A Poor Host: Parts 1 & 2

Whenever Robin and I fish, we go big.

But damn it we NEVER seem to manage any fish.  Only 1 time can I think where we did OK, and it was mostly me landing something like a dozen schoolies and a couple keepers, to his 3 or 4.

But back then, we were fishing idiots.  We had no idea what we were doing.

Now?  Well I’d like to think I know at least something, even if Robin has less experience.

 Well, they say history repeats itself.  So the next part shouldn’t be a surprise.

Part 1:

Robin arrives Friday night around 9pm from NYC, I have giant ice coffees waiting, and we literally jump in the car, hoping he has everything he needs, given half of his stuff was in my garage, and the other half was scattered throughout his apartment.

We motor down the cape, and show up at our first spot and are fishing around 11:00.  The tide had already switched, so we missed that window I thought we’d make.  This is a big fish spot I’m gradually learning, and I see huge potential in the tide swing.  I have yet to pull anything out of it but large schoolies and small keepers, but I’ve also never caught a fish under 25-26” here.  It’s just too burly I think, too much risk of a smaller fish getting chomped by something big?  I don’t know, don’t care.  We donned our wetsuits (Robins first time doing so: he’s hooked) and were in the water as quickly as we could.

I draw first blood on this incredibly calm night, landing a ~27-28” fish.  I was using a small white Gibbs danny after about 40-45 minutes of casting with big metal lips, darters, and sluggos.  I figure it looks like a small peanut bunker, that’s why I put it on. I had one other hook up but lost the fish.  Roughly the same size.  We moved around, did some scouting, then returned to the same spot.  Robin lost a very nice fish- what definitely would have been our biggest of the weekend- on a big metal lip swimmer (I observed the hit, splash, and rod bend from a far).  He was heart broken, and I felt bad for him.  We stayed a little while longer because of this.  Then we moved down the shore to another more sandy location, but found 0 fish.

Funny thing is when we were in this spot we saw police slowly cruising, and then put their lights on.  They pulled right in behind my car.  I was nervous I was illegally parked even though I’ve seen cars parked here before.  I hustle over, and it turns out I left my door open on the passenger side and they thought the car was broken into!  I was pretty embarrassed, but crisis averted.

We then moved to the next spot, my classic south shore location that Robin has yet to see.  We were greeted by thick fog and breaking fish- schoolies, but Robin was excited (I was too, just less so).  This was around 4am now.  Robin lost a lot of fish in a matter of 45 minutes.  He was struggling between casting where he had to, dealing with small fish in the current, and on a danny.  I just kept casting my darters and 18” sluggos, hoping for something larger (knowing that was very unlikely), and got 0 hits.  As time went on, and the sun started coming up, the bait situation went from good to insane.  It sounded like it was pouring rain, but it was just the insane amount of small bait.  The fish started to break EVERYWHERE.  5-6 fish at a time in the area of about a baseball diamond.

Now, I am not that enthusiastic about schoolies unless it’s May or November, but this was just torture.  Robin hadn’t even caught a fish yet, and I hadn’t had a hit in this spot!  So I said, I’m figuring this out.  I rummaged around in my bag, and at the bottom found a single 5” sluggo, unweighted.

First cast with it, bang, 25” fish.  Next cast, bang, 24” fish.  I have Robin come over and take it from me- poor guy hasn’t caught a striper since April!  Couple casts in he catches a slightly smaller fish.  I meanwhile, look for something else, and find a DOA bait buster (no idea when I put it in there, but it was under my tubes).  I cast for a few minutes, amongst the chaos, and eventually hook and land another 25-26” fish, that was feisty and slipped my drag twice.

And then, just like that, the bait headed down the shore, and the fish disappeared.  It almost felt unfair.

We casted for a while before deciding to try one more spot.  We hurried, but got there well after sun up, and found calm, super clear, low water.  Robin snapped on a little neck (pearl) and I a talkin’ popper.  We both missed a few fish, but Robin eventually landed a ~25” schoolie- his first on a popper for a long time.  He was much happier after that!  I caught nothing.

We made it home by 10:30, and we both slept from 11:30am-1:30pm.

Part II

Groggy, we order pizza at 2:00 and pick it up around 3.  We are on the road to our first spot by 3:30pm, after only 2 hours of terrible mid-day sleep.  Much caffeine was consumed on the way.

We start out in shorts and sandals casting day time plugs (damn SP minnow, poppers, tins, sluggos) until well after sunset along a stretch of sandy beach adjacent to some current.  I had 1 hit on a 9” sluggo, Robin had nada.  There were a few other fisherman around, and I saw 1 schoolie landed.

Once it was completely dark, we headed back to the big fish spot.  This time, there was at least a little chop on the water.  We were much more ballsy this time too, and swam to some rocks we had seen the night before- we really swam, not deep waded.  Despite seeing a TON of small bait, we had 0 hits, 0 fish over several hours!  Incredible really, as this was turning out to be my worst trip in months!

So we quit that spot early, and drove the 45 minutes to the next.  We got there, and it was clear right away that the water was too low, it was too calm, and it wasn’t going to happen.  So after only maybe 20-30 minutes of casting needles we were on to the next spot.

This time, we were going to try a couple new places I hadn’t even been.  But at the first, we were getting ready to access the shore via a path we found, when this house nearby suddenly turns on all it’s lights- like every single one inside and out.  Robin casually peers down the road, and there’s some shirtless dude, barefoot, hands on hips, watching us.  Nope, not happening.  Despite being legally parked, and not trespassing, we just weren’t going to risk it.  Mind you, it’s 1:45 in the morning at this point!  What are you people doing awake, just waiting to hassle me?

So now plan C.  We find rocks, bait, even breaking fish, but can’t get a hit.  Literally, between us, it’s now been about 10 hours and we haven’t had a hit.  I can’t remember the last time I went 10 hours without a hit.  Yes, I’ve been skunked several times in the last 6-8 weeks, but generally only fish 4-6 hours, and almost always get at least a schoolies smack!

We decide to just go to the schoolie spot from yesterday, when they were breaking everywhere.  It’s definitely not as calm or dark as yesterday, but we do find bait.  We cast a little, nothing.  We decide to wait for the switch.  I set a timer, we sit on a big rock, my feet are in the water, and we both promptly fall asleep.

With a jolt, we awake 20 minutes later, and I hop to my feet.  Cast, cast, cast.  Nothing.  I threw  a lot of different things, Robin too.  Not a touch.

It’s not going to happen, I say to Robin.  He remarks that the day before birds showed up right before everything went nutty.  Literally as he’s saying this a big heron/stork/egret/crane comes flying over, and I get my FIRST HIT of the night- almost 12 hours later!  We laughed.

I say, f this, I’m starting with the tiny sluggo.  I’m not proud to say it, but I was desperate to get Robin into fish and to save myself some face!

So now the current is ripping, and…nothing.  5 minutes turns to 10, then to 20 minutes.  Finally, I see a breaking fish, cast to it, and am tight to fish #1.  It’s like, 23-24”.  Few casts later, same deal, see a break, cast to it, and I’m tight.  We were having trouble casting the stupid sluggos though- they weigh nothing.  I lost a terribly tiny fish after that at my feet- definitely less than 20”- and then landed 1 more in the 23-25” range.  Robin landed 1.

At this point, I’m frustrated, but can’t cast to where I want.  The things are just too small.  We decide this is stupid, and leave.  By the car we see a fly fisherman and he asks if anythings going on…I say nope…and inside think “sorry bro, going to be a sad day for you”.

We head to the area where I’ve been having top water action, and Robin caught his yesterday.  Thank God we did.

We show up much earlier this time (before 7am), and are greeted by birds and sporadic, isolated surface action.  Down the way, a guy bait fishing (first fisherman I’ve seen at this spot) lands a schoolie.  Moments later, I land my first fish- a barely keeper around 28”.  Robin catches one not long after that, in the mid-high 20” range (26? 27?”).  We’re both losing fish to dropped hooks too.  The bait fish guy drags a nicer keeper up on the shore, maybe 31-33” (could have been 34” even I was far away), while this is happening.  I then land another fish, better at 30”.  Then, fish start breaking right at our feet in the wash!  Robin jumps me, and poaching my casting area.

I say “I’m just going to cast where you were and catch a fish, jerk”.  I blast my talkin’ popper out where he was casting, bang, 31-32” keeper on.  Vindication!

After I release it, I switch to various larger poppers, with not a hit to show for it.  But Robin catches another borderline keeper on his little neck.  Hmmm.

Well, fish are definitely on smaller bait (peanuts?).  So I have a small “striper swiper” atom popper, ¾ or 1oz, in green over white.  Seems about the right size.

I put it on, and start casting.  Nothing.

Then, fish start breaking at our feet again.

Next 4 out of 6 casts I have fish on.  I land 3, the largest is another barely keeper.

This was the last and smallest fish
After that, it seemed the tide dropped too low, and the fish moved on.  Robin and I were exhausted, and I kept casting, but he laid down on the beach and enjoyed the bright sun.  I sat down next to him, and we both agreed it was time to go home.

So, in closing, not a great couple all nighters, but it’s great to have company.  And Robin really enjoyed his wetsuit, and he’s totally converted after one outing.  To quote him “it’s liberating”.  True that my friend.

As we quit, the wind swung from W/SW to N and clouds rolled in and it sprinkled.  I checked the weather in the car- son of a bitch!

I missed it by a week.  If I had had this coming week off, instead of last………damn.  N, NE winds and a 10-15 degree drop in temperatures.

Fall is here.