Thursday, November 02, 2006

Horizontal Rain Keeps Men at Bay

Saturday 9/23/06

About two weeks ago my brother-in-law, Chip, warned me that he’d be arriving on Saturday, 9/23, for a couple days of fishing. On Friday he phoned and I gave him a relatively good report (Part I, no injuries), but I ignored the weather reports which basically got worse and worse every hour: wind out of the south, and rain. But Chip hadn’t fished in Duxbury in two years and I was eager to have him out on the water again, on my own turf so to speak.

He arrived around 11 and after putting bags away and getting our tackle together, we made a stop over at the bakery for sandwiches which we ate at a picnic table on the water’s edge. The wind was just beginning (I had been out on the water at dawn when it was flat calm). We finished our lunch, loaded the boat, and we were off. The wind increased steadily to the point at which I felt like suggesting that Chip not use his flyrod, the only thing he brought out. But he was determined and within a few minutes I had us on a school of feisty blues along the mouth of the bluefish river. Another boat was with us and it turned out to be Frank, our next-door neighbor. We chased the fish around and around, the wind kept increasing, and then some rain began. Chip landed a couple of nice blues, as did I on my light spinning rod. But we had to chase them and this finally became frustrating as the wind had reached at least 15 knots with higher gusts.

“Let’s head across the bay to Clarke’s Island where we can find some shade from the wind. There’ll be some stripers over there too,” I offered Chip. He nodded and we began our pounding trip across. Right around Two Rock I recognized Brian McNulty, a former classmate of mine at UVM who also lived in town. We attempted communication in the whipping wind and rain, but this was unsuccessful and finally gave up….they were heading in.

At Clarke’s the wind was worse and the “shade” I spoke of turned out, in reality, to be a small triangle of roughly 50 square feet. So, we had to ignore the weather and seek fish. And we found them, right at the beginning of the beach channel. Lots of fish, some large ones mixed in, but mainly stripers in the low to mid 20s. And this was no reason to complain; fishing in the storm was fun and Chip and I were hooking up.

After some time I felt impatient and decided to move back across the gauntlet to the western side of the bay. The trip started out quite hectic as the swell was growing and cresting at heights equal to the freeboard of the boat. Chip looked slightly apprehensive in the 25 knot winds (gusts to 40), but I kept going through the rough stuff, not really sure of my plan. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a large school of fish. A mix of stripers and blues. We stayed as long as we could – Chip still fighting the wind with his fly gear (still unbroken, more on that below) – and then I spotted an enormous cloud of birds working inside Eagles Nest where there would certainly be shelter from the wind.

We were the first to arrive there, but others in the bay were watching and within a few minutes we were forced to share the limited space with three other boats. It was indeed calm, but the fish were nervous and moving from place to place. We chased, drifted, did what we could. I hooked a couple of nice blues, as did Chip. Then the action died. We were wet and not certain where to go or what to do. We’d only been on the water for about 3 hours but I asked Chip if he wouldn’t mind heading in to visit the tackle store and perhaps explore the waterfront where there was a classic boat festival going on. He agreed.

On shore the tackle store offered some temporary entertainment, the boat festival was winding down, and we ended up heading back to the house. We shared a beer and Chip napped for an hour while I got dinner things together. We didn’t end up fishing again that afternoon as the wind would not relent and we had planned on attending a happy hour at the maritime school down the street. So we did that (which was fun); ate oysters, drank some wine, and then came home to a grill dinner and drink more very nice French wine that Chip purchased.

To bed at a reasonable hour. Dreams of fish. The plan for tomorrow was solid and the alarm set for 5. It was good to be dry, warm, with a buzz on.

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