Monday, August 7, 2017

Beach Day

Sometimes a foregone assumption is no better than a kite on a calm day. It's supposed to fly, but just doesn't. I figured we would roll straight down the Parkway to Island Beach State Park smooth as one of those fast European hydroplanes, but about a half mile from the entry from Route 440, traffic began to slow.

Somewhere down the line--heavy traffic all the way--a sign informed us Island Beach State Park was full. No admittance. "I think Chris Christy's vacation advertised Island Beach," Trish said. No doubt, the coverage IBSP got from that escapade spelled out the Park loud and clear. Whatever the case, it was Sunday, and though I expected few incoming visitors and many leaving the beaches at weekend's finish, we could have slipped Bob Marley's "Exodus" into the player for appropriate celebration.

So we drove through the thick of Seaside to catch sights of commercial grabs, while we discussed Matt's possible employment next summer, which of course, he's in charge of. The young man defended his position against his skeptical mother very well. And northward though Ortley Beach and Lavalette we drove highway 35 into Point Pleasant, where I wanted us to at least walk along Manasquan Inlet, and possibly fluke fish. I spoke to a guy in the know, and it was evident action might pick up in a couple of hours with incoming tide. An assumption further evidenced by talking to yet another savvy guy on down towards the rocks. No use fishing.

We rode out of Pt. Pleasant back towards IBSP. Who knows. It probably opened in the meantime, I thought. Soon some electronic sign or other--my wife saw it, not me--informed us the Park was open. We stopped at Surf Taco for food to carry onto the beach.

I leapt into the surf--not Matt with a recovering ankle--and strode and swam well out there with the breakers, riding a few. The brine felt warmish and full of life. That's not to say I saw any fish. The quality of stuff, sense, and feeling intermixed offered that uncanny promise anyone can receive who opens himself to it. But instead of total self-immersion, I felt a little removed--just a little--and knew there was no hope of getting as fully into this ocean as I always felt during my 13 years living by the beach. No real disappointment. I accepted as much as I could take, feeling thrilled to be 56 and as alive as an adolescent. Nothing foolish about that.

Trish doesn't swim and I don't recall her ever going out into the surf beyond the edge.

I read a few pages of Anders Halverson, An Entirely Synthetic Fish, about stockers. Rainbow trout ultimately from California's McCloud River. And then I told Matt it would be a miracle if I caught a fluke, proceeding to catch a striped bass instead on the first cast, a less likely catch than a fluke in August New Jersey surf. Hit a killiefish bought at the Hook House in Tom's River on the way in. That's the first true striped bass I've caught on my five-and-a-half foot medium power St. Croix and six-pound test monofilament. I had simply tied on a plain shank size 6 hook and crimped a split shot up the line a bit.

Snapper blues provided some fun, too. They really made cut bait of killies.


  1. I think it's great you went saltwater fishing and caught a striped bass on that tackle. Did a little surf fishing myself in July, but came away empty handed....I'm very green when it comes to saltwater. Good story. JH

  2. The surf doesn't seem as consistent, at least not to me, as freshwater spots. A good place to try is the inlets, but if you go, fish from the rocks. You'll lose some tackle, but fish are there.


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