Monday, December 13, 2010

Noobs.



The feeling is oddly familiar as I step out of the truck and into the elements. My face gets blasted with cold air that is funneled down my shirt and into my extremities. A shiver is sent tumbling down my spinal column and a split second later I have to take a piss. I curse the cold, as I put on my waders and several layers of wind proof materials. It is December and a cold front has been pushing through the mid-Atlantic region plunging the temperatures into the low 30s and the winds into the 30s. I feel like I am back on the shores of Lake Erie getting pounded by some lake effect snow but I am ten hours away. Steelhead should be on the menu but I am on some beach, somewhere. The feeling is oddly unfamiliar as I take my first steps onto a sandy dune wearing wading boots. I struggle up the deep sand and soon am perched on the precipice of a new arena and a whole new ball game. 

Stripers. 


We'd Look Like Bird Watchers If Not For 10 Weights. 


Almost as Cold as We Were. 


A River of Outgoing Tide.

The decision had been made the night before with a singular phone call. Snow had bombarded the Great Lakes and I posed the question to Adam of driving down to Delaware to try out striper fishing for the first time. To my surprise, Adam said he would. He arrived around midnight and we were up to 3 a.m. changing out lines, getting leaders ready, and stroking some old flies we hoped would work. We felt awfully unprepared with tropical saltwater lines and a bunch of half rusted flies tied for the Caribbean. To top it off, Adam, during his haste to hit the road, forgot his stripping basket and I did not have cleats for my Korker's Predator Kling-On boots. There is nothing like incoming and outgoing waves wrapping fly line around your boots as your attempting to launch that thin running line out over the waves. Or, slipping and sliding on jetty rocks with zero traction with a deep channel of outgoing tide roaring mere feet away. Nonetheless, we hit the road heading straight for these very dilemmas.  


Taking the Plunge.


Victory. 
I Used This Image to Match the Hatch & Catch My First Striper.


Away, Looking For Another Score.

So there we were, two striper noobs staring into the vastness of the Atlantic on a cold December day. We debated strategy and we found ourselves immediately gravitating towards the jetty. Adam had no problem walking on the rocks, while I backed off, after nearly sliding into the water halfway out on the jetty. I fished the beach while Adam sent rockets into prime water. There was no surface action from fish but gulls kept dive bombing the water feeding on something. I took out the DSLR and tried taking a few pictures, hoping to capture their prey before they gulped it down. I took a bunch of pictures before zooming in on each one, looking for any clue. Of fifty pictures, one held the key. A gull had a small anchovie or sand eel roughly 1-2 inches in length in his grasp. I took out a yellow eyed blue over white minnow on a jig hook and three casts later, was tied into a gargantuan striper on a 10 wt. Despite my sarcasm, it was just plain awesome to catch something out of the ocean, on a fly rod, in December. It being my first legit striper on the fly was icing on the cake. 


Should Have Brought a Stripping Basket.


Victory!


A Monster.

After awhile and a mid-afternoon lunch of double downs at KFC, Adam and I headed back to the jetty for round two. The tide had turned and was now incoming. Adam switched over to a chartreuse version of the fly I had some success on, and hooked up on his first striper as well. Again, it was a beast. He brought it down onto the sand and after several quick pictures, the small schoolie was on her way, back to grow into the monster that all fly fishermen dream of catching. We fumbled around on that jetty until the sun started to set on the horizon before something caught our eye on the other side of the channel. Along a rip, there was a tremendous amount of bird activity. Out of casting distance, we stayed put hoping that whatever was happening would slowly come our way. It didn't and soon some boats arrived on the scene. We couldn't resist, so we headed back to the truck, drove to the other side, and ran a good quarter mile to the jetty to hopefully get a few casts in before it became pitch black. 


Pleased.


A New Game to Play.


Next Years Bounty.

Adam rocketed out onto the jetty armed with a headlamp and carbide studs. I took a deep breath and followed suit praying that my rubber soles and lamp less head would be rewarded with a fish. After fifty yards of the dumbest thing I have ever done, I realized that I had zero chance of reaching the melee that was ensuing. It ended up being a big batch of birds eating bait along a rip but from a noob's perspective on the other jetty, it looked very much like ones first blitz. With high tide about to peak, and waves hitting me at my knees I wanted to get the hell out of there. I gingerly found my way back, sometimes resorting to four points of contact and Adam holding onto my suspenders. Soon I was on the beach casting hopelessly into the surf. We ended up heading back to the other jetty and fishing for a short while into the dark. We left, two noobs that had leveled up, thanks to some much needed experience points. 

It took me several years to finally man up and decide to go fly fishing for stripers. Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking. But, I like this game. I like it a lot. 


What Do We Have Here?


A New Experience.


December Sunset. 

5 comments:

Bigerrfish said...

Nice report!!

Alex Landeen said...

It is my experience that last minute excursions into the unknown are often informative but come with a high percentage of a zero on the scoreboard. Good on you for coming back smelling of success!

Pete McD said...

Summer bonefish, winter bass, all good all the time.

Lexi said...

awesome, awesome pictures markie

Lexi said...

awesome, awesome pictures markie