Thursday, May 15, 2008
Nothing Like a Nooner
Thursday, May 15
I decided to go fishing for an hour or so. Also, I felt like trying out one of my new crab traps (to collect green crabs – a different story). My urge to fish was natural, but it was accentuated by Don M.’s email this morning which informed me that he landed one mackerel. No bass, but mackerel were around. I too went out early, on my way to work, to scope out the striper scene and found zilch.
So, at noon or so I went back out on the water to see what was what. I brought some Sabiki jigs for the mackerel but also my usual arsenal of striper stuff. First I dropped of the crab trap, baited with a small flounder rack from last winter. Then off to mackerel grounds. But I couldn’t just leave the bay without at least checking the usual spots for busting fish. And upon doing this my mackerel plans abruptly changed; I found a tight, persistent school of busting fish with birds galore in a narrow rip.
I tried a series of lures. Nothing big worked. So on went the little yellow job that hooked last Friday’s fish. These bass were rolling and slurping, but also smacking their tails hard on the surface. These were indicators that they would be difficult to hook. But after about ten casts I had a strike. It was only a split second after setting the hook that the rod summarily bent hard and the reel starting screaming like a frightened little girl. Holy crap, I thought. It couldn’t be. … but alas, my reel continued to lose line (old gnarly line that I had just then realized should have been changed before today) and my nerves were up. I fought the fish for about three minutes before it came up close enough to view. A keeper, I said quietly. Then realizing how lame the line was, and how the hook was barbless, I glanced around for a net. No net of course. I grabbed a six-foot crook used for grabbing oyster bags (a G-rated gaff) and then realized how ridiculous I was being. I tired the fish out for a spell, then decided to tail him if possible. The first attempt failed – too slippery. Then on the second attempt I held firm and eased him into the boat.
But having not seen a keeper fish for some months, I decided I’d better measure him out. But no tape or markings around that would indicate legal vs. sublegal status. I did have an oyster gauge which is a 3-inch ring. I measured out 3-inch increments along my six-foot crook and finally marked off 28 inches (I estimated the final inch…being that 3 doesn’t go into 28 as a whole number). And the fish was beyond this mark and then I was even happier and then didn’t really know what to do with myself. I decided to fish some more.
The school hung tight in the rip and I made several passes. I landed another six or seven stripers. One of these was about 7.5 inches long, others up to 22 inches or so. It was good fun indeed. One fish I caught (see photo) had unmistakable bight marks along its upper gut area and also down lower. Something had chomped this guy up pretty badly yet he was still feisty and hit my artificial. The wounds were quite fresh and there were sea lice attached to them.
After a bit I decided not to hit the mackerel grounds after all. I’ll save that for Don Gunster and Joel Meunier in the next few days. I spun back to the harbor and grabbed my crab trap along the way: one green crab. It works.
At home the fish measured out to 31 inches.
Not a bad nooner.