Monday, August 6, 2007
Chip was back and ready for action. He took a short flight from White Plains to Boston, rented a car, and by 9:00 AM was in my driveway pulling out his fly gear and proudly exhibiting his apparel. A decent resemblance to Major Higgins, Chip was all suited up and anxious to get out on the water. And this we did. The plan was: fish, eat, drink, sleep, fish.
As usual, and consistent with most of Chip’s visits, the wind was up and the weather unsettled. But this didn’t deter us. When we set off it was partly cloudy with a SSW breeze of 10 – 15 kts. I was on spinning gear (easier from the stern) and Chip on his 9-wt flyrod. And there were fish immediately found on the surface. We found several schools of stripers under crazy terns and I got us close enough, but they were apparently full and hesitant to bite. I landed three or four, largest was 27.9” (yes, he went back in) whereas Chip had difficulty hooking up. This was because the wind increased in steady increments and messed the whole thing up for him.
We broke for a late lunch and a stop at Atlantic Angler to seek some new, local flies. At 3:00 we returned to the bay and found it much worse. Again, undeterred, we move forth to the Cow Yard, where we left them earlier. And yes, they were there. By this time the wind was 20 kts and quickly increased by 3:30 to 30 kts. A thick front of black clouds approached from behind Cordage Park and the rain began whipping us. “I think we ought to head in,” Chip offered. “Hmmn, maybe you’re right,” I said. But I was not going to give up that easily. There were hundreds of breaking fish, unfortunately finicky fish, and Chip had put a lot into getting up here to hook them on his fly gear. I began the journey back toward Howland’s, the weather really becoming a threat, and on the way passed an acre of fish froth. “Listen Higgins, we’re not heading back to shore until you catch a goddamn fish, got it?” But this was not to happen today; it was simply not smart to be out there much longer and we gave up within a couple minutes. The fish, although plentiful were up then down and so full of food that they just weren’t hitting artificials.
We returned to Howland’s under the watchful eye of the Harbormaster and, soaked, retreated to the house to prepare for the evening’s festivities. A jaunt to the shops was followed by perhaps the best meal of the summer: grilled striper (thawed from Dave Yozzo’s recent visit) and tautog (blackfish) in an amazing mixture of caramelized fennel bulb, endive, sweet onion, pernod, and fresh thyme. Good wines too.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The alarm sounded at 4:30. No coffee or food, just straight to the boat. The fog was as thick as it gets and stayed that way all morning. Good thing I had just replaced my broken GPS. On our way out my neighbor, Ned, was preparing to head out too. I found our way to some good tidal rips first and then Ned phoned me. “Hey neighbor, I’m onto some fish right here at Howland’s and landed a keeper on my second cast.” Shit. I mean, good for Ned as he was due for some good luck on the water. But we had already invested a good deal of time navigating out into the bay and to turn around based on this report was not really a desirable action. We were socked by the fog, heard birds in the distance, and Chip had still not hooked up with anything on this trip. But I was confident. We continued out to Clark’s Island, then south to Saquish Neck and it was there where we found acres upon acres of feeding stripers. This delighted Chip and within minutes he was landing as many as he could cast to. Me too. We stayed there, taking multiple drifts, for a good hour or so. Ned called several times trying to convince us to head back to Kingston Bay. “But we’re onto acres of them man,” I countered. We did, however, eventually head back to see what Ned was talking about and yes, we found pretty much the same picture as Saquish. These schools were not necessarily showing on the surface but every second or third cast produced a striper. The water was green and clear, like pernod. The fog continued to be fog and never lifted. No keepers this morning but lots of mid-sized stripers. No blues, which surprised me.
By 10:30 I stated that I had to head in. I was due back out on the water around 11:00 to work on the oyster farm. A few more casts, then we went in. Chip had some time to kill before his flight out of Boston. I pointed him to a flyfishing shop nearby and he was off, but not before he proudly displayed his "striper thumb". I have a busy week on the water ahead, then Chip will return on Saturday as we'd been invited to a small flyfish tournament this weekend. Stay tuned.