Thursday, October 3, 2019

Flying to the Sea with Our Feet on the Sand

The final heat of summer fades in Portland and the Smallmouth release the last of their fury before winter forces them into a metabolic stupor.
As the Smallmouth retreat the first fall rains bring Coho salmon into the local rivers and I managed to land and release couple of hard charging Natives in September. 

I inspected one last crazy crawl space before inviting my friend Gary Rawson on a trip to Martha's Vineyard
that I had been planning for several weeks. 

Gary, an avid Steelhead Spey caster in the Deschutes River in Oregon.
I collaborated with Gary on a 5 day trip to Martha's Vineyard, Massachussets
that coincides with the annual Fishing Derby on the island.
Due to recent back surgery Gary - who is a fit guy - was unexpectedly sidelined and unable to fish on this trip.  He took it in stride and still had a lot of fun getting to know a unique area. The majority of the photos on this blog post - especially the real nice ones are his.  

Known as "The Derby".  This year marks the 74th running of this annual tradition on the island that I have been wanting to take part in for many years. The contest includes Boat, Shore and Fly categories for four species of fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore and Bonito.  Even though we run off to fish shallow water in the back bays and don't really try to catch the biggest fish.  For me it is more like trying to catch medium fish in quiet places.  

Driving around The Vineyard looking for water access to fish you pass an amazing array of stone walls. 

Exploring West Dennis Beach the day before getting on the Ferry over to the Vineyard.  The wind smashed us down all day but the Bluefish showed up to terrorize the tidal rip twice.  Gary pointed to a weedy shallow spot that looked fishy and indeed there was a Striper in there ! 

Gary, Phil and Marc.  A wonderful sight:  Old friends meeting new friends.  The gathering place is always back at the truck.  In this case Marc's truck as he was nice enough to drive from western Massachusetts to cart us around the island for 3 full days of hunting fish.  My friends do not need a boat or bait to catch the shit out of some saltwater fish. 

Paul, Rick and Phil.  It is a dark cold walk out to the rocks in the morning every morning.
But the anticipation is like a crackling fire in your belly.
This fishing thing is deep in your blood or it isn't and this would not be fun for most people.
These dogs in the photo will hunt all day. 

Neil and Phil. Two Everglades moonshiners clamboring around on them slippery rocks.  Striped Bass are called Rockfish for a large portion of their range on the East Coast for good reason. They patrol the shoreline in constant motion and move in enigmatic routes involving tide, light, structure and bait.  The hope is that rocks hold in the them in a given castable area a bit longer than other low profile weedy, cobble or sand structure but who really knows.  Low incoming tide fished better at the rocks above than high.  

Jon catches a Black Sea Bass on a massive needlefish lure.  Some of the best eating around.  In fact the only fish we ate the whole trip.  Extra points for rare odd catches that are not supposed to happen.  

Did the Kennedy's fish?  If they be rocks in the water the Stripers should be coming around sometimes. We walk miles a day in our waders to look for Striper water.  

Marc and Paul calling to see if any Stripers are home. Reading that water. Marc is an avid naturalist and hunter and he is nearly impossible to stump with Northeast nature questions. Marc made a huge batch of venison meatballs that fed us for  2 days.  So I'm pretty sure he isn't calling MoviePhone right there.
Paul can pull a big fish out of vapor.    

One last cast and then one more. Fishing hard at dawn and dusk would be smart if I could resist just fishing the whole entire day all 3 days. Perhaps a smart man would siesta hard from 11 to 2 and fish harder at dusk.  

Stonewall Beach covered our lures and lines with seaweed.  We shall return. These waves were getting surfed as we fished down the beach. 

My only truly big Striper of the trip.  An extra medium sized fish.  Caught in the dim early light on a soft plastic Squid made by Pirate Lures out of Ireland.  Thank you Kuba Stan of Pirate for making a great product !  The water temps were still warm.  The mackerel had not migrated into the area and the groups of bigger fish were not around yet.
Photo credit: Rick O'Neill

Seals can bring Sharks.  Often seals can lead you to fish.  Great Whites have been spotted around the Cape this summer. Can we please just let nature run wild or does everything have to be just for humans ?  

Bass in the Grass.  Me trying to force everything to be the Everglades. The new moon produced some nice extra high high tides. And some sweet low lows for that matter.  This is exploring out near the elbow of Cape Cod. 

Stripers on the flats.  What more can one ask for.  

These were the lures that worked.  The Pirate brand squid on the left landed the bigger fish. I fish the white one in the dark. The small pink squid imitation by Albie Snax lures easily caught 75 Stripers on this trip for me alone. "Hard baits" such as the Hogy popper on the right only come out when the Bluefish are around.  Single hooks all the way to reduce injury to the fish. 

Meeting of the minds. Everglades Phil and Deschutes Gary on the rocks at Big Bridge.  Probably the only 5 minutes anyone sat down.  The whole island was curious about Gary's Spey rod.  It was fun to show Gary a fishery that is a hell of a lot easier than swinging for Steelhead. 

The Blue Demons showed up at the beach near the hotel on the way out of town on the last day. 

Baseline 3 pointer at the buzzer by Paul Paisley as he solidly whupps the rest of us by landing this pelagic False Albacore on his first cast at Wasque Point from shore to secure the Mug Of Glory. I cannot overstate this: Watch and learn from Paul. This is the fastest fish that can be caught from these shores. This 29 inch specimen was released. 

The last of outgoing tide at the beach near the hotel on our way to the Airport.  At just this spot alone I landed 12 Striped Bass and 4 Bluefish in 2 hours right before driving to Logan.  The figures in the photo are two old timer fly fishermen that I gave my last big Bluefish of the morning to.  

Gary got some downright decent brown lightning water.  Many laughs were had.  

One of the many amazing photos that Gary took from the penalty box.   Gary will get dragged back to the island with a repaired back and the fish will be waiting. 

One of the Vineyards back roads.  It was very difficult to leave.

A very special thanks to my special wife Bri approving of me flying off on these adventures. 

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