Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Good Shoot

Monday, June 16, 2008

“Dave, this is John. ..yeah, hi, do you want to head out this afternoon and hit the tide with me? I think there will be some fish out there today.”

“Sure, see you down there.”

This is how our third attempt to photograph good striper fishing began on Monday. I wasn’t really sure that they’d be there, but I was pretty sure. The wind was up though, and it made things bumpy and wet. I don’t mind bumpy and wet.

So off we went and I made sure to have plenty of fishing gear ready because with every trip, Dave wanted to fish more than shoot. And this he did – for a little while.

Our first stop – nothing. Second stop – nothing again. Third stop – zilch. “Um, John, I am not sure this system is working – me heading out with you to catch fish. Uh, either you can’t catch fish or I am bad luck,” explained Dave. “Maybe both,” I answered. But no, this couldn’t be true. We were just having bad luck – well, continuous bad luck, like the Red Sox had for a while.

Then today things changed. The fourth spot I had been saving, kind of like saving Ortiz for cleanup. We arrived to find another boat circling through the drift. I was sure that these guys would be spooking the fish because they were coming up through the rip, on motor, and casting along the way. I had fished this specific spot hundreds of days and knew that running the boat up through the rip rather than quietly heading around the outside to the top was a fatal error. It just doesn’t work out; the fish see and/or hear the outboard and spook. They’ll go down for ten minutes.

So Dave and I did two drifts through this spot and ended up with nothing at all. Nothing means nothing – no follows, nothing. And this surprised me because it was the perfect tide and it was overcast. I suspected the other boat was simply running over the rip too much.

But I had an ace in my pocket. There is another spot not far off that I can really call my own…except on weekends. This is a little line of fast water that holds massive fish for only one hour per tide. Within that interval the fish are numerous and hungry. But it turns off quickly. We were in that interval and had a chance. So I looked over to Dave, who looked worried and diminished, and said (for the hundredth time) “I have another spot…they’re sure to be there.”

Two minutes later I had a fish in the cooler. Well, no cooler, but rather the horrendous muddy slop on the floor of my skiff. Dave shot as I continually hooked and landed some nice stripers. Then he put the cameras away and threw out his line a few times. The action continued for several drifts through the rips and we began to get excited for the first time out on the water together.

We stayed for a while and did well…two keepers and several fat undersized bass released. Then I noticed that the previous spot (the one with the other guys motoring through) was clear and open. Soon I spotted fish busting all through the rip. We promptly moved back there and the first cast produced a 31 who gave me a washing. Nice. Then every cast through that drift resulted in amazing blitzes and acrobatics. One fish pulled so hard to explode my line down at the reel. Dave hooked a couple there between shoots and seemed happy. “That’s more like it,” he said.

We played out the rips until they faded to the slacking tide. It was also getting late and we all had work to do. I had to clean some fish and Dave had to get back to his office. He stopped over to the house to pick up a couple of filets and then I drove some fish over to my cousin’s house, and to the neighbors. We also ate one that night with mango-lime salsa (see Chris Schlessinger’s Thrill of the Grill and other cookbooks).

That’s more like it.

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