The weather and the fishing this morning was absolutely phenomenal. Mornings like today make up for all those rainy, cold and windy trips with no fish. After spending countless days on the beach and on the water, I finally understand how important it is to cherish days like today, because they don't happen often.
This morning's trip began under crystal clear skies just before sunrise. There was not a hint of wind and the only noise I could hear were the squawks and cries of terns and gulls.
The entire beach was filled with pinks, purples, oranges and reds. The eel grass took on a distinct green under the light of the false dawn. With anticipation brewing I set off on a long walk towards the rising sun.
I could see crabs and sand eels moving about as I traversed through the water. Soon these animals would be trapped by the receding tide, but for now they seemed content zipping around in just inches of H2O.
I continued walking at a brisk pace, knowing that my chances for a big bass would diminish once the heat of the morning settled in.
Yet I could not help myself from pausing momentarily as the sun peeked its head over the horizon. The flat calm conditions refracted the sunlight perfectly all around me.
From my vantage point I could see the entirety of Cape Cod, and I watched as the sunlight hit the windows of the waterfront homes. I wondered how many of the homeowners were awake, enjoying the sunrise with their cup of coffee and newspaper.
But there were fish to be caught and time was of the essence. The spot I wanted to fish was still a mile away, so without further ado I got right back to walking.
With no wind whatsoever I could really feel the heat of the sun, despite it being early morning. Way off in the distance I could see my destination, however my waders were starting to take a toll on me. Walking great distances in neoprene is not much fun, so I decided to ditch the waders and make the rest of the trek in my gym shorts.
Before I knew it I was at the spot. The tide was moving out and the current was bending around a small point that beckoned to be fished. The place looked extremely fishy.
I began casting my offering into what I thought could very well be a "bass highway."
Off in the distance a bass swirled on the surface. To my left another striper slapped its tail in pursuit of prey. A school of sand eels passed by my feet in the swift current. This place was hopping with life.
I sent my first cast out as far as I could and allowed the jig to touch bottom. My second and third cast followed suit, all without evoking any strikes from resident fish.
But on my fourth cast I felt a bump, set the hook and was on with the first striped bass of the outing.
Right off the bat I knew this was a good fish. I could feel good weight on the line as the bass dug for the bottom, and then shot off, stripping yards of line from my reel.
As I looked around at the scenery I kept thinking how great this was, and how fortunate I was to be standing here and have a decent fish on the line.
Then without warning the hook popped and the line went limp. I could not believe it! The bass was gone almost as quickly as he came.
But as I reeled my lure in I noticed more fish following the bait. I stopped my retrieve for an instant, and one of the bass lurched forward, engulfing the lure. I was on again!
It was a healthy fish but clearly not as large as the one I had lost (I know, that's what every fishermen says! LOL). I was happy to have caught a bass, yet I knew for sure that there were bigger fish in the area.
I continued casting around and caught a couple more bass in the 26 - 29 inch range. I was having a blast, but still having trouble shaking the fact that I had dropped a big fish.
Suddenly I felt something pinching at my toes. Acting out of instinct I kicked whatever it was out of the way before looking down at my feet. There in the sand was a medium size crab, obviously quite perturbed that I was invading his territory.
I watched the crab burrough down into the sand in an effort to conceal himself. I was about to make another cast when it dawned on me - use the crab for bait.
As quickly as I could I got down on my knees and began digging for the crab. I could feel him pinching my fingertips as I tried pulling him out of his burrough. Finally his right claw latched down on my index finger and I yanked him from the sand. Success!
I felt like the crab was a gift from God. With live bait on the end of my line I knew my chances of a big fish were pretty good. Yet part of mind wondered if the stripers were honed in on the small sand eels that were scurrying around my feet.
Would the bass ignore the crab?
Only time would tell. I lobbed the crab out into the "bass highway" and allowed him to walk along the bottom. I remained focused on the line, keeping the braid between my finger tips so I could feel any bump or bite. A few fly fishermen watched on, probably wondering what the heck this guy in his gym shorts was doing with a crab on the end of his line.
Suddenly the line moved. My fingers felt a slight change of tension. Something was clearly happening to the crab.
I felt another bump and then another. The line began moving against the current, indicating a possible pickup from a bass.
An instant later the line shot off through my fingers. The fish took off to my right headstrong into the dropping tide.
I dropped my rod tip, flipped the bail and set the hook on a slob of a striper.
I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!