October Full Moon: A Critical Month Part I

Robins first keeper of the night
The beginning of October, and a Full Moon.  Prime time.  For me, it often yields one of the biggest fish of the year.  Last year I had two fish over 30lbs during a single tide, and one I’m calling 40lbs even though I didn’t have a boga.  It was over 45”, likely something like 47".  So what about this year?  I’ll cover the period from October 1 to October 9 in this post, and next week I’ll do another on the middle part of the month.

I started the beginning of the month solidly, fishing in the lee of a NE wind.  It was the first cool/cold night I fished of the year.  I was all amped up.  On this first night, as the sunset, I was working a big Mikes Custom Pikie through boulders and nailed a 12ish pound fish.   I call this solid, because based on what I’m seeing, a 12lb fish is going to be considered a good fish soon enough.  Normally, I’d call it OK, but you know- the way things are going I’m pessimistic enough to start accepting this as more of a bigger fish than a smaller one.

Anyways, I don’t want to get too negative too quickly.  That night I had a couple more schoolies on a 2.5oz danny and a chicken loaded redfin.  This is the year of the redfin folks.  Did you see Gallants post in Surfcasters Journal?  Year of the redfin.  I’ll be making a long post about that this winter.
The next night, the moon was insanely bright, the water gin clear, and it was REALLY calm.  Bad conditions.  I had a few hits in boulders but only managed 1 schoolie on a Montauk darter.  I fished 8 hours that night.  I twisted my ankle twice.  It was frustrating!

OK, let’s change up the game plan then.  This time I decided to get some exercise and go for a longer walk in a different location.  I started fishing about 7pm but didn’t reach the spot I wanted to focus on until 8pm.  It was very flat- there was a wicked W/SW wind of 30mph blowing but I was out of the wind, with it blowing hard at my back.  It didn’t feel fishy at all, but experience told me I should fish here.  About 5 minutes of casting with a Maine-iac metal lip swimmer (think BM junior) and I got crushed by a 26-27” schoolie, felt like it was 30lbs when it hit.  I had not hits after that for a while so switched it up to redfin, danny, darter, few other things- no hits.  So I went back to the Maine-iac- the hits started coming fast and furious!  Small fish, but it was constant.  I ended up landing about a dozen schoolies to maybe small keepers that night.  They wanted nothing but the metal lip- I even dug out the last of my freezer burned eels from two years ago and used them for no hits.  I’m not 100% eel-less, and intend to stay that way forever.  This night really wore me out, and I put in another 8 hours.

The next night I went to a semi-unknown spot because I didn’t feel like walking back to the spot I was last night.  Here I found VERY fussy schoolies.  SW wind was humming still at 20-25mph, and it was cloudy  and spit rain.  At least the moon wasn’t bright!  The schoolies only wanted darters worked erratically.  But, if you got it right, they CRUSHED the plug.  Otherwise, you’d get no hits.  I was really tired tonight, and didn’t give it my best.  I think I had about 6 fish, and put that in my log.  It could have been 5 or 8.  I quit a little early to sleep, as I thought the next night could be really good, and Robin was coming in to fish with me- we were planning an all nighter.
The next night was one I’ll never forget.  It wasn’t THAT exceptional for me, but for Robin, it was out of this world, he had NEVER experienced anything like it-

Robin shows up at 10am and we spend 3 hours getting everything ready for the night, then just hang out before heading out into boulders.  The SW wind was completely gone, and the water was stained but clearing up.  The swell was still up a little, but manageable- barely.  We fished a big rock together at first, and had to constantly call waves and warn each other, and we got knocked off twice.  A couple of the waves were chest high.  We started the night at 6pm, and fished until 530am.  Almost 12 hours of fishing….

Here is what I wrote in my log, and I’ll put in annotated details in italics to clarify things.  XXXX is to eliminate details I don’t want public:

So much to say.  First, Robin and I started in the boulders at the XXXXX.  We wade out to this big flat rock we both could stand on, and literally 2nd cast robin had a schoolie on a junior type swimmer (TRL fish catcher, something I found for him on the internet).  From that point for the next 90min we had fish on every cast to 12lbs, and I lost a nicer fish that felt like maybe a high teener.  They really wanted metal lips worked wonky, but I caught on darter and pikie (We had to alternate casting so not to catch each other.  If we hadn’t had to do that I bet each one of use would have had 30 fish.  They only wanted the plug worked HARD and fast.  So it was a lot of work.  The hits were so hard, every fish felt like it was going to be 20lbs, then you’d get it in and it’d be 7-10lbs.  Robin stuck with his junior style plug, but I caught on giant pikies, darters, needles, etc.  My largest, and probably the largest fish between us, came on a darter.  Unfortunately the water got too high and sketchy and we escaped back to shore even as the bite continued.  We thought we could keep nailing from shore, but it didn’t really happen.  It was hard work even for me, but Robin needed help, and I think now if we both were A game, who knows what we could have pulled out)  .  Robin wasn't feeling well, his stomach, and we were getting really beat up on the rock in the waves, so we retreated to the shore at that point I was at 11 and robin was at 12.  He was really REALLY not feeling well, too much coffee and junk food, so he rested and I continue to fish.  He was overwhelmed I think too: big water, rollers, tons of fish is a bit much for your first night fishing in months.  I tallied up another few fish on a redfin and metal lips from the point to the S, and left at that point around 16 fish.  We went south and I had hits every where the whole time small fish, small dinks.  But it didn't feel very fishy, so we went back N.  We rounded the first bend in the boulders, and robin waded out.  We started getting savage hits again.  I think I had a single fish (schoolie), but was getting hits.  Then, real tight, I had a hit on my super strike needle, set the hoook and it was big fish.  It  ran against my locked drag, and then the hooks popped, and I lost it and fell backwards off my rock (as it turns out, I discovered when I got home, it broke off the rear siwash hook.  I think this could have been a real moo moo looking back now).  I was very upset.  After that, all hits stopped.  It was about 30min after top of the tide.  Then, we had no hits for a while.  We moved down to XXXX rock, and still no hits.  Then, about 20min later we started getting hits again and both landed a few fish.  But nothing of any size.  And it started to drop off.  So then we decided to go back and get more coffee (car) and head to XXXX (a spot nearby that is easy to get to).  That was a huge waste of time.  So we went down to XXXX, and there Robin had 2-4 dinks to small schoolies, and I had 1 real small schoolie.  I got nailed and knocked off my rock 3x hard by rollers and wasn't feeling it so we moved (this wasn’t like, oh, you slipped and fell off, it was like- brace for impact, the wave hits me chin high, and I go tumbling in).  It was finally pretty cloudy though, as it was real cloudy early in the night but then got clear and now back to cloudy.  We had planned to go back to the first spot and fish through the dawn, but I was tired and not feeling it.  I had 1 small fish, and ended the night with 21, maybe 6-7 keepers, robin had 17 he thinks maybe 5-6 keepers.  We came back around 530am and I made a big breakfast and got in bed at 630.  It was a really fun night.

We slept most of the next day.  That next night we went back and had a 15knot SW wind now.  But it had only just started so the water stayed clear.  Fish started hitting around 730, we started fishing around 630.  It wasn’t anything like the night before, we both had a few schoolies, and I did best on a SS needle.  I actually caught my first bluefish on a needle, a decent one around 10-11lbs. By 830 we both got antsy and wanted to move.  We moved along the shore and found water that , according to my what I put in my logs “looked fishy as fuck”, and both of us had a few small fish.  But we couldn’t pull anything out that was decent.  We walked a bit further, then turned back- I wasn’t feeling it.  I was dying from 8-12hrs of fishing the last 5 nights straight.  On the way back I lost what felt like was a keeper or larger bass on a CCW jetty swimmer, and then had a dink.

I forgot to mention Robin and I were staying near the water, not at home.  I’ll leave out the details.  The next day, he decided he wanted to go out during the day.  I tried to talk him out of it because my plan was to go for a long walk that night and put in another 10hrs, but he insisted, since he slept so well and had only 2 nights under his belt and I was on night 6.  I decided to stay in and watch TV.

Well, I have to credit Robin with this next piece.  This is from my log:

Robin calls me I'm on the couch and manages to shout out "5 fish in 8 casts on popper, small but it's fun come down here NOW" (even with that, I strongly debated.  I almost didn’t even put on my waders, but decided at the last moment.  It took me a little while to get everything together, maybe 30min before I got to the water).  So I drag myself off the couch and grab some stuff and start to leave, decide to put my waders on.  I couldn't find robin at first, so I fished XXXX for a couple minutes, then went XXXX.  he was basically right XXXXXXXXXXX.  I couldn't believe it was fishable (strong wind meant I figured this would be weedy and stained), but there he was, tight to a fish.  He had about 12 he said, and they were all small.  I got out and had a fish break on my giant spook immediately but it was tough to cast with the tsunami rod (I didn’t have my ODM, because I didn’t think he’d be fishing into the wind!  SO I had my 3oz rod not 6oz rod).  So I switched to tin and had a schoolie.  But I asked robin if he had tried anything and he hadn't.  So I convinced him to try something else besides the popper, and he tried an SP and first cast had a 10lber- more than double the weight of what he had been catching.  then next cast he had a nice bass on that he lost, I saw the whole thing it was a solid 15lbs if not 20 (Robin made the mistake of not changing his rusty old hooks and this fish bent his hook.  In the day light, the fish went right by in front of me.  When I saw it, I knew we were onto something).  But he lost it after being on for like 20-30sec.  I then had 3 keepers in a row, with the biggest being like 11-12lbs all on redfin.  And many MANY hits.  Then I had another smaller fish (it was super hard to cast the redfin in the wind).  But it started slowing down  so I moved.  I then had a fish on my first cast on the inside of the first point by XXXX.  It was also a keeper.  I had one more hit.  Robin and I were both so hungry, tired, and I had no water (to drink) so we quit.  It was blowing hard and rained hard a couple times.  Couldn't believe it was fishable but the water was pretty clean.  only a little weed.  Robin ended with 16 fish but all small except for 1 that was like 10lbs.

So, obviously, we decided to go back there for the final night together.   We went to another spot first just to check it out, because we figured the tide wasn’t right where we were during the day.  That was a mistake.  We should have gone straight there.  We were also a little nervous because we had seen some fisherman around and thought we might burn our own spot if we went there before like 9-10pm.  And, the wind was going to be a problem.   So maybe we could get at these fish in a different spot.  In the end, we didn’t.  I think I had 1 schoolie, and Robin had nothing.  He wasn’t feeling it either, and spent most of the time just sitting waiting for me.

Back at the spot we were in during the day, we had to wade out in pretty big waves, but we managed.  It was a wild night for me!  One I’ll remember for a  while-

From my log:

Started on the W side of XXXXXX had lots of hits but not hook ups.  At 9 went to the rocks just to the W of XXXX where we had fish during the day.  From about 945 to 1200 I had fish every cast.  My third fish was maybe 11-12lbs and I had 1 more that was like 12-13lbs, and at least 6 keepers.  Most fish were small though- like 22-24”- at least 50%.  But no rats, nothing under 20”.  They wanted only 1 thing- blurple redfin.  I couldn't get them to hit anything else- nothing, not even a chicken redfin, SP minnow, bomber.  And sometimes I'd have 5 hits a cast with the blurple redfin.  I literally had a hit every cast for hours and hours. 

PAUSE: This next part is also from my log, but I’ll expand more on it below after.

Then, at 12:10 disaster...I was just about in and had a hit so hard it made me take two steps forward on the rock and almost pulled me off.  Immediately the drag is screaming, and the fish is a freight train.  Two head shakes, drag goes again, and it's gone.  I nearly cried.  took me a long time to get over it.  That would have been fish 27 had I landed it. I had more fish after, but only a couple. Then robin kept trying to poach my casting lane and I got mad and went down to the point by XXXX (I’ll leave it at that).  There I had 3 or 4 small fish.  Then robin left me and went back to the room to sleep.  I was not leaving!  Anyways, then I go back to where I was and had hits every cast again and landed 3 or 4 more fish, and lost one that felt decent from where he had been fishing.  But the fish just kept getting smaller in general and I gave up because my hands were a mess, my arms shaking, and I was so hungry I was bordering on dizzy.  I am still so upset about the big fish lost.  Its interesting that the water was fishable given how strong the wind was during the day.  I'm genuinely surprised.  I'm glad I know now!  I totaled somewhere between 32 and 37 fish I can’t remember.

So let’s talk about the fish I lost.  It bent a 4x 3/0 VMC treble hook, and stretched a 80lb split ring.  I had been catching all those schoolies, and was getting so many hits I couldn’t set the hook anymore, so I was sorta just letting them hit, then if I felt a little weight I’d strike.  Because otherwise I’d have 4-5 strikes a cast and I was getting so tired!  SO when this fish hit, I didn’t strike.  But, it took off with so much power I nearly did a nose dive into the suds.  This is not like the other fish I’ve lost this year, which were likely in the 15-25lb range if I had to guess.   This fish was something else.  The only fish I’ve ever hooked like it was the one I lost in a rip one season that took 50 yards of line without me being able to do anything, and rubbed off my bucktail on the bottom without me gaining even an inch of line. The tail pumps from this fish I hooked on this night were NUTS.  I am man enough to admit, I almost cried.  The way the season has gone, that was my ONE fish.  That was it.  And I lost it.  I felt better when I saw the hook two days later (I didn’t notice that night), because at least I had hooked it, and simply lost.  I guess I just had my drag locked down too much- but there are so many boulders I feared that if I did hook a fish like this I was going to have to muscle it.  I was having to muscle most of the 25-34” fish I was catching anyways, and my 80lb leader was all nicked up before I even hooked that fish.  UGH!!!!  Interesting to note that that fish hit 3 minutes after the top of the tide!  Robin had 6-7 fish that night, nothing over schoolie size.  The blurple redfin I had was so specific…either the color, or the fact I had it only partially loaded, it was the key.  He initially tried to blame it on the spot but then I explained I had caught fish all over, including from the rock he had been standing on.  I’m not sure we still entirely agree on this, but I’m telling you my opinion.

The next day Robin left earlier than I did, and I went back out mid-day having only slept 4.5 hours, so I could try to get in a couple hours before I had to go home.  I had two fish on poppers and had a couple follows and that was it.  I lost one of my korkers on the way over somehow, so had to fish without, and I smashed my leg HARD trying to get on rock.  This was dangerous and stupid.  But I was in a big fish rage having lost that one the night before!

So that was the beginning of the month.  Not bad.  Not great, but not bad.  No big fish, but I won't complain.  I have some really good stories coming up for the rest of the month.  I’m hoping to have another post up end of the week or next weekend at latest, so check back soon!