That being said, September was boom and bust....
It started with a bang with a trip to Cuttyhunk. An incredibly hard place to fish, it's not for the faint of heart. All the rumors are true, and I don't recommend anyone go who isn't experienced, fit, and willing to suffer. It will chew you up and spit you out. There are many stories of guys going for a week and catching nothing. There are also stories of very good fisherman knocking out dozen fish nights with every fish being over 25lbs. I left sore and beat up...but...
During the 5 nights I had over 120 fish up to 19lbs. Not monsters, but very consistent action, with a 40 fish night with fish of every size from 5 to 17lbs and a 19 fish night with 15 of those fish over 14lbs- I think there were even bigger fish in that school, but I couldn't get them to hit my plugs. I could see them around my rock as they massacred peanuts in the calm night air. But that would be the only night of that. After that, I had some very serious wind to contend with, which went from 20mph NNW, to 30mph E to 30mph W to 30mph SW in 72hrs. The fishing was challenging but I really nailed it a couple nights. I didn't loose almost any fish, which has been a struggle for me this year (more on that in the next post) and the very best thing from this trip was the 3 fish over 10lbs I caught on my fly rod- one being a beautiful 13lber (my personal best on fly). I had about 30 fish on my fly rod during the week as the fish destroyed schools peanuts and spearing at my feet, and even behind me in only inches of water. That is about as exciting as it can get. I also had a 12lb and 16lb blue fish, which was just icing on the cake.
Then it was back to reality. I found tons and tons of bait in my local waters with NO fish on them. So much spearing you can't even believe it. And then later, I found baby mullet, which was a first for me in MA. I know it's up here, but I'd never seen finger mullet in MA. Anyways, I'd get a schoolie here and there, but nothing worth noting. A single 12lber was the best I did for two weeks. One night I had a really good feeling, but I got stormed out (lightening). What a fucking nightmare- driving 90 minutes, gearing up....and then can't fish because of the storm (which lasted for hours).
So it was hard work for no results.
Except this 19lb personal best blue fish! What a beast. It fought so hard I thought for sure it was a 25lb bass. Screaming runs against my ultra tight drag (50lb braid, 80lb leader). I also had a 34" bass that night too (measured for tournament reasons, and released). It sounds like I'm catching, but trust me...this is all the results from almost 15 nights or about 75hrs of fishing...(not counting Cutty)
That is, until later in the month. One glorious night. Here's the story...
The last few weeks were extremely slow. I almost didn't go out. I honestly was struggling with depression from the whole losing my job thing, and having to sell my car, and the prospect of having to sell our house. At the last minute, at 11pm at night, I turned to Carly and said: "what if it's too weedy, and I drive all the way there and can't fish...again". The same week I had driven 90minutes, walked 20minutes, only to get stormed out and had to run to the car in lightening. But really, I mostly just needed her to tell me that it was OK for me to go. That I could do this, despite having no income. She looked at me, and bluntly put it like this "Will you catch fish here?". OK, point taken. I said, "...but I don't know...I really am tired...". Again, she fires back "It's OK Jerry. You're OK." She smiled at me, and without saying another word, I just turned around and walked out the door.
Off I went.
When I geared up, there was no one around. Usually there's some kids smoking pot, or people enjoying the beach, but tonight...not a person. The reason was simple. N winds 30-40mph with gusts over 65mph. Driving rain, pretty big swells- which I didn't realize how big, as I was gearing up, but would soon enough.
I show up to the spot thinking I'm going to be able to fish it with plugs...yeah right! The swells were way too big- at least 6ft. Way bigger than I expected. Damn. Was I even going to be able to reach the hole I wanted to fish? I wasn't sure. But, again, I had driven all that way, so I had to ty!
I quickly determined, all I could use was bucktails- good thing I had some in the car, and two in my bag. I sometimes don't carry any, and I really did think I would be able to fish darters and bottle tonight.
Back to the car I run, hoping I had what I needed.
But I was wrong, I didn't have the right size- 1.75oz was the biggest I had, and I knew instinctively that wasn't going to be even close to big enough. So I thought...what do I do? I stood at the car in the pouring rain, and snapped my fingers. I'll just cut out a bunch of the hair! And cut the pork rind down 50%...and pray that's enough.
I get back to the shore...It was really sketchy. I couldn't see any of the rocks I usually fish from- I certainly couldn't reach my regular rock safely even with the wetsuit, and was relegated to a rock about 3/4 the way back and even that was scary. I was happy it was about 2 feet out of the water, but I really wished it wasn't shaped like a pyramid!
Anyways, nothing ventured, nothing gained- so I fire off a cast. It's pathetic. I burn up the slack...and as I'm doing so I feel a faint tug and give the hardest hookset I can muster with so much bow in my line. Fish on! Tough fight, really hard to land the fish... but on my first cast I had a 16lber. The way things had been going, it was already a good night.
Then, right after that I had a big schoolie/borderline keeper, and then the next cast after that I lost what was probably a teen fish/small keeper. It was aboslute insanity though. And at times I had to wait as much as a minute to cast while crazy strong gusts of wind threatened to knock me off my rock. The key to everything was cutting that hair out of the bucktail, for sure.
So, now I'm two hours in and haven't had a hit in a while. I get an absolutely perfect cast and I actually let out an audible "yyessss". It wasn't 10 cranks of the handle before I had a bump. I set the hook hard....
Then, disaster: the fish took off extremely hard. It was so strong, that with two heavy tail pumps, with the help of a gust of wind and ill timed wave, it yanked me into the water- right into the maw of the storm. Straight on my face. I struggled to stand up and not lose my rod. I had it by one hand only, as the fish, the wind, and the water all conspired together to try and carry me away.
Needless to say, my line went slack and when I got it back on the roller and got upright the fish was gone.
It was both scary and frankly pretty exciting. After a few moments of depair, I just started laughing and laughing. It was fucking ridiculous out. What was I even doing? I felt totally connected with my world, with myself, and everything was OK. Not having a job, having to sell our house...suddenly it was OK.
I started to whistle and sing to myself as the night crept on. After that disaster of loosing the fish, I had a schoolie come unbuttoned, and another couple hits. Now only about 1/2 of my casts were getting out to the area I wanted to fish, but that was a huge improvement. I thought maybe I could get a darter out there.
My first cast was fouled with weeds, but when I got my first good cast out there, I was rewarded with first one 13lber, then another of almost the exact same size. I then had a couple hits but was having such a hard time setting the hook the fish basically had to hook themselves- the first teen bass had itself hooked in the chin, not even near the mouth.
After those hits, I didn't have any action for about 45 minutes, and I was so exhausted from battling to keep my footing and cast as hard as I could for almost 4 hours, I decided to leave. It was getting close to dawn, and I actually contemplated sitting in my car and waiting- but I had only 1 popper with me, and it as a pencil, and I didn't think it'd be possible to fish it in these conditions.
It was a fantastic night, even if I didn't even break double digits. In those conditions, every fish feels like a 50- with current and wind it's a circus. And I felt like I dug down deep and went when it wasn't easy- physically, or emotionally. Yeah, the guys in the canal are catching dozens of 30lb fish, and so many 20lbers it's staggering. But, as someone recently told me, "it's become so easy to catch big fish there it's not even funny".