Monday, October 29, 2007

The Fishing Weekend That Wasn't

Bob and I departed on Friday morning for a 3 day weekend of fishing the waters off Long Island, NY for bluefish or striped bass. The weather was not encouraging, but DH is nothing if not determined when it comes to catching fish, so off we went.

The drive wasn't bad - the rain was off and on - so we made good time. We headed to Shinnecock Inlet first - it was on the way - and checked out the possibilities. There were few fishermen there, and half of them were "surveying the situation". Those we spoke to said fishing had been extrememly slow. The wind was blowing 20-25 mph, with some rain and lots of spray mixed in, which would have been perfectly acceptable had there been fish being caught. No one caught anything in the time we watched so we headed for Montauk Point.

We checked in at the hotel and headed for the lighthouse - one of the more popular places to go surf fishing out there. Montauk. The End. Literally. The end of Long Island and as far East as you can get in NY. Mother Nature was trying to blow Montauk back a mile or so, I think. The wind was very strong and blowing right into our faces. We didn't try to fish in that - the lure might well have come back and hit us in the head in that wind.

The next morning the grey, overcast skies were spitting some rain at us, but not too bad. We drove to the point, just below the lighthouse, and geared up. This is harder than it sounds. We removed shoes, added socks (thick ones, for warmth) and pulled on neoprene (think wet suit, but thicker) chest waders. It's sorta like pulling on thick, unwieldy tights over jeans (not under them). There are boots (that weigh more than I think they should) attached to the bottom of those waders, and you have to wiggle your feet into those while being squeezed in the middle, because you have pulled up your waders to your waist and now they are trying to cut you in half when you bend over. To say that these things are close fitting is an understatement. Now, remeber how little kids always have to go to the bathroom once they get their snowsuit on? Yup. But we're not going to give in. Time to cinch those straps and tighten the belt. Yes, there is a belt and it's important to have it fairly tight despite the fact that there's no way these things are coming off without help in the shape of a tug of war. The point of this belt is so that if you fall in the water (a very likely occurance due to the wave action - remember, we're going surf fishing) you won't be drowned by water filling up your waders. Nice thought.

Then it was time to don a wind and water resistant jacket (which also helps keep the waves from soaking you down the front of your waders) and, in DH's case, a pair of spikey things that get strapped over the boots and are supposed to help him get a good grip on the rocks under water and decrease slipping. I think that's a ruse to get more money for the manufacturers, personally. But they sound cool when walking on the rocks. Are you tired, yet? I was. Next we had to choose our spot and get out there. You want to stand as far out as you can get so your casts go beyond the rocks (thereby decreasing the number of $6 to $10 lures that you loose by getting them caught in the rocks and having the line break) and as far out in the water as possible. To catch the fish that theoretically come in close to the rocks to eat. There's something wrong with that scenario, I think.

We waded out to about thigh high water (with the waves now coming up to our waist or higher) and Bob commenced his battle with the elements and the fish. He casts the lure out as far as he can with his 10 ft fishing pole (I am not sure how much it weighs, but I need two hands to hold it comfortably), then reels it in while simultaneously jerking the tip of the rod up and down to make the lure look like a fish moving on the surface of the water. My shoulders hurt just thinking about it, and he did this for hours.

I was his assistant. I changed lures for him, watched the "action" of the lure and reported on the success or failure of a new technique, and chanted. "Blue fish, bass, bite, bite, bite". I called out - "Here, fishy, fishy, fishy". I danced and swayed to the chant. All to no avail. Not one bite. We took a break for lunch, then went back and tried in a slightly different spot, more chanting, swaying, calling, but..... Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

It was also my job to watch the other fishermen to see what they were doing - which lures and techniques they used, etc. and watch for anyone catching a fish. We saw guys in wet suits actually floating out in the water (over their heads) and fishing from there in an attempt to get their lures out further. That was a scary thought. The current was quite strong at some points, and there's nothing but open ocean past the point, but they just didn't seem to be bothered by it. They didn't catch anything either, so I didn't have to worry about Bob getting any ideas in his head. (Whew!!)

At the end of the day we were both tired (though not cold, because all of that work kept us warm) and we had to make our way back through the water (that has been rising) with the waves coming at our back! I tried to walk backwards so I could face the waves, but that didn't feel right. I suppose my body prefered the thought of being pushed face first into the water by a wave rather than falling backwards on my butt while watching the wave that pushed me. It was an interesting experience.

Finally it was time to remove all of this stuff. I did actually need to have Bob pull on the waders to get them off. And walking any distance in these things is very tiring indeed. I got my exercise for the day.

We drove to my mother's house for the night and spent Sunday visiting and doing a few chores for her, then headed for home. On the way we went exploring. We followed a map that indicated a public fishing area that we had not been aware of, (very close to NY Harbor) and plan to return some other time for fishing there. The sun was shining but we needed winter jackets and hats and gloves to stand outside with the wind and temperature drop. BRrrrrr. We headed across the Verrazano Bridge and over to NJ for the drive back to MD and arrived at about 11PM.

Back to work today. I hope to resume walking with Karen tonight. I was not able to walk towards the end of the week last week due to the high moisture level in the air. I wheezed just climbing a few stairs, never mind trying to walk a couple of miles.

I did get some knitting done over the weekend. I made good progress on the lace scarf from Victorian Lace and also on the Trekking Natura socks and finished the first of a pair of fingerless gloves.

I can't wait to get home from walking tonight, have a cup of soup and cuddle up in bed with my knitting. I wish the same for you.

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