The Season that Never Was- Year End Statistics (Long Post)

I'm done.  I didn't fish last weekend, the weekend before I only fished 1 night, and I didn't fish the week of Thanksgiving.  The weekend before last that I did land a single schoolie at night in RI- 5hr suffer fest for a single death rat (~14-16").  And I went to Montauk the weekend before that, and ended up coming home early because I got sick.  Pictures in this post are from that trip.  I didn't have a hit or see anyone catch a fish for the three days that I was there.  It was a miserable trip honestly.  $500 for nothing (add up the room, ferry, food, gas, gear, etc.).

 I was supposed to head to NJ last weekend but that's didn't happen either.  So that's it.  I think there's a chance that good fishing could have been had right up until last week, but like everyone else, I gave up "too early".

Next season I guess.

It was harder this year than ever before to stop.  I always get more than a little depressed at the end of the season.  However, in 2014 and 2015...I was also a little happy it was over.  I was so burnt out and had fished hard- too hard maybe.  But, specifically in 2015, I caught a good number of fish and I was very happy- it wasn't perfect and I missed many opportunities, but I was as close to content as I'd ever been.  I had discovered a few excellent patterns and was "onto something".

But this year?  The thought of it being over makes my stomach churn.  Because this season, frankly, sucked.  Big time.  The whole season from April through November was a giant "fuck you".  I fished more and harder than any season before.  I truly sacrificed for this passion of mine- stupidly maybe at times.  For what?  A lot less fish, not much information.

Ok, yes, I did have more big fish, and yes, I now have a vague idea of a pattern at a good spot that gave up more than a few 20lbers+.  But way less fish overall, and WAY WAY more skunk or single fish nights.  And given where I am in my fishing career, I expect more.  I want more.

The only jewels in the whole season were a night in May, a night in October, and my trip to Cuttyhunk- and even that was mired by tragedy (stories starting in January).

I think there are a few reasons for the suck that was this season- some not my fault, others my fault.  Here are my thoughts on why the season was what it was, and some "Monday morning quarterbacking", with season statistics to boot.  Click to keep reading!


A case of the blues

Big blues in RI, if you haven't heard.  Woke up at 4am on Saturday morning to head to So. Co.


When there's only 1 striper left, will you still fish?

I'm proving this month I would.

Last post I noted how bad it was.

It's only stayed the same.  I've caught 1 20"er in the last 14 outings stretching back to mid-October.  I had 1 other hit.  That's at least 50 hours of fishing.  Guess how many fisherman I've seen?


Here's some thoughts I have:


It's been bad/really hard

A lot of views recently of the blog.  I assume that means you're looking at it hoping for some information on what's going on.  That might mean it's been tough for you too.

Well, don't look here.  I'm on trip #7 of skunks.  From the South Shore to the South Cape, to RI, to Outer Cape.  I've been every where.  I've seen two fish caught, but haven't had a hit in 5 trips and haven't landed a fish in 6.  I've fished inlets and ocean beach and pounding surf and river mouths.  It's demoralizing.  It's sucked.  I feel like it's Mid-November, not Mid-October.  And I'm going at it like it's mid-May.  I haven't backed down the intensity at all, and I don't plan to.  Not until after Veterans day, maybe after Thanksgiving.  I'll work hard for every single fish- the winter is long.


Chill in the Air

It was cold this past week/weekend.  And windy as hell.  At least the tail end of the week and into the first of this week.  Been a while since I fished into 45mph+ gusts.  I didn’t do all that great.  One night last week I waited until slack tide, everything felt right, and when the hit came I was ready.  I was using a Mike Custom Pikie, and I set the hook HARD….and flung the poor little striper right out of the water.  He was all of 16-18”.  Aggressive little guy, I actually looked him right in the eye, and gave him a little pep talk- “keep up the good work little guy, go grow up, fall in love, and make more aggressive little stripers”.  I think he listened, because when I put him in the water (carefully) he splashed me pretty good.

It did get better after that...but nothing to write home about...


A couple of cows

 After Cuttyhunk- that went both very well and also pretty terribly (nearly ending in death for the author of this post)- I was smoked.   There is a books worth of stories from that single trip, and I'll save them for the winter.

I did fish the next weekend, but the first night was a skunk, and the next night resulted in only 1 fish at ~27/28" and a brief hook up with a big blue that cut me off.  It felt pointless after Cuttyhunk.  I was so exhausted after the two weeks of hard fishing and then trying to get back into the swing at work that I just couldn't do more than that.  DJ Muller just wrote in the SCJ about pushing to the limit and how it will ruin any experience of fishing for you.  I was at that point.  I felt sick all the time and was absolutely crushed.  I think I was also, sincerely, was suffering from depression because I was so sad to not be still fishing and stepping back into a shit storm at work.  I was angry and apathetic and unmotivated to do anything.

So I caught up on sleep the whole week, re-focused at work and got a lot done, got some exercise and lots of regular healthy food, and then BOOM the new moon was upon me, and I wanted to hit it hard.  There was a spring in my step going into mid-week, and I knew I was ready to go back at it.  Here's the re-cap.  It was pretty damn good.


The one that got away, a Vlog

I'm going to try this out.  Carly insisted that I give it a try.  Enjoy.
[And by crimps I meant barbs, I'm not sure where my mind was- I CRIMP my barbs, but without a good hookset, you're screwed is what I meant; Also by by "give me" the darters, I meant offered for me to buy a few before they listed them.  Again, I don't get anything from these guys, I just like supporting a good local business.  If you have to buy it, you might as well buy it from someone local].


Vacation, the weekend and into week 2

I apologize for lack of pictures again, to restate: I lost my camera and all the pictures on it- it's sitting on the bottom of the ocean somewhere off the coast of the cape (more details on that soon)

So after a decent week and some accumulation of at least something, and by something I mean a couple dozen keepers and a couple fish in the high-teens and a trophy blue, I wanted a change of scenery.

So where to go?  I hadn’t seen my buddy Corey for a while, so I decided to see if he’d be around and we could fish the cape.  Turns out, he thought we’d have a good shot at some fish, so I made the drive to meet him.

As the sun set, and I was sitting in my car eating dinner about ½ way to meeting Corey, I get a short text from him.

“They’re here.  Fish every other cast.  Small, but they're here”.

I shoveled my food:  It wasn’t even dark yet.


Vacation, End of Week I

(I'll add pictures later this week
Edit: I lost all my pictures and camera in a tragic turn of events.  If you find an Olympus waterproof camera...with pictures of some really nice fish on it and an ugly bearded guy...contact me!)

Continuing from "Couple trips in the Hurricane":

So, now I have a clue of what’s going on.  So, the next day, I arrive at the first location even earlier, and the tide being earlier, I think I showed up right on time.  Wind is still blowing pretty good, but the surf has calmed down a bit and is less stained.  It’s still riled and a bit weedy, but much less compared to last night.

The last hour of day light was really fun.  I have awesome video of myself nailing 7 fish on top water between 24 and 31” and having at least twice that many blow ups, hook ups, and dropped fish in about 30-40 minutes of fishing.  Wouldn’t you love to see that?  Too bad, because it gives away where I’m fishing so I won’t show it!


Couple Trips in the Hurricane

Hermine.  Has to get things going right???

Yes, and no.


End of August

I'm busy and can't get caught up, so here's a quick end of August re-cap.


Back to "Normal"

A true surprise!
Fiesty, jacked schoolies were eager to slam my flies

Back in it! 40+ fish with handful of keepers, I'll take what I can get!


Fishing still sucks, but I'm having some fun

Not much to report.  I've caught some small fish on teasers and on the fly rod every time I've gone out, but nothing even close to keeper size.  Every night I'm able to wrangle up a few little schoolies using my patterns- there's always a couple fish there, but instead of 20lbs they're 20".


Again, won't know if you don't go

Friday I got "stormed" out and couldn't head out.  Well, that is, I didn't because by the time the storms had passed it was 1;30 AM and I had given up.  I could have- and should have- gotten up early and gone out looking for some surface feeds.  But by the time I gave up re-freshing the weather app on my phone it was 12:15 and I just went to bed.  Figured I give it a go on Saturday night, since it's been terrible, and it's SUPER SUPER hot, 1x a week is probably enough casting practice anyways.


2lber on the 2wt

Family gathering in Maine this past weekend.  Brought 4 fly rods- 2, 4, 6, 8wt.  Didn't fish much (5 hours total over 3 days?), but ate a lot.  Friday night I was having fun catching big Sunnies from a sandy beach on my 2wt.  I was tossing a medium sized (#6) grasshopper.  Next thing I know, a huge maw is engulfing my fly.  The ensuing battle was fun and very surprising.  Two pound large mouth bass on a 2wt, 6.5ft, fly rod and 2lb tippet.


Caught a million sunnies with some over 1lb on the 2 and 4wts, a couple other bass on the 6wt, and some perch.  Nothing on the 8wt, no bucketmouths this time around like in times past.  My dad was conventional fishing and nabbed a couple bruiser 3-4lb pickerel, some perch, and a scrappy little bass.  It was a relaxing weekend.

This week it's finally back to surf fishing for a couple more weeks, then I am off for family reunions (yes, reunionS) couple weeks in a row.  The cicadas are singing and I can feel the summer slipping by.  It's been a very rough year, but I am slightly more rested after my break and re-enthused to get back out into the black and chase the cows again.


Are you having a tough season? Yeah, me too. The worst.

This was my worst June ever.  One of my worst, if not my worst, months ever.  I don't know why, and it's making me lose my mind.  This season has been very tough, and I've been working VERY hard for very few fish.

No, this isn't a joke.


Team Trip: Fire Island Prt III

Middle of June I headed to Long Island to fish and camp with fellow fisherman and friend Robin.  We fish the national sea shore, and hike all our stuff out there.  There’s really no fish, but that’s not really why we go.  It's about the experience, and it's always an experience.

It’s always an interesting trip, and two years ago I ended up getting a 4/0 treble hook shoved into my hand.  The year before, we almost ran out of water.  This year, we did catch a ton of blue fish…but Robin’s tent also ended up in the ocean.


So far behind

After debating whether to keep the blog private or public, and going back and forth and back and forth for a variety of reasons, I've decided to go back public again.  The blog may change a little, but it's mine and I can do what I want right?  Anyways, it's back for now.  I'll update from the past few weeks when I return from my trip to Long Island this weekend.  That will be a great post, I promise. 

Here's a poor picture..a teaser if you will...of another quality fish...May wasn't the worst month I've ever had...even if it was up and down.  I don't think the big fish have invaded MA with authority yet, and I think the best is yet to come in the next couple weeks.  So, if it's been up and down for you, stay strong and stay at it.


Outfront in May

I arrived at the parking lot fully geared up in my wetsuit.  Much to my chagrin, there was a truck parked in “my” spot with a canal bike.  Being a Saturday night, I had already thought through this scenario on my way down the highway, and had plan “B” ready to go if he/they were on my rock.

I crept towards the spot, taking off my Korkers so I could sneak up on him and watch to see what he was doing.  I was disappointed to see that yes, he was standing on “the” rock.

But, he was fast to a fish.  And next cast, as I stood in the gentle S wind watching him, he landed another.  Schoolies, but not a bad sign.  Straining my eyes in the dark, from about 200 feet away I could make out the faint outline of an eel on his line.  As I watched, he pulled out his cellphone and called his buddy.  Turns out he would do that after nearly every fish the rest of the night.  Incredibly irritating but not uncommon these days.

I debated clicking my red light on to alert him to my presence.  I’ve been cast over before when out on a rock, and without him having any idea I was here, I feared his buddies would show up and start casting eels into my back.

I decided not to.


Slow Pick on a Bright Night

Slow pick last night, just a few fish, including 1 fish that was decent at 28" and change.  Super Strike Parrot darter wins the night.

I didn't end up getting to leave until almost two hours later than I wanted to last night, helping Carly with her new car, but at least I got out.  It was warm, calm night.  Well, relatively anyways.  About 53 degrees, and a 5-8mph S wind.

I fished the slack water and the start of the ebb- just a tad over two hours of fishing, but it was a work night and as it was I didn't get in bed until 1:30am.


End The Suffering: Take Your Fishing Clothing Seriously

PSA: Stop wearing jeans to fish.

This weekend I had two people stop me and ask about my wetsuit.  “How are you wetsuiting in these cold temperature!?!?” was the general question.

This led to a long conversation with one gentleman much my senior, and a short one with one my junior.

Let me give some clothing tips that I think I’m actually qualified to provide after years of cold wear activities from running, cycling and skiing to fishing, hunting, and hiking.  These will not apply to just wetsuiting, but to Waders as well. 


Big Blues- Robin's Long Island Report

Below is from Robin:

"Headed out Saturday morning around first light.  Fished a popular inlet with lots of out going current- was all alone minus one other fisherman.  Lost a few fish early on- one of which felt decent.


Big girls are in, and I found some

I haven’t heard much in the way of big fish yet, so let me break the story?  The bigger fish are here in MA, and I intercepted a couple of them this weekend.  Including a 20lber+!

VS200 behind fish helps you tell scale better.  Quick, terrible, pictures so I wouldn't be spotted.



I'm not one to be overflowing with pride, ego, or bragging.  But I do consider myself to be an observant and meticulous fisherman.  I have been working hard, as hard as I ever have, to tease apart the factors that are important for identifying patterns and successful strategies for catching bass.  I, like some others, am really fishing for patterns.  If I just wanted to catch, I'd buy a boat, or at least be out in my kayak.

Or fish the canal.

So last weekend was that much harder.  I fished what I thought were the right patterns.  And I was rewarded with nothing but a good amount of sleep deprivation, and a $30 tab in gas for my car.


Lucks gotta change?

I honestly found myself wondering if I was the only one out last night.  Won't be many out tonight either.  The weather is TOUGH right now.  All the freshwater estuaries are colder or as cold as the ocean, and the ocean is still hovering in the high-40s.  I'm losing my mind because if it was 10 degrees warmer out- as it should be- I "know" the fishing would be great here in MA.  But the combination of strong NE winds and COLD temps are really keeping things from breaking open.

I fished a premium tide last night under the blackest of conditions.  I had everything I could ask for in a way; all but one.  Temperature.  I could deal with the wind, it's the high of 47 we as fisherman just can't do anything about- you can use or hide from the wind, but you can't beat a 47 degree ocean and 50 degree rainy days.  Just no thermal energy to warm the water.

Anyways I fished late last night, knowing full well I had a 5% chance of getting into a good bite.  I think I told Robin 2%.


Lucky to Be Fishing; Embarrassed by the Results

As promised, this was the first weekend out in New England for me.  Let me first say, I have the most wonderfully supportive wife in the world.  It's her Birthday this weekend, and despite it being a big one, she didn't even complain once about me leaving to go fishing TWICE- missing two whole evenings with her.  I really do appreciate that, and had time to reflect on it with all the interstate drive time.  I do not deny for even a millisecond, I'm a lucky guy who in no way deserves her.

So anyways, I started fishing Friday night in MA.  The original plan was to fish RI, after seeing at least 10 reports of "off the charts" fishing- a couple I trusted, and a few I didn't, but in aggregate I figured at least there were SOME fish around.  But then I saw a report from an acquaintance of my mine on the North Shore that he was into schoolies on Thursday afternoon/evening.  My hands practically trembled reading that.  This, in combination with the fact that I had a very terrible week at work (ever heard of an R01 grant?), convinced me I didn't want or need to drive 100 minutes to RI but could stay closer to home.

If you don't want to read any further: I got skunked all weekend.  Embarrassing.  Like, I legitimately feel embarrassed.  Details in the rest of the post:


Ocracoke, NC: Where I cut my teeth in surf fishing. Oh, and Tonights the Night: first night out in New England!

OK so let's get one thing out of the way before I start into my story telling from the NC trip: Tonight's the night (4/30).  First night out in New England.  Still agonizing about where I'll go, but I've seen solid reports of fish (big ums) from CT to North Shore MA.  So, hopefully, tomorrow morning you'll be seeing some pictures of me kissing my first New England bass of the season.

Fuck it, hopefully it'll be the first keeper!

Because, as you'll read, I've already landed 36 stripers from the surf in 2016!


Third times the charm in California

I had the opportunity to travel to California for work and stay for 8 days, with 4 days of personal time at the end of the trip.  Despite a bum knee from running an ultramarathon the week before, getting sick on the way out on the plane, and having a lot of work to accomplish, I did get out and do some fishing in the San Diego area.  Now my surf fishing blood is really pumping!


Plug/Lure Review 2015 Season

Cabin fever is setting in pretty hard recently.  I'm having a blast riding my fat bike in the snow, been doing some running, and working on my Miata race car.  But, nearly every night I dream of surf fishing.  Today there was a major SNAFU at work, and they ended up sending us home for the day...so why not a blog post?

My favorite plugs of 2015.  Disclaimer- I fish hard, but I'm not John Skinner either, and I want to make it clear I'm not trying to say these are the lures you have to have.  Fishing is fishing, and the way you fish isn't going to be the way I fish.


Alright, let's start with the lure that took almost 1/2 of my fish on the season.