The water outside the inlet looked glassy and the rain bait made audible splashes as they circled together and jumped to escape pursuit. Bluefish caused this. They appeared as bright flashes when they turned sideways and slashed through the tiny fish with their mouths open. Once in a while one would break the surface with its forked tail. Then everything would go down but fish oil slicked on the surface and the water glittered from the refraction off thousands of tiny free-floating scales. Evidence of dismemberment.
One bait ball remained tight and we idled over to it and I witnessed something I had never seen before. The rain bait pulsated and we made casts around the edges and waited for the thump. Something peeled away from the bait ball and followed my fly but it was not quite right. It swam lazily behind right up to the boat, and another followed and they were red and clumsy and did not eat. We moved closer and watched as two dozen of their kind fanned their pectorals and jacked the bait. Sea robins.
Hey man, this is the ocean. Everything eats everything, and everything’s looking for a reason to go off.
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.
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
The Camp-site Sports Shop in Huntington, NY, carries The Blitz.
Atlantic Outfitters in Port Washington, NY, carries The Blitz.
We support them anyhow but are glad they’re carrying.
Bluefish under terns.
Bluefish are typically too impudent to care that the birds are betraying them, and too geeked up to notice that the wounded baitfish they are chasing is connected to a ten-inch strand of wire.
©Tosh Brown Photography.
You can see a few more close-ups of my digits in Tosh Brown’s gallery here.
There are actually a lot of pictures of better fly anglers, as it’s the second wave of photos from our in-progress book project. It ain’t about me. It’s about guys like Bob Popovics and the Salty Flyrodders and Jason Puris and John Page Williams. Guys who drop what they’re doing and alter their life patterns around the migrations of fish. And also the guides and conservationists who make it all their life’s work.
We’ve got a couple of more legs to go, and some of us have a couple thousand more words to write, but it’s all good.
Photo the exclusive property of Toshbrown.com
Those are the hands of Jason Puris of Thefin.com releasing a striper in the surf. Jason proved a huge help to getting our book project off the ground.
Tosh Brown took some awesome shots in incredibly harsh conditions and posted some of them here, in a lightbox on his site.
Now my job starts. Time to put some real thought onto the page, rather than firing off blog posts.
Thanks again to Jason, Paul Dixon, Jim Levison, John McMurray, Mike Warecke, and the Salty Fly Rodders of New York.
“Open up that good book let it revelate to you.” –The Dexateens
Just got in a review copy of The Big One, a book by David Kinney about the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, which is kind of a big deal around here (meaning the general northeast saltwater “here”). Some would call it a religious experience, and I can’t wait to find out if this book captures that. Reading commences tonight with a train beer.
Thursday is likely my last day on the water for 2008. Unless I can somehow find time to get out during the herring run or it gets really cold in December and I can hit the outflow at the Stacks. I was supposed to be on the water today but for the stupid jerkbag clipper system gale warnings.
It’s been a strange fall for Northeast salt and if the pattern continues next year, I’m moving to Montauk.