I'm a trout angler. I don't fish for striped bass. That is, unless I get a text saying that the striped bass are in and that Bob was catching them last night, one per cast.
Last year I fished for striped bass twice. Once in the spring when they clearly weren't there and later in the summer when they were elsewhere as well. I had heard tell of times when the schoolie stripers were on the move and they could be had with abandon but that was last year or last week or at the other spot that I wasn't at.
Until Sunday evening.
The day before the tax deadline I was at the dining room table putting the final touches on what was owed to whom. Living in one state and working in another was further complicated this year by a move of my office from one state to another in June. New York needed its slice and Connecticut hers and I'm not sure either will be happy. I expect questions.
If I could be done with the taxes by 4 p.m. I might have just enough time to gather my scattered salt water gear (which doubles as steelhead gear) and make it to the designated sandy pull-off that would allow me to join a small group that would follow Bob to the fully recon'd beach where the schoolies had been the previous evening.
I was done by 3 p.m. Made dinner for the boys. Assembled the gear and was standing in the sandy pull-off at 5:28 p.m.
As a trout angler, I often fish alone. But I'm such a newbie to both steel and stripers that I follow the crowd of experts and they're generous enough to allow me to tag along (and loan me the special fly or two). It turns out that all the steelhead guys I fished with last November were here. It's a group of guys that I'm not sure would work in any other setting but as anglers we all seem to fit together perfectly. I enjoy their company.
The walk out to the spot was proper prelude. The sticky saltiness of the wind coupled with the crunch of shells beneath the feet and the grip of tidal muck on the boots let you know you were far from the mountain stream. Ahead we spooked a couple hundred Canada geese that were on our beach. Tiny shore birds raced past us in dense flocks.
The outgoing tide had a few hours to run and we set-up along the obvious rips. The first ten minutes had us all secretly doubting Bob's reports, then our ability, the presence of fish and the myriad other things that one doubts when the fishing isn't what it was supposed to be.
And then the switch was turned on, temperature, tide, water speed, who knows, but the next two hours brought fish after fish to the hand. My first striper on the fly came that evening. It was a small fish by striper standards -- maybe fourteen inches in length, 2-3 pounds -- but what a specimen. Beautiful creatures. Caught it on a white and chartreuse clouser.
For two hours we caught our fill. Thirty pound test leaders allowed the fish to be brought to hand quickly and just as quick the line was back out and another was hooked. Grins and hoots and aching arms all around. By the time the fishing slowed I was standing back with Jonny enjoying a cigar and watching the gang try and tease the last fish out of a spot where the fish now weren't.
So far steelhead haven't ruined me for trout and I don't suspect stripers will as well but I'm already looking at tide charts for the next day or two. Perhaps another quick trip is in order.