My brother sent me a few pictures today and reminded me of a trip we took across the Bay at the end of June a few years back. Here’s a little teaser. My friend Ryan ended up in the water retrieving a striped bass. Intrigued? Good.
During the off-season, there’s nothing quite like looking back on pictures and reminiscing about pre-dawn mornings and lights out striper fishing in June. And while it may technically be considered the off-season right now, we’re a mere days away from first pitch. So these pictures and thinking back on this day is making me all the more ecstatic, knowing that we’ll be doing this in only a month and a half.
This morning started off much the same way a June fishing trip always starts off: Cumbies iced coffees, sleep-deprived-but-wide-eyes, and a flat-calm pitch back harbor (and more often than not, a cooler full of beer). Ryan, Dave, and my brother Brendan met me at the dock.
We cleared the no-wake zone and put the bow toward the brightening morning. At The Point, we were met by a roaring tide in the rip, in the middle of an otherwise grease calm sea.
With no bird activity to speak of, we decided to buckle up and take a quick trip through the rip to check the sonar. Dave threw an SP minnow in back of the boat and held onto the rod. Just as we entered the tossing rip, Dave’s rod bucked and bent into a U.
“On!” We erupted. I threw a second swimming plug out and took a half turn of the reel. A striper whacked it on the surface. “Doubled!”
We tangoed around the boat, fighting the fish, somehow avoiding tangled lines, the outdrive, and standing waves threatening to throw either of us overboard at any second. Miraculously, Dave landed his fish, then I landed mine.
We made multiple passes through the rip and were met with the same results: 25 to 30 pound stripers mistaking our swimming plugs for herring and mackerel that they were marauding. We kept three fish for the table.
When the tide died down, we moved around the backside of the Cape and spent the rest of the morning chasing sporadic but brutal bursts of surface action. We threw everything we had at them. The stripers abided.
The sun rose high and in the hot and wind-less afternoon, we headed back across the bay.
At the mooring, we cracked a few ice cold beverages and celebrated a successful day. I pulled out one of the stripers we had kept from the fish box and laid it on the rod-holder cutting board.
When I turned around to get my knife, someone let out a yell. I turned around, half expecting someone to have fallen into the harbor.
But it was worse. The sheer weight of the fish had caused the cutting board to rotate, dumping our fish into the water. I was devastated. But Ryan had an idea.
The fishfinder only read seven feet. Ryan, being a tall person and pretty decent swimmer, would jump into the water, dive down and retrieve our fish. And this is exactly what he did.
After numerous dives to the dark bottom, and more than one boat stopping next to us to watch the spectacle, Ryan successfully retrieved the fish and heaved it up onto the deck. We cheered along with the other spectators who had stopped to watch.
Ryan had saved the day. And what a day it was. It can be hard work fishing for stripers. But it’s always worth it.