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.

Friday night: Ran down 495 and arrived at my parking area around 8:30.  Few guys fishing, I gear up into the wetsuit for the first time in 2016.  God, I friggin love the wetsuit.  I didn’t have that well defined a plan, but with 3 full days of warm (70s) degree temperatures, and a gentle S wind, I thought I had a shot at some fish.  It rained nearly the whole time, and heavy fog rolled in too, which is great because it allows me to not feel like I have to be watching my back for angry home owners and spot scooping fisherman- solitude!  I walked the shore, away from the guys fishing, for a while before I started.  As I went to cast, I noticed the tip of my rod was broken!  UGH.  So I power walked back to the car- 15 minutes- and then turned around and went back out.  Lesson here?  Always have a backup in the car.  I passed a guy leaving as I finally started to cast.  10 casts in with my greene point tackle eel metal lip thing I hear a splash, look left, and theres a big ring from a breaking fish!  My heart is pounding.  Remember, I’m still fishless (minus 37 schoolies in NC).  I cast in the general direction, and on the first cast get three blow ups but no hook ups.  OK, small fish.  Cast again, same deal.  Cast again, 1 really big blow up.  Grr…snap on an SP minnow to just get the deed done.  4 casts in though and I haven’t had a hit.  Finally, on the 5th, I hook up and land a 27” schoolie- not bad to start out on.  Cast cast cast, few bumps, not hook ups.  Then, suddenly 20 minutes has gone by and no fish.  So I move.  Not far though.  Too shallow for an SP, I put on a Gibbs 1.5oz metal lip little guy.  First cast with it and I’m in.  Smaller schoolie at ~24”.  Then  I start getting lots of hits and no hookups.  I try a sluggo but lose two small fish.  I’m a little frustrated but can’t get mad- finally some damn fish.  I dig around and find a mambo minnow, put that one, and first cast before I even get line on the roller I get a hit, take two cranks after that hit, and I’m in.  This fish was much bigger.  It fought hard and I had a little back and forth, but my drag was pretty tight from spooling fresh line last week.  Oops.  I have single siwash hooks on this, but they flex and bend.  As I got the fish close in, it did a good surge and all of a sudden gone.  I thought it had broke me off, but turns out just bent the rear hook.  A friend had a similar situation happen only last week on the cape- I felt like it was a cruel coincidence.  After that I lost one more fish on a bomber, and moved on.  I found no more fish though, and ended the night with just two schoolies.  Quit around 12:30.

Have to take pictures of your first fish of the year!

Saturday: Warm day, warm night, stronger W wind.  I started out at the same spot, but really wanted to check out another area I haven’t been to since early 2015.  So after an hour- hitless- I told myself I should move.  As I arrived at the next spot, there were two guys leaving.  It’s about 10PM.  They said they had had nothing- which doesn’t really mean anything- and I told them the same.  I made my way quickly to my spot and found a nice rip set up, just begging for my super strike darter (loaded).  The wind is helping me here in a big way.  About 5 casts in I get a *THUD* and I’m hooked up.  This fish is a good fish.  Immediately takes off down the rip.  I’m realizing now again how tight my drag is, and I’m so not setup for this fish in this area.  I’m backing down on the drag which just causes line to melt off.  I find the happy medium but the fish is pretty far out now and I can feel rocks rubbing my line.  My heart is in my throat.  I have no idea how big she is but she’s certainly in the teens at least.  I work her back, and then she goes again- hard.  Now I’m sure she’s decent.  Get her back, and again she goes!  Powerful tail pumps!  After a few minutes I finally have her close, but still not sure how big.  I lead her around to my rock and slide her up between two adjacent to me.  She’s big and fat!  I’m shaking like a leaf.  I don’t have a tape, so I rod measure her, and put her back in the water, hand under her gill plate.  I am fumbling for the camera, she’s trying to rip my arm out of socket.  I get the camera out, snap the crummy pictures you see here, and let her go with a stupid selfy (that’s the lenses cover in my mouth).  Later I measure out my rod- I thought she was 40”+- and find that she was about 38-39”.  The pictures don't do her justice, and you'll just have to trust me I guess.  A very solid fish this early in the season no doubt, and my night was made- my week was made.  But I got back to casting after getting my drag properly set to see if I could find some more.  10 minutes later, bang, another good fish on.  This one only manages 1 run against my drag setting, and I quickly subdue it.  But, it would also measure out later at approximately 34”.  That would have been a great fish for me on May 14th even without the other.  I let her go after a quick picture, and continued fishing.  The darter wasn’t swimming right all of a sudden, and I don’t know why.  I’ve since decided I think the snap was messed up?  I don’t know- it's fine now.  But after about 15 minutes of no hits I switched to a Choppy darter (more action, goes deeper), with no hits, then a Northbar bottle darter (lots of action and noise).  First cast with the bottle darter, fish on.  This would just be a little guy at about 24-25”- no pic.  The current was really dying now, and I decided to move after 20 more minutes to try and take better advantage of what I had left.  I deep waded to a familiar rock, and three casts in was rewarded with another fish that must have gone low 30”.  As I was trying to pull it up on the rock it thrashed and the barbless hook pulled.  So I guess technically I didn’t land it.  After that I went 45 minutes hitless and called it quits around 12:30, shortly before the ebb died.  Drove home tired and happy!

Hard to tell from picture, but this fish taped out at 38-39"!

Sunday: I passed up a “sure thing” at one of my honey holes to try and repeat Saturday at the same location.  Fail.  The conditions were totally different (mostly).  Much colder, all day, with a screaming west wind, and bright moon light.  I arrived much earlier at about 8:30, and headed right to the same spot.  All alone.  I’ve seen less fisherman this year than even last year.  Good.  Cast-cast-cast for 90 minutes.  Nothing.  I move.  Nothing.  I head to shore to get warmed up, then swim back out to another rock in a the screaming wind.  Nothing.  I tried lots of plugs from little SP to big Mikes Custom 3oz (3.5?) darter.  Lots of weed in the water.  Anyways, I quit about 11PM to try and be in bed earlier for the coming of the work week.  “Man, surf fishing is hard isn’t it?” is all I could think driving home.  One day you’re “in” (although I’d like to catch more than just 3 fish it wasn’t bad Saturday night), and the next day you’re totally out.  Talked to my friend and he had a similar situation on the cape, with premo conditions and absolutely no fish- the cold (it was only 40 when I got home!) really gave the fish lock jaw (we think).  Probably means my honey hole would have been dry as well.  Man, can we just put this cold May behind us?  I’m ready for this coming week with temps in the 70s and a full moon to look forward to.  Could be the first North Shore trip of the year coming up.