November 14 – Tuesday – Northport –
Jason was supposed to come fishing but had to cancel. I call Dennis and on short notice he is ready to go.
The tide is falling and it is cold and cloudy. The only good news is that it isn’t raining. We put on the finger-less wool gloves I picked up from an Army surplus store years ago. As we head out there are no signs of encouragement. At Winkle Point a few birds offer hope and we set the boat adrift and start casting.
I think Dennis was on first with a healthy schoolie hitting a rubber shad that he gave me for Christmas last year. Gary had said they were working well over on Manhasset Bay. I had two on the Gag’s Grabber that has been so productive this season, a season that has not been all that productive – so I guess that is saying something. On the next cast the bail snaps over and my popper joins the legions of lures out there, free floating and awaiting the day they wash up on a beach and make some beach walking fisher very happy.
The action slows, the birds move on and so do we. Across the bay we work the wall and don’t get anything. A friend told me of schoolies up by Lloyd Neck so we go. It is a relief to get out of the wind; as modest as it is, it still makes you colder on a day like today. Exploring wherever there is enough water to float the boat without stirring up the bottom, we are blanked. There is nothing showing on the screen and there are no birds.
After a decent amount of time and effort we motor out to the mouth of the Bay, move towards Target Rock which is well out of the water and our bodies are beginning to feel that deep cold you get when outside on a day when the fish are not biting. I suggest we head home at a slow speed to both keep the helm warm and to see if anything materializes along the way.
We don’t go too far when birds appear. A few over here, and more over there. Out of nowhere they just appear on what was an empty bay. Then more came. They were hovering above the water and changing direction continually, moving north then east, then west, obviously following a school of something they could see from their drone-like vantage point. We move toward them and another boat appears with a chocolate lab on the bow seeming to point his master toward the fish.
Birds are now dipping into the water and squawking. Are they just picking at bait or are there fish under them? There is little disturbance on the surface. We watch and cast, Dennis now with a small Hopkins so he can add more distance to his cast than the shad would allow. I put on a 2 oz. Kastmaster to get under whatever is swimming around out there.
A third boat comes by and joins the party. We are close but not intrusive. Dennis is hooking fish after fish ranging from 15 to 24 inches, all feisty and fat for their size. I bring in a few from the bottom, each a good 22 inches, but no keepers. I ask Dennis if he is still cold and he says ”Warm as toast” – funny what a few fish can do for your tolerance of the weather.
This went on for a good hour or so. The school of stripers was huge spanning a good part of Huntington Bay and moving north, toward the Sound. The cold snap has motivated them to head for their winter haunts on the Hudson and perhaps the Chesapeake. They are moving on out.
As wonderful a sight as it is to see this migration in process, it also brings with it the end of our season, my season.
The boat goes to storage on Saturday (KG Marine – 631 651 5444). Time to get the gear cleaned up and stowed, change hooks (Terminal Tackle) and lines, repair what needs to be repaired (Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle) and put away all but the surf rod, just in case I get the urge to make one more cast. I also have to go over to see Carmine (Camp Site) about some gear for next season as well as pick up some 16 gauge ammo for my next sporting clay outing with Brother John. Paul (River Bay Outfitters) will be starting up his fly tying sessions soon as will Carmine, so there is lots to do.
As one season ends and another begins, I move with it and thank the Almighty for the blessings of this sporting life.