Lately, every time I go anywhere I feel like I am being held up at gunpoint with everyone wearing masks like they were assisting in a complex surgical operation. I can’t even make jokes with local stores anymore because I ran out of material.
Because the world has been on hold, though there is social distancing when out on the ocean in a boat or casting the surf break from shore, many people have been staying close to home as advised. One or two friends have done some inshore fishing for schoolie stripers during late May and June. I have not been one due to a couple of damaged and painful feet. Too unsteady to do much of anything in a rocking and rolling boat, this is painful for someone who has a double dominant fishing gene in my DNA.
During mid June I finally got my feet under myself steady enough to make a few casts from shore at a couple of small, local bass/bluegill ponds and couldn’t even get a sniff when I took a tiny jig, baited it with a small earthworm, which is a tremendous insult. The thought occurred to me that maybe I am dead and this is my personal hell, then the phone rang and it was a friend who would not be there with me.
Joking aside it is difficult for me to do this column with zero personal time on the water and the readership of this magazine can sniff out shall we say “fish stories” easily.
This coming week a long time fishing buddy of mine said he would kidnap me and force me to take a ride on one of our local lakes we’ve fished together for over thirty years. A “dink rod” and the worms which are still alive in the fridge will be coming along to hopefully catch a couple of perch and or bluegills for supper. If that trip fails to produce from something then I know I am in hell.
This time of year as waters warm I always take a look at a couple of my favorite blue crab spots to see if there are any around. Last year the crabbing was pretty decent. However, following a mild winter but long, cool wet spring, which is bad for our local population I won’t be surprised to find the pickings pretty slim until August when we usually get a slug of migrants from areas to the south.
To add insult to injury a couple of weeks ago I opened a can of soup that had been in the back of the cupboard since the cretaceous period. It didn’t taste right so I dumped it but it was already too late whatever bacteria was in that can got into my system and put me under the weather for close to a week. More potential fishing time lost.
Finally, I am starting to feel steady on my feet and in my belly and plan to go out this coming week freshwater fishing. This is a saltwater magazine and a good one but I have always been one who simply loves catching fish of any species and tailor the gear to the species for maximum fun when playing even little “dinkers”.
Stripers are in the area and the migration of large breeders out of Chesapeake and the Hudson if not already here should be shortly. Bluefish generally show up sometime in June, May during short warm winters. Same with fluke which move inshore as waters warm along the coast from their wintering grounds offshore and to the south. Scup are pretty much always here once temps warm up during the late spring and as the summer progresses the tunoids will hopefully make a showing for the inshore anglers who enjoy battling these hard pulling long running speedsters during the late summer and fall.
That is the time when anglers with big boats make offshore runs for shark and the larger species of tunas that move through the region during their annual northward migrations.
I do have to relate a true story. Many years ago I was in Nova Scotia, not far from the place that popular history channel show Oak Island is centered.
We stayed at a very nice hotel/motel on a good sized marina that had a head boat that made a couple of short runs to some fishing grounds within sight of the shoreline lights to fish for mackerel. They had much too heavy rods rigged with multiple hook rigs like we used to use around here to catch bait decades ago when mackerel came into Long Island Sound every spring.
Being the idiot I am I had to bring a spinning rod along in case I had an opportunity to do some fishing for anything. It was a light two piece spinning rod suitable for the mackerel, which I had heard of. The captain liked people to catch them “for the boat” so they could use the fish for bait to catch tuna and probably bait lobster pots.
The fishing was great. I was casting a small jig with a plastic tail and hooking one-pound mackerel on nearly every cast. It was fun and fast action.
At one point I saw a gigantic swirl along the edge of the lights from the boat that I figured was a tuna feeding on the mackerel. The next mackerel I hooked came to the surface in that area and disappeared in that torpedo like wake fast moving bluefins make. My reel was devoid of line in a few seconds before the jig tore out of the mackerel’s mouth and I had to twirl the line back onto the reel by hand. The gears were ruined so I simply wrapped the line around the reels stem, sat down and watched for other feeding bluefins and there were a few. Couldn’t see them very well but they were gigantic and I had had the opportunity to fish with friends who caught three to five hundred pounders during the late sixties and early seventies before the species was nearly fished to the brink of extinction by a combination of methods and concentrated effort from boats from nearly every country except the United States.
A situation that was finally changed during the late 70’s and the I think it was part of the Magnuson Act, which pushed our national waters out two hundred rather than the ten or twenty it had been when we first began venturing out on the open ocean.
My offshore days are over as old injuries keep coming back to cause problems. However, freshwater lakes and ponds and some inshore stripers, blues and fluke are still on the menu hopefully before the next column is due.