Every once in a while, if you stick at this fishing thing long enough, you end up hitting a hot streak. This past week has been red hot for me from the beach, with numerous fish in the 20 - 30 pound class. Yet I know things could change in a heartbeat, so you can bet I am enjoying this good fishing while I have it.
I think we should all enjoy the good fishing we have right now, because it certainly will not last forever. I am not just referring to bass departing on their southerly migration, and vacating the Cape Cod area, as they soon will do. I am referring more to the "big picture" and thinking about how right now is most definitely the "good old days."
In my limited time here on this planet I have come to understand that fish do as they please. For example, during 2012 bluefish were rampant in many areas I like to fish, and I subsequently caught hundreds of them. This year I have caught 3 bluefish and have been bitten off a couple of times. The bluefish simply chose to not return to the same area this season, in the same great numbers, for reasons unbeknownst to me.
If you spend a little time reading striped bass fishing memoirs, such as Frank Daignault's Striper Surf, you will soon learn that striped bass come and go. Years of phenomenal fishing are followed by a period where striped bass are hard to come by. An area that produced monster bass for years may suddenly go dry without any warning.
Discussing the reasons behind why this happens is like opening a can of worms. Everyone has their own opinion, which is of course A-OK.
All I am sure of is that at some point in my life I will look back on this season with envy. I will probably be at a bait shop one day, purchasing eels or worms, when someone younger than me asks how the fishing was decades ago. With a box of seaworms in my hand I'll turn and tell them that 2013 was indeed the "good old days."
Earlier in the week I found a nice school of bass after stumbling over rocks and boulders. Or maybe I should say that the fish found me. After all I had previously spent about 15 hours searching for life, without so much as a sniff.
If the past two decades of fishing has taught me anything, it is that patience will always have its place-especially when targeting big bass in the surf. If you're about to give up, keep at it for just one more day, hour or even cast. Large fish seem to have an odd propensity for making an angler wait around until the last second.
"I'm starting to get used to this walk" is what I recall thinking to myself in the dark the other night, as I slipped over rocks and bumped my knee with my eel bucket. I looked up at the cliff behind me, waiting to see the telltale sign that I was in the right spot. I could have marked the spot using the GPS on my iPhone, but recently I've been enjoying not using technology, unless I really have to.
I haven't even flipped on my headlamp for 2 trips now. Half of the reason why I have forgone the headlamp is to not draw any unwanted attention from other anglers who may be looming in the darkness. The other reason is because I am just amazed at how well my eyes adjust in the dark-if I resist flipping my headlamp on for an hour or so.
The only downside to trekking in the pitch black is that it's rather easy to stumble over a boulder, and end up face first in the sand. So far this has happened to me just once this week. I was day dreaming and walked smack dab into a boulder the size of a bean bag.
Walking face first into a rock is a small price to pay for the opportunity to catch a 30 pound or larger bass from shore. I like fishing from the boat, and I enjoy the Cape Cod Canal, yet the challenge of finding and landing a big fish from the surf has got a hold on me. I can't shake it, and I find myself thinking about where the fish may be moving, while I'm driving down the highway or on the phone with my girlfriend (don't tell her).
The other night, as I rounded the corner towards my "honey hole" I wondered if the fish were still present. I've been skunked enough times to know that yesterday's hot spot could be today's desert.
I hoped that the fish would once again find me.
Fast forward 6 hours and it's 2AM. I have not had as much as a sniff from a fish. My eyes are starting to glaze over and I'm debating making the walk back. The adrenaline wore off an eternity ago. So far this night has been all about enjoying the environment, and not about catching fish.
The SW wind and muggy conditions have me sweating in my neoprene waders. It feels like mid-August and for a second I let myself believe that it is.
Where did the summer disappear to anyways?
A shooting star beams across the sky and I just stand there in the warm breeze, thinking about how I will be thinking about this moment during January.
It was 2:30AM when I lobbed my 100th or so cast of the trip out into the ocean. "Right now is the best chance I've had all night" is what I thought to myself.
Routinely I'll claim that "this is the cast," promising whoever I am with that I am going to catch a fish. Often times when fishing alone I still say that to myself and 99% of the time nothing at all happens. Yet just saying it helps with morale and definitely keeps me in an optimistic state of mind.
During this trip, when I said to myself that "right now is my best chance of the night," I really meant it. However I never imagined that a bass would bite on that very cast. Yet that's exactly what happened.
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!