October 26, 2018 – Northport –
Air temperature 48 degrees, water is at 53 – dropping each day as fall takes hold of our hemisphere. Bass in the bay are on the move, the question is always “where”, and then “when” is important too. As we come out of the moorings there are fish marking on the sonar, lots of them, all over the place. We stop to offer them a treat that they are just not interested in, not yet.
This day was scheduled and rescheduled 3 times, at least. Jason was the first up as we scanned the weather reports looking for a day when the winds were not 20 mph and the temperature was reasonable. Friday is the day, according to the long range forecast. We book it – in pencil. I was with friends from high school earlier in the week and in the excitement of our reminiscing offered to take them out on Friday. I have to cancel that once I look at my calendar. So Jason is back on but life has a way of messing with you. He called to cancel, which is understandable. I call Dennis to see if he can come out. “Sure” is the reply, “What time?”
High tide is at 1:00 so we met at 10.
I have to come in by 2:00 so hopefully we will find some fish in the bay and not have to run outside. In this cool weather, with cloudy skies, you get chilled after a few hours anyway, at least at our age you do.
After the local fish determined that it was not time to bite, we take a turn around the bay, heading east. The boat is on a nice plane and the hull has that autumn hum, a combination of the cool air and the lighter load.
Look for birds
…I say and both of us wish Walter was with us to do the scouting. Good eyes. We didn’t get far when I see a heavy fish whomp something on the surface. No birds around but we pull back anyway. I point to the spot. Dennis hits it with his Kastmaster and whomp again, he is on.
The rod is bending and the drag is screaming. “He’s a big one” keeps coming out of both of our mouths. I get the net as Dennis plays him well, keeping the tip up and then moving it forward. I am hanging off the stern to get a look. He is big. Dennis is worrying out loud as the fish runs and dives and comes back. I hope he has a good leader on. “Is it a Blue? Is it a bass?” “Don’t know, keep reeling.”
He sees the boat and shies away.
“Get him Tom, get him.” “Back up, bring him closer.” “I’m trying” and so it goes. The fish runs out perpendicular to the gunnel and then seems to resign himself. I put the net in the water, well under his big body. He shies again, and again. Then it all comes together and I lift as does Dennis. Fish in the boat, a big one.
What is all this talk of “big?”
Well if you had a season like we have had where a healthy snapper was fish of the week, you would appreciate just how big this fish is. 32 inches by the ruler, a giant for the season.
When we look up there are birds and fish boils all over the place. We motor up to the closest action and I pick up the fly rod as Dennis stays with what is working for him. A green and white modified Surf Candy, about 4 -5 inches long on the graduated sinking line, works too. We proceed to boat fish after fish. Even as it quiets down, some patient casting and retrieving brings a fish. In the clear water I can see the fish chasing, grabbing or refusing the fly. When it’s a small one I pull the fly away. With a big one I flutter it and then strip. It works, sometimes.
We work the area for over an hour
…and it is still producing, even as it slows. They seem to be driving the bait (or chasing it) westward so we head that way. More hits, more fish.
Next is a run over to Lloyd Harbor,
…just to see what, if anything, is happening. I slow as we enter the zone and look for birds. A few are in the air but heading away from the area. Near the jetty I move left to go to the head of the harbor when they start to explode over by the clammer to the north. We adjust the drift and go to work. More fish in the 16″ to 26″ range, lots of fight but not another big one.
Time is running out as the tide peaks.
We try the wall and then the point. They are in the moorings. Those fish we saw on the sonar this morning have decided it is time for the bite. We take one each. Dennis was able to watch the last one on the fly as he tracked the lure and hit. Love October water.
Tomorrow we get a Nor’easter with gusts to 60 mph.
I batten down the hatches and wish the boat luck as we dinghy in. The tide is full and we can see every stone on the bottom. Hopefully the storm won’t mess with the fish too much.