Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 2006: Spring tides did it.

After somewhat of a break I finally got back into the groove of fishing almost daily. The action was slow throughout the latter half of July and very early August due to, in my opinion, warm water temperatures and the natural cycle of baitfish maturation. But about eight or ten days ago I reentered life on the water and just in time. I predicted that the spring tides of last week would bring in the fish, and they did. This is because the spring tides of mid-August in Duxbury increase the flushing rate of relatively warm water out into Cape Cod Bay to be replenished by nutrient rich, cool water and schools of pelagic baitfish; the strong tides driving them far into the various crotches of the bay where they feed and thrive.

Last week was pretty great. I fished evenings mostly along Eagles Nest and Captains Flats where small bass were herded into very dense schools in only one to three feet of water. Here, at several sequential low tides, I picked up dozens of stripers ranging between eight and twenty-two inches in length. Far from satisfying in terms of weight and size, but the numbers were vast and by using single hooks, the damage was minor and no fish were significantly injured. Don Gunster, the namesake of the "hook ripped out of mouth and flying towards head" move, and I had some amazing fishing among the oyster leases within the Shipyard/Eagles Nest region. We found the elusive guzzles that one can only find once within the skinniest of water back there. Several solo trips and some with my friend Alex Mansfield (namesake to be determined) produced many small to midsized bass last week. Also, one evening outing with Mike Walsh and my neighbor, Ned Flaherty, produced both bass and blues on fly and spin.

But last weekend was the balls. Plans had been firming up for days and finally we broke all hesitation and Joel Meunier found a free weekend to fish in Duxbury. He arrived on Saturday around one. First we (Joel, Alex, and I) worked for a few hours out at our oyster lease; basic maintenence of cleaning and shaking. Afterwards, and after Alex had to scoot for the night, Joel and I fished the same Eagles Nest area, finding scores of fish. Doug Carver frantically called to proclaim his availability and interest in joining us, so we had him meet us at Shipyard Landing and soon we were back in the frenzy of thousands of small bass.

However, the fun was somewhat shortlived because, after landing a midsized bass, Joel managed to impale his right quadracept with a treble hook, one of the three hooks had sunk deep into his flesh, the barb not to be seen. This put Joel into somewhat of a state of shock. Here is a man who can cut open a deer and swim within its entrails, eat raw anything, and serve various species of roadkill to his family, but can't stand the site of his own blood. He told me this and followed with, "...and dude, I get queasy and faint when shit like this happens. I can't stand the sight of my own blood."

"But there is no blood," I returned. "All you can see is bare steel and flesh." But this description alone made Joel churn and soon he was on his back, on the floor of the boat. "Dude, I'm going....I'm going....really man, I'm going." And within a couple of seconds Joel's eyes rolled up and he was out cold. His lids never closed. About 20 seconds of odd convulsions, whereupon I exclaimed to Doug, "Maybe pull that fucking thing out of his leg right now, while he's out cold." But then Joel showed clear signs of life, regaining focus, and suddenly stating: "Ho-Lee-Shit! Holy Shit! Ho....LEEEE....Shit!!!" Back he was, shaken surely, but back. We returned to land and this is where Joel experienced his own blood: Doug used an Exacto Knife to cut the hook out of his leg and this is when Joel screamed in pain. I gripped his hand and tried to distract him throughout the operation, and I imagined the fields of Viet Nam.

We partied hard that night.

On Sunday it was discouragingly stormy and we were late rising. However, we decided to give it a go anyway. The bay was silver and rough. But the fish were in pure form. We were the only boat on the bay for some time and had schools of bass to ourselves. We caught countless on fly and spin. Most were small. But at one moment, fairly early in our excursion, Joel caught a mother. This thing pulled the boat to the extent that Joel couldn't land the beast. I had to motor up and head upwind towards the fish to give Joel a chance not to break his line. After some time we landed the fish: a 39 incher. "Ho...leee....shit!" yelled Joel. He was happy and full color finally returned to his face.

We eventually went in and feasted on the previous day's catch of blues (of which some were bycatch from the local marina's annual derby...more on that some other time). And there we ended the weekend.

Now, a few days later I have a couple more tales under my wing for the next entry. Hopefully I'll get around to writing them up.


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