Last week started with a true trophy fish, and then rounded out with schoolies- read on for details!
I'm not going to say last week was lights out, but who can complain about a 37lb fish?
I started the week fishing one of my spots- a newer one- for the first time this year. I felt like it could be good, but was not holding my breath. I worked an incoming tide for a few hours in turbid water for a few short hits, and eventually landed a rat around 20". I fished everything I had in my bag but felt it was a needle kind of night so fished it heavily. There was a decent swell coming in, long and slow with almost no power, but it was a enough that is made me a little nervous being on the rock. I REALLY wanted to stick it out to high-tide and then the switch. But even though I've fished here a good number of times, I'd never done that before (I tend to favor another tide, but am trying something this year) and was shocked with how high the water got on a mid-moon tide. I started getting nervous as there is some current that can form here on the outgoing tide, and with water now over my head and a swell coming in it was starting to feel like too much, even for me as a very strong swimmer. So I bailed about 40 minutes before the tide switch. I did have to swim just a tiny bit, pushing myself along with my rod as well. If I had been in swim trucks I'm sure I could have bobbed along but in a 7mm wetsuit and 1.5mm surf top I'm so buoyant I can't get my feet down. I need to keep this in mind for the future, as there are a couple tournaments I have done that do not allow swimming, so I will not be able to fish here in those.
Anyways, I got back to shore, and my heart was pounding for sure- the swell, the stained water, and my first swim of the year it was intense. I was also freezing by the time I got to shore- that water is COLD still.
I decided I needed to do my due-dilligence and stay through at least the switch, even though it was late. So I hung around and half halfheartedly casted from dry land until the tide swung. Then I got serious and put on a darter and really focused.
Maybe 10 minutes in I had a subtle hit and set the hook into what felt like a decent, but not huge fish. The fish hung in the gentle current and shook it's head. I thought...teen fish. The fish took a short run against my MUCH too tight drag- I think this is why I pulled hooks from fish last year, so I loosened up a little. The fish just kept shaking it's head. I still had no idea how big it was, no clue. I winched it in, and when it got close enough to shore that it was at the edge of a small drop off it really turned and took off on a powerful run- suddenly I knew I had a much better fish than I had thought. I still didn't think it was anything better then maybe a mid-20's fish, and even then I thought I might be wishful thinking. But then it started doing much deeper shakes and tail pumps and I started to get excited.
When I pulled her on the beach I thought: "40". I thought she was 40lbs! But then I got closer and changed my mind. I wasn't sure then. I'm usually pretty good at guessing, but having caught nothing even close to this big this year, or last, I was struggling to guess. So I put her on the boga- and it settled out over 36, so I'm calling her 37. A great fish this early in any season, and given last years terrible success, I was SO happy! I KNEW it could be good and I needed to stick it out!
I immediately got her in the water for reviving before I took any pictures beyond the one quick one laying next to my rod. Then I took a picture, then back in the water she went, then one more. She splashed me like crazy as she swam away. Gorgeous fish.
Of course, none of the pictures came out great except one and I need to save it. And I didn't have my good camera with me. That's the last time I don't carry it.
After that I realized how tired I was, how late it was. But I stuck it out, and fished another hour. I had two more hits. Then I put on a glide bait- savage gear- and on my supposed last cast caught a fish around 28-30". So that kept me there even longer, but I had no more hits for 20 minutes and since it was crazy late now, I bailed. It was a good night, and I'm glad I stuck it out- there will be an article talking about this further in the future.
The next string of nights I kept coming back, but I have nothing major to report. Conditions were completely different the next night, and I knew it was pointless, and I didn't even have a single hit! Then the moon started to get REALLY bright, and the water was crystal clear the rest of the week. I did have about a dozen schoolies spread over the week at this spot, and about a billion hits, but no landed fish to speak of.
I did have one "hit and run" fish that was maybe not 30lbs, but was probably pretty decent. I casted my SP minnow out and I barely got the line on the roller and the rod wasn't even between my legs and the fish hit and was taking drag. I almost lost my grip on the rod! I never even got my hand on the handle! My drag was still damn tight from fighting the 30lber so this had to be a good fish- it wasn't a 30incher that's for sure. She was gone before I could even do anything. Bummer.
I had a few doctors appointments for my leg late in the week (trying to get over this ski injury that ruined my chances at my 100 mile race!) and it screwed up my fishing schedule. I did get out one more time to a spot in RI that I am completely clueless about and will take some time to learn. I had one small fish there and no other hits- not a single other hit. I forgot my headlamp and my watch and it made things complicated. But more than that I just feel like I have no idea yet what to do here. It's gotta be good, and I'll figure it out, but it might take me a few years.
The clear skys, mid-moon tides, bad tides, and constantly changing wind really fucked with me this week I think- that last night I really had a solid plan was the night I caught the 30lber. Then it was just trying to learn that spot better and less about a real focused plan. I think next week should be better, I have more options and already some solid plans. But already, I'm happy with the way the season is going. It's behind for sure, but I don't think it's that far behind. IF I can get a night with a few more 20lbers before the calendar rolls over the June, I'll call this a "good" May and be optimistic about the season. But even as is, it's already MUCH better than last year. Here's hoping it stays that way!