Epic. Amazing. Any word you want to describe it would work. I finally had THAT day. The best day of striper fishing I have ever had. Halloween October 31 2014 will be a day I will remember for a very long time.
I started out before light on the rocks. The wind had shifted NE and created lots of waves and whitewater. I fished fishy water without a bump. I left again a little dejected, but I had become used to it. I stopped by Asbury to see if anything was doing and it was more of the same. I ran into Judy who was standing with her kayak crew and I voiced my frustration with fishing for me as of late. I hadn't caught a bass since September 16th. It was getting old.
I decided to bite the bullet and head north to a place where the fishing has been real good. Lots of fish and lots of guys. They said the fish had been coming in and they were sometimes in the wash and within fly rod distance, so I went. Now this stretch isn't my favorite, long beaches without groins or breaks leaving sweeps left and right which are tough with the fly rod.
This mornings NE had the water moving left to right and as soon as I got to the beach I knew I didn't like it. Guys up and down hooked up, dead bass on the beach, and no rocks in sight.
A few guys I knew said the fish had just come through and were heading south so I picked up and went to the birds. I settled in and fished trying to get my fly over the waves breaking at the bar. The birds were over the bait, which was butterfish and small weaks and or bunker, and guy after guy hooked up. I got frustrated again, and soon left feeling that this just wasn't fly rodable or I just couldn't get it done.
As I traveled towards my house down Ocean Ave I called a friend Bob and let him know the fish were in the places I had visisted. He had been fishing there the last few days and had caught it when it was good. I made a left on a popular stop and pulled to the water.......and then it got good........
I said, "Bob, how come I can never catch it when these fish are up on the beach?".......and then I looked up.......and said......"Bob, I don't care what you are doing, get here, there are fish blowing up in the pocket." Before I hung up I asked him to not call anyone, asking "Please just let me have this for a while."
And I did.
I was so excited I let a cast go from the top of the wall and retrieved in.....nothing.....second cast.....I saw the mid teen bass blow up on my fly, I was in, now I had to get down to the beach.
From then on for about 45 minutes I landed bass to 20 pounds. It was surreal. There was one other guy on the other side of the groin in just about as much glory as I was. I continued as the bass chased
the bait practically onto the beach in the pocket. I think my longest cast over the next hour or so was 30 feet. The fish had the bait on the run and they went up and around the groin and back into the pockets on the other side, we just kept moving with them and hooking up, again, and again, and again. I lost as many as I landed, lost meaning good solid chases and turns or missed hook ups. I was in heaven.
Word must have got out because guys started to show and dead bass started to hit the sand......I had my taste of heaven being all alone and now it was different. I decided to leave them biting to go find my own fish, again. I finally had a good case of bass thumb, one just like the spin angler sharpies have had for weeks......I was proud of my thumb.
In the end I landed 16 bass to 25 pounds (41 inches) and left there shaking before heading back to my home spot where I put one more back into the water. I have to thank Andrew Warshawer from Andrew's Custom Flies who sold me the fly I used today. I went out today with one rod and one fly and they served me well all day.
Between all my stops and all the guys and I saw I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how many fish went back into the water. Yes, there were bass taken, but I didn't see one person leave with two fish, and a lot of big ones went back. I will say, it is disturbing how many fish I have seen being caught and kept on the boats. I think the surf guys get the whole striped bass "problem" and are taking active steps to do their part to help save them.
I hope to experience what I did today some day in the future, even if its in a year or two, it was that good.