Perseverance Pays Off

I've been reading/hearing a lot of chatter about how all the fish are gone from MA.  That they left sometime in September- that they're off shore or in RI, or gone to LI.  Let me be the one to tell you- that's a bunch of crap!

Not only did I know first hand this is false, know logically it made no sense, but I also had great reports from several locations to go on stating the obvious: there's still a lot of fishing to be had.  The bait is here, and the water temperatures are good/great.  We've only had 1 really bad weather system, and it was too early to make a difference.  If it happened now, I'd be nervous.  But look at the long term forecast.  We're in for some mild temperatures, and I fully predict MA stripers to be in good numbers through veterans day if not much later.

Anyways, I hit the cape last night in a spot I've never been but I guess is pretty popular- over the course of the 5 hours I was there I think I shared it with roughly twenty-twenty five other anglers, including ten anglers at one time.  The googans apparently like it, as I had to scream at some idiots shining there 100 million candlepower head lamps on the water- and right in my face.  Didn't make any difference, they just kept doing it, but at least they moved away.  And in general, 9/10 of the anglers left their lights on THE WHOLE TIME.

The wind was HARD off shore, but had only been blowing for <24hrs.  Bunker (including peanuts) feed INTO the wind, so they often will hug the shore tight in an offshore blow.  Add in that it was 67 degrees at 7:00PM, and the water had warmed 2-3 degrees in the last 48hrs, and I was hopeful I could get into some fish (if you've been reading, it's been a tough October).  And anyways, whens the next time I'll be able to fish without gloves?

When I arrived at 7:45 it was pretty much low tide, and I picked my way along the shore between flats and bars and troughs.  I had 1 follow right away; saw the whole thing with the moon so bright, the flat ocean, and crystal clear waters.  I had just read an article about using poppers at night so decided to do that for a while, interspersed with a 2.5oz Maine-iac danny in all white.  30 minutes passed with no fish, but I did get 1 swirl right in close on the little neck.  That's 2 close encounters- "the fish have to be here" I thought.

Of course, I'm still finding a mad number of sand eels, and was jumping them like crazy wading some of the bars.  This cued my brain to say "sluggo", so I snapped on a hogy 10" in white.

First cast, in the small rollers, I hooked up with what very well could have been a keeper.  I didn't measure, because I would have had to give up my spot, and I didn't want to draw attention.  I just carefully unhooked him so as to not make any noise or turn on my light, and let him swim free.  I'm guessing between 27 and 29", probably closer to the former.

This is right around when people started showing up in small groups- 2, 3, 4 guys at a time.  Most would only stay for 10 minutes before moving away from me, or leaving entirely.

But over time, they started to fill in around me: but I also quietly started getting into schoolies.  No one else had a tight line.  The fish were super picky- some wanted the sluggo, others wanted a small, 1oz metal lip I have.  I cycled between those two and a 2oz RM smith PB in yellow over white.  I lost at least a 1/2 dozen fish- mostly small- but I landed 3 schoolies in the 20-25" range (maybe something like 21, 23, 24").  No one could tell as far as I could see, as they left me alone and kept (eventually) moving away.  One fish hit the metal lip 3 times before I hooked him- I saw the whole thing in the bright night.

Finally almost an hour passed without another hook-up, so I decided to leave (it's now roughly 10PM).  But as I was doing so, I just got the urge to stay longer.  When will it be 55 degrees at night again?  May probably.

So I walked.  And walked.  I walked until I found a small bar/point that was facing in such a direction as the wind was stacking (small) waves up against it.  I stood there casting a lot of things for a while, and eventually landed the smallest fish of the night.  I dug around in my bag after that looking for something different (I've been carrying a lot of metal lips lately).  I tried a glide bait, but that didn't work.  Then, as I was looking for a needle, I noticed my unused Yo-zuri mag-darter.  The stupid thing cost $18, and I didn't realize it until after I bought it (I bought a lot of stuff that day).

I figured I'd better at least check it out, even if it was pretty small.  I know these things have a cult following. I fired it out and was surprised it didn't bump bottom.

Next cast I casted diagonal to the beach and out to the edge of what I assume was the sand flat, although the tide was high and I couldn't tell.

It hit the water, I gave it maybe 3 cranks, and BANG.  I'm on.

A great fight ensues with drag slippage, lots of head shaking, and thrashing on the surface.  I was beaming ear to ear, as I fought the fish and could see all the idiots down the way with their lights on.  Suckers.

Landed the fish, and as I dragged it out of the wash my leader broke! It must have been damaged.  I grabbed the fish easily, and brought her up further.

Post-rod measurins showed she was between 36" and 37", and definitely borderline 20lbs, although I admit, if I had to guess, I'd say she probably missed the mark (she looks a little skinny).

Well that kept me on the beach for another hour, and I landed 1 more fish on the mag darter (~23"), and lost a bigger schoolie/small keeper on a metal lip.  No love for the sluggo, which was strange, but I had lots of bumps, follows, and again got to watch a schoolie follow, grab, thrash, and spit my metal lip in inches of water.  I laughed out loud at that!

When I started to get really tired, I just quit.  It was after 12:30am now- I should already be in bed, and have a long drive still.  When I walked back to the car- all the fisherman had gone, not a soul remained.  I took one cast close to the car, and had another hook up but dropped the small fish.  But I just couldn't stay any longer, I needed to get home and sleep before a long day at work (ended up home, in bed, after 2:30 and had to get up at 7:00).

So, all the nay-sayers out there- the fat lady ain't singing yet.  It just takes a littler perseverance this time of year- and (for me anyways) a 20lber is so worth that effort.