Friday, September 22, 2006

Three Days on the Water. Part I: No Injuries.

I was psyched. Friday was to be taken off from work to host a professional friend who was traveling up from Rhode Island just to fish Duxbury waters. Serendipitously, Joel Meunier was also available for the day and a plan emerged faster than shit through a goose.

At first light I met Joel at the coffee stop and while he crullered-up, I filled an extra jerry can of gas for the long day ahead: about 12 hours on the water. The first order of business was to run some maintenence on the oyster grant. Joel and I motored down to Mattakeesett to meet Alex and within a few minutes Alex had discovered an aweful thing: his keys locked inside his truck and a work day ahead for him. He tried to jimmy the door but failed to do so. He decided to borrow my truck to return home to grab his extra set of keys and by this decision he was out of luck for working the oysters.

So Joel and I did the oyster work for about 45 minutes and accomplished quite a lot more than I had anticipated we would. Then, still wearing our damp wet suits, we headed out for fish. First out to Saquish and beyond, but nothing going on out there. Then to Kingston Bay where we ran into Doug Carver near the dog leg near Howlands. He was on top of some blues and soon Joel and I were hooking into several fiesty fish...jumping, screaming, and making for all sorts of action.

After some time we decided to check the lobster pots and bait them with the fresh racks of 3 or 4 bluefish that Joel fastidiously bled and fileted. No lobsters but a small throwback. Then to meet Jim from RI back at the town landing.

I was thrilled beyond words to be off from work on this Friday. Having this freedom really agreed with me; knowing that I'd be sitting in that room, that chair ruining my back and ribs, telephone calls and computer screens -- the boredom at my place of employment (am I wasting my life?). I attempted to convey this all to Joel, but he was probably being polite with his nods of agreement.

We had an hour or so to wait for Jim; he was running late. So we went to the gas-n-sip to get some ice and bagels. Then ran into a talkative commercial shellfish guy in the parking lot who tended to monopolize the conversation. Then Jim arrived and we were off.

We had fish within the first five minutes: blues out front of the harbor, near Powder Point. Joel and Jim jabbered on as I took the boat from here to there, seeking schools that wouldn't evaporate in the blink of an eye, which they all did.

Duxbury Bay, Clarke's Island, Saquish, Kingston Bay, and finally back near Cripple Rocks where we were on top of schools of blues for an hour or more. But Jim’s luck was poor and it was beginning to piss him off. Follows, break offs, near misses, but nothing to show for it. He did a good job of containing his frustrations despite the fish Joel and I were successfully hauling in. And this is good because once just a little bit of negativity leaks out then the whole picture is ruined for everyone. A delicate balance where one must enjoy vicariously. “It is a beauty of a day though,” he said.

Soon we had decided to begin making way back to Duxbury. We stopped briefly at the Nummet, one of my favorite spring season spots, but it was unproductive. As were a couple other rips along the way; the sun was high and by then the boat wakes were probably spooking any slumbering fish in these deep holds.

After an uneventful checking of the lobster pots, we did manage to find a scattered school of blues along the north side of the bay. And at last, success. Jim’s fish was fighting hard and a smile was beginning to emerge on his face. But after a minute or so his grin flattened as he began to recognize that he had goofy-hooked the fish. The treble of his chub popper lodged equidistantly between the mouth and tail, right under its dorsal fin.

“You know, that’s a 4-point deduction right there Jim,” I offered as comic relief. But it probably induced more pain than comfort. We knew that this was it for the day and so after Jim tossed the back-injured blue overboard, we all sighed and looked toward shore.

Joel and I stopped in at the Winsor House for some post-fishing beverages and recapped the day. It felt good to sit down. We stayed for about an hour until the Friday night crowd increased in numbers. Surrounded by madras.

Two Weeks Lost to the Ether

I do know that I fished several times between 9/11 and 9/22 (which is when my next entry begins). Water flat on many occasions with large schools of blues and bass and mixed assemblages all around the bay.

One notable evening on the water was with Don Gunster. I was discombobulated to a real maximum level; I ran late and met Don at the dock, but without my boat keys. But Don had his keys with him and we took his boat out. His is 23' and draws a few feet of water. The tide was low. But we had a few beers on board and it was a good evening to fish.

But we went aground a few times trying to reach the enormous school of bass that spanned from Captain's Flat north to the dog leg. We ended up getting close to fish and they moved from place to place which made catching them difficult. Lots of weed. Don ended up hooking up a few times and I, for whatever reason, ended up with a few near misses, but skunked.

I didn't mind, however, because as it darkened and the fishing slowed, we ended up having some good conversations and the rods went back into their holders. A few beers, drifting north with the tide and the wind, which by then had picked up from the south to about 10 kts. Clouds rolled in. It was a true summer night on the water and amazing to be there.

Back to the dock by lantern and Don's double vision.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Joel and I met at the local Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Mine was on the house. Joel's was not. Hmmmn.

The forecast was for NE winds to diminish from 20 - 25 kts to 10 - 15 kts by morning. But when we arrived to the dock it was evident and obvious that we were in for a ride. The wind was whipping out of the NE and all the boats on harbor moorings were tossing. "Fuck it," I said. "So we'll get a little wet, so what." Joel didn't even acknowledge my comments because he didn't even have one shred of concern over the weather.

We headed out towards the Bug Light, anticipating some calmer seas in the lee of Clarkes Island. And after getting sprayed to an almost uncomfortable level, we arrived there and we were right. It was almost flat, but the wind would occasionally shift and catch us. Dark still, but the casting commenced. Once final swig of the coffee, not to rush it, but it was cooling off fast, and we began a series of drifts across the Saquish area.

Joel had brought along several newly crafted plugs. These were combinations of "jumping fish" or "surface swimmers." They were awesome. On was, in fact, a close replica of my cherished Meunier Cherry Popper, which was lost to a beast of a fish a couple weeks earlier. Joel sampled each one of these first and soon he had a very nice explosion and a 26 incher. Then a few follows. But then action died (never began for me) and we skirted out to Kingston Bay where birds had attracted us, but nothing there either.

But here's the story of the morning:

Joel paused for a minute to proclaim his newly found respect for sharp hooks after our "hook-in-quadracept-fainting" episode a few weeks back. He said, "Man, these new hooks are effin sharp," and I quickly agreed as just two minutes earlier I had accidently jabbed my left thumb into one of them and the blood was still beading out of the little hole.

But just one minute later, a sliver of time, Joel found a treble deep into one of his index fingers. The barb was not visible.

"I'm telling you Daddio, this is just fucking crazy! I mean, I've never been hooked below the barb, all my life, until our last trip. This makes two within the month on the same boat. What the hell?!"

I looked at Joel's finger. There was blood. I remembered his earlier testimony: Dude, if I see my own blood, I am gone. So I carefully asked Joel, "Hey, you're not going to pass out, are you?" Immediately I realized that the imagery from my question would automatically result in a swift loss of conscience. I readied to catch him from behind.

"Nah," he went on almost nonchalantly. "The thing is that it is different with finger. You cut your fingers so much throughout life that this is not such a big deal."

Then he asked for the exacto knife. I had to shed off the sections that held the blood from the last operation. "Clink" went the knife, against the side of the boat, and a new, sharp edge emerged. Joel took the knife and went to work on his index finger. I felt a little queasy and began humming some songs...can't remember which, and then in 8 seconds, he was done.

We continued to fish.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Man Attempts to Impress 7 Year-Old Daughter But ...

I took my daughter out tonight to check the pots and maybe hook a fish or two. I had spent weeks telling her that the fish were guaranteed and due to some nice, big fish recently brought home, she had high expectations. But she also wanted lobster...with melted butter.

It was kind of a creepy night on the water. It got dark faster than usual and some rain drops fell now and then. The water was glass when we embarked but ended up in a little chop from the SW when we finally headed in with our lights on.

But the story is this: small bass were all around the mid-sections of Duxbury Bay. They were very, very finicky but jumping all around the boat. "Why don't you just catch one, Dad?" "Er, well, I'm trying..."

But we managed to hook three small stripers (largest about 18 inches long) and then a nice surprise, a huge hickory shad. The largest I've ever seen. I was overjoyed and told her, "These make great bait!" But the young girl couldn't stand to see that beautiful fish die. She threw it back. But just hooking him made my day.

The lobster pots were empty, except for the resident spiders and hermits.

We motored in, under the black/orange sky. The same colors as my pot markings.