So far behind- summer blog re-cap

Time has really gotten away from me.  Summers still here, but I can start to feel the pressure of a waning season.  Yes, we’ve still got what could arguably be called the best 2 months of the year left…but that’s it.  Let me do a quick re-cap of what has been happening the last 4-6 weeks.  These are notes from my log, with some cleaning up for the blog.  I had a few other trips not included, with very few other fish landed.  I also did a little kayaking in the lake near me, but nothing exciting to report, just some small bass, so I didn’t include that in this post.

July 24-27

I spent the weekend in Maine with my folks, Carly, and sister.  We didn’t get a lot of fishing opportunities, as we were busy doing other things (like running a ½ marathon on hilly ATV trails).  But, I did get out every night with the Olde English Fly Shop 4wt and 8wt, and managed to land a few decent fish.  Sunday, Dad and I went out in the boat, and I fly fished from a boat for the first time.  I ended up landing a very scrappy 4.5lb largemouth that turned my 8wt into a noodle as it burrowed into the weeds.  A fun weekend with family, even if I didn’t catch the 25+ bass I did last year.


 August 7-9
Too tired to fish much, I only spent 1 night in the surf.  This resulted in a skunking for me, and 1 schoolie for Carly.  When folks showed up in our spot, we high-tailed it out of there lest they ask us any questions about it.  Never seen them before.  Sunday I did do a combo-adventure, where I ran 5 miles over to a little pond I’d never been to before.  I carried my rod with me, and a tiny waist pack with a few flies in it and my 2mm neoprene booties.  When I got there, I fished for about an hour, landing a tiny tiny bass and a miniature crappie.  I then ran home the “long way” about 6.5 miles, for a total of about 11-11.5 miles + an hour of fishing.  I stopped at a road side and casted my hopper pattern into this small pool in a stream, but no fish.  I did see a family of otters that swam through the culvert and into the swampy area behind me, grunting and squeaking to each other the whole time…
August 10
Got my new 6.5’ 2wt fly rod, and IMMEDIATELY took it over to the little lake nearby to do some wade fishing.  I swung some small hopper patterns, and a tiny bait fish pattern.  I had an absolute blast until the sun set.  I landed something like 35 fish of every common species, except pickerel- all species of sunnies, crappie, largemouth, and perch.  I just laughed and laughed, what a funny little rod!  I only paid $60 for it on eBay, got myself a tiny $30 reel on eBay, and risked the $12 line (which is great btw!)- and so for basically $100 got myself the ultimate economy light tackle setup!

August 14-15
This was a pretty fun weekend; again, fishing the ghostly hours from 11pm-4am.  I told myself: this is the weekend you catch a striper from shore on your fly rod.  I hadn’t ever before- I had from my kayak on a couple occasions, but never from shore.  Saturday I went out scouting with just the spin rod.  I found bait- lots of it- and I knew the game was on.  I landed 24 schoolies to 27”, and one keeper around 30”.  I caught them on everything I threw- everything.  From white bucktail to 3.5oz black danny.  Again: if I had wanted 50 schoolies, I could have made it happen, I just REALLY wanted to find bigger fish.  Note from my log “Jerry: stop screwing around with the small fish.  This spot is clearly not going to produce big fish save a few particular times during the year- so either bring your fly rod, or START FISHING OTHER SPOTS”.  Sunday, I heeded my own advice, and I brought the fly rod.  The fish showed up right on schedule, and when I landed 2 on the spinning rod, I switched to the fly rod for a little while.  Nothing.  Back to the spinning rod, 5 more.  Back to the fly rod.  Nothing.  I just couldn’t reach them I think: and I forgot my stripping basket, so I was having a hell of a time.  Back to the spinner, 4 more fish, now 10 total, and I said that’s it.  You’re going to do this.  I spent the rest of the night with the fly rod, and ended up landing my first 5 stripers on the fly rod, from shore.  What a blast; total game changer.  I never thought it’d take me 5 minutes to land a schoolies, and my first fish (around 24”) had me tricked completely- every head shake and run had me thinking I was connected to a mid-teen pound fish- not a 6-7lb fish!  One was decent, at about 25-26”?, but the others were in the 22-24” range.  Actually, I thought the 25-26” was a keeper, even told a few folks that, but have since measured my rod better and it definitely wasn’t- not even close.  I guess I was just over excited.  So, if you’re reading this, and I lied to you, SORRY! Ha!  Eventually I lost the tide, and the fish, and went home a very happy camper.

August 19
Ran up to the North Shore for the first time in way too long.  Fished a very large area and did a good amount of walking.  Fished the incoming from about 9:30pm to 3:00am.  I had a lot of short hits right away, but never converted.  I mean, a lot of short hits- 20? 30?  Not sure.  I didn’t succumb to the “gotta catch” mentality that I sometimes get into, so I stayed with my larger plugs and didn’t mess with the micros.  I moved on, and when I got to one of my absolutely favorite areas, I had a really nice hook up on a metal lip danny very close to shore.  But, as it goes with fishing with this style plug, the fish thrashed it’s head at the surface repeatedly, and after only about 10 seconds of being on the line, threw the plug.  I didn’t get another hit after that for a very long time.  I eventually found some current, and despite throwing darters and bottle plugs, aka fairly big plugs,  I still was getting a lot of short hits.  I landed 4 small fish 20-24” in about a ½ hour of fishing this spot, and then a huge bank of fog rolled in and the lights completely went out.  I fished for another 20-30 minutes in this spot carefully working every nook and cranny, but it was clear that big momma wasn’t home, just her babies.  So, I quit and walked back to the car.
I try really hard not to get these little guys covered in sand, but he started thrashing just as I was taking hte picture.

August 20-23
Back to Maine.  This time, even less fishing.  It was more about time spent with the family, so I got out very little.  I think I landed 1 bass in the 2-2.5lb range on the 4wt, and that’s it for bass!  I brought my 2wt, and did catch a few feisty sunfish, but that’s it.  No perch; no crappie.

August 27-30
Spent a good amount of time pursuing stripers this weekend on the south shore.  Fished 10pm-3am, 11pm-4am, and 12am-5:30am Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  I wanted to make it out again Sunday night, but I was so wiped out from doing all that fishing + 2 days trail running + 1 full day at work + 1 day of house work with Carly that I just felt it was unsafe for me to be on the roads another night.  I take this very seriously- as should all surf fisherman, or anyone else driving around in a potentially sleep deprived state.  Thursday and Friday night I landed ~10 fish on my 11wt and 8wt fly rods, to 27.5”.  I could lie and tell you it was a keeper, but I STILL have yet to catch a keeper on the fly rod, and I won’t cheapen that moment when I do by lying to myself now!  I measured and re-measured that fish trying to stretch it but it just wasn’t quite there.  Thursday night started out slow, but built to full blitz conditions.  I had 1 hit early on, but lost the fish.  I had a little competition for one of my favorite spots, but after a couple hours of casting and only a few fish landed, the gentleman left and I was alone for the last 2 hours.  I am sure- given the amount of bait and breaking fish- that had I had my spinning rod, I could have had 50+ fish.  But I brought NO back up spinner- I wanted to force myself to adapt to any conditions.  I’m committed to figuring out this fly rod surf thing.  So, I broke off fish, couldn’t cast to fish, got tangled a million times, and eventually snapped my 11wt 12” from the tip trying to grab the 27.5”er.  It was one of those nights.  I attempted fishing with the broken rod, but it wasn’t happening.  My wrist and arm were sore, and so I called it a night- got 3.5 hours of sleep, then worked a full day (woof).  I think the fish had so much bait they were not finding my fly, as I’d see a breaking fish, cast in front of it and let the sweep carry the fly into the path…nothing.  It seemed given the amount of activity, I’d have more.  This was further confirmed when I switched to a huge dark bait fish pattern, despite the small bait and bright conditions- as soon as I did, I landed a 25” and then the almost keeper 2 casts in a row before breaking the rod.  Friday night Carly joined me.  Again, it was a comedy of errors.  And again, there were a few people fishing in my usually lonely spot.  But, also again, they left before we really started to catch.  Carly drew first blood with a nice schoolie in the 25-26” range.  She then broke off a very nice fish (she uses 40lb PP and 50 leader…this was a quality fish!) on her new Savage Gear glide bait, due to a seized reel…her favorite Penn SSG just gave up and the gear box split.  We tried to fix it, but it was not good.  She did cobble it together and managed 2 more fish that night, but eventually had to give up when it stopped working completely.  Meanwhile, I was again struggling with the fly rod.  I only managed a few fish due to not being able to reach the areas they were in.  With the “super moon” tide especially high, I basically “wasted” (no fishing time is wasted) the first 2 hours casting to fish-less areas.  And by the time I could reach them, I was pretty tired, Carly was exhausted and sitting waiting for me because of her broken rod, so I fished “one more fish”, landed it, and then we left.  Saturday night, I was too sore and tired to think about the fly rod again, so I got out the VS and Airwave Elite and fished a lonely stretch of beach landing 15 schoolies to ~25” and a single 29” fish.  I caught on a variety of plugs (damn SP minnow, bomber long shot 7”, glide bait, sluggo, darter, bottle) as I tried to cull a larger fish from what I know is a keeper producing area.  Interestingly, I couldn’t get them to touch a swim shad.  I find this peculiar, because there were a lot of peanut bunker around and the swim shads are a dead on mimic.  I can’t fathom why they didn’t want them.   Anyways, it was a great weekend, and I’m happy with 10+/- fish on the fly rod and 16 on the spinner.  Now, my focus turns towards big cows.  They will start to move soon, and I hope to intercept them- this will be my primary focus during my solo-vacation Sept 10th-20th.  Stay tuned!