and made it clear to the owner. She was on call 5-6 days a week. She could have gotten a phone call at 4 am from a morning girl or at 4 pm from a closer. If she couldn't get the shift covered she had to go in. I had that job for seven years and do not want to live that life again. I had to walk out of movies with my then ten year old son. I'd have to leave little league games and fishing sessions cause a toaster broke. It is a life style I do not plan on living again.

However, with Megan leaving I am stuck for a little while. At first I was really depressed that I would be working so hard in May. If Megan left in January I would welcome the extra work and overtime. In the spring I do not think that way, I look at it as time I can never get back. So many things are better in May than the other 11 months. The bird spring migration, trout fishing, and the largest carp of the year are landed are just a few examples.

To make the best of it I realized something. Even if I get screwed over by a couple of night girls, I can still go out most every night. Being on call I can't go far, but I can stretch my limit as far as Warwick, where conveniently enough, I have been catching a lot of stripers.

My big sacrifice are my days off. I'm working 6 days right now. So I am loosing half of my valuable daytrips in this precious month. But, I will get overtime every week. By getting into overtime, I should have enough money to go on a vacation to the Utah national parks this fall. Laurie and I have been thinking about this trip for a while. I did not want to commit until early summer because I wanted to make sure I had enough money in the bank. By working overtime the next few weeks, the money shouldn't be a problem. So in reality, 'm trading four days off for a 2 week dream (but cheap) vacation. I can live with that.

I have still been getting out after my longer days at work. Tonight I went to the fly pond and had some fun. Last night I went striper fishing and got a few. Sunday, Laurie and I went birding at Great Swamp. We saw some cool birds and walked 3 miles. Saturday I went striper fishing where my friend Dave and I caught a combined 51 fish. All in all not a bad 4 days.