Wildwood Daze – Gone Fishing

Wildwood, New Jersey – The early 70s

Once my parents had acquired the house at the shore, they quickly fell into the lifestyle. Days at the beach for mom and the girls, and dad taking up surf fishing. I don’t know exactly when he started getting into fishing, but I remember what he normally did when approaching something new. He read several books on the subject and got to know people in the fishing community on the island.

I remember us going up to a tackle store on the corner of New Jersey Avenue and Juniper. We would hang out in the store and he’d chat with the owner, Charlie Glenn. Mr. Glenn was a master angler. Well known on the island as a guy who could”high hook” every other fisherman around. High hook meant if they were ever out fishing Mr. Glenn would usually catch something and everyone else would go home empty-handed.

His store was a classic seashore town bait and tackle shop. All sorts of rods, reels, lures and stuff to send you on your fishing adventures. I remember a sign he had hanging on the wall among the photos of fish he had caught. It read: “Early to bed. Early to rise. Fish like hell, and make up lies.” I always liked it for its clever play on words and the idea that men probably lied all of the time about what they caught and how big the fish was. (Or the big one that got away!)

My father invested in some good surf fishing gear. He purchased a big ten-foot rod with a Garcia reel. Unlike fishing in streams and off boats, you need a long rod to throw the bait beyond the waves to where the fish were. My dad’s goal was to hook and catch a big bluefish. Weakfish and Striped Bass were also popular types that the fisherman sought after.

Bluefish – These suckers get huge and fight like a fish twice their size.

Bluefish - Wikipedia

Weakfish – This guy is actually a sea trout, but his nickname comes from his tender mouth. It’s ‘weak’ so it’s hard to get a hook in him.

Maryland Fish Facts

Striped Bass – The name is pretty obvious.

Atlantic Striped Bass | NOAA Fisheries

My dad wanted to catch one of those big blues because they put up a hell of a fight if you got one on your hook. We started out using bait, like bits of squid, but quickly abandoned that. It was slimy, smelly, gross to handle, and just seemed boring. You’d see guys at the beach sitting in their chairs with their rods standing in spikes that were driven into the sand. They’d be puffing cigars and drinking beer and just waiting and hoping something would come along and hit their bait. Boring!

My dad got into lure fishing. Using steel lures like Hopkins and Castmasters that had reflective surfaces that resembled little fish that the bigger fished liked to dine upon. Those were my favorite!

But to catch the bigger fish, you needed to use a lure called a plug.

12 Great Lures for Chinook Salmon Fishing in Puget Sound - Riptidefish

They resembled the type of fish called mullet that the bigger fish went crazy over. My father gave me books to read on the subject of fishing in general. I could still tie the proper knots to secure the lure to the line if you asked me today.

The key to catching fish in my opinion was pretty simple.

Fish the areas where you think the fish may be feeding. That meant looking to see where the seabirds like gulls were feeding. If you saw the gulls diving down to the water and snatching up little fish, that usually meant there was something bigger beneath the surface driving the little fish to the surface. If you can cast your lure out there, you may get a hit.

It seemed the best fishing was in the fall. My dad would head down to the beach in his waders and cast his heart out trying to catch a big blue. I don’t think most people realize how strong these fish are. The line these fishermen are using is heavy monofilament. A steel leader is tied to it, and then that’s attached to the lure. You have to cast it out as far as you can, and then work that lure through the water so it looks like a little fish doing its thing to fool the bigger fish. It’s truly a skill to be learned.

My dad got me a seven-and-a-half-foot Fenwick glass on glass rod, that had incredible action. On it was a Penn reel. I loved that fishing pole. I had thrown the big ten-footers in the surf without much success, and to a skinny kid like me, they were just too heavy. My older sister had a beautiful blue fishing rod, and she was an avid fisherwoman along with my dad. She put the time and practice in on the beach with dad more than I did. With that dedication came a pretty good-sized weakfish she caught on her own. I was impressed and we have the pictures to prove it. I hadn’t caught anything during any of my fishing endeavors.

As time and practice went by my dad started catching a few bluefish. Which was cool, because he would bring them home, and we’d all dine on them. I think up till then the only fish I had eaten was in the form of fried fish sticks and crab cakes. They were all bought at the supermarket from the frozen food section!

But freshly prepared seafood was delicious! My dad showed me every aspect of the fishing experience. How to hold the fish if you caught one, and how to carefully and mercifully remove the hook from the fish’s mouth.

The fish would be brought home and washed, scaled, and cut into filets. If he had a successful day and had caught more than his share, he’d share his bounty with the neighborhood. Everybody loves free food, especially when it’s absolutely fresh. Another cool thing my dad showed me, was to take the carcasses of the fish and bury them in the garden. So nothing was ever wasted from the catch. As the fish decomposed underground, they served as fertilizer. This yielded terrific, robust Jersey tomatoes. My father seemed to be very pleased with this whole cycle of life program he developed. I imagined him as the Indian warrior and me his little brave.

The filets were cooked in a pan or broiled with a bit of lemon, butter, and pepper. You can really taste the difference when you devour something that was alive and well a few hours ago. Sea to the table! (Just watch out for the bones!)

Dad finally caught a monster bluefish. He was so proud. It was three feet long and probably weighed over 20 lbs. A beast! He showed me photos he had taken.  He also showed me how during that battle to bring the fish to shore, it had beat up his tackle pretty bad. Steel leaders all chewed up and bent, and hooks nearly straightened. I was shocked at the raw power of these sea denizens as they fought their final battle on earth.

My dad became a hardcore fisherman. He and his buddies would get in his VW minibus and drive down the beach in the off-season. You needed a permit to do that, but it was awesome to take the van on the beach. He would drop the bed in the back and you could lay the fishing rods right in there. I remember going with my dad a few times, but I remember not catching anything and freezing my butt off in the van. But I was happy to spend time with my father, just the two of us.

One of the things you had to always watch when you were casting out your lure was to check that the line wasn’t tangled around the end of the pole. If it was and you didn’t notice the twist when you cast out, the line would snap and you basically threw away an eight-dollar steel lure. You’d watch your lure sail through the air and think for a second, “That was an amazing cast!” Then you’d see it disappear beneath the waves and watch as all you had left was a broken line twirling in the wind on the end of your rod. Fun!

I kept plugging away at the fishing without much luck. But one day I was down on the beach casting away with my dad and pro angler sister, and something happened.

“I got one!” I yelled as I felt the sudden tug on my line and the drag on the reel whir in my hand as the line went out of the reel. I had to think quickly and remember what my dad told me. Pull back on the rod, to seat the hook, and as I lower it, reel in like hell. I did this automatically as I did it over and over. I instinctively started to back away from the water hoping to haul out my catch. I saw him break the beach and I had him! I ran over and put my hand down on the small bluefish. I had finally caught one!

This was a father-son moment. An ancient art passed down through the generations. The father teaches his children how to catch and prepare their own food from the wild. It just felt like we were aligned with our ancestors that day on the beach.

Once I got it, I was back to casting away again. I think we caught 14 blues that afternoon. I went from zero to hero in one day! But that can happen in life. You feel like a failure, but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually find some success. This has followed me throughout my entire life.

Here are a few final words about fishing and fish in general.

I once found a three-foot sand shark on the beach one night. It was dead and some fisherman had cut a chunk out of it to use as bait. I found this cruel and unusual. Why not simply throw the elegant animal back in the sea if you didn’t want him? I had never seen a shark close up or ever touched one. Their hide is like sandpaper. Really cool. I decided to keep him. I dragged him home and hid him under the bush out front of our house. Of course, after a few days in the heat of summer, that boy was ripe! My mom was wondering what that horrible smell was coming from the front bush. I told her my shark story and she told me to drag that sucker back to the beach and dispose of it. So, I dragged “stinky” back to the dunes and left his carcass for the seagulls.

Once my dad, sister, and I were out on a little boat doing some fishing. I’ll tell the whole story about my experience in a future post, but this one is worth mentioning here. We’re fishing and dad drives the boat over to where he sees some birds working. I cast out a few times without luck. But at one point I accidentally hooked a seagull. I felt terrible. That’s not what I was out there to catch. My dad told me to gently reel him in and we’d figure something out. The eerie thing was, all of the birds stopped feeding. They all just started hovering and some floating in the water around the boat in some sort of Hitchcockian moment. My dad put on a pair of gloves and when the snagged bird was close, he gently removed the hook from the bird’s wing. He seemed unhurt and flew away to my relief.

But during this whole melee, my sister’s line got tangled and the bucktail lure she had been working sank to the bottom of the bay. While my father worked to untangle her line, I just tried to stay out of the way. Once the line was untangled and my sister could reel in her line from the murky depths, she pulls up the lure, and to our amazement, she’d hooked is a big Flounder!

Fishing Forecast: Flounder season is off to its best start in years - Daily Press

Yea, I try to catch fish and instead hook a bird. My sister is so awesome, she catches fish without even trying! High hooked us all that day!

These stories are just about us being a family and doing things together. Learning new skills and sharing fun-filled days.

In the end… what else is there in life?

 

If you like fishing and fishing stories, check out my buddy George’s site! He even has a show on YouTube!

His link is right here:

Home

I also wrote a piece about George in the Fall of 2020. You can check that out here:

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 1

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 2

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 2

I was going through hundreds of files, artwork, stories, and comics about a month or so ago. I was searching for some ideas for a future book or screenplay. I was going through some old stand up routines and jokes a friend and I had written. But during that process I came across a stack of the little comics George and I used to draw and laugh at in high school.

It’s been over 40 years since I’d seen or talked to him. I was reading the comics and laughing, and thought… I wonder what ever happened to that guy?

So like anybody, I went on facebook and searched his name. A couple people came up, and I looked carefully at their photos. But this one guy, who didn’t look like my 16 year old friend from high school, got my attention. It was the eyes. He had those kind eyes.

It’s weird how after 40 years you can look at a person and even though we’ve all changed a bit, you can recognize them.

I decided to take a chance and sent him a message. “Did you go to Frankford high?”

A day passed. Then I got this response: “Do you not go by Chaz anymore?”

Holy moley! It’s him! I found him!

That was easy. We exchanged numbers and started texting. I brought him up to speed. Wildwood, Rock bands, Los Angeles, more rock, back to Jersey, then into banking. Got married in ’92, had a daughter in ’96. Divorced in 2001. Worked in banking for 20 years, and advertising for 10. It was a storied, colorful past with it’s ups and downs.

After college, George got married in 1983, and went to work for an aerospace company. And not just any aerospace company.

At General Dynamics Mission Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, they develop mission critical C4ISR solutions across the land, sea, air, space and cyber domains, but that doesn’t tell their whole story. When downed pilots are isolated in enemy territory, their equipment gives them a lifeline to call home. When a student opens a textbook to learn about the universe, they’re looking at data and pictures sent using their technology. When the government needs to share crucial top-secret information, their products help them keep this information out of the wrong hands. When sailors need to locate underwater mines, their technology allows them to find explosives with unmanned underwater vehicles.

Wow! All I wanted to do out of high school was get my van detailed, run off to LA and play guitar. This guy has really made something out of himself! That’s like some top level stuff! It’s the only career he’s had since college!

And… he’s still married to the same gal! He also has two grown children in their twenties.

So, dramatically different histories. But the memories remain.

I took pictures of the comics we used to make and sent them to him. He got a good chuckle out of our work, and we decided to meet up.

George lives up in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania now. That’s not too far from Philly. Just a couple of hours. But his office is in Lancaster, PA.

I took a train up to Lancaster to meet him for lunch. It was nice to get out of the house during the pandemic. I always like going out on little journeys and missions around town when I can. Not being able to go to work, and sitting home all day writing has been a bit of a grind, so I’m always eager to get out of the house.

Now I was going to meet up with my long lost friend! I think the older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected to quality people from my past.  We have the shared experience that I just don’t have with all of my young lady friends here in the city. They’re great, but I really haven’t seen any of them in over six months.

This was a chance to reconnect with an old friend. (And old we are!) I always picture people the way they were when I knew them. Sometimes it’s a shock to see them years later. Everybody ages differently. But George looks basically the same and so do I. We’ve put on a few pounds and have developed ‘dad bods’ and a bit of grey, but we’re basically the same guys.

After a peaceful ride on the train, I arrived at the train station in Lancaster. George was there to greet me, and we reunited both wearing our masks.

It was great to see him again after all this time.

I hopped into his SUV and we headed over to a local country club for lunch. We were actually allowed to dine inside. There were only two other tables of people in there at the time, and they kept us far apart.

George ordered a Manhattan and I did the same. We like the same things! A nice cold cocktail to kick off lunch is always a good idea.

We chatted about our pasts and did our best to bring each other up to date. There are so many more stories to tell, but we only had a couple of hours.

What I learned during that lunch is that George is a serious fisherman. He has been for many years. He writes articles for a sportsman magazine. (So yea, a published author like yours truly.) He has his own website dedicated to his fishing adventures, which is cool. It’s called Pocono Outdoors Guy!

When not on the water fishing, George can usually be found talking about fishing, sharing new tips, techniques, and new tackle with others through his Video Podcast (Weekend Round-Up) or his YouTube video series.

George will fish for just about anything that swims, Freshwater/Saltwater, 365 days a year. His favorite has to be Freshwater Landlocked Stripers as it is a local challenge in his own back yard. However, Smallmouth, Musky, Pike, Catfish, Salmon, Carp, Trout are always welcome targets.

After spending nearly 40 years in the aerospace industry as a senior executive, George decided to pursue his passion of videography in the great outdoors as Pennsylvania’s own “Pocono Outdoors Guy” and started “Lone Fish Studios” as a means to help others in need of these video and production services.

George Schauer is an accomplished videographer who partners with companies and organizations to grow their exposure through the creative use of video.

George knows what truly drives exposure on social media platforms.  Video, creative video! George states: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, video must be worth….well, you can guess”.

The Prequel S3:E5 Getting ready for some special guests... - YouTube

George has been on numerous outdoor TV shows (local, regional and national) and has taken that experience and put it to work helping create engaging video for companies.

Projects have included marketing, training, and safety videos, company event, tv commercials, and other social media content to increase awareness of their products/services and activities.

“I love working with people in the outdoor sports industry the most. Guides, tackle manufactures, distributors, lodge owners, etc. We all share the same passion, and I enjoy being able to help share their story to the world.  Increasing exposure they never thought possible through the use of creative video!”   

     ~ George Schauer

Simple, and to the point. There’s a gallery, fishing tips, sponsors, tackle, a fishing forecast, and video services. So cool, right?

Check it out! (Click the link below)

About

On top of all that, he also has a Youtube channel by the same name. It’s got all of these awesome videos of he and his friends doing what they’re great at…fishing! Boat, surf, deep sea, surf, river, lake, and even ice fishing! Yep!

The dude’s a pro! He even does a weekly live show from his own studio that runs every Sunday.

Here’s his Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwfJ_Gga6mtccVnz8d8rI_g

So, this guy is legit and has really made something out of himself. Not just the aerospace guy, he’s the cool fishing and outdoor pro! What a great catch! (No pun intended.)

I’ve done some fishing in my lifetime, but it’s when I was young and out with my dad. Some solid surf fishing, and a bit of fishing off a little boat we once had at the shore.

Oh, and did I mention George has a really nice boat too?

George has done quite well for himself! We’ve taken different paths in life, but George has managed to keep a steady home and career for himself. But the best part is, he has all of these cool things going on in his personal life.  He’s found his passion and has turned it into a cottage industry!

I’m really proud of him and I’m happy we’re back in touch.

The lunch was wonderful, and it was so nice to just sit and reflect with an old friend for a few hours over a delicious snappy lunch!

But there’s more…

George has a head for audio and video. I had been digging through more of my old stuff in storage and came across some old masters of some songs I recorded in the studio over 30 years ago. I think after seeing and hearing what my daughter was doing in the studio with her music, I reawakened the itch.

I was texting him about it and we jumped on a call. George, although an accomplished musician doesn’t really play much anymore. I told him what I had, and he said if I could somehow get it into an mp3 and send it to him, maybe he could help me get my songs on Youtube! He’s a genius when it comes to stuff like that and frankly, I’m clueless.

So, hopefully, he can help me make that happen. I knew once I had that conversation with him, that the story had gone full circle. 40 years ago he gave me the breakthrough I needed to move forward as a musician. Now here is again, back in my life and now he has the know-how to get 3 of my original compositions onto Youtube!

Oh yea, he rides motorcycles too. badass!

George, you are the man!

The links are here. Check out his stuff. It’s all awesome! (Phicklephilly approved!)

Thank you for being in my life, George. I’m honored to know you, sir.

I want to schedule another lunch with my old friend soon!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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