It was a great day. First it was my last day working at the Edison Field Medical Station at the coverted covemntion center where The Fly Fishing Show is held each January. More on that later. But after I passed the baton to the person taking over the reigns as nurse manager around 3:30 I knew where I was going.....to the river! Dead low was at that time and I knew I'd have the incoming when I got there an hour later.
It felt really good to be on the water. I started opposite Trenton on the PA side and dodged the leaves, twigs and branches that were coming down the swollen river. The water was off color and I just wasn't feeling it where I was. Besides when I got there the wind was going good coming upriver, and with the high water and woods behind me a backcast was out of the question.
A quick ride to the other side had me looking into chocolatey colored water that just went inviting. I casted for an hour without a tap. I was feeling done but wanted to stay. The problem is the space ahead of you is okay there...
....but the backcast was brutal......
I decided to head upriver and see what the water looked like. Now, I have been keyed in on the lower tides where I able to walk around and out into fishy water. This spot was interesting. Route 29, all three lanes, is only about 15 feet behind you. So my backcasts were going across at least one or two lanes. Since there isn't much traffic these days due to Covid-19 it was easy to time the southbound cars and trucks. But that wasn't the only problem.
The problem here is the wall is 15-18 feet above the water level and about nipple high. I hadn't caught a fish this year and everything I caught last year was small so I dint think it would hurt to make some casts. Be careful what you wish for. I started to make some casts in water that was at the top of the tide line and cleaner then beneath the bridges. It was like playing hop-scotch with the cars.
I watched as my fly, a larger herring pattern, swam across and back up river after each casts. Then I saw the eat. A large fish came, ate, was hooked, and I was tight. Now what? I definitely didnt plan for this. There was no place to safely land the fish. On a low tide you can walk along the wall and out a bit, but not today.
I had switched over to my 12 weight and 350 gr sinking line with a 30 pound straight flouro tippet about two weeks ago. It had got chewed down with each fly change and I ran out. Last week Leif flipped me a spool of 25 so I had a butt section of 30 and then added the 25. Now, my only chance was to try and raise the 33-35" fish, then run down about 100 feet and around the abutment to walk her in, revive and release. Not optimal but it was a plan.
I went tight on the fly line as to avoid shocking it and slowly began to raise, two hand overs and it was gone and back in the water. when it came back it was just a butt section, no 20 lb tippet. bad know? Parted at the bend? Either way she's back in the water and hopefully the older-fly-weakend hook will jar itself lose and she will be none the better for it. It was a one nd done fish, I woish I had a chance to hold and release her and get a good measurement. she was my biggest so far, it one year, it was worth the wait, kind of.
While the patients were amazing, I cannot say enough about the people I met and worked with. From the NJ Department of Health to the numerous RN's, LPN's, PA's, NP's, RT's, PT's, Dieticians and Doctors that signed up to assist the patients and the sending hospitals who were overwhelmed and overworked. This went down in the beginning of April, Theresa's son Patrick was there for the set-up, and then the Army Reserves came in. They created a hospital on the convention floor full of dividers that were set up for patient rooms. 500 in total.
They, the UAMTF 452 TAC-1, aka 452nd Combat Support Hospital Unit, were and are the finest and most competent people you can find. They are true heroes, in a world at this time which is full of them. Signing up to serve, leaving their families, working nearly 7 days a week, living in not the best conditions, eating whats around, including MRE's, and lastly, working in a state where everything is shut down, not to mention deployments run dry....no alcohol.
I'll leave with some fish porn. Imagine walking to your favorite spot and coming upon this. Hundreds of 30" striped bass hanging in the current, most likely just waiting to get laid. This is a photo from Elmsdale Nova Scotia. The river is the Shubenacadie. The spot is behind a supermarket....put that on your bucket list.