I was still half asleep when Buddy (a dog we are watching for our friends while they are away) dragged his wet and slobbery tongue across my cheek. Time to wake up!
Temperatures were predicted to reach 70 degrees in Boston, with slightly cooler temperatures on the Cape. The day had infinite potential.
Yet I knew any fishing would have to wait until much later in the night.
Several new online business opportunities would be taken care of first. I was excited to show these potential clients how the internet could help improve their businesses - and their quality of life.
Once Buddy the dog had taken care of "his business" I packed all my fishing and camera equipment into my car and hit the road. This way I would already have everything I needed, for whenever I got the chance to wet a line.
Things were progressing smoothly and by late afternoon this past Wednesday I was ready for my final (and most exciting) meeting of the day.
At 4pm I sat down with Phil Howarth of Goose Hummock – a shop located in the town of Orleans specializing in fishing, boating and outdoor equipment.
Phil and I discussed new ideas about how Goose Hummock and My Fishing Cape Cod could work together on projects that would benefit the Cape Cod fishing community.
One project we discussed (which will launch this season) is for experts from the Goose Hummock staff to contribute on a weekly basis to the MFCC podcast.
More on this new idea coming soon…
It was nearly dark by the time Phil and I finished our discussion. As the sun began to set, a cool and crisp westerly breeze started to blow across the Cape.
The air temperature was dropping and the wind increasing. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to spend what would certainly be a dark and cold night, wading alone through the backwaters of an estuary.
I checked my phone and noticed several text messages and a voice mail from MFCC member and contributor Dex Chadsey. Dex had spent the day fishing and exploring the Cape in search of the elusive holdover striper.
Dex had enjoyed a beautiful and warm sunny day, but the holdovers were nowhere to be found. I hopped in my car full of fishing gear, unsure exactly where to go or what to do.
I pulled into a grocery store parking so I could think things through. Suddenly I felt inspired to fish. I changed into my waders, organized my tackle and prepared my GoPro cameras.
45 minutes later and my car is parked in a hidden spot among million dollar homes. Very quietly I begin my trek towards the water.
Time To Fish
The night was pitch black, with no moon. The dim light of stars hovered above my head, and a cold breeze swept across the water, smacking me in the face.
So far my new waders were holding up well, despite getting stuck in a briar patch while en route to the waters edge. Last week my old waders sprung a leak, and by the time I caught my first striper, I could no longer feel my toes.
I began casting and wading through the mud and muck. I retrieved my lure as slow as possible, and waded even slower, carefully watching my step and moving at the pace of a snail.
Extreme caution must be taken when fishing this particular area.
The bottom in some spots is like quicksand, and I have sunk in up to my thighs. If you are inexperienced, then I do not recommend fishing the backwaters of estuaries alone.
My fingers were starting to go numb by 8:30pm. I hadn't seen or caught anything despite covering a lot of water and making a lot of casts. My thoughts began to wander and I considered hiking back to my car and trying a new spot.
I made one last cast and decided to start the treacherous wade back towards the briar-laden path through the woods. It was nearly 9:30pm by the time I reached my exit point.
Yet instead of climbing up the hill through the woods to my car, I decided to explore the lower part of the estuary, closer to the open ocean. This was an area where I had never before caught a fish.
Oh My God
I began fishing the new area and quickly realized I was not alone. My headlamp revealed a cornucopia of glass eels, mummichogs and 4 inch long silvery minnows.
My legs were surrounded by bait fish. The nearly transparent eels were swimming in small groups or by themselves. The mummichogs barely moved, as if my headlamp had frozen them in place.
With anticipation boiling in my veins I fired a cast into the chilly air, and allowed my plug to settle into the center of what I think was a deep channel. I retrieved the plug at a painstakingly slow pace.
When the plug was 25 feet from my rod I felt subtle "bump" on the line.
"Oh my God" I remember thinking, "That was a fish."
My next cast landed in the same area. I took up the slack and gave the plug a quick jerk to get it swimming. I could feel the plug pulsating on the line, and I imagined how it looked slowly wobbling from side to side through the water.
Bam! The topwater explosion echoed through the marsh...
I knew right away that this was the largest holdover striper I had ever hooked. Line slipped from my drag and the bass pulled hard against the pressure exerted by the rod.
This fish had to of been in full-on feeding mode. The hit was aggressive and the fight was terrific. Nearly one minute into the battle, I was still not able to visually spot the striper through the inky black darkness.
I had crushed the barbs on the two treble hooks which hung off my swimming plug, to minimize damage to the fish and make releasing fish easier. So far the barbless treble hooks were holding.
I am really fortunate to have been tipped off to this lethal swimming plug, by a member here on MFCC. It just goes to show that if you establish good relationships with people here on MFCC, then you will catch more fish.
Finally I got the striper in close. The bass still had plenty of energy and with my nearly numb fingers I had a lot trouble securing a firm lip lock on the fish, but after a few tries I was able to get a grip.
I released the fish and watched the bass swim away in good condition. I was beside myself in disbelief. I have wanted to catch stripers like this during the winter since I was a child, and now it is happening.
Instead of exiting the water and walking back through the woods to my car (as I had originally planned) I decided to load the GoPro cameras with fresh batteries, and continue to explore further down river.
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!