Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fishing Again

Wednesday, August 19

I love fishing with Chip. He’s my brother-in-law, married to my sister Priscilla. He is hardcore fly only. So when he comes up here I guide us around and fish the stern with my spinning gear and give him the bow for casting flies. He loves it.

Chip arrived on Monday afternoon. We took stock of the next couple of days – the tides, my work schedule and such. And then we went fishing. The evening’s tide was poor – a neap incoming. But we hit all the spots and tried and tried…and couldn’t find a fish. But we didn’t skunk because Chip used a pattern that apparently attracts young herring gulls. His first Duxbury landing of 2009 was a juvvy gull who caught the fly mid-air and then proceeded to freak out. I mean really freak out. But we were gentle and in a matter of seconds we had freed the poor bird and watched it fly away quite happily. This was just after another gull grabbed my jumping minnow and moved it 20 meters south for me. So we figured out, as the sun sank to the tree line, that is was time for a drink at the Winsor. So we did, and actually ate dinner there too. Susan’s scarves were still on sale and Chip took advantage of this.

Tuesday morning: up and out pre-dawn. Chip took a medium black with a plain stick and I went with a medium with cream and a plain croissant. Plain. But on the water we did better. Still slim pickings but we managed to find a few. Chip prevailed with three or four nice ones on the fly (deceiver) and maxed out at 27 inches. I was on the road to Skunkville until I finally landed a beach channel schoolie. This was fun and it made us hungry. Chip provided omelettes for all of us at the house. Cool.

Lunch was devoted to making some Joel-style sluggos. This involves surgery and since I was with one of the best surgeons around, I decided to make a few double hook sluggos for the ensuing day and a half of fishing. Chip and I sat under the umbrella out on the porch, he marveled at my insistence on calling Joel and asking for tips on the design. But it was kind of like fly tying really. There is an art to sluggo tying and the results are pretty much worth your effort. I stopped at three because my Krazy Glue ran out, but I had enough to do some damage, even if there weren’t any fish in the bay this week (month).

By 1:00 we were back out on the rips. The tide was fucking perfect and the rips were looking good. On the way out I spotted a small school of fish in skinny water. I got us there and we began casting and getting hits right away. It was getting exciting. Then some moron decided to check out what was going on. He motored his boat at medium speed from about a mile away, clearly focused on us as a way to find his fish. As he closed in on us I muttered something like, “Christ, is this a friend of yours Chip?” And as I expressed some curses to Chip the young man did the unbelievable: he motored right over the very small school of fish that we had been working on for the past ten minutes. Out of nowhere this imbecile thought it was fine to gab on his cell phone and motor at 6 kts up to us to take a fucking peek. My lead head FinS narrowly missed his face as I uncharacteristically snapped. That was a warning shot. Then he continued over the fish (which by now were spooked and gone) with a shrug – “what?”. I told him what and he left.

So that put a small damper on our afternoon. But not for long because soon, after exhausting the best rips of the bay, we found a bunch of small schools and Chip, the avid fly fisherman that he is, continued to prevail and land a couple of nice ones. Too short to keep for dinner, but nice. We then ran out of time and tide and had to join Alex on the grant for some oyster bag shaking. Sounds bizarre, but that’s what it is. We worked oysters for a couple of hours in the water and it allowed us to cool off and tell jokes.

We hadn’t had enough of the Winsor so we stopped there on the way home for some refreshments. Alex, Chip, and I were joined by a bunch of Skip’s crew (Maggie, Katie, A1, A2, and Murray) as the most distinguished mud-covered patrons. That was fun and short-lived. At home we grilled steaks and made the most of what I had grown so far in my garden and it was great – the oysters on ice were perfect and the wines that Chip selected made the evening.

Wednesday morning: woke up late. But not too late. There were some clouds and fog so the morning lasted a while. Chip and I searched some of the good rips on this incoming but couldn’t find much. Then some sporadic schools here and there. My sluggos were, however, doing well. I got a couple of fish on one drift (to about 26 inches) and this made Chip work harder and harder. But he couldn’t manage a hit. We moved on to a few more spots and finally hit one where I did pretty well on my squid-patterned sluggo – a 30 incher finally arrived. This moved our attitudes into positive territory and all was well. But in the end Chip didn’t find any.

The fishing this past week was difficult. I picked up a number of small blues last week but only five stripers over four sorties this week. Not too many people out there because of the poor conditions. I can’t explain why the fishing is so poor. But one indicator might be in the guts of today’s keeper. The kids were huddled around me as I cleaned the fish and, of course, they were interested in the gut contents. I reached in there and found a large stomach, I opened it and out spilled out only one specific food group: crabs. Sand crabs and, sit down, a spider crab. I’ve never seen a spider crab in a striper before. This was interesting. I wonder if the baitfish are sparse and that, therefore, the fish are sparse, and therefore, the fish are feeding on spider crabs. Hmm. No pogies, not many blitzes, so it might make sense.

After the autopsy Chip hopped into his speedy car and sped home to CT. I went to work oysters and continued throughout the rest of the day. Tonight we ate one filet of the striper (Chip took the other one home). I prepared it in a tomato sauce fresh leeks from my garden over bowtie pasta (all we had) and crusty French bread and salad. I am still in heaven.

Tuna next week and hopefully more stripers.

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