6.21.2016

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.




I had to take a sick day before I headed out because I was coming down with a cold.  It wasn’t a terrible one, and I thought I could stick it out.  I kinda did.  By the end of the trip, I was miserable and ended up with a chest infection that stuck around through the next weekend and ruined any chance of fishing the June Full Moon.  It was a terrible stretch, and June was going terrible anyways...this certainly didn't help!

Anyways.

A brief synopsis of the trip.

Friday evening upon setting up and setting out for fishing after the hike in, we found muddy, stained water.  In fact, the water really never got cleared out.  A super hard SW blow (30mph+) the day before ruined any chance we had at sight fishing (not that we would).  We ate dinner and while we were we saw some whales off the beach.  That was cool.  After dinner (sandwhichs we brought in)  we huffed it to an area that has provided good structure in the past, only to find a flat beach.  And empty waters.  It didn't feel fishy, and I was not into it and convinced Robin to ditch the site.  Around 10PM, we headed back to our campsite, and fished around that area for about another hour.  I felt dismal after the 2 mile hike in with my heavy pack and loaded beach cart (a 2 hour slog!), and it didn’t feel fishy, so we quit at 1130 for bed.  I didn't sleep for shit, because there was a fox raiding our tent site.  I sincerely got 2 hours of terrible, sick laden, sleep.

Saturday morning we were up at 4 for the sunrise.  Very calm conditions greeted us.  As the sun started to crawl out of the ocean, we started seeing bunker jumping EVERYWHERE.  I’m not talking peanuts, I’m talking adult bunker.  And by everywhere I mean in both directions a ½ mile and as far out as a mile.  I also saw a bruiser blue fish slash through small bait mere feet in front of me.  But could we even get a hit?  No.  Not a single hit.  I ran through a spectrum of lures as we fished the calm, open expanse.  It was like fishing a huge lake- piss on a plate flat.  From low-and-slow needles and bucktails, to fast-and-brash pencils little necks- nothing.

We quit around 7am.  I took a nap for about 1/2 hour and then fly fished for maybe a ½ hour.  It was so incredibly calm- we decided: let’s do some wet suiting.  We donned our suits and swam out to the bar.  It was entertaining, but again- no fish.  Robin had a single slash at his chicken scratch bomber long shot as he pulled it from the water.  I have video of it that I'll post eventually.  Maybe this winter when I get a chance to edit it.

So, again, I’m sick, and again, I nap mid-day.  The wind really started to build around 100PM out of the SW.  This sent the barely-just-starting to clear water into somewhat of a froth again.  But we took it as a good omen, and hit the beach at high tide in mid-afternoon under cloudy skies.  Robin hooked up first, and after months and months and months of not landing a striper, he was really excited.  Insisted I take a picture of him with his fish.  Not long after, he landed another as well- chicken scratch long shot bomber.  Both were right at the 27-28” mark.  I missed a fish on a bone SP, and as I turned to tell him so, he was landing a gorgeous fluke.  I was green with envy! We were both fishing the beach lip, and actually saw schoolies cruising at our feet.  I mean AT our feet.  Inches of water.  I finally landed a ~30” fish a bit further out.  But that was it.  We should have fished an hour earlier, as the water was incoming, but we really didn’t think there was much sense in the middle of the day.  Oh well, lesson learned.

We ate dinner pretty early- after all we’d been up since 4- and I ended up falling asleep again from about 5:30-7:30pm.  I woke up delirious and wishing I wasn’t facing another night in a tent.  We agreed- let’s just go to sleep and fish the night/early morning tide.

200am Sunday morning the alarm went off, and I felt drunk.  We had a cart loaded up with water, food, and all our gear.  We dragged it to the breach, where sandy had cracked the island in half.  The first two hours went fruitless- which was crazy because the conditions were perfect!  But I was trying darters and swimmer and such.  And Robin was sticking with his go-tos- SP, little neck, metal lip, etc.  It wasn't until I switched to a bucktail that things changed.

As the sun came up, maybe right before, bumping it along the bottom, bang!  Fish on.  Not a huge fish, right around the keeper size.  And in the current, all the fish gain 5lbs and the water temperature this time of year was making them fiesty.  Great fight for the size is what I'm saying.  Over the next 30 minutes, I'd land 3 more, the largest being about 31"- nothing huge.  But being sick, I had to catch something to make the 3 mile HIKE worth it (and 3 miles back).

And not long after that, Robin hooked up with the first blue fish.  After that, the flood gates were opened.

I landed ~20+ Blue fish and Robin about ~12+ Blue fish over the next 2, 2.5 hours.  I also landed two more bass, one about keeper size, one about 25-26".  The bluefish ranged wildly in size, from <20-30",with most being in the 25-30" range.  We lost well over double that many fish, and each lost a few bass too.  Poor Robin lost two, and so was "bass-less".

The majority of the fish came on bucktails, and at times we were doubled up, and Robin had the best streak- 4 fish in 4 casts.  It was fun, you'd catch a half dozen or so fish, they'd disappear for 15 or so minutes, and then they'd be back.  I caught them on almost everything though- poppers, SP minnows, darters, metal lips, swim shad.  I wanted to catch them on every lure I had, but when I got a huge swim shad bitten in half, I gave up and stuck with bucktails.  The 1-1.5oz was the sweat spot.  A fellow fisherman came along when we were both hooked up, and all he had was a tin- he didn't catch a single fish, and each of us caught at least 3 when he was there.  That was a sweet feeling ha!

Eventually, I was starving, we were out of water, and I was starting to get really sick- it was in my chest now.  So we hiked back even though we were into fish THICK.  Bluefish, but whatever.  I didn't catch a single blue fish in 2015, so it was fun for me.  And yes, catching fish in the day light is fun.

When we got back to the tent site- or rather as we were walking back...I saw something in the ocean.  The wind was SCREAMING out of the NW wind- 25+ with gust getting close to 50!  I said "is that a tent?" we agreed it wasn't.  Then, in silence, a few minutes passed.  Suddenly Robin proclaims: "THAT'S MY FUCKING TENT".

I take off running, leaving him with the cart (he had a "blister" on his toe, and I, even sick, are a much faster runner).

I dragged that damn tent out of the ocean, and it was all I could do not to LAUGH.

Robin was not laughing.

Skipping ahead though, he salvaged everything, and really nothing was lost.  He ended up sleeping under the stars that night, because my tent was much too small for both of us, and I was real sick at that point.

A very hot, grumpy, miserable day then passed with 0 fishing.  There were a lot of people around too, which is bizarre for a permitted, wilderness area.  And the wind.  God damn the wind.

We tried to nap but it didn't work.  So mostly we ate and complained.

I decided, brutally, that that night we should go back to the inlet.  6 more miles of walking, and now my cold was in my chest.

So we left at dark, walked down, fished until midnight or something like that.  Caught 0 fish.  Had 0 hits.  Gave up, walked back.

Now, we're both hallucinating.  He's seeing lights, I'm hearing sounds and feeling so fucking weird.  I start seeing dinosaurs in the dunes.

I'm really sick guys.

I sleep from 2am to 8am, kinda.  Not really.  Keep waking up with the crazy wind.

And, the next day, we hike out.  I'm miserable.  We catch a quick lunch.  And I go home.

I was then sick for the next 2 weeks and didn't get to fish the Full moon of June at all.

It's been a rough season.