Category Archives: Inshore

The Only Time I Bit The Cork

Urban Striper. Documented.

Thanksgiving 2002. I don’t know why I felt compelled to do it, maybe an insecure need to prove I actually did catch that bass on a fly rod. Although in reality it proves nothing; it could have been a stage prop for all you know. (It wasn’t, piss off.)

A recent post by Bows and Browns reminded me of my personal evolution in fish-related point and shoot.

I have a large catalogue of hero shots that will likely sit unviewed for generations until my offspring’s progeny discover them in a hidden box and discard them after the estate sale.

For a while I wanted to document everything. I bought a sleek and compact Elph and thought that Eastman Kodak really hit on something big there, only to throw it in a drawer after purchasing my first digital and taking advantage of all 3.8 megapixels.

Taking one or two pictures per season increased to one or two a trip, then ballooned into memory cards filled with images of me and my friends and sometimes total strangers hoisting bodies. I filled three albums with pictures depicting some variation of the fish across the midsection, a montage of bad lighting and autofocus.

The last pages of the last album remain unfilled. If anthropologists look only at these and not my hard drive, they’ll hypothesize I quit fishing or died in 2006.

The digital cam is still a bad habit–the waterproof version is point and shoot oxycontin–but the fish burned into silicon always seem diminished. But the ones that exist only in the hippocampus somehow get meaner in recollect.

The Drinking Man’s Guide To Drinking

Courtesy ©Peter Strid Art (

He was a Brit living in Singapore and he smoked cigarettes that smelled like incense. He kept buying us expensive vodka as a reward for our work and, at some point, suggested it would be a good idea to snort it.

He turned out to be a fisherman and he told stories about chasing trout in Pakistan and we chose to believe him. He headed an agency branch and traveled Asia to work on ad campaigns and he appreciated our mindless intern support over here.

He wanted us to try absinthe but of course we couldn’t get it so he ordered some 100 proof. Abby started to slump in her chair and I found myself unable to stop talking about this one Adirondack brook trout.

We later found out he won multiple One Show pencils for his work but when he left all we remembered was he wanted us to meet at the docks for his morning charter.

By that point we realized we’d been done in by a professional. And there’s only so much you can do when you can’t even hold it together.


Photo from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

The fishing has been sucking. Here’s a chance where we can all actually do something about it. Rather than mince words, I’ll paste them directly from a mailing by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:

In a matter of days, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will meet to discuss the fate of menhaden (AKA the most important fish in the sea). At the end of that meeting, it will adopt an addendum to its menhaden management plan, which will determine new overfishing thresholds and target fishing rates.

Now, more than ever, we need your help. In 32 of the past 54 years, we have overfished menhaden, and its population now stands at its lowest point on record—a mere 8 percent of what it once was!

But, we have an historic opportunity to rebuild the population of this important fish, which represents a critical link in the marine food web of the entire Atlantic coast, especially the Chesapeake Bay. Please write ASMFC today and urge the commission to set new targets that will allow the menhaden population to increase to a point where it can support a fishery and fulfill its vital ecological role. Please submit your letters by 5 p.m. November 2, 2011, in order for them to be considered.

If we don’t speak up now, this fish, so critical to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and the human community that it supports, could be lost forever.

Bass, Menhaden, Everything


The striped bass of the Chesapeake, and therefore the Eastern Seaboard, got a dose of good news this week with a big spike in the Young of the Year numbers.

I spoke briefly with my friend John Page Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation about it, and he said it has everything to do with ideal weather conditions during spawn and early life stage.

Of course, the best news for the striped bass in the long run could come out of the ASMFC meeting in Boston in two weeks. Williams and his friends in the CCA and other conservation groups have been working hard to ensure that the result comes down in favor of protecting the bass. “It looks to be a landmark vote,” said John Page.


Also of paramount importance is what happens to the menhaden. The ASMFC has to vote on whether to raise the population threshold from eight percent to 15 percent, as explained in this article from the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Midcurrent also lays it out in detail here, with a link on how to write your local ASMFC rep about it. (Here is the direct link to the state by state directory.)

Here’s a chart that shows why you need to write.

The steep decline


Karmic Payoffs Do Not Exist

The perfect fly fishing condition.

I emailed the forecast late last night to Nick Murray, who responded “Too late to back out now.” OK, then.

I’d already bailed on a Montauk trip this week, and got burned by it. Stripers still eat during Small Craft Advisories.

photo courtesy of Nick Murray


You go on days like today, you figure you are owed something. But the fish don’t know shit about Karma or paying dues or risk-reward. They’re either there or not. They were not.

But Mr. Murray caught a fluke.

photo coursesy of Nick Murray

On and Off the King’s Highway


The delivery captain loosened up and had some stories about things. New Age mystics had commissioned him for a night trip, once, and he lost power, and a strange green light rose up around the boat. Then one time a low-flying Cessna headed for the south island fell out of the sky and disappeared below the waves in a blink.

We all needed to unwind after the crossing; holding tight in 8 to 10s in the stream built a collective nervous tension. The tables at the restaurant sat under a trellis on an open-air patio, and the breeze kicked up from the front that had hindered our cruise, sending napkins into the air.

Tim tried the ring toss game and stuck it on the first swing and the next few hours disappeared trying to find the balance between rum and hand-eye coordination.

Bonefish T pulled his skiff into a vacant slip behind the hotel and we stepped down onto the bow and he ran east into the sunrise, stopping on a flat intersected by mangrove islands.

Nothing brings insecurities to fore like standing on the bow of a flats skiff, especially with a head made weak from dehydration. Bonefish T found a school and turned his skiff and called out instruction. I lay down a cast and missed and awaited castigation.

“Pick it up and lay it down again, to the left,” T said calmly, and I did.

The line tightened up and I held the rod high and watched the backing peel off the reel. After a while T pulled the sleek metallic fish out of the water and handed it to me for a snapshot.

The delivery captain had some friends on a sportfisherman that made the crossing and he went to meet them. Jill wanted food first so the rest of us found an outside eatery and filled up on beer and cracked conch.

The server asked what brought us here.

“Bring a barracuda back for me tomorrow,” she said laughing in response.

The flats around the south island did have drug planes; the upturned tires of a flipped one exposed in the shallow water. T poled me in front of a small group of large cruisers and one bit and took me far into my backing and as I reeled it in the fish charged straight for the boat. A large lemon shark fell in behind it, ripping a wake.

Loosen the drag loosen the drag, T kept saying and  I had no tension on my line but it still ended in a frothy explosion that carried the violence over a great distance.

The crew from the sportfisherman was at the Compleat Angler and they recognized us and we played Liar’s Poker for the rounds. Jill stuck her business card under the glass table surface with all the other cards and photographs (a permanent record that would disappear in the fire a year later).

We had a Chalk’s flight in the morning so Tim and Jill left early but I made one last stop at the hotel bar because you think about a trip for months and then you’re in the middle of it, and then you go to sleep and when you wake up, it’s in the past. And that feeling you get when the line comes tight starts to fade so you can barely remember it.