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Rich Troxler

Rich grew up in Milford, CT fishing the local ponds and LI Sound. At 17 he left home to pursue music, always with a fishing rod or two in tow. He now lives on Long Island, where he works in electronics and has a full service woodworking shop.

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March 27, 2014

Lynnhaven Inlet Video

by Rich Troxler

Well it took a while and I won't win any awards for my camera work lol, but here it is none the less. This is my first crack at making a fishing video and I had a lot of fun doing it. It is the first of a series of videos that I have decided to do, but unfortunately I can't afford a good quality camera right now, so the video quality will be something less than HD lol. I looking forward to working the pieces shown on the video and will try to get another video out in the next week or so. I hope you enjoy it.

March 24, 2014

Hello from Virginia,….

by richtrox

It's been a very busy winter for me this year, by my reckoning the busiest I can recall in quite a while. When I decided to handle my relocation by myself, I completely miscalculated the amount of work that was going to be involved. How I was able to get it done I'm not even sure, it was such a blur. And by all accounts it's been a pretty weird year weather-wise also, both here in Chesapeake and up on Long Island. It was 78 degrees a week ago and I have a fire going in the fireplace as I write this. Go figure.

So now that I'm all settled in, well mostly anyway, I'm getting back to the business of fishing. My move to Chesapeake (just south of Virginia Beach) means that I've left my familiar haunts of the last 30 or so years in the rear view mirror. Now the process of learning where, when, and how to fish in my new local waters, begins anew. So now I get to practice some of what I've preached for so long.

To that end, I have mentioned on the surf fishing board that I would attempt to document the process of exploring my new territory, and I mean to keep that promise as time and tide allow. I am currently working on a video of my first "spot" that being Lynnhaven Inlet and the surrounding area including Pleasure House Point. It'll give you a glimpse into what goes through my noggin when I look at new spots. I hope to have it completed in the next couple days, at which time I will post the youtube link on the surf fishing board.

I will also be making the purchase of a kayak, because soooo many of the areas around here are best accessed by boat. While the parking situation, or lack of in this case, is not nearly as bad down here as it is on Long Island, it can still be a problem in some spots. But in most all of those cases, there are marinas and launch points for kayaks and boats, so a short paddle puts you right into the thick of it.

I've always enjoyed the exploration aspect of fishing, almost more than the actual catching of fish, so for me this is going to be a lot of fun.

June 05, 2013

SSC / ASMFC Presentation

by Rich Troxler

The president of Striper Surf Club, Chris Sippel, was nice enough to invite me to a presentation that the ASMFC was giving to his club on Monday 6/3/13. Several notables were there including Willie Young and Doc Muller, as well as representatives from other fishing clubs. The presentation kicked off at about 9:00 pm and was given by a well-spoken young man named Mike. The presentation was basically divided into four parts.

The first part explained what the ASMFC was, how it operates, and where it fits into the political picture of marine species management. The second part covered information about the striped bass, it's life-cycle, feeding habits, breeding habits, etc. The third part introduced some management terminology along with explanations of what kind of data is collected and how it is graphically represented. The fourth part was a summary of how the ASMFC uses this data and what the ultimate goals were.

The presentation was well laid out, interesting and informative. Much of the data was data that I've seen before on various threads in the surf board and only covered up to 2010. According to Mike, the speaker, the next assessment is due out this summer which will cover up to 2012. After the presentation concluded there was a Q&A session, and this is where it became interesting.

Several attendees questioned the ASMFC's practices in how they gather information and how accurate that information actually was. Doc Muller even made a claim that the 2007 figures were completely wrong, this based on his own knowledge of marine biology. There were also discussions on what the surf community is observing and how it is very different than what some of the data indicates. Mike did a great job handling the questions and issues and took a lot of notes to take back to Virginia with him. He seemed to have a genuine interest in the well-being of the striped bass and was open to suggestions on how to improve the management of the resource.

For my part, there were several items that stuck out immediately to me, though I never got a chance to discuss these during the Q&A session. One of them involves the "mortality" figures. By his own admission, mortality figures are very "soft" simply because nobody is present when a fish dies naturally, and they have nowhere near the manpower to accurately assess commercial by catch. They also had no figures factored into their equations for illegal poaching. But what really struck me is this.

At one point during the presentation, Mike spoke about mycobacteriosis and that it is estimated that somewhere between 50+% to as high as 90+% (can't remember the exact numbers) of all fish in the Chesapeake stock are infected with it. It is ultimately fatal to striped bass. Yet these figures did not seem to jibe with the figures that were shown in his "mortality" graph. Here's my point.

My understanding is that the Chesapeake stock accounts for 70 something percent of the total biomass. This also means that this is the primary area of recruitment for the biomass. So let's use the middle range of mycobacteriosis infected fish, 70% (used by the Chesapeake website) and what you wind up with is 70% of your total biomass is made up of 70% infected fish that ultimately die. The exact number is not needed for the sake of this discussion, but that would put mortality from mycobacteriosis at roughly 50% of the total biomass. And that's just from mycobacteriosis.

The "natural" mortality figure considers of all kinds causes for mortality including predation and environmental (lack of forage, weather, etc.) but the small section for "natural mortality" on the pie chart shown during the presentation did not seem to represent what could easily be a much higher number. The fact that other than the year before last, we've had little or no recruitment from the Chesapeake for something like 7-8 years now, and last year was the worst on record, would seem to bear this out.

There were also a few other things I noticed from the various graphs and charts that were shown. The general trends for overall biomass, recruitment, recreational angler catches, were all trending down, and again this is based on their last assessment that covers up to 2010. These all seem to be consistent and make logical sense, meaning less recruitment = less biomass = less fish to catch. And while recreational angler catch rate was down, commercial catch remained level. This is not a comm vs rec argument as I have no dog in that race. It's just looking at numbers. But despite the trends, the total biomass is still above the threshold trigger point on the graphs, and while I have some philosophical issues on managing trends with on / off switches, I'll leave that as a topic for another discussion.

Of a positive note, Mike did indicate that the ASMFC has recently worked with the enforcement divisions of many coastal states and has succeeded in getting the fines for illegal poaching ratcheted up to a whole new level. These fines were traditionally treated by the commercial corporations as simply a cost of doing business. According to Mike, the new fines will be sufficiently high enough to act as a deterrent to the business as usual approach to poaching.

As part of the Q&A, Mike encouraged attendees to offer ways that could make data taking more effective and accurate. He asked if any of the attendees had ever been approached by a statistic taker doing on-site surveys. None had been, no surprise there seeing as most of those guys fish at night. One person suggested that perhaps having clubs and those most actively involved in fishing, participate in a program that involved providing their catch logs, but another attendee said that it would skew data because those most interested in participating would probably be those who catch the most fish.

While the initial impression that voluntary participation would skew data seemed to hold water, I found myself mulling it over in my head. After a time it occurred to me that what was missing from the equation was a data axis, that being time engaged in fishing. The whole point is to capture trends in the fishery and getting information from those whose spend the most time actively involved in it should be a good thing.

Instead of just focusing on just the number of fish caught, the real focus should be on the ratio of time expended catching those fish. Like many fishermen, I have traditional areas and bites that I follow year after year, spring, summer and fall. Charting the amount of time I spend fishing against the number of fish I catch, over the seasons, over the years, would be very useful information. If you had tens of thousands of fishermen participating up and down the coast, this could provide a tremendous amount of information on species distribution throughout the year as well as serving as a biomass indicator.

It would be a far more comprehensive and focused overview of what is happening up and down the coast because it represents the entire year of effort and not just some sampling during specific times of the year, or census taking by 9 to 5er's doing random surveys in marina parking lots. I'm not saying that this should be in place of other, or existing data gathering techniques, but as an adjunct, the resulting trends up and down the coast could serve in the assessment of the fishery.

The nice thing about this approach to data gathering is that it doesn't really add to the cost of management, other than setting up a standard form and another database to enter the data. You don't have to hire more census takers, as participants would do so voluntarily, simply because most avid fisherpersons have a vested interest in protecting the health of the striped bass biomass. Many of those who fish already take part in tagging programs and such, so this would just be another small task in that effort.

I'll leave you with this. One bit of information I picked up during the presentation came as a bit of a surprise to me. I was not aware that mycobacteriosis can be transmitted to humans, so if you don't already know this, you do now. If you catch a fish with lesions or large patches of discoloration, don't touch it. Unhook it with pliers and do what you will with it, but definitely don't bring it home for dinner. So all in all, it was an enjoyable night with good company, great conversation and valuable information provided, so again I thank Chris for the invite.

June 24, 2012

Trigger Happy

by Rich Troxler

Where surfcasters are concerned, there is no arguing that the Striped Bass reigns supreme in the glamor fish department. It is a fish that inspires devotion and for good reason. It can be tricky to catch at times, fights hard, is beautiful to look at, and can grow to impressive size. Then there is the Bluefish, who is often maligned but always willing to pit its gnarly, never say die attitude against your tackle and stamina. And of course, the Weakfish is right in the middle of the pack also, although their quantities have been sadly lacking as of late.

But after that, the list falls off pretty quickly. Yeah, fluke can be fun and are good to eat, but not a lot of guys really target them from the shore, but other than that, most species rarely get mentioned. Yet there are many shore bound opportunities for other species that rarely get investigated, either due to lack of knowledge, lack of will, or both.

One of my perennial favorites is the Blackfish. The current regs have really cut into my efforts in fishing for them, but come October you can count on finding me doing some day trips to my local jetties in search of Mr. White Chin. Blackfish are probably one of the most difficult fish to catch consistently from shore, but the effort is well worth it for the way they fight. They don't call them bull dogs for nothing. At one point in my life I spent more time fishing for Blackfish than I did for any other species, Bass included.

During the "summer doldrums", catching Porgies can also be a nice way to pass some time. They are excellent eating and the bigger ones are easy to fillet. But the summer species that has really gotten into my blood the last several years is Trigger Fish, so when I heard through the grapevine that Triggers had made a showing, I immediately took a day off from work and bolted to my favorite Trigger spot. I got fishing right about the last half hour of the tide and about 45 minutes before the free divers showed up. In about an hour, I put 9 nice Triggers on ice, including 6 in the jumbo class, before moving on to catching a few Porgies for the grill.

So what is it about Triggers that gets my attention? First and foremost, they have to one of the best eating fish you will catch in our area. They are absolutely delicious, particularly when BBQ'd with a spice rub. Second, being a "tropical" species, they are the coolest looking fish that swims our waters. And thirdly, although they can be hard to locate at times and difficult to hook up with, when you do, they will put a good bend in your rod.

With Trigger Fish, I have found the perfect summer species for me to fish for while waiting for the fall run to arrive. Yes, I know that there are still bass to be caught during the summer, but to be honest, I'm not willing to put in the time for it anymore, and I've really come to enjoy the change of pace that fishing for Triggers provides. In the near future, I'll be doing a piece in my forum on Stripers 247, on tackle and techniques for catching Triggers from shore, but in the meantime I've got to go get the grill started. Blackened Trigger Fish with a light coating of peppered mayo (crushed black and ground cayenne) on a kaiser roll, coming up!

March 07, 2012

Spots, Bikes, and the Rush for Spring

by Rich Troxler

Every winter, most everybody I know spends their spare time tinkering around with their tackle and waiting patiently for spring to arrive. Every winter, I tell myself that I'm going to get all my fishing related maintenance done early, just like everybody else. And every winter, I go off and get involved in a bunch of other projects, leaving my fishing preparations until the last minute. And so it is this year also.

To rectify this situation I typically take a week or two off in March, or early April, for two reasons actually. The first is to perform the aforementioned maintenance on my gear, which really only takes a day or two of concentrated effort. The rest of the time I devote to my annual spring spot hunt, which takes place throughout the entire south shore bay system of Long Island.

I'm a total spot ho, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. For me personally, the finding and exploration of new spots has always been the most satisfying and enjoyable part of fishing. Nothing beats catching fish from a spot you found yourself. It doesn't matter how many spots I already have, I am constantly on the lookout for more.

Many years ago, the task of finding spots was relegated to an old Hagstrom Atlas and a lot of footwork and test casting. Well the footwork hasn't changed, but the tools involved in finding spots has certainly evolved and improved a great deal since I began the hunt. Technology has certainly left its mark, and perhaps no other technology has impacted the spot hunt more favorably than satellite imaging. There are several well-known websites that offer arial imagery and the image resolution keeps getting better and better.

So during the winter I typically spend most of my lunch hours combing the south shore bays in "bird's eye" view. From this vantage point, you can see down into the water, so it becomes easy to identify channel edges, sand bars and rips, as well as mapping out possible routes around the many mosquito drains, for getting to distant points on the sod banks. 30 years ago, I would have never believed that this kind of information would be so easily available in the future.

Early each spring, I look forward to selecting a few of my "possibilities" and taking a few days to go look them up. Some are just simple shore-bound access points, the kind of places that only the local residents know about, and some are a little more exotic. For those long treks out onto the marshes I usually arm myself with a map (a printed arial image of the area), a rod with a couple 3 or 4 oz bank sinkers, a backpack with Gatorade and a hammer, and a sack full of stakes for marking my pathway.

Basically, I work my way along, according to the information provided by the arial image map, and where critical features are present, I drive a stake in the sod bank, kind of like a breadcrumb trail. I pre-treat the stakes with reflective paint, so when I go back at night, a quick shot of light from a spot light lets me know which way to head and where to cross drains, etc. Most times I can memorize the routes, but I have several long routes that this level of effort is required. Losing your way through a maze of muddy mosquito drains is never a good thing LOL.

Many times an arial image will show a rip or two in a channel, so I'll walk the channel edge, taking a few test casts here and there in order to gauge water depth and current speed. If I come across a drain, I follow it until I find a place to cross and then continue on. When I reach the area on the map that showed the rip, I investigate the whole area, making many casts in order to determine what is causing the rip. Anything I find, I make notes on the map for future reference. Whether working my way along a channel, or working my way out to a distant point, the exploration process is always an exciting and enjoyable one, a nod to my childhood days as it were.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I was working on a fishing bike, the intent of which is to overcome some serious access issues I have been having in recent years. Well the work continues. I requisitioned my daughters 10 speed for the project, seeing as she lives in Ohio and probably won't miss it. It needed a new tire and I sprayed the frame black and I've started fabricating the supports for the back milk crate I'll be mounting, but that's as far as I've gone, so finishing that will be a priority during my time off in the near future.

By all accounts, it looks like it's going to be an early spring. I'm hoping for long runs of stable weather and no brown tide. Probably asking for too much LOL.

January 01, 2012

New Year's Resolutions, Fish Ladders & Winter Projects

by Rich Troxler

First off, I would like to wish all in the noreast community a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. 2012 is upon us, and like every New Year, it usually begins with a hangover followed by a few resolutions designed to make this year better than the previous one. My primary resolution for this year is to get myself back into game shape.

Since my operation a few years back, I've let my self slide some and subsequently have gained about 20 lbs in the process. This year, I plan to rectify that situation, shed the 20 lbs and get my strength back. No easy task when you are less than a year away from 60, but then again I've always loved a good challenge and I don't like to lose.

With all this beautiful weather we've been having lately, I decided to start my resolution a little early this year and have gotten back to riding my bike every day, or just about. I've also purchased a stationary bike to pedal while I watch the Rangers games. In the past week I've pedaled my butt around most of my area in Patchogue, and in my journeys I noticed that they had put up a fish ladder connecting upper and lower Canaan Lake.

My understanding is that they are doing this to many of the lakes and streams that ultimately empty into the Great South Bay. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see what impact this has on fish such as Alewives, eels, and trout, and I applaud the effort and intent behind them.

The period after New Year's Day is also a time during which many of us get involved in various winter projects, some fishing related, some not. So while I was riding around on my bike recently, I got to thinking about what fishing related projects I wanted to embark on this year, and BINGO, it hit me. The perfect project that will serve two masters, a completely refitted FISHING BIKE!

Most of you know that I love fishing the west end bays, and most of you know that parking in that area is an issue. Some of you may have even heard about a certain law enforcement officer that has my number and has made me his personal project. In my younger days I used to take a more active role in "creating" solutions to the parking problems, but I'm just too tired of finding them blocked off, or filled in, to bother anymore. And most of all, I'm tired of being hassled for doing nothing more than fishing.

So a fishing bike is going to be the perfect solution. Not only will I be able to move around in the area without violating any laws, I'll be helping to fulfill my resolution for this year. It will also make me much more willing to spend the gas and make the 40 minute trip from Patchogue, knowing that I'll actually be able to fish instead of getting run off, or even worse, towed.

I have several designs that I'm exploring already and I just need to work out all the details before I decide which way I'm going to go. I'll want to carry two rods, waders, plug bag, a few small items like a cell phone, and plenty of Gatorade LOL. The one thing I haven't looked into yet is a bike rack for my Jeep, but I'm sure 10 minutes on Google will answer whatever questions I have about those.

I'm really looking forward to getting started. Good luck on your winter projects and a Happy New Year to all!

December 08, 2011

What a Difference a Year/State Makes

by Rich Troxler

By now, every surf rat that plies the shores of Long Island is probably aware of the incredible run of Bass that our neighbors in New Jersey have experienced this fall. Some of you may have even made the trip down the pike and cashed in on the action.
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