I will remember this morning for as long as I live. Actually, I will probably remember this trip after I die too.
After sleeping like a rock through what was apparently some of the most intense lightning storms Cape Cod has experienced in quite some time, I popped right out of bed at the leisurely hour of 1:30AM. It is amazing how easy it is to wake up, when you are excited about what you are waking up for.
Instantly I was wide awake, and I stumbled my way down stairs to throw together a makeshift breakfast for the trip. The left over turkey tips, wheat thins and raisins I packed were not gourmet, but it would come in clutch during the 4 mile round trip hike I had lying ahead of me.
By 2AM my gear was packed and I was ready to cruise. I picked up Andrew who had arrived from Boston 45 minutes prior, still devastated from the Bruins loss. Andrew was working on zero sleep, but didn't care much, because of the potential for big fish that this particular trip presented.
We made a quick pitstop at Dunkin' Donuts for an iced coffee and lucky blueberry muffin before settling in for the drive down Route 6.
My idea was to fish a beach I believed presented us with a good opportunity for finding some life. We would do it the old fashioned way, which in my book is walking and casting for as long as it takes to stumble across some fish.
We arrived in darkness, greeted only by a few gulls. There was not another car, truck or angler in sight. We had miles upon miles of desolate beachfront all to ourselves.
A light southwest wind whipped over and through the dunes. The moonlight over my shoulder scattered into the ocean and illuminated the small whitecaps lapping against the shore. The place felt fishy.
The morning had a good chill to it, despite Massachusetts being in the midst of the summer's first heatwave. It's always cooler on the coast-especially on Cape Cod. Nevertheless I decided to ditch the waders and go with the bathing suit.
Once on the beach we both began casting and walking as the eastern sky slowly brightened.
Nothing happened for the first quarter of a mile. In surf casting patience is extremely valuable - more so than any expensive piece of equipment. There were no immediate signs of life, but we continued to walk and cast, knowing things could change at any moment.
A half of mile later I felt something odd on the end of my line. I knew it was not a bass and it felt different than weed. Once I had the lure in my hand I noticed what had happened. My lure had snagged a juvenile sea herring, which could only of meant that there was a dense school of bait fish somewhere out in front of me.
I cast again and ended up with another sea herring. I walked over to Andrew and informed him that the bait was here. The only missing ingredient were the bass.
Another hundred or so yards to the west and my bait theory was confirmed. There were baby sea herring scattered all over the sand. The small fish had beached themselves, most likely in an effort to escape some sort of predator.
By now it was bright enough to see the plug at the end of a cast-and the waves of sea herring in the shallows. They were everywhere. Dark patches moved east and west along the beach in just a couple feet of water. We were surrounded by bait.
I had a feeling that things could burst wide open at any moment. Yet we still had not seen any signs of bass or blues. What was it that forced these baitfish up onto the beach?
I hoped we would find out soon.
In the mean time we continued to walk and cast, walk and cast, and walk and cast some more.
All the while we kept our eyes peeled on the water, hoping to find some birds or see some splashes. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I spotted a massive splash that I actually heard before seeing. I turned and instinctively threw a cast towards the commotion.
Yet I soon realized it was not a bass in the shallows, but a large adult seal. Soon we were surrounded by the curious creatures.
I tried to look on the bright side. Perhaps the seals were here because of the plentiful bait supply, and the bass were not far behind?
We continued to walk, hoping to find an area that was seal-free.
Up ahead was a bend in the sand that blocked our view of the other side. Andrew and I agreed that we would check out the area around the corner, before retreating back to where we had spotted the mass of juvenile sea herring.
I hoped it was the right decision, because I always hesitate when leaving an area filled with life.
As we rounded the corner I spotted a disturbance on the ocean's surface roughly 500 yards from shore. There was a flock of birds heading dead straight towards the disturbance. It had to be, at the very least, a very large bait ball.
We picked up the pace to get a closer look when all hell broke loose. The birds began diving and fish erupted from below. Whitewater shot off in every direction as fish tore through the bait ball. It was an all out blitz!
Problem was that the boil was well out of casting range. Andrew and I stood there, anxiously hoping that the fish would push the bait closer to shore.
The giant feed continued to gain momentum. My heart rate began to increase once I realized that the boil was indeed slowly but surely, moving in closer to the beach.
We both took a cast, but our offerings still fell short of the maelstrom. The fish were concentrated in a tight pack, smack dab in the center of the giant bait ball. We stood there waiting and praying that the fish would continue to push into shore.
Miraculously the mass of marine life continued heading in our direction. At this moment we both realized what was about to occur. The fish were forcing the bait into the shallows. They were going to pin the bait against the beach.
I could now see stripes slashing and thrashing through the water. Andrew and I were about to be in the middle of an all out striped bass blitz.
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!