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!

Couldn't fish Friday.  Didn't fish the whole week before that.  Looked over my log, noticed some interesting information from last year and the year before.  Hmmmm.

So Saturday I headed out to one of my quiet spots.  I got there pretty late in tide- it was lightening and SE wind at first switching to W strong bursts.  It sprinkled, but never really rained- looked like it was going to.  I was a little nervous the whole time- there was a lot of flashes, but I never heard thunder.  I was armed with my fly rod and my surf rod.

Heading out I ran into a guy clearly on drugs.  He had a VERY scary, VERY big dog.  Long story short, I ended up running into him upon my return as well.  Except this time, he was screaming that he wanted to fight me, his dog tried to bite me, knocked him down and dragged him, and I ended up pulling my dive knife on them.  I wasn't worried about the guy- he was clearly high and drunk and could barely stand.  But his dog was pretty terrifying.  I escaped by running through a patch of woods.  It's in the top 10 scariest moment of my life.  I'm not sure if that's sad or not, but it sure was scary.

Anyways, I found tons of bait, just as my logs said I would.  I found mostly smaller fish, and I caught 10 on my surf rod to 28" before I switched to fly fishing.  Then I landed roughly 15 or so more on my fly rod, to ~26" (above).  On the final fish, a 24-25" fish, I snapped my rod high-sticking to try and grab it.  I was bummed out, but it's got a lifetime warranty, so not the end of the world.

As there was still some tide left, I decided to just give it a go with the surf rod again.  After all, I caught more fish in this evening then I had all of July.

First cast, with a redgill teaser and a big black sluggo, I was slowly pulling it through the tide and twitched a couple times.  I thought I felt a bump, but with so many fish in the ~18-22" range around I just don't bother reacting unless I feel the weight.  I just kept reeling, until I felt a more definitive tug.  I set the hook, and instantly knew I had a keeper of unknown size.  When the fish took a good, hard run, I thought maybe I had a really big fish on.

After multiple runs, one of which that was really strong when she felt her belly near the bottom, I got the fish in and saw her head, and was both very happy by how big she was and a little disappointed she wasn't bigger at the same time.  She was over 20lbs for sure, but I was hoping for 30lbs.  The cool thing was, she hadn't taken the sluggo, but instead had gone for the teaser!  I have not fished teasers much before last fall, and it's a comical sight to see such a big fish with such a tiny lure in it's mouth!

Then I got to lay in the water with it on the release...what a wonderful feeling.  It's such an amazing thing, getting to hold a 20-25lb wild animal in your hands, feel it's power, and then watch it swim away.  It's like poetry to me.  Absolute addiction.

The far left mark is 40", but she's not at the butt of the rod, so I figure 37-38" roughly.  The first white mark is 28", the second 32" (the 36" fell off).

After that fish, I left after only a few more casts, because the storms were getting SKETCHY, and the tide had really waned and my structure was lost.

I returned Sunday night- found no drugy trying to fight me- but did find a ton of schoolies again.  Forced to fish with the 10wt (my 8wt broke, my 6wt doesn't have an intermediate line) I landed >20 schoolies on the fly.  Another 7 on the spinner (started with the surf rod to find them then went from there).  Smaller fish, not one keeper, but 25" fish are a blast even on the 10wt.  And it was good practice for times to come.  I could have landed more, but got tired, and left around 1am.

Monday night I skipped that spot feeling there'd only be more small fish and I didn't have it in me to blind cast for another 4 hours.  I went to another beach and found LOADS of bait.  Not sand eels.  Minnows from 1-3"...juvenile herring?  Didn't look like "white bait".  HUGE HUGE schools right tight to shore, swirling around my legs at times.  They were getting harassed by smaller fish that I couldn't tempt to bite.  I fished under a bright moon, trying to avoid people out partying, walking, and vacationing (is it labor day yet?).  I tried a bunch of lures, but not a hit, not even on the teaser.  However, on my "last cast" (maybe my final couple I was going to take) I had a bump, then a THUMP, and had a nice fight with a fish just short of 32".  Also got to lay in the water with this one and release it.  The bio-luminescence as it swam away was spectacular.  I said out loud "gorgeous fish".

I feel like I'm back in it, like things are back to normal.  I was out of it for a while, maybe missed a week or two of regular action, but we're approaching the fall, and the bait is here, so I feel back in it.  Things are looking good.  All I can do is hope!