Thursday, August 10, 2017

Last Lady II Charter: Beautiful Day

Long awaited charter trip with New Jersey Federated Sportsmen's News writers aboard the Lucky Lady II this morning and early afternoon. We sailed out of Neptune through the Shark River, out the inlet and northward to fish rocks between about 72 and 86 feet deep. Seas remained pretty calm, and I think generally we had no problem keeping contact with bottom using three-ounce bucktails and bank sinkers, although Oliver Shapiro remarked to me, when drift speed did pick up near the end of our fishing, that he was dropping six ounces.

I have a bad habit, not by any means awful, of carrying in too much stuff. I even had a third cooler just large enough to carry three Brooklyn Lagers with ice packs. I drank only one of them, offering the others, but they came back home with me. That beer hit the spot...after drinking five or six coffees and feeling as jittery as a silverside. My nerves stayed settled for the rest of the fishing. I also brought three rods and never set up my Trevala jigging rod with the Penn Squall 60 I had bracketed on to the reel seat, as if I would do battle with a mahi or yellowfin tuna. But the little St. Croix I use for bass did handle a Deadly Dick deftly, and though no Boston mackerel hit the metal, those fish were around; at least eight of them got caught inadvertently when jigs and/or bait/or teasers got reeled towards the rail. I feel it's always better to at least employ an idea, than it is to think an idea and have no means to implement the notion.

So I never really felt bad about that third rod and reel. Just a little burdened hauling all my stuff off the boat and back to my car. I guess it's as if a piece of equipment on standby is always loaded with potential, so long as know-how accompanies it. (I was a little uncertain about remembering how to operate that big reel.)

John Toth caught the leading fish, a 23-inch fluke. Plenty of other fluke got caught, including maybe nine or 10 keepers among the dozen of us fishing. I guess as many keeper seabass went home, also, including mine of about 15 inches. A few cocktail bluefish cut through the upper water column to intersect baits, as I mentioned of the mackerel, and more southern sea robins--brown coloration--got caught than the typical florid northern species. I caught a couple of squirrel hakes about 10 inches long. Brown slimy fish tossed back.

It's a funny thing about fluke 16, 17 inches long. I caught three that size, and seeing these fish appear in the greenish water as I reeled them closer to the rail was sort of an act of now-you-see-it, now-you-don't. My truest evaluation bestowed value on these fish. You could say: Well, after all, they went back to grow big. But that's not all the feeling amounted to. I don't fish because governmental agency monitors population and size statistics amounting to a fishery. I fish because I'm part of the system of life and desire to participate. I've always felt convinced aesthetics are really prior to economics (food). Just offhand I think of the early Christians who died for an idea. I'd say that's because it was beautiful to them.

And there's the flipside. The awful reduction of a living creature to a non-value--because not meeting governmental size limit to take home.

Finally, on our final drift, the very last fish--I think--besides one more of Oliver's many mackerel. I felt a chomp on the end of my sensitive Power Pro braid line I knew was a nice fish and almost certainly a fluke, since I'm experienced at the likes from many keepers of about 18 inches. I gave that fish some slack by extending my rod by use of my right arm, and after two seconds or so, set the hook...into undoubtedly a nice one.

I always think of a tambourine. The way a fluke shakes its head. An unmistakable clicking bounce. Truly unmistakable if you get fully in touch. The seabass sent tight vibes up the line too, but not quite the same.

Twenty-two inches. My family ate a fine dinner.

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