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Copyright © 1998 - 2006 Captain Jim Freda
A Word to the Wise....Wader
by Capt. Jim Freda
Shore Catch Guide Service

efore I started my career as a charter captain wading was my passion. I delighted in taking clients to many different locations to teach them how to wade and fish along with learning as much about the environment as possible. In fact it was about 12 years ago that this passion gave rise to the birth of Shore Catch Guide Service.

In the beginning all of us here were passionate waders or jetty hoppers. In fact we used to pride ourselves on who could fish in and under the most extreme circumstances from shore or the rocks. Many times we were just stupid and took risk that in hindsight I never would do again today.

Today I still love to leave the boat behind and literally surround my body with water. It is always a learning experience and exciting to go to a new location and try to quickly assess and read the water to determine where the fish might be based on the topography that lies in front of me. Along with this I must equally consider my own personal safety and identify any hazards that may put me at risk. Sometimes these hazards can be very subtle and are only learned after an unfortunate spill or situation arises.

Let’s look at some of the safety considerations that the wading angler should consider and keep in the back of one’s mind as one moves around in the backwaters to locate fish. Unlike the beach, where you move from the sand to rocks, a much different and varied topography can be present along the bayshore beaches. For this reason a wise wader is a cautious wader.

Copyright © 1998 - 2006 Captain Jim Freda

Many of our wadable bayshore beaches are characterized by shorelines that have quick drop-offs along their sod banks. This is typical of many locations in both Raritan and Barnegat bays. Strong tidal currents undercut these banks over time. At flood tide the water will sometimes come up onto the grass of these banks and these drop-offs will be covered over and hidden. This will give the appearance that no drop-off is present at all.

If the water is discolored or muddy this will make it even harder to see where the deeper water begins in front of you. As a result one step too many can have you under the water. I have seen many anglers that are unfamiliar with an area take the plunge before my yell could reach their ear.

An inspection of an unfamiliar area at low tide of where you are going to fish will easily show these drop-offs and any other obstructions that may be present. Tree stumps or root outcroppings are always a possibility that can be hidden below the water close to the bank. You can also stumble across metal pipes, cinder blocks, or entangled mooring lines. When you do see these objects a mental note can be made for the future.

The wise wader should also be aware that if you wade across any creeks mouths as you move down the bay shoreline you may not be able to wade back across them after the tide comes in. These areas can flood quickly especially on the moon tides that occur twice each month. If this does happen look for a more inland route to cross back over but remember even narrow creeks only several feet across can be deep.

Another consideration to be aware of is mud. Mud bottoms are common along our back bay tidal creeks and marshes. These areas can act like quick sand if you venture into them too far. Even along the outskirts of these areas the mud can get a good grip on your boots refusing to let go.

Copyright © 1998 - 2006 Captain Jim Freda

If you are wading out to a sandbar you should make sure that you know when the tide is going to take place in that particular area. If you don’t, you can get trapped on this highpoint as the water floods in behind you. Access back to shore can quickly be cut off. Remember the time you see on most tide charts is for the oceanfront and not the back bay. A plus or minus time correction is needed to calculate the tide in your area. Time lags can vary as much as three hours in some locations.

Another consideration especially in the spring and summer is fog. Fog banks can develop and move into an area quickly with almost no warning. If you have waded out from shore a considerable distance you can find yourself stuck not knowing which way to turn if the fog is really thick. For this reason keeping a small compass in your pocket would be a good idea if you know that the day is conducive for fog development or the last several days have exhibited this pattern. Then if fog should roll in you will know what direction to turn to get back safely to shore.  End

Copyright © 1998 - 2006 Captain Jim Freda

Copyright © 1998 - 2014 Jim Freda, All Rights Reserved

Articles by Captain Jim Freda

Capt. Jim FREDAEmail Captain Jim Freda

Jim Freda is a highly respected charter captain, author, outdoor writer, seminar speaker, and photographer. His first book Fishing the New Jersey Coast, has been a best seller and received the “New Jersey Center for the Book Award” as one of the most notable NJ books. He co-authored a second book Saltwater Fishing a Tactical Approach, A Guide for Northeast Beach and Boat Fishermen, with his Shore Catch associates Capt Gene Quigley and Shell E. Caris.

Jim has weekly fishing columns that appear in the Bergen Record, NJ's second largest newspaper and the Coast Star and Ocean Star newspapers of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Nationally, Jim is a contributing editor for Fly Fishing in Saltwaters magazine and also writes for Fly Fisherman magazine, Saltwater Sportsman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Big Game Journal, and Regionally he writes for On the Water magazine where he has is own monthly column, The Fisherman magazine and the NJ Federation of Sportsman Clubs newspaper.

As a seminar speaker Jim is featured as one of the celebrities on the Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series, as one of the “Stars of the Show” at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ, the Northeast’s largest fly fishing show and is on the National Pro Seminar slate at the Toyota Saltwater Expo also in Somerset. He is also regularly featured each year at many of the local fishing clubs in the surrounding area including the State’s two largest clubs the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association and the Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County. Capt Jim has also been a guest speaker at all the Trout Unlimited Clubs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jim has also been a special guest speaker at the Bloomberg Network in New York City.

He is a member of the National Factory Pro Team for St. Croix Rods and pro staff for Fins Fishing Line, AVET Reels, Spro, Gamakatsu, Hogy, Korkers, Costa Del Mar, Columbia Sportswear and Aquaskinz.

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Saltwater Fishing A Tactical Approach Fishing the NJ Coast