12.12.2015

2015, Year in Review

I said I'd get out 1-4 more times this year.  It isn't going to happen.  I rolled my ankle really bad and was in the hospital getting X-rays two weeks ago.  Nothings broken, but it's definitely ended my season- walking in sand is just not an option right now (and I'm not going to go fish off a pier- ain't my style).  There was definitely a moment when I thought I had ended my spring season- it was really bad- but it's doing much better now, and I should be operational again by the New Year.
So that's it.  Look for a few posts over the next couple months on the gear I use.  I've had lots of questions about exactly what it is I carry and how I use it.  I'm not an expert at all, but I am happy to simply share what I do currently.  It changes often as I try to constantly streamline and perfect what I use, but I feel I'm at a solid base of gear.


But before any of that, let's look back quickly at the last year.
My 2015 statistics:

Disclaimer.  I am not a veteran surf caster- not yet.  So when I state the below, I am going off a limited data set of about 5 years.  I hope as I continue with this blog, and you continue reading, that I will have more insight into what is "normal" "good" and "bad".  For now, it's mostly based on my 1/2 decade of log books and my "gut" feelings.  I fully admit, I have much more to learn.  Still, I feel I am no long an amateur, and feel comfortable sharing my opinions as I hope they have (at least some) merit.


Here is a Month-by-Month recap of 2015:


April: Didn't fish for Stripers beyond 1 trip to the Housatonic river.  I believe between Robin and I we caught about a dozen stripers that day, which looking back doesn't seem so bad, but at the time we were pretty disappointed.  I flipped my kayak that day and ended up in the freezing cold water.  We won't be doing that trip again next year.  April was much colder than normal, and our season didn't get going in RI or MA until basically May.  I would love to get a shore-caught Striper in April in 2016.


May: Fantastic month.  My first fish of the season was 26", and my opening week I landed 6- far better than 2014.  On the new moon weekend of May I had 3 days in a row of dynamite fishing- 14 the first night to keeper size (with Carly), 100 +/- the second night with at least 1/4 of the fish being keeper size (arguably the most fun night of the season), and about 10 (if I remember correctly) the next night.  I also landed a couple fish into the high teens/20lbs in May.  I had fish just about every night I fished.  I also had a great night on the north shore- 61 fish in 4-5hrs (smaller fish 21 to 28").  I should have fished even more, and next year I'll save some time off so I can do so.  I think had I just kept at it more during the week I could have had 400 fish in May alone (I had roughly ~200 if memory serves me).  I know next year I will take advantage of the schoolie run and try and implement a lot of Fly fishing.


June: Good month.  Big fish month for me with the ~45lb fish the 2nd weekend, and another 25lb+ fish few weekends later.  Another 100 fish month roughly.  I didn't fish as much as I had planned, but I was VERY busy at work trying to meet a huge deadline.  This is the only month I really tried fishing with eels.  In 2016 I will no longer be using eels as their numbers are becoming critically low.  Next year I hope to head to Fire Island, Block Island, or Cuttyhunk in June as I'd like to check off some of these famous places from my fishing list.


July: Embarrassing.  I spent 10 days fishing roughly 8 hours a day in the Florida Keys so I didn't fish much in July for stripers.  Scratch that, I barely fished at all- I only made it out 2 times and landed 0 fish!  No fish in July!  OOPS!  That's traditionally the big BIG fish month for many in MA (i.e. Cape Cod Bruisers are often caught in July).  Next year I will be around in July (it looks like anyways at the moment), so I'll be trying harder.


August: Up and down, "OK" is how I'd put it.  I had a few numbers nights, one night was near 30 total if I remember.  I caught all but 1 of my fly-caught stripers in August.  Next year I will capitalize on a couple of things I learned, especially about the location of young-of-the-year bait fish.  August was the month of bait fish.  I mean the whole fall had a lot, but in August I saw more bait than I'd ever seen before, especially peanuts and silversides.  But sand eels too.  It was incredible, and I blew a couple nights not expecting all this small bait and being unprepared plug-wise.  I will be packing lots of teasers next year, and hoping for the bait bonanza again!  I found a couple true hotspots to focus on next year that I didn't know about, which was the best thing that happened all year- they will be productive options in a variety of winds and tides throughout 2016 (I hope).


September:  Good month.  I had a couple bad days, both when Robin came, but I think arguably my best night was in September where I landed 20 fish, 8 being keepers, and 7 of those keepers were between 34 and 36".  The rest of the fish were over 25" (all compared to my rod).  And I was intentionally trying not catching schoolies, no doubt I could have caught 40 fish that night.  I had lots of surface action this month too as the peanut bunker was thicker than it's ever been before.  I caught fish from ME to RI this month.  I caught fish in MA from Plum Island to South Cape in a single week while on a "stay-cation".  I will try and get a week in September to fish again next year, although I think I am going to try and travel- Montauk?


October:  Very disappointing for me.  The worst month of the year, without question.  Spotty, with a couple good nights and a couple good fish, but 1/2 my skunks came in October.  The thing is, while November I only caught a single fish, I half expected that (especially since I focused on MA for part of it).  I did not expect to have to work so hard in October for so few fish.  It was honestly disheartening at times- the only saving grace was 90% of fisherman had already given up so every fish I DID catch felt significant.  The weather was all over the place, some really favorable conditions...some not.  The bait was ridiculous, off the charts, but I just couldn't put myself on the fish for some reason.  Most frustrating month of fishing I've had in years (ok ok September 2014 was pretty irritating last year).  Next year, July, October and November will be big focus months for me to learn more and try and dial in, so I am more consistent.  This year I found those months at unacceptably poor catch levels, and found myself sitting in my car thinking "ok, now what" many times when plans A-D didn't work but I still had 7 hours of dark left.  I need to have better back up plans.


November:  I didn't fish even close to as much as I had planned do to a variety of factors- work dead lines, family obligations, getting sick, getting hurt, and hurting my wrist.  I only landed 1- yes ONE- fish in November if memory serves me.  But I only fished 7 times in November.  Next year, I will try and double that amount of trips.


December:  Didn't get out!  My last day fishing November 24th.  This was absolutely not supposed to happen.  I preached to people that we shouldn't quit until at least December- especially since it's been so warm.  I said over and over I was going to, and I really wanted to on principle alone.  But, the sprained ankle has made it impossible. GRRRRR!!!


100% catch and release
431 Total Bass
0 Blue Fish (!?!?!)
66 Keepers
Stripers caught in: CT, RI, MA, ME
47.5" Largest fish (Personal Best)
6 fish between ~22-45lbs
23 fish on fly rod
0 keeper sized blitzes
74 trips total, 15 skunk trips, ~520hrs, Average >15hrs/week (not including Florida Keys trip)
Average 3 fish/trip w/skunks
Average 9 fish/trip w/o skunks
First fish of the season May 8th
Last fish of the season November 24th
2 Bonefish on Fly (self-guided, no boat)
6 Barracuda on Fly (self-guided, no boat)
3 Tarpon hooked and jumped on Fly (0 landed, self-guided, no boat)
2nd Place Surfcasters Journal C&R Tournament, June



Snapshots:
Numbers overall: Spring/Summer "Fair", Fall "Poor"
Numbers of Big Fish (>20lbs): "Poor"

2015 Goals: 1) Keeper Striper on Fly (Best: 27.5", Did not accomplish)  2) 250 stripers (Accomplished, July) 3) >25lb Striper on Plug (Beat Personal Best) (Accomplished, June) 4) >30lb Striper on Eel*** Did not accomplish 5) Catch a striper in every New England State possible (No VT) (So far in 2015: CT, RI, MA, ME) Did not accomplish (no NH bass)
***Didn't fish with eels very much due to concerns over population decrease.  Will not be fishing with eels at all in 2016

2016 Goals: 1) Keeper Striper on Fly 2) 25 fish over 20lbs 3) 5 fish over 30lbs 4) 1 fish over 40lbs